I’m delighted to welcome Mark L. Fuerst to the blog today. He’s a fellow member of ASJA and an award-winning health and medical writer. With 11 books under his belt, Mark knows what he’s writing about. And in this post he gives us some great tips on how Tai Chi can improve our writing life. Plus, thanks to the good folks at Shambhala, who donated a copy of the book for me to review, you have a chance to win a copy of this great book. (I’m going to have to buy my own to help me deal with creaky writing muscles!) Check out the details of the giveaway at the end of the post. And enjoy the article!
By Mark L. Fuerst
Mobilizing and maintaining energy plays a vital part in a writer’s success. The process of writing takes tremendous concentration and perseverance. I have found that Tai Chi exercises can enhance my energy while inducing a pleasant state of relaxation, and help me develop my ability to let my thoughts flow naturally.
Relaxation means slowing down the mind so that what the Chinese call qi (loosely translated as “energy”) can move smoothly throughout the body. The writing process flows through physical, emotional, and cognitive phases. Tai Chi movements can help me slow down/quiet my mind, relax into the process, and dissolve psychological blockages, including writer’s block.
A writer often sits long hours without moving. When I need a break from writing, I often do 10 minutes of simple Tai Chi exercises. This gets me up and moving after hours of sitting. The energy I gain from Tai Chi’s graceful movements not only can help focus my mind but also can energize my writing.
Tai Chi may be one of the keys to allow a writer to unlock creative consciousness. During Tai Chi practice, you are in a state of mind that allows creativity to flow naturally. Many writers say they feel more mental clarity after practicing Tai Chi. If you can reduce your tension and nervousness, you may be able to experience deeper thoughts and better tap into your creativity.
The creativity that derives from Tai Chi leads to integration of complementary things – left brain (logic) and right brain (intuition), form and function, and body and mind. It’s not surprising that many people who practice Tai Chi are also involved in the creative arts. And many creative arts programs draw from the East.
How to Use Tai Chi to Become Creative
Letting go and letting things happen naturally underlies any form of creativity. Many of the principles of Tai Chi can enhance your writing, including development of focus; staying in the moment; concentration of energy; economy of movement; inner stillness; development of a flexible, balanced body; unification of mind and body; and appreciation and development of discipline.
You need to be focused and pay attention to your writing to be skillful, precise, and express yourself clearly. Tai Chi can help you be in touch with what you’re feeling to engage in the writing process.
Visualization helps shape your creativity. Most writers use their “inner” vision and imagination during the creative process.
Most sedentary artists, such as writers, need to keep their bodies healthy to have the physical stamina to sustain long periods of creativity. Writers can benefit directly from the protective and restorative effects Tai Chi can have on recurrent injuries. A relaxed posture is important for how you sit while writing. This can prevent repetitive stress injuries for a writer who spends a great deal of time sitting at the computer.
Tai Chi Breathing
Doing breathing and other Tai Chi exercises is a great way to warm up for a session of writing. Then you are already in the flow before you begin to write.
Here’s how to do what’s known as Tai Chi Breathing:
Sit comfortably, feet flat on the ground, palms resting on your thighs, eyes closed, sitting upright. Relax your mouth, tongue, and jaw. Allow your whole body to relax…allow your thoughts to relax… allow your breath to relax. Now imagine that there is a balloon in your abdomen and as you breathe in, the balloon gently inflates. As you exhale, the balloon naturally deflates. Imagine that the air you are breathing in is mist-like and filled with a vibrant, positive, or healing nourishing energy—whatever qualities you sense will best balance your body. As you breathe in, simultaneously move your arms in front of your abdomen to mimic and encourage the expanding of the balloon. As you exhale, allow your arms to return to a more neutral position, with the palms facing inwards towards the abdomen. Repeat this inhale-exhale cycle 9 to 36 times. When you are done, sit comfortably in an upright position. Return your hands to rest on your thighs and simply relax, especially the abdomen and feet, and observe changes throughout your whole body.
The experience of having just done Tai Chi Breathing makes you more open to anything else, including the writing you are about to do. Practice Tai Chi Breathing and you may well see an increase in your ability to write.
About the author. Mark L. Fuerst is an award-winning health and medical writer and co-author of 11 books, including the newly released The Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi, written with Peter Wayne, PhD, assistant professor of medicine at HarvardMedicalSchool. You can find Mark L. Fuerst online at: