Newsletter #56 - April 2006
In this issue:
-- From Me to You, by Dr Lam
-- Invitation to The Tai Chi For Health Conference by Professor Lee
-- Talk of Effective Teaching by Pat Webber
-- Listening Energy by Sue Smith-Heavenrich
-- Tai Chi Demonstration for HCC by Denise Fegan
-- Do You Feel Constantly Run-Down from Your_Health
-- Dr Bob's Humor
-- Health humor from Your_Health
Consider coming to the one week tai chi workshop in June, in Indiana, USA. Last year, Erwin said about the June workshop: "They (the instructors) are very passionate in their teaching and they transferred very valuable knowledge over to all of us in the class…it was a wonderful feeling to have so much camaraderie among so many tai chi practitioners. I really look forward to the next workshop." You can find more information at this link.
Preparation is speeding along for the first international Tai Chi for Health Conference, December 4-7, 2006 in Seoul, South Korea. Here's an invitation letter from Professor Eun-ok LEE, RN., D.N.S. the chair of the organising committee. You can find out more information about the conference at this link.
We packed a lot of goodies in the January tai chi workshop this year. One of the best morning talks came from Pat Webber, "Effective Teaching." I've learned so much from Pat; I'm sure you will too.
How do we apply tai chi to our daily lives? And how could it be used to save a life? Sue Smith-Heavenrich shares a moving story about how her student did just that.
Denise Fegan has been invited to demonstrate the Tai Chi for Arthritis program in a showcase event for Well Being Strategy for Older People by the Healthy Communities Collaborative. Well done, Denise.
Your_Health is a medical newsletter published for family physicians' waiting rooms. This month's issue presents a common problem in my own practice. While you, my tai chi colleagues, wouldn't be experiencing this problem too often, you can send it to your friends and ask them to try tai chi after following the recommendation in the article.
Dr Bob McBrien's humor is now a regular feature in this newsletter, and we put in Your_Health's humor to add even more kicks. Enjoy.
The most helpful review this month came from Richard Livingston, MD, Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, Arkansas. Richard says: "…I like the way the warm-ups integrate into the form itself, very cool." You can read his review at this link.
Thank you Richard for your review. We would like to send you a Tai Chi Music CD for being our Letter of the Month winner. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to give us your physical address.
Use this link to enter your review of any of our products: you will have a chance to win a Tai Chi Music CD too.
Our featured product this month is the combination of three DVDs from my tai chi for health programs: Tai Chi for Arthritis; Tai Chi for Diabetes; and Tai Chi for Osteoporosis. Each program is different but complementary to each other.
The combination of these three DVDs normally retails at USD $74.85, the special price for this month is $49.85.
To place your order or for more information go to this link.
Looking forward to seeing you at the one-week workshop in Indiana, USA in June, or other workshops as listed in the Calendar.
Paul Lam, M.D.
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On behalf of the Organizing Committee of the First International Conference of Tai Chi for Health, we would like to invite you to join us in this exciting event to be held on December 4-7, 2006 in Seoul, Korea.
The functions of this conference as an academic seminar to participants is having ample opportunity to attend certificate workshop, delivering paper presentations, listening to keynote lectures.
The Organizing Committee is also planning unique and colorful conference programs through which all participants may experience fascinating Korean culture and the warm Korean spirit of friendship.
We hope you will join us for this exciting conference, the scientific and social networking, and an opportunity to enjoy the spirit of Tai Chi in Korea!
EUN-OK LEE, RN., D.N.S.
President, The Korean Rheumatology Health Professionals Society
Paul Lam, MD, Better Health Tai Chi Chuan Inc., Australia
Rhayun Song, RN, PhD, Chungnam National University, Korea
Pam Kircher MD, President, Tai Chi for Health Community, USA
Roy W. Geib PhD, Indiana University School of Medicine, USA
Margaret Moga, PhD, Indiana University School of Medicine, USA
Wilfred Kwok, Physiotherapist, Hong Kong, China
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What does effective teaching mean? The Macquarie dictionary says that "effective" means "producing the intended or expected result".
What result do we expect when we start teaching a tai chi class? Is it that, after a certain amount of time, our students will be able to complete a routine independently? This is no mean feat, and for some students, that is as far as their interest goes. I think for most instructors, however, the intended result is that their students become aware that there is something more to tai chi than learning a set routine.
So, for me effective teaching means that I have given some foundation for others to begin their own journey of discovery into tai chi as well as the desire to do this.
Having had personal experiences of poor teaching in the past, experiences that have killed my initial interest in a number of subjects has made me aware of the old saying "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." With this in mind, I made a random list of what I really want in a teacher.
I'll begin with the most basic things.
- Start on time
What does this have to do with effective teaching? Well, it sets the tone for the session and shows that the instructor is professional and serious in his/her approach. If I have paid for an hour's teaching, that's what I expect to get. To develop this good habit requires Practise.
- Be seen and be heard
Have you ever been in a class where you've not been able to hear what's being said or to see what the instructor is doing because he/she never moves from the one spot or spends the session with his/her back to you? I've been in such a class. The instructor could have been saying his rosary or peeling an orange for all I could see or hear. Practice speaking to the person at the back and practice positioning yourself to be seen.
- Learn names
I like to be acknowledged by name. This helps me to feel more at ease. This needs Patience and Perseverance and Practice on the part of the instructor and perhaps name tags.
The instructor may perform a move well, but does that mean that he/she can teach it effectively? Not necessarily. Each move needs to be broken down into several parts which can be taught individually, each new little part being joined on to the preceding part. Proceed from the known to the unknown. This preparation requires time, Patience and Practice on the part of the instructor.
- Tell me again
I have read of Professor Cheng Man-ch'ing, "He would tell you something once, perhaps twice, but if you persisted in the error, for whatever reason, he gave up. Perhaps something would snap you out of it; there was always that possibility. But he was too busy to waste time with you." No doubt, the professor was operating on a different level to most people, but I need my instructor to be Patient.
- Give me some personal attention
It's very easy to give a lot of attention to the more outgoing personalities in a group. This can happen without the instructor really being aware of it. It's also tempting to give extra attention to somebody who shows more potential than the rest. Everybody wants to feel that they are worthy of some of the instructor's time. Practice giving equal attention to all students.
- Look for the good
Unfortunately, it is always easier to find fault than to see the good, both in ourselves and in others. If I'm struggling with some move, I don't need somebody else to tell me I'm making a complete hash of it. But, if I'm reassured that I have some part of it right, then at least I have something to build on. But I don't want to be patronised. The comments should be honest. Practice looking for those good points.
There are some moves that I will never be able to do for various reasons, but I appreciate being either given a modification or being reassured that my own modification is true to the spirit of tai chi. This requires Practice on the part of the instructor as well as Perseverance in extending their own knowledge so as to advise me in this matter.
- See what I'm doing
Don't just look at me with a mind in neutral. How often have you watched somebody perform a move and felt that it's just not right? In order to help the student, the instructor has to be able to analyse the move. This Practice of analysing movements should start with preparation for classes and also be used in our own practice. Practise engaging the mind as well as the body.
I want to feel that my instructor knows what he/she is talking about. To gain knowledge and skill to pass on to others requires Patience, Perseverance and Practice.
I want to feel stimulated by the feeling that the instructor has for this subject. I know that teaching the same thing for the umpteenth time can become a drag if the instructor allows that to happen. So, I want my instructor to introduce some variety that will keep both of us interested. Again, this needs Practice.
I think every person could make their own list of what they want in a teacher. That will help them to develop their skills and encourage them to keep trying.
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A few months ago one of my students related a story to me. "El" is one of the 911 dispatchers for a neighboring county, working the night shift. At 6:50 a.m., as she was getting ready to end her shift, a call came through.
"It was a woman's voice," El remembers, " angry and desperate. She was threatening to kill her boyfriend, and then herself. I started talking with her." The shift change came and went and El stayed on the line, listening. It's not easy to listen to someone overwrought with despair,another human so in pain they wish to die.
"Can I send someone to help you?" El asked again and again, keeping the woman on the line, keeping her talking. As she listened, maintaining the connection between this stranger and herself, El began to use some of
the tai chi exercises we'd gone over the week before. She rolled her shoulders, flipped water off her fingers. She reminded herself to breathe and always, always let the woman on the other end of the line know that she was there, listening. For half an hour El kept her on the line, kept her talking as police and EMS workers arrived on the scene tohelp.
This story came to mind when a fellow martial artist mentioned "sticky" energy. He demonstrated a self-defense move in which his arms and hands stayed with and followed his opponent's move, ultimately redirecting the
Sticky energy is that feeling of connectedness you have when you're playing push-hands with a partner. According to Nick Waller (he teaches in the UK), it's the yielding energy that allows you to stay with an incoming force, following its motion, and remain in physical contact until you can safely redirect and control the force. Closely associated with sticky energy is listening energy, "and listening is a subtle skill," he writes. (Read more on his website atwww.dynamicbalancingtaichi.co.uk).
You need to be able to feel what your opponent is doing without leaving yourself open to attack, Nick points out. You "listen" to your opponent's body through the use of mild pressure. Too much, and you end up resisting, pushing back. Too little and you will not be able tomaintain the contact. Maintaining the contact is essential.
Even though El had just begun tai chi classes, she intuitively understood the need to listen and remain attached as she tried to keep the distraught woman on the phone. Her thought was: keep the connection, keep her connected. Maintaining the connection, El could relay important information to the sheriff and the EMTs. She could calm the woman. By using "listening energy," El stuck with the incoming force, waiting for the anger to weaken, and then she could help redirect it and keep everyone safe. By maintaining her calm and keeping this woman talking, El was able to help save her life-and quite possibly another person's as well.
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On January 24th, I was asked by the HCC (Healthy Communities Collaborative) Coordinator for Salford if members of my two Tai Chi for Arthritis classes would provide a demonstration at their event. Part of the event was dedicated to looking at the draft copy of the Well Being Strategy for Older People and the other part to showcase the work of the HCC whose work is based mainly around fall prevention.
I took the suggestion back to the two classes and had 16 people volunteer. They expressed mixed feelings of excitement and nerves but the adrenalin was pumping and it gave everyone a focus and something to work towards.
Salford Community Leisure Ltd (my employers) agreed to allow me to purchase tai chi tunics so this gave the students a sense of belonging plus everyone looked really smart.
On the big day, there were over 200 people at the event. Actually quite overwhelming abut we were there to do our best and that we did.
For our demonstration, we tried to make it interactive by asking the audience to join in the warm up. Great fun! We then proceeded to demonstrate the form. The room was silent, the concentration immense and then came the bow and the round of applause. This was quite an emotional moment. Even a few tears were shed. Everyone had done brilliantly, and I felt so proud of them all!
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Are you feeling tired, weak, run-down or exhausted most of the time? This is usually due to psychological or lifestyle factors. However, sometimes there is an underlying medical condition.
Anxiety, stress and depression are the most common causes of tiredness. Difficulties at work, family pressures and personal or money worries can leave you feeling drained of energy. Try to tackle your problems, speak to a friend or learn a relaxation technique, such as meditation.
Have a look at your lifestyle. Are you working too hard and burning the candle at both ends? Are you getting regular exercise, skipping meals, taking recreational drugs or drinking too much alcohol?
See your doctor
If you are not improving or are unwell, see your GP. Anxiety and depression can be treated with counselling or medication. You may also need a checkup and blood tests to detect medical conditions, such as:
- Anaemia or iron deficiency e.g. from heavy periods or not eating enough red meat
- Sleep apnoea (loud snoring, breathing stops when asleep, daytime sleepiness)
- Liver disease such as haemochromatosis (too much iron) or hepatitis C
- Thyroid disease or diabetes
- A hidden tumour or infection
- 'Chronic fatigue syndrome' (rare)
- Medications which may cause tiredness.
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It was Victor Borge who said, "Laughter is the shortest distance between two persons."
The innocence of children helps us enjoy non-toxic humor and the health that comes with laughter.
Children responded to the request to finish famous sayings with these answers:
- Where there is smoke there is . . . . pollution
- Two is company three is . . . . the Musketeers
- If at first you don't succeed . . . . get new batteries
- You get out of something what you . . . .see pictured on the box
- Happy the bride who . . . . gets all the presents
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He finally invested in a hearing aid after becoming virtually deaf. It was one of those very small, almost invisible hearing aids.
"Well, how do you like your new hearing aid?" asked his doctor.
"I love it. I've heard sounds in the last few weeks that I didn't know existed."
"Well, how does your family like your hearing aid?"
"Oh, nobody in my family knows I have it yet. Am I having a great time! I've changed my will three times in the last two months."
Sam: "I get so nervous and frightened during driving tests!"
Doctor: "Never mind, you'll pass eventually."
Sam: "But I'm the examiner!"
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END OF NEWSLETTER
Warning: Dr. Lam does not necessarily endorse the opinion of other authors. Before practicing any program featured in this newsletter, please check with your physician or therapist. The authors and anyone involved in the production of this newsletter will not be held responsible in any way whatsoever for any injury which may arise as a result of following the instructions given in this newsletter.