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Stillness Is Death

When is the body ever completely still?

Only in death is there no movement.

If you are living, you are breathing.

If you are breathing, you are moving.

The movements of tai chi ride upon the breath wave

like flotsam following an ocean current.

The hip bone is connected to the thigh bone.

The thigh bone is connected to the shin bone.

The shin bone is connected to the ankle bone.

Thus when one thing moves, so does the next

and the next

and the next.

How could it be but thus?

As long as sequential movement is not arrested

by tension, resistance, and stress

the breath moves the body

and the body, in turn, moves the breath

and the chain is unbroken

so that the crown of the head

and the tips of the toes

are bosom buddies.

What affects the minutest part

affects the whole

and what affects the whole

affects the minutest part.

 
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Posted by on January 6, 2014 in Flow, Tai Chi

 

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When Do You Turn Your Tai Chi Off?

While practicing, you are relaxed, aligned, your movements are smooth, deliberate. In other words, you are actively maintaining your tai chi composure.

The question is, when do you stop?

Do you turn your tai chi on when you practice the form, and turn it off when you stop? Do you turn it off when class is over? Or when you get interrupted or distracted?

Why turn it off deliberately at all? Why not at least try to keep it on all the time?

 
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Posted by on December 22, 2013 in Tai Chi Practice

 

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Acting Sick

How we use our bodies has a lot to do with determining how we feel. Generally, the more sick you act the more sick you will feel.

When you are sick, do you allow your posture to slouch, your feet to shuffle, and your breath to become rapid and shallow? Or do you hold yourself open and aligned and allow your movements to glide, no matter how slowly? This will go a long way towards determining how well you feel and how quickly you recover.

 
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Posted by on October 20, 2013 in Health

 

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Thinking And Breathing

Thinking is like breathing. We do it pretty much all the time, automatically. We can only exert so much conscious control over it. We can put it on hold for a short time, but the moment we stop paying attention it starts to happen again. Its quality and rhythm are influenced by our habits and emotional state. We even do it while we sleep.

You can do exercises to hold your breath longer, to control it more consciously, to improve its quality and function. Likewise with thinking.

The quality of your breath is how well it enriches your body. The quality of your thinking is how well it enriches your life.

 
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Posted by on September 10, 2013 in Meditation

 

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Breath Hitches (And Other Superstitions)

An odd thing about humans is that we tend to hold our breath in moments whenever we are attached to a particular outcome. Just after we’ve rolled the ball down the lane, hoping for a strike. Just after we’ve asked an important question, hoping for the answer we want. When we’re watching our child try something for the first time, hoping for a successful completion.

The first important thing to realize about these breath hitches is that they happen. The second is that they don’t help, any more than crossing your fingers or throwing salt over your shoulder.

 
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Posted by on November 28, 2012 in Flow, Health

 

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Why Meditation Should Engage The Body As Well As The Mind

Because the body and the mind are not only connected, they are different facets of the same thing.  Every aspect of one is reflected in the other.

In tai chi, we say that everything physical has psychological analogues, and everything psychological has physical analogs.  What shows up in your practice shows up in your life, and vice versa.

If the body becomes rigid during meditation, so will the mind.  A flexible body corresponds to a flexible mind.

From another perspective, physical movement propels circulation, of both blood and lymph as well as chi.

Finally, all meditation centers on breathing.  If the body is fluid, the breath moves throughout it.  Restricting the body in any way automatically restricts breathing.

 
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Posted by on November 2, 2012 in Meditation, Qigong

 

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The Three Regulations of Qigong

Tai chi (moving energy) is a form of qigong (energy work).  The practice of qigong, including tai chi, involves the engagement of three ongoing regulations, which are the elements of what I refer to as tai chi composure.

The Three Regulations are body regulation, breath regulation, and mind regulation.  Body is the physical aspect of our experience, mind is the cognitive aspect, and breath is the link between the two.  This corresponds to the fact that breathing is controlled by both the somatic and autonomic nervous system, making it at once both voluntary and automatic.  In a sense, the breathing impulse exists in two worlds at once, spanning the gap between mind and body, or conscious and subconscious.

Body regulation consists of relaxing and aligning.  As you practice, continually scan your body for excess tension and misalignment, relaxing the muscles, expanding the joints, and aligning the bones with gravity.

Breath regulation consists of breathing in a natural way.  As you practice, continually return to consciousness of your breathing, while allowing the breath to flow smoothly, continuously, fully, and evenly.

Mind regulation consists of present moment awareness and sensory activation.  As you practice, continually return your awareness to the present moment and fill it with the physical sensations within your body and the sensory inputs from your surroundings.

 
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Posted by on April 19, 2012 in Qigong, Tai Chi

 

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