Biophilia hypothesis- The “Root” of all Things

October 31, 2013 1 Comment

The biophilia hypothesis suggests that there is an instinctive bond between human beings and other living systemsEdward O. Wilson introduced and popularized the hypothesis in his book, Biophilia (1984).[1] He defines biophilia as “the urge to affiliate with other forms of life”.[2] The term “biophilia” literally means “love of life or living systems.” It was first used by Erich  Fromm to describe a psychological orientation of being attracted to all that is alive and vital.[3] Wilson uses the term in the same sense when he suggests that biophilia describes “the connections that human beings subconsciously seek with the rest of life.” He proposed the possibility that the deep affiliations humans have with nature are rooted in our biology. Unlike phobias, which are the aversions and fears that people have of things in the natural world, philias are the attractions and positive feelings that people have toward certain habitats, activities, and objects in their natural surroundings.  

In other words, to enhance our well-being, we need regular exposure to nature and to absorb its lessons. Stop reading a moment and allow your mind to wander to a past experience when you sat on a beach, shuffled your feet through a pile of fall leaves or lay in the snow to make an angel…can you smell the salt air?  hear the crackling leaves?  smell the fresh snow? Most times these memories evoke peace and calm–a regeneration at the soul level.

By observing animals’, birds’, insects’ and fauna’s ability to survive in the natural environment,Tai Chi practitioners developed techniques to connect with the earth, and to improve their own ability to defend themselves from conflict between themselves and the animals or other humans.  They sought survival at cellular, personal, community and earthly levels.

So we come to today’s lesson.  Tai Chi and Qigong integrate Mother Nature’s lessons throughout forms and techniques.   We can practice in a park  in our bare feet and connect at a deep level, but there is still connection when we practice in our living room, a studio, or an auditorium by moving in forms practiced for hundreds of years.



Link to original:   Advice from a Tree


Five Principles of Tai Chi juxtaposed with Advice from a Tree:

Body Upright –Stand Tall and Proud

“There is a Chinese saying that, ‘One need not fear age if one’s spine is still erect.’ A person is old if at thirty their spine is bent; whereas a person of sixty is still young if they comfortably hold their spine upright. The spine carries important networks of nerves to various parts of the body; an upright, relaxed spine facilitates the smooth flow of energy for total harmonious coordination. Practicing Tai Chi keeps our spines strong, supple, and erect.”  – Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit

Separate Weight-Sink your roots into the earth

Also called *Separate Yin and Yang* or* full and empty* or *substantial and insubstantial*, Tai Chi postures are achieved by shifting the weight from one leg to the other.  This is probably the most challenging aspect of Tai Chi.  Shifting  and separating the weight will, over time, strengthen the legs and improve balance.

Relax the Body-Be content with your natural beauty

In Tai Chi we perform using the least amount of effort possible.  Like peeling an onion, relaxing is achieved through discovering deeper and deeper levels of technique and abilities.  Equally important, we accept our abilities as they are and avoid self-criticism.

Turn at the Waist-Go out on a limb

Turning from the hips and waist ensures that the spine remains relaxed throughout the movements of the Tai Chi form.   Arms, legs, and head follow the waist using very little effort.  (Beginning  students tend to focus on the beautiful, graceful Tai Chi arms and hands, then after a while they come to understand that all motion is driven from the core, meaning the waist and hips.)

Flowing Energy-Remember your roots and Enjoy the view

All the joints are put through a full range of motion, helping to lubricate the joint surfaces. The stretching works on the muscles, tendons and connective tissue throughout the whole body, with benefits for posture and spine.  The slow, controlled movements develop strength, balance and co-ordination, which has been shown to reduce the risk of falls.

Ancient practitioners understood that practicing Qigong and Tai Chi goes to the “root” of all things as demonstrated by our friend, the tree.  Today, I recommend that you find a tree to hug.  Or better yet, why not hug a Tai Chi practitioner.   Namaste, Becky.

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  1. maryannlemar says:

    as usual I enjoyed this

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