Climbing Half Dome in Yosemite w TCC

As a person who doesn't like heights, I was facing the possibility of an extremely frightening experience - as well as one of profound beauty. Both opposites are often found in life experiences: birth, death and even marriage can seem frightening.

A Daughter On The Mountaintop Experience, By T & J S, Minneapolis, MN

My husband wanted to climb Half Dome during our trip to Yosemite. Because I love him, I wanted to give him this experience. While we trained our bodies, I trained my mind and spirit to tame the fear and be open to the beauty. I visualized staying grounded in earth energy and opening to heavenly beauty. This is exactly what I experience in Cosmic Consciousness pose.

When the day arrived, we huffed and puffed for eight hours until we reached the start of the climb. Waterfalls along the way were spectacular and some of the ascents treacherous, but at every pause, I remained calm and took in the beauty. I only swore once, which was in itself amazing considering the magnitude of the feat.

The base of Half Dome presented the hardest aspect of the climb, with frequent close encounters with sheer drops. Then came the final, cable-assisted ascent. This was harder than expected, but I stayed calm and rested when needed. The calm, grace-filled voice of a park ranger behind me offered encouraging words to climbers.

When we reached the summit, it felt very much like the top of the world. Panoramas were breathtakingly beautiful. Every mountain exuded power while reaching heavenward. Moving with "Daughter on the Mountaintop" I was one with the mountain. 

* * *

Reprinted with permission from the August 2016 issue of TCC journal, The Vital Force.

To learn more about TCC movements, including Daughter on the Mountaintop and Cosmic Consciousness Pose, visit this page on our website

Why we become TCC teachers

 

Many T'ai Chi Chih students eventually become TCC teachers, some many years after first experiencing the practice. Why do they then undertake the extra level of study and commitment? In the August 2016 issue of the TCC journal, The Vital Force, several newly accredited TCC teachers explained their reasons. Excerpts follow below.

“I don't remember when I chose to become a teacher, but I do know that it came to me slowly – only after I started studying Justin Stone's book, Spiritual Odyssey. I initially rebelled, but when I finally started reading this book my heart was joyous. … Let me be clear: TCC is not a religion. Yet Justin's background is steeped in (older eastern) religions, and that spirituality shines through in his writings. It's this inherent spirituality in TCC that calls me to teach. I want to share this heartfelt Joy, this oneness of humanity, with others.” – S.R., Fort Collins, CO
 
. . . . . .
"My TCC journey began more than 20 years ago. As a teenager attending community college in Arizona, I saw a T’ai Chi class listed. It sounded cool, far eastern and maybe a little mystical, so I signed up. I’m glad I did. The wonderful class turned out to be T’ai Chi Chih. I even wrote a poem about it for The Vital Force (December 1994). And I enjoyed class so much that I enrolled in Seijaku the next semester to deepen my practice.

“After completing my degree and moving to Las Vegas, I couldn’t find a TCC teacher so I practiced on and off for years – sometimes more, sometimes less.
 
“Fast forward to 2015. I decided to reconnect deeply with my practice and was delighted to find a retreat just over 100 miles from my home in Arizona. The softness and beauty of the retreat leader’s practice made me fall in love again. I was determined to connect with a community to practice and share the Chi. Unfortunately, there were no instructors teaching near my home. I was going to need to build the community I wanted to be a part of, so I would have to become an accredited teacher myself.” – N.P., Surprise, AZ

. . . . . 
“In the early 1990s I was living in Arizona and could not get through the pain from a major loss. So I sought out a grief counselor who was also a T’ai Chi Chih teacher. She had me doing TCC weekly with her for almost five years, which was a big help with the grief process. When I returned home to Colorado, I stopped doing TCC for about 15 years because I was busy as a single mom. I may have left TCC but it never left me.
 
“Once again I found myself with another major loss so I sought out TCC again. I realized then that I really want to help others by teaching because it has helped me so much. I want to help seniors with their health, and possibly grief, since as they get older they start losing so much.” – B.F., Arvada, CO
 
. . . . .
“I had been introduced to the practice in 1998 and had been attracted to its benefits and its lovely practitioners. However, I had not been active for many years, and now … I knew I had been called to teach and I began to believe in myself, and to believe that my sincere effort would allow me to be successful and to pass the teacher accreditation process. However, as with all of life, once this hurdle was passed, I would then be called to begin again – this time as a new teacher. Isn’t life grand?” – E.F., Glenwood Springs, CO

. . . . .

Would you like more inspiration? Connection with the global TCC community? Hints and tips for a better practice? Join us  subscribe to The Vital Force
 
In each issue, T’ai Chi Chih teachers and students describe their experiences and benefits gained from this practice of 19 movements and one pose. And we always highlight wisdom by, and photos rarely seen of, originator Justin Stone. 

The joy of becoming a TCC teacher

Learning TCC is more than learning a set of movements. It’s also welcoming a growing awareness of the movement of the Chi and the wonderful cumulative effects of practice. Below, two newly accredited TCC teachers translate these unique experiences into words to inspire us all.

TCCAccreditation in Pennsylvania, June 2016   Compiled by AL, Prospect Park, PA

* * * * *

My intention at the start of this accreditation week was to: be open to peace and joy; allow softness and continuity; be friends with my Chi and the Chi of each who is helping and hoping for growth; and be in balance of giving and receiving.

During the humbling first days, I let go of insecurity and expectation. All the countless hours of practice were represented in its raw reality. I let it be and accepted all that was offered in feedback. Then I discovered that my intention to make friends also applied to the Chi of each movement and I was finally able to make a fuller flowing connection with Carry the Ball to the Side. Making friends with this new favorite movement has softened all of my previous favorite movements. So I recommend learning to love the one movement that challenges you – to overcome the hidden blockage in your practice.

I am thankful for every minute of driving (including some great distances) to TCC classes; the extra months I gave myself to prepare for accreditation; the indoor and outdoor practices; the practices when I felt sick or healthy; the time studying Justin's videos; the time reading and listening to Justin’s other sources; and (most of all) helpful clues from multiple teachers. All of it, it was all necessary beforehand.

Even so I arrived without a pre-set presentation. It percolated until the day it was done. The Chi flowed and I let it write itself in a succinct testimony of balance. This sounds idealistic but I am a scrappy-rewrite-it-again speechwriter so this seemed like a crazy miracle of spirit. I think my presentation ended up giving a glimpse of how TCC has brought balance to my life.

I completed accreditation full of joy and peace. I really can feel the bubbling springs

beneath my feet, in my heart, head and soul. I am letting go of rigid control and allowing gentleness to flow in my knees and joints. I honor my core truth daily with more awareness than before I arrived. Plus I met my tribe in the TCC community and you are absolutely wonderful. Looking forward to our next in person reunion. – JS

* * * * *

It was surprising and enriching in ways I suspect will unfold little by little. When auditing teachers shared on the first day how much fun we would have, I was skeptical, my vashannas (habit energies) firmly in operation.

The breakdown came on the second day, with the first correction. The noise in my head began; I made a panicked call to my instructor for reassurance. Did I really belong here? Was I a worthy candidate? Prajna comes (softly as it tends to), inviting me to trust and let go. And then suddenly it comes rushing in, surrounding me, connecting me, making me a part of it. I find warmth and laughter, joy and love, in everyone. – LL

Reprinted by permission from the August 2016 issue of the TCC journal, The Vital Force.

Academic research confirms TCC health benefits

T'ai Chi Chih practitioners often describe the immense health benefits the receive from TCC. Read some of their stories here. Objective academic research confirms health benefits, too. A sample of studies and links are provided below; the full list can be viewed here.  To find a TCC teacher in your local area, visit the teacher directory on our website here.

2013

10/24/13
“T’ai Chih (Chih) for Arthritis Relief” 
Healthline.com
Academic research increasingly shows that slow, gentle movements like those in T’ai Chi Chih® help relieve pain, stiffness and other symptoms of arthritis. TCC, this author notes, is increasingly popular because it provides similar benefits.

2/25/13

“A TED Talk: The Effects of Ta’i Chih Chih on High School Students” 
TEDx Albuquerque, NM: Innovations in Education
TCC teacher Amy Tyksinski and two students demonstrate this moving meditation while discussing the benefits high school students have experienced as result of the practice.

2012

7/2/12
“Ta’i Chih Chih Class Takes Off at Manalapan Library” 
Asbury (NJ) Park Press
Teacher Dan Pienciak and students explain the many benefits of T’ai Chi Chih.

1/1/12
“Slow Motion: T’ai Chi Chih Classes Keep You Moving Without Sweating” 
Herald Net (Everett, WA)
Teacher Beth Preston and students describe benefits they’ve received from TCC practice.

2011

10/1/11
“Complementary Use of T’ai Chi Chih Augments Escitalopram Treatment of Geriatric Depression: A Randomized Controlled Trial”
American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
UCLA research shows that TCC helps lessen depressive symptoms in seniors.

Ongoing
“T’ai Chi Chih – Moving Meditation”
NationalPainFoundation.org
Chronic regional pain syndrome (CRPS) sufferer describes how TCC helped reduce symptoms.

3/20/11
“T’ai Chi (Chih) Beats Back Depression in Elderly, Study Shows”
ScienceDaily.com
Report on research at UCLA Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences

3/18/11
“T’ai Chi (Chih) Eases Depression in Elderly”
The New York Times/Well blog

3/18/11
“Good News: T’ai Chi (Chih) Helps Fight Depression Among the Elderly”
TIME magazine

3/17/11
“Depressed Seniors Benefit from T’ai Chi (Chih)”
ThirdAge.com

3/16/11
“T’ai Chi (Chih) Beats Back Depression in Elderly, Study Shows”
Press release by UCLA Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences

2/8/11
“New Strategies for Preventing Falls”
AARP.org
T’ai Chi Chih helps improve balance, build strength, and develop other qualities that help prevent falls.

2010

11 & 12/2010
“T’ai Chi Chih: Exercise Without Breaking a Sweat”
AARP Magazine
TCC overview profiles TCC teacher Raymond Reid.

9/30/10
“Sleep Problems? T’ai Chi (Chih) May Help”
ValleyNewsLive.com, Fargo, ND
Research shows that practicing TCC helps improve sleep.

7/30/10
“Time for T’ai Chi (Chih) From Your Chair”
Daily Dose blog, Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation
Research shows that the seated version of TCC provides benefits to people with spinal cord injuries who cannot do the standing version.

7/29/10
“The Physical and Mental Benefits of Seated T’ai Chi Chih”
United Spinal Association Magazine
Research shows that the seated version of TCC provides benefits to people with spinal cord injuries who cannot do the standing version.

6/21/10
“T’ai Chi (Chih) Boosts Efficacy of Antidepressant Therapy in Older Adults”
Medscape Today News/Medscape.com
Adding TCC improves resilience, quality of life, and cognitive function in older adults with major depression.

5/25/10
“Better Your Mind with T’ai Chi Chih”
ABCNews.com
Research shows that practicing TCC can help relieve depression.

Earlier

7/1/08
“Improving Sleep Quality in Older Adults with Moderate Sleep Complaints: A Randomized Controlled Trial of T’ai Chi Chih”
SLEEP (academic journal)
Research shows that practicing TCC helps improve sleep.

3/24/07
“Practicing T’ai Chi (Chih) Boosts Immune System in Older Adults”
ScienceDaily.com
TCC practitioners in a research study experienced up to a 50 percent increase in the immune system’s memory T-cells.

11/2006
“T’ai Chi Chih Acutely Decreases Sympathetic Nervous System Activity in Older Adults”
The Journals of Gerontology, Series A, Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences
Shingles immunity is greatly strengthened by regular TCC practice. TCC practitioners experienced up to a 50 percent increase in the immune system’s memory T-cells, which are responsible for attacking the virus that causes shingles.

7/28/05
“T’ai Chi Chih Practitioners Believe Balance of Energy Means Balance of Health”
Albuquerque (NM) Journal
Interview with TCC originator Justin Stone

12/1/04
“Shingles Immunity and Health Functioning in the Elderly: T’ai Chi Chih as a Behavioral Treatment”
Evidence-Based Complementary Medicine (academic journal)
TCC helps improve immunity and overall health, in part because it helps relieve depression.

9 & 10/2003
“Effects of a Behavioral Intervention, T’ai Chi Chih, on Varicella-Zoster Virus Specific Immunity and Health Functioning in Older Adults
Psychosomatic Medicine (academic journal)
TCC helps improve immunity and overall health, in part because it helps relieve depression.

9/22/03
“Mind over Matter: T’ai Chi Class Boosts Shingles Immunity, Improves Physical Functioning in Older Adults”
Press release by UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute
TCC helps improve immunity and overall health, in part because it helps relieve depression.

12/2000
“T’ai Chi Chih as an Intervention for Heart Failure”
The Nursing Clinics of North America (academic journal)
Researchers find that pre- and post-measures of heart failure symptoms, general health, mental health, functional capacity, and energy perceptions support the potential of T’ai Chi Chih in managing heart failure symptoms and improving quality of life.

10/1996
“T’ai Chi Chih: An Exercise Option for Older Adults”
Journal of Gerontological Nursing
Research shows that T’ai Chi Chih is a safe and enjoyable form of exercise that may improve balance in seniors.

1/27/90
“The Moving Joy of T’ai Chi Chih”
Los Angeles Times
Interview with TCC originator Justin Stone

 

"Higher Consciousness" by Justin F. Stone

T'ai Chi Chih originator Justin F. Stone (1916-2012) describes the nature of consciousness and how meditation helps us access a "non-dual" state.

Higher Consciousness

Reprinted with permission from the Autumn 1986 issue of the TCC journal, The Vital Force.

People often speak of “higher consciousness.” A man is coming from another state to videotape me in a research project to find those in “higher consciousness.” The truth is, there is no such thing. There is only Consciousness, and at the deepest level, it is not individual. Sometimes this consciousness is obscured, and then there seems to be “lower” consciousness. It is usually obscured by habit-energies and tendencies; ultimately, this all proceeded from thought and thought-patterns.

The sun remains the same, always, but we speak of “weak sunshine today” or talk of the strong sun in the autumn season. When clouds obscure the sun, we see it as “weak sunshine,” but the sun has not changed. Similarly, consciousness remains unchanged but, when obscured by what [some in Asian traditions] call “the dusts,” it appears “low.”

Just as the life essence remains unchanged as there is constant transmutation, so consciousness is not affected by the obscuring elements. One Zen Master spoke of keeping the mirror clean, wiping away the dusts so that the basic nature of the mirror – which reflects unchangingly – will not be affected. Consciousness is like the mirror. It is necessary to remember that consciousness can only exist where there is duality. The polarity of subject-object relationship makes consciousness possible.

When we enter deep meditation, where there is only subject and no subject-object relationship, the world disappears. With the reappearance of thought, consciousness and the subject-object relationship reappear, along with self, other and God.

Physical & Spiritual Benefits of T'ai Chi Chih

Many people begin TCC practice for health reasons, and TCC often helps. Later, students may experience additional benefits - ones they didn't know to expect at the beginning.

By Justin Stone, TCC Originator 

Most people who come for T”ai Chi Chih lessons do it for physical reasons, either because of ailments or because they feel it will help them in the areas of energy, hypertension, etc. Thus, they think of TCC practice as a form of therapy, which it undoubtedly is. However, they may later find that they have derived much deeper– Spiritual–benefits, which they did not expect.

How do these come about? How does TCC affect our Karma?

We are the products of our Habit Energies (“Vashana” in Sanskrit), and we in turn have built these Habit Energies. Thus it can be a vicious circle. When these Energies grow too strong they become Tendencies (“Samskara” in Sanskrit), and these may last through many lifetimes. These Tendencies are some of the reasons people have uncontrollable drinking problems–which they don”t understand–explosive temper outbursts, fits of despondency, etc. It is hard to fight against such things when you don't know what you're fighting.

How does all this begin? When there is a release of energy, accompanied by the mental stimulus associated with it, a “Vritti” (Sanskrit) or shallow groove is formed on the brain. Repeated release of the same energy–as when one finds solace in drink and therefore imbibes each time adisappointment is encountered–develops the shallow groove into a deeper Habit Energy. This in turn takes over our lives. If you will introspect, you will find that most of our actions are habitual. We practise piano to develop these Habit Energies so our playing becomes “muscle memory”. We learn languages this way. Some actions become so habitual, such as shaving in the morning, that we often don't remember whether we performed them or not.

So we are a product of these Vashanas, which we ourselves built! We are, in a sense, our own creators! We build our own Karma.

I have often spoken of the “Reciprocal Character of Mind and Chi” (“Prana” in Sanskrit). The character of the Chi greatly influences our State of Mind, and our State of Mind greatly influences “our” Chi. How can we break into that circle to change influences for a more desirable effect? We do T'ai Chi Chih, circulating and balancing the Chi. As the Yin-Yang elements are brought into better balance, this not only balances the Chi but it also influences how we think. Ultimately we are what we think; this creates our Karma.

The state of someone's Chi creates “vibes”, as we all know. Sometimes we meet someone and get “bad vibes” when that person's Chi is out of balance. We can't explain it–and we often ignore it–but we are reacting to that individual's energy field. Such reactions are usually reliable.

By changing the quality of the Chi (thru TCC practice) we are actually performing the deepest Yoga, going back to the cause and erasing it so the affect will be improved or will disappear. This is, in a sense, “de-hypnotization”.

In this respect TCC has the same deep purpose as Yoga and Zen, but it is a much easier practice. Few are capable of following either Zen or Yogic life to its deepest levels, particularly in our busy society. But we can practice TCC and have the deepest Spiritual effect on ourselves.


Reprinted with permission from The Vital Force, Fall, 1987

Learning about letting go

A TCC student explains why sometimes doing "less" is doing "more."

Doing Less

By L.S., Fort Collins, CO

Reprinted by permission from the May 2016 issue of the TCC journal, The Vital Force.

I'm one of a group of women in Northern Colorado on the path toward T'ai Chi Chih teacher accreditation in June. A few weeks after an intensive with Sandy, I was struggling with the balance between learning what I needed to know for accreditation, and sinking into practice for its own sake. A few of us were speaking with our teacher, Marie, after class.

She explained that as teacher candidates, we are on a different part of the journey than we were as students, because we are learning the movements as prospective teachers. When students first start out, she explained, they are naturally "in their heads" as they learn the movements and understand the principles. With practice, they learn to let go of thinking and doing. Now, as teacher candidates, we have to go back into our heads to understand TCC at a new level. 

It is important to practice for ourselves, not always working on something, she explained. Marie encouraged us to focus on the joy of our practice at home, and practice with variety of DVDs to feel how other teachers move.

Privately, she suggested I make my movements smaller, with less effort and ground longer. This echoed a life lesson I'd been forgetting and relearning all year. My health was telling me that I needed to do less, and rest more, but I wasn't quite ready to listen. Life already seemed to be moving at a faster pace than I could keep up with.

I've noticed that my mind has a tendency to judge any terms that it doesn't understand. Statements like "flow from the center," "let the tan t'ien lead" and "let go of any effort" felt very "woo-woo" when I first heard them. Sometimes they felt like "shoulds." My mind began to tune them out, as it tunes out music or someone coughing in the room, while it struggled to get the arms just right, the weight shift perfect. These phrases became jargon, or generalized platitudes. I've learned since then (by repetition and seeing their effects) that it's the exact opposite: these are explicit instructions, keys to the power of TCC. They can have a profound influence not only in my practice, but in my life. 

I've always found it paradoxical that many TCC movement names involve active verbs, imply effort, or are in the imperative. Push, Pull, Carry, Work. Yet one of our main principles says to let go of effort. When I first started practicing, I didn't fully believe that TCC could truly be effortless. My mind rationalized. “Of course there should be no strain; perhaps that is what is meant.”

Concepts are so closely interrelated and connected in TCC. It sometimes feels like a tangled thread, which tightens further when I pull on the ends to untangle them. Alignment affects softness, for example, because softness requires release of tension, and that can only happen when I'm balanced over my feet. To flow from the tan t'ien, without using any effort, requires a connection to the feet that disappears the moment I drift into my head. The more I learn, the more there is to learn.

I recently noticed another paradox when I'm working on corrections to my form. For each correction, my mind wants to make an active change, a fix. If my arms are too high or too low, I adjust them into the "proper" spot. If my foot has a tendency to turn out too much, I place it back in the correct alignment when I notice. When my eyes drift into following the movement, I chide them gently and offer them a point to focus on. Inevitably I add on more "doing" or "shoulding" to the movement with the corrections. How can I fix it all, still follow all the principles and still do less? 

I started playing with the "why" of the corrections I was working on. Why does my foot end up in the wrong place? Why does it feel like effort to get my arms high enough? An odd pattern appeared in the answers. There was usually an area where I needed to soften, let go of tension, or do less, which then increased the connectedness and "fixed" the problem, or rather, the problem faded away, at least until habit took over. Relaxing hunched shoulders allowed my hands to come into place more effortlessly. Softening a hip placed the foot in alignment. Sinking into the feet brought my gaze inward and steadied it.

I'm slowly learning how to interpret my body's signals as instructions rather than judgments or problems to fix. I look for solutions that involve letting go, rather than doing more. I'm practicing letting go of thoughts when they are stressful, self-critical, or anxious. I’m not giving time to decisions that don't matter. If life feels overwhelming, I probably really need rest and a change in perspective. Stressing over something is not the same as doing or planning it.

It's going to take a lot of practice, and many practices. I will probably always find it difficult to get out of my head. But the journey will be a more joyful one if I see the hurdles not as problems that I should effort to fix, but as opportunities to let go, listen more closely and connect; to allow the Chi to do the work and problems to work themselves out. 

 

Just a little effort brings a lot

Reflections On Learning TCC … One Year Later

By GH, Atlanta, Georgia

I was introduced to T’ai Chi Chih at a retreat for women. In a beautiful mountain setting, with light streaming through the windows, I was amazed I could feel the energy. About a year later when another opportunity arose, I knew that despite my busy schedule this was something I wanted and needed to do. I was feeling stressed, worried and at times depressed. I’m not sure what I expected to gain.

This week marks a year that four of us have been learning and practicing TCC with Sheryl Adair. I always leave class feeling serene, calm and peaceful. Even though I don’t practice as much as I’d like, I feel different. I am calmer. I still worry and feel stressed at times, but my emotions are more balanced. Is this all due to TCC? Probably not. I’ve made some other changes, too. Is it partly the TCC? I’m certain of it. I believe the benefits will continue to grow over time. TCC is an important part of my life. I am grateful. I give thanks. 

Spiritual Life: Simple But Not Easy

Justin F. Stone, TCC originator, explains what it means to "Do what is right."

How Our Lives Are Built

By Justin Stone, New Mexico T’ai Chi Chih News

In speaking or writing about Vashanas, it is easy to give the impression that they are something “bad.” Actually, these “habit energies” are neither good nor bad. It is impossible to live everyday life without building such habit energies. You would not be able to drive a car, play a piano, or cook a meal without having formed a pattern for performing these acts. Only a monk or a recluse can noticeably cut down the making of Vashanas and the eventual tendencies (Samskaras) that come from them. Patanjali, called the “Father of Yoga,” said that Yoga Practice was “Chit Vriti Narodha,” suppression of mental modifications. These mental modifications, called “Vritti,” are what dictate our lives, indeed, form us.

To live a life in which the making of mental modifications is attenuated or suppressed is impossible in ordinary life. Only the one determined to make the spiritual progress necessary to assure better lives in the future, with “Moksha” (Salvation) being the eventual goal, can live the kind of life necessary for progress, giving up all possibility of Greed, Anger and Delusion. And this includes the Greed for Life.

It is not difficult to see how these Vashanas form our Karma, or, rather, the Fruits of our Karma. “Karma” means “action,” though not in the ordinary sense, and we reap the fruit of our actions (the motive being all important). We can control our future by being careful of the Karma we build.

This is not an easy subject for people with only superficial interest to understand, but it, obviously, is the most important matter in the world. We are all born and we all die; this is inevitable. But how, in what state, are we born again? Remember, your future lies in your own hands. Recently I counseled a former student of mine, “In this life, do what is right, not what you think you can get away with.” Sounds like preaching, doesn’t it? Yet, in light of what is written above, it is necessary to add it for the good of all.

Reprinted with permission from the Tai Chi Chih website, taichichih.org.

Renewing Our Practice

Here, several very helpful tips are offered from the writings of TCC originator Justin F. Stone. These can refine our practice, a process we can continue as long as we do TCC. For more instruction, you can watch Justin on video here.

Teaching Tips For Teachers (Also Valuable For Students)

By Justin F. Stone

The Movements And Their Keys (or, what to look for) ~

"Working the Pulley" is a wonderful "exercise" for the waist. On the left side, the student starts by pushing forward the left hand as the body turns right from the waist; then, as the left hand pulls back and the right hand pushes forward, the torso (waist up) turns nearly 180 degrees to the left so it is facing the left side, not facing forward as careless students are apt to do.

The turn is completely to the opposite side, not facing forward, but in the opposing direction. Also, it should be stressed that the hand that is pulled back, palm up, comes back in a horizontal line at the waist or slightly above it. Then the hand pulls back slightly behind the body and comes up and over the shoulder (not way out to the side) in a swimming motion.

The ending will have to be taught by demonstration, so that the two hands come down together. The movement can be ended either by stepping forward or stepping back, but most teachers prefer to do it and teach it by stepping back.

. . . . . . . . . . .

"Light at the Top of the Head" is done softly. After the hands above the head swing out and back three times, the two hands are slowly twirled to the count of six (silent count), and then held stationary for a count of six, before swinging out again. On the descent to the "rest" position, be sure the right hand goes under the left.

. . . . . . . . . .

"Joyous Breath" is the only movement done with pressure, creating tension. After pushing down into the ground on an out-breath, we pull up to the chest, rising on the toes, with a deep in-breath. Then, after a very short pause (do not keep the student standing on the balls of the feet!) we come down stopping at four levels, each time breathing out more of the breath.

By the time we are flat on the feet, with turned- down hands along the legs, all the breath should have been exhaled. I have known students who like to do this movement at the beginning of practice, before "Rocking Motion," and there is nothing wrong with that.

. . . . . . . . . . .

"Passing Clouds" is to bring the hand sweeping low close to the opposing elbow. The elbows are held close to the side all through the movement; do not allow a wild, free-form waving of the hands. Naturally the sweeps are close to the face and the body, and the lower hand is almost fully extended toward the ground.

It may be easier for the teacher to work with one hand at a time, then putting them together in the opposing circular motion. Be sure the weight shifts from side to side. Do not allow the student to anchor the legs, then stand rigid and straight as the hands and arms do the work. The "yinning and yanging" of the legs is all important, with both feet flat on the ground.

. . . . . . . . . .

It should be explained to the student that the sounds of "Six Healing Sounds" are from ancient China and certainly did not originate with this writer, though the movements to which the sounds are set did begin here. It is not important that the student know which sound belongs to which internal organ. Actually, there is some controversy over one or two of the sounds, almost inevitable when we consider how long these sounds have been passed down by word of mouth. They were kept for really sincere seekers. 

 We push out and breathe (not shout) the sounds vigorously, aspirating them rather than saying them with the vocal chords. When we turn the wrists and push to one side or the other, the hands are at waist level, not hanging all the way down. This means the wrists are cocked, and both hands are turned in the same direction.

. . . . . . . . . .

The "Cosmic Consciousness" pose concludes practice, and it can be held for any length of time the teacher desires. Be sure to point out that the left heel is held against the little knob on the right leg (ankle bone) that separates the foot from the ankle. If a student has problems with balance, suggest that he or she practice the posture at home, and usually the difficulty will go away. 

- - - - -

From the booklet Teaching Tips For Teachers, excerpted and available for free download from Good Karma Publishing and in print form for a small fee from the New Mexico T’ai Chi Chih Center.