Archive for the 'tai chi' Category

Apr 16 2015

T’ai Chi — the Ultimate Exercise for Massage Therapists (and everyone else)

T’ai Chi — the Ultimate Exercise for
Massage Therapists (and everyone else)
by Bill Douglas, Founder of World Tai Chi & Qigong Day

Copyright 2005

WORD COUNT: 1,899

I, and my assistant teachers, have taught for several Massage Therapy Schools, for both private and public colleges, and yet I have no training in massage therapy. I am a T’ai Chi and Qigong instructor. Many would wonder what T’ai Chi and Qigong have to do with massage therapy, and the best answer is absolutely everything. T’ai Chi and Qigong are designed to help you avoid future repetitive stress injuries, reduce or eliminate current chronic pain conditions, lower your stress levels, improve your mood, maximize your balance and strength, and focus your awareness in ways that maximize your performance in every conceivable way. They can also widely expand your massage practice and abundance.

T’ai Chi and Qigong provide several benefits simultaneously that enhance the massage experience on many levels. Not only for your clients but also and most importantly for you. Healers must first heal themselves, or else their healing abilities become weakened. Dr. Andrew Weil, the best selling author and Harvard educated doctor now promoting holistic integrative therapies, illustrates this point by directing our attention to the human heart. The human heart first feeds itself oxygen, before feeding any other part of the body. This isn’t because the heart is selfish, it’s because the heart is wise. On some level the heart knows that it can’t truly and effectively serve its clients (the body’s organs) unless it (the heart) is operating at its highest functioning level.

Good T’ai Chi and Qigong teachers quickly discover that the quality of instruction they offer their students, or clients, absolutely depends on if they are taking the time to heal themselves with the tools they teach. This means that we must take the time outside our classes to do our own self-healing. Often we unconsciously think that if we choose a vocation in the healing arts than we will become healthy by osmosis. Actually, there is a kernel of truth to that, because when we are engaged in good altruistic endeavors research indicates this can improve health, however the amount is relative. Whether you are a massage therapist or a T’ai Chi teacher, taking time outside of your practice to “heal thyself” is the key to your quality as a professional.

The human central nervous system is the gateway through which all you will produce or become must pass. If your nervous system is loaded up with stress from the day or week, all you offer clients or loved ones will be murky and cloudy. We all know that on some days you are “at your peak” and clients walk out glowing with a truly altering experience. However, other days we just can’t quite find that place of clarity. In sports they call this state being “in the zone.” We all know what it feels like but we don’t know how to get there. T’ai Chi and Qigong practice are designed specifically to help us, not trip through the zone occasionally, but increasingly move and live within the zone day in and day out.

How does this happen? T’ai Chi and Qigong are aspects of Traditional Chinese Medicine, just like acupuncture (now recognized by the American Medical Association) and Chinese herbal medicine. What all three have in common is the understanding that there is a flow of subtle energy moving throughout the body. This is the bio-energy that animates the tissue not unlike the electricity that powers your home or computer. When the natural flow of life energy, or Qi (Chee) as the Chinese call it, gets blocked off our health systems diminish. There are two reasons energy gets blocked. One is through external accidents, of course when your leg is broken the energy flow is affected. But, the number one reason life energy gets blocked is through internal unmanaged stress.

Kirlian photography illustrates this as it shows that the temporary body stress of nicotine and caffeine disrupts life energy flow. A relaxed state is represented by the smooth even flow of Qi or life energy exhibited in the first photograph.

[1st image normal state. 2nd image after coffee and first cigarette. Illustrations of two Kirlian photographs from The Complete Idiot’s Guide to T’ai Chi & Qigong (Penguin Putnam 1999, 2003, 2005).]

So, we know what it feels like to be “in the zone,” and we know that stress and stress producing chemicals can take us “out of the zone.” But, how do we get “in the zone.” T’ai Chi and Qigong practice produce what the Chinese call “smooth Qi.” This actually gives us a way to cultivate the state of being “in the zone.” Daily practice of T’ai Chi and Qigong leaves practitioners with the feeling of being more and more in the zone rather than accidentally finding it occasionally.

A side effect of being in this relaxed state of awareness is that more Qi, or bio energy, is flowing through you. This has been and can be measured with various devices. Not only is energy flowing through you more, but in a more balanced way. The result is that you feel better and think clearer, but also the quality of the energy your client receives from you is clearer and healthier. They may not know why the body work you deliver feels better than another’s, but over the months and years you practice T’ai Chi and Qigong you will find the desire for your personal touch becoming increasingly in demand.

One of my past students has come to such a state of high demand that she now screens her clients out. If after a few weeks her clients are not practicing T’ai Chi, Qigong, Yoga, or some other internal art to manage their own stress – she drops them. She says quite rightly, “Why should I wear out my tendons working out the collected stress you ignore all week long?” By having her clients do their own internal energy/stress management work she can take her practice to a deeper and more subtle level. Rather than her clients living unconsciously and collecting the same old loads over and over, she and they work together as a team to continually bring the client to higher and higher levels of personal health and growth.

By being in a T’ai Chi class you will also find a great networking situation. In my public T’ai Chi classes I ask massage therapists to bring business cards to pass out to other T’ai Chi students. I announce that usually the massage therapists in a T’ai Chi class are excellent because they are out to improve their instrument by being in the class. In my best selling T’ai Chi book, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to T’ai Chi & Qigong, I urge all T’ai Chi instructors to refer their students to massage therapy and urge all massage therapists to refer their clients to T’ai Chi classes.

Besides maximizing your effectiveness through expanded energy flow and hopefully your clients use of daily stress management tools, T’ai Chi and Qigong can add power and reduce the likelihood of injury in your practice. T’ai Chi teaches you to always stand with the knees slightly bent and the tail-bone (Sacrum) slightly dropped. This takes a bit of curve out of the lower back and transfers the pressure of standing and working from your lower back down into your thighs. This may make the thighs feel a bit strained at first, but that’s o.k. because the thighs are the strongest bone and muscles in the body.

Another strengthening aspect of T’ai Chi and Qigong is it teaches the art of “effortless power.” In T’ai Chi we teach what’s called “the unbendable arm” exercise. After learning how to facilitate the flow of Qi, or life energy, through the body with sitting relaxation therapies called “sitting Qigong,” a physical exercise is learned that teaches you how to resist pressure in a state of relaxation. One student bends the other student’s arm, even as he/she resists with all their muscular strength. But, then the same student relaxes, breathes, closes their eyes, and visualizes a silken flow of energy pouring over their head, through their neck, shoulder, arm, and out through the relaxed fingers. Then the other student again tries to bend their arm—but can’t. This allows the student to practice effortless effort. T’ai Chi movements at first seem to cause tension, because learning something new is stressful, but over time the student learns to move through all the motions of life in a relaxed, yet powerful way.

As you learn this art of effortless power, you will find you cannot only work longer and deeper, but with less personal residual damage. The slight postural adjustments T’ai Chi will teach you also take a great deal of pressure off your body during the day. For example, besides the dropping of the tail-bone (Sacrum) as you bend your knees into the T’ai Chi posture of motion called the “Horse Stance,” you will also relieve pressure off your shoulders and neck. For as you drop, relax, or sink, into the Horse Stance, you also let your shoulders relax away from the neck, and think of the head being “lifted” up as the chin is slightly drawn in. You see, the head is an eight or nine pound melon that can put a big strain on your neck and shoulder muscles when it unconsciously protrudes outward away from the shoulders during the day. In T’ai Chi, when you let the head lift, and the chin draw back, the shoulder pressure immediately begins to melt away.

Another repetitive stress injury avoidance therapy T’ai Chi provides is the gently no impact flow of its movements that rotate the body in 95% of the ways the human body can move. No other exercise comes close, even swimming, which only rotates the body in about 65% of possible rotations. This stimulates the flow of energy, circulation and microcirculation, rotates off calcium deposits, and also stimulates the flow of natural oils and chemicals to various joints and tissue throughout the body.

Lastly, and most importantly, the daily practice of T’ai Chi and Qigong cleanse the nervous system, or the mind, of accumulated tension or stress. This is what causes 70% of all illness, most death, and costs industry $300 billion per year in the US along—stress. By cleansing your stress with a T’ai Chi break after work, you enjoy your evening activities more with fewer loads unconsciously loaded on your shoulders and distracting your mind from the pleasures of the evening. Also, with a T’ai Chi break before work, you set yourself up to take on less loads from clients or co-workers. This is important for anyone in the healing professions. Psychologist are the highest suicide rate for professionals, because they collect loads from their patients, who unload on them all day, and are not trained in how to “unload.” T’ai Chi and Qigong are the ultimate unloaders, and pre-emptive unloaders known to man. Of course you also want to get weekly massage therapy to compliment your T’ai Chi and Qigong daily regimen.

By de-stressing, you will find that everything you do will come smoother, easier and more effortlessly. Your body will not only function better, but also alert you of problems long before they become irreversible. Your human interactions will become richer and more expansive personally and in your practice. If people have a choice between an excellent massage therapist who is relaxed and enjoyable, and an excellent massage therapist who is distant and distracted, they’ll take the relaxed one very time. T’ai Chi and Qigong may be the single most effective business decision you can make for yourself.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Bill Douglas is the Tai Chi Expert at DrWeil.com, Founder of World T’ai Chi & Qigong Day (held in 60 nations each year), and has authored and co-authored several books including a #1 best selling Tai Chi book The Complete Idiot’s Guide to T’ai Chi & Qigong. Bill’s been a Tai Chi source for The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, etc. Bill is the author of the ebook, How to be a Successful Tai Chi Teacher (Namasta University Publishing). You can learn more about Tai Chi & Qigong, search a worldwide teachers directory, and also contact Bill Douglas at http://www.worldtaichiday.org

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Apr 16 2015

What T’ai Chi Offers the Modern World

Published by under tai chi

by Bill Douglas, Founder of World Tai Chi & Qigong Day

Copyright 2005

WORD COUNT: 1,780

“The highest science will appear as art.”

Anonymous

How can modern man/woman learn to connect with the wisdom of the unseen? This may no longer be a philosophical question to bandy about at parties or intellectual gatherings. It may be a veritable necessity for the future of humankind. The modern world is becoming increasingly complex. Many believe that it is beyond man/woman’s ability to adapt to this complexity. However, many centuries ago Chinese explorers may have found the answer to our modern problem, as they charted the unknown territories of “inner-space,” the internal awareness of the mind and the body. What they found was that human beings can have an extraordinary impact on how they are affected by the world around them, and conversely how they affect the world. In the West we have considered these insights “spiritual,” however the cutting edge of Western scientific discovery may show us that these ancient explorers of the mind/body connection were discovering a high science that may change everything about the way we live our lives, and indeed the future of humanity.

These ancient tools were designed to “loosen” or “open” human consciousness to a state of pure creativity. The Chinese called this underlying matrix to reality the “web that has no weavers.” When Carl Jung, the great psychologist, wrote of the “Collective Unconscious” he may have been describing this underlying matrix of reality. The Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the founder of the Transcendental Meditation movement, referred to this field as the “field of pure creativity,” while great Western scientific visionaries like Albert Einstein, Nikolai Tesla, and Thomas Edison, also spoke of this pool of limitless consciousness. Einstein claimed that his insights into the deepest nature of reality came when he was in a state of what he termed “wakeful rest.” Modern neurological researchers would call this the “alpha state,” when the human brain is saturated with alpha waves. The alpha state is a deeply creative state of mind that allows “fresh” un-dogmatic thoughts to pour up through our relaxed and open consciousness. The Chinese would say this is when the “Qi” or “universal life energy” are flowing most freely through our mind and body.

T’ai Chi is a form of Qigong. Qigong directly translated means “breath work,” or “life energy work.” Qigong exercises are designed to promote the flow of life energy through the mind and body. This life energy is the un-manifest power source of all thought and action. Every insight we have, or project we launch, in our lives is powered from within by an unseen force called “Qi,” or “life energy.” Qigong doesn’t “make” Qi flow through the practitioner, but encourages the practitioners to “let go” of all the old stagnant thoughts and beliefs that block Qi flow, which then opens a doorway to a newness of thought and action. This state of ever evolving newness is encouraged by Qigong’s demand of “releasing” every muscle, thought, and desire, with every breath. This trains the body to move through the effortless motions of a very sophisticated Qigong form known as T’ai Chi.

T’ai Chi is meant to be done in a state of absolute effortlessness. In order to do this the mind and heart must release beliefs or feelings they have unconsciously gripped from past hurts, current worries, or fears of the future, so that one may flow smoothly, effortlessly, into the unfolding movements of the exercise. In this way the T’ai Chi movement series is a microcosm for our unfolding lives. Each T’ai Chi movement unfolds constantly into the next one at ever more subtle levels of self-awareness. If we live fearful angst ridden lives, our T’ai Chi motions will be stiff and jerky as the body holds those old stagnant traumas. However, as we teach the mind and body to “let go” of the old to breathe out the stagnant and dogmatic, we are enabled to flow into a limitless and effortless future. Qigong’s “breath work” is integral. There is nothing more effortless than the release of a breath, through Qigong imagery exhales can trigger deep, physical/chemical, emotional/mental releases in the practitioner.

These ancient concepts of T’ai Chi were poignantly described in Taoist poetry and philosophy which merged with T’ai Chi philosophy not long after T’ai Chi’s creation. Taoist concepts like “the best of men is like water . . . it does not contend . . . and thereby nurtures all things,” goes to the heart of the idea of “letting go” or as the Taoists said “not contending.” A famous Zen story, which grew from Taoist philosophy told of a great and important scholar who went to slum with a Zen master in order to add a “Zen degree” to his worldly accomplishments. When the scholar arrived the Zen master politely poured him a cup of tea but kept pouring the tea until it overflowed the scholar’s cup until the scholar exclaimed, “Stop pouring, the cup is full already!”

The Zen master responded, “Yes, just as your mind is already full of knowledge. There is no room for me to give you anything new. And here is where our modern dilemma comes in. Our world is saturated and exploding with old information, the information age has given the world of knowledge to EVERYONE. Ironically that over saturation of information is causing a modern stress plague that causes most health problems, but more importantly is constipating our ability to expand outward into the wholly new ways of seeing the world that our modern times demand. The average computer user is overwhelmed with stress that is blocking their ability to “loosen” and “open” to new ways of seeing the world. The information age can be a profound and powerful tool IF it can be healthfully used by the limitless potential we all contain as conscious human beings. Our task is to weave the limitless potential of our consciousness, or the collective consciousness, with the physical tools of the information age.

If you look at the teachings of Christ, he offered extraordinarily clear and uncomplicated self help tools for doing this. He had two core messages. One, being that no matter what we have been or done, we are absolutely forgiven. This enables us to stop defending how we’ve things in the past, and be continually open to “new ways” of proceeding in our lives. The second, which is clearly related to the first, is that we can be born into a totally brand new being every single moment of our lives. This is the message that the mind/body technology of T’ai Chi and Qigong were created to enable in people. Moving in the mindful, effortless, loosening, cleansing motions of these exercises requires that the practitioner “let go” of EVERYTHING. In order to practice a high level of T’ai Chi one must absolutely let go of everything they have held onto. This can bring the mind into the “alpha state,” or Einstein’s “wakeful rest” state. Here is where ALL of the answers to all of our modern problems exist within the seemingly limitless collective unconsciousness that Jung spoke of. This was the place Jesus often visited when he “walked in the wilderness” of thought. The answers to environmental problems, social issues, prison, drug abuse, and political challenges hang like ripe, unformed, apples waiting to be plucked. But, they are invisible to a culture that is up against the wall with the stress of always scrambling to keep up with the tidal wave of change slamming us forward.

Bill Joy, Chief Scientist for Sun Microsystems, a company that is literally the back bone of the information age, explains that today’s rate of change is doubling exponentially every eighteen months, not just doubling, but doubling exponentially. J.W. Forrester of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology expresses concern that evolution has not prepared humanity for this bone-jarring rate of change. Change is stressful according to psychological research, whether its good change or bad change. T’ai Chi & Qigong were designed to minimize the damage of stress due to change, by teaching the practitioner how to continually release the past which is held locked in the cellular structure of the body and the energy matrix of the mind. This is the key to our future survival as a species. The new answers of adaptability cannot find their way through rigid bodies and stagnant dogmatic minds, and in fact the need for adaptability and the inability to let go of old consciousness in our bodies results in life threatening stress damage.

Several ancient techiques are proven through modern research to promote this quality of physical, emotional, mental adaptability. TM or Transcendental Meditation, Yogic meditations, T’ai Chi and Qigong, biofeedback, and others. However, T’ai Chi is pioneering wholly new ways to integrate the benefits of mind/body fitness into society at all levels because it is physically beneficial, can be practiced by anyone at any fitness level, and does not require exertion or special equipment. Therefore corporations, schools, hospitals, and even prisons are integrating T’ai Chi into the structure of their training or therapy programs. Employees, clients, or even inmates, who use the tools are more creative, less confrontational, and much healthier. But, the creativity enhancing quality is what offers the most hope for humanity’s future. As hundreds of millions worldwide begin practicing these tools they begin to redefine their lives in fundamental ways, being more able to adapt faster and more easily to the tidal wave of new information at their fingertips. This fluidity of individuals enables society, cultures, and countries to become more adaptive, facilitating the development and use of new “greener” economic and industrial development to protect the ecology, while creating more “people friendly” economies that reduce stress on the six billion struggling to survive into an extraordinarily changing future.

There is an unseen force beneath all existence, which has been given many names. The “web that has no weaver” may be an attempt to describe the latent consciousness that permeates all existence through the “quantum field” physicists describe. In modern Chaos mathematical theory it has been discovered that the seemingly chaotic world we live in may actually have an extraordinary complex integration just beneath our ability to perceive. Reality may have the answers to our complex modern problems . . . if we can “open to them,” by relaxing into a “deeper order” of consciousness. Ancient tools like T’ai Chi and Qigong were once the domain of priests and monks, people who’d placed themselves at points of intense personal transformation. These tools helped them find pattern in the chaos of life . . . and as they spread through the world at large may be doing so for the whole of humanity.

Bill Douglas is the Tai Chi Expert at DrWeil.com, Founder of World T’ai Chi & Qigong Day (held in 60 nations each year), and has authored and co-authored several books including a #1 best selling Tai Chi book The Complete Idiot’s Guide to T’ai Chi & Qigong. Bill’s been a Tai Chi source for The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, etc. Bill is the author of the ebook, How to be a Successful Tai Chi Teacher (Namasta University Publishing). You can learn more about Tai Chi & Qigong, search a worldwide teachers directory, and also contact Bill Douglas at http://www.worldtaichiday.org

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Apr 14 2015

Reducing Student Drop Out Rates in Tai Chi

Published by under tai chi

by Bill Douglas, Founder of World Tai Chi & Qigong Day

Copyright 2005

WORD COUNT: 2,720

A couple of years ago while at a national conference of Qigong enthusiasts, I had lunch with several T’ai Chi teachers. One teacher complained that a T’ai Chi class he’d started with nearly 30 students had dwindled to only 6 students by the end of the session. Another teacher at the table exclaimed, “SIX! WOW! That’s GREAT!” We all had a good laugh, but there was pure truth in this exchange. T’ai Chi classes have horrendous drop out rates, even for the best teachers. Oh, we all can point to classes where our drop out rate wasn’t “too bad,” but when we are honest we all can point to plenty that disintegrated before our eyes.

This teacher was a very brave teacher, to be so honest about this drop out phenomenon in his classes, and his honesty enabled all of us other teachers to share information about this problem. Most teachers won’t discuss this. We make up things to protect our egos, or our feelings, like “those students just weren’t ready for the pearls I cast before them,” or something like that. I think because T’ai Chi teachers historically have only come together for “competitions” it has affected our psyches by making us feel we are one another’s competitors, rather than compatriots. This is actually one of the reasons I founded World T’ai Chi & Qigong Day, to bring T’ai Chi & Qigong teachers together in a cause of mutual support. However, the “competitive” schism was even evidenced in this, as teachers who held WTCQD events spoke of other teachers, coming, but not participating. They “peaked around corners” to see what the other schools were up to. We are all so afraid that someone will “find fault” with our style, our school, or the number of our students. This keeps us from sharing information that could grow T’ai Chi for all of our schools, and for the benefit of the public health.

But, back to the original issue, why do people drop out of T’ai Chi so quickly? First, realize that all exercise classes suffer drop out, but T’ai Chi may suffer more for several reasons. Because T’ai Chi benefits are more subtle, students have to hang in there longer to begin to realize the more profound benefits. Also, the very things T’ai Chi helps most with, such as anxiety and balance problems, for example, seem to be exasperated by T’ai Chi before they are helped by T’ai Chi. This is because T’ai Chi first “tests” our balance before it “helps” our balance, and it forces us to “be with” our anxiety, before it can help our anxiety begin to be “exhaled,” or released. This inevitable “hump” is what drives many away from T’ai Chi “before” they actually feel the benefits. After “sharing” with the other T’ai Chi teachers at the conference I mentioned earlier, I became conscious of the dynamics of drop out in a clearer way. After this, when I noticed students becoming frustrated with balance, I offered them this reminder. “Realize, that when we are at home settled back in our easy-boy recliner, our balance is always PERFECT! But, it never gets any better; it just gets worse and worse. By playing T’ai Chi every day, our balance gets better and better because we are always on the verge of losing our balance. This is how the brain and body exchange valuable information that improves balance & coordination.” This little speech does several things: 1) It let’s them know that what they are feeling is normal and o.k. 2) It lets them see that this disorienting feeling of being on the edge of balance loss has a very positive effect. 3) It let’s them laugh, which releases tension. 4) It lets them realize that by feeling “out of balance” they are not only not WRONG, but they are doing their T’ai Chi JUST RIGHT. The biggest problem most new students have is self-doubt, and a little friendly compassion can be a teacher’s greatest tool.

However, there may be even more to this drop out phenomenon, a more profound reason lying deeper within this “drop out” problem. My T’ai Chi teacher of over 20 years, Master Jennifer Booth, always spoke about what she called “resistance.” Master Booth said that any time we are about to go through profound change in our lives, even when it is for the better, there is a part of us that doesn’t want that change. There is a part of us that feels safe and comfortable with “the way things are.” T’ai Chi & Qigong are arts/sciences designed to foster great positive change in our lives. Often as we practice T’ai Chi over the years we see our eating, drinking, and sleeping habits change in a more healthful way, we become more conscious, more compassionate, and more powerful in all aspects of our life. According to Master Booth, a part of our mind and body senses that going to our first T’ai Chi class is the doorway to an expansive sequence of positive life changes, and the parts of us that want to be “couch potatoes” or “unconscious” of the grandeur of life, rears its head inside us and “lashes out.”

This “resistance” welling up within us is at the core of the reason for most drop out. However, resistance will put on many masks, and by becoming aware of the masks we may affect drop out rate, but much more than that we will not blame ourselves for what we don’t own. The manifestations of resistance well up within the minds of the students, and may manifest as feelings such as:

– I am too clumsy to get this. This is for people “better than me.” (This is the most common reason for drop out.)

– T’ai Chi is stupid, I don’t get it.

– This T’ai Chi teacher is mean.

– This class is going too slow, I need something faster.

– I don’t know if I’m doing this right, I must be doing it “wrong,” I might as well quit.

– I’m going to learn every move perfectly, even if I have to pull a muscle. I’m going to concentrate so hard to get every move right. (These students often burn out, as it is impossible to get every move perfect at first. The body and mind have to loosen over time, with patience and good will.)

So, what can we do as teachers? First of all, we should realize that T’ai Chi is at its very core FUN! This doesn’t mean we have to be stand up comics, but rather that we loosen up and allow fun to well up from the class experience. Like the last student issue, if we “try too hard” to make a “perfect” classroom experience, we squeeze all the fun out of it. By allowing ourselves to “lighten up” and not expect some illusory “perfection” from ourselves our self-compassion will resonate out to the classroom, and students will be less self judging. When we first begin teaching we “try so hard,” by trying to offer endless details and “corrections” of how students move, breathe, etc. Then over time this becomes tiresome, and we relax, and the results are great. Students will learn movements better and better, simply through repetition, through playing T’ai Chi over and over. In fact, if their minds are straining to remember every little detail, their body will tighten and restrict their ability to perform and remember the movements. So, in classes if we give “smaller bites” of movements to learn, there is more time just to “breathe” “relax” and “enjoy” the experience.

I always tell students to come to class for no other reason, than to “breathe,” “relax,” and “let go of the rat race” for an hour or two. Then in a few months they will have effortlessly learned the form, and they can spend the rest of their lives refining it. In T’ai Chi class there are no grades, no deadlines, no competition. I caution students not to bring the rat race into T’ai Chi class, rather let the effortless flow of T’ai Chi’s soothing calming power permeate outward into all aspects of our lives.

I encourage students to give up the idea of “rightness” and “wrongness” in T’ai Chi class, because this is a limiting way to view life. I go into this in detail in my best selling T’ai Chi book, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to T’ai Chi & Qigong, but the gist of this section follows. When we grip a pre-conceived notion of “rightness” and “wrongness” when learning T’ai Chi (or when living life) we are constantly denying the effortless reality of our current state of “perfection,” and this causes stress. You see when a beginning student does their very first T’ai Chi move on their very first day of T’ai Chi class, they are doing it PERFECTLY, for where they are at that moment. Their perfection, of course, will evolve into greater and greater perfection over the course of the classes and their lives. By understanding this, they can relax more. Relaxed students are better students. Some teachers may say, “If I don’t continually correct their postures, they may hurt themselves, or establish bad habits.” On the first day of class, I inform students that “they are their own best T’ai Chi coach.” This means that if a movement that I teach doesn’t “feel right” to them, then they should adjust it so that it feels good. Because no two bodies are exactly the same, and in fact their body will be quite different after a few months of T’ai Chi. However, T’ai Chi’s greatest asset is that it allows us to move slowly enough to “feel” what the body is telling us, and to make adjustments so that each movement can feel comfortable and good to the body the student has on that given day. As teachers, we will have many years to provide helpful compassionate tips on improving their forms, and don’t have to force it all down their throats at first. If they feel good, enjoy, and breathe, they will likely keep coming back. If their own self-doubt is exasperated by endless critique they will almost certainly drop out.

Another thing we must do to help students stick with T’ai Chi is to become “health educators.” Most people, even younger Chinese people, know very little about Traditional Chinese Medicine, its profound benefits, and how T’ai Chi is a part of that health system. As teachers, we often bristle from the medical aspect of T’ai Chi, thinking, “I teach T’ai Chi, doctors do medicine.” Years ago I had a very enthusiastic student who was an emergency room physician, and he began to bring me medical articles on T’ai Chi studies. I bristled, thinking that these had nothing to do with me, for I am teaching something “higher” than medicine. But, in the end, his articles and the articles of other doctor and nurses brought to me over the years changed my life and the way I teach T’ai Chi forever. I began to realize a fundamental truth of Traditional Chinese Medicine, that if the student “believes” in the therapy, then the therapy works much more effectively. For, as I passed this information on to my students, they were able to become more patient with the process of T’ai Chi, because the medical research showed them that there would be rewards in the end. Also, this awareness took the “urgency” out of the process and enabled them to “relax open” to even greater benefits. Because time is limited in classes I began to record these T’ai Chi health research studies in class handouts, which eventually became my book, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to T’ai Chi & Qigong. With the book I hoped to enable other T’ai Chi teachers to refer their students to the wealth of medical research in its pages as a pre-class primer, so that when their students come to class they could “believe” in what they were doing and be able to “open to” the teachers wisdom in even more accepting way.

Unfortunately, my goal of creating a primer for all T’ai Chi teachers has been misunderstood by many. The title, “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to T’ai Chi & Qigong” put off many teachers, dismissing it as beneath their level of instruction and therefore useless to them or their students. My hope was to create a primer for all students of all styles that would go to the heart of the “essence of T’ai Chi,” “explain medical research,” and “deal with many of the psychological issues that can make life hard for T’ai Chi teachers, before the student takes these issues out on the teacher.” In fact, my goal of sharing the information in my book with teachers and students worldwide was almost surrendered, until some wonderful encouragement and reviews came in from rather extraordinary sources. T’ai Chi Forms Grand Champions, Sifu Hong Yijiao, who represented the United States at the World Wu Shu Championships in Hong Kong in 2000, sent me the following statement. “Sifu Douglas, you take the best parts of T’ai Chi and explain difficult Chinese concepts simply using American culture, not requiring the new student have a grounding in Chinese culture or history.” Then Michael Steward, a Team USA senior coach, and Olympic Martial Arts Referee wrote, “Visionary! If you only get one book on T’ai Chi, then this is it. This book is all you ever needed to know to change your life.” Many other accomplished teachers offered powerful support for my goal of modernizing T’ai Chi instruction. Teachers like Texas University T’ai Chi teacher Ray Abeyta, and San Francisco’s Beyond Anonymous Stress Management Counselor, R. Poccia, who wrote, “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to T’ai Chi & Qigong does for Qigong what Apple and Microsoft did for the computer – it’s brought it to the people.”

My goal is to bring centuries of wisdom that is the gift of T’ai Chi & Qigong to the modern audience, so that students will “hang in there” with their local T’ai Chi teacher’s classes. This is the design of my book and the creation of World T’ai Chi & Qigong Day. In order to bring the ancient wisdom to the modern world, we have to allow ourselves to be “flexible” and “open” to the world we are living in, rather than rigidly straining to squeeze the modern world into an ancient framework of thought. This is why I encourage schools in World T’ai Chi & Qigong Day events to avoid wearing “uniforms” or even displaying banners. If we wear sweat pants and t-shirts when we do T’ai Chi, others see themselves doing T’ai Chi. If we hold onto ancient uniforms, we look like an “exclusive club,” somehow “off limits” to ordinary people.

As my book explains in detail, the modern age is a time of great stress on humanity. 70% of all illness is due to stress. ALL of humanity greatly needs tools like T’ai Chi and Qigong, not just as “another neat thing to learn” but as survival tools in the modern age. Bill Joy, Chief Scientist of Sun Microsystems explained recently that with the dawn of the information age humanity is going through changes at a speed that dwarfs all of human history combined, and is only getting faster and faster. Psychological studies show that change causes stress. T’ai Chi and Qigong, as discussed earlier regarding “resistance,” were designed to promote and ease the strain of change in our lives. These ancient tools are increasingly becoming the prescriptions for the future. However, we must learn to make them digestible, and tangible to people’s modern lives, and most of all we must make them FUN! If people don’t enjoy them, they won’t practice them. When Chinese people practice T’ai Chi they say they are “playing” T’ai Chi. In the Complete Idiot’s Guide to T’ai Chi & Qigong I strove to expose the philosophy, science, and powerful life expansion tools of T’ai Chi in their most essential reality, as games of life that are fun. Growth can be profound and fun, and T’ai Chi is perhaps humanity’s most powerful lubricant to ease the strain of the future. Let’s loosen up, and have some fun growing.

Bill Douglas is the Tai Chi Expert at DrWeil.com, Founder of World T’ai Chi & Qigong Day (held in 60 nations each year), and has authored and co-authored several books including a #1 best selling Tai Chi book The Complete Idiot’s Guide to T’ai Chi & Qigong. Bill’s been a Tai Chi source for The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, etc. Bill is the author of the ebook, How to be a Successful Tai Chi Teacher (Namasta University Publishing). You can learn more about Tai Chi & Qigong, search a worldwide teachers directory, and also contact Bill Douglas at http://www.worldtaichiday.org

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Apr 14 2015

The Da Vinci Code of Tai Chi

Published by under tai chi,yin yang TCM

Could Tai Chi evolve into a profound healing technology that
enables a world out of balance to find harmony?

The recent uproar over The Da Vinci Code book, and now movie, has diverged into a tedious argument about historical factual details. However, one thing that is indisputable is that the book touched something in millions of readers across the planet. Perhaps the magic spark that excited readers to tell others about the book, eventually making it a global best seller, was not the facts or fiction of the book, but rather the metaphoric truth it exposed.

That truth was about the male and female aspects of consciousness, or what ancient Chinese philosophers would refer to as the yin and the yang. The male, or yang aspects of consciousness are the seen world, the linear and active, constructive and analytical world. The female or yin being the unseen and non-linear, the receptive, the contemplative, and the intuitive aspect of consciousness and reality.

Chinese philosophers millennia ago, began to realize the duality of reality, just as modern physics now understands that there are positive and negative polarities at the very root of all existence, and it is the dance of these polarities that enables creation to continually destruct and be reborn into endless possibilities of creation. This means that within each being’s atoms there are both positive and negative polarities that harmonize in a dynamic balance of life, just as there are feminine and masculine aspects to the consciousness of each human being. Just as in nature, when we find harmony within our consciousness for both these polarities, that is when we are functioning and evolving at our highest levels.

The Da Vinci Code was a poem if you will, a metaphoric message bringing up the reality that beginning with the decision not to employ the gospel of Mary Magdalene, and the persistent rumors of her being diminished as a prostitute had a domino effect. Perhaps setting into motion a consciousness that later enabled the murder of tens of thousands of outspoken women branded as “witches” through the dark ages, and the current renunciation of women to the priesthood. These dominos of the basic renunciation of the feminine or yin power in society has had an effect on the consciousness of humanity over these many centuries. These facts and their result are undeniable.

What impact has this had on society? In a world of plenty billions often go hungry, while millions actually die of starvation and abject poverty annually. Estimates are that a mere $20 billion dollars a year could end starvation in the world. A mere pittance when compared to the world’s nearly one trillion dollars in annual arms & military expenditures, as noted by the prestigious Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SPIRI), for 2003. Yang energy solves problems by striking out, aggressive efforts to control and bend reality to certain ends.

However, feminine or yin energy has a contemplative side that can offer us an opportunity to open to multiple views and myriad options, weighing not in a linear fashion how to most immediately control resources, but a more communal approach that may take more time, but rather can result in more sustainable long term solutions to family and global problems. The nesting aspects of women are an example of this. They yearn on some deep level to keep a household in order, not because they enjoy the tedious tasks required to do so, but because on some unseen level there is a knowing that that order will nurture those who inhabit that dwelling. Before suggesting this is a sexist observation, be honest and compare the households of young bachelors and those of young women. If you are honest, although there are always exceptions to the norms, you’ll have to admit that the young men’s bachelor pads are more often less appealing to live in, and to eat in.

Most would agree that global warming and other environmental challenges equate to the world’s house being in an increasing state of “disorder.” The world knows that it is unbalanced with male or yang energy at this time. Perhaps this was necessary for the world to develop and expand and connect. I’m not judging one energy to be better than another, all are necessary. However, the universe is designed for balance. And it appears now that the world is in dire need of becoming more conscious of its yin/feminine energy. Ideas like energy conservation are yin/feminine concepts, just as exploring and drilling more and more holes for oil are obvious yang/male concepts.

The popularity of The Da Vinci Code, may show an awareness of our need to value the feminine energy of us all at this critical time in human history. So, how do we do that? How do we emerge from centuries of dismissing and repressing feminine or yin energy, in a way and at a speed that can help us through the challenges of our modern times? Tai Chi may be a huge part of a global healing, by providing a vehicle to expand the power of the feminine, yin, energy throughout humanity.

Yet, within every endeavor in life the yang/masculine and yin/feminine energies are involved, and there is a struggle to find balance. And although Tai Chi may be part of the healing solutions, even Tai Chi is not above the fray in this struggle for balance and wholeness. The originators of Tai Chi seem to have been aware of creating something that profoundly balances humans on the deepest levels. We see the results of their awareness they wove into the technology of Tai Chi, in the emerging medical research reporting that Tai Chi can help balance hormonal levels in aging men and women (lowering men’s high estrogen levels, while raising women’s low estrogen levels), and lowering the blood sugar levels of people with Type II diabetes, for example. These results show us a physical shadow of the internal balancing Tai Chi has on people.

Yet, Tai Chi itself, as mentioned before also struggles with finding balance to become its most effective and profound self. Tai Chi is known worldwide as a “martial art,” and indeed it is a highly developed form of self-defense that enables practitioners to defend themselves from attack both physically from attackers, and health wise from invading viruses and bacteria. These are examples of the yang or masculine aspect of Tai Chi.

However, there is also a powerful yin or feminine aspect that Tai Chi offers, perhaps more than any other known exercise. This is the unseen, the receptive, the intuitive nature of Tai Chi. When one is not doing Tai Chi as a martial arts Kata (series of fighting forms), consciously warding off enemies with each thought and muscle motion, or with a conscious intention to heal something, but rather losing oneself in the flow of motion, breath, and physical release . . . that is when the mind, heart, and body are immersed in the yin or feminine aspects of Tai Chi.

This is not a utilitarian aspect of Tai Chi. It is not being done to “defend,” or “to strike,” or even to “heal oneself” with the motions. For utilitarian usage of Tai Chi immediately puts the mind and body into a Yang or Masculine modality where form and outcome are utmost and control is needed to exact the “desired outcome.” The yin or feminine energy seeks no result, but rather opens to the pleasure of what is, as it unfolds from within the opening petals of consciousness and experience coming together without any destination or intention, or judgment, or analysis of right and wrong, correct or incorrect, superior or inferior.

What good is such practice? Some might ask. Creativity and inspiration come from the unseen, the yin, the receptive, the intuitive. Albert Einstein once said, “Imagination is more important that knowledge.” Einstein didn’t devalue the masculine or yang consciousness, for he also defined success as “10% inspiration and 90% perspiration.” However, he did exalt the yin, feminine, intuitive consciousness as the MOST important. For without that all important “spark” of awareness or inspiration which can only come from quiet contemplative thought, the 90% perspiration would be as purposeful as a busy hamster running around its endless wheel that leads nowhere. Just as many of the world’s actions today are resulting in environmental and political messes that could easily be avoided, if preceded by deep “contemplation” before action occurs. Too often our endless business (busy-ness) is not purposeful at all as far as solving our global problems, but to the unaware observer the decision makers look “very busy.”

Qi, or life energy, is a subtle unseen power that emerges from the very fabric of the subatomic field that makes up all matter. In this field all things are connected, and insights from this pure consciousness can be powerfully complex solutions that seem simple and elegant and obvious, once they come to mind. Tai Chi may help cultivate such intuitive, receptive states of mind if taught to that end. Tai Chi can be incorporated with gentle deep breathing, and physical loosening, and mental images of constantly “letting go” of everything so that this unseen force of the universe can flow through us, emanating from every cell and atom of our being, and expanding effortlessly from each airy fold of the tissues of our mind. We can allow every atom of our being to glow with and be permeated by this energy of life as we move through the flowing motions of Tai Chi “without purpose,” “without analysis,” “without grades, or self judgments.” But rather, only for the sheer pleasure of being, while experiencing the thousands of wonderful sensations tingling and percolating through the body. Tai Chi becomes an effortless self massage that flows through the yielding heart, mind, and body. This state is not directed by the mind, but allows the mind to let go and be massaged by the pleasant sensations flowing through it, holding on to nothing, not analyzing or even naming the sensations caressing and washing the mind as they flow through.

This pool of sensation Tai Chi can bathe us in again and again, day after day, enables the subtle possibilities and gentle power of the yin and feminine to permeate our being and consciousness, and through that, affect our actions in the world. It can change the way we function, so that rather than charging into personal, or social, or national decisions, we now instinctively contemplate and intuit all the possible outcomes of that action BEFORE taking that action. This could keep us out of costly wars, and reduce futile quests to find where on earth to dump thousands of tons of highly toxic nuclear waste that will be poisonous for tens of thousands of years. It may open us up to more subtle yielding approaches to international relations, that can get us the desired results through the subtle dance of negotiation which entails listening before acting, which is a very yin or feminine quality. It may draw us more to passive energy solutions like solar or wind that could easily solve all our energy needs, and we would never need to fight anyone anywhere over the sun or the wind, which is available to all equally.

This treatise is not meant to dispute that Tai Chi is a highly effective martial application, and a highly effective health tool. Those powerful aspects are embraced within Tai Chi’s even larger possibilities. It is not an either or argument, there is no contention in this essay. However, a call is made to open to what may be a profound larger aspect of Tai Chi that can be made available to billions of people worldwide at a time when the world desperately needs to learn to find a balance in the deepest part of our being, a balance that extols the subtle and quiet power of the feminine or yin aspect of who we are individually and as communities and nations. Tai Chi is now taught in virtually every nation in the world, and can perhaps now contribute to solving humanity’s hunger for balance between the male and female, between the yin and the yang. Generations may look back and see that Tai Chi teachers of today played a pivotal role in human history.

If so, this would make what we do as Tai Chi & Qigong teachers more interesting and exciting than any novel could be, as we write The Tai Chi Code with the actions, and non-actions, of our lives and our teaching. Tai Chi & Qigong have evolved over many centuries, and are continuing to evolve today through teachers worldwide. We may play a part in helping to bring balance to our world by evolving the way we teach Tai Chi & Qigong, so that it best fills the needs of people seeking it to improve their lives and world. Plus to open to the shear pleasure of the exercise and the teaching of it, simply feels good.

SIDEBAR TO ESSAY:

So How Do I, as a Tai Chi Teacher, Focus on the Yin of Tai Chi?

Isn’t focusing on something yang?

Transcendental meditation techniques employ the use of a word, or mantra, preferably a word that has no literal meaning to the meditator using it. The mantra is meant to take the mind out of conscious linear thought by keeping it busy enough not to get tangled up in analysis, regret, etc. that the mind often gets drawn to when we close our eyes. The repetition of that word is not an analytical process, but a monotonous repetition that allows the mind to dis-engage from the empirical world, to drift in the unseen, or field of consciousness as TM’s founder used to say.

Tai Chi offers an opportunity for practitioners to use the physical pleasure of gentle, effortless motions, breath, and visualization of relaxation to be a mantra that occupies the mind so that it doesn’t drift back into the entanglements of life. Each Qigong warm up, and Tai Chi movement can be used as a meditation by constantly bringing our minds back inside to the pleasure of sensation, allowing the mind to bath in pure sensation, pure thought, BEFORE they become named or analyzed. The preverbal state of pure consciousness enables Tai Chi practitioners to bathe in yin or feminine, receptive energy.

Rather than instructing students to do this as you go through warm ups or Tai Chi movements, it is better to talk yourself through this, reminding yourself to absolutely let go of every atom of your being as the 50 trillions cells that make you up begin to massage one another as the dan tien takes your body through effortless motions, absolutely letting go of every atom with each exhale of the body. As you talk yourself through this loosening pleasure mantra of feeling the body, your vocal cords relax, the vibration of your voice becomes more soothing to the students, they resonate with your internal loosening to relax deeper inside themselves. I talk myself through allowing the movements and breath to loosen me, reminding myself on each deep exhale to “let the shoulders drop” and allow the body to “relax onto the vertical axis.” I’m saying these words out loud so the class can hear, but when I encourage them to breathe and to deeply let go, as if every atom of your being were exhaling and letting go, or reminding them to absolutely let go with each loosening breath, as the dan tien effortlessly moves and rotates the body, enjoying the sensation of 50 trillion cells massaging one another through this cleansing field of light and energy, I am actually making space for myself to feel those things. When I tell the class to breathe and let go, I then let myself breathe and let go, to feel what they are feeling. This is different than instructing my class. Because now I allow myself to immerse in the experience, and to be loosened and healed by it as my mouth talks me through it out loud.

I used to watch my students when they went through the Qigong warm ups at the beginning of class. Now, I have my eyes closed encouraging new students to look at me to get an idea of what I’m doing and then close their eyes to feel inside themselves as layer upon layer within continues to let go. As I relax into the experience, the entire room relaxes more into it.

I don’t intellectually challenge my students to always do something new. I have students who’ve been with me for years still doing the same series of Qigong warm ups. Why don’t they get bored with it? Because we explore new ground each time we do it, not intellectually with new yang information to fill the yang mind more, but deeper and wider in a sensory, receptive yin experience that is ever more expansive within. They don’t intellectually learn more and more, but rather through the familiarity and internal awareness repetition allows, they sink deeper and deeper into the experience over the years.

This is a pleasant, effortless, and profoundly beneficial experience for me as the teacher, and for the students. This is not me making the class good, but us as a group immersing ourselves in an effortless, mutually beneficial experience. My class instruction has become more yielding, more feeling, more yin, more feminine . . . and many of my students keep coming back year after year.

AUTHOR BIO:

Bill Douglas is the author of the ebook, How to be a Successful Tai Chi Teacher (Namasta University Publishing). He is also the Founder of World Tai Chi & Qigong Day, and is a best selling Tai Chi author, whose internationally popular book, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to T’ai Chi & Qigong (Penguin Putnam) is now in 3rd edition. Bill is the presenter in the DVD, Anthology of T’ai Chi & Qigong: The Prescription for the Future, and has been a Tai Chi source for The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, USA Weekend, Parade Magazine, Reader’s Digest, Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post, Russia’s Omsk Weekly News, and over 100 media worldwide. You can contact Bill, find his ebook on teaching, or learn more about World Tai Chi & Qigong Day at: www.worldtaichiday.org

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Mar 17 2013

Yang Style Tai Chi

Published by under tai chi,yin yang TCM

Yang style tai chi is the first style of tai chi to be properly formulated in to forms and one of the most popular styles today. In my opinion it is the most true to the principals of Tai Chi, being that even today after hundreds of years has changed very little, (bar the new short forms) There are those that say they are doing Yang style tai chi, but if it is not true to one of the foundation forms, such as the Yang Lu Chan form or the Yang Cheng fu form, then it is probably not true to Yang style. The newer short forms try their best to look like Tai Chi but in my opinion are just a shell and underneath there is no essence left.
Yang Lu Chan 1799–1872, was the inventor of the old yang style. Old because it is the oldest of the Yang style forms, many regard this as the ultimate Tai Chi form, as it has a perfect balance of slow energy gathering movements and explosive energy releasing movements. It also has a perfect balance of movements on both left and right sides. Some other forms do not have such a perfect balance and have to be done on both left and right sides to get what you would get from the Yang Lu Chan form on one side alone. It is the epitome of what Tai Chi is, a martial/healing art. Unlike other forms which are just for health, the old form also teaches you about deadly Dim-Mak fighting. But still retains the highest healing qualities of all the forms.
Yang Cheng fu 1883–1936, was the inventor of the Yang Chen Fu form, which is also know as the long form because most schools don’t teach the Old form so this has become to them the longest form. Yang Cheng Fu changed the old form slightly, taking out the more explosive moves and some of the more strenuous jumps and kicks. This enabled everyone to practice tai chi, including older more frail students. Even though he changed some of these moves, he did it in a way as to not disturb the energy flow and original intent of the form enabling everyone to get the great health benefits of tai chi. After he invented the Yang Cheng fu form he said…
“to change the form any further, would be to ruin what Yang Lu Chan had taken so long to create”
The reason for this is that if too many changes are made to the original Yang Style Form then the energy flows are changed too. If you perform movements that go against the body’s natural energy flow, you will be doing your health a great damage, by causing blockages to your Qi. This is much more important when getting to the higher levels of tai chi, so if you intend on making tai chi a part of your life and progressing to the higher levels, take care to make sure you are practising one of the two original Yang Style forms.

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Mar 11 2013

The Social Web of Stress

Published by under tai chi

by Bill Douglas, Founder of World Tai Chi & Qigong Day

Copyright 2005

WORD COUNT: 1,131

“Could Tai Chi and Qigong be one of the root solutions
to the dilemma of modern human challenges?”

Urban sprawl and suburban flight are causing massive traffic jams on freeways nationwide, as individuals are working longer and longer hours. The invisible effect is a nation buckling under accumulating stress that affects parents, children, and society in budget busting and heart wrenching ways.

70% of all illness is due to unmanaged stress according to the National Institute of Mental Health (US). Longer work hours and thickening traffic are part of the problem, but it goes deeper. Family stresses are piled onto this work/traffic stress. Children are often left on their own between 3 PM and 7 PM, after they get out of school and while their parents are working or fighting traffic. Tragically, and not coincidentally, this is when most crime is committed.

Our national crime costs are near $500 billion per year, while our health care costs are $1 trillion per year. Our system’s buckling from trying to repair damage that is already done to our bodies, our children, and our society, through backend spending on health problems and prison/court/enforcement costs. How can we deal with the front end, before these problems occur?

What if we went to the root of these stress related problems. Many children turn to the drugs and alcohol, which is behind most youth crime, for “stress management.” Their lives are increasingly stressful in a rapidly changing world, and their parents are unavailable, battling their own stress issues and the lives that cause them. So, how could we affect the root problem, or stress? Government can play a powerful role in affecting this deteriorating situation, by affecting the direction of our economic development.

Tens of millions of Americans could begin working several days a week at home, telecommuting via the Internet. The technology is there, yet companies and employees do not utilize it. Government could provide tax incentives to companies to establish telecommuting days for employees. Dollars would be saved immediately on traffic costs, road wear, and emergency care as millions are taken off the hi ways daily. Air would immediately become cleaner, reducing the alarming increase in asthma problems nationwide. But, the most important benefit would be a national sigh of relief as parents and children can relax more around the demands of job and family. A parent who works 8 hours from home, rather than fighting an hour or two of freeway traffic, working 8 hours, and then fighting the same traffic to get home too late to truly relax, brings an entirely different parent home to the children. This may help a parent be one who has time to “be there” to help with the challenges of life our children face.

This would not only affect telecommuting parents, but others who must drive or bus to work will find the roadways much clearer and less polluted, leaving them healthier and less stressed when they get home much earlier than before. However, the other issue affecting all is the one of hours worked. Too many Americans are skipping breaks, and working way past the 8 hour work day that our ancestors sometimes fought and died for. Breaks and 8 hour work days were not fought for because our forefathers and mothers had nothing better to do. They were established because this limitation of work to find balance in life is “essential” to our quality of life. Again, when most crime is committed between the time school lets out and the time parents get home and we are building and filling prisons faster than ever before in our history, it is time to “take a deep breath.” It is time to reevaluate how we are living.

We must decide whether human beings should be squeezed into a matrix that does not nurture us or our children, or whether we use the emerging technology to redefine our lives to flow around us like a soothing healing balm. We are entering an age of technological miracles that can provide an extraordinary quality of life — if we choose to use these tools for that. However, right now the opposite is occurring, as stress overwhelms us and 70% of illness and the six leading causes of death are the result of stress. With the dawn of the information/computer age the average worker is many times more productive than their counterparts decades ago, yet we are working longer hours for little more money. How do we change this? First of all by lifting our heads up to see beyond “what is” — to see what “could be.”

There is an extraordinary book called Flatland. The main character is a one-dimensional worm who crawls through a groove seeing only the butt of the one-dimensional worm in front of him. This is his world. But, then one day he suddenly on impulse turns to the side, and finds a whole new two dimensional world expanding outward, left, right, front and back. This blows his mind and he goes wild and discovers that he can “lift up” off the two dimensional plane his expanded world had become into a “three-dimensional” reality. He can look DOWN, and look UP, and see LEFT, and RIGHT, and a whole new world expands all around him. But, when he goes back to his one-dimensional world, the worm in front of him thinks he’s gone crazy dreaming up these ridiculous possibilities of an “expanded world.”

Our society is at a point with the level of technological development to lift up from “the way we are doing things.” We can literally redefine our society to fit human needs. A compassionate economy can unfold within, throughout and all about us, until we see crime and health care costs whither, and surpluses growing, effortlessly and simply by learning to live in ways that “feel good.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Bill Douglas is the Tai Chi Expert at DrWeil.com, Founder of World T’ai Chi & Qigong Day (held in 60 nations each year), and has authored and co-authored several books including a #1 best selling Tai Chi book The Complete Idiot’s Guide to T’ai Chi & Qigong. Bill’s been a Tai Chi source for The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, etc. Bill is the author of the ebook, How to be a Successful Tai Chi Teacher (Namasta University Publishing). You can learn more about Tai Chi & Qigong, search a worldwide teachers directory, and also contact Bill Douglas at http://www.worldtaichiday.org

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Mar 11 2013

The Tai Chi Form

Published by under tai chi

When people talk about the Tai Chi form, they are usually referring to the slow form. There are many other forms, such as the San-Sau fighting forms, and weapons forms etc.
Here I’m going to talk a bit about the slow forms.
There are two versions of the long slow form, The Yang Lu-chan form, (Old form) and the Yang Cheng-fu form, (New form) The WTBA does not rate the shortened forms as proper Tai Chi, they are just a bunch of moves that look like Tai Chi, but have no depth.
The Tai Chi form is the mother of all the other forms, the weapons, the fighting forms etc, they are all based upon the long form. The Old form is the most balanced of all the forms, having mostly slow movements, but also a good amount of fast explosive martial moves, giving it a perfect balance of both yin and yang Qi, healing and martial qualities, as well as physically balanced, working the left and right sides of the body equally.
The new form however, was created to be made easier for older people or anyone not fit enough to perform the old form. And also by removing most of the martial intent from the form, the old masters could teach Tai Chi to outsiders with out them learning their family secrets. (Of course now a days everything is given out freely, because having the best fighting art is only useful for self defence, as today there are guns.) This means the form is in effect not balanced, you have to do it on both sides to balance the left and right of your body. As well as it is more yin than yang, and so if practicing this form, you need to balance it with the Small San-Sau.
How ever this is not to say it’s not a good form. It does what t’s meant to do. Better to do this form well, than the old form badly. Most people have to much yang in their life, through work and stress etc. So doing this form will only do good to your body. Giving you a better quality of life, relaxing your body and mind. Strengthening you body, gaining flexibility, balance and coordination etc. You only have to worry about the form making you to yin if you become very good at your Tai Chi, and are practicing many times per day. But if you’re that into your training then you should probably try the old form by then.
The form is one of the main things that will help you to link your internal Qi in with you physical movement. This is the main thing we’re trying to achieve in the art, for both the healing and martial side of things. You start off with a set way of doing the form, most people will do it the same in the beginning. In some cases an experienced teacher will teach a certain student a more yin or yang way of doing the form, suited to them.
After you become very proficient in the form, you will start to feel the energy in your body, and your form will change, linking to the flow of Qi in your body. Still doing the same moves, but in your own way. You must let this happen at its own pace, and take the guidance of your teacher. If you think you’re ready and try to change your form with out feeling it, you will head down the wrong path and you training will go down hill.

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Mar 11 2013

Tai Chi for Health

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Learning Tai Chi for Health: Tai Chi is now known world wide as a great healing art, and is also growing in it’s popularity for the martial side.
For more on the Benefits of Tai Chi go Here
Tai Chi is much more than just a slow exercise, although a lot of it today isn’t. Most Tai Chi schools unfortunately have come about from someone learning the very basic movements of the form etc, and going off and starting to teach them after a 6 month course.
It takes at least 10 years to begin to understand the depths of Tai Chi. This is not to say that it will take you 10 years to start getting benefits from it, you’ll be seeing benefits as soon as you start training.
But if your teacher has only studied with their teacher for a short time, then they will not be showing you the correct stuff, and so all you will get out of the class is some physical exercise, which is still good, but you’re paying money for something you could have for free by just going for a walk.
Tai Chi was designed in a way to work every muscle, joint and sinew in the body, while also keeping relaxed in both body and mind. But it has to be done in a very detailed way to get this happening.
The postures also give you an internal cleansing, sending a higher than normal flow of Qi “energy” through your bodies energy meridians. Again with out your teacher having the proper knowledge of all this, you won’t be learning the proper way of moving the body to get these activations happening.
A basic guideline, is to learn one of the long forms, as the short forms have been watered down so much, they have lost all of the above. They were designed for competitions in China, to look nice, but are really nothing more than some slow movements that look like Tai Chi.
The more original and pure the style is; the better it will be.

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Mar 11 2013

The Benefits of Tai Chi

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There are so many benefits of tai chi, not only health wise but self defense wise too. Here I’ll be focusing on the health tai chi benefits, but if you’re interested in the self defense side then please go to that section in articles at the top of this page.
Also see Tai Chi for Health for more on Tai Chi and Health
As you probably thought, Tai Chi not only has physical health benefits but also has internal energy and mind benefits. In the beginning of your Tai Chi training you will experience more physical benefits such as fitness, balance, coordination and timing.
After a few months you will start to experience more benefits of Tai Chi such as being more relaxed, bringing your stress levels down and you may even by this point start to feel some balancing out of your energy and a much higher flow of energy, some people experience this as a slight buzzing in the hands or fingers. A balancing of the mind can come out as having a greater sense of focus, sense of purpose and a higher sense of enthusiasm to get things done in general.
As your training progresses you will continue to gain internal mind and energy Tai Chi benefits, everyone will experience these benefits in a different way.
People with Diabetes won’t have to take as much medication as the Tai Chi helps to keep blood sugar levels in check.
People recovering from strokes will gain back movement much quicker sometimes gaining movement back that otherwise would not be possible.
People that are overweight or under weight will find it much easier to reach a healthy weight.
These benefits are only the beginning, and will happen in your first year of training if in combination with a healthy diet and healthy lifestyle.
But if you continue to keep going up to the higher levels of Tai Chi the list of Tai Chi benefits are endless, I say to most people (that ask what they can expect) that because Tai Chi helps to balance your body out physically and mentally it will help with almost any ailment in the body and you will feel better because of it. Now if you don’t have any ailments and already have a good state of health, the potential for health and fitness is almost endless.
I will start to add other people’s experiences with Tai Chi benefits here, as there are so many of them and so many different true stories to be told.

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Jul 27 2009

Develop Psychic Powers Qigong

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If you don’t believe in psychic power and the power of the mind and will, then you’ve never witnessed a master of Qigong. The masters can do amazing feats. Many scientists have recorded then and attempt to explain how they occur. Masters of the art of Qigong harness their energy and make it stronger. Some believe that it encourages neural pathways to develop between the right and left side of the brain. Scientists already know that one side controls the logical, the planning, the thinking side and the other controls the creative. It makes sense that creating the bridge would allow an increase in their energy force.

In the case of Qigong, practice does make perfect. It increases as the student learns to focus intently, build concentration and will. It uses body movements and meditation to do this. Depending on the area the master chooses to develop his skill, he may develop the ability to move objects, start fires, heal at close proximity or at a distance or develop other psychic powers. Many of these feats are recorded both in writing and on video. The practitioners didn’t demonstrate the abilities before they started their training. The training brought their abilities to the foreground and allowed them to use them. It allowed them to tap into what they already possessed.

Studies on meditation show a change in brain patterns. As the person practicing meditation progresses and becomes more accomplished eventually all the brain pattern is the alpha wave. The alpha wave is the one that occurs when people learn the best and perform psychic acts.

Studies into quantum physics confirm the potential for psychic phenomena. The smallest particles are no longer the atom. They are smaller than the electron. These particles are moved throughout the atom with energy. They make a quantum leap from one shell to another and change the very structure of the matter where they exist. Consider someone that has the ability to focus energy and the desire to change a substance. Let us take a look at the Qigong master that heals. He focuses on the virus or diseased cells and uses his energy to change the matter into healthy cells. It is logical and feasible that this feat is possible.

In many of the Eastern practices like Qigong, a form of Tai Chi, the self needs to be quieted. Pride has no place in Qigong. The reason is twofold. First, it elevates the role of the practitioner to creator. He is not, he only directs the energy already in place and provided to him. The second is that it changes the focus of the practitioner from the outcome to himself. This blocks the energy. This takes a great deal of training and self will to do. It is normal for people to crave the attention when they accomplish a major feat.

Anyone can learn these abilities. It takes dedication to advance to the great levels that the masters posses. Some that study the art of Qigong may start into the study to make themselves healthier or even for the hope of psychic ability and perhaps a quick trip to Las Vegas, but find that the more they develop, the less they choose to use the power for self advancement and the more they choose to improve humanity.

By: conradraw

Article Directory: http://www.articledashboard.com

“Conrad Raw is an expert on practical techniques for personal and spiritual development. He is a bestselling co-author with Wayne Dyer and Brian Tracy and is the author of “The Zensation Manual: Forbidden Secrets of Personal and Spiritual Development”. How To Develop Psychic Powers Visit his website to get your free video course on how to activate your true potential. Psychic Power”

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