Newsletter #24 - July 2003
- The Daisy-Belle Tai Chi Sisterhood by Vicki Novak
- The Miracle And Magic Of Tai Chi by Delores Hammons
- "Excuse me, where's the Fort?" by Carol Tennessen
- How To Deliver The Force In The Forms by Kam Lau Fung
- IS LIGHT CIGARETTE SMOKING HARMFUL?
- HEALTHY HUMOUR
IS LIGHT CIGARETTE SMOKING HARMFUL?
Many smokers assume that smoking just a few cigarettes per day is not hazardous. However, recent research has found that smoking as few as 3 cigarettes daily roughly doubles the risk of heart attack and your chance of dying. The increased risk is much higher for women than men.
Some smokers who do not inhale when they smoke also think that they are safe from health damage. However, research has shown that they are also at an increased heart attack & death risk.
Medical Terms Explained
Medical jargon can be so confusing. Here are some explanations:
Alimentary - what Holmes said to Watson.
Artery - the study of paintings.
Benign - what an eight-year old wants to be.
Cardiology - advanced study of poker playing.
Chiropractor - an Egyptian doctor.
Fibula - small lie.
Genes - Blue denim slacks.
Intern - one after another.
Mammogram - a cable to mother.
Nitrates - cheaper than day rates.
Pelvis - Elvis Presley's cousin.
Ultrasound - a loud noise.
Vein - conceited.
A woman, calling the local hospital said, 'Hello, I want to know if a patient is getting better. Her name is Esther Rabbit in room 302.'
The nurse answered, 'Oh, yes, Esther is doing very well. Her blood pressure is fine, she is going off the heart monitor in a couple of hours and Dr Oof is hoping to send her home on Tuesday.'
The woman said, 'That's fantastic! Oh! What wonderful news!'
The nurse replied, 'From your enthusiasm, you must be a very close friend or relative of Esther's'.
The woman answered, 'I AM Esther Rabbit in 302. Dr Al Oof doesn't tell me anything!'
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One day my body worked. One day it didn't. Never did I expect my life to careen off the cornice of the extreme, but it did. One day I knew no limits. One day I knew nothing but limitations. One day I found myself alone and frightened, really frightened.
Never did I expect this eclipsing fear to lead me into the practice of tai chi, but it did.
And never, NEVER, did I foresee tai chi leading me into being initiated into the "Daisy-Belle Tai Chi Sisterhood,"- but it did.
Dee Hammons and I met through tai chi. Through the months that we practiced tai chi together, we found we always stood next to one another because it felt 'just right.' We became dear friends. But life's challenges came knocking at Dee's door, too, and soon she had to leave the Colorado altitude. We made a pact to meet in Connecticut for Dr. Paul Lam's USA workshop and we kept it. On the way to New London, Dee and I met Ruth Anne Plourde from Minneapolis and the sisterhood began.
The second night of the workshop Ruth Anne, Dee and I plopped our aching bodies on the plastic dorm bed in Dee's room, completely overwhelmed by all that we were learning. One thing was obvious: "We've been just tiptoeing through the daisies, girls," proclaimed Dee, as she sprang from the bed to demonstrate her point. "We need to FOCUS!" As she began a stance, Ruth Anne and I had to note that our focused friend was wearing her little white satin bedroom slippers with the soft pink bows. Now THAT was a tai chi moment. Imagine a lowering stance in ballerina booties!
In honor of her Southern roots, Dee at that moment became "Miss Daisy-Belle Tai Chi."
As we crumpled off the bed in laughter onto the tile floor, we knew that the 'Ya-Ya's' had nothing on us. The Daisy-Belle Tai Chi Sisterhood would last.
You see, tai chi brings us together to participate in the miracle of energy exchange that is our humanity. For all the benefits tai chi offers, it's this communion of spirit, of joy and laughter that is my tether. I am not alone anymore and my world is a kind and loving one.
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By Delores Hammons
It was December 13, 2002 and one of those beautiful Colorado days. My dear friend Judy and I were happily baking Christmas cookies while the fire danced in the fireplace. The lights on the Christmas tree glowed softly, and the merry sounds of carols floated joyfully in the air. At 2:30 p.m. the telephone rang. "Hello," I said brightly. With that "hello," my life changed forever.
The call was from my physician saying that the results from my blood work taken at my recent annual physical had come back and I was to be at the oncologist's office within the hour. The initial diagnosis, leukemia, was ruled out and several specialists felt that I had Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS), a bone marrow disorder which would give me three to five years to live.
My body steadily weakened as my blood levels declined. There were days I could not get out of bed; my brain seemed to stay in a perpetual fog from lack of oxygen; and my body moved as though it was submerged in molasses. After almost three months with this imminent death sentence hanging over me, I went to the National Institute of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. I was given a definitive diagnosis of Aplastic Anemia, a bone marrow dysfunction in which the marrow is described as "dry," resulting in a limited production of blood cells. It was explained to me that the quality of my life would depend on how well I learned to "manage my energy."
"Well, all right," I thought. "I can do this. This is tai chi!" I reviewed the Tai Chi Principles Dr. Lam had taught us again and again. I visualized the chi flowing into my marrow like liquid sunshine giving it nourishment and support as I practiced each day. Some days that "practice" was totally visual and sometimes it was just watching Dr. Lam on video. My mantra became, "bring the energy in and sink. I would just direct the chi in, allow it to flow and nourish me, and then direct it out once more.
Caroline Demoise and Pam Kircher were my tai chi teachers and with their loving guidance and support, tai chi became my lifeline and connection. I can remember telling them that somehow, someway, I was going to get strong enough to make it to the week-long workshop in June. While they smiled at this determination, my husband thought I had completely lost what little reasoning power I had left. Slowly, ever so slowly, my doctors kept noticing that what I was able to "do" in my everyday life was not consistent with what the blood test were showing. They explained that usually when they saw blood levels like mine they would see someone who considered it a good day to get out of bed, get dressed, and make it to the sofa. "We don't know what you are doing," they would say, "but keep doing it!"
Here I am today at the close of the Connecticut workshop. I am overflowing with heartfelt gratitude and joy. With the help and support of so many kind teachers, friends, and travelers on the path, I've made it here. As I stand in front of the workshop participants with my "73 group" about to give our demonstration, I look out at all the dear beings before me, many of them facing greater challenges than I. How blessed I am to have been given this challenge which has gotten me to this place. I, along, with them, have stepped up and declared that we will be a conduit for the supporting and nourishing energy of the heavens above and the earth below. We will bring it in, sink, and send it out to benefit others. We accept our "challenges" and know in our hearts that they are truly blessings. We know the magic, and we have seen the miracles.
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"Excuse me, where's the Fort?"
by Carol Tennessen, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
One of the highlights of the June 2003 workshop was the New London by Night bus tour. A port city at the mouth of the Thames River in southeastern Connecticut, New London dates to the 17th century and is home to many important historic landmarks. Along with the neighboring towns of Groton and Mystic, it is also an area of significant maritime heritage. So we were thrilled to learn we would have a full three hours for exploring; all in all, it would be a memorable tour.
On Wednesday, at 6:30 p.m. sharp Alice and I, and Sylvia, Leonard, and Ralph (yes, Ralph had been with us all along) and 40 or so other workshop participants assembled in front of the College Center at Crozier Williams. Soon a large bus appeared, and we set off, eager to experience the sights and sounds of history. We were accompanied by a knowledgeable guide from the New London County Historical Society and a truly masterful bus driver. Moments later, the fog rolled in.
By the time we were cruising along Interstate 95 towards Groton, visibility was considerably reduced. But never mind. Our intrepid guide continued to point out the sites. On the left, (if you could see it) the naval submarine base and the popular historic ship Nautilus; on the right, as we turned off the freeway at exit #90 toward Mystic Seaport, the Elm Grove Cemetery.
The fog thickened. Undaunted, we pulled into historic downtown Mystic where buses are not allowed and most of the shops were closed. About all we saw there were the faint outlines of Mystic Pizza (the restaurant, not the movie) and the Mystic River Bascule Drawbridge, which opens at quarter past each hour for boats traveling along the river (see accompanying photo by Dr. Paul).
Next, we headed for the intact earthworks at Fort Griswold Battlefield State Park, which was the scene of the 1781 Battle of Groton Heights. On a clear night our guide assured us, you have a spectacular view from the top of the 134-foot monument.. Whereupon a puzzled voice came from the back of the bus, "Excuse me, where's the Fort?"
Among other landmarks we did not see on the tour were the Hempsted Houses (dated 1678 and 1758); the Union Railroad Station; the New London Lighthouse; New London's famed Ocean Park Beach; Fort Trumbull, site of another Revolutionary War battle; Eugene O'Neill's summer home; and the Robert Mills U.S. Customs House, the longest continuously operating Custom House in the nation.
Nonetheless, our spirits were high when the bus dropped us back at the Connecticut College campus shortly after 9p.m. The fog had afforded us a priceless "exercise in visualization," as someone said the next morning. Indeed, we all had a grand time on our City by Night tour,despite not having seen anything at all!
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I'd like to share my experience in delivering force, but first I want to explain some basic knowledge about the Tai Chi energy.
When you've practiced Tai Chi for a long time, following The 10 Essential Points, your body will produce a warm energy. We call it "internal energy." or "vital energy." It's also called peng jing. Peng jing is an important force. It's spring-like in quality, somewhat like elastic. It's heavy, can change directions, and can go from soft to solid. Pen Jing works inside our body to increase the power with which we want to deliver force. Visualize a tennis ball. When I bounce the ball, it jumps up in the air. But if the tennis ball is flat, it won't jump up after it hits the floor, because it needs the air inside it to absorb the force from the floor. The principle is the same with Peng Jing.
Another example is the trampoline. Its sides are tied up with many springs and ropes, and when I jump into the center of it, my body springs up in the air. But if the rope is tied too tightly or loosely, the spring force will disappear. It's the same with our bodies. If the body is too soft or too stiff, it's very hard to produce the Peng Jing. So to do Tai Chi properly, we need to follow The 10 Essential Points so that can we can help our body to produce the internal force easily.
Since it's difficult to keep the internal force inside the dan tian, the mind must play an important part. The mind drives the energy to the dan tian. When we feel energy flowing over our whole body, the mind can deliver the energy from the dan tian to the desired part of the opponent's body. The mind controls the coordination between the body movements and the internal activities.
The external part is how our body moves. If we can do the movements properly with the whole body, we can produce a force called the Spiral Force. It combines the internal with the external. If we don't have the internal force, even we do the right external spiral movements, the force is still simply external force or physical force-solid, stiff, light without rooting, brutal. It is not Tai Chi force; it is not Peng Jing, To be a Tai Chi internal force, it must be refined with The 10 Essential Points.
Fa Jing is a more advanced technique for delivering force to a specific part of our opponent's body. Fa Jing combines the mind, the body and internal force. The Tai Chi classics say, " It stores the energy as in opening bow and Fa Jing is a shooting arrow." Before I try to deliver force, I keep the energy in my dan tian. My body must relax and prepare to store the energy before I deliver the force. My mind is focused on the target; my eyes are looking in the direction of the target; my mind is concentrating on the movement I'm about to deliver. While the Fa Jing is processing, my mind sends a signal to my extended arm. The muscle contracts, and the internal force is transmitted to the end of my fist, joining at the same time with the force of my external movement. After the Fa Jing movement is completed, my body relaxes. According to the Tai Chi classics, " The force starts from the feet, rises up to the waist, transmits to the back, then shows on the hand."
The Fa Jing movement works by coordinating the entire body with the mind and the internal force
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