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Masculinity & Wellbeing Through Tai Chi & Qigong

About the event

Join our weekly space for men of global majority to explore masculinity and healing through Tai Chi and Qigong
About this event

Join us for Masculinity & Wellbeing through Tai Chi & Qigong! As part of our Reimagining Masculinities programme, this weekly 10-part series offers a powerful and deeply explorative space for racialised men to reframe, unlearn, address conditioning and heal.

How does soft strength and a harmonious, safer inner world help us to support and connect with community?
How do the roles we play, expectations and power contribute to dynamics of emotional isolation and act as barriers to wellbeing?
How can we address the toxic/patriarchal manifestations of masculinity? How can each of us go within ourselves to make space for any accountability needed?
The intention is for global majority men and trans masculine people to explore their relationship with masculinity using selected resources (such as the work of bell hooks) and the ancient philosophical concepts behind Tai Chi.

We encourage participants to attend all sessions if able. To ensure the safety of the space we will close entry to the Zoom link 10 minutes past the start of the event.

10-week schedule:

15 September
1a: Wellness, breath and the body

Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare (Audre Lorde). This session will explore any wellness challenges and struggles we may have and explore how we are prevented from being well. We will understand wellness as resistance, the ways that the personal is political, the importance of integrating mind and body, joy, and the power of breath.

22 September
1b: Wellness, breath and the body

This session will revisit wellness and breath, working towards groundedness and joy through the body. We will explore Tai Chi as a technology of wellness, what it is, how it works and the traditions it is rooted in. We will also learn how to connect to ourselves and self-evaluate how grounded, integrated, relaxed our bodies are.

29 September
2: Tai Chi philosophy applied: Yin & Yang

On this week, we will learn the basics of Taoist Philosophy as it applies to Tai Chi: Yin and Yang, empty and full. We will explore Taoist philosophy as subversive to materialism, control and concentrated power. We will reflect on the concept of Yin and Yang and its ability to help us counter toxic manifestations of masculinity.

6 October
3: Tai Chi philosophy applied: Peng & Lv Energy

For this session, we will explore Peng and Lv for self-defence (both physical and psychological) and how to cultivate and apply Peng and Lv. Effective Peng and lv require interconnectedness, strength in relaxation and groundedness.

13 October
4: Resilience, growth and healing

This week we will defining and contextualising resilience, mapping out the dynamics, components of healing, and locating these sessions in that journey. We will explore the question ‘what can an intentional approach to healing look like?’

20 October
5: Masculinity & Emotions

On this week, we will be discussing norms and societal conditioning, how it impacts us and others’ expectations, and the roles we find ourselves in. We will gain an understanding of harmful vs healthy dynamics. We will explore Tai Chi and vulnerability: the barriers to talking about our feelings, muscles and martial arts, etc.

27 October
6: Masculinity & Stigma

We will discuss portrayals of Black/Global Majority masculinity and how it impacts us at a personal level. Exploring our relationships, tropes often passed down, cultural references and the literature.

3 November
7: Patriarchy, Violence & Domination

This session will take us through cultures of domination and how they manifest, common scripts of domination, the harms, power dynamics. Exploring our relationships, tropes often passed down, cultural references and the literature. Recommended reading: bell hooks

10 November
8a: Personalised Healing Strategies

On this week we will ask what if? We will be discussing possibilities of healing and what it could lead to. Participants will develop their own roadmap, drawing on the KR healing model.

17 November
8b: Personalised Healing Strategies

Participants will continue to develop their own roadmap towards healing, drawing on the KR healing model. We will present our individual ideas and plans for healing and growth.

What is Tai Chi?
As an internal martial art, Tai Chi teaches practitioners to better live inside their bodies, to better regulate responses to external stimuli, and to harness the potential of relaxation and softening of the body. It builds practitioners’ connectedness with their own bodies, and nourishes the connection between mind, body and spirit.

For people struggling against oppression, Tai Chi provides emotional grounding, taking practitioners out of the headspace where the emotional tension and stress of oppression dominate our consciousness. It moves us out of that headspace into a body/breath/spirit space where we become mindful, connecting to our whole body and to the Earth through our feet and through gravity.

The martial essence of Tai Chi is in yielding with softness and relaxation. Within the yielding softness is a core of strength which emanates from the Earth, through our feet and legs, and is able to overcome opponents size and strength advantage. Relaxation and rootedness allows us to remain centred, balanced and strong while the opponents aggression becomes their weakness. We can apply these principles to the struggle against oppression. Unlike many martial arts, Tai Chi nourishes the body and spirit, instead of wearing out the joints and causing injury.

How do we practice?
The exercises and discussion is designed to teach practitioners:

To better occupy and relate to our bodies, and notice body responses. (my body is mine)
To understand how caring for our bodies is an important part of resisting oppression and accessing joy
To use rooting and grounding, turning softness into strength
Taking the soft strength of our practice, and walking around with it
Using our exercises and discussion to process emotions, like anger, sadness and grief
The practice is relational. We connect with each other on the level of our emotions and our experiences of oppression. We support and hold each other as a community.
Closed captioning is available for all our online events. If there are any access needs you’d like us to consider, please email info@healingjusticeldn.org.

Sessions are held by Jalal Afhim (he/him). Jalal Afhim has been practising Tai Chi and Qigong since he began learning in China in 2005. He is also a trainer and career coach, and brings a pedagogy of self-actualisation into his practice. As a survivor of institutional racism, he brings lived experience of navigating institutional slow violence into this work, forming connections with the experiences of participants.