As the mother of an adult child living with a substance use disorder, I was never qualified to deal with what this trek to the dark side would bring. I thought I could be the rock of our foundation and hold strong and steady so my daughter could find her way back. However, I was soon consumed by her illness. I was helpless and had no idea what to do.
Having had a couple of cancer battles just a few short years before, I knew what it felt like to find a "new normal." However, I could no longer tap into the same will and strength I had that helped me go to chemo and radiation every day, show up for one more surgery and stay calm while waiting for scan results every three months. I couldn't find that person.
I was anything but a happy, healthy, fully-functioning and productive adult during my child’s struggle with addiction. And then I found Tai Chi.
What is Tai Chi?
Tai Chi is an ancient Chinese tradition that treats the mind, body and soul. The concept combines motion and meditation, relieving stress and anxiety while strengthening the muscles. It's also a great form of low impact exercise. For me it combined yoga, meditation and prayer with a great work out.
The health benefits of Tai chi include helping with balance, flexibility, strengthening your core and body, quieting and focusing of the mind and regulating your breathing. It brings a balance to your life, combining the tradition of movements from martial arts and a therapeutic philosophy.
Tai chi philosophy includes:
Qi: A belief in a life force energy that flows through the body. Tai chi promotes the flow of this energy.
Yin and Yang: In Tai Chi, Yin and Yang is the belief of the existence of two opposite yet complementary forces that makes the universe run and needs to be kept in balance. Tai chi’s logic lends to this belief in balancing Yin and Yang within the person.
Despite the language and terms used, practicing Tai chi is relatively easy. As with anything, the movements and usage of these terms will become second nature the more you practice. Sitting in on a class is an excellent way to ease into Tai Chi, but remember to check with your doctor before you start any exercise regimen.
All in all Tai chi is a well rounded solution to the problems associated with a myriad of issues that life brings. It’s a mellow exercise that can address stress, emotional imbalance and the physical body all at once. Because of its low impact movement, it’s a great stress reliever for people struggling with medical issues as well as anyone seeking something to help with weight body loss and body sculpting.
For me, in each Tai Chi session, as I learned the somewhat intricate moves, both my mind and body began to change. My waist line started to dwindle. My spirit began to calm. My sleep was so much better as the weight began to melt away and the endorphins began to multiply in my brain. Each purposeful placement of my foot, slow moving wave of my arm came a peace and focus I had been unable to achieve.
Slowly, the person staring back at me in the mirror each day resembled more and more the person I knew I was. I had revived that same will and strength I'd had when battling cancer and the outlook for my direction in life was looking bright.
Today, my daughter and I both have much healing to do from the disease of addiction, but most importantly we both know that no matter what we are in this together. Tai Chi gave me the tools to be able to find my "new normal" and a "new me," which literally saved my life.