Dr Lam's Tai Chi, Health and Lifestyle Newsletter - Issue Number 167, July 2015
In this issue:
Click on the title above to read the articles, and this link to subscribe and read previous newsletters.
Hello <<First Name>>
I recently returned to Sydney after my ten weeks workshop tour, I am still elated from working with all my wonderful friends and colleagues from around the world!
I introduced a new concept this year in Switzerland – an MT update combined with an ST training. It was enormously successful and will influence all future MT and ST trainings. The US workshops started with the pre-conference. It was Tai Chi for Rehabilitation with almost 100 participants. I was blown away with the uniformly positive response, with participants commenting that TCR moves beyond Tai Chi for Health and into Tai Chi for Healing. Some people shared their own health challenges that moved the group to tears, there was a tremendous energy of support and love. This extended right through into the One Week. The photos of these two workshops are now ready to be viewed purchase at www.drpaullam.photostockplus.com.
There was a wealth of material shared during the TCR workshop and the One Week. I will be sharing some of the stories and morning talks in my next few newsletters – once I have edited the many hours of video and thousands of photos! Richard Lnk's talk on Embracing Challenges will start it off. Once you have watched Richard’s talk, do browse my channel, I have many videos there from our trainers around the world, as well as free lessons. Feel free to forward to your friends if they wish to try out one of my lessons.
We were excited to announce next year’s venue at the beautiful Mount St. Joseph University in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Pre-Conference will be a new course – The Depth of Tai Chi for Energy, dates as below.
Save your dates.
- Pre-Conference June 4-5, 2016 (check in June 3rd)
- Conference June 6-11, 2016 (check in June 5th, check out June 12th)
With the world getting smaller, and people getting to know how beautiful Sydney is, we are having increasing number of participants attending both Sydney and USA annual workshops. I am going to extend the past participant discount over the Pacific Ocean – so those who have attended Sydney can claim the discount in the US and be assured of a place in your chosen class, and vice versa! We are going back to the beautiful Kincoppel for the January 2016, read more here
There are places left for the Adelaide Tai Chi for Energy workshop, an exhilarating program which will leave you more relaxed, refreshed and revitalised Do book quickly to avoid disappointment.
This Month’s Special:
My Tai Chi for Arthritis program is recommended as an intervention for Fall Prevention by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. Receive a 20% discount when your purchase TCA or TCA2 during July. Offer expires 31 July. Please use coupon code JULTCA when ordering.
Upcoming Workshops by Dr Paul Lam
- Tai Chi for Energy Instructor Training by Dr Paul Lam, September 17, United States, NY, Colonie
- Tai Chi for Energy 2 with Dr Paul Lam, September 19, United States, NY, Colonie
- Tai Chi for Rehabilitation Instructor Training by Dr Paul Lam, September 24, United States, GA, Cartersville
- Exploring the Depth of Tai Chi for Arthritis with Dr Paul Lam, September 26 United States, GA, Cartersville
Other workshops by my authorised Master Trainers are displayed on the Master Trainer Workshop Calendar
- Tai Chi for Energy Instructor Training with Dr Paul Lam, October 1, United States, OH, Painesville
- Tai Chi for Energy 2 with Dr Paul Lam, October 3, United States, Ohio
- Exploring the Depth of Tai Chi for Arthritis and Fall Prevention by Dr. Paul Lam, October 8, United States, AZ, Tucson
- Depth of Tai Chi for Energy with Dr Paul, Lam October 23, United States, CA, Walnut Creek
- Tai Chi for Energy 2 with Dr Paul Lam, October 24 United States, CA, Walnut Creek
Yours in Tai Chi,
Paul Lam, MD
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(Dr Lam receives many letters. Each month we feature one, and he answers any questions raised)
A Letter to Dr Lam
Kirsty Larkworthy, Instructor, Melbourne
I received your invitation to the January workshop in Sydney today (thank you!) and it has prompted me to write to you, as there is nothing more I would love to do than attend this week long workshop. To do a full week of tai chi would be a dream come true for me. Full stop. But to do it in such beautiful scenery and amongst such wonderful people would be amazing. I do hope to come.
I must say that I feel rather embarrassed as I have not even thanked you and your team for the wonderful workshop you ran in Chelsea, Melbourne at the end of March. I learnt so much and revelled in practising the form so many times and in soaking up the discussions and presentations you did. In fact, I have never felt so happy in my life after having spent that entire weekend doing tai chi with you, your trainers and the group. I felt so energised and strong, almost like I could do anything afterwards. I remember even thinking that I want to become a senior trainer one day! Thank you all for the supportive and humble way you teach and mentor.
I have only been doing tai chi for 18 months so I am a 'newbie' compared to many, but as I said to you at the workshop, it has given my life (which was already happy I thought I might add!) an enhanced sense of contentment and joy. I love it and feel happily compelled to practise every day - my day is not the same without it.
Unfortunately, a couple of days after this workshop, our lives were turned upside down when my husband Matt (who enjoyed meeting you briefly at your book launch) was diagnosed with lung cancer at the age of 47! He has never smoked. It hit us like a bolt from the blue. The happiness drained away, my routine completely changed, my mind and body became almost paralysed with fear. I felt sick, could not eat, I lost 4kgs and was functioning but only on auto-pilot really.
After about 10 days of this (barely functioning due to fear) I decided I had to take control of my mind as I was no good to anyone like this. I thought to myself, I have the strength and I teach this all the time. I tell people in my classes to parcel up their worries and put them on a high shelf for a moment, to give the mind a break and focus on the slow, smooth tai chi movements. Having not done tai chi for almost 2 weeks, I decided I had to have a go in an attempt to give my mind a break from the worry and fear.
After a slow start and much difficulty concentrating and maintaining focus, I have not looked back. It has been my life-saver as it gives me a slow, calm and peaceful place to go to when I need it. The happiness and strength is slowly returning and I can see more clearly into the future without fear. In fact, the fear is almost gone as I do not allow my mind to drift to those dark places. I feel much better able to control my mind too. Sometimes I even talk to it (out loud), quite firmly too!
My husband Matt has only ever shown limited interest in tai chi but has seen my passion for it grow by the day. Since his cancer diagnosis, I have started to teach him some deep abdominal breathing (which he loves), some visualisations and he is interestingly taking more interest in watching me do tai chi. Maybe this is a promising sign he may try it one day soon too. I won't push him, but just allow him to try when he feels ready.
I hope you don't mind me telling you this story - I guess I wanted to convey that in probably my darkest hour ever, I was able to find a way to calm my mind and control its thoughts as well as cultivate some strength to deal with things in a more productive way. And I feel so much better! I am sure my kids are watching my reactions closely too, so reaching for my tai chi at this time has been a great strategy to model for them too I am sure. I do have internal hopes that one day my whole family will enjoy some tai chi together when they are ready. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for creating these easy to learn but highly challenging Tai Chi for Health forms. They have truly got me through.
Dr Lam replies: Kirsty, I was deeply moved when I read your email. I am so happy that you turned to tai chi to help you through this difficult time. From my own experience I know there are many times when my tai chi practice helped me cope with challenging circumstances. I am sending you both my positive energy and hope to see you both in Sydney next year.
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World Tai Chi Day 2015 in Salford, England
Janice Green and Anne Crichton, STs, Manchester, UK
This was the third time we have held this event and this year we were extremely fortunate to be offered the entire eighth floor of the highest building in Media City UK with breath taking views of Salford Quays.
On Saturday 25th April approximately 270 Tai Chi enthusiasts from all over the north west of England gathered together to celebrate World Tai Chi Day, beginning with mass tai chi at 10am.
The majority were students of the Tai Chi for Health Programme. Our choice was TCA, while other forms represented were Yang, Chen, Traditional Sun style, Infinite Tai Chi. This year we welcomed a new group from Wild Goose Qigong.
For many it was their first time to participate in tai chi in such a large group. It was amazing to see the emotonal effect it had on everyone.
Following the mass tai chi, people split into smaller groups to try different styles of tai chi. Instructors from all over the area supported the event and all brought their own particular skills to teaching the groups
Lunch was time for renewing acquaintances and getting to know new friends. Our vision for the event is to bring together many styles and groups, sharing ideas, experiences and goodwill. The cheerful buzz of conversation and happy faces was proof of its success.
Once refreshed, we had the pleasure of watching demonstrations of Sword, Sabre, Chen, Infinite Tai Chi and Wild Goose Qigong. As always our friends from the Chinese Community in Manchester honoured us with a demonstration of the Fan Form. Tai Chi crosses all cultures and language and allows us to communicate with one another.
Our World Tai Chi Day celebrations concluded with everyone joining together one more time for mass tai chi in this wonderful location provided by Media City UK.
The event raised nearly a thousand pounds for the Prince's Trust, Media City UK's chosen Charity and already we have bookings for next year.
This was the first event in an exciting year for Salford, as Dr Lam's “Exploring the Depth of Tai Chi for Arthritis” and his “Tai Chi for Energy Instructor training workshops” followed soon afterwards.
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Embracing Challenges – Morning Talk at the USA One Week Workshop
Richard Link, Senior Trainer, Memphis, USA
None of us are immune from life’s challenges. I think I’ve had my fair share, with a couple of kidney transplants, skin cancer operations, bad knees and then just all the things associated with growing older.
Every day is a battle for all of us. A battle to hope and to not give up. It’s not an easy ride but it is certainly worth every second.
I would like to share a couple of stories that relate to embracing challenges and Dr Lam’s Tai Chi for Rehabilitation program.
First, a little background. I have been teaching a tai chi class for Pre and Post-Transplant patients at a local hospital in Memphis for about four years now. We meet twice a week and have a nice group of eight to ten students.
In the building where I teach there are ten steps that lead up to the floor where our room is located. One evening, a young gentleman about thirty years old showed up to class with his mother. We will call him James.
James had received a liver transplant one month previous at the Methodist University Hospital and he and his mother wanted to join our group. They were from a different state and had come to Memphis to receive the transplant. They had heard about our class from the transplant outpatient clinic. That first night it took James about five minutes to climb those ten steps.
You see, James was a small man but he received a very large liver. I know this is something we don’t really think about, but that large liver displaced his internal organs, forced his lungs up and out of their normal position and as a result, James had a very difficult time breathing.
We started James out seated and simply doing open and close exercises to his comfort level. He could only manage about fifteen minutes of class that night but we sent him home with the promise that he would do the open and close exercises and work a little harder each day.
James and his mother continued to come to class as they were able and we progressed into learning more of the form as he gained strength.
Three months passed and one night James came to class with his mother. He took those steps two at a time and announced that the hospital had released him to travel back home the next day. I have to tell you there were many hugs and tears of joy from all of our group.
Another of our students, we will call her Laura, need a liver resection due to cancer. Laura was undergoing chemotherapy treatment and was very ill.
We started out in a chair using the Tai Chi for Rehabilitation form. Some days she was just too sick to come to class so I gave her a DVD to use at home. After her operation she could only come one day a week because her chemo made her very sick.
After several months had passed she came to class one evening and announced that she was cancer free and done with the treatments. Again more tears of job and hugs all around.
Her doctors referred her to physical therapy. After a few sessions of physical therapy she came to class one evening and informed us that her therapist told her she was getting about the same treatment at therapy that she was in the tai chi class, so just concentrate of doing her tai chi.
We haven’t seen her in a while because she went to visit friends in New York City. Friends that she never thought she would see again, and then she went sailing on a cruise with her sister. We can’t wait for her to return and tell us all her adventures.
These are two examples of how I have personally seen the Tai Chi for Rehabilitation program help people regardless of their challenges.
The gentle approach will help build strength, stamina, improve breathing, and relieve stress.
It can be easily done seated, standing, or even in a hospital bed.
I would like to close with a quote from Joshua J Marine
“Challenges are what makes life interesting. Overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.”
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Tai Chi as a Metaphor for Life
Candace Herrill, Instructor, Portland, Oregon
I have long believed that we are each involved in a universal struggle to both develop our unique, individual identity; and to find our place in community. Sometimes these goals might seem in conflict; but, in fact, they are interdependent. If we don’t develop our strengths, then we don’t have anything to contribute to others. If we don’t have meaningful interaction and engagement with others; then our personal development and happiness is stunted. To achieve a fulfilled life, we need to foster both our personal strengths and qualities; as well as our social relationships and contributions. Often, however, we find ourselves focusing on one to the exclusion of the other. It is truly a challenge to nurture our Selves while also supporting our community.
This is exemplified in a group Tai Chi practice. The very simple act of staying in synch with the group while also perfecting one’s individual form reflects the universal struggle to be part of a community while also developing our individual skill. Sometimes individuals will focus so closely on their own form that they become out of synch with the group. This causes a disruption to the group energy. So, although the individual might be expanding their own skill; they lose the tremendous power that results from group cohesion; and, they disrupt if for others. Other individuals may focus so closely on following that they fail to learn the form and are unable to practice independently; or lead when needed.
I have loved that tai chi demands both an internal and an external focus. It requires not only mindfulness of one’s own energy; but a keen sensitivity to the energy of others. It can teach us to be simultaneous aware of Self and Other. When we practice with both self and social consciousness, we develop our capacity to work in a way that enhances our individual growth as well as strengthens our social connection. This simple discipline of applying the tai chi principles to our own form while also staying in sync with the group not only improves our tai chi; but may also develop the dual consciousness that allows us to mutually develop ourselves and support our community. We all benefit, both individually and collectively.
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Humour, Laughter and Radiant Health
Dr Bob McBrien, Master Trainer, Salisbury, Maryland, USA
People often tell me, “ I like what you write about the health benefits of positive humor but is there ever a time negative or put-down humor is acceptable? " Yes, there are times when put-down humor can be useful. For example, humor that puts down public figures or an institution can serve as a way to reduce stress. When we poke fun at lawyers we do not mean to be unkind to one person. We are having a laugh and poking fun at the institution and it feels good.
Here are bits of fun taken from court reporters' records. All the examples are from the cross examinations of medical examiners.*
Yes, lawyers in court somewhere did conduct the following cross examinations:
*Q: Doctor, how many autopsies have you performed on dead people?
A: All my autopsies have been performed on dead people.
*Q: Now doctor, isn't it true that when a person dies in his sleep, he doesn't know about it until the next morning?
*Q: Doctor, did you say he was shot in the woods?
A: No, I said he was shot in the lumbar region.
*Q: You say that the stairs where the victim died went down to the basement?
Q: And these stairs, did they go up also?
Q.: When was the last time you saw the deceased?
A.: On my examination table.
Q.: Did he make any comments to you at that time?
*Q: Doctor, before you performed the autopsy, did you check for a pulse?
Q: Did you check for blood pressure?
Q: Did you check for breathing?
Q: So, then it is possible that the patient was alive when you began the autopsy?
Q: How can you be so sure, Doctor?
A: Because his brain was sitting in a jar on my desk.
Q: But could the patient have still been alive nevertheless?
A: It is possible that he could have been alive and practicing law somewhere.
* Source: The Web: taken from Humor in the Court ('77) and More Humor in the Court ('94) by Mary Louise Gilman
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END OF NEWSLETTER
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.