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

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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.

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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.

 

May the (Vital) Force Be With You!

This monthly TCC e-newsletter, free to all subscribers, offers inspiration from the TCC journal, The Vital Force. Text from the most recent issue is below. To subscribe, send your email address to kim.grant@taichichih.org. May the Vital Force be with you!

Inspiration from The Vital Force 
February 2018


This month: TCC practice in all circumstances


“As the clouds are brushed away, awareness grows from the inside, and it always goes from the limited individual outlook to the universal.”

– 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 For All Seasons: It’s early March in Philadelphia. Twelve degrees and gusty winds. Biting icy snow and sleet still falling on already icy streets…. I’m going to the annual Philadelphia Flower Show. By the time I board my home-bound train later, I’m happily exhausted, fall asleep, and wake to hear the conductor announcing the next stop – not on my route. I had boarded the train heading the opposite direction from home. The next stop is an isolated one with no indoor shelter…. I gather my belongings and am the only person leaving the train.
 
It’s even colder, even windier, and the icy snow is still blowing. Ah...a sheltered bench and enough time to do a full TCC practice. It’s cold, but I’m mostly out of the wind, and Rocking Motion feels like the greatest blessing ever. Bird Flaps its Wings stares a gust of wind in the face. The “Platters,” Bass Drum and the “Daughters” are solid against the elements. Carrying the Ball – of persistence – to the Side. Pushing the cold away and Pulling in the warming Chi…. With the final grounding, I realize I’m warm and centered.” – ND, Wallingford, PA

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"Evolution Through ChiAfter 30 years of teaching TCC, I’m experiencing a deeper appreciation of Justin Stone’s approach to ‘Evolution Through Chi’ (1991 booklet)…. I’ve always approached my TCC practice and teaching with as much teh (inner sincerity) as possible, including gratefully accepting movement corrections over the years. I’m still trying to incorporate the many personal suggestions made by Justin. But after four years of teaching at a nursing home, I don’t focus on correcting students doing their very best to follow the movements….

My experiences increasingly bear witness to Justin’s claim that teaching TCC is an important way for us to serve as ‘Divine Agents of evolution.’ I feel that my most important ‘service to mankind,’ right here, right now, is to allow the TCC movements to support the evolution these residents are undergoing in the final years or months of their lives. Many of them are too demented to communicate with others at any significant level. It touches my heart more deeply than I can express when I see the eyes of stroke survivors and people with Alzheimer’s begin to shine as they feel enhanced Chi circulation." – HH, Fern Forest, HI

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Boulder: It had been two years since Andy passed. He loved attending the TCC teacher conferences, and we had attended most since our certification in San Antonio in 2000. Since he and I co-taught all our TCC classes, the thought of attending without him was something I couldn’t consider until this year.… It was wonderful seeing old friends, teachers and making new friends. But it brought back many bittersweet memories of the fun and learning Andy and I had together…. I hadn’t taught TCC since Andy’s passing but before the conference, I was asked to teach the residents of The Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows. After much consideration, I took this as a sign. Andy would have wanted me to do it.

After the first class I received a request to teach at an assisted living complex, where I now offer standing and seated TCC. Andy and I had never taught seated TCC, and learning more about seated TCC was one of my main focuses at the conference. I am so thankful to have attended. Being with teachers was very healing, and I thank everyone for their kindness and friendship." – BA, Highland, IL

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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. 

"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.


TCC from a Beginner's Perspective: Thoughts from a Newbie

A TCC student describes her sudden awareness that “Chi is spreading like rings in water to other aspects of my life.”

 By MSK, Seal Beach, California

To be Present

 One of my close girlfriends asked me why I liked this T’ai Chi Chih so much and what it was all about and it got me thinking. I have never tried any traditional T’ai Chi practices so I wouldn’t know the difference. But I know what I like about T’ai Chi Chih and what got me to going to it in the first place.

 In a world where time can feel like riding a tiger through water and hours just slip through one’s fingers, it's so important to find something that helps you live in the moment and be 100 percent present. I searched and tried many things. I tried a circle group meditation where we stared into a circle of candles, and for 35 minutes I did nothing but think about my back hurting, the itching behind my left knee, and buying milk on my way home. I've tried mindfulness CDs where I sat still and got increasingly stressed about spending 14 minutes listening to the ocean … when I had e-mails to answer.

I also practiced a morning meditation where I lay on my back listening to one quiet song all the way to the end (never longer than 5 minutes), and during that time, I managed to make multiple shopping lists, a list of calls to make that day, and to plan Christmas gifts for years to come.

I tried several relaxation techniques where I often just fell asleep. I tried a few types of yoga where I either mentally beat myself up for not doing a daily practice, or I focused too much on doing the poses properly, until realized it would take years (if not decades) before I could relax into it. So when I saw an advertisement in a local magazine in Seal Beach for TCC I thought, you have nothing to lose my friend. I must say I was very skeptical.

 My first time

I arrived a little early to peek at the intermediate class. Students stood in a circle and pulled taffy. Wow, I thought, I will never learn that; it looks so easy that it must be extremely difficult. But I have never tried any martial art, meditation practice, or anything that is so easy to catch and get into the flow. Suzanne Roady-Ross, our patient and smiling instructor, got us started in no time. Luckily, Suzanne explained that we should not be surprised if we felt energy in our hands while doing the exercises. Otherwise I might have run away and never returned because the feeling of something was there almost immediately – the feeling of polarity between the palms and a tingling in the palms that flowed up through the arms. I was speechless.

 To be or not to be

I did not flee and returned again and again to Suzanne's classes. After five weeks, I joined the more experienced class and followed as best I could through all 19 movements. It was an absolutely amazing experience. My brain simply logged off. For the first time in my life my mind quieted. I followed the others from one movement into the next. No shopping lists, phone calls, or anything else emerged in my mind. I experienced for a short while just being. Then we reached “Daughter on the Mountain Top” and my body needed my brain to coordinate my arms.

 The Future

I'm still a beginner, but I’m now able to do all 19 movements, and I keep being impressed by how easy it is to get in the flow and just be. As Suzanne made me focus more on my legs, I realized I had never really felt my legs. I am often unsure if they are bent or straight when they are supposed to be, but that will slowly come. 

I can feel little glimpses of being and the sudden awareness that Chi is spreading like rings in water to other aspects of my life. I now find that in other meditation forms, being in the moment and feeling joy comes more easily. I believe that TCC will continue giving in body awareness and inner peace and joy. I will definitely be practicing TCC for years to come, and I will continue recommending it to people like me, those who often feel more stressed than relaxed when lying down rather than being through motion.

 Reprinted with permission from the November 2014 issue of the TCC 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.

TCC Benefits: A Student's Perspective

Reflections On Learning TCC ... One Year Later

By GH, Atlanta, GA

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 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.  

Reprinted with permission from the May 2015 issue of the TCC journal, The Vital Force.