Cognition & Reality

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Pushing Hands As A Therapeutic Modality

Filed under: Uncategorized — drtone @ 11:35 am

A practice called pushing hands (tui shou), which has long been used to teach the martial applications of Tai Chi Chuan, teaches us how to flow while in contact with another person. Learning how to flow enhances the ability to relax while sensing another person’s energy or chi, with direct implications for human relationships of all kinds. Because the distinction between mind and body is illusory, training the body to feel another’s intentions and respond to them calmly trains the mind to do the same. Therefore, pushing hands develops and tunes sensitivity to one’s own emotional state and to the emotional states of others. The result is greater responsiveness, as well as greater physical and emotional balance.

Pushing hands, at its most basic, is a non-violent physical activity in which two partners maintain a light touch on each other as they circulate slowly and continuously, moving chi in tandem. As they engage, they listen to each other’s bodies and help each other find places where they are tight or tense. When one partner gently pushes with active force, the other partner smoothly retreats with corresponding passive force. Then they reverse roles. Viewed from above, their movement traces a yin-yang pattern. The activity therefore literally embodies Yin and Yang.

When partners push hands they absorb into their bodies lessons about both yielding and being firm  in relationships. Most importantly, it teaches them that interactions, even conflictual ones, are a cooperative venture, because the opponents choose to engage. For that reason, playing push hands illustrates the fundamental insight of  object relations, that for every oppressor there is a victim who inhabits the role of the oppressed. In addition, pushing hands cuts straight through the illusion of separateness, because “winner” and “loser,” “you” and “me,” get lost in the flow.


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