Tai Chi Class

Welcome to WholenessInMotion. Tai chi is a whole body and mind exercise that combines meditation, martial art and health tonic in one. This particular form is the Yang style, 37 posture short form as taught by Prof. Cheng Man-ch'ing. This fascinating and intricate exercise has many benefits and just about anyone can practice it.

Take a look at this site and consider the study of relaxation and how it can benefit you in your daily life. I look forward to working with you. Tom Daly


 

Archive for March, 2012

Tai Chi Chuan – The Rational Body

Posted By Tom Daly on March 30th, 2012

Tai Chi Chuan – The Rational Body

The follow excerpt comes from On Being Certain, Believing You Are Right Even When You’re Not (Robert A. Burton, M.D.)[1]:

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 “In Philosophy in the Flesh: The Embodied Mind and Its Challenge to Western Thought, cognitive scientists George Lakoff and Mark Johnson offer a succinct summary:

Reason is not disembodied, as the tradition has largely held, but arises from the nature of our brains, bodies, and bodily experiences… The same neural and cognitive mechanisms that allow us to perceive and move around also create our conceptual systems and modes of reason.  To understand reason, we must understand the details of our visual system, our motor system, and the general mechanisms of neural binding.  Reason is not a transcendent feature of the universe of disembodied mind.  Instead, it is shaped crucially by the peculiarities of our human bodies, by the remarkable details of the neural structure of our brains, and by the specifics of our everyday functioning in the world.

Disembodied thought is not a physiological option.  Neither is a purely rational mind free from bodily and mental sensations and perceptions.”

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To think that the body forms the basis for “reason” is a radical, if somewhat logical idea.  Like, come on!  How could it NOT?  Yet we tend to experience thought, and therefore “reason,” as separate from our bodies.

While I would not equate tai chi practice with having reason, or being rational, it makes sense to me that a practice about the body can potentially increase our powers of reason, our rationality.

So why do I not make an over-inflated claim to sell this art form with hyperbolic statements like “Tai Chi Chuan will increase your powers of reason!” or “Tai Chi players are more rational!”?

One only has to practice tai chi to see how challenging tai chi is, how slow it unfolds, the level of persistence required to embody even a small slice of it. The health benefit is far easier to obtain because even poor tai chi helps your health.

Practice just a bit more and you’ll sense how it works with and calms your emotions, or at least gives some of the distance/insight that any meditation provides.

But to actually jump from there to “reason” and “rationality” is a cognitive mile.  If the statement quoted above is true, it is equally true to note that to be inside the body and understand it experientially is a difficult task, one that can take years.  To be your body can be a threatening realization.  You are really here, you are really responsible and you count.  Often, we live within our thoughts as if the body doesn’t exist—that is until the body encounters pain that needs addressing.   We ignore emotional signals embedded in our bodies, signals that become more apparent with tai chi practice.  The logic within tai chi is counter-intuitive and therefore not easy to manifest.  Most beginners quit for these reasons.

And yet I do believe that anyone involved in any practice that focuses on the body so deeply would have at least a good shot at obtaining more reason and greater rationality.  If reason is the result of the body, as the body goes, so goes the world. Find the order within the complexity and know that little in life is what it seems.  But despite what may look like chaos, within the chaos (perhaps complexity beyond one’s ability to comprehend it in this moment) an order exists.  Otherwise, how else could I buy a cappuccino and enjoy it?  (Take my Dada, please!)

Alas, because of its esoteric nature and Chinese origins, and because it works with something that Western culture is uncomfortable with (bodies), we tai chi-ers can be an odd breed— not always with a great measure of reason.  Generally, we have lots of curiosity and are often playful (when we are not competitive)!  Some have over active imaginations along with hungry egos wanting to attach to something as odd as tai chi to inflate the importance of the self.  Yes, once upon a time I, too, thought I was special because I practiced tai chi.  Now I think I’m merely an addict.

If you can: keep it simple, enjoy the ride and laugh when you can. Let it lead you from time to time, get out of the way, share what you think is right, don’t assume you are a master, or that you “arrived,” or that you “know.”

It’s a marvelous thing to study.  It feels good, too.  Order and answers appear.

And sometimes, just sometimes, that makes us rational.



[1] On Being Certain is in among my 10 favorite books, one that changed my life.  I can feel confident about some thought or idea, but can readily accept its flaws and then reject it.  Being right is no longer a given.  In fact, given the odds, it is the height of foolishness.

 

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Body Mind Connection – New York Times article

Posted By Tom Daly on March 3rd, 2012

Of interest.  Tai Chi as a body practice has much to teach us.  Some have suggested that it essentially resolves paradox, the obvious one being non-doing in order to do.  There are many more, however….  Tom

February 25, 2012

New York Times

When Truisms Are True

By SUNTAE KIM, EVAN POLMAN and JEFFREY SANCHEZ-BURKS

WHAT ignites the engine of creativity? A popular metaphor in American business urges you to think “outside the box.” Folk wisdom advises that problem-solving is helped by thinking about something “on the one hand” and then “on the other hand.”

Is there any psychological truth to such metaphors for better thinking? Our research suggests that the answer is yes. When people literally — that is, physically — embody these metaphors, they generate more creative ideas for solving problems.

Recent advances in understanding what psychologists call “embodied cognition” indicate a surprisingly direct link between mind and body. It turns out that people draw on their bodily experiences in constructing their social reality. Studies show, for example, that someone holding a warm cup of coffee tends to perceive a stranger as having a “warmer” personality. Likewise when holding something heavy, people see things as more serious and important — more “weighty.”

However, until recently it was not known whether bodily experiences could help in generating new ideas and solutions to problems. Our research, which will be published soon in the journal Psychological Science, discovered that it can.

For example, we asked 102 undergraduates at New York University to complete a task designed to measure innovative thinking. The task required them to generate a word (“tape,” for example) that related to each of three presented clue words (“measure,” “worm” and “video”). Some students were randomly assigned to do this while sitting inside a 125-cubic-foot box that we made of plastic pipe and cardboard. The rest got to sit and think outside (and next to) the box.

During the task we tracked the number of correct responses suggested by the students. We found that those thinking outside the box were significantly more creative: compared with those thinking inside the box, they came up with over 20 percent more creative solutions.

Even the outline of a box can influence creativity. In another study, our team examined the originality of ideas among 104 students at Singapore Management University. First we showed students pictures of objects made of Lego blocks. Then we asked them to think of original uses for the objects, either while walking along a fixed rectangular path indicated by duct tape on the floor (marking out an area of about 48 square feet) or by walking freely as they wished.

The differences were striking: students who walked freely were better at generating creative uses for the objects — coming up with over 25 percent more original ideas. Such creativity was assessed in terms of fluency (the number of ideas generated), flexibility (the number of unique categories that described the generated ideas) and originality (as judged by independent raters).

Something similar happens when thinking about a problem on one hand and then on the other. In another study, 40 undergraduates from the University of Michigan were asked to lift and hold a hand outstretched (as you might while addressing an audience from a stage). Some were asked to lift just one hand, while others were asked to switch between hands. While they were doing this, we asked them to generate novel uses for a new university complex. Among students who were allowed to switch hands — in other words, to think about a problem on “one hand” and then “on the other hand” — we found a nearly 50 percent increase in the number of uses generated.

By showing that bodily experiences can help create new knowledge, our results further undermine the strict separation between mind and body — another box that has confined our thinking for a long time. In addition, although we’re only starting to grasp how catchphrases shape how people think, it’s possible to begin prescribing some novel suggestions to enhance creativity. For instance, if we’re performing a job that requires some “outside the box” thinking, we may have to avoid working in cubicles.

But we shouldn’t avoid cubicles altogether: to think outside the box, you first need a box.

Suntae Kim is a doctoral candidate and Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks is an associate professor, both in management and organizations, at the University of Michigan. Evan Polman is a visiting assistant professor of management and organizations at New York University.

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