Got Energy?

As winter arrives in much of the U.S., Canada and Europe, days are shorter, temperatures are colder, and opportunities for outdoor exercise are fewer. For some, this time of year is a time of feeling lower energy, less vibrant than in summer when long days of sunshine provide a boost. The antidote? T'ai Chi Chih is credited by most practitioners as a source of greater, reliable energy. Here are real-person stories from the TCC website.

High Energy Is Often a Benefit of Practicing TCC

"TCC has helped me face the challenges of a lifetime. It has given me the courage to change the patterns that have exhausted me, to leave my native hometown in California and move to New Mexico to start making art again (my true love) and to explore new career opportunities.” – Christa Keller, TCC teacher (Reprinted with permission from Blooming the Flower: T’ai Chi Chih Experiences, Vol. II)

"My TCC practice has reawakened the knowledge that there really is energy inside, and that we can summon it….” – Dan, TCC student (Reprinted with permission from Blooming the Flower: T’ai Chi Chih Experiences, Vol. II)

"I sleep better, I’m more relaxed, I have more energy. Ideas at work flow more clearly and faster. I’m less depressed, friends and coworkers continually compliment me on a ‘glow’ that I have now, and I just feel better about life all around. I’m recommending TCC to everyone in my life!” – Catherine McNair, TCC student, Syracuse, NY (Reprinted with permission from Blooming the Flower: T’ai Chi Chih Experiences)

"In Monterey for the Big Sur Marathon, I finished a full 12 minutes in front of my training partner. In our nine years of running together, he had always outpaced me in races. As all runners know, many factors – physical, mental, and environmental – influence the outcome of any run or race, but this time, in the pre-dawn hours waiting for the (starting) gun to go off, I had time for a complete T’ai Chi Chih practice.” – Kathy Grassel, TCC teacher, Albuquerque, NM (Reprinted with permission from Blooming the Flower: T’ai Chi Chih Experiences)

"In the beginning, it was hard to muster the energy to practice, but I always ended with more energy than I had started with, and so I continued. The benefits that I derived were increased energy and improved mental focus.” – Eddy Perez, TCC student, Newark, CA (Reprinted with permission from Blooming the Flower: T’ai Chi Chih Experiences)

"The main reason [I continue practicing] is for the benefits it provides me right after doing the (practice): the wakefulness, the alertness, and how ready I am for the day. After these (movements), I am ready to go out and do things and do not need to rely on massive amounts of coffee to get me ready.” – Dan Carpenter, TCC student, Columbia, MD (Reprinted with permission from Blooming the Flower: T’ai Chi Chih Experiences)

Unless otherwise indicated, all quotations are printed with permission from The Vital Force, the quarterly journal of T’ai Chi Chih. The Blooming the Flower series and Blooming the Spirit are published by the T’ai Chi Chih Association, Albuquerque, NM.

Have you seen TCC's TED Talk?

A T'ai Chi Chih teacher in Albuquerque, NM teaches this moving meditation to high school students. In a TEDx talk, she and students explain the benefits students experience that help make their academic lives more successful and less stressful. View the talk here.

Several academic studies over many years have found that practicing TCC helps lessen stress, relieve depression, improve the body's immunity to illness, increase physical and emotional balance, relieve pain, lower blood pressure, support recovery from heart attacks, and much more.

Help yourself to this growing body of scientific confirmation of what TCC practitioners already experience and know. Here's a partial list of research study results and media reports. The full list can be viewed here.

2013

11/1/13
“T’ai Chih Chih Offers a Range of Benefits Over Time” 
The Daily Journal (Northeast Mississippi)
TCC teachers Ron Richardson, Stephen Thompson, Margaret Baker and their students discuss the many health improvements they’ve experienced as a result of maintaining this easy-to-learn practice.

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.

6/15/12
“Cancer Support Community Thanks Volunteers and Sponsors”
Messenger-Gazette (NJ)
T’ai Chi Chih student receives Spirit of Courage Award honoring her journey with cancer.

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.

4/5/11
“The softer side of martial arts”
Metro News, Edmonton, CN
General feature on benefits of practicing T’ai Chi Chi; interview with Kim Grant, editor of The Vital Force (TCC journal)

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

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.

2/2011
5 Winter Workouts
Community Health magazine, Midwest U.S. distribution
TCC recommended as good exercise for indoors in winter.

2010

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

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.

 

Gratitude - A practice that leads to joy

"If you want a happy life, be grateful," Justin Stone, founder of T'ai Chi Chih, used to say frequently. This simple practice brings deep and profound results - including, yes, joy.

After Justin died in 2012, an outpouring of gratitude from TCC students and teachers from around the globe followed. As many in the U.S. celebrate Thanksgiving this week, here's a sample of grateful tributes:

Would that he could have stayed here forever … but that is not the way. Justin’s gift, T’ai Chi Chih, will continue to serve as we continue to practice. Thank you, and blessings on your journey. -- Diana Daffner

The T’ai Chi Chih community will miss Justin very much. There will be many more teachers and students who will continue to practise and teach this life enhancing, loving meditation now and in the future. We owe great thanks to this very special man. Special thoughts are with those closest to him…lots of love to you Justin x -- Tracy Gibbons

Thank you, Justin. Your chi is still in the universe, and we will continue to share you and T’ai Chi Chih with all we meet. What love! -- Terry Slaney

The core of my life has been softened by continued mastering of the gentle movements of the inner discipline called 'T’ai Chi Chih: Joy Thru Movement.' Your legacy to humankind will be passed on by the crowning “jewels of T’ai Chi Chih" – its teachers. Thank you, Justin. With deep respect. -- Rose J. Alvarez-Diosdado

I never planned to be a teacher, but the Universe provides us a path if we chose to follow. After learning and practicing T’ai Chi Chih I began wanting to be of service to others by sharing the peace and joy through movement I have found when doing T’ai Chi Chih. When I went to Teacher Training and met Justin I was moved and inspired by his desire that T’ai Chi Chih not become a business, that it is a gift to humanity. I honor this wish through my volunteer teaching of T’ai Chi Chih, and I am thankful we have been blessed to have had Justin as our Guide and Leader for so many years. May we all continue to honor his gift to humanity through our practices of T’ai Chi Chih. -- May Swanson

I experience a long list of health and personal benefits. T’ai Chi Chih brightens me, my family and those I touch each day. Many thanks to Justin and the teachers of T’ai Chi Chih.

T’ai Chi Chih practice feels like the truth of who we are. It’s a gift that keeps on teaching and giving, and so the gratitude continues. -- Carol Spicer

 

TCC, Mindfulness & Health

Another day, another news report about the benefits of mindfulness. The evidence supporting the health benefits of T'ai Chi Chih and similar practices literally grows by the week. And it's no wonder why - TCC practitioners worldwide have experienced these results.

Read More

New Podcast: What 17 Years of TCC Practice Brings

What motivates someone to practice this moving meditation for so many years? Marie Dotts of Colorado tells what brought her to Tai Chi Chih and the many benefits that keep her going, year after year. Thanks to Peggy Freeh at SimpleDailyPractice.com for this interview. Download or listen to the podcast here.

From the website:

Starting as a teenager, Marie has been on a lifelong journey to answer the questions, “Who and what am I really?” and “How do I flow from that truer center within myself?”  In this interview, she shares how that process has unfolded for her over the years, and how her two current practices support her in her ever deepening journey.

Marie has studied and taught Tai Chi Chih for over 17 years.  Even from the moment she walked into her first class, she recognized Tai Chi Chih as home for her.  That recognition helped carry her through her resistance to the practice, including panic attacks as she started to move energy down into her body.  Tai Chi Chih is not just a practice Marie does now.  She lives the principles every day in all areas of her life. 

Marie is passionate ... finding the support for her lifelong quest to learn how to find what is true in her and flow from that center all the time.

 

 

TCC Can Help Prevent Heart Disease, medical research shows

Scientific research shows that practicing T’ai Chi Chih can significantly calm part of the nervous system that contributes to high blood pressure and heart disease. In this article from The Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences, researchers explain their study results addressing the sympathetic nervous system. This system, part of the larger autonomic nervous system, aids in the control of most of the body’s internal organs.

J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2006 Nov;61(11):1177-80.

Motivala SJ1, Sollers JThayer JIrwin MR.

Aging is associated with increases of sympathetic nervous system activation implicated in the onset of hypertension and cardiovascular disease. The purpose of this study was to examine whether the practice of Tai Chi Chih (TCC), a movement-based relaxation practice, would acutely promote decreases of sympathetic activity in elderly persons.

The sample included two groups of older men and women (age > or = 60 years): TCC practitioners (n = 19) and TCC-naïve participants (n = 13). Participants were recruited after completing a 25-week randomized trial of TCC or health education. TCC practitioners performed TCC for 20 minutes, and TCC-naïve participants passively rested. Preejection period, blood pressure, and heart rate were measured before and after the task. A subsample (n = returned for a second evaluation and performed videotape-guided stretching for 20 minutes to evaluate the effects of slow-moving physical activity on sympathetic activity.

Results showed that TCC performance significantly decreased sympathetic activity as indexed by preejection period (p =.01). In contrast, there was no change in preejection period following passive rest or slow-moving physical activity. Neither blood pressure nor heart rate changed after TCC performance.

This study is the first to our knowledge to assess the acute effects of TCC practice on sympathetic activity in older adults. TCC performance led to acute decreases in sympathetic activity, which could not be explained by physical activity alone. Further study is needed to determine whether the acute salutary effects of TCC on autonomic functioning are sustained with ongoing practice in older adults.

PMID: 17167159 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

For more information, see http://1.usa.gov/1n4W9tj.

TCC Helps Relieve Depression, UCLA research shows

Nine percent of adult Americans have feelings of hopelessness, despondency, and/or guilt that generate a diagnosis of depression, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  At any given time, about three percent of adults have major depression, also known as major depressive disorder, a long-lasting and severe form of depression. In fact, major depression is the leading cause of disability for Americans between the ages of 15 and 44, according to the CDC.

 That’s why academic research by experts at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) showing that practicing T’ai Chi Chih can help relieve depression is such important news that needs to be more widely known.

Here’s the basic information from the researchers’ Abstract that accompanied the study published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry in 2011. The full paper can be downloaded here free of charge.

 Nearly two-thirds of elderly patients treated for depression fail to achieve symptomatic remission and functional recovery with first-line pharmacotherapy. In this study, we ask whether a mind–body exercise, Tai Chi Chih (TCC), added to escitalopram will augment the treatment of geriatric depression designed to achieve symptomatic remission and improvements in health functioning and cognitive performance.

 One hundred twelve older adults with major depression age 60 years and older were recruited and treated with escitalopram for approximately 4 weeks. Seventy-three partial responders to escitalopram continued to receive escitalopram daily and were randomly assigned to 10 weeks of adjunct use of either 1) TCC for 2 hours per week or 2) health education (HE) for 2 hours per week. All participants underwent evaluations of depression, anxiety, resilience, health-related quality of life, cognition, and inflammation at baseline and during 14-week follow-up.

 Subjects in the escitalopram and TCC condition were more likely to show greater reduction of depressive symptoms and to achieve a depression remission as compared with those receiving escitalopram and HE. Subjects in the escitalopram and TCC condition also showed significantly greater improvements in 36-Item Short Form Health Survey physical functioning and cognitive tests and a decline in the inflammatory marker, C-reactive protein, compared with the control group. [See full section included below.]

Complementary use of a mind–body exercise, such as TCC, may provide additional improvements of clinical outcomes in the pharmacologic treatment of geriatric depression.

You can read the full research paper here free of charge.

 Among the TCC participants, depression response rates were high, with 94% of the subjects achieving HAMD scores of 10 or less and 65% achieving remission, as defined by HAMD, with a score of 6 or less, in contrast among the HE participants, with only 77% achieving HAMD scores of 10 or less and only 51% achieving remission (χ2[1] = 3.68; p< 0.06). Figure 2 reports group differences on the mean HAMD scores over time. Both intervention groups demonstrated improvement in the severity of depression, with greater reductions in depressive symptom severity among those taking escitalopram and participating in the TCC compared with those taking escitalopram combined with HE (group × time interaction: F[5, 285] = 2.26; p<0.05).

On the basis of our prior studies, we also hypothesized a beneficial effect of escitalopram and TCC on the secondary outcomes such as health functioning, cognition, and inflammation. Table 2summarizes primary and secondary outcomes that differentially changed in the two treatment groups. Secondary outcomes reported in Figures 35 are particularly promising in terms of the overall benefit for depressed elderly. As compared with escitalopram and HE, escitalopram and TCC yielded greater improvements in 36-Item Short Form Health Survey physical functioning (group × time interaction: F[1, 66] = 5.73; p = 0.02) and cognition (i.e., memory; group × time interaction: F[1, 65] = 5.29; p<0.05) as well as declines in the inflammatory marker, CRP (time effect: F[2, 78] = 3.14, p<0.05 and group × time trend in posttreatment period: F[1, 39] = 2.91; p = 0.10).

Cold Hands? Doctor says try TCC

Sometimes learning more about the science behind the benefits of T’ai Chi Chih is helpful in explaining the positive benefits so many teachers and students experience. Still, there’s a lovely bit of mystery in considering what the Chi is, and how it works, to bring about the scientifically-explained results.

Beneficial Healing Of Hands

By Diana Daffner, Sarasota, Florida

Reprinted with permission from the Feb. 2014 issue of The Vital Force

For almost 20 years, my husband Richard and I have led a free, weekly T’ai Chi Chih practice session at sunset on Siesta Beach here in Sarasota. Tourists and other visitors often stop by; sometimes they realize that they have encountered the movements before. One such visitor was Dr. Alan Dattner, a physician of Integrative Medicine and Dermatology in New York City. He shared with us this important story about the benefits of Around the Platter Variation:

“On a particularly cold morning on Stratton Mountain in Vermont, my fingers practically froze trying to deal with my skis outside of the lodge. On that day, when I was in my 20’s in medical school, we decided it was too cold to ski. Unfortunately, my hands never seemed to be the same after that. When it was cold, my hands would get cold and the vessels seemed to tighten up so that the blood couldn’t flow to warm them up.

Years later, in the early 1980’s at a T’ai Chi Chih class in Northeast Connecticut, I experienced an exercise of making a ball and pushing it away at shoulder height, and I found that my hands got warm. I realized that something about this movement relaxed the constriction of the blood vessels in my fingers and caused the blood to flow into my hands. I presumed it broke a localized sympathetic nervous system controlled vasoconstriction in my fingers that cut down blood flow and made my fingers cold. I was extremely impressed by the ability of this technique to change the response of my fingers to turn cold, then, and any time that I repeated the exercise.

As a result, I have showed this movement to patients with cold hands caused by Renaud’s disease and other similar conditions with cold hands. I believe that this maneuver is very important for regulating the autonomic response in the hands and upper extremities, and hope that formal research studies are done to demonstrate this. I have done different forms of T’ai Chi on an infrequent basis over the past 36 years, and have found that doing this particular exercise to be one of my most vivid experiences of immediate benefit.”