“One who possess virtue in abundance is like a newborn babe:
…Its bones are weak and its sinews supple yet its hold is firm
…It howls all day yet does not become horse”
(Lao Tze, Tao Te Ching)
Woah now, the Taoists are not suggesting that you suddenly revert to becoming a toddler again! What this quote suggests is that you “re-discover” some of the positive qualities of childhood, and that this can be beneficial for health and happiness. Physically and mentally, that implies regaining childlike mobility, flexibility, spontaneity, and curiosity.
Regain and maintain mobility with Qigong
If you watch a kid move up and down from the floor it’s like nothing, they are very mobile and very agile, and presumably everybody would enjoy getting that level of agility back. Taoist arts like Qigong, in my experience, are highly effective for regaining childlike levels of mobility. Many styles of Qigong focus on smooth, graceful, low impact, and natural movements. Because of the low stress nature of Qigong, regaining these lost child-like movement patterns are relatively easy for older adults and for those overcoming injury.
In addition, because these movements are natural and of low impact, you can learn them and maintain them until a ripe old age. Another key feature of qigong is breathing, and once again we can gain valuable instruction by observing the way toddlers breathe from the abdomen, which has many benefits.
Take a belly breath
Observe a toddler breathing and you’ll notice they breathe from the abdomen. Internal martial artists also do this, as do opera singers and stage actors. It is a very useful skill for peak performance people to possess because it improves endurance, power and the ability to project ones voice (remember the newborn babe that Lao Tzu refers to that can howl all day!). Belly breathing can also quickly de-stress and take you out of the “fight or flight” mode which is so taxing on the nervous system. The fight or flight mode also suppresses your immune system which can lead to getting sick more easily . Stress and sickness are both factors which can lead to premature ageing, the opposite of being child-like. So there are more benefits than meets the eye with regards to abdominal breathing.
With that in mind, there are also cognitive traits that young children possess that can be useful for maintaining youthfulness and promoting longevity.
Just do it
Young children are “spontaneous”; they can make things happen without a plan just for the sheer joy of it. However, aside from “fun” there are other benefits derived from this ability ie. the ability to adapt to changing circumstances, to be creative when faced with problems, and dealing with stress especially when caught in a cycle of rumination. Spontaneity can be the ignition to break out of a negative cycle or circumstance, and for this reason spontaneity can be a very useful tool to have in ones toolkit. One of the main ways Taoists develop their spontaneity is through the practise of martial arts that emphasise softness, flow and adaptability. They spend a great deal of time mastering basics and then they can “freestyle” as it were. This martial spontaneity can then lend itself to application in daily life. But young children aren’t just spontaneous they are also curious.
Curiosity DIDN’T kill the cat
Kids are curious because they have a lot of stuff to learn and figure out and not much time to do it in. But curiosity in adults often dies out and this is a sad event. Rediscovering “curiosity” is very beneficial because it can aid to personal growth through a desire to keep learning. It can improve interpersonal relationships because of your desire to find out what is going on for the other party. You also make friends more easily because you can develop your curiosity in other people. In short, life becomes more interesting, more people are interested in you, and you can keep your mind sharp in the long term when you stay curious.
The Taoist triple formula for maintaining positive childlike qualities
The Taoists have a range of practical methods to actualise childlike qualities. These include, but are not limited to: Qigong (energy management), Martial Arts, and Meditation.
Qigong developed in China for a multitude of reasons, Its five major facets include Health, Martial, Intellectual, Spiritual and Medical. The Taoists have been instrumental in developing powerful Qigong that produces results in all of those areas. For example, tan tien breathing allows practitioners to regain the function of abdominal breathing as a strong step toward regaining child-like energy and endurance; Medical Qigong can aid in overcoming injury, and physical limitations such as reduced mobility.
While Kung Fu fighting is thought of as mostly for the young and strong, there are many other forms developed by the Taoists. Tai Chi for example is mostly practised by people in China who want to stay spry and child-like well into advanced age. Advanced practitioners aim to have a body that is like “steel wrapped in cotton” which is reminiscent of Lao Tze’s comment of the new born child “its sinews supple yet its hold is firm”.
Meditation at its most basic level is a very effective way to relax and calm the mind. However, it is quite common to find advanced practitioners, advanced in skill and age, who are still full of curiosity and joy for life. I’ve personally met many people who have developed an autotelic, child-like quality to their daily lives as a result of their meditation practice. In their case, doing the task and enjoying the process is just as important as the end result. Anybody who has made cookies with kids knows that they often enjoy making a complete mess more than eating the actual product!
In summary, here are the important child-like qualities that we can foster through Qigong, Martial Arts and Meditation:
These qualities allow you to stay young, fresh, alert and happy into old age- Worthy goals that are attainable. Worthy goals that IFA has helped many to achieve.
At Infinite Flow one of our major interventions is high quality Qigong that can quickly deliver tangible, measurable results such as those we have discussed in this article.
I highly recommend trying out our free mini online Qigong program so you can begin to experience the immediate benefits of increased spontaneity and mobility for yourself!
Just click on the link.
p.s. The link to the FREE Qigong min program is here again