from NPR.com by Christianna Silva
The content of this report resonates with the growth of millennials who do tai chi. I think, however, that they are not finding tai chi as easily as I wish they would. The article stresses the role of the internet in promoting self-care among millennials, though self-care has been around forever. Tai chi is ultimately self-care that contrast with the consumer approach to self-care mentioned in the report. Many people buy products (self-care kits) or subscribe to a twitter bot to remind them to take care of themselves. Just do tai chi, I say.
In 2015, according to the Pew Research Center, more millennials reported making personal improvement commitments than any generation before them.
“Maybe in the past, you thought someone was crazy or lazy, but now we’ve learned more,” Im said. “It’s a continuum. A lot of those things [like increased Internet access] allow you to become more sensitive to others.”
Link to article here.
This is about emotion words for which no English equivalent exists.
I like this quote from Dr. Lomas who has been researching these cool words and has built a “dictionary” of 1,000 words from all around the world and from diverse cultures. …especcially the final sentence, which reminds me of tai chi learning.
“In our stream of consciousness – that wash of different sensations feelings and emotions – there’s so much to process that a lot passes us by,” Lomas says. “The feelings we have learned to recognise and label are the ones we notice – but there’s a lot more that we may not be aware of. And so I think if we are given these new words, they can help us articulate whole areas of experience we’ve only dimly noticed.”
Dr. Lomas’s website
Sometimes, I get questions from learners that merit sharing. This question is about whether we should pivot on the heels or the balls of the feet when changing directions in the Wu form.
QUESTION: When you turn doing Tai Chi, is it always on your heels?
ANSWER: This is a good question. By “always,” do you mean outside of class or inside? I learned in Wu style training, of which two lineages exist, to turn on the heels … except when the teacher does something else, such as turning on the bubbling well.
The point I try to convey in class is to cultivate enough control to do what you intend to do, such as pivoting on the heel, which is a hallmark method of changing directions in Wu style, either lineage, as well as Yang. This entails developing concentration and sustaining it long enough to see your skill evolve.
To me, this is the deeper training. To learn move sequences is one level, learning how to do them is a deeper level and learning to control mind intention and sustain concentration are even deeper.
My point has always been to learn a technique, become familiar with it, then through practice become more at ease with it. The ultimate practice is one in which you continually refine what you have been exposed to. So if turning on the heel is what you’re asked to do, then do that all the time in and out of class as a way of refining your skill.
I think it’s fun to keep it in mind and do when you are reminded of it.
Figuring out stances and foot work in the form is one challenge beginners face because coordinating upper and lower body simultaneously can get confusing. I think it helps to focus on one activity at a time until you familiarize yourself with the move.
The position of the feet and how you move them merits special attention until you’ve become more familiar and comfortable with the method used in whichever form you’re doing.
Different teachers follow different methods, probably because that’s how they learned it from their teachers; but also, according to its effectiveness in a martial application. I learned from my teachers to pivot on the heels when changing directions. This is common enough and you can get pretty technical when it comes to how you’re weighted in gravity and where your zhong ding is at each stage of a movement. These are things I try to cover when practicing this activity.
I learned my particular way of doing the Wu style slow form from six, either in person or through video. My first teacher, was Wang Hao Da (Wu Jian Quan lineage), but he passed away soon after I began. Then I learned more from Susan Matthews, who worked with Master Wang for about four years in a number of training camps.
Then I went to China in 2004 and trained with Xu Guo Chang (Wu Yu Xiang lineage). More recently, I studied videos of Grandmaster Ma Yueh Liang, his wife Wu Ying Hua, Wen Zee. They’ve all passed away now. I’ve found perhaps one video of Grandmaster Ma doing slow form, since he preferred the fast form.
Over a couple of weekends in spring 2016, I met Yan Yuan Hua (Wu Jian Quan lineage) in Tucson, AZ and Temple City, CA and practiced with him and several of his students in both cities. He gave me a video of his forms to watch and learn. His approach differs from others I have been exposed to.
I try to incorporate what I’ve learned in such a way to simplify the process of learning of students and make their progress a steady one. Sooner or later in training we all are exposed to different ways of doing things.
I highly value the ability of a practitioner to be fluid and open to change as they encounter new information. It keeps things lively by challenging our assumptions and the tendency to develop just another habitual way of moving without questioning. Good the the brain, good for the body.
People ask, “how much time do you spend doing tai chi? Everyday?” I’m troubled to answer, because time is not an issue, only that I practice. Less and less I have to look for the time. It’s more of a command. I know if I don’t heed it, I will pay a price. I am no longer willing to pay for ignoring it. Once I could ignore the call, but not now. If you ever get to this point in your life, whatever your routine practice may be, I congratulate you. I honor you.
Well, they don’t mention tai chi and qigong in this one, but I’ll just go ahead and say it; “Do tai chi and qigong to give that old polipoprotein E (APOE) gene the hard time it deserve.”
“Mentally stimulating activities perhaps in combination with known healthy life styles such as exercise are simple and inexpensive activities that can potentially protect people against the development of mild cognitive impairment,” said senior study author Dr. Yonas E. Geda
They say that practicing at “same time, same place” everyday is best, but I say anywhere, anytime is superior. This is because fluidity is a key strength of your practice. It is an achievement that you reach through practice. Might as well start with it as a goal rather that adhere to an imposed rule of when and where. Of course, often enough it turns out to be a regular place and time. But it is not a hard and fast rule. Follow your intuition. Listen to your body. Step into your desire.
Your place will probably be where you feel comfortable and calm and your time might be when you can practice regularly. The early morning may be best, but anytime, as I said, is great. Whenever or wherever, desire to practice. Downplay feeling obligated that you have to practice. Once your body stores enough memory of the feeling of movement it will desire more. All you have to do is acknowledge and accept and act by practicing. It can be only a few minutes. It doesn’t have to be an hour or more. It can be a few moments spread over the day instead of all at once.
You do have to make the effort to remember to practice. Fit your practice into your daily routine somehow.
Many of us want to learn tai chi as a reaction to something in our lives that we want to change. Often that’s simply our daily routine filled with unrewarding habits. Acknowledging this to ourselves openly is a first step to changing it. Tai chi and qigong can replace undesirable things in our daily lives that we don’t want and add enduring, healthy optimism.
Do tai chi in the morning. It will place you in a frame of mind that you can carry through the day. Most of us won’t make it the whole day, or even the rest of the morning, as we slip back into an accustomed manner of moving. Our body, our thoughts, our feelings, our speech will return to the norm, yet a residue will remain. Build on that.
We live by the clock. You might say we’re slaves to it. A lot of our discordant feelings are due to our yearning to be free from the clock. That’s one reason why we do tai chi—to get away from THE CLOCK.
I see people looking at the clock in tai chi class. That means that they’re not concentrating enough on why they’re there in the first place. That’s OK though, because it’s not easy. But it’s easier than we think. Just showing up to practice is a masterful act of at least trying to break the chains of THE CLOCK. There’s a lot to be said for that.