Joy is Our 'Natural State'

The Vital Force, the quarterly print journal of T’ai Chi Chih, is available by subscription. We also publish a free monthly e-newsletter, below. You’ll also find info below on how to sign up for the free newsletter and how to subscribe to the journal.

March 2019

Inspiration from The Vital Force 

This month: Gifts of TCC


"Joy is your natural state....”

– 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, theChi. Practitioners of TCC experience peace, health benefits and more. 

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From a recent issue of The Vital Force:
 

Gifts of Presence: "I gave space to let my heart feel into what was important to share before sitting down to write this. The words 'powerful field of Presence' kept arising. Something very beautiful and miraculous happens when we gather together, especially over the course of a TCC retreat or Intensive. A powerful field of Presence is activated by the grounding in our practice. There is nothing we need to 'do.' TCC itself carries with it the intention of opening up Presence. This field we create together through TCC is so holding and supportive. It opens us up to the gifts of Presence: love, courage, strength, wisdom, inspiration, joy and lots of laughter. Presence creates a safe space that welcomes everything – including tears and pain. This compassionate space has the power to deeply heal and transform our soul." – MD, Loveland, CO

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Gifts of Practice: "I learned to glide; to let my heels gently rise, rather than lifting them; to let my knees and elbows let go and move; to settle my shoulders, and to begin to feel the energy in my hands. Personal one-on-one guidance helped me discover new ways of making room for spirit in my body, offering cathartic emotional releases and glimpses of ecstasy." – RGB, Livingston, MT

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Gift of Relief: "Two years of TCC practice has proven to be a tremendous healing power in my life. Extreme foot pain and insomnia have vanished, my balance improved and my creativity expanded and deepened. Two months ago, my left knee was replaced and the first three weeks of recovery were wicked. It was extremely difficult and painful.  In week three post-surgery I woke up in tears and cried out, 'I can’t endure this pain one more day.'My inner voice said, 'TCC will help.' I finally put on Justin Stone’s DVD, played it over and over, fell in and out of sleep, trying to do some arm movements. After a while I was doing the movements in my mind. I fell gently asleep – my first good sleep in three weeks." – JW 

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Gift of Joy: "Joy is your natural state, although it is usually clouded over. When the Mind returns to its natural condition, you are joyful. Such Bliss is not the result of anything. 'To the Mind that is still the Universe surrenders.' The Life Force itself is joyous. All we have to do is get ourselves out of the way and enjoy it. This is not difficult for animals and plants, but few humans achieve the natural and the spontaneous." – Justin Stone, Climb The Joyous Mountain 

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

. . . . .

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

1) Subscribe to the 24-page The Vital Force at http://www.taichichih.org/the-vital-force. Each issue offers 40-45 engaging stories, hints and insights. We also highlight wisdom by, and photos rarely seen of, originator Justin Stone. 

2) Subscribe to this monthly e-newsletter by emailing us here.

Flowing & Growing in Chi

The January 2019 issue of our free e-newsletter shares inspiring stories from people who practice TCC.

Inspiration from The Vital Force 

This month: Flowing and growing in Chi


"Secure in faith, one can wait patiently and the inevitable will arrive.”

– 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, theChi. Practitioners of TCC experience peace, health benefits and more. 

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From a recent issue of The Vital Force:
 

"Justin always flowed. This was especially evident when he did T’ai Chi Chih. He flowed doing the movements, and joy poured forth. Flowing means moving in sync with the natural flow of the energy – not trying to make the movements happen, just going with them. Going with the flow. You might ask, ‘How do you do that?’ By grounding. Grounding is absolutely essential…. Grounding is the key to flowing. That's when T’ai Chi Chih is doing T’ai Chi Chih.…

“Now that we have an idea about how to flow, what is emptiness? In short, one might say that emptiness is void of our self-made limitations. Emptiness is full of love. It is wholeness, limitless possibilities, all the goodness there is. With this awareness, flowing from emptiness (or you might say flowing through emptiness) is exciting. There is no lack. There is wholeness and connection, abundance and gratitude. What a great way to practice TCC, flowing from emptiness." – DW, Albuquerque, NM

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“This has been a long season of loss. Within the last three years, I’ve experienced the deaths of my parents, the destruction of our home by fire, and the long illnesses and death of my dear husband Jack. I have such gratitude to Justin and my teachers for the gift of T’ai Chi Chih. It has given me life throughout the turmoil: grounding and calming, allowing better judgement, decision-making, perspective and energy. TCC allows me to feel gratitude and to rest in love. Justin’s observations speak to me profoundly." – DA, Arroyo Grande, CA

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“Live in the present with gratitude.”  – Justin F. Stone in Spiritual Odyssey

“Nothing is permanent ... change is inevitable.” – Justin F. Stone in Heightened Awareness

“To want what we cannot have, to ask that we sustain what is unsustainable, and to demand that the law of continuous change be somehow annulled is to invite unhappiness.” – Justin F. Stone in Climb the Joyous Mountain

. . . . .

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

. . . . .

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

1) Subscribe to the 24-page The Vital Force at http://www.taichichih.org/the-vital-force. Each issue offers 40-45 engaging stories, hints and insights. We also highlight wisdom by, and photos rarely seen of, originator Justin Stone. 

2) Subscribe to this monthly e-newsletter by emailing us here.

Inspiration: Being present, taking time

To receive our inspirational free monthly e-newsletter, send a request by email to kim.grant@taichichih.org. To subscribe to the quarterly TCC journal, The Vital Force, visit this page. Here’s the information from our December newsletter:

December 2018

Inspiration from The Vital Force 

This month: Being present, Taking time


"Live in the present with gratitude.”

– 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, theChi. Practitioners experience peace, health benefits and more. 

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From a recent issue of The Vital Force:
 

“Day by day, I slowed down Push Pull when I practiced it so I could really feel all the parts of the movement as flowing from inside the Chi, rather than from a more mechanical understanding of it imposed externally by the mind or how I thought I understood it. As thetan t’ien shifted the body forward, I paid particular attention to the slightly downward-pointing curve of the ellipse that the wrists traced, the subtle tug in the wrists as the fingertips pointed upward. An exquisite awareness began to infuse each millisecond of Push Pull as a fuller embodiment coaxed the vital energy to circulate more strongly and teach me about itself. What was happening, what was felt at the final moment of the return? Ah, the return. The energy of love poured into the front of the heart as the hands released more and more gently into the chest area ….” – AT, Albuquerque, NM

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“Not so long ago, someone asked me how long I had been doing these 19 movements and one pose? 'Quite a long while,' I answered, adding that I was still learning. The quick response was, 'Oh, you must be a slow learner.' I laughed and agreed. Then I remembered what someone else said to me once: 'Les choses qui en valent la peine prennent du temps,' meaning 'things that really matter take a long time.' Maybe discovering the Chi in our own body is worth all the time it takes to do so.” – CG, Lake Charles, LA

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“I was at death's door when I began my T’ai Chi Chih journey in September 2012. I was very sick and tired all the time. It took everything I had just to make it to work every day. That was all I could manage. In the beginning, the movements were difficult to learn, but I just kept going to classes at the TCC Center, which became a lifeline for me. I practiced as much as I could. Gradually I began to feel alive again. I wasn’t exhausted all the time.Fatigue and irritability changed into energy, love and light. The unfolding lessons, physical vitality, mental clarity, spiritual blessings and awakenings are so sweet. Life is no longer something to dread or endure, but something to behold, something to create and something to be grateful for…. This practice and these teachings of Justin Stone’s are a tremendous and a powerful gift to the world. ” – CL, Albuquerque, NM
 

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"Although we are tossed around like tumbling tumbleweeds ... by our feelings, and our lives are shaped by the direction of our state of mind, we do not generally ascribe any significance to what happens to us or the sensations and feelings we have. We rationalize them but do not really cognize them. He who is mindfully aware of the tactile stimuli and of the mental reaction to a given stimulus has taken a big step forward in understanding life. – Justin Stone

. . . . .

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

. . . . .

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

Subscribe to 24-page The Vital Force at http://www.taichichih.org/the-vital-force. Each issue of our quarterly journal offers 40-45 engaging stories, hints and insights from TCC teachers and students. We also highlight wisdom by, and photos rarely seen of, originator Justin Stone. 

"Letting go" as part of TCC practice

In our November 2018 e-newsletter, TCC teachers and students explain how “letting go” is both a part of the practice and a result. Inspiration follows.

November 2018

Inspiration from The Vital Force 

This month: Letting Go


"Trust your inherent, intuitive wisdom.”

– 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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From a recent issue of The Vital Force:
 

“I just found a note written to myself months ago after practice. ‘It’s not about solving all the problems in my head, or whether or not I’m perfect. What’s real (the present moment) is what matters. Trust is a big part of letting go, and coming home to myself.’ Sometimes I get ahead of myself when moving; I’m not with myself. It might be getting into my head, anticipating the next movement and rushing the close, my hands getting ahead of the weight shift. Do you know the feeling of being ready for action, queued up and ready to jump at a moment’s notice? We let that go in T’ai Chi Chih, which is a subtle but very important shift. Getting ahead of ourselves or over-extending causes effort and tension. If your shoulders are ahead of your waist, for example, that will probably cause tension somewhere in the backside of the body, as it holds you up…. When I’m with myself, all of me moves and arrives at the same time. I can let go and trust my body and the Chi to hold me up.” – LS, Fort Collins, CO

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“After several years of using the tool of thinking about what I was grateful for when in Cosmic Consciousness Pose, I observed that there was a direct effect on my brain and the content of my consciousness. Other thoughts came to a full stop, and gradually ‘I’ became quiet; the mind quiescent. Over years of practice there have been intervals where the content of consciousness was empty – empty of all but Light – the ‘Uncarved Block’ of consciousness. Justin assigned the name to this pose – Cosmic Consciousness Pose. I do not make it happen. It is attained immediately when I understand intuitively what it is – the mind’s great action, acquiescence. The paradox is only verbal.” – JR, Oxnard, CA

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“Zen Master Danxia said: ‘In the “function which is identical to essence,” holding still and letting go rest completely in one’s self. In the “Essence which is identical to Function,” bringing forth and throwing away depend on no one else.’ He is saying that it is all there with you, in your actions and your thoughts. You are complete. T’ai Chi Chih is helping you uncover that completeness. I say learn to live with and in that completeness and have absolute faith in it.” – Justin F. Stone

. . . . .

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

. . . . .

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

1) Subscribe to The Vital Force at http://www.taichichih.org/the-vital-force. 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.


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TCC Inspiration Far & Wide

 

Teachers & students from around the US describe the benefits they've gained from T'ai Chi Chih  practice. The info below is from our free monthly e-newsletter. To subscribe, just send your email address to kim.grant@taichichih.org with a note saying you'd like to receive the free monthly TCC e-newsletter.

August 2018

Inspiration from The Vital Force

This month: Letting Go

As awareness grows, so does joy.

– 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. To learn more about TCC, visit our website: http://www.taichichih.org/

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Quotations from the most recent issue of The Vital Force
 

Life-changing: "Of all the wonderful lessons T’ai Chi Chih has taught me, let go is the one that has really changed my life. We know the mind alters Chi, and Chi alters the mind. As we learn to let go physically during our TCC and Seijaku practices, our minds are learning to let go too. . . .During my second year of practicing TCC, I was introduced to Justin Stone’s Abandon Hope, that book with the grim-sounding title. I believe the let-go moments in TCC allowed my mind to open to the book’s lesson – a lesson anything but grim." – A student in the West

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Calming: “TCC is calming for me and helps create a moment of peace. It has helped me in situations of stress or anger to become more cool-headed and handle these emotions better in the moment. I feel the ground beneath me and the air touching my skin while I practice. The sounds of people and buildings fade away and the white noise of the area comes forward. TCC is helping me become a better version of myself in this world.” – BM, Albuquerque, NM

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Grounding: "When I came to T’ai Chi Chih accreditation, I didn’t know I could...
listen with such attentiveness that words reformed into pure, clear thoughts;
observe with precise intention to notice the nest of changes in movements;
feel with grounded balance and stand strong upon this earth;
sense to the core of my t’an tien and find a center of gratitude.
But I could do all of this because I surrendered to the challenge." 
– SC at March 2018 Teacher Training

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Connecting: “During the practice of TCC, I am transported to a state where I am not required to think, worry or plan. I am simply me, in my purest, calmest state. I don’t have to think about how slow or fast I am going, because my body knows what’s right for me. My spirit, rather than my mind, guides me. It brings me one step closer, every day, to living life completely in the present and keeping myself as true and connected as I can be.” – JR, Albuquerque, NM

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Balancing: "It means you must 'Let go!' Every spiritual path simply asks you to 'Let go!' But this means to ignore your habitual thought patterns, your ingrained energy patterns and that is difficult to consciously do. The circulation and balancing of these energy patterns in T’ai Chi Chih practice can do it for you effortlessly." – Justin Stone

*TCC watercolors by Judy Kistler-Robinson

July issue of free TCC e-newsletter!

July 2018

Inspiration from The Vital Force

This month: Changing consciousness

...every word spoken to you will be a signpost to guide you,
if you let it
.”

– 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
 

Simple but not Easy: "As teachers of T’ai Chi Chih we have a tremendous responsibility to complete and carry on Justin Stone’s vision. He believed and taught that a daily practice of TCC – when practiced with integrity and sincerity – could and would raise our individual vibration and increase the speed of our personal evolution. Perhaps it could even speed the evolution for all humanity. This is a pretty tall order. …As I have grown as a teacher, I have come to learn that instead of rules, Justin gave us his teachings and his example. And, I have found, if we follow these guidelines we will not lose our way. Are the guidelines hard to follow? No. However, like TCC, they are simple but not easy. …TCC keeps us grounded and present. It keeps us in the moment and it brings clarity. " – EF, Glenwood Springs, CO

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A Way of Healing: “TCC has been my form of stress relief, anxiety relief and a safe haven for about a year. Coming into it, I thought it would be ridiculous, but it proved me wrong. In a competitive school, I’m always thinking about what’s ahead. But TCC helped me be in the moment, slow down, make sure I’m okay. TCC really is a way of healing. I’m much less stressed and I feel like I have control over my emotions. I can feel them and I let them come out, but I don’t have to be scared of them. I’m glad I took TCC this year; it really has helped me.” – AN, Albuquerque, NM

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Identification with the Universal: "In a higher state of consciousness, this feeling of narrow, isolated individuality expands and develops into a closer identification with the Universal. At times such a one may feel his awareness going far beyond the walls of his room or the shell of his body and covering vast areas of consciousness. …There is no limit to which consciousness can expand, understandable when you realize that it is not 'our' consciousness. Sentience is everywhere." – Justin F. Stone

. . . . .

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

. . . . .

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.
 

*TCC watercolors by Judy Kistler-Robinson

Minding Our Minds

Experience is subjective - each of us sees a situation slightly differently. How does our relationship to the Chi influence our perspective? 

TCC e-Newsletter April 2018

Inspiration from The Vital Force 

This month: Minding Our Minds

“For each state of mind there is a corresponding character of Chi and, in turn, each aspect of Chi influences the state of mind.”

– 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
 

Discipline of Gratitude: “Five years ago my husband was recovering from surgery to save his life from cancer.... His recovery was short-lived, and he died three months later. I have been paying attention to my life's new direction. I have three fabulous children married to wonderful people. I have four amazing grandchildren who fill me with joy. I am thankful for what I have in my life and that I continued to live. Now I have the opportunity to refocus, and live purposefully with a discipline of gratitude, finding the good in life. It's my responsibility to bring light where there is darkness, healing where there is pain, and joy where there is sorrow.” – SB, Richfield, MN

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Effort of No Effort: "No thought, no mind, no problems. Focusing on the soles of the feet. Yinning and yanging, one leg in emptiness while the other leg full. Emptiness of weight. Weightlessness in the forward and back movements. Flowing from the tan t'ien. No effort, a slow steady swim through air." – KL with DM, Wildwood, IL

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Empty Cup: "In Heightened Awareness, Justin Stone writes: 'For one to follow the methods of the book in working toward heightened awareness ... it is necessary to "empty the cup." A full cup will hold no more.' I considered what I'd like to remove from my cup (fear, worry, envy, resentment, anger, disappointment, busyness) to make room for gratitude, love, sharing. Then i realize my error. Again, my cup fills, this time with anticipation, expectation, a prelude to disappointment. By seeking, I may miss what (if anything) comes. Better to be empty." – GG with DM, Wildwood, IL

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Interrelatedness: "It may be difficult for some to understand how the outer and the inner are related and how the circumstances of our lives can be affected by the quality of the Chi. But unless one feels that all life is an accident and all events coincidental and without cause, it would be relatively simple to comprehend..(how) all things are intertwined (and) the interrelatedness of all life." – Justin F. Stone 

. . . . .

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

. . . . .

Want more inspiration? Want connection with the global TCC community? Want tips for a better practice? Join us  subscribe to The Vital Force. 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. 

Free monthly T'ai Chi Chih e-newsletter

Inspiration and news for people interested in - or already practicing - TCC is available to subscribers of our quarterly journal, The Vital Force. In addition, we offer a free monthly e-newsletter, May the Vital Force Be With You with excerpts from the journal. Here's an online subscription form for the e-newsletter: http://bit.ly/2kHv1tS - Join us! And here's a sample:

May the Vital Force Be With You - December 2017 issue

Inspiration from The Vital Force

This month: TCC practice tips

"Any muscular tension causes the meridian channels to contract
and the Chi can then not flow freely through them ...
a free flow of Chi, the vital force,
is an obvious necessity." 

--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


TCC Movement - Rocking Motion: "From the point in the movement where the practitioner has fully shifted forward and is up on the balls of the feet (heels lifted) and the hands are at shoulder height, the hands turn gently over and begin their cascade downward in sync with the downward/backward weight shift. As the hands pass by the hips, the wrists release completely (this is easy to forget and very powerful). Holding tension in the wrists where it is not necessary blocks the flow of the Chi, just as engaging the wrists where appropriate enhances Chi flow.

Releasing the wrists as the palms pass the hips, the hands do not turn palms up just yet. The body is still shifting backward from the tan t’ien, and so, too, the hands continue to travel back, led by the invitation from the tan t’ien, palms facing the wall behind the practitioner as the toes lift...." (Guidance continued in the Nov. 2017 issue of The Vital Force.) – AT, Albuquerque, NM

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Grounding & Alignment: Body alignment during TCC practice "has one of the greatest impacts on our capacity to allow a downward flow of Chi. We know that energy flows best through a straight pipe. We also know that when the body leans, tension is created, and where there is tension, the energy cannot flow….
 
"The only way to get aligned is to feel it. So let us feel our alignment by first feeling our weight centered over the soles of the feet. Now, since most of us have a tendency to move our pelvis forward take your two index fingers and push your hips back till you feel your sit bones over your heels. Now gently tuck your tailbone to level your pelvis. This will naturally bring your shoulders forward but sense in and see if you can actually feel your shoulders directly over your pelvis. Lastly, bring your chin in to align your head over your spine. Note, your core muscles need to be awake and engaged to maintain alignment. You have to be present to stay aligned!..." (Guidance continued in the Nov. 2017 issue of The Vital Force.) – MD, Loveland, CO

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Seated TCC: “It’s much easier for seated students to learn grounding into the soles of the feet. Getting into alignment is much easier and moving from two inches below the navel can be experienced quite easily – even though experiencing the tan t’ien may take more time…
 
“‘Less is more’ is a good plan on many levels in TCC. Learning to move from the tan t’ien is so important it’s worth teaching without distractions like leg and arm movements. Hands are either hanging at the side or in rest position during this part of the practice….
 
“The great thing about seated TCC is that you can introduce the hand movements in a tight relationship to the weight shift. ‘Let your hands ride out as you rock forward, let the momentum circle the hands as your weight shifts to the other side, and let your hands ride back as you rock back.’ Tying the hand movements to the weight shift makes the hand movements naturally smaller without being cramped…." (Guidance continued in the Nov. 2017 issue of The Vital Force.) – DK, Sarasota, CA

. . . . .

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

. . . . .

Want more inspiration? Want connection with the global TCC community? Want tips for a better practice? Join us  subscribe to The Vital Force. 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. 

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