Exercises in Chinese philosophy keep people happy

Finding peace in the park.
Finding peace in the park.

If you wander through Anzac park on some sunny mornings, you discover what seems to be the most relaxed people on the planet.

They move gracefully in slow motion, now on one leg, now on two, as though in suspended, blissful animation.

How the exercises work.

Their instructor says gently “Down. Up. Ooh, yes. that feels good!”

This is the class run by the council for adherents of Tai-chi and the other great Chinese exercise philosophy, Qi Gong.

According to Buddhist and Confuscian thought, both forms of slow, syncopated movement – almost like slow-motion dancing – promote spirituality and balance of the spirit.

The council programmes are part of its declared aim of giving people the opportunity to be healthy. A statement said that it was to “promote the local government area as a great place for a healthy lifestyle and to encourage residents to engage in a healthy lifestyle.”

They’re taken by Noel Schmidt who says they focus on breathing, movement and relaxation and can lead to the healing of physical ailments.

He said: “Whatever move we make it's for a specific area. You stimulate your lungs, your kidneys, liver spleen, heart.

“It feels beautiful. Its relaxing. It's all those things that people are looking for”, he said.

“They are searching for something different – for inner quietness, for inner peace.

“Celestial peace, that's exactly right.” That they've found something different in their lives.”

One of the people taking the exercises said that he felt better even though his back was normally painful: “My back is damaged but I've got no pain”, said Peter Campbell.”

Noel Schmidt sets great store by particular movements affecting different parts of the body internally.

The movements are almost mystical: “Step up and punch. Right foot kicks upward. Hit tiger to left. Hit tiger to right. Right foot kicks upward.”

Mystical or not, they please the people making them.

But tigers in Anzac park need to watch out.

Noel Schmidt: helping people find peace in Anzac Park.

Noel Schmidt: helping people find peace in Anzac Park.

Peter Campbell.

Peter Campbell.