Any effort you put into tai chi will be repaid to you many times over.

View this email in your browser

Dr Lam's Tai Chi, Health & Lifestyle Newsletter - Issue Number 162, February 2015


In this issue:

Click on the title above to read the articles, and this link to subscribe and read previous newsletters.

<<First Name>>

Many thanks to all those Sydney participants who sent us such wonderful feedback about this year’s One Week Workshop.  We had a dream venue at Kincoppal Rose Bay School, and those magical views of Sydney Harbour really enhanced our learning experience. I will be sharing some of your stories over the next couple of issues, but I start with a very stunning piece of writing by scholarship winner Janette Tolich, from New Zealand.  It is a lovely and moving piece; do share it with your non-tai chi friends too, it has a message for everyone.

We are very fortunate that the Chairman of Tai Chi for Health Institute, Dr Raymond Lau, takes time out from his busy schedule whenever he can to attend the One Week Workshops, both in Sydney and the US.  His enthusiasm and innovative ideas make an incredible contribution to the TCH vision.  This year we were particularly pleased to welcome his wife, Dr Lay Hoon Goh, who came along to attend a class and enjoy some time out in Kincoppal. 

Dr Lau has given me the transcript of his morning talk, which I reproduce in full this month. 
I cannot tell you how happy I am with the progression of the Institute and how impressed I am with the Board and all supporting members and volunteers - I can see the Tai Chi for Health vision is moving forward wonderfully. It is time for me to take a slightly less active role in leading the vision and devote more time to my first love - teaching tai chi personally to a small group thorough the entire workshop. I am planning to conduct more of these individualised workshops  . There is nothing more exciting for me to spend five days working with a group of keen participants. 

It is with sadness that I write of the passing of Sandee Westfall from Indianapolis, after a two year illness.  Sandee was a Senior Trainer under the mentorship of Master Trainer Ralph Dehner.  My sincere condolences to her loved ones.  This month we include a thoughtful piece from Buck Barnes “Just Listen”, which is very appropriate. 
This Month’s Special: 
Buy Seated Tai Chi for Arthritis and receive a 20% discount!  Offer expires 28 February 2015.  Please use coupon code FEB20S when ordering.
Upcoming Workshops by Dr Paul Lam





Yours in Tai Chi,

Paul Lam, MD
back to top


Building a Tai Chi Culture to Embrace Challenges

Dr Raymond Lau, Board Chairman, Master Trainer, Singapore

Good morning, I would like to start off my talk by asking three simple questions.
1.    What do you value most in life?
2.    What brings you the greatest satisfaction in life consistently?
3.    What is your dream?
More than 50% of us here will likely answer that relationship is what we value most in life, and nurturing others brings us the greatest satisfaction consistently.  Therefore for us to have health and wellness, we ought to consider having three steps:
1.    A dream that is beyond self
2.    A dream that serve and nurture others
3.    Building relationships that share the dream
In order for us to apply the three steps consistently, the best way is for us to build a culture that practice these three steps consistently. 

In the book by Clayton Christensen on “how will you measure your life”, he mentioned that culture was defined as “a way of working together toward common goals that have been followed so frequently and so successfully that people don’t even think about trying to do things another way. If a culture has formed, people will autonomously do what they need to do to be successful” (pg 160).  Culture is a unique combination of processes and priorities within an organization (pg 161).  Simply put, it is putting what we value into action.  All cultures should also facilitate the working toward common goals or purpose.  Any change management should change culture, and not just processes or strategies, for in change management, culture eats strategy for lunch.  As such, as we continue to shape the processes and priorities of Tai Chi for Health Institute (TCHI), it may be timely for us to consider what are our purpose, our aspirational culture, and the change in processes and measurements that will help us succeed. Here is a suggestion:

The vision of the Tai Chi for Health Institute (TCHI) is “Making Tai Chi for Health accessible to everyone for health and wellness” and our purpose is “To empower people to improve their health and wellness”.

We have not previously defined the values of TCHI.  Here, I have proposed the values of TCHI to be aligned with the principles of Tai Chi,
1. Slow, smooth and continuous movement- Perseverance
2. Gentle resistance- Meekness
3. Upright posture- Integrity
4. Weight transference- Empathy
5. Jing- Mindfulness
6. Song- Open mindedness, Non judgmental attitude

Tai Chi movement should be slow, continuous and smooth. Translated into a TCHI value, it means perseverance. We must not be afraid to fail and try again, to fail and try yet again, learning from our mistakes as we press on to our purpose and vision. Our actions should also be smooth, sensitive to the culture and context of the situations that we are operating in.  The principle of gentle resistance can be translated into meekness, to have strength that is restrained and applied only when appropriate, a necessary ingredient for an organization that is eager to learn from one another, and to maximize the engagement and potential of each and every individual member.
The Tai Chi principle of upright posture can be translated into integrity.  A key value if we are to build trusting relationships with our members, partners and the communities whom we served.  The principle of weight transference can be the value of empathy in our relationship building. Being careful to listen to one another before giving appropriate comments or advices. Being sensitive to the emotional transference in our communications and dealings, so that we can keep it positive to build up one another.
The Tai Chi principle of “Jing” can be translated into mindfulness, the purposeful intentional self-awareness that allows us to observe our own perceptions, thoughts, feelings and actions on a moment-to-moment basis, and to understand the internal and external factors contributing our own reactions. “Song” can be translated into openness in our minds and hearts, being non-judgmental, so that we can accept what is not our own, see the positive in everyone and every situation, so that we can build on the positive in every circumstance.

These values, can be translated into the aspirational Tai Chi culture of 1) affability to explore personal and community needs with empathy and open mindedness, 2) availability to build relationships with integrity and meekness to align our purpose, and 3) ability to nurture and meet personal and community needs with innovative solutions with mindfulness and perseverance.

As a Tai Chi for Health community, are we like carrots, eggs or tea leaves when we encounter challenges?  Each reacted differently when put into boiling water. The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg is fluid and tender in its liquid interior, but after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened. The tea leaves are unique, however, after they are in the boiling water, they changed the water.  Therefore, when we encounter challenges, we should not become soft and give up or hardened in our hearts and become cynical like the carrot or egg.  Instead, we ought to be like the tea leaves, that actually embrace the challenges, release the fragrance and sweetness of our lives and change things for the better?

If we can build the Tai Chi culture based on our Tai Chi values, I am confident that we can achieve our vision, “making Tai Chi for Health accessible to everyone for health and wellness”.

back to top

(Dr Lam receives many letters.  Each month we feature one, and he answers any questions raised)
A Letter to Dr Lam
Linda Arksey, Master Trainer, Nottingham, United Kingdom
When I purchased the DVD Tai Chi for Rehabilitation in June I didn’t realise how important it was to become to me. On returning to the UK in early July following the TCD in Alaska my health deteriorated  rapidly. Within a few days I saw a consultant and was diagnosed with a massive tumour, his advice was to have surgery to remove it. Having always been in a good state of health and extremely fit because of my ice skating, this came as a bit of a shock to me. I had to cancel all of my patients and close the clinic which was also very upsetting. Within a week I was having major abdominal surgery for the removal of the tumour.
A few days after the operation and in my hospital bed I was doing Tai Chi. The medical staff were fascinated and amazed by my determination to move as soon as possible. At first I was unable to concentrate on the DVD due to the pain medication I was taking. In retrospect it would have been a good idea to review the DVD before going into hospital but the timing of my illness didn’t really allow for that. As things improved I was able to start watching the DVD and practising the movements and exercises.
Since this time it has been a slow process of getting back on my feet. Currently I am still not back working at my clinic, as the manual work involved is still too much to undertake at this time. I am now teaching Tai Chi for Health workshops. In September I did a TCD workshop in Nottingham UK, and later in the month TCA in Carcassone France. I have just taught a TCA Part 2 and in two weeks time I have a TC4K workshop.
The one true constant in my life throughout all of this has been Tai Chi, and I am absolutely convinced that without it my recovery would have been much slower. Little did I know that when I purchased a copy of Tai Chi for Rehabilitation that I would be making use of it on such a personal level.
Dr Lam replies:
           Having just seen your boundless energy in the US One Week and then again at a TCD in Alaska, I was stunned by your news.  I am so happy that you are recovering, and especially to hear your views on Tai Chi for Rehabilitation.  If it can be of use to a Master Trainer of your experienced level then that is praise indeed! 

back to top

The Gift of Tai Chi - Surrounded by the Dolphin People
Janette Tolich, Instructor, Auckland, New Zealand

I was fortunate this year to be able to attend the 17th annual tai chi for health conference in Sydney 2015.

It is hard to capture the depth of this wonderful experience in words but I will try.
It was a gathering of many peoples from many places all with the one connecting wish, to practice tai chi.

 They came from so many different places on the large continent people and beyond They came from Morawa, Wodonga, Toowoomba, Wentworth falls in the blue mountains, Perth (the small town pretending to be a big city), Caragabul, Canberra, Sydney, Grenfell  (in the middle of NSW), Forth(Tasmania,) Mary borough, Noosa,  Newcastle, all peoples spreading the benefits of tai chi to their communities. Not to mention Singapore, Korea, the UK, the Isle of Man, Toledo Ohio, Boston… and these were only the ones I met!!!  And last but not least 6 kiwis me being one of them.
 The coming together and the individual journey that each took to be in this place at this time were so differing and yet uniting.  The theme of this year’s conference being embracing challenge appealed to all in their own way. For me it had been 3 years of embracing challenge, and I had come to spend time and be restored  as well as absorb  and experience the depth of tai chi. I had spent the last 3 years completing a post graduate diploma in Mindbody Healthcare practice at AUT whilst working full time  managing a busy family and watching  a family member slowly succumb to motor neuron disease, I had also lost 3 very dear patients in 2014 to severe lung disease  These were people I have known and cared for for many years in my physiotherapy practice. We all have similar stories in our shared human experience. Hearing the unique and personal stories shared each day at assembly each day only reinforced the gentle strength that the practice of tai chi brings. These stories acknowledged how the practice of tai chi had brought into balance a participation in the journey of life.

For me watching the daily demonstrations was a profound and healing experience in itself. The theme of universal suffering, of life and death, the rhythm of nature the ebb the flow of the tide and the moment of the slack tide, the yielding to the incoming force, the allowing and the letting be came through to me through the moving language and art of the body.
To me the tai chi experience is becoming one with nature. The experience is a mediation in the body or to use the popular phrase in my university at the moment, life is embodied.
Each of us was assigned a workshop from day one of the conference and it truly was a workshop!, we worked for 6 full and sometimes scorching hot days from the young to the not so young, our water bottles in hand.  For me and my little team looking forward to a rewarding swim at Hermit bay in the stunning Sydney harbor at the end of the day not to mention the amazing nutritious food kept us going.  My workshop was Tai Chi for Arthritis (TCA) and our group was particularly supportive and nurturing. Our instructors supported us learning in the stepwise method. Seeing everyone’s progress over the week transformed from strangers and real novices to a cohesive group was a wonder to behold. For us in TCA we were newbies but we were surrounded by others doing the 24 forms, the 42, the 73, tai chi for energy, it was all so confusing at times!  The depth and sharing and hard work was empowering.  It was not about perfecting the form but experiencing the wonder!

I would like to tell you a story about the dolphin people. Because this best describes the experience I had. When a dolphin is struggling in the ocean the other dolphins come to its aid by creating movement of the water around them which keeps them buoyant. To me this describes the tai chi experience, as we all move with each other and within ourselves we create movement in and around us, you could say we stir up the chi!!

We don’t always know the deep challenges of those around us but the support we can offer through generosity and humility keeps us buoyant so we can heal.
Embracing challenge the theme of the Sydney conference lived up to its name , now there are many more inspired and re-energized people  taking a gift back to their small or large communities.
Thanks must go to Tai Chi for Heath Institute for the commitment, dedication and generosity of all those who worked together to make this conference a safe and nourishing experience, not a hitch apart from the pillows and blankets ending up in strange places , all was well and all will be well.

Go well,
Janette Tolich
 back to top

The Best Thing You Can Do Is Listen

Buck Barnes, Instructor, Buford, Georgia

When taking a Yang style class at a local church, my instructors frequently spoke
warmly about Heather, their previous pastor who also had been their tai chi teacher. 

When Heather moved on to become senior chaplain at a hospital, my teachers saw less and less of her.

One Thursday evening Patti, one of the instructors, enthusiastically announced that Heather had agreed to meet us at a nearby park on Saturday morning to do tai chi. After hearing so much about her, I couldn’t wait to tai chi with her. We met frequently on Saturdays thereafter and I too became an admirer of Heather’s knowledge and skill.

After waiting until I knew her better, I asked her a question which had troubled me for months. I was teaching at a senior residence where most tai chi participants were well into their nineties. I knew that sooner or later some were going to pass away and I didn’t know how to handle that.

So I asked Heather what I should say when that sad eventuality arose. Why say anything? Heather asked. The best thing you can do is listen.  Other class members will say as much or as little as they wish to remember their classmate and fellow resident.

As I anticipated, it finally happened. When I was told that Fisher, whom I mentioned in a previous article, had passed away, I asked the class if anyone wanted to say anything about him. Then I did what Heather advised, I listened. Lee reminded us of the day Fisher came to class grinning from ear to ear and announced that he was only ninety-three years old. He thought he was ninety-four until his wife corrected him.

When everyone had finished sharing memories, I said, let’s do tai chi in a circle today, and include Fisher.

Thank you, Heather.
back to top

Humour, Laughter and Radiant Health
Dr Bob McBrien, Master Trainer, Salisbury, MD, USA
When I research positive humor for these monthly articles I often find the best sources  are school children. I once read that Mark Twain said that we learn interesting things from children because they tell us what they know and then stop. The following witty examples of how the universe works are from 11  and 12 year old school children during science quizzes and discussions.
* When thunder follows a flash of lightning it tells you how close you came to getting hit. If you don't hear it you got hit, so never mind.
*Most books now say that our sun is a star.  But it still knows how to change back into a sun in the daytime.
*Some people can tell time by looking at the sun, But I have never been able to make out the numbers.
*Looking at a drop of water in a microscope we find twice as many H's as O's.
*One horsepower is the amount of energy it takes to drag a horse 500 feet in one second.
*Clouds are flying fogs
*The wind is like air only pushier.
*A monsoon is a French gentleman
If you have a bit of school children's wit to share send to

back to top

Do visit my Facebook page and 'like' it

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. 

Visit Dr Lam's Website
Tai Chi Productions - for instructional material

Sign up now for June Workshop
'I jump up for the Double Stamping movement, either the photographer Mati or me knew of this bird I was letting it free" from Dr Lam
At the 17th Sydney January Tai Chi workshop at the beautiful Kincoppal School over looking the Sydney harbour - playing tai chi with the 36 Chen style class, 2015
Playing tai chi with the Combined 42 Forms class, 2015
Playing tai chi with the Exploring the Depth of Sun style 73 class, 2015
The entire workshop around 150 wonderful member of our tai chi family
82 years old Myung Ja Park, master trainer Tai Chi for Health, receiving a special award: Innovative Excellence and Community Partnership by Tai Chi for Health Institute during the 17th anniversary tai chi workshop in Sydney
Beverly and Paul
The Exploring the Depth of Sun style 73 class, 2015
The Exploring the Depth of Sun style 73 class, 2015
The beautiful Harbour looking different every minute
Dr Raymond Lau, the Chair of Tai Chi for Health Institute board giving his talk about Building a Tai Chi culture.

At the social dinner of the workshop

Ice cream cake for the 17th anniversary of the Sydney tai chi workshop

I enjoy getting stronger and fitter, especially next to the Sydney Harbour, Jan 2015

We enjoyed a trip to Doyle's for dinner during the workshop, Jan 2015

At the top terrace of Kincoppal College with the Tai Chi for Arthritis class, Jan 2015

Playing tai chi with the Sun style 73 class during the annual workshop

Dr Lau (Singapore), Jennifer (Singapore), me (Australia), Tamara (NZ) and Cathi (USA) after dinner at the Doyle during the January tai chi workshop 2015

Some of the best tai chi instructors are teaching at the workshop, I am proud to be part of the team.

Tai Chiing with the Tai Chi for Energy class January 2015

Dr Lam with two Lindas, Linda Arksey on the right  of the photo with dark coat, Linda Ebeling on the left with red cardigan, we were conducting the Tai Chi for Diabetes instructor training workshop in Anchorage, Alaska. 
Linda and Hazel enjoying a walk and a joke in Alaska

Flowers everywhere in Spring at Alaska
spectacular mountain and sky in Alaska

Janette is on the right of the photo, front row, at the Tai Chi for Arthritis class during the January 2015 tai chi workshop.

Sydney harbour from the college

making friends around the world

making friends from around the world

More harbour view
Hope I am not overdoing it with so many beautiful photos of the Sydney Harbour - one of the most beautiful in the world, and from Kincoppal you get the best view!
We do work at the workshop and get a certificate to prove it.
A special presentation for the inspirating madame Park from Korea

I was explaining what is Kung Fu tea and serving it to 100 participants

Glace Ice cream on Friday evening. It went very quickly.

one more
Morning practice

congratulations Philo

Dr Bob McBrien facilitating the Exploring the Depth of TCA workshop with Dr Lam in Vermont, USA Sept 2014.

Copyright © 2015 Tai Chi for Health Institute, All rights reserved.