What is Tai Chi
Tai Chi can be tricky to describe at first. Not only is it a martial art form that is deeply rooted in Chinese history and culture, but it is also a highly effective form of meditation. You will notice that most people who get into tai chi very quickly fall in love with the study and it is for great reason. It’s a very broad field, and the motions and concepts tie together in such organic ways that it resembles an art form more than physical exercise most of the time. This makes it so that no matter how long you’ve been practicing, there are always new ideas and concepts to capture your fascination.
The tai chi is all about fluidity and softness. In performing the exercises, you strive to achieve precision and grace, having all of your motions play into each other seamlessly. This not only generates a range of health benefits for your body, but it also helps you relax and de-stress when you get into the zone.
What’s powerful about tai chi is how it can simultaneously be accessible yet very potent. It is frequently regarded as a martial art form that can be taken on by anyone regardless of age, experience, or physical ability. The fluid motions and exercises are super easy to get into and can be performed at varying levels of complexity. This means that it lends itself to both the master and the beginner.
Watch this video to see some Tai Chi Meditation in action courtesy of Jake Mace from the Kung Fu and Tai Chi Center.
Health Benefits of Tai Chi
People often rave about the fantastic health benefits of tai chi. This is because even practicing at a basic level yields great results for your body. Physically speaking, it’s like a tuneup. It strengthens muscles and balance, while also improving circulation and breathing. It’s been known to aid in recovery and improve quality of life for those with cardiovascular conditions. This is especially important because tai chi is an artform that can be practiced by the elderly with no trouble.
That being said, you don’t need to have any kind of condition to practice it. Even those who are in top shape can reap the benefits of increased stamina, better balance, improved circulation and more.
Most notable of all, however, is how great it can be for your mind. Being able to lose yourself in the flow of your tai chi session allows the mind to disconnect for a brief moment. In the fast paced hustle of today’s world, it can be so crucial to be able to let your brain float freely for a bit. Once again, people can on and on about the benefits on this front because it helps with reducing stress, alleviating depression, regulating sleep, and overall just improving your mood.
This has lead to tai chi being adored by many who have made it part of their daily lives. It’s welcoming in how easy it is to pick up, and it can take you on a lifelong journey of learning an experience. All in all while strengthening your body as well as your mind.
What Is A Backyard Meditation Labyrinth?
This leads us to a pretty cool project you can easily do for your own backyard. It’s called a meditation labyrinth. As mentioned before, tai chi is all about fluid continuous motion that sets the stage for your mind to meditate. This means that you go through cycles of specific exercises and motions. This is mostly done while standing in one spot, but it certainly doesn’t have to be. This is where the labyrinth comes in.
You can set it up in a corner of your backyard and use it as your training and meditation spot. The way it works is that you can integrate your exercises into the path of the labyrinth, going in and out in specific patterns while you meditate. This makes it a bit more dynamic and exciting when it comes to practicing your routine.
Not to mention that the labyrinth itself is a wonderful creative outlet. You can design and decorate extensively to make it your own. People often take this as an opportunity to start a small garden, planting their favourite flowers in between the brick paths. Truly, the sky’s the limit, and it’s been said that the more you personalize your meditation spot, the more connected you become to the artform.
How to Build a Backyard Meditation Labyrinth for Tai Chi
So how do you get started on this? First, you’re going to need to lay out the design. Start with some graph paper and follow along with the diagrams below. Each square on the graph paper can represent one foot (or 0.30m) in real life. Go ahead and follow these diagrams on your paper.
Step 1 – Draw a cross that is four squares tall and four squares across. After that, very lightly draw squares out of it to connect the cross together. Add dots to each corner of each square including the tips of the cross.
Step 2 – Erase the lightly drawn square lines but leave the dots and the initial cross.
Step 3 – Number each of the dots clockwise starting from the upper left dot as shown.
Step 4 – Draw lines to connect the dots of the labyrinth. These can be arches for a circular design or you can make straight lines for a square design. Be careful to keep things smooth, symmetrical, and consistent. You don’t want to end up with a wonky labyrinth. The dots you need to connect are as follows:
- Connect 2 to 3
- Connect 1 to 4
- Connect 8 and 5
- Connect 7 and 6
See the diagrams below to see how it needs to turn out:
Once you’ve done that you should get some measuring tape and spraypaint and head to your backyard. Find a nice spot to place your labyrinth. Be mindful to leave enough space around you for elbow room so you don’t feel cramped. Of course, you can also tailor it so that you are facing toward your most preferred view. After picking the best location, you can start drawing out the same diagrams with spray paint on your backyard. Be careful to keep the lines straight and consistent, leaving at least a foot between the spaces.
You’re going to need to grab a shovel and dig out the design you just laid out. It will have to be three inches deep and three inches wide (about 7.6cm deep and wide). Afterward, grab some decorative stones and pack them tightly and flat into the trench you just dug out.
Now the fun can begin! Your labyrinth is basically laid out so you can either get to doing your tai chi session or you can continue decorating. You can plant and decorate in between the paths formed by the stones, you can spruce things up around the perimeter of the labyrinth, and you can even paint the stones themselves. Like we said, the sky’s the limit. You can dedicate some time to finish your labyrinth all in one go or you can actually have it as an ongoing ever-evolving project. Why not change it up every now and then? It’s all up to you.
At the end of the day, whatever your labyrinth turns out to be, it will be a beautiful addition to your backyard and it will certainly enrich your meditation as well as your daily routine.