One Simple Way to Reduce Stress at Work with Taiji


In a nutshell, it’s this simple … we need to learn to use our energy appropriately.

We wouldn’t throw our money out the window willy nilly, right? That would be wasteful and foolish. It would quickly leave us penniless.

It’s wise to keep track of our money, paying attention to how much we spend on what sorts of things. Over time we see where we can save and have funds for a rainy day.

We can think of our energy as one of our most precious forms of currency. It’s what we need to get through each busy day. In the same way that we wouldn’t toss the money out the window, so too we shouldn’t toss our energy out the proverbial window either.

Taiji embodies this lesson very clearly. Practicing Yang taiji leaves us refreshed and energized not worn out. Playing the form is like putting money in the bank. We practice to use just enough energy to do each part correctly with relaxed, clear, focused attention and energy.

We don’t wave our hands about like mad. We practice to let go of any tension in the muscles, tightness in the spine, relax the face. We try to maintain single pointed focus, uniting the body, breath and mind. To create excess muscle tension is akin to throwing money out the window. To let the mind wander – ditto. We use the right amount for the intended purpose and when we do this well, the form looks beautiful, flowing and fills our energy bank accounts.

At work, this makes sense as well. Though some office cultures may be high pressure it’s important not to succumb to any surrounding frenzy. We need as well to realize that another potential trap is found in falling for looking busy. What a waste of energy.

The best way to get things done well, creatively and on time is to work calmly, mindfully and with focus, keeping the mind clear, relaxed. We try to do each thing the best we can, with full attention, without worry or anxiety about the past, the future, the boss and so on. Then move on to the next appropriate task. Correct as needed.

One easy way to work with this is to use our breath to keep us present. It’s like heeling a puppy. Gently bring the attention back to our breath as many times as needed. When we put the attention on the breath, we can not feel stressed. The pause allows us to refocus. If we lose the calm feeling? What do we do? Merely heel the puppy gently once again. Bring the attention back to the breath.

Can we have instant success with this just be desiring it or reading about it? No. We need to practice. In taiji we bring mind and body together and if we practice each day, the job we do at the office becomes part of our practice and that gets easier too.

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Author: Hillary Johnson

Improvisational documentary and fine art photographer.

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