By Shirley Chock, aka The Stressbender 

April marks National Stress Awareness Month, and it’s the perfect time to discuss Lou Reed’s recently published book, “The Art of the Straight Line: My Tai Chi.” The book, which legendary musician Lou Reed was writing at the time of his passing, was completed by his wife, Laurie Anderson. It delves into Reed’s personal experience with Tai Chi and how it impacted his life. He shares his journey of discovering the practice and how it helped him overcome various challenges, including addiction and illness. Reed highlights the importance of being present in the moment during Tai Chi practice and the value of letting go of distractions and stressors. He also notes the similarities between Tai Chi and music, both of which require a deep focus on the present moment and an awareness of the body’s movements. “The Art of the Straight Line” offers a personal and inspiring look at how this practice can transform lives. 

As someone who has been practicing Tai Chi for over 20 years and teaching it for over 15 years, I agree with Lou Reed’s sentiments that Tai Chi can be the secret to managing life’s stresses. Tai Chi is a Chinese martial art based on the Yin Yang philosophy that emphasizes balance, duality, and change. The Yin Yang symbol represents the harmony of opposites and the constant flux of life. Tai Chi is a way of life that teaches you to accept the duality of life and the changes that come with it. It helps you deal with stress and change by transforming your body and mind to become both strong and soft, like water, so incoming forces cannot break you. 

One of the most significant benefits of Tai Chi is that it helps you become more adaptable to change. Tai Chi teaches you how to become more like water, flowing and adapting to whatever comes your way. When you stop resisting changing forces, you’re better equipped to deal with the change, and you’ll be able to make space for what you want to do. By learning how to manage stress, becoming more adaptable to change, and handling conflict in a relaxed way, you’ll be able to make life easier to live. When you learn to become strong, not hard, and soft, not weak, you will become a stressbender too. 

Watch Lou Reed talk about his Tai Chi practice in the published by HarperOne for the book release: