NEW SCIENTIFIC STUDY: TAI CHI SLOWS AGING!
Also, on doing ALL things in our lives "with Qi," not just Tai Chi & Qigong
New study published in Cell Transplantation Journal proves Tai Chi can slow the aging process! Scroll down to Tai Chi & Qigong Medical Research article for more.
Also, LIVING WITH QI ...
How can we, not just practice Tai Chi and Qigong,
but make it a way of living every moment?
Also, an article on "Eating With Qi" offers profound videos on how powerfully food can be medicine that can do things you could never imagine. AND how Food, like Tai Chi, Qigong and Acupuncture, are integral parts of Traditional Chinese Medicine!
Oi Yue Angela Wong was taught|
Chinese herbology by her
Taiji playing mother, evolving
her skills over 40 years.
Qigong Master, Effie Chow, performing acupuncture. Founder of the World Congress on Qigong. Former member of President's Council on Complimentary Medicine.|
How Do We Expand the Tai Chi and Qigong Approach to Become a Practical Way of Living to Enrich Our Quality of Life? ... Below are some pearls of wisdom from China:
How 40 Years of Living With a Traditional Chinese Cook, Herbologist & Sifu...CHANGED EVERYTHING!
FEATURE ARTICLE: DOING THINGS WITH QI ...
Today you read articles everywhere in popular media about the meditation craze called "mindfulness."
In fact the June Issue of the Costco Connection Magazine was dedicated to "mindfulness living," with many articles on "mindfulness and mindful living." This marks a paradigm shift in society, as Costco is one of the largest retail outlets. One of my Tai Chi students and assistant teachers, Al, sent me these links to Costco's magazine, and wrote in the email "I hate to say it Bill, but you are becoming mainstream."
A Call for Calm
Employing Mindfulness - Find a slow ritual
Tai Chi & Qigong'ers, does a "slow ritual" sound familiar?
Develop a Child's Awareness
Mindful Eating is Balancing What You Eat with How You Eat
So, I thought that I'd share with you what I have learned from over 40 years of living with a Chinese person, a teacher, who exposed this simple Kansas boy to a universe of wisdom about the traditional Chinese approach, to the now popular culture craze of, "Living with Mindfulness." Below are pearls from Oi Yue Angela Wong, born in Hong Kong (1952), daughter of Sheung Oi Wong (born in Canton, China, a home schooled herbologist, and also a lifelong Taiji player). Pearls from Asia ...
As "mindfulness techniques" expand through the global psyche through media reports, and emerging scientific research, Tai Chi and Qigong should be right at the forefront of this discussion ...
Tai Chi & Qigong were one of the world's earliest and most profound forms of "mindfulness meditation." Tai Chi and Qigong are referred to as "the internal arts," whereas Karate, Judo, Tae Kwan Do, Kung Fu, are the "external arts." The closest external art to Tai Chi would be Aikido, which is contemplative, internal, and a sensory art.
Calm the spirit and return to the source.
Cleanse the body and spirit by removing
all malice, selfishness, and desire.
-- Morihei Ueshiba, Founder of Aikido
The term "internal arts" refers to the state of mind the postures and forms are approached with, and also with the ques and the results being felt more internally rather than being seen externally. Tai Chi masters have said, "The mirror is your enemy." It took me years to understand what they were talking about. When I first started teaching I taught in Yoga studios, and the mirrors seemed like handy features. But over time, I realized that the masters were talking about the "internal" "feeling within," or bio-feedback quality of Tai Chi and Qigong. Our posture and alignment can be much more accurately "felt within" rather than "being seen" reflected back to us from without. The goal being less, how we look while performing our forms on the outside ... and more how we "feel" on the inside as we perform them. You begin to realize that your "posture, or 3 Dan Tiens, is out of alignment" when you have to strain more to move or stand.
Tai Chi's ultimate goal begins to become ... to know oneself. This is where the powerful martial art and ultimate health and fitness exercise of Tai Chi ... ascends to something profound ... a path to revelation ... that offers profound non-dogmatic, non-religious, yet deeply spiritual insights that change the way we see everything in the world.
"He who conquers others is strong;
He who conquers himself is mighty."
-- Lao Tzu
"The only devils in this world are those
running around in our own hearts, and that
is where all our battles should be fought."
-- Mahatma Gandhi
"Heaven is right where you are standing,
and that is the place to train."
-- Morihei Ueshiba, Founder of Aikido
"Allowing our minds to free-fall into the
center of the sensation of our big toe
spreading as we sink into a leg, then
the pad of the toe, the ball of the foot ...
spreading ... the pads of the foot ...
the entire world falls in order as our
dan tien, postural alignment, and total
being sinks ... into the center of where
we are ... right here and right now ...
feeling ... breathing ... sensing everything
and nothing all in the same instant ...
THIS is when the movements I've
practiced 10,000 times now flow
through me ... as I relax out of the
way ... and am no longer the limited
being I was a moment before ... I am
open ... flowing ... un-tethered ...
limitless ... present ... expansive
... and connected to ... everything."
-- Tai Chi Poet (anonymous)
Tai Chi and Qigong: The Ultimate in "Mindfulness" Training
In last week's newsletter we wrote about "Left-Brain vs. Right-Brain" qualities, and how Tai Chi and Qigong are high sciences that help us find balance and optimum brain function, as evidenced by emerging medical research.
This week's focus is on the concept of "doing things with Qi," and how it expands this improved brain function last week's newsletter touched on, into the larger benefit of Tai Chi and Qigong, which is as stated above "doing things with Qi," in other words letting this enhanced balanced consciousness expand into our physical actions in the world.
In the photo at the top, you see the lovely and brilliant Angela Wong-Douglas, Founder of World Tai Chi & Qigong Day. She is also my wife ... but in many ways she has been my Sifu, not so much with Tai Chi training, as with helping me see how the lessons of Tai Chi are a way of life and not just an exercise.
When we met about 40 years ago at Kansas University at Fort Hays State, at first I just saw a really cute girl from Hong Kong ... but then we eventually married ... and that was what led me to realize that I had not just married a young woman ... but I had been invited into a whole other culture of wisdom ... wisdom that would change the way I saw ... everything!
When I met her, her name was Oi Yue Angela Wong, and from the beginning she began to challenge the way I ate and the way I approached life. She had been raised in a traditional Chinese household in Hong Kong, and her mother exposed her to herbology, Tai Chi, and Chinese culture in general. Angela's mother was uniquely Chinese and passed on a lot of traditional Chinese culture that is being largely lost today as more and more Chinese kids in Hong Kong are eating at McDonalds and Pizza Hut now.
Above is Angela Wong-Douglas (left), her mother the herbologist and Taiji player Sheung Oi Wong (center), and Angela's Grandmother the matriarch of the Wong family.
So Angela's childhood and her family's way of living was a real historic treasure, a cultural heritage ... although I didn't see it, or appreciate it, at the time. I dismissed so much of the Chinese wisdom she passed on to me, or tried to anyway. But, after 40 years you start to realize things. Today, Dr. Oz, Dr. Andrew Weil, etc. have become world famous for teaching many of the things Angela had tried to tell the limited-provincial Kansas kid I was about 40 years ago ... who had dismissed this wisdom being offered to me.
Most Tai Chi and Qigong teachers know how she felt, because we know when we offer students our Tai Chi and Qigong that we are offering something profound, valuable, and precious beyond description ... but most students don't get it, just like I didn't get it
... but some stay ... and over time, they get it ... and watching their unfolding beauty keeps us going ... keeps us teaching ... keeps us offering our precious pearls to all who want to hold them ...
Ms. Douglas showed me Traditional Chinese eating habits, mostly grain and green vegetables, with only small portions of meat, which is the recommended diet these days. She tried to teach me not to drink things with ice, because it "shocks the body" which most Traditional Chinese Medical physicians will tell you.
Angela taught me how to "eat with chopsticks," which is actually much more than just switching utensils, just as a Japanese tea ceremony is more than just "having tea." Of course, there are Japanese people who just slosh down their tea in the rush rush world of modern Japan, but the core of the "tea ceremony" is the "slowing down" of reality, to observe, to smell, to taste the tea as a near sacred event, making "the moment" a "sacred event."
This is the lesson I learned over many years of studying with my greatest Sifu, Angela Oi Yue Wong. Of course, at first when she taught me how to use chopsticks as the young man above, I just saw it as another utensil to shove food in my mouth with, and would hold up my rice bowl and shovel it in, maybe even faster than I could with a fork. But, over time, Sifu's lessons soaked in, and I realized that chopsticks offer a way to "contemplate" each bite, each morsel of food. Today, the "slow food movement" is gaining popularity, as the health research shows its many advantages. Also, the new wave of popular mind-body practice "mindfulness" is a slow way to eat and contemplate your food as you do so, and it is helping people lose really large amounts of weight and helping with overall health.
"Go slow, and then go slower."
-- Anonymous Tai Chi Master's quote
But, the biggest advantage I got from learning Angie's "contemplative eating" with chopsticks, is that I learned how to really "enjoy foods in a deeper way" almost like a meditation. Who would have thought that that first chop stick lesson I got in her dorm room in college would have led to a massive transformation of the way I eat, which is one of the most eventful parts of daily life.
When I later took up Tai Chi and Qigong, and began to learn how to "feel" my body, and to "experience" the moment, the sensations of "being" that Tai Chi and Qigong's mindful practice supports ... it enabled me to understand the depth of what Angela was trying to teach me with simple daily activities, like eating.
But, perhaps the most profound thing she taught me was how to "do things with Qi."
Now, it was my idea to begin studying Tai Chi nearly 40 years ago, and if I hadn't done that, I would likely never have comprehended the true value of her imploring me to "do things with Qi."
So my experience was unique in that I was using Tai Chi and Qigong to understand "me" while immersed in a household permeated with Chinese cultural wisdom, and practical life examples of how these concepts could play out in our real daily lives. So, I thought I'd share that with you as well ... just like Angie shared it with me.
So, what is "doing things with Qi"?
Imagine picking up a pile of pine needles with your hands while not wearing gloves. If you "grab" and "squeeze" and "take control" like we are taught to do ... you get the hell poked out of you. The pine needles press into your flesh and poke you.
But, if you are mindful and slow, and feel the subtlety of the sensations, you can pick up those pine needles with no injury. This is doing things with mindfulness. Today popular culture is all abuzz about the science showing how "mindful meditation" provides so many mental, emotional, and physical health benefits. Doing things with Qi, is a way of mindful living.
For example, if you are cutting a tomato, and you press with force, the guts of the tomato squeeze out and make a bloody mess. But, if you "feel" the tomato through the knife blade you are holding, you can sense at what moment to pull and the amount of pressure to apply at just that right point and moment. Then you slice the tomato and make a nice salad or sandwich ... but in that moment of mindfulness, you smell the tomato ... you "feel" the smooth cool tomato skin's texture ... you drink in the redness so rich it would put any artists greatest painting of a tomato to shame.
Doing things with Qi can be done in a conversation, when you feel a topic is applying pressure to someone your are speaking to and not getting the results desired or needed, you can keep pushing and forcing the same point ... OR you can recede a bit, take a new approach and feel easier ways to make the point less sharp. This is the Tai Chi way.
"Do you have patience to wait till your
mud settles and the water is clear?
Can you remain unmoving till the
right action arises by itself?"
-- Lao Tzu
I saw a woman in a parking lot in a big car, maybe a Lincoln Continental or something, and she hit a cinder block and it got stuck under her car, making a hellish noise as she drug it across the parking lot, doing God knows what to her car as she did so. She seemed unaware, or perhaps more accurately like she just didn't care, she was going the way she'd decided and if a block was in the way, or if the block got stuck under her car, it didn't matter--damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!
It dawned on me that most of us at one time or another gets stuck in a "one way" to see things, or one way to do things--pushing straight ahead like the bull-headed lady in her Detroit Chrome-Metal Mountain of a car. But, then later in retrospect we can see that there were other ways. The mindfulness of Tai Chi and Qigong, the contemplation of movement seems to slow things down, to make space for adjustments. It helps foster us to live in a state of "doing things with Qi."
Doing things with Qi is doing things in their own good time, contemplating as we do them, being ever flexible to adjust our fingers around the pine needles, or on the knife cutting the tomato, in our conversations and business dealings, or when driving our cars.
Construction workers take part in a qigong competition in
Hong Kong to launch Construction Safety Week 2015.
Speaking at the ceremony, the Secretary for Development, Mr
Paul Chan, said, "To ensure construction safety, we should not
only focus on prevention of injuries and occupational diseases,
but also the inner world of workers. We hope to draw their
attention to their daily habits and help them build up a healthy
lifestyle for enhancing health conditions, leading them to
appreciate the importance of taking care of their
work as well as their bodies."
When I first started learning Tai Chi, I practiced in our back yard, which had several large pine trees and the lawn was covered in long pointy pine needles. We lived in sunny Southern California, so I often would just walk out barefoot to play Tai Chi in the backyard. The first time a pine needle poked my foot, I went in and put on shoes. But, over time, I realized these pine needles were a great training tool ... because it forced me to stay on my full leg completely as I slowly placed my heel or toe, and then gradually, gradually, gradually sinking into that foot, totally mindful of the sensations in that foot, and going slowly enough to change paths if a needle began to poke the skin. This is the Tai Chi way, to stay grounded and solid, and then mindfully, contemplatively sinking into the leg we are filling.
This quality in our lives can change everything. They used to say that the Shao Lin Monks were invisible. I wondered what that meant, but one day I realized that it was like 2 identical looking guys walk into a bar ... one pushy and brusque ... the other unimposing, flexible, and amenable to what the situation demands. Which one will spend their lives fighting life ... and which one will flow through life more smoothly and effectively?
Yet, the most beautiful lessons Angela gave me about doing things with Qi, was when she showed me how to "look" at the flowers, and to "smell" the tea, and "taste" the food. It was as if I had been walking around in life looking at a 2 dimensional black and white world ... but she would lift my chin and open my eyes and say, "Look, smell, taste ... feel."
She can taste a dish, and literally tell you almost every ingredient that it is made from. That always amazed me, even before I grew smart enough to learn the "doing with Qi" lesson.
This is the Tai Chi and Qigong way. To be immersed in the experiences, as discussed in last week's newsletter about "right-brain consciousness" being about "beholding things," not just considering things or analyzing things for utility.
Now, Angela's not flighty or above the need for utility, she stands in the middle of it, and in fact got a Business Management Degree at the University of Kansas at Ft. Hays ... she is an embodiment of a Yin-Yang in balance, with a foot in seeing what must be done even as she "sees the flowers" and "smells the food."
So, doing things with Qi can be very utilitarian and help us do daily chores and tasks and business endeavors more efficiently. But, it can also be a key to unlocking the magic and the miracle of life.
Angela's life lessons of 40 years enabled me to see the deepest concepts Tai Chi and Qigong were built upon ... and have woven into my Tai Chi and Qigong teaching approach, continually inviting students to close their eyes, to "feel" their Qigong movements, and as we practice this again and again in our Tai Chi or Qigong practice, to notice how it ripples out through the waters of our lives ... letting ourselves slow down and breath, and feel the textures, the warmth, the cool, flowers, the colors, and the love of those we touch in our lives.
Imagine for a moment that these contemplative internal mindful meditative arts were taught in schools at all levels worldwide ... which they should be starting yesterday, when you look at the amazing medical research showing Tai Chi can treat ADHD and improve mental acuity, etc.
Within one generation an entire world of business people, government officials, etc., would be "doing things with Qi." This would mean contemplating the ramifications of social and business action, taking time to consider the human costs and benefits, the environmental costs and benefits, etc. ... and it would reduce the incidence of huge mistakes that can haunt nations for decades and sap their precious treasure when they hurtle into hasty ill-conceived actions.
Mind-body arts like Tai Chi and Qigong are permeating the world's popular culture ... and as medical and science research mounts, they will one day be part of every student's education because it will save society hundreds of billions in future health costs, police, court, prison costs, etc. etc. etc.
Will there be enough Tai Chi and Qigong teachers to allow this to blossom throughout society and world? Time to practice practice practice ... we are always being prepared for the world that is about to bloom from us ... and by playing Tai Chi and Qigong Daily for the pleasure of it, we are being prepared for opportunities that are not yet apparent, but will unfold in their own natural time.
-- Bill Douglas, Founder of World Tai Chi & Qigong Day
"Nature does not hurry,
yet everything is accomplished."
-- Lao Tzu