Mingmei Yip: Taichi

Copyright 2008

Mingmei Yip

Painting and Calligraphy by Mingmei Yip

Taichi Workshop for Energy and Creativity

Prepared for International Women’s Writing Guild Annual Conference

Mingmei Yip  Ph.D.

What is Taichi?

Taichi is an ancient Chinese spiritual practice which stimulates the flow of subtle energy – which in Chinese is called qi (pronounced chee) -- within the body.  Chinese believe that all human activities from art to fighting are energized by the dynamic presence of qi. The cultivation of this qi is called qigong -- energy practice,  a study of energy in the body/universe. Qigong has been practiced for over two thousand years and benefited hundreds of millions. In doing Taichi, we will learn how to breathe, meditate and cultivate our inner strength and spirit. Because of its emphasis on focusing the mind and its graceful movements, Taichi is also called moving meditation and cosmic dance.

In India, qi is called prana. The different methods which India developed for its cultivation make up the practices of yoga. These have developed in a quite different way as Taichi in China.

Taichi is a form of qigong, which is the science and discipline of cultivating awareness of subtle energy (qi) within the body and applying this powerful energy for enhanced health and well being. Qigong is also the basis for all Asian martial arts.

The great masters of Taichi and qigong devote their entire lives to its cultivation. An immense amount of knowledge about qi has been accumulated in China over more than 2,000 years. For this reason, many books on the subject are quite detailed and complex, sometimes discouraging beginners. However, the basic principles of Taichi can be learned quite easily. In this workshop, you will learn a series of exercises called The Eight Pieces of Brocade. Though easy to perform, these can form the basis of a valuable spiritual practice. The movements are gentle but invigorating. They can be done by people of any age or health status.

Taichi Symbol (see above)

This is a circle divided into two parts, one black and the other white. The black half circle represents yin (feminine) energy while the white circle represents yang (masculine) energy. Chinese believe that since everything in the universe is composed of these two energies, the world will only be in harmony when they are in balance.  That is why within the black half-circle there is a small white circle and vice versa. These two contrasting dots are seeds of energy that drive the cycle of yin and yang in its circular movement. Taichi, with its practice in circular movements, teaches us a way to achieve this balance and harmony in our own lives.

Laozi: First there was nothingness which evolves into motion, which in turn creates yin and yang.

Since yin and yang are always moving, the goal of Taichi is to find a balanced point within motion in order to create and sustain harmony. Since all balance is created from change, we should strive for balance yet be ready for change.

Why Taichi is Good for Writers?

Writers are emotional, creative, and energetic creatures. The process of writing -- starting from putting down your first word onto a clean sheet of paper to the finished product of several hundred pages -- takes tremendous energy, concentration, as well as perseverance. Those who are filled with energy, or qi, will persist to the very end. While those who lacks energy will throw down their pen, or walk away from the computer screen, and give up.

In creative work, energy plays a vital part in contributing to success. Not only that we need the energy to write and re-write (many many), we need even more energy to get our “pretty baby” out to the world so that it will be fully appreciated, admired, and loved.  

Therefore in writing, having talent is just the beginning, along the long, meandering path to success, we need qi, lots of them. Fortunately, although computer and ink cartridges are expensive, energy is free. Not only that it is free, it is everywhere in the universe. It all depends on whether we know how to take it from our surroundings.

As writer, we are solitary creatures. We live in our imagination. We interact with the computer screen. We make friends with characters in books. We fall in love with someone else’s imagined lovers/spouses. And we sit long hours without moving.   

While these are all good and bad, having abundant energy is all good. The simple qigong and Taichi exercises taught in this workshop will enable us to move with qi after hours of sitting. After the first two lessons, we will be more aware of not only our own energy, but also those surrounding us, and ultimately, the qi emanating from the whole universe. The energy that we gained through the simple, graceful movements of our body will help focus our minds and energize our writing.

I have been practicing Taichi for more than a decade. All my creative works, especially writing, benefit from my gentle, graceful movements filled with subtle energy. Through Taichi movements, I learn not only concentration and awareness, but also creativity. I am constantly amazed that how creative we all are and how – only if we let our bodies relax so as to absorb the empowering qi surrounding us – we are able to achieve things we never imagine we could.


What Will We Do During the Workshop?

We will begin with simple but powerful exercises which enhance energy while inducing a pleasant state of relaxation. Then we will try eight simplified Taichi movements to further our balance and the cultivation of energy. (Please see below)

This qigong training will develop our ability to perceive the life force that flows through everything in the natural world.

Some of the Many Benefits of Tai Chi

Aromatic Intelligence Awakening Qigong

Qigong for Women Writers

Qi forms the basic energy in women and men alike. There is yang (masculine) qi and yin (feminine) qi. Certain special practices, especially those for women, were kept secret during most of Chinese history. Now however, they are available to anyone with sincere interest. Some of these exercises were quite elaborate but we will do one which is easy to learn and simple to practice, but extremely powerful. This practice energizes while at the same time drawing energy from the universe into a woman’s body.

Stand comfortably, feet apart (shoulder width). Feel your feet root deeply into the ground. Center yourself.

Take a deep breath from your diaphragm, drawing the air into your upper dantian (third eye), next into your middle dantian (chest), then your lower dantian (abdomen) and finally farther down into your pelvic region and ovaries. This draws qi energy from the universe into your female areas. Hold your breath for a second or two. You may feel a slight tingling in the area of your lower areas. This is qi. Then as you exhale, let your breath diffuse through your entire body all the way up to your head. This permits the powerful yin qi to energize your entire body as well as your mind.

Repeat this simple exercise 10 times. Chinese believe that yin energy begins to rise at noon and so mid-day is a good time to do this exercise. However, it can work nearly as well whenever you can find a few quite moments.

As you continue to practice this qigong, you will find it easier to feel the qi build up in your lower areas as you draw your breath in, and the energizing of your entire body as you exhale.

The Eight Pieces of Brocade – Eight Qigong Movements for Health

There are traditional Chinese theories about the benefits of qigong. Chinese developed these exercises in the hope of curing diseases but now we think of them more in terms of enhancing health. It is interesting to learn something about the theory but don’t worry too much about this because you don’t need to know the theory to get the benefits.

We begin with a brief centering exercise: root feet, focus mind, breathe deeply.  (Laozi, chp 3: The wise therefore rule by emptying the mind, reinforcing the abdomen, weakening ambitions and strengthening bones). By inhaling deeply, we cleanse our lungs and gather energy from the universe. Imagine you’re by the sea and taking a shower in the gentle sunlight where we draw earth and sky qi into one circular, open-armed movement. We relax by slowing down our mind so that our qi channels will be unblocked and our qi can flow better. During this sun/air bath, we visualize all our pores open, letting the fresh qi flow into our body and the stagnant, negative qi flow out.

Some tai chi wisdom:

(These will mean more to you as you continue to practice and experience Taichi for yourself.)

Simple Taichi Movements for Relaxation and Balance  

Wu Style Taichi Demonstration


Mantak Chia and Maneewan Chia: Healing Love Through the Tao – Cultivating Female Sexual Energy.  Healing Dao Books, Huntington, New York, 1986. (Woman-centered forms of qi gong.)

Bisong Guo and Andrew Powell: Listen to Your Body. University of Hawai’i Press, Honolulu, 2001. (Explanation of the dynamics of qi.)

Lao Tsu: Tao Te Ching. A New Translation by Gia-Fu Feng and Jane English. Vintage Books, 1972. (One of the most profound books of Chinese philosophy. As meaningful today as when it was written 2,500 years ago.)

Da Liu: Tai Chi Ch’uan and Meditation, Schocken Books, New York, 1986.

Yang, Jwing-Ming: Eight Simple Qigong Exercises for Health. YMAA Publication Center, Mass. 1997. (Detailed explanation of The Eight Pieces of Brocade, which was taught in the workshop.)

Mingmei Yip: Song of the Silk Road Mingmei Yip: My Chinese Paintings and Calligraphy Mingmei Yip: Qin Music Mingmei Yip: Taichi Mingmei Yip:Upcoming Events Mingmei Yip: Interviews Mingmei Yip: Book Reviews Mingmei Yip: picturegallery gifit shop Mingmei Yip: Contact for Speaking/Storytelling Events Mingmei Yip: Contact for Speaking/Storytelling Events