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.

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. 

 

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

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. 

TCC Improves Our Inner State Of Being

A T'ai Chi Chih student explains how TCC practice brings a sense of inner peace.

By TI, Illinois

(All quotations are from the book Spiritual Odyssey by TCC originator Justin F. Stone)

The Buddha said, All that you are, all that you ever have been, and all that you ever will be is the result of what you have thought. To which Justin adds, If we are not content with our lives, we might take a look in the direction of these habit patterns.

Practicing T'ai Chi Chih affects our thoughts, which affects our emotions, which affects our perceptions of our world, which affects our reality. Justin writes, Our attitudes change and we become more like the bamboo, rather than the oak. Then the outer world reflects this inner serenity....

For each frame of mind there is a corresponding Chi. Our thinking cultures our Vital Force. Thus we can influence what we are and what we become by what we think. The most common response I hear about how TCC has benefited people is a feeling of inner peace. The mindfulness we employ while practicing TCC, and the circulating and balancing of the Chi, help lead people to a more peaceful state of being and helps them be less reactive to the world around them.

Along these lines Justin also states, [TCC]...permeates the lifestyle of the practitioner. We do not all see the same world, which is a reflection of ourselves. With the accumulation of the Chi (Vital Force) through [TCC] practice, permanent changes in metabolism and the thinking process take place and renewed energy conditions the whole way of life.

I want to be in this peaceful, joyful state more often than not, and TCC helps me accomplish this. The more often I practice, the easier it is for me to maintain a sense of calm and to respond to situations rather than react.

As Justin says, When this Chi is circulated and the positive and negative aspects (the Yin and the Yang) are brought into balance, not only does health improve, but an inner serenity seems to follow naturally. The increased energy (because Chi is energy) brings vast changes in the practitioner's life, both inner and outer.

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

Shift Beyond Your Comfort Zone

By AL, Prospect Park, PA

Justin has said that if we do T’ai Chi Chih regularly, we will begin to enter into the Cosmic Rhythm. In fact we are all already in the Cosmic Rhythm, however practicing TCC consistently enables us to be consciously aware of being in the Rhythm. It’s been said that when a person becomes one with that Rhythm, things flow smoothly.

How do we become one with the Cosmic Rhythm? Simply by letting go (i.e. of tension, of effort and of resistance to what is).  This also requires letting go of the attachment to the outcome of plans, letting go of logical and rational thoughts, and trusting in prajna.* Let go of figuring-it-out and embrace feeling-it-out, which requires an aware presence, moment to moment.

Interestingly, we do this with every mindful TCC practice. When we are not practicing carelessly, we are feeling, in the moment, moment to moment.

I’ve always believed that the practice of TCC is analogous to the practice of life. Mindful TCC practices are preparing us to live life mindfully and in accord with the Cosmic Rhythm. While the tan t’ien knows the truth of this, the ego has other thoughts on the subject.

This year new TCC opportunities beyond my comfort zone have come to me. I was invited (by a student preparing for accreditation) to teach 20 hours worth of TCC over a weekend to a disciplined group of 17 meditators. Gulp. My student was the only one with any TCC experience. I also had the opportunity to facilitate a full day program on TCC and Heightened Awareness (a book by TCC originator Justin F. Stone) at a local spiritual center. Within the group, individual experiences of TCC ranged from brand new students to accredited teachers.

The tan t’ien (center) was thrilled with these prospects but my head was saying, 'Who me?' I knew in my gut that both opportunities felt right, however, the ego was quick to point out several things about which to worry. Witness the conversation:

Ego: You've never taught anything beyond a typical class, much less teaching 20 hours over a weekend. You've never done a full day program before and certainly not on heightened awareness. And now you've agreed to teach both? Are you friggin' kidding me?

Prajna: Thank you for sharing; it'll be fine.

Ego: Why not just stay with what you know (e.g., eight- to ten-week classes, ongoing hour-long classes at the Y, teaching your college students about the importance of grounding, hosting TCC events)?

Prajna: Thanks again for sharing; we're doing this.

Ego: How the heck do I convey heightened awareness to people? What will I say? What will we do? Twenty hours of TCC? I don’t know if I'm ready for this.

Prajna: Now hear this: You (and everyone else) are being guided; just listen. Ground yourself; trust the process and breathe.

Ego: Sigh. Gulp. Be-Here-Now. Be-Here-Now. Be-Here-Now.

So I ventured into unknown waters in facilitating both of these TCC events with some mental trepidation. My tan t’ien ironically was very reassuring, especially during the actual programs. I had the humbling experience of feeling prajna guiding me – in the moment – to say and do certain things. I actually felt comforted in the silences and, unbelievably to the ego, found myself simply waiting, listening and feeling for prajna to guide the direction of each TCC group in both class experiences.

Prajna knew what to do, and my job was to listen, trust it and follow it humbly as its servant.

What is your relationship to the Cosmic Rhythm? Are you flowing with it or swimming against the current in resistance? Prajna can expertly guide you if you allow it to and you most assuredly will feel the flow (although the ego doesn’t believe this). Have you been thinking of trying something outside of your TCC comfort zone? Have you been invited to try something new? Since TCC is a service to humanity, wouldn’t it be nice to shift beyond your comfort zone and see where the Cosmic Rhythm takes you?

* Editor’s note: Prajna is a Sanskrit word Justin often used, meaning inherent wisdom.

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

The Physical & the Spiritual in TCC

 

T'ai Chi Chih originator Justin F. Stone explains how the many benefits of practicing TCC come about.

By Justin F. Stone

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 (through TCC practice) we are actually performing the deepest Yoga, going back to the cause and erasing it so the effect 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 February 2016 and Fall 1987 issues of the TCC journal, The Vital Force.

TCC & Non-Duality

 

 

Advaita in Sanskrit means Non-Duality. This is a difficult concept for most people as we look about us and see multiple objects. But what we see are only transformations, not permanent forms, whether we are speaking of a chair, a tree or a human being. Each exists provisionally but is certainly not lasting. One day the tree may become the chair and the human body will be eaten by worms. The I that observes all this may disappear and become another I. To bank on permanence is to promote suffering.

When we perform T’ai Chi Chih properly we feel the results. Since we are, essentially, a conflux of moving energies, stimulating and balancing the Intrinsic Energy (Chi) affects our whole being. The effects seem to be personal, but, in truth, they are widespread. Just as our Enlightenment is saving all beings, so does the balancing of the Universal Energy affect both the outer and the inner.

So many students have written me about how their lives have changed with the practice of T’ai Chi Chih. Those who truly practice note that their attitudes change – and others notice it, too. We do not heal symptoms; we become whole.

So, to practice regularly and sincerely is to promote the positive in this world; we reap the benefits. This is Advaita in action.

Photo: TCC originator Justin F. Stone practices in his home in Albuquerque, NM in the early 1980s.

Reprinted with permission from the November 2015 and Spring 1988 issues of the TCC journal, The Vital Force.

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.