An aspect of the Arts that is great fun is learning to think differently. To exercise the ability to pretend and play in different ways to open up your Body/Mind to an amazing array of reference points and understandings of yourself.

Thinking differently affects the ways you move, the ways you sense , the ways in which you gather information, and ways in which you express yourself in the world.  Take for instance 5 Animal Frolics. The 5 animals are Monkey, Crane, Deer , Bear, and Tiger. 5 Animal Frolics  or Wu Chin Shi was an art put together by a Doctor of Oriental Medicine, a guy named Hua Do,  so that people could take care of themselves and keep healthy. He didn’t give a flip about beating people up, he wanted an Art that would move Chi around specifically through the body so that people who played the Art were healthier, more intuitive,  more connected to nature, and themselves.

One of the visualizations that help to support the Art is to imagine yourself walking through a waterfall and on the other side you embody one of the 5 animals. You wash yourself clean stepping through the waterfall so that you have space to embody a different animal. Within this play, you do specific movements designed to move chi in specific ways, and part of that recipe is how you hold your mind while you do the activity. Let’s say you are being a big bird or crane, You move like a crane and feel your large wings, feel yourself move with the lightness of feathered down, feel your feet search the water for the right place to step, searching beneath you in the water around you for the movement of a fish. By playing this game and playing it as completely as you can, you start to have senses come alive that you are not normally aware of.  Then you walk through the waterfall again, and become let’s say a tiger, the movements change, and the mindset as well, you move with strength, tenacity, close to the ground,  and the essence of the tiger come through your movements.  The movements support the image and the image supports the movement, and both support a specific movement of chi throughout the body/mind.

The point, I am making, using just this one example of cultivating different ways of thinking, isn’t that you should go to work and move around like a monkey, tiger, crane or deer, no, they might refer you to the nearest psychiatric hospital.  The point is by playing like you are a bird or a tiger you exercise a different part of You. So when you, leave work being strong, you can change yourself and be soft and gentle when dealing with your child who is sick at home, or your child being playful and jumping around like a monkey, or aware of yourself in nature like a deer sensing everything around you. This is a very healthy activity to play.

It is not only found in 5 Animal Frolics but also in switching from playing Tai Chi, or Water Boxing, or Chi Gung, each art has an overall mind that you access so that you can access a larger part of your humanity.   But then again, you can do this in other ways as well,  playing music, listening to music, making art, anything where you shift your primary state of interacting with the world to another. There is something very mystical in this changing. A kind of information that you can involve yourself with that you can get in no other way. This acting differently can be very healthy and this practice cultivates a larger part of yourself that give you access to parts long forgotten.

Photographer,Entrepreneur, Father and Teacher of Traditional Health Arts from Denver Colorado, now living and working in Birmingham , Alabama with my better half Laurie Rapier.

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