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

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.

10 Ways to Know TCC Practice is 'Working'

 “…if lives are enhanced, that is enough and no more has to be said.” – Justin F. Stone, TCC Originator

 [T’ai Chi Chih] is not meditation, though it seems to bring the serenity of the most successful meditation – a serenity that teachers often notice in the faces of their students near the end of classes. Indeed some students who come to class under a lot of tension are then embarrassed to begin yawning, [which is] obviously a release of tension. One who is tied in knots does not yawn. 

 And T’ai Chi Chih is not exercise, though it seems to be the easiest and most effective form of exercise. It is one of the few practices that exercise the internal organs. …

One is naturally gratified to receive these benefits from regular practice of T’ai Chi Chih, but there are deeper effects that must be experienced personally. The practicing student will first notice a tingling in the fingers, and soon a slight shaking of the fingers as the Chi spreads. Heat may appear at points where there is blockage or has been an injury. And often this heat (which is very healing) will appear sometime after practice – while walking down the street or engaging in some other activity. A surge of energy is common, and students are advised not to practice T’ai Chi Chih after the evening meal, as the heightened energy may interfere with sleep. 

 The tingling in the fingers may appear in the very first practice session of T’ai Chi Chih. And the inadvertent trembling only confirms the flow of the energy, which the student feels quickly. This is the first manifestation of the circulation of the yin and yang Chi, which separate when we begin to do the movements, and then come together when we rest.

If we practice regularly and get the habit of doing the movements when we arise in the morning, we will probably continue faithfully because we will notice the effect in our lives, and experience the ‘joy thru movement.’  As we continue we should one day have the ecstatic feeling that nobody is doing anything, that the Chi is flowing by itself, and T’ai Chi Chih is doing T’ai Chi Chih. I first had this experience at dawn in a Japanese garden. And it was almost like a Satori or enlightenment experience. It will take some time before this occurs.

The third confirmatory sign of our success in T’ai Chi practice will come only after we have been doing T’ai Chi Chih for a long time, to the point where the balanced Chi begins to flow the moment we lift our hands – and probably flows through us most of the day while we are carrying out other activities. Then we will be surprised to learn that we can do T’ai Chi Chih mentally. We can be sitting at a boring lecture or on a plane and, closing our eyes, begin to do the movements in our minds. The Chi then begins to flow just as if we were standing and moving. No one around us will even know we are doing it, but we are getting the benefits of T’ai Chi Chih practice while sitting quietly.

Starting at the point of the circulation of the Vital Force we have now arrived at the point where it is completely influenced mind. I leave you to imagine how wonderful such a realization will be, but it will only come after considerable time. One of the first effects we will notice is the absence of fatigue in activities that usually tire us. 

 I remember hearing from a former student, a nurse, who said, ‘I don’t seem to yell at the kids anymore or kick the cat. And when I come home from work, fixing the evening meal doesn’t seem to be a chore. This doesn’t have anything to do with T’ai Chi Chih, does it?’

‘What’s the difference?’ I replied, ‘As long as it’s happening.’

I’m not going to burden her with the information that I’ve heard scores of such comments. If lives are enhanced, that is enough and no more has to be said.

* * *

From Justin Stone Speaks (a CD), transcribed from an oral talk; excerpted and reprinted with permission from Good Karma Publishing.

Reprinted from the November 2016 issue of the TCC journal, The Vital Force. To subscribe to The Vital Force, click here.

 

 

Why we become TCC teachers

 

Many T'ai Chi Chih students eventually become TCC teachers, some many years after first experiencing the practice. Why do they then undertake the extra level of study and commitment? In the August 2016 issue of the TCC journal, The Vital Force, several newly accredited TCC teachers explained their reasons. Excerpts follow below.

“I don't remember when I chose to become a teacher, but I do know that it came to me slowly – only after I started studying Justin Stone's book, Spiritual Odyssey. I initially rebelled, but when I finally started reading this book my heart was joyous. … Let me be clear: TCC is not a religion. Yet Justin's background is steeped in (older eastern) religions, and that spirituality shines through in his writings. It's this inherent spirituality in TCC that calls me to teach. I want to share this heartfelt Joy, this oneness of humanity, with others.” – S.R., Fort Collins, CO
 
. . . . . .
"My TCC journey began more than 20 years ago. As a teenager attending community college in Arizona, I saw a T’ai Chi class listed. It sounded cool, far eastern and maybe a little mystical, so I signed up. I’m glad I did. The wonderful class turned out to be T’ai Chi Chih. I even wrote a poem about it for The Vital Force (December 1994). And I enjoyed class so much that I enrolled in Seijaku the next semester to deepen my practice.

“After completing my degree and moving to Las Vegas, I couldn’t find a TCC teacher so I practiced on and off for years – sometimes more, sometimes less.
 
“Fast forward to 2015. I decided to reconnect deeply with my practice and was delighted to find a retreat just over 100 miles from my home in Arizona. The softness and beauty of the retreat leader’s practice made me fall in love again. I was determined to connect with a community to practice and share the Chi. Unfortunately, there were no instructors teaching near my home. I was going to need to build the community I wanted to be a part of, so I would have to become an accredited teacher myself.” – N.P., Surprise, AZ

. . . . . 
“In the early 1990s I was living in Arizona and could not get through the pain from a major loss. So I sought out a grief counselor who was also a T’ai Chi Chih teacher. She had me doing TCC weekly with her for almost five years, which was a big help with the grief process. When I returned home to Colorado, I stopped doing TCC for about 15 years because I was busy as a single mom. I may have left TCC but it never left me.
 
“Once again I found myself with another major loss so I sought out TCC again. I realized then that I really want to help others by teaching because it has helped me so much. I want to help seniors with their health, and possibly grief, since as they get older they start losing so much.” – B.F., Arvada, CO
 
. . . . .
“I had been introduced to the practice in 1998 and had been attracted to its benefits and its lovely practitioners. However, I had not been active for many years, and now … I knew I had been called to teach and I began to believe in myself, and to believe that my sincere effort would allow me to be successful and to pass the teacher accreditation process. However, as with all of life, once this hurdle was passed, I would then be called to begin again – this time as a new teacher. Isn’t life grand?” – E.F., Glenwood Springs, CO

. . . . .

Would you like more inspiration? Connection with the global TCC community? Hints and tips for a better practice? Join us  subscribe to The Vital Force
 
In each issue, T’ai Chi Chih teachers and students describe their experiences and benefits gained from this practice of 19 movements and one pose. And we always highlight wisdom by, and photos rarely seen of, originator Justin Stone. 

The joy of becoming a TCC teacher

Learning TCC is more than learning a set of movements. It’s also welcoming a growing awareness of the movement of the Chi and the wonderful cumulative effects of practice. Below, two newly accredited TCC teachers translate these unique experiences into words to inspire us all.

TCC Accreditation in Pennsylvania, June 2016   Compiled by AL, Prospect Park, PA

* * * * *

My intention at the start of this accreditation week was to: be open to peace and joy; allow softness and continuity; be friends with my Chi and the Chi of each who is helping and hoping for growth; and be in balance of giving and receiving.

During the humbling first days, I let go of insecurity and expectation. All the countless hours of practice were represented in its raw reality. I let it be and accepted all that was offered in feedback. Then I discovered that my intention to make friends also applied to the Chi of each movement and I was finally able to make a fuller flowing connection with Carry the Ball to the Side. Making friends with this new favorite movement has softened all of my previous favorite movements. So I recommend learning to love the one movement that challenges you – to overcome the hidden blockage in your practice.

I am thankful for every minute of driving (including some great distances) to TCC classes; the extra months I gave myself to prepare for accreditation; the indoor and outdoor practices; the practices when I felt sick or healthy; the time studying Justin's videos; the time reading and listening to Justin’s other sources; and (most of all) helpful clues from multiple teachers. All of it, it was all necessary beforehand.

Even so I arrived without a pre-set presentation. It percolated until the day it was done. The Chi flowed and I let it write itself in a succinct testimony of balance. This sounds idealistic but I am a scrappy-rewrite-it-again speechwriter so this seemed like a crazy miracle of spirit. I think my presentation ended up giving a glimpse of how TCC has brought balance to my life.

I completed accreditation full of joy and peace. I really can feel the bubbling springs

beneath my feet, in my heart, head and soul. I am letting go of rigid control and allowing gentleness to flow in my knees and joints. I honor my core truth daily with more awareness than before I arrived. Plus I met my tribe in the TCC community and you are absolutely wonderful. Looking forward to our next in person reunion. – JS

* * * * *

It was surprising and enriching in ways I suspect will unfold little by little. When auditing teachers shared on the first day how much fun we would have, I was skeptical, my vashannas (habit energies) firmly in operation.

The breakdown came on the second day, with the first correction. The noise in my head began; I made a panicked call to my instructor for reassurance. Did I really belong here? Was I a worthy candidate? Prajna comes (softly as it tends to), inviting me to trust and let go. And then suddenly it comes rushing in, surrounding me, connecting me, making me a part of it. I find warmth and laughter, joy and love, in everyone. – LL

Reprinted by permission from the August 2016 issue of the TCC journal, The Vital Force.

"Higher Consciousness" by Justin F. Stone

T'ai Chi Chih originator Justin F. Stone (1916-2012) describes the nature of consciousness and how meditation helps us access a "non-dual" state.

Higher Consciousness

Reprinted with permission from the Autumn 1986 issue of the TCC journal, The Vital Force.

People often speak of “higher consciousness.” A man is coming from another state to videotape me in a research project to find those in “higher consciousness.” The truth is, there is no such thing. There is only Consciousness, and at the deepest level, it is not individual. Sometimes this consciousness is obscured, and then there seems to be “lower” consciousness. It is usually obscured by habit-energies and tendencies; ultimately, this all proceeded from thought and thought-patterns.

The sun remains the same, always, but we speak of “weak sunshine today” or talk of the strong sun in the autumn season. When clouds obscure the sun, we see it as “weak sunshine,” but the sun has not changed. Similarly, consciousness remains unchanged but, when obscured by what [some in Asian traditions] call “the dusts,” it appears “low.”

Just as the life essence remains unchanged as there is constant transmutation, so consciousness is not affected by the obscuring elements. One Zen Master spoke of keeping the mirror clean, wiping away the dusts so that the basic nature of the mirror – which reflects unchangingly – will not be affected. Consciousness is like the mirror. It is necessary to remember that consciousness can only exist where there is duality. The polarity of subject-object relationship makes consciousness possible.

When we enter deep meditation, where there is only subject and no subject-object relationship, the world disappears. With the reappearance of thought, consciousness and the subject-object relationship reappear, along with self, other and God.

Learning about letting go

A TCC student explains why sometimes doing "less" is doing "more."

Doing Less

By L.S., Fort Collins, CO

Reprinted by permission from the May 2016 issue of the TCC journal, The Vital Force.

I'm one of a group of women in Northern Colorado on the path toward T'ai Chi Chih teacher accreditation in June. A few weeks after an intensive with Sandy, I was struggling with the balance between learning what I needed to know for accreditation, and sinking into practice for its own sake. A few of us were speaking with our teacher, Marie, after class.

She explained that as teacher candidates, we are on a different part of the journey than we were as students, because we are learning the movements as prospective teachers. When students first start out, she explained, they are naturally "in their heads" as they learn the movements and understand the principles. With practice, they learn to let go of thinking and doing. Now, as teacher candidates, we have to go back into our heads to understand TCC at a new level. 

It is important to practice for ourselves, not always working on something, she explained. Marie encouraged us to focus on the joy of our practice at home, and practice with variety of DVDs to feel how other teachers move.

Privately, she suggested I make my movements smaller, with less effort and ground longer. This echoed a life lesson I'd been forgetting and relearning all year. My health was telling me that I needed to do less, and rest more, but I wasn't quite ready to listen. Life already seemed to be moving at a faster pace than I could keep up with.

I've noticed that my mind has a tendency to judge any terms that it doesn't understand. Statements like "flow from the center," "let the tan t'ien lead" and "let go of any effort" felt very "woo-woo" when I first heard them. Sometimes they felt like "shoulds." My mind began to tune them out, as it tunes out music or someone coughing in the room, while it struggled to get the arms just right, the weight shift perfect. These phrases became jargon, or generalized platitudes. I've learned since then (by repetition and seeing their effects) that it's the exact opposite: these are explicit instructions, keys to the power of TCC. They can have a profound influence not only in my practice, but in my life. 

I've always found it paradoxical that many TCC movement names involve active verbs, imply effort, or are in the imperative. Push, Pull, Carry, Work. Yet one of our main principles says to let go of effort. When I first started practicing, I didn't fully believe that TCC could truly be effortless. My mind rationalized. “Of course there should be no strain; perhaps that is what is meant.”

Concepts are so closely interrelated and connected in TCC. It sometimes feels like a tangled thread, which tightens further when I pull on the ends to untangle them. Alignment affects softness, for example, because softness requires release of tension, and that can only happen when I'm balanced over my feet. To flow from the tan t'ien, without using any effort, requires a connection to the feet that disappears the moment I drift into my head. The more I learn, the more there is to learn.

I recently noticed another paradox when I'm working on corrections to my form. For each correction, my mind wants to make an active change, a fix. If my arms are too high or too low, I adjust them into the "proper" spot. If my foot has a tendency to turn out too much, I place it back in the correct alignment when I notice. When my eyes drift into following the movement, I chide them gently and offer them a point to focus on. Inevitably I add on more "doing" or "shoulding" to the movement with the corrections. How can I fix it all, still follow all the principles and still do less? 

I started playing with the "why" of the corrections I was working on. Why does my foot end up in the wrong place? Why does it feel like effort to get my arms high enough? An odd pattern appeared in the answers. There was usually an area where I needed to soften, let go of tension, or do less, which then increased the connectedness and "fixed" the problem, or rather, the problem faded away, at least until habit took over. Relaxing hunched shoulders allowed my hands to come into place more effortlessly. Softening a hip placed the foot in alignment. Sinking into the feet brought my gaze inward and steadied it.

I'm slowly learning how to interpret my body's signals as instructions rather than judgments or problems to fix. I look for solutions that involve letting go, rather than doing more. I'm practicing letting go of thoughts when they are stressful, self-critical, or anxious. I’m not giving time to decisions that don't matter. If life feels overwhelming, I probably really need rest and a change in perspective. Stressing over something is not the same as doing or planning it.

It's going to take a lot of practice, and many practices. I will probably always find it difficult to get out of my head. But the journey will be a more joyful one if I see the hurdles not as problems that I should effort to fix, but as opportunities to let go, listen more closely and connect; to allow the Chi to do the work and problems to work themselves out. 

 

TCC Improves Our Inner State Of Being

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

By TI, Illinois

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shift Beyond Your Comfort Zone

By AL, Prospect Park, PA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Physical & the Spiritual in TCC

 

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

By Justin F. Stone

Most people who come for T'ai Chi Chih lessons do it for physical reasons, either because of ailments or because they feel it will help them in the areas of energy, hypertension, etc. Thus they think of TCC practice as a form of therapy, which it undoubtedly is. However, they may later find that they have derived much deeper – spiritual – benefits, which they did not expect. 

How do these come about? How does TCC affect our Karma?

 We are the products of our habit energies (vashana in Sanskrit), and we in turn have built these habit energies. Thus it can be a vicious circle. When these energies grow too strong they become tendencies (samskara in Sanskrit), and these may last through many lifetimes.

 These tendencies are some of the reasons people have uncontrollable drinking problems – which they don’t understand – explosive temper outbursts, fits of despondency, etc. It is hard to fight against such things when you don’t know what you’re fighting.

 How does all this begin? When there is a release of energy, accompanied by the mental stimulus associated with it, a vritti (Sanskrit) or shallow groove is formed on the brain. Repeated release of the same energy – as when one finds solace in drink and therefore imbibes each time a disappointment is encountered – develops the shallow groove into a deeper habit energy. This in turn takes over our lives.

 If you will introspect, you will find that most of our actions are habitual. We practice piano to develop these habit energies so our playing becomes muscle memory. We learn languages this way. Some actions become so habitual, such as shaving in the morning, that we often don’t remember whether we performed them or not.

 So we are a product of these vashanas, which we ourselves built. We are, in a sense, our own creators. We build our own Karma. I have often spoken of the Reciprocal Character of Mind and Chi (Prana in Sanskrit). The character of the Chi greatly influences our state of mind, and our state of mind greatly influences our Chi. How can we break into that circle to change influences for a more desirable effect? We do T’ai Chi Chih, circulating and balancing the Chi. As the yin-yang elements are brought into better balance, this not only balances the Chi but it also influences how we think. Ultimately we are what we think; this creates our Karma.

 The state of someone’s Chi creates vibes, as we all know. Sometimes we meet someone and get bad vibes when that person’s Chi is out of balance. We can’t explain it – and we often ignore it– but we are reacting to that individual’s energy field. Such reactions are usually reliable.

By changing the quality of the Chi (through TCC practice) we are actually performing the deepest Yoga, going back to the cause and erasing it so the effect will be improved or will disappear. This is, in a sense, de-hypnotization. In this respect TCC has the same deep purpose as Yoga and Zen, but it is a much easier practice. Few are capable of following either Zen or yogic life to its deepest levels, particularly in our busy society. But we can practice TCC and have the deepest spiritual effect on ourselves. 

Reprinted with permission from the February 2016 and Fall 1987 issues of the TCC journal, The Vital Force.