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SHAMAN PUSH HANDS

Tai-chi Push Hands Exercise

Tai-chi Push Hands Exercise

Push Hands is a shamanistic practice. The shaman heals by detecting patterns of behavior within the energy system of the body and dissolving those that create illness. To do this he or she has to perceive these patterns, to understand their dynamics, to understand how they affect the physical body, emotions and thoughts and how to affect these patterns for healing.

In the case of the Tai-chi exercise of Push Hands, the patient is not a passive receiver of healing. The patient must develop the same skills of the shaman in order to affect his own patterns of behavior. It is not a question of who is stronger and faster, but who is more willing to let go of patterns of behavior normally associated with battle.

The patient (student) has to recognize his or her own attitudes, which create his responses, which creates his life. The I-Ching describes this process in great detail. If you can change your responses you can change your future. But this means that your attitudes and responses need to be fluid and in some cases, abandoned. For most people, their attitudes are who they are, so this would mean letting go of themselves. Push hands suggests that there is another you, beneath your programmed attitudes and responses. The search for this “natural self” is the goal of push hands.

Your partner is more than willing to take advantage of any programmed behavior to throw you off balance. All it takes is the hint of an attitude forming, to create a blockage in your energy system, blocking off creative and effective responses. The creative responses are based on what is going on at the moment and on a thorough awareness and connection to your body. The programmed responses are based on defending your self-esteem. That “self” is based on battling your way to a more powerful position in your society so you can get more of what you want.

In traditional Push Hands, we concentrate on the empty spaces between you and your partner, rather than on his or her physical strength. Here in the spaces, we can function. When we can let go of the addiction to paying attention only to power, then we can become more aware of the “spaces” inside ourselves. These spaces are really the mobility of each part of the body. If your shoulder is pushed and you come to the end of your range of motion, you are stuck. But if you realize that the shoulder can rotate, then there is no “end” of mobility. The realization that there is no end of mobility creates the “space” to move.

So internal “space” is really the absence of programmed attitudes, which would limit your responses. If every part of the body is “empty” (of programmed attitudes), then it is “empty” of the “fake self” (which fights for its self esteem). At this point, Push Hands becomes joyful and healing takes place.

I have heard Taoists of old called, “Wu Shamans”, meaning “no excess Shamans” or “empty Shamans”. Push hands empties fear, on a physical, emotional and spiritual level, leading to gentleness, yet it also allows you to become powerful. You are powerful in your clarity of what is going on in front of you and inside of you. You are powerful in not getting trapped by the behavior of others. You are powerful in standing your ground yet not resisting, in sending out force yet not tensing. It is a healthier way to live.

Fear is the breeding ground of disease. To be relaxed, joyful and powerful, in spite of people trying to throw you off balance, makes life easier.