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Finding Qi in unexpected and beautiful places

Dr Lam Tai Chi for Health Newsletter 
- Issue Number 203, July 2018

 

In this issue:

Hello <<First Name>>,

This month, I am taking a detour from tai chi trail to beautiful sceneries. During my workshop tour, I was lucky to take a short break in Japan. I have always wanted to visit the elusive Mt Fuji, having read that millions of people go every year but never manage to see it due to weather conditions. This is known by the locals as a “Fuji Fail.”

True to form, on my first day I went out to take photos, only to be treated to an amazing view of Lake Yamanaka, the surrounding landscape and some rather mysterious clouds. No Fuji.

The next day I walked for miles around the Lake, looking for a good vantage point, but still no luck. Then I noticed the famous Swan Ferry boat. The weather was freezing cold, but I decided to go for a ride. As we came near the serene, awe-inspiring and still active volcano, the weather suddenly changed, and I got my magical picture. Mt Fuji is like qi - look for it for days, and you don't see it, keep practicing and it will come to you.

A Déjà vu to our visit to Wuji mountain in China few years ago. It was raining cats and dogs; our tour guide told us there is no way we would be able to video in front of the spectacular Nine Twist Stream. So we decided to film in the hotel after our river visit. As we arrived walking along the river path, the rain suddenly stopped, so we set up the camera and started filming. One hour later as we capped the camera lens, the rain came back in torrents. Our tour guide Sammy was so impressed with the power of tai chi, that she started joining us at all our tai chi practices!
Perhaps I was still on the tai chi trail, let me try another story. A recent visit and meeting with the Lam family led to a proposed trip to our ancestral home. To provide more information to my relatives, I composed a photo video tour of the village where I grew up and a few fascinating places nearby. They are the Dragon Lake Village, Chou Zhou Eight Attractions (where I attended high school for two years) and Chen’s House. You might find them interesting.

Back to tai chi, the workshop in Oregon was truly awesome, with so many requests, I agreed to put the talks, demonstrations, interviews and talent shows in the Global Community section of my Online Tai Chi Lessons. All subscribers can access them; if you wish to be part of the workshop, you can subscribe to the Global Community paying just the admin cost. And you will be able to view a wealth of resources such as interviews with experts, inspirational people, advice to beginners and instructors, beautiful sceneries, demonstrations and fun skits.

Here are two selected videos: Introduction and 20 yrs in 5 mins 
Together with the annual workshop in Sydney, this is the 36th. I replay the video of 20 years in 5 minutes (shown in Sydney workshop January 2018) and introduce the wonderful instructors team.

Demonstration of Tai Chi for Energy and Part II
Master Trainer Betty Scanlon and colleagues brought the house down with this beautiful demonstration!

Yours in Tai Chi,


Paul Lam, MD
Director
taichiforhealthinstitute.org

Please don't reply to this Newsletter, contact us via service@tchi.org

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Upcoming Workshops by Dr Paul Lam

 

July 2018 

August 2018 

September 2018

October 2018 

November 2018

January 2019

June 2019 (details to be announced soon)

  • 17th Annual Pre-Conference, June 8-9, United States, OH, Cincinnati, Mount St. Joseph University. (Most likely Tai Chi for Heart Conditions with extra turbo charge extension.)
  • 17th Annual Week-long Workshop, June 10-15, United States, OH, Cincinnati, Mount St. Joseph University.
     
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Product of the Month


Dr Lam and his team have released two exciting new programs! Receive a 25% discount when you buy either the Tai Chi for Memory or Tai Chi for Heart Conditions DVD. Please use code MEMHEARTDVD25 when ordering.  

Offer expires 30 July. Not to be used with any other discount.

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A Letter to Dr Lam

Lyn Shiels, Instructor, Manchester, UK


Earlier this year, invited different clubs to get together for the 2nd year running to perform various displays of Tai Chi to help raise money for charity.
 
This year I am pleased to say we had the following displays:
  • Tai Chi for Health Arthritis
  • Tai Chi for Health Osteoporosis
  • Seated Rehabilitation 
  • Tai Chi Fans
We raised a total so far of £1,600 for a charity called Breaking Barriers North West, a small local charity for families dealing with autism.
 
The youngest persons to take part were just 9 years old with the oldest being 87 years young.  
 
We had people from across Wigan, Bolton and the Greater Manchester area taking part. We have made so many friends during these events and lovely to see so many different performances.
 
My sincere thanks to everyone who participated and supported this event.

Lyn Sheils

Dr Lam replies:
 
Great to hear the good work you and your friends are doing. When different tai chi people get together they can do amazing things!

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My parents  in the centre

Tai Chi for Memory

Hazel Thompson, Master Trainer, Sydney


Unable to sleep on the 12-hour flight from LA to Sydney recently, I settled down in the darkened cabin at around 2 am LA time to watch a British movie, “Finding your Feet”, about a group of adults behaving badly. Think “Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” or “Calendar Girls”. I anticipated it would be light and funny with a sprinkling of pathos, and lull me gently to sleep at 35,000 feet, somewhere over the Pacific.

One hour later I found myself weeping inconsolably, groping through my pockets for tissues, and relieved that everyone else was asleep. The reason was the minor plot point of Charlie (Timothy Spall) trying to communicate with his wife Lily, who has had Alzheimer's for five years, and his frustration and sadness as she has no idea who he is. Incredibly well observed and acted, those scenes took me right back to my parents’ bungalow in Prestatyn, Wales, as Jack, my father, lovingly cared for Margaret, my mother during her long demise from Dementia with Lewy bodies. Like Charlie, Jack still saw and loved the woman he married sixty years ago, but grieved bitterly for the loss of her personality.

Watching those scenes brought it all back – the disappointments, the heartbreak, the futility. That was almost four years ago, and dad is learning to forgive himself and live again with the help of tai chi. It started with Tai Chi for Rehabilitation, then he moved on to Tai Chi for Arthritis and Tai Chi for Arthritis 2, and is getting more confident and feeling stronger every day. Seeing his transformation I often wonder if things would have been better for him if he had tried tai chi when mum was in the early stages. I am sure that she could have managed some simple, seated moves which would, at the very least, have given dad something to share with her. Later it would have given him relief from the unrelenting dark days, and a sense of purpose.

Perhaps it was my subconscious desire to find something for Mum which made me urge and assist my partner Dr Lam and his team to create a new program, Tai Chi for Memory. The way I understand it, it is aimed at those with concerns about memory loss, diagnosed dementia, and their families and carers. It works through tai chi principles to improve mind and body, especially by enhancing the vital life energy known as Qi. We hope the program will give relief and continuity to the carers and families. We designed this program with love and hope; we hope it helps all those coping with dementia and related illnesses and their families. We also hope this can prevent or slow down these conditions.

You can read Jack’s story in the October, November and December 2017 newsletters

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China Tai Chi Tour 2018, Part 2

Marlena Fiol, Instructor, Oregon


See the June issue for Part One - or to read more of Marlena’s essays, visit her blog.

April 15

We again climb onto our bus and drive the few hours to the part of the Great Wall called Mutianyu. This is one of the best-preserved parts of the wall and served as the northern barrier defending the capital and the imperial tombs. It is truly spectacular. Watchtowers are densely placed along this section of the Great Wall. Both the outer and inner parapets are fortified with solid upright sections so that shots could be fired at the enemy on both sides of the wall. Evidently, this feature is very rare on other parts of the wall.

I believe I can safely say that playing tai chi with Dr Lam on the Great Wall was a breath-taking experience for all of us!
April 16

Onto the bus again. More Jerry.

We’re off to the Summer Palace, a vast expanse of three square kilometers of lakes and imperial gardens from the Qing Dynasty. I think we are told that this is where the empresses could escape and get away from their oppressive men. But don’t quote me.

That sea of heads along the wall in the photo below provides a sense of the hordes and hordes of people visiting these Beijing sites.

One of the annoying Jerry-isms is calling restrooms “Happy Rooms”. They are among the unhappiest rooms I’ve ever seen. Holes-in-the-ground. Filthy. Crowded. Stinky. And did I mention filthy? The unhappiest rooms of them all are in the Summer Palace. Masses of humanity crowd and push their way into the stinky cavern, literally shoving and elbowing anyone and anything in their way. I don’t know how, but Ed catches a shot of the stampede coming at him as he’s trying to escape.

After lunch, we visit the venue from the 2008 summer Olympics. The best part is that it’s another occasion to play tai chi with Dr Lam.
April 17

We board a high-speed bullet train to travel to the city of Qufu. The train exceeds 300 km/hr. 

We meet our new guides, James and Judy, who are a delight to be around. They’re knowledgeable and polite. 

Qufu is a city in southwestern Shandong Province, near the eastern coast of China. It’s best known as the hometown of Confucius, who supposedly was born at nearby Mount Ni. I had in mind that it would be a quaint little village. It is a sprawling modern metropolis of almost 70,000 people. 

Today Hazel initiates a “Confucius Say” contest. She challenges us to come up with supposed-Confucius sayings that in some way capture moments of our tai chi tour.

April 18

We are again blessed with a full day of tai chi. 

April 19

Qufu contains numerous historic palaces, temples and cemeteries, none of which Ed and I see, because the virus circling through our tour group finally makes a stop at our door. We spend the day in bed. 

(From Hazel)
While Marlena and Ed rested, the rest of us hopped on the bus to visit the Confucius Family Estate - the mansion, temple and graveyard. Guide James (Bond) is a former teacher, and it shows. He takes an academic approach, providing a serious and factual commentary on each section of the Estate.  We learn that the Confucius Mansion now belongs to the government, and the 70thgeneration descendants live in the USA.  Only the youngest male child (currently aged 6) is considered to be a legitimate heir. Hence should he visit he would be given VIP status and unlimited access. His parents would have to queue up for a ticket, like everyone else.

April 20

We board another bus to drive to Tai’an, where the famous Mt. Taishan is located. Mount Taishan is associated with sunrise, birth and renewal, and we are told, “You are not a man until you have mounted its summit.”

April 21

This is our last full day of playing tai chi together. These are memories we will hold dear.

Until now, I have failed to mention that every day we eat a late lunch and several hours later, a very early dinner. Every meal is served at round tables with lazy-susan turntables that spin around in front of us laden with piles of food that is oilier and saltier than we’re used to. By the second day, my ankles are so swollen that I cannot see my anklebones.

Oh, and we are allowed one very small glass of Chinese beer at each meal.

For dinner on the 21st, we have a surprising change of menu. It’s a BBQ buffet loaded with different types of meats and vegetables. We are seated together at one long table. Someone discovers that we can drink more than the thimble of beer. Bottles of beer begin appearing at our table. And then one of our group members finds little bottles of hard liquor. We are told it is derived from liquefied testicles. Hazel is not sure whether or not she likes liquefied male parts, while Paul watches with anticipation. The men in our group, by contrast, seem to love the stuff!
April 22

We try to make men out of the males in our group by summiting the holy Mt. Taishan but we only make it half way up. It is too windy and rainy to continue, so we turn back. As you can see, the males who were almost men are not happy.

April 23

We visit the Dai Temple in the morning. This is a Taoist temple where the emperors made sacrifices to the Gods of Heaven and Earth and worshipped the God of Mt. Taishan. For us, it is one last glorious place to play tai chi together.

At our round dinner table tonight, Hazel reads the“Confucius Say” contest entries. They included:
  • Confucius say: “You know the tour is deteriorating when participants happily ingest liquefied testicles and penises.”
  • Confucius say: “Anyone who has survived the Happy Room at the Summer Palace is equipped to overcome any of life’s subsequent obstacles”.
And the winner:
  • Confucius say: “Not every man with his tool in his hands is a carpenter.” 
     
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World Tai Chi and Qigong Day 2018

Mike Poole, Instructor, North Carolina


Last Spring, I had a dream to do tai chi all over New York City on the public transportation. I pitched the dream to a couple people, who encouraged me to take up the cause. I decided I would fulfill this dream on World Tai Chi and Qigong Day. So, on Saturday, April 28th, 2018, the dream became a reality!

At 9 am, a bunch of us gathered at Great Kills. A couple of us were with Earth And Cup; Meghan Bryant, a Master Trainer with the Tai Chi Institute for Health, had come up from Virginia the day before to teach a Seated Tai Chi workshop; and a group of Wing Chun students from Staten Island. We started on the platform at the Great Kills train station. We did Yang 8, a nice beginning form that is stationary for the most part. We had two different variations of the form, so we worked on the differences between the two. On the train, we taught Meghan the form. She had it down by the time we reached St. George, the last stop. 

While we waited in the ferry terminal, we ran through the Tai Chi for Arthritis form. There was a group of guys with a stand-up bass singing four-part harmony, old-school Motown. It provided a nice background as with then went through Yang 24. We had a group of about 30-40 people watching us pretty intently. 

On the ferry, we started to discuss what to do next. One person offered up Yang 36. Most of us didn’t know it, so he showed it to us. The form he demonstrated I originally learned as Yang 44, which I have since come to realize is Cheng Man-Ching’s 37 Postures. A rose by any other name is still …. I thought it was appropriate to by doing Cheng’s form here in New York City. One of the participants noted that it was possible to match the flow of the form to the shifting of the ferry from side to side, as we slowed to dock in Manhattan. This gave an added dimension to their form.

Our original plan was to head to Central Park. There was supposed to be a large tai chi group up there. As we were docking, one of the Wing Chun guys got a text that Central Park was breaking up. So, we decided to go do Tai Chi in Chinatown! While on the subway platform for the 5 train at Bowling Green, we found some space to do Chen 36. On the train, we worked on some of the seated tai chi techniques we learned in class the day before. I found it was possible to get some decent movement, even on the subway.

While in Chinatown, we went to a couple of martial arts stores. I was finally able to buy my little drum. You know, that drum that Miyagi gives to Daniel in Karate Kid 2. Now I can learn the secret…

From here, the group decided to go in different directions. Meghan and I decided to go down to Battery Park. I had convinced her to teach me a new form. It was a beautiful day, so was a huge crowd at Battery Park waiting for Statue of Liberty tours. We found a little space in front of the Armory, on the opposite side of the line from the hip/hop dancers. They chuckled at us with our slow movements. We showed them that we could articulate to the music just like they could. They decided to move on before full-blown dance war broke out. Meghan taught me the first half on Sun 73. 

Meghan and I barely made the 3:30 pm ferry. We decided to stay and the back deck. We started to work on Sun 73, when we looked over and saw someone taking pictures of us. It was one of the Wing Chun we started with, making his way back home. We did some of the form, with the City at our back. On the train ride home, we discussed our day. Throughout the whole day, we didn’t have one person give us negativity about what we were doing. We tried to be mindful of space, letting people pass as they needed. What we did find was at each location, we had a group of people who took the time to watch what we were doing. It seemed to bring the intensity of the energy down a bit. Now, it wasn’t a Monday morning commuter rush, but for the moment, people seemed to be calmer than usual. We wondered if we came at a more stressed time, could the same effect happen? Could a small group of people, just dong tai chi, bring calm to a place, situation or circumstance? Maybe that is next year’s project. Meghan is returning to Staten Island in August to lead a Tai Chi at Work workshop. I wonder if she will include some of our learned lessons from this experience in the curriculum. In places like Metro NYC, the commute is sometimes just as long as the workday. Could we give people something to keep their bodies healthy while they are commuting? Stand by as we continue to take tai chi to the streets, or the trains, or ferries, or buses, or planes, or subways, or the workplace, or…

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Meet Pauline Lam

Ralph Quinn, Instructor, New Jersey


I met Pauline during a series of Taiji Qigong Shibashi classes I was teaching at the Gloucester County Library, Mullica Hill Branch, NJ, from March through May 2018.  During one of our mid-class breaks, she came up to me and said that she could read the back of my shirt.  That day I was wearing Dr Paul Lam’s tee-shirt with the TCHI logo on the front and with Dr Lam’s name and “Tai Chi for Health” written in Chinese script on the back. I was amazed when she told me she is 91 years old because she seems much younger in her mobility and balance, as well as her mental alertness.  And I was even more astounded when she told me her name—Pauline Lam.  I told her I wanted to take her picture and send it to Dr Paul Lam, her namesake.  She said that Lam is her maiden name—her full birth name is Lam Po Chee—and when she moved to the U.S., she took Pauline as her English first name. 

Pauline was born in Hong Kong in 1927 and moved with her family to Guangdong Province in China as a child.  But in the years before and during World War II, when the Japanese planes were bombing parts of Southern China, her family had to keep moving north to get away from the bombing so that she and her sister could continue their education. After the war, in 1949, her father, David Lam, who was a smart and kind businessman, was able to get her out of China to New York City, although her mother and sister moved back to Hong Kong. Pauline eventually became an American citizen, married a man whose Chinese father had been born in San Francisco, and then moved to Philadelphia when her husband became a graduate student at Temple University. Later her family moved to Mullica Hill, NJ, a small town near Philadelphia, where she lives now. Pauline has three grown children.

Pauline explained she always loved to exercise, a habit that began with her early education in Hong Kong when all students were led in exercises before class. So later in life when she was living in Philadelphia and heard that tai chi was being taught at the local senior center, she joined that class. This was twenty years ago when she was 71 years old.  Her teacher there was a student of William C. C. Chen, and so she learned Master Chen’s version of the Yang-style short form. She studied with her teacher every week for at least eight years, continuing with him even when he moved and she had to commute to attend his classes in another part of the city. Her tai chi skills continued to improve, so that, even though she is a small woman, she became able to push tall guys when playing push hands. She also has fond memories of visiting her sister in Hong Kong and being able to do tai chi with the seniors in a park there. 

Pauline says she is naturally a hyper person and that tai chi helps her to relax. She also goes for walks, gardens, and as a member of a Christian Church, attends Bible study classes every morning. But she mostly attributes her good health now in her 90s to her life-long love of exercise and especially to her tai chi practice. She told me that the more important story here is not the one about her but about how tai chi can help everyone live a long and healthy life.


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Product Review Prize Winners


Below we list the winners for May. Congratulations to Susie and Andy! Please contact service@taichiproductions.com or serviceusa@taichiproductions.com within ten days to claim your prizes.

Do be sure to post your review when you make a purchase to win a mystery prize!
 

Australia


Product:  Tai Chi for Rehabilitation DVD
 Rated 5 out of 5 stars 
Posted by: Susie McConville

My tai chi class in Moree NSW is a consistent group of 9-10 participants each week. Of this group 8 of the participants have brought a TCR DVD, so they can practice at home or whilst travelling. They have been thrilled with their purchases and very appreciative of the opportunity to buy the DVDs.
 

USA


Product:  Tai Chi for Energy DVD
 Rated 5 out of 5 stars 
Posted by: Andy

Excellent pace and organization, nice "extras" 

Like having a personal teacher at home! The lessons are organized with repetition of individual moves and cumulative review of previous moves, making learning very smooth and natural. Although I have a (certified!) instructor, the video allows me to review nuances that I may have missed or forgotten between lessons. The warmup and cool down exercises are also useful and fun. 

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Humour, Laughter and Radiant Health

Dr Bob McBrien, Master Trainer, Salisbury, MD, USA


This month's essay will be of special interest to readers who are lexophiles. Thanks go out to Gordon from Kansas, a reader of this newsletter. Gordon introduces us to the healthy humor listed below. He e-mailed me with his contribution. Here are funny examples of plays on words that entertain; better known as lexophiles.
 
But first here is a definition for this curious word. A lexophile is a person who loves words and word plays (including puns).
 
Here are some examples:
  • A bicycle can't stand alone; it is two tired.
  • I'm reading a book about anti-gravity. I just can't put it down.
  • A will is a dead giveaway.
  • The guy who fell onto an upholstery machine was fully recovered.
  • You are stuck with your debt if you can't budge it.
  • He broke into song because he couldn't find the key.
  • A calendar's days are numbered.
  • When you've seen one shopping centre you've seen a mall.
  • If you jump off a Paris bridge, you are in Seine.
  • When she saw her first strands of gray hair, she thought she'd dye.
  • A dentist and a manicurist married. They fought tooth and nail.
  • Acupuncture:  a jab well done.
  • If you don't pay your exorcist you can get repossessed.
  • No matter how much you push the envelope, it'll still be stationary.
  • Atheism is a non-prophet organization.
  • A small boy swallowed some coins and was taken to a hospital. When his grandmother telephoned to ask how he was, the nurse said, "No change yet."
Have you decided if you are a lexophile? Send your funniest to me at drbobtaichi@gmail.com.

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Click Here to Sign Up Now for the January 2019 Annual Workshop in Sydney, Australia

GALLERY

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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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