Tai Chi for Depression
“The more we can do to help ourselves with any health condition the better we will be able to manage our own wellbeing. For me this has meant learning from some forty years of living with varying levels of depression and anxiety. Without dwelling too long on a description of either of these states, it may well help to describe the feeling depression brings of carrying an invisible heavy weight that saps all the strength and energy from within. For some periods of time the weight is heavier and leaves little energy to engage in any activity other than getting through each day. Depression is often accompanied by anxiety which brings with it an endless sense of dread and unease. Part of the recognised treatment for both of these conditions is exercise.
I have spent years trying to find a form of exercise that I felt at home with and that fitted in with my life and my varying states of health. My interest in Tai Chi was first sparked some years ago when as part of my work, I took part in a taster session in Brighton. It was only a short session but it made a lasting impression on me. I resolved to find a course nearer to home and was delighted when I came across the advert for Earth Balance Tai Chi.
Since I became a student two years ago, I have been so glad to be on a journey that for at least an hour each week brings a sense of peace and focus to my life. Each lesson gives me a time to focus on my breathing, my form and my energy. It brings stillness and leaves little room in my head for me to dwell on any negativity. When I am feeling well I am able to practise between lessons. When things are not so good I do sometimes struggle to get to class but I am always glad I make it. I come out of the lesson feeling relaxed and with a sense of achievement for having attended.
One of the symptoms of depression can be a sense of living in a bubble with life going on outside. Tai chi helps me to feel in touch with my body and gives a connection between me and what’s going on ‘outside’. Participating in breathing exercises slows down the adrenalin rushing round my system and consequently helps me relax. Learning the form helps me to concentrate once again.
The icing on the cake with all this is the social contact with my fellow students and the understanding and support of my teacher. I feel very blessed to have found the exercise that works for me and I hope I have many more years of practise ahead.”
Written by Anon, Female Tai Chi and Qigong Student.
“The path out of depression was , for me, a very long journey. The onset occurred when I was a child and quickly became the norm leading to confusion, bewilderment and self destructive behaviour. I saw myself as weak and worthless and therefore not deserving of help.
The breakthrough came in the form of a ‘mid-life’ crisis. The reality of what had become of me burst through. With this also came strong feelings of anger, sorrow and regret and thus a new 20 year struggle ensued.
Tai Chi practise has helped free me from those emotions and has helped to heal the physical dimension of myself that had come about. A life experience such as mine did not leave the corporal me unscathed. A line borrowed from elsewhere. You don’t have to live like a refugee! ”
Written by Fred Ball, Tai Chi Student