Benefits of Circulating & Balancing Chi

Want to get rid of bad habits? That takes a spiritual approach, says TCC originator Justin F. Stone. Practicing TCC helps balance the Chi and that helps change the ways we think and behave.

The Physical and the Spiritual in T'ai Chi Chih

By Justin Stone    Fall 1987 ©The Vital Force

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 a disappointment 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 practice 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 their deepest levels, particularly in our busy society. But we can practice TCC and have the deepest Spiritual effect on ourselves.

Justin Stone
Reprinted with permission from The Vital Force, Fall, 1987

News reports of TCC's effectiveness spread globally!

Reports of the results of the recent UCLA study showing that TCC helps relieve insomnia among breast cancer survivors have made news headlines around the world. A sample of articles is provided below.

To read even more news reports of TCC's effectiveness, go to the In The News page of the TCC website, www.taichichih.org.

5/10/17
“T’ai Chih Chih Compared With Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for the Treatment of Insomnia in Survivors of Breast Cancer” 
Journal of Clinical Oncology
Academic research at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Medicine shows that practicing T'ai Chi Chih helps relieve insomnia in survivors of breast cancer. The study compared the effectiveness of TCC with cognitive behavioral therapy.

. . . . .

'Breast cancer survivors often don’t just come to physicians with insomnia. They have insomnia, fatigue and depression,' said Dr. Michael Irwin, the lead author and a professor of psychiatry at UCLA. 'And this intervention, T'ai Chi Chih, impacted all those outcomes in a similar way, with benefits that were as robust as the gold standard treatment for insomnia.'

"The American Academy of Sleep Medicine considers cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) the treatment of choice for insomnia. 'While CBT treats insomnia, it’s too expensive for some people and there is a shortage of trained professionals in the field,' said Irwin, who is also a member of the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center and director of the Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology. 'Because of those limitations, we need community-based interventions like T'ai Chi Chih.'" -- Excerpts from May 2017 UCLA press release

. . .

The UCLA findings have been reported around the world:

6/2/17
“T’ai Chi (Chih) Effective, Affordable Alternative to CBT-I for Insomnia in Breast Cancer Survivors”
OncologyNurseAdvisor.com

5/18/17
“Forscher: Diese T’ai Chi-Übungen wirken gegen Schlafprobleme”
HeilPraxisnet.de (in German)

5/15/17
“T’ai Chi (Chih) Can Help Breast Cancer Survivors Sleep”
NewsMax.com

5/15/17
"T’ai Chi (Chih) Relieves Insomnia in Many Breast Cancer Survivors"
PsychCentral.com

5/13/17
“T’ai Chi (Chih) Bantu Kurangi Masalah Insomnia pada Penderita Kanker Payudara”
MetroTVNews.com (in Indonesian)

5/11/17
“T’ai Chi Chih Improves Insomnia Among Breast Cancer Survivors”
CancerTherapyAdvisor.com

 

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

 

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.

Strength, Balance & Healthy Aging with TCC

Balance and leg strength are critical elements of healthy aging, research shows. Here, TCC teachers and students tell how the practice has helped them with both.

A Gift Beyond
MB, TCC student, Oxnard, CA

A fall in Tanzania, another in Spain, and another in Vietnam. These were not harmless tumbles quickly forgotten; each caused significant injuries. Perhaps they signaled an end to my traveling … but I am leaping ahead. To understand my experience of T’ai Chi Chih, we must look at the pathway to those places.

I had not welcomed retirement….my beloved husband sank into dementia and left this life….Travel saved me during those dark days…That solace would now end; it would be foolhardy to continue to risk injury so far from home….

(Then), I found a twice-weekly TCC practice. My teacher’s exacting but patient teaching served me well. As I learned, I experienced a quickening and a quieting, but I did not yet know all that the practice would bring.

I began to feel restless. Would one more journey be possible? I traveled to ancient villages and monasteries in Turkey where walking often was treacherous. But I did not fall. Emboldened, I signed on for voyages across the Atlantic and Pacific on traditional clipper ships. As we moved with the sea, I did not fall. I traveled to Budapest and on to Transylvanian villages, and still I did not fall. It began to seem like a miracle, and I wondered how it had come about. I wonder no more: The practice of TCC has gifted me in a remarkable way.

The quieting and calming of TCC movements will insure my lifelong practice. Focus and attention, balance and strength are the unexpected and wonderful bonuses. I now stand and move with a steadier strength. I do not fear the rough terrain, broken walkways, and countless stairways that are routine in the off-the-beaten path places to which I travel. TCC has given back to me the adventures of world travel. On my 81st birthday, I will travel to Morocco.

 

Better Balance for Students of All Ages

"I heard from another rock climber that TCC practice would give me more focus and balance. It was true; I advanced one whole level in climbing skill. I used to feel that my feet were separate from my hands; now they are not. I am with the rock.” – DZ, TCC teacher and rock climbing instructor, Albuquerque, NM (Reprinted with permission from Blooming the Flower: T’ai Chi Chih Experiences)

"I’ve had a problem with balance. My first (TCC) class was spent using a chair. My second class – much better, as I had been practicing at home. I’m 83 years young.” – JR, TCC student (Reprinted with permission from Blooming the Flower: T’ai Chi Chih Experiences, Vol. II)

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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.

 

It's Monday: Got #Energy?

"T‘ai Chi Chih has changed my life,” say many people who practice TCC regularly. In fact, it's one of the most common statements of gratitude TCC originator Justin Stone heard from students over many years. Improvements in physical, emotional and mental health are enjoyed by students of all ages – children, teens, young adults, mid-lifers and seniors. The benefits are often quickly apparent to newcomers, as well as cumulative for those who have practiced TCC for years and decades.

Quotes below are from students and teachers, provided here as inspiration and an invitation. This information is not intended to replace any medical treatment by, or perspectives from, your own health care provider. 

High Energy Is Often a Benefit of Practicing TCC

For more stories about ways practicing TCC has helped improve other aspects of health, visit taichichih.org.

"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.

Got #Peace?

"T‘ai Chi Chih has changed my life,” say many people who practice TCC regularly. In fact, was one of the most common statements of gratitude TCC originator Justin Stone (1916-2012) heard from students over many years. Improvements in physical, emotional, and mental health are enjoyed by students of all ages – children, teens, young adults, mid-lifers and seniors. The benefits are often quickly apparent to newcomers, as well as cumulative for those who have practiced TCC for years and decades.

Peace Is One of the Most-Often Cited Benefits of Practicing TCC

"As soon as we began the first stance, I really put my mind in 'focus mode' and I definitely felt the Chi. Wow. When I left class I felt extremely relaxed and completely stress free. It was as if someone completely wiped my slate clean.” – TCC student, Prospect Park, PA

"I’ve loved doing TCC. I came into college very stressed out and this course gave me a place to be calm.” – TCC student, Prospect Park, PA

"I‘ve been noticing some of the effects of TCC: My overall stress level has definitely decreased and my body feels rejuvenated even more than last week.” – TCC student, Prospect Park, PA

"My children students tell me that TCC practice makes them happy and that it takes away their fears.” Judy Hendricks, TCC teacher, Albuquerque, NM (Reprinted with permission from Blooming the Flower: T’ai Chi Chih Experiences, Vol. II)

"TCC tills the soil so that I can allow writings, experiences, and conversation to take root and show me a softer way to move through life.” – Connie Hyde, TCC teacher (Reprinted with permission from Blooming the Spirit: The Spiritual Dimension of T’ai Chi Chih)

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.