T'ai Chi Chih Inspiration

Our free monthly e-newsletter offers inspiration from the TCC quarterly journal, The Vital Force. Teachers and students tell stories about ways they've benefitted from the practice. To subscribe to the e-newsletter, send an email with heading marked SUBSCRIBE to kim.grant@taichichih.org.

June 2018

Inspiration from The Vital Force

This month: Deepening our practice

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Chi does not belong to us individually; rather, we tend to share in this universal energy.”

– Justin F. Stone, TCC Originator

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This e-newsletter offers inspiration between quarterly issues of the T'ai Chi Chih (TCC) journal, The Vital Force. TCC is a series of 19 movements and one pose, a moving meditation practice that helps circulate the Vital Energy, the Chi. Practitioners experience peace, health benefits and more. 

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Quotations from the most recent issue of The Vital Force
 

Deeper Lessons: “It [TCC instruction at a retreat] was a reminder to slow down and be mindful in all aspects of my life. It was a reassurance to trust my body to support me and to let go of past traumas. It was a reminder that I can find balance in my life if I focus on what is important and what feels right. Each movement became more than a physical activity; it became a reassessment of my life, purpose and inner being. Lessons learned in our TCC practice are lessons that help us live a more full and authentic life. While detailed deconstruction of movements was informative and constructive, the deeper lessons are the ones I value most – balance, trust, being grounded, mindfulness and slowing down.” – GN, Wrightwood, CA

. . . . .

Love in Practice: "The love generated during TCC practice is shared by all. Someone new to TCC feels it the moment he starts moving. Or she may feel it from being in the field of others moving. At the end of the day, no one has more love than anyone else. We all share it. That’s the emptiness we talk about. The more we move we can empty, the more we can feel the love. It 's always there. We have to open up to it." – DB, New York, NY

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Healing Effects: "My doctor’s office called to share results of a recent bone density scan. Two years ago tests indicated that osteopenia had begun to morph itself into osteoporosis…. I decided to continue eating healthily and taking vitamins – and made one change. Over the last 19 months I’ve practiced TCC, rarely skipping a day. The message his morning was, ‘Keep doing whatever you’re doing because the osteoporosis is getting better.’ What? Not only has degeneration abated, but bone is building. While I’d done TCC on and off for years, I’ve been doing a daily practice since retiring and becoming accredited to teach. This is the tip of the iceberg of amazing results from our precious mindful, meditative TCC. – LM, Lakewood, NJ

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Inner sincerity & integrity: "This is not 'our' Chi; we are a product of this Chi…. To unite with this Chi and to balance it is to return to the Uncarved Block, and this is what is meant  by Centering. In this sense, TCC practice becomes meditation…. It is my hope that TCC instruction will not just be physical. TCC teachers are told that the important thing is teh, the power of inner sincerity and integrity." – Justin F. Stone 

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Teachers, please forward this email to your students.
Students, please forward this email to your friends.

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Want more inspiration? Want connection with the global TCC community? Want tips for a better practice? Join us:

1)  Subscribe to The Vital Force at https://www.taichichih.org/subscribe. Our quarterly journal offers engaging stories, hints and insights from TCC teachers and students. We also highlight wisdom by, and photos rarely seen of, originator Justin Stone. 

2) Subscribe to this monthly e-newsletter by sending an email with heading marked SUBSCRIBE to kim.grant@taichichih.org.

. . . . .
Where in the World?
Visit our website (http://www.taichichih.org) for photos of TCC practice around the globe. Submit your own to kim.grant@taichichih.org. 


The Vital Force
Subscribe to the quarterly TCC journal at https://www.taichichih.org/subscribe. Learn with our international community of teachers and students.

T'ai Chi Chih
TCC is a moving meditation of 19 movements and 1 pose. Learn more about the practice at http://www.taichichih.org.

 

TCC practice: Grounding by focusing on soles of our feet

"T'ai Chi Chih goes much deeper than merely helping us to be healthy." In this transcription of a taped lecture, excerpted and published in the August 2017 issue of the TCC quarterly journal, The Vital Force, TCC originator Justin F. Stone explains the benefits of grounding during TCC practice by keeping one's concentration in the soles of the feet.

Q: Why is it necessary to keep the concentration in the soles of the feet while doing T'ai Chi Chih?

A: Actually there are three reasons. First, having a point of concentration keeps the mind from wandering and from having extraneous thoughts. Second, the t'an tien, the spot two inches below the navel, is the all-important place Chi is stored. It is the seed of intuition and the most important spot from the Chinese (medicine) standpoint.

In T’ai Chi Ch’uan, the student is asked to keep his concentration in the t'an tien, but this is very difficult and often interferes with breathing. The Tu Mu meridian channel that comes down the front goes thru the t’an tien and reaches the soles of the feet, called the Chu or bubbling spring.

Therefore, by concentrating in the soles of the feet, we serve the same purpose – bringing the Chi down to the t’an tien by bringing it down to the soles of the feet. The Buddha once said, "He who keeps his concentration in the soles of his feet while walking, while sitting, and while lying down can heal a thousand illnesses."

Third, and most important from a health standpoint, we want to bring the heart fire, that is the Yang of the heart, down instead of letting the Yin of the kidneys rise. The great Japanese Zen Master Hakuin Zenji commented on this when he said:

"The essential of the molding of the outer form consists in allowing the inward spirit and vital force, that is the Chi, to penetrate into the space below the navel. Where the inward spirit is concentrated, that is when the elixir of life is made. When this elixir is thus made the outer form becomes firm, and when the outer form becomes firm, the inner spirit becomes perfected. When the inward spirit is perfected, long life ensues.This is the secret. It is entirely a matter of the heart fire descending into the space below the navel."

This gives us a pretty good idea of the importance to health of this practice. And it also graphically demonstrates that T’ai Chi Chih goes much deeper than merely helping us to be healthy. Incidentally, Hakuin made his own breakthrough to enlightenment and totally cured his ailing health by following these principles. After his enlightenment he said, "After this, seeing the things of the world was like observing the back of my own hand."

Reprinted with permission from Good Karma Publishing.

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

 

Best Reason To Practice TCC

People who practice T’ai Chi Chih regularly often report feeling more joyful, experiencing considerable health benefits, and more. How does this happen? Justin F. Stone, originator of TCC, explains here how balancing and circulating the Chi, or Vital Force, brings about such change.

The Best Reason To Practice

by Justin F. Stone

Karma is an important and frequently used word, so it is important to understand what it means. In the Sanskrit language, karma means “action,” that and no more. So, when we glibly speak of “our karma,” we really mean the fruit of our action, not the action itself. Even this is not totally correct. The motivation behind our action is what establishes our karma – that is a result and not blind destiny.

Usually the motivation that causes us to act is the result of our established “habit patterns” (vashanas in Sanskrit). This is cause and effect. We establish patterns of thought and reaction, and these – formed by ourselves – coerce us into acting in certain ways. So we have created the very force that molds us. Should we not be careful in our thoughts and the habits we create?

There is always a result, neither “good” nor “bad” (which can be seen as “favorable” or “unfavorable” from a personal viewpoint), which is appropriate to the action. When a gun is fired, there is recoil commensurate with the force of the shot. This adequately explains karma for us. People usually believe not what is logical, but what they want to believe. Thus their actions are rationalized. This has no effect on the inexorable karma, which is not concerned with sentiment or rationalization. As one practices T'ai Chi Chih, the quality of the Chi definitely changes. So many say, “I really can‘t remember what I was like before TCC.”

As the Chi is circulated and balanced, habit energies tend to fade and one no longer feels compelled to follow dubious paths of action. One now feels more in control of (and responsible for) his or her actions.

This is “burning the karmic seeds.” It is the best reason I know to practice TCC, aside from the joyful feeling such practice brings. The serenity and better health are the results of this balancing and circulation. And it is so easy to accomplish.

. . . . .

Reprinted with permission from the February 2017 issue of The Vital Force. Original public in the December 1992 issue of 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

 

"You might even call it joy"

Watching someone practice TCC, the grace is evident. Doing TCC, the benefits are clear. Teaching TCC, we pass on to students these precious movements in many ways beyond language.

 

Teaching How To Let Chi Flow From The Center

By C N-S, San Luis Obispo, California

 

Letting The Form Move The Chi

Teaching T’ai Chi Chih in a health club presents its own challenges and rewards. The greatest challenge is that attendance is always in flux: one week I have almost all veteran practitioners, and another week half the class might be newcomers or students who attend sporadically because of health or work issues. As a result, I need to teach the basics at almost every session. The greatest reward, though, is that I teach basics at almost every session. As a result, I have had to find ways to teach the core of TCC (flowing from the center) in a way that works for students at all stages of their practice.

 

Teaching How It Feels, Not How It Looks

I often have the group start by making a circle, and with their hands loosely held behind their backs, begin the side-to-side locomotion of Carry the Ball to the Side. I choose this move for beginners because any compromise to the completeness of the sideways weight shift is more easily recognized since we actually bring in the “empty” or yin leg on the third step. If the student leans to the side or reaches to bring in that “giving” (or empty) leg, he or she immediately realizes that the weight has not yet been centered on the “receiving” (or “filling”) leg.

Once the students internalize the sense of a soft, unwavering vertical plumb line (running between the weight-bearing part of the foot up through the tan t’ien, heart and to the spot between their eyes) and realize that the body is not moved by pushing or effort, but rather by relaxing both legs and letting the body’s weight “pour” completely from one side to the next as the straightened leg is bent, they are ready to try the yinning and yanging step.

I sometimes ask them to think of their spine as a slightly melting stack of little ice cream sandwiches on a plate (the hips) so that they are not tempted to lean their shoulders into the movement, or reach with their arms when we add them later.

 

Chi Flows From Side-To-Side Like Water Being Poured From One Vessel To The Other

I ask students to consider that even the forward step is also side-to-side, and that the feeling of allowing the energy to be given up by one side in order to be received by the other is the same in both types of move. Again, with the hands resting behind us and an upright relaxed body and gently bent legs, heels together, we begin to orient their body’s center plumb line over the right foot, always moving from the tan t’ien. When all of the weight is over the right foot, we gently set the heel of the left foot forward and slightly to the side (without reaching), set the left heel down, then immediately bend the left leg and allow the hips, which are bearing our relaxed upright body, to flow into that side until the right side is empty. All of the weight is now on the left leg and the body is centered right above that left foot.

It is essential that absolutely no energy is put into the back foot during this weight shift, because that would cause the body to lean forward, and more importantly, it would hold yang energy in the side that needs to be waning into a yin stage (becoming the empty vessel). As with any energy exchange (think a piston or a battery), the more energy that is taken out, the more energy that can be put in.

 

Chi Flows Because The Center Is Moving – Wait For It To Happen

The other element of this approach is letting the hands become like dinghies pulled behind the powered craft (the tan t’ien). The hands are always pulled by the power source and have no power of their own. Once I took power away from my arms/hands I began to truly experience TCC doing TCC.

To help students feel this, I verbalize the idea that the energy that moves the arms comes from, and actually mentally follows, the generation of movement that starts with the tan t’ien. In each move students are asked to relax, think of where the center weight is and where it is going, and once that core weight shift starts, then they can let something happen with their arms/hands.

Think of the hands in Bass Drum moving forward because the tan t’ien has started forward, energizing them. Think of the arms in the various platter shapes moving to the right or left because the tan t’ien has started off to the right or left dragging them with it, then let the hands refine the circular shape (rather than thinking of the arm movement as making circles on their own related to which foot is forward).

Think of the arms rising in the “Daughters” because the tan t’ien has started moving forward, creating the energy which motivates them to gracefully rise, then allowing them to gently fall in their beautiful patterns, like raindrops flowing down a window, or the glittering stars of fireworks in the night fading as the tan t’ien moves backward: a gravity-powered energy pump, each yin becoming the genesis of the following yang. Forward and back, rising and falling, filling and emptying: part of everything that lives.

 

Moving From The Center Prevents Fatigue And Injuries

This shifting of all of our weight when we walk and practice TCC in this natural way protects our knees, because they correctly align themselves between the weight-bearing part of the foot. The hip socket can then relax until called upon again. I have observed with my older or injured students that the size of the step or the depth of knee bend is much less important to achieving a deeply-felt practice than is the completeness of the weight shift. Even people who have to use walkers can experience a wonderful flow of Chi although they are only able to take small, shallow steps.

I have had my share of arthritis and other age-related physical issues, and many of my students come to me because they are not able to do much exercise due to health problems. We have all found that by religiously focusing on experiencing a full weight shift with each move, the body is always relaxed, and the “empty” side gets to rest, so the legs do not tire no matter how long we practice. In fact, most students find they have much more energy after class than when we began, and go on to the rest of their day with a very positive attitude. You might even call it joy.

Reprinted with permission from the May 2015 issue of the T'ai Chi Chih journal, The Vital Force.


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.

Years of Benefits from TCC

People who've done TCC for decades have experienced, and seen in others, a wide range of physical, emotional and spiritual benefits. Here, a TCC teacher from Maine tells his story.

My Story

By RR, Portland, Maine

This is my journey. I went to my first T’ai Chi Chih class in Montclair, New Jersey, thinking it was a T’ai Chi Ch’uan class, which I had learned in San Francisco in 1983 and had pursued for many years. I had taken external and internal martial arts since I was 19 and the one thing I had always been searching for was a spiritual dimension. I knew it was out there; I had taken Aikido when I was younger and, because of its philosophy, I knew there could be a spiritual aspect to all this.

For the most part, T’ai Chi Ch’uan classes I had taken had no meditation feeling to them; it was all about the physical. I was ready for T’ai Chi Chih when it came along. It was a big surprise.

I think of T’ai Chi Chih as another qigong system and, although its principles are based on the physical foundation of T’ai Chi Ch’uan and TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine), which gave birth to the meridian system, by the fifth class I knew this was very different and I was hooked. I also remembered that Justin Stone was a T’ai Chi Ch’uan master. I was especially impressed by Justin's writings, especially Spiritual Odyssey, where he made reference to Krishnamurti, whom I had seen in New York City in the 1970’s and who had a great impact on me. Much of what Justin had to say resonated with me, especially being in the here and now, which I feel T’ai Chi Chih emphasizes. Justin’s focus on relaxing also rang a clear bell.

....

I didn’t get serious about T’ai Chi Chih until I suffered heart problems. In 2007 my doctor told me that my ejection fraction rate (the percentage of blood pumped from the left into the right chamber) was twenty-five percent. For most people it’s between fifty-five and sixty-five percent. After practicing T’ai Chi Chih for all these years, mine is now around seventy percent, which mystifies my cardiologist. I tell him it’s the Chi.

In 2009, I received my certification....

Maine

Maine’s population is 1.33 million, while Portland (where I’m the only full time T’ai Chi Chih teacher) has 66,000 people. The New England area, I think by temperament, has not fully embraced either T’ai Chi Chih or T’ai Chi Ch’uan, although there are many yoga studios around Portland. When I moved here, Maine had three other T’ai Chi Chih teachers in the north; now there are five. When I came there were no T’ai Chi Chih teachers in New Hampshire, Vermont or Massachusetts; now there are two or three in each. So T’ai Chi Chih is slowly growing.

My support comes from T’ai Chi Ch’uan teachers, from whom I still take classes (my roots). And I’ve demonstrated T’ai Chi Chih to my T’ai Chi Ch’uan class. One of my teachers offered plants for my T’ai Chi Chih studio and hooked me up with “Mended Hearts” for whom I did a demo....

My students are my inspiration. My best student (I always say half-kiddingly) is 90 years old and does T’ai Chi Chih daily – even when he suffered from mononucleosis and pneumonia. He loves T’ai Chi Chih, which has increased his balance and he considers it meditation, although he “could never meditate.” He helped me demonstrate T’ai Chi Chih on a local television station a few years ago. He has what Justin refers to as teh (inner sincerity).

I’d never taught before and it’s my students who have supported me and whom I’ve learned from. Students love the feeling they get from doing T’ai Chi Chih – the general feeling that it transports them to another plane.

I predominantly get female students between the ages of 50 and 90; a number of them belong to religious communities. (Students include four pastors and one Buddhist priest.) I also have multiple sclerosis students for whom T’ai Chi Chih has greatly helped with balance. For some, T’ai Chi Chih has had an immediate impact. My very first student reported that after five weeks of classes she asked her doctor to cut her arthritis medication in half (which he did). The doctor also reported that my student’s blood pressure had never been lower in 18 months.

A few students have expressed an interest in teaching T’ai Chi Chih; one is actively pursuing accreditation. As a teacher I look for that “inner sincerity” that Justin talks about. I leave the spiritual aspects up to the individual; my focus has been on preventive health aspects of T’ai Chi Chih. During the Mended Hearts demonstration, I learned that two of the biggest post-operative factors were depression and the inability to be active, both of which are positively affected by T’ai Chi Chih.

Excerpted by permission from the May 2015 issue of the TCC journal, The Vital Force.

"Skating on Thin Ice"

From aiding recovery after two knee replacements to guiding a student navigating "on thin ice," Tai Chi Chih aids in balance and in moving through life a little more smoothly.

"TCC Appears in Everyday Action"

by CW, Tupelo, Mississippi

A competent young orthopedic surgeon recommended T'ai Chi Chih as a resource in my recovery from a total knee replacement four years ago, and reiterated the recommendation after a second such surgery on the companion knee two years later. I'm pleased I followed his advice. TCC was unknown to me when I wandered into my first class simply seeking better physical balance. Since then, through participation in weekly classes and practice at home, not only has my physical balance improved nicely, but I also have received enhanced mental, emotional and spiritual balance.

I'm now beginning to have experiences where TCC principles become useful in my everyday life. During the recent extended absence of my companion, I had such an occasion. In her stead I had agreed to take over the morning chore of feeding wild birds that flock from the woods adjacent to our rural house. Before leaving, she demonstrated to me the careful spreading of birdseed along wooden railings that surround three sides of our exposed rear deck. 

As I approached the first morning of my new bird feeding duties, I found myself standing on the deck covered in a sheet of ice. However, thanks to the practice of TCC, I remained calm and breathed deeply. It came to me that my body knew how to safely execute the required action.

I slowly sank down and placed all of my weight into my left leg. I then moved my right foot in a small sideways step and glided to my right side, placing all of my weight into my right leg. After moving my left leg alongside my right, I sank down again and began the feeding, distributing seed. Before each succeeding step I confirmed that all weight had fully shifted to the receiving, substantial leg before moving. I successfully repeated this maneuver along the entire perimeter of the icy deck, and when I completed the seed distribution I'm certain I could hear the observing birds rejoicing in the woods. Joy through movement, perhaps.

For me, this fulfilling experience underscored two of the primary TCC principles – focusing in the soles of the feet and shifting the weight correctly. Knowledge of how to move properly was essential on that frigid morning. While literally on thin ice, my body had been grounded securely during the bird feeding process. I'm more balanced and centered in my physical body movements than ever, and for that I am grateful to TCC and for the caring instruction and support of my teachers.

Reprinted with permission from the May 2015 issue of the Tai Chi Chih journal, The Vital Force.