Newsletter #47 - July 2005
In this issue:
-- From Me to You by Dr Lam
-- Tai Chi from the Heart - for the Heart by Sheila Rae
-- A Study of Tai Chi for Arthritis and Strength Training by Barbara Foster
-- The Depth of Sun Style Workshops by Caroline Demoise
-- Breast Cancer. Advances in Care by Your_Health
Click on the title to read the article, and here to read previous newsletters
The tai chi workshop in Florida has just finished. It was an immense success. Most of us were so high spirited that we've walked around on a cloud ever since. I'm going to include some of the inspiring morning talks, starting with Sheila's talk "Tai Chi from the Heart - for the Heart" as part of the "Tai Chi Outside the Box series." More talks will be included in the next issue.
During my two months' travel I was greatly encouraged by the many people I met who have keen interest in the medical research of tai chi for health. I was also pleased by the support from governments around the world for tai chi for health improvement. For example, Accident Compensation Corporation of New Zealand has sponsored tai chi classes around the country. From its website www.acc.co.nz you will find a photo of one of our Master Trainer, Sue Fry, performing our modified tai chi.
I have been behind with my newsletter; this issue shall be July instead of June. I will do my best to send the new issue at the beginning of each month.
Aging and quality of life are going to be the most challenging issues in the years to come. The increasing cost of health care will overwhelm the available resources. Passing the responsibility back to the people is going to be an important part of the solution to this challenge. It will be our own responsibility to manage the care of our health. Healthy diet and regular exercise will be the cornerstone of self management. Tai chi can play a very important role. Most of my tai chi and health professional colleagues realize that as an ancient martial art, tai chi would need to be modified to maximize its efficacy and safety for health improvement. I would like to invite you to contribute on this topic.
Barbara Foster, a physiotherapist from Tasmania, Australia's department of Health and Human Services has conducted a study of Tai Chi for Arthritis and strength training as part of her work. (It's great to know you can conduct useful studies without necessarily acquiring large funding.) The study shows how effective both Tai Chi for Arthritis (a modified tai chi program designed by our team) and strength training are at fall preventions and improving many aspects of health.
Caroline has written an introduction to my two upcoming workshops in October 2005. These will be the first workshops to explore the depth of Tai Chi for Arthritis part I and II for anyone who is familiar with these forms. Please note that another workshop Tai Chi for Back Pain instructors' training will be held at the last week of October in San Diego, USA. I'm eagerly looking forward to seeing each one of you at one of these workshops.
Your_Health, an Australian medical newsletter, gives a simple and useful guide to the advances in breast cancer care. Along the same lines, I know of a study in progress that uses the Tai Chi for Beginners program to help people recover from the surgery of breast cancer. I'll let you know the outcome of it when it is completed.
The photos of workshops in HK, Ireland, UK and USA this year are now available to participants in a CD (USD$20 plus postage. These are full size photos that can print up to A3 paper). Some of those photos are posted on my website. Click here to place your order.
The complete package: USD$41.85 (Normally $61.85. You save $20.)
Click here to place your order.
Paul Lam MD
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In Traditional Chinese Medicine, it is said that the mind lives in the heart; that we need to cultivate the mind and heart as one in order to have a peaceful heart.
When our mind that does our thinking and our heart that handles our feelings are in conflict, constantly struggling, the heart gets no rest. An over-worked heart can lead to many health problems. One way to lessen this struggle between the mind and the heart is to practice tai chi. The regular practice of tai chi can cultivate the mind/heart connection so there will be no struggle between the two.
I have some suggestions that will help cultivate this important mind/heart connection and express your tai chi from the heart.
Of course, in the beginning study of tai chi you must have structure, study the principles and memorize the sequence of the form. But the next stage in tai chi development is your expression of what you know. Tai chi is not meant to be expressionless. To truly express tai chi it must be done from the heart. When you allow the heart to open and embrace your tai chi, your body can express the form. Because, after all, it is YOUR tai chi.
One way you can express the form is by letting go of it. Adhere to the principles but let go of the form itself. Just like spontaneous qigong, try spontaneous tai chi; let your spirit move you in any and all directions. This would be a good exercise in letting go: Try tai chi outside, inside different places, with music, without music. Try different types of music. Sometimes I use Pink Floyd or classical music instead of traditional Chinese music. Different times of day and night produce a different experience. Everyday is different, so why not let your tai chi be different every day. This seemly chaotic practice can be very healing. And you can combine the healing and martial aspects in this same manner. To work on the martial aspects of tai chi, take the movements out of the form.
Along with the concept of shadow-boxing, imagine multiple opponents and use martial applications to defend yourself. You can do this for hours, but then end your practice by practicing your form in the traditional manner. Master T. T. Liang said,"You should learn from many teachers, read many books, but only by serious practice can you discover the truth for yourself."
Ending my practice sessions traditionally connects me with the masters that have traveled the tai chi path before me. It is from their passing on knowledge that I know tai chi and its principles. I use these principles not only in traditional form but in every day life. I have an exercise for students that help to develop this idea. It is called the tai chi council. Breaking class into small groups of 5 or 6 people, one person volunteers a life problem (real or not ) and the others try to solve the problem using only tai chi principles. It gives students an insight into the principles that can't be learned from just reading or hearing them. And it gives them another way to express tai chi from the heart, helping themselves and others.
The form is not tai chi. It is but a tool to do something else. It is like using a computer. We do not use computers just to sit and punch keys. We use the computer to do something, to help us accomplish a goal. The form is like the computer in that we don't do the form just to do the form, but use the form to practice moving energy inside the body, gain powers of concentration, learn relaxation, build internal and external strength, and experience psychophysical integration.
I urge you to look beyond the form to the true purpose of the study of T'ai Chi Chuan.
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Click here for a PDF copy of the summary of this study
The questionnaire for this program involved both objective and subjective questions. Tai chi has an effect on the mind and spirit, not just on the physical body. Participants develop increased strength, balance and co-ordination as they progress with the form and without having to think for them. This is because the movement is slow, graceful and controlled with emphasis on posture, breathing and awareness of one's own energy. All the movements are done within one's comfort zone. Emphasis is on relaxation, no strain and rounded balanced movement. Tai chi makes a difference in how one move, and because the mind and body are moving as one with focus, it's like a meditation and makes a person more self-aware, relaxed and calm. Muscles relax, pain diminishes and movement improves.
The Tai Chi for Arthritis form is especially useful for people with limited movement because of the compactness of the movements, the follow-steps which guarantee good balance, the easily defined weight transfers and opening of joints, the natural flow of the movement and the emphasis on "Qigong" movements concerned with breath control.
Neither age nor physical condition is a problem in Tai Chi for Arthritis. Even though a few particular alterations in movement may be required initially, the muscles and joints soon loosen to allow standard performance of each movement without effort or discomfort. People become more aware of how they stand and move. Naturally, drop-outs are to be expected-sometimes 1/3 of the original numbers- because of the slowness of the movements which at first people are not used to. However, to slow down is the whole idea and this is the source of inner peace and calm that result in better focus and concentration. People who stick with it and practice reap huge rewards.
Even only after eight once-a-week sessions, objective improvements in the following are evident:
Pain decreased 50%
Total falls results are as the summary. This represents a 46% decrease in falls and a 41% decrease in the fear of falling.
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This October, Dr. Lam will be introducing a new workshop in which he will explore the depth of the Sun style of tai chi with students who are familiar with the 31 movement set of tai chi known as Tai Chi for Arthritis, Parts I and II. When you begin learning tai chi, you start with the chorography of external movements. Many people equate this external chorography or form with tai chi itself, however, these external movements are just the beginning of a long pathway to the deeper understanding that exploring tai chi can bring to the dedicated practitioner. It takes persistence to learn the shape of tai chi movements and to become familiar with the sequence of movements so that performing the tai chi set feels comfortable and familiar.
These first steps in learning prepare us to ask the question, "What makes movement tai chi?" Now we are ready to explore the territory of tai chi depth which takes us to the internal aspects of how we animate the movement. The practitioner can explore the role of breathing, the feeling of energy movement from correct body alignment, the use of mind to direct movement, and experience deeper levels of connected, coordinated full body movement as well as more focus and relaxation during movement. Tai chi people spend the rest of their lives exploring how to use the choreography of external form to walk a pathway of understanding and opening to a deeper awareness and experience of how to harmonize with nature.
When Dr. Lam piloted his Tai Chi for Back Pain workshop, which is a depth course requiring the familiarity of the 12-movement form known as Tai Chi for Arthritis, Part I which focuses on how to use this set with people who experience chronic back pain, he found students enthusiastic to learn from his experience more depth in their tai chi.
If you are ready to explore what makes movement tai chi, I invite you to consider joining Dr. Lam in October in either Durango, Colorado or Sarasota, Florida where his new workshops will be held. Information about the Durango workshop October 22-23, 2005 is available by contacting Lavada Finney at [email protected] For information about the Sarasota workshop October 15-16, contact Caroline Demoise at [email protected]
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The chance of surviving breast cancer has increased significantly in recent years due to better screening and more effective treatment. Most women with early breast cancer will not die from the disease.
In most cases, surgery is used to remove the cancer. Radiotherapy (X-ray treatment) may be given to destroy any cancer cells remaining in the breast. Hormonal therapy and/or chemotherapy (cancer-drugs) can kill cancer cells that may have spread outside the breast.
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.
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