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 November, 2014

Tai Chi Chuan – Desire Gets In Your Way

Posted By Tom Daly on November 7th, 2014

Tai Chi Chuan –  Desire Gets In Your Way

It’s a curious problem, the problem of desire.  Desire can motive and propel.  So it’s not necessarily a bad thing.

But desire can also blind and twist perception.

If you are full of desire, the world does you.

If you are empty of desire, you do the world.

Let’s consider…

If you are full of desire, you need to manipulate and massage the world so that it will bend to your will.  But that implies that you are being controlled by this world.  It will do as it will with you as you bend and twist in order to get that world to comply.  So in a very real sense, it will control you because you are in a relationship where it has what you want.  If you get what you want easily, you move on.  If not, you work all the harder to find a way into the world to get what you want.  The world is the cat; you are the mouse.  Ultimately, it has control over your situation and your actions. You need to comply with its demands in order to get what you want.  The world does you.

If you lack desire, you do the world.  That is, you are free to match the demands of living without expectation or any manipulation.  If you don’t want anything from it, it has no control over you.  You are the cat; the world is the mouse.  So you are free to interact in a playful way devoid of manipulation.  Opportunity will present itself and you can take it or leave it.  You do the world.

I think to suggest to have no desire creates a false image in the American mind.  It seems as if you have rolled over and died.  We are that attached to desire, getting ahead, being successful, being on top, the winner, the rich one, the respected one, the knowledgeable one and so forth.  All that is fine but it can often be at the expense of real freedom.  It’s like being trapped in a elaborate labyrinth that has few paths to freedom.  As you face the wall/obstacle, your sense of entrapment increases and so does your desire.  All of this works against you.

There is a fine difference between doing your best and trying too hard.   If your desire becomes struggle, it may work against you.  Yes, this is hard to measure.  A little struggle may be a good thing.  Or it may not. It’s up to you to decide if this is helping or hurting.

In tai chi, we are working at NOT struggling, not making an effort.  Yet to get this, we need to make a tremendous effort and work very hard to create that possibility.  But here is the difference: Are you caught up in struggle, or are you playing with possibility?  Are you working too hard, or are you hard at work?

To claim our tai chi space, we want to do less and less so that more and more is the result.  I recently heard an Italian phrase which captures a similar goal as tai chi:  Make Simple the Difficult.

Desire can blind you and lock you in.  In tai chi, we want to see and be free and flexible, responsive and agile.

In tai chi push hands, I let you go where you want to go.  The attacker (the one with desire) defeats himself.  If you run too slowly, you never get there.  If you run too fast, you trip and fall or exhaust yourself.

To digress: Is the glass half empty? Or half full?

In tai chi, the glass is empty so that the chi can fill and manifest and let the body do what it needs to do in any situation.  It reflects the need of the moment, not the desire of the moment.  It is all about the OTHER, not ME.  You become that clean dish waiting to serve and fulfill its function.

In other words, your attachment or desire to make a statement about who you are to the world dissolves and goes away. All that ME stuff.  Here, it just doesn’t help. This can be the work of a lifetime if you take it seriously. (Denying all that ME stuff is just more ME stuff!)

With tai chi, we are better able to connect to and integrate with the demands of the outer world, and we become happier.  Everything is useful to a tai chi player, it’s all good!  Our goal is to take it all in.  Resistance to what is, is futile.

Compare questions 1 and 2:

1. Why is this in my way?  How can I get away from this obstacle?

2.  How can I use this to my advantage?  What is required?

Which one is more helpful?

That’s one reason we practice push hands.  In push hands, the outside world initially is our opponent (friction, irritation, anger, the other, something to defeat, fear, an “it”), but ultimately the outside world becomes your friend (helpful, full of opportunity, instructive, playful, connection, “us”).

It’s the same world, but you have changed….

 

 

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Tai Chi is like washing the dishes….

Posted By Tom Daly on November 7th, 2014

Tai Chi is like washing the dishes…

Language really interests me.  I’ve been thinking lately about, of all things, dirty dishes.  The use of the word “dirty”.  Logically, these dishes are not dirty but they do need to be cleaned.  First the dish has a meal on it.  Then we eat.  Then the dish is now dirty.  But it’s not, really. Perhaps we use the word dirty to motivate us to attend to the cleaning of the dishes sooner than later.  Nothing more annoying than dirty dishes just lying around…

We also react negatively to a body that needs a good shower or bath.  We will even use the word dirty to describe it.  Mostly they are sweaty (the result of metabolism and the accumulation of waste products) and the odor tells us that this person needs to clean up.  This is more of a somatic or cultural reaction to our well honed sense of cleanliness that most Americans have grown accustomed to.  It is not the same in other cultures where an odor is just an odor and a shower is a luxury.

How does this relate to tai chi?

I often see tai chi as a process of becoming LESS, not MORE.  We are the “dirty” dishes that need to be cleaned in order to see that dish as something useful.  Clean dishes are waiting to hold food.  They are ready to do their job.

A clean body is welcoming and allows others to be close without intervening thoughts of rejection, repulsion, or judgment.  It allows us to be with each other without a reaction that generally creates separation.  That soap clean smell is almost delicious.  We FEEL inviting.

By taking away tension, by relaxing, and letting our structure emerge, we become who we really are, not the knots of tension and habits of movement that mar the functioning of our bodies.  We become cleaner, more inviting, and more useful.  Life is easier to manage; interactions are more fruitful and more fun.

Clean those dishes and then admire their beauty; take that bubble bath and notice how refreshed you feel.

Practice your form and notice how much better you feel.

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Tai Chi Chuan – Steps to Avoid an Accident (New York Times article)

Posted By Tom Daly on November 7th, 2014

Steps to Avoid an Accident

By KATIE HAFNER

NOV. 3, 2014, New York Times

Preventing a fall, and the resulting injuries, isn’t simply a matter of being more careful. Indeed, experts who have studied falls wish that people would take measures to protect themselves much as they do against heart disease or viral infections.

Judy A. Stevens, an epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, stressed the importance of exercise. Among those who do fall, she said, “if you’re in better physical condition, you’re less likely to be injured.”

Regular exercise classes can help, especially those that include balance drills, such as standing on one foot, or working with Bosu balls, the squishy hemispheres seen at gyms.

The regular practice of tai chi has also been found to help. Tai chi involves very slow, purposeful movements in coordination with breathing and muscle activity, which in turn affects respiration, balance, and gait.

At The Sequoias-Portola Valley, a retirement facility 35 miles south of San Francisco, 12-week tai chi programs are offered twice a year. Before and after, participants are tested for how many times they can rise from a chair without using their arms. Dr. Kati Murray, a geriatrician who is medical director of The Sequoias, said they saw marked improvement after the tai chi.

Falls that result in a trip to the emergency room are increasing in every age group starting at 65 — and disproportionately among the oldest.

Dr. Lewis A. Lipsitz, a professor of medicine at Harvard, said he saw similar results at two facilities run by Hebrew SeniorLife, where he is vice president of academic medicine. “If only we could put tai chi in a pill,” he said.

Integrating balance and strength work into daily life — standing on one foot while brushing your teeth, for instance, or simply putting one foot in front of the other — can help as well.

Several studies have shown that vitamin D, which can improve muscle strength and balance, helps reduce falls. Also, remaining appropriately hydrated, particularly on hot days or for people at risk for low blood pressure (a main cause of dizziness), is important.

People on multiple medications can be at especially high risk of falling. Psychotropic drugs such as antidepressants, antipsychotics and benzodiazepines are most clearly implicated in falls. Antidepressants “can directly affect your balance,” said Dr. Mary Tinetti, a geriatrician at Yale who studies falls.

Blood pressure medication, used by 70 percent of people over 70, can cause dizziness when blood pressure drops too much, and is another oft-cited culprit in falls. A study in JAMA Internal Medicine last April found that among older people with hypertension, the risk of serious fall injuries — fractured bones, brain injuries or dislocated joints — was significantly higher for those who took hypertension drugs than those who did not.

Given such findings, Dorothy Baker, a research scientist at the Yale School of Medicine, recommends that elderly patients discuss their drugs with their primary care physician, with an eye toward reducing dosages or eliminating medications that might not be necessary.

Sleep medication, for instance, can cause a wobbly gait. “Instead of taking sleeping pills, people can drink warm milk, or listen to talking books or soft music,” said Patricia Quigley, a fall prevention expert at the James A. Haley Veterans Affairs hospital in Tampa, Fla. And for patients taking diuretics for disorders such as high blood pressure and heart failure, Dr. Quigley said, they should take the medication during the day rather than in the evening, to avoid unnecessary nighttime trips to the bathroom.

Reducing the number of tripping and slipping hazards at home also helps prevent falls. Scatter rugs should be removed, for instance, and floors and stairways kept clear of obvious threats like shoes and toys.

Also, people should have their eyes checked at least once a year and wear single-vision glasses while out on walks, as bifocal and progressive lenses can cause missteps, according to a study published in the British Medical Journal in 2010.

Dr. Tinetti warned that excessive tentativeness can actually increase the risk of falling. “People who are more cautious cut down on their activity,” she said, “which makes their balance worse, their strength worse, and reflexes that prevent falls worse.”

 

 

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