Mind-Body Activities Promote Overall Health

We all benefit from focus, calmness, inner peace.

Mind-body activities promote Overall Health.

But sometimes we search with such determination for inner peace that we defeat ourselves before we even start.

 

 

  • Know this is true
  • I have done it myself
  • Sometimes I promise myself with force and anger that I will do something
  • Something that will make me better!
  • An ACTIVITY  that will MAKE ME RELAX

 

 

 

But it doesn’t work that way.  We often try too hard.  We want so badly to be in control –  

 TO MAKE IT HAPPEN.

 

 

The best activities are mind-body activities where the mind is not pushing with determination towards a goal.  Instead the mind is relaxed and allows the energy to flow until we feel better, understand more clearly and share compassion and understanding with those around us. 

 

 

We need to:

  • let it happen
  • be in the moment
  • allow the chi to flow within our body
  • feel peace, happiness, calmness, and compassion to flow through us.

 

 

Studies on the effects of TaiChi and Qigong were done on adolescents (under 18). Frequency ranged from 2 sessions a week for 5 weeks to 5 sessions awake for a year.   The focus of the study was on the “interactions among the brain, mind, body, and behavior, with the intent to use the mind to affect physical functioning and promote overall health”

 

For full information of this study click on this link.     There were 696 students in 10 different countries. They were divided into two group – the intervention group and the comparison group.  The ages ranged from 8 – 14.8 years.  Girls were 54% of the total..

 

The results were over 60% positive showing increased interaction and connection with peers and support from peers, and improvement in physical health – including groups with specific disease symptoms.

 

I imagine that if young people learned to do a some

tai chi or qigong everyday, even just 5 – 10 minutes,

we would see huge difference in behavior, understanding,

compassion, cooperation, health and focus.

 

 

 

Mind-body activities like Tai Chi can lead to more happiness, gratefulness and appreciation of others and of what we have.

Students love a TAI CHI week in NYC

Imagine:

A classroom is filled with students struggling with serious learning challenges.

The noise and the confusion suddenly stops.

Students love Tai Chi.

There is silence as each child moves as an elephant or a tiger.

Everyone is successful because there is not just one way to do it.

 

 

  • A running  elephant is fast
  • A playful  elephant is happy.
  • A  thirsty elephant reaches down to drink water.
  • A tired elephant moves slowly.

 

 

 

 

 

Each student is relaxing, breathing and visualizing his elephant moving across the plains of Africa.

No one needs to compare.  For once, every child is doing it exactly right.

 

What a feeling of satisfaction for the students.  No one is corrected.  There is silence and focus.  Relaxation and delight.  Teachers are happy.  Students are happy.

 

Even the ones who can’t sit still for more than 5 minutes are participating perfectly.

 

 

 

Why don’t you try Tai Chi with your students.  We all have challenges.  Tai Chi works on everyone to help you relax and feel better.

 

Getting involved with Tai Chi

You can order your set here.

Read some studies

A recent study showed that Tai Chi is particularly effective on children with sever hyperactivity and anxiety

A teacher from Connecticut tells his experience of using Tai Chi with children with special needs. 

The Qigong Institute reports how quickly most children respond to Tai Chi.  They show emotional stability and spiritual awareness after just one session.

Finding Calm in 2018

Finding  peace, focus and calm is not easy.  We had to work at in 2017 and we will have to continue to work for peace in 2018.  The situation around us does not make it easier.  

 

But Tai Chi, a moving meditation,  can help.

  • You can read lots of scientific articles about meditation to convince yourself that it really works.  For example  Your Brain as Laboratory: The Science of Meditation    shows how extensive the studies of mediation and the brain are.    But reading about the science is not the same as meditating.  We really  need to forget all the science we know to relax our brains. 

  • You can join a class.  Sometimes the group atmosphere is helpful.  You are there and sit quietly because that is what is expected. But it is not always easy to find the right group or make it to the practice.

It is easy to find excuses – reasons not to slow down and relax, to feel peaceful.  There is so much to do!

You need to find something that fits into your day, is fun, and makes you feel good so you can look forward to it.

  • A moving meditation like Tai Chi is an easy way to start.  Start with just 10 minutes.  You don’t want to be overwhelmed or stressed about your inability to do it, fit it in, and feel good.

 

 

 

A few suggestions:

  • Decide to start with 10 minutes – too much time can be stressful.
  • Pick a time that you know works for you.  Usually first thing in the morning is best.  Especially when you realize that missing 10 minutes of sleep is OK if you are doing something energizing.
  • Find a spot where you will not be disturbed
  • Find a simple program to get you started that will talk you through the activity, so your mind doesn’t wander to other things that will need attention as soon as you finish.
  • Set a timer so you don’t have to watch the time or wonder if you have gone too long.  It could be peaceful music that plays for 10 minutes.

 

Imagine the Tai Chi elephant walking across the plains of Africa.  Feel air and the breeze, smell the trees and bushes, notice the sunshine.   It is easier than sitting still.

As I move like an elephant, with grace and direction, relaxing my whole body, my breathing slows down and my body begins to change.  It is beautiful.  It changes my whole day.

 

 

 

Imagine helping other friends and family, children and students find the peace of the walking elephant, too.  With my simplified program of Tai Chi Moves, anyone can begin with just a few minutes a day.

Together we can change the world in a wonderful way.   We all need it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tai Chi Breathing

How important can breathing be?  We all do it everyday, naturally.  We don’t have to learn it, do we?

It depends if you want to breathe efficiently, sending oxygen to every cell for maximum benefit, or just breathe to get by.

We take thousands of breaths every day.

Air is the most important thing we need to stay alive.  Breathing massages the organs.  Our brain needs oxygen  for thinking, understanding and inner peace.

 

It does not always happen with our normal shallow breathing.  As a newborn baby we all breathed very deeply – abdominal breathing.  But as we grow we do more chest breathing which gives us less oxygen.  It feels natural.   But to reach a calm, mediative state we need to breathe deeply. Focusing on the breath allows us to experience abdominal breathing and feel the peacefulness of chi and oxygen flowing everywhere in our body.  If you expand the abdomen during the inhalation there is more room for the lungs to expand and take in more oxygen.

But during our normal busy day we don’t take the time to breathe deeply. We just keep rushing.  Many of us breathe in polluted air.  Some of us where our clothes too tight and we can’t expand our waist to breathe deeply.  Is it worthwhile to wear clothing that we think looks great if it doesn’t allow us to breathe?  Poor breathing can also come from fear, nervousness, depression, anger and other emotions.

Practicing breathing is very beneficial.

In Tai Chi we do abdominal breathing. We also use visualization to calm down so we can breathe better.

And do you know what happens?

  • Our brain and body function better.
  • We feel better.
  • Our digestion is better.
  • We sleep better.

It is worthwhile to practice beneficial breathing.  It can make a huge difference.  Try it with Tai Chi or yoga or meditation.  It can change your life.

 

What do Tai Chi and Nature have in Common?

More than you think

Both of them:

  • Lower blood pressure – studies on walking in nature and doing tai chi both show significant lowering of blood pressure.

  • Help us to let go of negative thoughts and fears- we are surrounded by so much bad news, aggressive voices, pollution, noise, and technology that moments of peace in nature or doing Tai Chi are important to change the feelings in our body.

 

  • Help us let go of stress – as we let go of negative thoughts and visualize or look at the peacefulness around us our body becomes more relaxed.  Our shoulders drop down, our breathing slows down and becomes deeper, our digestion improves, our heart rate becomes more stable.

  • Help us escape noise.  Noise contributes to hypertension. Forests are quiet places.  So is the imaginary forest in your mind as you are a  Tai Chi bird catching a worm.

  • Increase creativity. True creativity comes from calming down, knowing yourself, getting in touch with your thoughts, and letting go of obligations and demands.  Weather through walking in nature of visualizing an energy ball, you will come up with new creative ideas.

The Differences are:

  • The visualization of Tai Chi can be done anywhere at any time.  It is not always easy to get to the forest .
  • You can do Tai Chi in any weather.   Walking in nature may be fun in the rain.  But if it is very cold it may be hard to relax.

My suggestion:  do BOTH

When you have the opportunity to be in nature make the most of it.  Enjoy the smells, the feel of the breeze, the quiet underfoot, the beauty of the colors of the leaves and sky.

 

But also commit to doing 10-15 minutes of Tai Chi everyday:

  • 5 min in the morning the wake up your energy so you are better able to face the challenges of the day.
  • 5 min in the middle of the day when you need a break to move your energy, oxygenate your mind, relax your shoulders and back from holding one position too long.  Improve your focus.
  • 5 min before dinner to shake out the stresses and worries of the day, reconnect to the earth for stability and centeredness so you can have a relaxing evening and sleep well.

For more information on the beneficial effects of  NATURE
and TAI CHI please check:

THE NATURE FIX:  WHY NATURE MAKES US HAPPIER, HEALTHIER AND MORE CREATIVE    by Florence Williams

 

and this article from Harvard Medical School

THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF TAI CHI 

 

It is worth getting involved!

Are you ready for school this fall?

Summer is FUN!    Summer is SPECIAL!  But are you Ready for School?

When summer ends we need to be ready!  Ready for  reading, paying attention, getting things done on time,  showing discipline and concentration.

OH NO!  IT CAN BE HARD TO GET READY

Tai Chi for Kids is a great way to begin.  Tai Chi helps us:

  1. take some time for centering and think about what is going to happen next
  2. find self-control to perform as we want perform
  3. slow down and relax, plan ahead
  4. feel proud and be ready to face the future.
  5. feel grounded and connected.

More and more schools are using mindful activities to improve school readiness.

Below are 2 examples that can inspire you to find ways to bring mindfulness to your school.

  1.  Here is a great quote from the Niroga Institute. “Young people, especially those growing up in the urban cities and high poverty areas of our country, are victims of chronic stress and trauma. These kids need tools for stress resilience and trauma healing. Without these tools their sympathetic nervous systems will remain in overdrive as they try to protect themselves from real and perceived threats and danger. The latest research in neuroscience shows that this state of chronic stress or trauma physiologically turns off the brain’s ability to focus, regulate emotion, cope with stress, and empathize with others.”

At Cherryland Elementary School Principal, Dr. Itoco Garcia said

“Chronic absences decreased by 19% and the overall absenteeism rates dropped by 13%”  after Mindful Activities such as Tai Chi , Yoga, Meditation.  

Mindfulness leads to an improved learning atmosphere

 

2. Nancy Lindgren, Certified Pediatric Clinical Specialist uses Tai Chi  in the public schools to improve balance.  It helps children who are disabled to become more defensive and aware when walking in the halls.  They learn to go with the flow.   Nancy has been involved in many tests using Tai Chi with children  experiencing a variety of challenges.  Here is a quote from Nancy:

“For students especially, I believe that the increased large muscle input that Tai Chi demands leads to calming in the nervous system; that the structured movement is organizing to the brain and could lead to improved memory and learning on cognitive tests, and that the mind and body in sync will lead to calmness, less violence, better behavior, and improved self-report measures of quality of life.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tai Chi Studies for Health

Why are most studies on Tai Chi done on adults, especially older adults?

Because Tai Chi:

  1. improves breathing – filling every cell of your lungs with oxygen
  2. reduces bone loss
  3. improves strength
  4. helps with arthritis
  5. lowers blood pressure
  6. stimulates imagery for better mind-body integration
  7. relieves stress

 

 

 

 

 

Does Tai Chi do that for children too?

In China, young children do morning exercises similar to Tai Chi  in schools everyday.    Tai Chi becomes a regular part of life because children are used to seeing it everywhere.  They get tremendous benefits from the practice.  The movements are part of the health care.  TAI CHI is  a daily activity for WELLNESS.  

Grandparents do it.  Children do it.  In parks, at home and at school.  It is part of life – a healthy part of life that can be done for a few minutes at any time during the day.

 

Senior citizens often participate in studies on Tai Chi in China and in the US.  There is a new one from Japan just published this month in MedPage Today saying that Tai Chi can reduce the rate of falls by almost 50% in the first year of doing Tai Chi.  The elderly  are the ones that fall and suffer the most from falls.  The population of the elderly is increasing everywhere.  This is a great concern.  Observation of the elderly showed tremendous benefits from Tai Chi.

From experience I can tell you that Tai Chi has similar benefits for children.  Often, when children fall they jump right back up and continue playing.  Falling is not such a big problem.  For them the benefits of Tai chi are better balance and hand-eye coordination.

Tai Chi helps the young:

  • become more coordinated and balanced
  • focus on  their school work
  • cooperate better
  • perform better in athletic activities
  • fall asleep at night

Tai Chi is a powerful tool.   It benefits every age, every generation.  Our children are the next leaders of our society.  Focused, healthy children are the goal.

It is never too early to start Tai Chi.  Why don’t you do Tai chi now with your children, too!  You can buy your Tai Chi for Kids set here to get started now.

 

Anxieties of our lives; Can Meditation Help?

“The bad news is that life is full of suffering and we humans are full of illusions. The good news is that these two problems are actually one problem: If we could get rid of our illusions—if we could see the world clearly—our suffering would end”.

That is the opening sentence from a wonderful article in the Wall Street Journal about using MEDITATION AS A CURE. 

Meditation is one of the most powerful and healthy ways of solving the issues of anxiety.  It helps us let go of illusions and know ourselves better.

Anxiety is normal.  Everyone has anxiety sometimes.  It makes us react in positive ways when something is wrong. “Better safe than sorry”

It seems like there is more anxiety today than at other times in history.  That is probably not true since we have lived through wars and famines.  But one things is sure:  we know more about everything that is going on and we hear about all sorts of ideas.  There is too much communication.  Everyone has a platform to stand on to expound on their ideas, no matter what they are.

Sometimes hearing another person’s idea is productive.  Sometimes it is not.   But finding inner peace, getting a good nights sleep, feeling compassion for others, sharing and working together are all important.

Meditation can help us achieve that.

Here are a few interesting facts:  Meditation makes you more aware of yourself, your feelings, your needs.

  • Mediation helps you to be more objective towards others.
  • helps us to let go of fears.
  • helps  us control cravings,  the feeling that we just have to have a certain thing.
  • improves our ability to control suffering
  • can lessen the power of  cravings we feel due to ads, songs etc.

There are many ways to meditate.  You can experiment and find what works best for you.

  • It can be a walk in the park or on the shore

  • Listening to peaceful music is calming

  • Paying attention to your breath relaxes your mind
  • The peaceful meditative movements of Tai Chi change the way you fee.

We can each find our own way.  But starting with Tai Chi is powerful.  Moving meditation is one of the easiest way to find inner peace.

Tai Chi and Tapping

Every class I give begins with tapping on the body.  We tap up and down the legs, the arms, around the torso, and on our back.  The expression changes on everyone’s face.  Some begin to smile.  Others to relax.  Other seem to wake up.

Tapping is so powerful I began to try it in a variety of situations, with many different ages.  And I began to study what is happening from the scientific, medical, point of view, especially according to Chinese medicine.

This began a very interesting journey for me.  I even tried tapping on my dog’s back on either side of the spine.  He stands there almost mesmerized.  He rarely gets enough.  His nose stretches into the air.  You can tell it feels very good.  The energy, CHI, must be moving through his body in a very comfortable way.  Whenever I finish my tai chi practice he stands next to me for his Tai Chi turn.

When we tap on the body the chi, energy, begins to wake up and move.  Heat is created in the body as the chi moves.  Energy moves to the organ, muscles, joints, nerves etc.  It moves everywhere.

 

According to Chinese Medicine blockages in the flow of energy can cause pain, disease, depression, inability to focus and concentrate, a general feeling of tiredness and discomfort.  So tapping all over our body is important to keep the energy flowing everywhere.  The great thing is that you can’t do it wrong.  Anywhere you tap, if you do it so it feels good, will move the energy in a way that is good for us.

 

One of the big problems teachers and parents deal with is learning challenges and lack of cooperation, or maybe we could call it disruptive behavior.  More and more often I suggested parents and teachers try tapping.  The results can be astounding.  Try some of the following tapping methods on your body or on your child or partner.  It becomes a tapping massage.  You can use your finger tips.  But much better is the palm of your hand.  The most powerful energy point in the body is on your palm.  So you can put energy into each spots as you tap on yourself or another person.  I will give instructions for two wimple tapping massages you can do on another person.  You can adapt it if you want to do it on yourself.  These massage are from Louisa Silva’s book QIGONG MASSAGE FOR YOUR CHILD WITH AUTISM.  It is available in bookstores or online.  there are many wonderful suggestions.

  1. Opens the brain and the senses, calming, boosts the immune system – have the child lie on his tummy.  With the palm of your had tap lightly on the top of the head until the neck relaxes.  tap down the center of the back turning your hand sideways at the base of the head.  Tap down to the tail bone. Then tap down the middle of each leg to the heels.  Your child will eventually begin to relax and become more aware of the world around him.
  2. Tapping the ears to help the child listen and improve language acquisition.  With the child lying on his back cup your hands over the ears and tap with your fingers in back of the ears.  This is a wonderful tai chi tapping exercise that you can do to yourself.  Then tap down the sides of the neck and down the arms, one at a time.  The ears are very sensitive and can become easily blocked.  In time the blockages will reduce and the sensitivity will decrease.

I will give you more suggestions another time.  Tapping massage is amazing.  You should try it.  Or get Louisa Silva’s book to learn more

Reflection on a year of Tai Chi

This was a great school year for Tai chi and me.

  • I went to more and more schools and had the opportunity to change classroom atmosphere, enthusiasm, cooperation and focus.  Benefits that carry over into many other parts of life – even outside of school.

 

  • I had the opportunity to enjoy the peaceful expressions on the faces of children doing Tai Chi.  Kids who are used to being bombarded with noise almost constantly suddenly found moments of quiet peace.  Peace allows children to connect with themselves.    It helps them  to know themselves and understand their goals.  They begin to feel the friendship of others and to understand others  better. Peaceful moments are absolutely necessary for mental and emotional balance, at any age.  I need them too.

  • When we did the bow and arrow I could observe the intense focus and concentration on the faces of the students as they stared at the targets.  They pulled the bow string back and opened their chest to take in more oxygen.  And then I got to hear the comments of teachers saying that grades were better.  Especially those students who had been having trouble focusing. These students could now answer the questions!  What a great benefit!

Here is an interesting article about  how meditative activities such as Tai Chi can reduce stress and improve performance even in sports.

Sometimes we don’t think of sports as stressful activities but they can be just as stressful as tests, public performances, special projects and social activities.

 

We live in a time where winning in sports is often more important than playing. Is this child really going to be a professional athlete?  It is really about developing physical skills, becoming more fit and  healthy, having FUN, and developing team spirit.

Academics are not just about memorizing facts.  Academic experiences should be developing curiosity.  Thinking about and discovering ways of solving problems is a great skill.   Learning about differences and similarities in cultures, literature, geography make us better people.

We have a tendency to make everything competitive.  Even when it should not be.

Tai Chi is 100% non-competitive.  Everyone wins because by doing it you feel better, perform better and are happier.

Let’s all work together to make life more peaceful for our children.  Let’s help them find success through useful skills that will serve them their whole lives.

IT IS WORTH IT!