Newsletter #53 - January 2006
In this issue:
-- From Me to You by Dr Lam
-- Dear Paul by Georgette Coffey
-- Tai Chi Event in Melbourne by Arthritis Victoria
-- "The Psychology of Don't" by Dr Bob McBrien
-- "Formal Tai Chi" by Ralph Dehner
-- "Tai Chi for Back Pain with Worker Compensation" by Belinda Brooke
Click on the title to read the article, and here to read all previous newsletters
May the New Year bring you good health, happiness and more enjoyment with your Tai Chi!
- Georgette is a very caring tai chi teacher and a good friend; she sent me a message about her friend Bob, who is terminally ill. She lists some good tai chi ways to help her friend; I invite you to send Bob your positive energy.
- The Arthritis Foundation of Victoria is organising a tai chi event at the National Gallery, in Melbourne. The "Department for Victorian Communities" supports this event, as part of the pre-Commonwealth Games activities. You can download the PDF brochure. I will be looking forward to see you there.
- Dr. Bob McBrien talks about the psychology of a positive attitude. I have found Bob's advice simple and very useful.
- Ralph, one of our MT's in the USA, is normally a serious man, seeing him in a tuxedo doing the tai chi posture "Step Backward to Subdue the Tiger" is a pleasant surprise. Read this humorous story of "Formal Tai Chi".
- Belinda Brooke, a physiotherapist in South Australia, has been working with me to present the Tai Chi for Back Pain program to Workcover for remuneration. Read the outcome of who can submit claims for these classes, and how you can help.
- Our Featured Product this month is the 24 Forms ($29.95) and 32 Forms Tai Chi Sword ($39.95) DVDs. You can get the package of two DVDs plus a free Tai Chi Music CD ($15.95), an $85.85 value, all for just $54.95. Click this link to place your order.
- Eileen writes this month's "Most Useful Letter". She says: "Recently I have begun to listen to the Tai Chi Music CD, composed by Jenny Ly, with new ears. This is an exceptional piece of work and somebody had to say it!" Thank you Eileen for your feedback. We would like to send you a Tai Chi Music CD for being our Letter of the Month winner, even though you must have bought a copy already, you could give this one to a friend. Please email us at [email protected] and advise your postal details. You can read her thread at this link.
Paul Lam, MD
back to the top
Merry Christmas to you and all your loved ones. I can't seem to stop "clicking on" your magnificent Christmas photo. It is has become a meditation for me. The serenity and beauty of the photo fills me with emotion. What a beautiful setting. The lighting, your pose and the surrounding beauty of nature say it all without words. Thank you for sending it.
This is a Christmas of mixed blessings. This is the first Christmas that my 2 daughters and their families have been together with us. Watching the joy and excitement of my 1 1/2 and 2 1/2 year old grandchildren experience Christmas is the best present I have ever received.
On the other hand, a very dear friend, Bob is dying of terminal cancer. He is a tai chi friend. Shared interest in Tai Chi brought us together about 8 years ago. Since that time, we have spent many hours playing together at Tai Chi, discussing its relevance in our lives and developing a close and loving relationship. Ironically, it was Helen, Bob's wife, who began doing Tai Chi after her bout with breast cancer. The one thing we all agreed on was that Tai Chi was an absolute must in our daily lives. The touchstone that Tai Chi is for us, helps to keep us grounded. How much we are needing that dealing with Bob's death. I do believe in miracles, yet, I understand that sometimes the miracle is not the cure of an illness, but the acceptance of moving on through the cycle of life.
As Bob journeys through his unique life, and I sit on the sidelines following as a bystander, my feelings have become more alive. I feel more prayerful, more grateful, more heightened by every experience. My senses seem heightened. I have felt the fear that a brain tumor I had at exactly this time 11 years ago could some day return. And yet I feel sadness the most, that soon my dear friend will not be here in the physical body. I will miss doing the forms, pushing hands with him, I will miss doing San Shou together. Laughing at our ineptness always made it fun to experience Tai Chi together. I have been using the Tai Chi principals devoutly during this time. It helps me stay centered. Bob and I discuss the principles as a tool for him to use.
Growing, sink breath, relax down to center. As I do Reike and meditation with Bob, this first principle helps relieve his anxiety.
Clarify your highest vision for the situation. This second principle helps Bob feel his feelings and set some goals for his journey.
Stick, connect, listen, blend, merge, acceptance.
This third principle helps Bob to reach out to his friends, to find resources to aid him, to remember all the unique wonderful experiences of his life, to feel the compassion of all the people who love him and to accept this challenge in his life by being prepared to move on to the next life.
The fourth final principle, yield, no mind, open, let go of expectation. This final principle seems the most challenging. Being unable to control destiny is a difficult lesson. I encourage Bob to expect a miracle, to trust and have faith that everything is as it should be and to just be in the moment.
Tai Chi was my tool for recovery from the brain tumor and I hope Tai Chi will be Bob's tool for embracing life with the end in mind.
I hope you will not mind if I copy your picture and bring it to Bob on my next visit.
I wish you a Happy New Year and hope to see you soon.
back to the top
Break a Record, Not Your Bones!
From Arthritis Victoria
Download a brochure
In March 2006 hundreds will gather in Melbourne to attempt to break the world record for the largest number of people participating in Tai Chi for Arthritis at the one time.
Everyone is welcome to join the attempt and experience the benefits of tai chi on Sunday, 12 March 2006 from 10 am to noon at the Great Hall at the National Gallery of Victoria.
Tai Chi for Arthritis has been developed specifically for people with arthritis. Tai chi may help to strengthen bones, reduce pain from arthritis and improve flexibility and muscle strength.
Call Arthritis Victoria on 8531 8008 to for further information or to register your participation.
back to the top
Telling a Tai Chi student to, "Don't worry about making a mistake" produces an interesting result. Mistakes become dominant thoughts buzzing around in the student's mind. Psychologists have studied this interesting and important brain behavior for over 20 years. In the classical "White Bear" study, researcher David Schneider and his associates instructed students to not think of a white bear. The result? Students reported their thinking was preoccupied with white bears.
Described in psychology as "the paradoxical effect of thought suppression," this phenomenon has importance for teachers and students. Whenever we are instructing a student it is important to frame our instruction in terms of what we want the student to do. Avoid beginning instructions with the word don't (I almost wrote don't say don't!).
For example a student is practicing walking forward using a tai chi stepping drill. As instructor you notice the student looking down at her feet. To coach the student to correct the student say, "Head level and eyes straight ahead." Notice the positive framing of the instruction. You get results much quicker when you tell the student what to do. Practice avoiding the word don't with yourself and when teaching tai chi.
back to the top
One day many years ago I was struck by the title of videotape I saw on the shelf of my local library - "Tai Chi Anywhere" by Dr. Paul Lam. Long before I became involved with Dr. Lam's program I took that title to heart. I would often encourage my students to practice their Tai Chi in unusual places, like the mall or while waiting in line at the grocery store or the bank (people will usually let you go ahead of them in line, thinking you might be dangerous or daft).
While doing a walkabout with Dr. Lam in Indianapolis last summer, I found that he too took that title very seriously. We took pictures of ourselves doing Tai Chi forms in the most unusual places, in fountains, on boulders, bridges, in front of museums and unusual rock formations. He even does Tai Chi in his seat while flying on airplanes. I am not so bold. I usually act more discretely on planes, opting to do single form practice in the laboratory.
THE BEST LAID PLANS
However, I really never expected do take it to the next level, from unabashed public practice to the theraputic emergency intervention that occurred this autumn. My daughter, Jill, is the only of my three children to take advantage of the fact that her dad is a Tai Chi fanatic and learn the art. She is quite special. So special that she agreed to come and do caricature art at a TCA workshop I hosted (see Dr. Lam's Caricature in this article). She is so special that she even agreed to learn to do the Yang 88 Form San-Shou (two person form) so we could do it as a father-daughter dance at her upcoming wedding. Now, how special is that!
As circumstances would have it, wedding plans soon monopolized much of her free time and I never finished teaching her the San-Shou. I was disappointed but hopeful that we could at least do push-hands together during the reception.
Her wedding day arrived and it was a bright, sunny day and warm day. We were all at the local Arboretum for bridal party pictures before the ceremony when I started getting nervous thinking about that long church isle I would soon walk my little girl down, to give away, FOREVER! So instead of going into a panic, I said to myself, "what would Dr. Lam do"? The answer came immediately - the 42 Forms! No easy task in a tuxedo.
THE MOMENT OF TRUTH
We made it to the church in plenty of time and I joined my lovely Jill in the back of church to wait our turn to walk down the isle arm in arm. The second longest church isle in the city, almost 75 meters long! Suddenly I noticed some unusual pressure on my right arm. It was my daughter squeezing with great gusto. I turned to see that she was pale and defiantly NOT BREATHING! Jill has had a history of anxiety-induced asthma since childhood.
I said to myself, what would Dr. Lam do. The answer came in a flash - Tai Chi breathing! I began coaching her through that deep abdominal breathing and soon she relaxed her grip, she was breathing, she had color in her cheeks but she was not moving. So I asked the question that all good dads are obligated to ask before strolling down the isle - "are you sure you want to go through with this"? She nodded yes and reminded me that she gets really nervous in front of crowds. So it was time to take it to the next level - Tai Chi step drill down the isle - well not exactly. We did, nonetheless, breathe slowly, in unison, to my whispered "inhale, exhale" most of the way down the isle…TAI CHI TO THE RESCUE!!!
No, I did not get to do San-Shou with my daughter at the reception (I did some push-hands with my wife on the dance floor) but Tai Chi once again lived up to its "Tai Chi Anywhere" reputation.
back to the top
Recently we have had discussions with Workcover in South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales to look at whether Tai Chi for Back Pain (TCBP) leaders can claim for Workcover clients attending their classes. That is, Workcover will pay for the sessions attended as it is seen as a part of the client's rehabilitation. The outcome was two-fold.
1. Currently physiotherapists and exercise physiologists registered as service providers with Workcover can claim for Workcover clients attending their TCBP classes as a part of their rehabilitation. There are criteria these professionals need to meet to become registered service providers with Workcover, such as qualifications, insurance, first aid, etc. They then bill according to their specific Workcover schedule, following the usual claim procedures. For further information contact Workcover in your state, or look at their web-site.
2. Workcover will consider new programs being added to their claim schedule, making them a stand-alone rebate item. However, a very detailed paper needs to be submitted detailing the program itself, how it is administered, and the current medical evidence (ie. research) for it's use in the rehabilitation of back injuries. TCBP is a new program and has not yet been involved in a research study. However, before getting to this point, it would be advantageous to start gathering data on the outcomes for participants attending TCBP classes. It would also be useful in the ongoing evaluation of the program, not only for Dr Paul Lam, but also for leaders. If you are running TCBP classes in 2006, and would like to become involved by evaluating the changes your class participants experience after completing the TCBP program, please contact Dr Paul Lam at [email protected] or Belinda Brookes at [email protected] or (08) 83325886 / 0407874010.
back to the top
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.