I gained knowledge and control of my own body and mind
by Celestial Yap
Master Rennie Chong first introduced me to taichi about two years ago. I had considered learning taichi to enhance general well-being and reduce stress levels. Although I have always been physically active, running and cycling regularly, I frequently suffered from influenza and fatigue. When I travelled overseas, I often fell ill. I also suffered shoulder and neck aches, as I work long hours on the computer. On top of all this, my mind was pre-occupied with deadlines and the working day's events, and I found it difficult to relax.
When I started learning with Master Chong, he made me focus on strengthening and breathing exercises. I was surprised at how I managed to work up a sweat after these exercises, as they were performed at slower paces compared to the aerobic activities. They were not easy at first - the next day I felt as if I had run a brisk 10 km race! However, an advanced student of Master Chong encouraged me to persevere with taichi classes. Master Chong gradually introduced the taichi steps and meditation, which helped me focus and clear my mind. Over the past two years, I have experienced a strengthening of both physical stamina and mental discipline. My body feels energized, my mind calmer. The periods of suffering influenza and shoulder/neck aches are now fewer and far between. In fact, whenever the aches re-appear, I know I have slackened in my taichi practice for too long! I also noticed that in recent months, my 'yum-seng' at weddings is one of the longest held in one breath– this is a surprising observation but a definite bonus for parties!
Importantly, I gained knowledge and control of my own body and mind. I learnt to let the energy flows gained from taichi create positive forces in my daily life, letting go of negative thoughts and physical strain. This has helped not just myself and my family, but also in my professional capacity as a medical educator, as my students look towards me for mentoring. Students face stress for multiple reasons eg. examinations, peer pressure to perform, career decisions and relationship issues. I find that with a clearer, calmer mind and physical well-being developed from taichi practice, I am better at advising and providing support to my students. Master Chong shared that to reap the best benefits of taichi takes a long time of commitment, essentially to master oneself. This journey is definitely a worthwhile investment, and I have been very fortunate to be under Master Chong's guidance.