Newsletter #43 - February 2005
Click on the title to read the article, and here to read previous newsletters
I receive emails, letters and faxes from you daily. Most of you tell me about how much you have benefited from my tai chi for health programs and the instructional video/DVDs. Thank you. Our team and especially I love to hear from you. To help us to reach more people, would you please direct your emails to comment section of the Forum? Go to my home page and click "Forum" on the left hand side, choose "Comments and Reviews," find the title of the video/DVD and double click that and post your comment there. By doing this, you can inspire many others who have the same or similar conditions to try to help themselves. For people who have question to ask me, please go to the same Forum, click "Ask Dr Lam" and start a new thread. Not only will you get my answer quicker, you will also be helping others with the same question as well as gain answers from other tai chi instructors.
Our tai chi workshop has always produced great ideas. Some of the best ideas come from the morning talks. I have challenged Elva Arthy, Pat Webber and Caroline Demoise to think "outside the box" for their talks. They came out with brilliant ideas. Their talks are now written in short articles. I am sure you would like to read them - starting with Elva's. Next month will be Pat's turn, followed by Caroline.
Leslie had a unique experience during the Sydney one-week workshop as did some of the other master trainers who assisted me. You can find the profiles of the master trainers online here. We regard master trainers not necessarily as a tai chi master, although many of them do excel in tai chi, but rather as a person who has made good attempt to master his or her own direction in life. Tai Chi for Arthritis master trainers are special people. They are dedicated, multi-skilled, trained and authorized by me to take over my role in training Tai Chi for Arthritis instructor/leaders. Next month I will write more about them.
Daniel Baird wrote a useful review entitled: "Great Addition to the Combined 42 Form" regarding the 42 Tai Chi Sword video. You can read this review at here. He says: "…in the class we simply follow the teacher so I find that the detail of Dr. Lam's instuctions very helpful in understanding many specifics such as the specific direction to point the sword, whether palm is turned up or down, and the movements of the feet, etc. Also the class is only 1x a week so the video helps review in between classes. It also doubles as a great workout video!" Thanks Daniel. Please contact our office to claim your free Tai Chi Music - specially composed for Dr Lam by composer Jenny Ly.
Cathy asks this question at the Forum:" I have recently bought three training videos that are not made by Paul. They are different from the ones Paul has and are not close to his in ease of use and clear instruction. Unfortunately Paul can't produce videos on everything I am interested in. Keep up the great work with your DVDs and videos, Paul, and please consider a new music CD."
Her question gives me a chance to explain the effort it took to make our videos and also talk about the origin of my music CD. Cathy please contact our office for your free Music CD. Click here to read my reply.
In February, I conducted Tai Chi for Arthritis and Tai Chi for Diabetes workshops in Hong Kong and Korea. The photos are now posted online. The next workshops will be in South Australia, New Zealand and Melbourne. By May/June I will be in Hong Kong, Ireland, Manchester and Florida. In July and early August I will conduct three workshops in my home city, Sydney. Hope to see you at an upcoming workshop. You can find more details from my list and that of my authorized master trainers' workshops from here.
This month's feature product is another package.
1. Tai Chi for Beginners DVD/video: A step-by-step instructional tape to improve your health and life style. It is part of the most famous 24 forms tai chi set, and includes an innovative "Six Easy Steps" for beginners. The Easy Steps system can be useful for tai chi instructors with your beginner's class. Retail Price US$29.95
2. Tai Chi for Beginners handbook: Designed to assist people who are learning the program from the instructional video/DVD. It contains photos of all movements, instructions and articles. Retail Price $6.95
3. The 24 Forms video/DVD: The world's most popular tai chi set. This is the next step after "Tai Chi for Beginners." This two hour video/DVD also contains six qigong and seven basic exercises to facilitate learning. Retail Price $24.95
USD$39.95 (Normally $61.85. You save $21.90), click here to place your order.
Paul Lam MD
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At one time Tai Chi Chuan, was contained within China. Once opened to the West, it was seen as something that could only be properly taught in China and many westerners sought out their own Chinese masters to learn the secrets of tai chi.
When Sun Lu-tang developed his Sun style Tai Chi Chuan in 1912, it would have been difficult to imagine the impact it would have in the modern world. It took more than 80 years for someone with vision to take the Sun style and create a short form, a medical model tai chi which would revolutionise health and wellness programs throughout the world.
With my introduction to this easy and gentle form, I knew at once it had enormous potential and I wanted to be involved with the process of making it available to as many people as possible. It seemed to me that these gentle flowing movements, though easy to do, were difficult to do well. Tai Chi was still "in the box" with secrets and mystery that would take me a life time to know and understand.
I heard about spirals, peng, shen, and all manner of words I couldn't pronounce let alone feel or understand. Tai Chi was said to be relaxing yet I found my movements stiff, and I was becoming frustrated with my inability to "get it." Finally, at a workshop, I told Paul of my dilemma and he said, "You don't have to understand it for it to work. Just practise and it will come to you."
No longer frustrated by the enormity of the project, I practised wherever and whenever I could. I used visualisation when I couldn't move freely. I tried to read and learn more, and gradually with the application and understanding of how the principles work, the choreography of the forms was transformed.
The more I practise, the more I like it. It is the only activity I know where I am actually improving as I age. I have more strength, more energy. I am quieter and less demanding of myself. I have a better idea of what I can do and what I can't do, and I think this comes from the newfound ability to let go of the clutter. I know I am happier, and if I am happier so are my students and my family because I relate to them in a quieter more focused way. If they are happier and less stressed, then the people they connect with will also be part of the process and happier also.
If you are new to Tai Chi, remember that nothing changes if nothing changes. As you practise, have patience with yourself. Change takes time. Little snippets of practise here and there are better than no practise, and it all adds up. It is like saving coins in a money box. Practise with an open mind. Learn to connect to your body, listening to how you move, how you transfer your weight smoothly, how you hold your body, how you loosen. Then, over time, you might just find you can't live with out it - and you will be a whole lot happier.
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Many people said to me, "Why on earth are you going halfway around the world to do a Tai Chi workshop"? And I guess I didn't really have a well thought out or satisfactory answer for them, I was simply going. The decision to go was not taken lightly as it involved the obvious transport expenses, course and accommodation costs, putting family members out to drive me some 4 hours to Heathrow and fetch me back at 4 a. m. on my return. And then there were my classes that had to be cancelled or rescheduled in my absence and numerous other family commitments and considerations. In spite of all this, there was a driving force inside me, a compulsion to be there. Paul had invited me to participate in the Master Training program which I considered to be a huge honour, and a priority in my life. I also thought it would be fantastic to experience a workshop in Sydney, Australia, the homeland of Paul Lam's Tai Chi for Health programs and to be part of the whole bigger global picture and of course not miss the chance to see a real live Kangaroo!
And so it came to pass that I spent my New Year somewhere in Hong Kong airspace, not even offered a glass of water by Virgin Atlantic aircrew as the party hour struck. It mattered not. My focus was elsewhere and my anticipation stored away for the week ahead so nothing could dampen my excitement, even the cold virus that was rapidly getting the better of my sinuses.
When I arrived at St Vincent's, nothing had prepared me for the tranquillity and calmness within the grounds, the peaceful simplicity of my room or the delight of glimpsing a clear blue Australian sky through the leaves of the fragrant Frangipani tree. Having explored, I soon found a quiet place to put my feet up and soak in the atmosphere and some much needed sunshine, having left the UK in -6 degrees of ice and snow. Relaxing back, I read my course notes in preparation for the week ahead, gradually undermining the jet lag.
First came the Master Training course, four days that were to enthral and enlighten. Here was a safe place to learn new skills, build on others and safely make mistakes with a catch net of friendly ideas proffered by peers to lift us should we fall. Days filled with shared experiences and the pooling of ideas and resources. As I look back at the time I shared with members of the MT team I realised that I have never experienced quite this style of learning before. Such generous spirit seemed to gradually form and develop around us as we shaped up to become more aware and open to all that transpired giving us -
a greater awareness of the need for sensitive teaching…. sensing with your heart and intuition.
the importance of simplicity and clarity to make the desired outcome attainable.
the greater understanding of the need for inclusive learning.
the tremendous strength offered by team spirit and within the Tai Chi for Health program, this is very much alive and well.
As the weeklong Tai Chi workshop began, the energy required for each day would not have been possible without a visit to the breakfast room-such a delightful buzzing place where each day began with sustenance for the body and companionship for the soul. The mingling of minds and bodies from around the globe munching and chatting around a table of wholesome foods, quite delightful. Here was a place to meet others attending the workshop, to share stories and exchange email addresses and make plans for future home stays. Fascinating
I participated in the Sun Style 73 In Depth class which was demanding but fulfilling. Patient tutors guided us away from our clumsy baby steps to a more refined practice They didn't miss a beat. Here I developed friendships that will, I know, last me my whole lifetime. Again, the bringing together of like-minded people was working its magic as we shared our ups and downs throughout the week in close intimacy. The evening workshops maintained the spiritual essence of the week and introduced us to greater levels of practice and allowed us the freedom to explore. Our party night saw us all rosy cheeked with revelry as we socialised one last time with jokes, dance and high spirits. After a week of dedicated practice we performed for each other. The floor became a generous platform on which to display and share our new skills without critique. Looking around I knew that this would be the last time I would see some of these faces that I had come to know so well. Many glistening eyes and hugs all around as Paul declared our workshop closed.
Thanks to you all for your patience and understanding. To Paul for being the man who makes such good things happen. To my teachers for your encouragement and getting me on track. To my markers, Russell, Wilfred, Roberto and Sheila so often by my side. To Toi for keeping our humour. To Sheila and Marta my new sisters. To Barbara and Wilfred for professional guidance as Physios. To the Korean contingent where language formed no barrier. To Sheila for my Birthday cake. To David for your insight and dedication. To Marcus for the reflexology. To Russell for the shoe goo glue. To Kam for patient, expert tuition. To the Fung Family for their kind hospitality. To all of you with whom I shared delightful conversation. To Anna for making it all come together so perfectly.
Thank you all for your inspiration and companionship.
Now, with the ice-cold winter winds of the UK wrapped around me once more, I practice my forms and feel the warmth of your spirits in my heart. So now when they ask me "Why on earth did you go halfway around the world to do a Tai Chi workshop"? What can I say other than that they should try it for themselves. Maybe then they will be able to understand what a remarkable experience it has been. I may have had difficulties to overcome to make the journey happen, but in doing so I found something that has enriched my life in a variety of ways and has motivated me to inspire others and to continue my Tai Chi practice all the days of my life. But hey…….. I didn't see a single kangaroo. Maybe next time!
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As an American never having been to Australia, I arrived with an empty cup which was rapidly filled with new experiences. It began with the spraying of the plane before disembarking; Australians really don't want pests in their country! They were friendly and quick to process you through customs, I thought. Toi, my new friend from New Zealand would agree that they were thorough, but not necessarily quick....He was hold up by the immigration department mistaken as someone else with the same name. Toi had brought with him the Maori culture, blessed our space with a chant and the workshop began.
I was privileged to be in the Depth of Sun 73 class with excellent instructors catering to a cast of many different cultures. How exciting and invigorating it was to have warm-ups led in different languages. There was English (Australian, too), Korean, Italian, Chinese, and Spanish. But when it came to the Tai Chi form, we all spoke an international language. I'll never forget the Korean teacher who, without any language at all, managed to teach me a move she saw me struggling with.
I attended the TCA update workshop also, and was overwhelmed to realize that half a world away, the instructors had the same stories, joys, problems and hopes for themselves and their students as we do in the USA.
I left Australia with an extremely full cup of knowledge of the country, humanity and tai chi, and intend to drink slowly until once again the cup becomes empty. I will take that empty cup to Florida to once again fill it with Tai Chi memories, and I invite each and every one of you to join me there to do the same. Or as we say down South " Y'all Come ! "
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Cholesterol is a fatty substance which can build up inside your blood vessels. These fatty deposits (plaque) can cause blockages which may lead to heart attack or stroke.
The good news is that simple changes to your lifestyle and medication in some cases can greatly lower your risk of disease. The Heart Foundation recommends following these guidelines:
" Use margarine instead of butter
" Use a variety of cooking oils, e.g. canola, sunflower, soybean, olive oils
" Make salad dressings and mayonnaise from the above oils
" Use fat-reduced milk and yogurt. Limit cheese and ice cream to twice a week
" Eat fish (fresh, canned) twice a week
" Select lean meats (no chicken skin)
" Snack on unsalted nuts, fresh fruit
" Eat dried peas, dried beans, canned beans or lentils twice-weekly
" Make vegetables and grain based foods such as bread, pasta, noodles and rice the major part of your meal
" Limit take-aways and snack foods (e.g. cakes, chocolate) to once a week
" Limit cholesterol-rich foods, e.g. egg yolks, liver, kidney and brains
Both losing weight, if you are carrying a few extra kilos, and regular exercise can also help to control cholesterol. Studies show that 1-1½ tablespoons of plant sterol-enriched margarines can lower your levels by a further 10%.
New medication available
If lifestyle changes do not lower your cholesterol sufficiently, your doctor may advise medication, such as a 'statin' drug, which reduces your body's cholesterol production. It is important to continue eating carefully while taking medication. However, many people still do not reach the target cholesterol levels.
A new cholesterol-lowering drug has recently become available. Ezetimibe reduces the amount of cholesterol absorbed from food in the bowel. It is especially effective when combined with statins. Side effects are generally mild.
Ask your doctor for more information, ring Heartline on 1300 36 27 87 or visit www.heartfoundation.com.au.
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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.