Taiji and Living Longer

Taiji and Living Longer

Postby fchai » Thu Jan 11, 2018 5:47 am

Greetings,

I recently saw a documentary about living longer. It was about how our birth age and our biological ages can be dramatically different. There were folks whose birth ages were around 50 but their biological ages were more than 70. There were various causes for this, which included diet, exercise, stress, etc. To reduce this divergence between the birth age and biological age, the various people in the program undertook dietary changes, an exercise regime and also stress reduction programs. One of these was the use of "mindfulness" to help alleviate stress. This was what got me thinking about Qigong and Taiji, and especially Taiji.

Both make the assertion that their practice can improve our longevity. Interestingly, this medical study seems to substantiate these claims. With "mindfulness" one cultivates and focuses on one's awareness of one's body, so that extraneous thoughts do not intrude and one's stress levels are moderated. With Taiji, when we practice, we are mindful of how our body moves in space, how every part of the body moves with balance and poise, how our muscles, ligaments, tendons and skeletal structure is engaged, how our breathing integrates with our movements, how our 'energy' shifts and expresses, how we continue to maintain "song" at all times and our movements are continuous and fluid, etc.

Looks like the elders knew what they were doing and only now is medical science beginning to catch up.

Take care,
Frank
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Re: Taiji and Living Longer

Postby global village idiot » Thu Jan 11, 2018 11:00 pm

I wonder if, instead of saying "science is only just now catching up," it might be more precise to say that science is only just now starting to pay attention.

Scientists can be just as fickle as the rest of us when it comes to the things that interest them.

I read a book this past summer called "Stealing Fire." It discussed several different ways people are, for lack of a better term, "enhancing their humanity." Martial arts generally and tai chi particularly were mentioned, as well the latter should be. Many martial arts encourage meditation and "mindfulness" as adjuncts, but tai chi is, if not unique in combining everything into one comprehensive whole, certainly the most well-known for doing so.

gvi
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Re: Taiji and Living Longer

Postby ChiDragon » Fri Jan 12, 2018 2:30 am

We had been looking into the benefits from the practice of Qigong and Taiji more macroscopically. However, by taken the medical scientific approach, then, we should be looking at it more microscopically. And ask the questions why do Qigong and Taiji work as they are? How does the practice of Taiji help to maintain the body balance? How the body was affected biologically to acquire longevity? Where does the energy come from? Why and how does it work? It seems to me no one has ever wondered about these questions and find some answers!

Can we come up with some ideas with scientific explanations or something even little bit close?
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Re: Taiji and Living Longer

Postby DPasek » Fri Jan 12, 2018 8:31 pm

There are numerous difficulties with trying to study Taijiquan scientifically. True, knowledge of, and interest in, Taijiquan are obstacles, but the difficulty with valid experimental design also complicate things. It is not very easy to design experiments with appropriate and rigorous controls, and much of the research from China and the USA suffers from the limitations of properly designed controls. Much of the results to date can only point to potentials rather than confirming more concrete evidence.

First, most research funding will be for remedial treatments (healing existing problems in patients, e.g. fall prevention in elderly populations, lowering anxiety levels, treating fibromyalgia, etc.) rather than long term general health improvements. This means that the funding is mostly available for relatively short term trials (commonly only a few months, rather than years). Since they are primarily geared towards treatment of patients (short term efficacy – i.e. cost effectiveness, rather than prolonged benefits), experimental designs typically separate a population into a control group that goes without TJQ instruction, and a group who have no prior experience with it that is taught a short TJQ form that is practiced for a modest period of time.

Controls should have a similar level of physical activity as the TJQ group, and even better would be an activity that has a similar expectation for benefit as the TJQ group. There also need to be objective measurements rather than merely relying on subjective feelings of the participants.

Suffice it to say, valid scientific studies that result in concrete results are difficult to design. Even if the desire may be there, the funding and the experimental design limitations also have much to do with the lack of good studies on TJQ.
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Re: Taiji and Living Longer

Postby ChiDragon » Sat Jan 13, 2018 11:48 pm

Scientific method must set up a hypothesis to conduct an experiment to draw to a conclusion. It seems to me the people in the world do not have the desirable knowledge to collect the proper parameters to conduct a conclusive experiment.

If the research funding are the limited factor to conduct a scientific experiment, IMO, it is not wise to proceed with the experiment at all. The biological effect on the human body from Taiji requires a long time practice in order to be effective. Hence, a group who have no prior experience with it that is taught a short TJQ form that is practiced for a modest period of time will not give a valid result. IMMHO The lack of knowledge of TJQ is on the part of the people who initiated the experiment. Since the practice of TJQ has a tremendous effect on the human body, why not start looking into the function of the human body and relate it to TJQ . Instead of keep trying to 捕風捉影, chasing the wind and capturing a shadow.

The practice of Taiji is not like just given a shot of substance to the human body as given to a white mouse. The effect of a shot on mouse take a short time to react. In the contrary, the human body take a long time to have any effect from years of practice. In the practice for a modest period of time and expect valid result just won't cut it.

Suffice it to say, valid scientific studies that result in concrete results are difficult to design. Even if the desire may be there, the funding and the experimental design limitations also have much to do with the lack of good studies on TJQ.

I guess that is where the problem lies. Hopefully, people will come up with more fundings and have an open mind with a broader vision to conduct valid experiments.
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Re: Taiji and Living Longer

Postby ChiDragon » Mon Jan 15, 2018 1:54 am

fchai wrote:Greetings,

................... One of these was the use of "mindfulness" to help alleviate stress. This was what got me thinking about Qigong and Taiji, and especially Taiji.

Both make the assertion that their practice can improve our longevity. Interestingly, this medical study seems to substantiate these claims. With "mindfulness" one cultivates and focuses on one's awareness of one's body, so that extraneous thoughts do not intrude and one's stress levels are moderated. With Taiji, when we practice, we are mindful of how our body moves in space, how every part of the body moves with balance and poise, how our muscles, ligaments, tendons and skeletal structure is engaged, how our breathing integrates with our movements, how our 'energy' shifts and expresses, how we continue to maintain "song" at all times and our movements are continuous and fluid, etc.


Frank


It seems to me that "mindfulness" was stated which initiated one cultivates and focuses on one's awareness of one's body, so that extraneous thoughts do not intrude and one's stress levels are moderated. However, it also seems that is not the case neither, "mindfulness" is an adjunct from the practice of Taiji.

IMO I think it is the other way around. When we practice, our body moves in space, the body moves with balance and poise, our muscles, ligaments, tendons and skeletal structure is engaged, and our breathing integrates with our movements, cannot be initiated all at once by the mind. At first, they have to be slowly registered in the mind. After a long time practice, those features become subconsciously programmed in the mind. Hence, the body will respond spontaneously to any adverse situation. Eventually, doing the practice of Taiji will cultivate the "mindfulness" to have better control of our body.

Anyways, here is my two cents worth!
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Re: Taiji and Living Longer

Postby ChiDragon » Mon Jan 22, 2018 2:34 am

What does modern science say about how the body lives and stay alive?

The basic unit of the body is the body cell. Keeping the body cells alive is by eating and breathing. Keeping the body to living longer is by keeping the cells healthy and able to regenerate new cells to replace the old ones. By eating more food, alone, the body does not live longer. However, by breathing more than ordinary then it will. Indeed, by the practice of Taiji to improve our breathing habit which will give us the opportunity for longevity. Modern science will back that up.
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