In April of 2013 a momentous event in the history of meditative arts occurred, Harvard released “The Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi.” Following the release of this groundbreaking book, Harvard Medical School, which had called the meditative art of tai chi “medication in motion” for all the myriad health conditions it can prevent or treat, launched a historic lecture series in 2013, timed to be released to the public on a very special day.
On the last Saturday of April hundreds of cities in nearly 80 countries held mass meditation events that wrapped the planet in a wave of health and a focused intention of global health, healing, and connection. The motto of this extraordinary event is “One World … One Breath,” and it is called World Tai Chi & Qigong Day. Can this global wave include a World Yoga Day? It is beginning to. The organizers of this extraordinary event started with tai chi and qigong events that built this global phenomenon, but as it evolved yoga and other meditative practices like Reiki began to join in. World Tai Chi & Qigong Day organizers made a decision to make this collaboration official with the launch of a site called World Healing Day, that enables yoga, reiki, and other mind-body arts practitioners to be part of a global wave of healing intent. If you visit www.WorldYogaDay.org or www.WorldReikiDay.org you can see their vision unfolding.
At this point, the event primarily involves free teach-ins and mass exhibitions of various forms of the moving meditations known as tai chi and qigong being held, beginning in the earliest time zones of Samoa, then spreading through events across New Zealand, Australia, Asia, Africa, Europe, North and South America, and ending with the final event in Kauai, Hawaii.
However, the founders of World Tai Chi & Qigong Day and World Healing Day were sponsored by the World Healing Day organizers in Perth, Australia, to come and share their vision on this special day in Perth at their 2012 event. The Perth City Council proclaimed the day and invited organizers to an official dinner in the Council’s penthouse restaurant overlooking Perth’s beautiful skyline. Perth organizers had also included Native Aboriginal and Sacred Dance Day, which was part of the World Healing Day organizer’s vision into their 2012 event, and held their collaborative World Healing Day, World Yoga Day, World Reiki Day, and World Tai Chi & Qigong Day event on Aboriginal sacred ground in Perth, and opened this collaborative event always held on the last Saturday of April worldwide with a sacred dance performed by a local Aboriginal dancer.
Events are held simultaneously in places such as Cairo, Egypt and Jerusalem, Israel, however events are at 10 am local time, so they turn as a global tai chi movement, and those events are preceded for example by events in Tehran, Iran, Malaysia, and the Philippines.
Event sizes vary from a few people in the high mountains of Nevada, to mass events like the ones held each year in Havana, Cuba; Hong Kong; New York’s Central Park; Los Angeles; Montevideo, Uruguay; Caracas, Venezuela; Buenos Aires, Argentina; and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; where participants often number in the thousands.
This unique global meditation event has captured the world’s imagination, and World Tai Chi & Qigong Day has been officially proclaimed by governors of half of the US states, and by officials worldwide, including the Senates of California, New York, and Puerto Rico. In fact, in 2013 the event was officially recognized by the national government of Brazil, and a tai chi exhibition quieted the halls of Brazil’s national chambers with the National Council of Deputies looking down from their high podium to a tai chi group flowing through their meditation on the floor of the chambers, looked on by Brazil’s Congress members in the rows to their sides. This was followed by a statement of support for World Tai Chi & Qigong Day from the President of Croatia’s office.
The event has several goals. One is to educate the public about the profound health and economic implications meditative arts like tai chi and qigong offer societies worldwide. Mounting medical research shows that tai chi and/or qigong can lower high blood pressure; reduce anxiety, depression, and mood disturbance; treat heart disease and type 2 diabetes; improve sleep; increase bone density and muscle mass; and boost the immune system’s “helper t-cell” count by over 50%. And that is only a fraction of the results this mounting research, much of it NIH funded, is showing.
These meditative arts use a combination of full breathing, visualization, and gentle motion techniques to loosen the mental, emotional, and physical bodies to maximize the flow of life energy, often referred to as Prana by yoga practitioners, or as Qi (pronounced “chee”) by tai chi and qigong practitioners. Stress is at the root of most health problems facing modern societies, and according a study by Kaiser Permanente stress may be the cause of up to 85% of the illnesses sending people to their doctors, according to Kaiser Permanente physician, Dr. David Sobel, who’s written on their study.
www.WorldTaiChiDay.org has been the catalyst and organizing hub, of this global event for nearly 15 years since its inception. WorldTaiChiDay.org’s vision is that if, for example, just in the United States, our healthcare costs are around 4 trillion per year, and up to 85% of that is due to chronic unmanaged stress, if we were training school children in age appropriate ways, not just tai chi and qigong, but a range of mind-body arts, such as yoga, and other meditation techniques, we could literally save trillions of dollars in future health costs just in America alone. Expand that worldwide, and the possibilities are mind boggling.
Eckhart Tolle, wrote in his Oprah Book Club pick, A New Earth, that mind-body arts like tai chi, yoga, qigong, and meditation would be a big part of the global awakening. The organizers of this global event not only literally organize a global physical happening, but put forth a vision of possibility for humanity’s future. Imagine a world where every school class, government meeting, or corporate board meeting began with a calming, centering meditative practice. That may seem like a far-fetched vision, but when Harvard Medical School is advocating the virtues of meditative practices and the national government of a major power like Brazil is holding a meditative exhibition in their national chambers, this vision may not be that far off.
What if every decision we make socially, governmentally, etc. is made in a clearer calmer state of mind? How would that impact the world we see around us? As mounting medical research continues to show things like the University of Miami School of Medicine study showing how ADHD diagnosed teenagers enjoyed a dramatic reduction in their ADHD symptoms by practicing tai chi, or the April, 2013 George Mason University study that found students who meditated scored better on quizzes than students who didn’t, and in fact found that the meditation even predicted which students passed and which students failed the quiz — it is really only a matter of time before mind-body practices become part of public education systems worldwide.