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Dr Lam's Tai Chi, Health and Lifestyle Newsletter - Issue Number 164, April 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 had a wonderful time at my book launch in Melbourne.  As you can imagine it was challenging for me to open my life to scrutiny, but everyone was very supportive and I really enjoyed the evening. My intention for the book was to share three things through my personal experience:
1. No matter how bad things are, there is always hope
2. Tai Chi is a great exercise for body and mind, and much more. If it works for me, it should for anyone else.
3. Be aware of our democratic political system, appreciate it deeply and be prepared to protect it so that no one like Mao can put millions to death.
The day after the launch, people came to share with me their most challenging time of their lives, like living on the street, caring for an abandoned child, being bullied in school and being abused. I felt good that my experience can bring out people's past for healing.

You can order my memoir "BORN STRONG' from I will be sending more information to you soon. Please send your review to Amazon after your read it.

Great news, we are going back to Kincoppal, the beautiful college with Sydney Harbour View for the 18th Annual Tai Chi workshop in Sydney! Click here for my introduction, I am working with my team to have it ready for registration soon.

Last month I mentioned Susan Thompson, who will be the recipient of Madam Park’s scholarship this June. Susan wrote such a beautiful letter to Madam Park that I decided to share it with you this. It is the kindness and enthusiasm of our tai chi family members which keeps it growing bigger every year – so many wonderful and selfless people who want to share their good fortune and tai chi with others!  I was raised away from my siblings, but I have made up for that early deprivation by gathering an enormous family around the world! 
This Month’s Special:
One of the reasons I wrote my memoir was to encourage more people to try tai chi.  Buy the Tai Chi for Beginners DVD and receive a 20% discount!  Offer expires 30 April.  Please use coupon code TCB420 when ordering.
Upcoming Workshops by Dr Paul Lam








You can find a complete list of my authorized Master Trainers' workshops around the world here.
Looking forward to see you in my workshop or with my book. 
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

Eileen Bandcroft, Instructor, Auckland, New Zealand
 In 2013 I attended a 2 day workshop in Pukekohe, Auckland, New Zealand. I had been feeling a low grade anxiety over the two days.  You came to observe the Tai Chi for Diabetes form which we had been learning.  After the ‘performance’ you came up quietly to me and said “It might help if you softened your joints by taking your arms away from your body slightly – it’s about letting go.”  As I did what you suggested I could literally feel any remaining anxiety float away!  My car had wings as I drove home and in that moment I decided to attend the Sydney one week workshop in January which I had always thought way beyond my means!  As soon as I came home I emailed my booking then started thinking about how to pay for it! I fundraised by making Jams and chutneys and selling them to the participants in my classes at monthly stalls.

I arrive in Sydney – Embracing Challenge was the theme – the date was 4th January the anniversary of the death of my eldest daughter Louise from a brain tumour in 1993 and the next day the 5th January anniversary of the death from bowel cancer of my only other child Hilary three years later in 1996. So the challenge for me began on day one! Feeling somewhat fragile I settled in to the beautiful Kincoppal Rose Bay School – so warm, welcoming and all-embracing to me with its beautiful buildings and its never ending views of the beautiful Sydney harbour. Tentatively I approached the dining room for dinner at night and was presented with the most beautiful meal.  I look around at the sea of faces and choose my table to be welcomed by people who seemed like old friends. 

The week itself filled me up on all levels – physically, emotionally and spiritually.  There were different challenges to be faced and I found that as soon as one challenge was faced another presented itself to me.  There was a mountain to climb – by the end of the week the view from the mountain was vast –I hadn’t had so much energy since I was a teenager!

Is that because the form I was doing was tai chi for Energy, or the amazing healthy food I was eating or the stimulation of the learning environment among likeminded people? – who knows!  By the end of the week I felt complete.

I always thought the Sydney workshop was beyond my means financially however “where there’s a will there’s a way” and with the help of my students I found the way. I am so glad I did. I hope that my students will be rewarded for their efforts by the newfound knowledge and enthusiasm that I will bring to my tai chi. 
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Dear Madame Park

Susan Thompson, Instructor, Texas                                                              
Thank you for the scholarship to participate in Dr Lam’s Tai Chi for Health workshop in Forest Grove, Oregon.   Receiving this scholarship is in itself a great honour.  However, once I learned that the scholarship was from you personally, I was touched beyond measure.   I am humbled and honoured to receive your scholarship. 
I have watched the video of your acceptance speech for the Tai Chi for Health Innovative and Excellence Award.  Your beauty, inner calm and joy are so evident.   It seems you exude the essence of Tai Chi by your very presence!  As I read your story, I found it to be remarkable and inspiring.  I now have an expanded view of what I hope to accomplish with Tai Chi. Thanks to you, it is likely to come to fruition.   
I am an occupational therapist and am fairly new to Tai Chi.   Since becoming certified in Tai Chi for Health in October, I have started teaching three classes a week in my community.  I teach on average, 40-45 people a week.  The days I teach Tai Chi are my happiest days!  I find such joy in sharing and teaching Tai Chi with others. My mission in life is to positively impact as many people as possible, even beyond those in my immediate circle.   I believe I will expand and realize my mission in part, through Tai Chi.  
Thanks to your generous scholarship, I am beginning a journey that will last a lifetime.  I assure you, your scholarship will have a far-reaching and positive impact. 
Thank you so very much.   I look forward to the day that I can meet the beautiful, inspiring and kind Madame Park. 
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Overcoming Challenges!

Watch the video clip of his talk at the 17th annual tai chi workshop.
Mike Soric, Master Trainer, Townsville, Australia
I’d like to talk today about overcoming challenges, and, seeing as we are at a tai chi workshop perhaps overcoming them in a tai chi like manner! I would like to share, how the tai chi principle have helped me overcome some of mine.
As some of you may know, in early 2012, I was diagnosed with three cancers that were trying to have their way with me. The good news is that this is not a sad story. I am in remission, and besides, I’ve still got way too much to do.
For me my cancer journey was about ‘Mindfulness’.Engaging mentally and being part of the solution, being part of my treatment process, not thinking too far ahead or cluttering my mind with things that were out of my control. Also surrounding myself with very positive people, particularly all my very dear tai chi friends.
So, at the beginning the doctors and specialists tried to pre-warn me about this and that, and bombarded me with endless amounts of information, and warned me about the many side effects. Well, to be perfectly honest with you all the only thing that I could remember was that I was going to get “Chemo Brain!” That meant I might not be able to ‘Focus’, especially on my tai chi, and I just knew that Dr Paul would not be happy about that!
On a sidebar I should just add in here, that being a Tai Chi for Health Instructor/Leader has hidden benefits, and that having one of my tai chi students in charge of the Operating Theatre Bookings and having her consult with me first, before making any bookings, was very helpful.
Or the benefit of having another student as the wife of the Oncology Specialist, which got me additional consultations - even if they were outside the hospital coffee shop. Here-in lies the lesson for all you young, budding Instructors - be nice to your students and participants - you just never know!
So, getting back to my story. Here I am, all armed up, with lots of information and nervous as anything, ready for my first Radiation Session. I arrived early, looked around and only saw one other guy sitting in the waiting room. He was an elderly gentleman. So I gave him the obligatory nod, being very careful not to ask “How are you?” and then sat the respectable 2 seats away. A few minutes passed in silence, when suddenly the old man pointed into the corner and said in a soft, gravelly voice “I’m glad I’m not that guy!” I looked and saw no one. Thinking to myself so this is what ‘Chemo Brain’ is, hmm! Then once again the old man said “I’m glad I’m not him”, pointing casually in the same direction. I waited a couple of seconds, then, said “Who do you mean?”
He said “The guy! The guy that no one is worse than!”
Wow!!!  I realised right there and then, that I had to stay connected mentally, to remain positive and be ‘mindful’ of everything that was going on. Because no matter how bad I thought it was, or thought it was going to get I was not that guy either; the guy that no one is worse than. I had to stay ‘focused’ engage the ‘body and mind’ be ‘mindful’. What did Dr Paul say? “Embrace the essential concept of ‘jing’.
So I took ‘Mindfulness’ to a new level for me …
      I would practice my tai chi forms every day …
  • and when I felt too sick physically, then at least in my mind, even when I felt like - you know what.
  • I even practiced while I was heavily sedated, and apparently tried to teach the medical/surgical Team the TCA forms. This did become a bit of a talking point around the hospital and some staff even drew straws to try to join the procedures.
  • Whenever possible, I would walk around the ward with my ‘Hi-Vis Safety Slippers’, dragging my new best friend, the ‘Drip-line Tree’, around with me, in a very tai chi like manner. Slowly placing the heel, then flattening the foot, before shifting the weight forward and ever so slowly lifting the back heel, then ball of the foot before taking the next step. Sometimes the nursing staff would do a lap around the ward with me, just to take a few minutes out, to relax with me.

Sure there were some tough times and things didn’t always go as planned, but the concept of deflecting the overwhelming incoming forces, absorbing what I could and redirecting what I couldn’t, helped me a great deal. And above all, I remembered, that I was not that guy.
Some people do like to define you as a cancer survivor or thriver and that is nice. But I would like to think that I am more than what cancer has defined me as. “I was a tai chi junky before and I am proud to say I am still a tai chi junky now”.
Practice whenever and however you can, even in the quiet corners and far reaches of your mind. “Be mindful … when facing your CHALLENGES”
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Humour, Laughter and Radiant Health

Dr Bob McBrien, Master Trainer, Salisbury, MD, US
In the US April 15th is the day income taxes are due.  As an institution the government revenue service is the target for many comedians and cartoonists.  It seems that humour can be a healthy way to "bring down" authority.  Following are examples of bits of humour and a story with a "punch line" to bring out a laugh and poke fun at the tax collectors
* The USA is the land of opportunity. Everybody can become a taxpayer.
*Drive carefully. Your government needs every taxpayer it can get.
*Federal Revenue Service:  We've got what it takes to take what you've got
* People who squawk about their income tax can be divided into two classes: men and women.
*Tax Collector:  Why don't you pay your taxes with a smile?
Taxpayer:  I'd love to, but you insist that I pay with money!

*The following is said to be a true story:
In a local pub a bartender claimed to be strongest man in the county.  The pub had a challenge:  After the bartender squeezed a lemon until all the juice ran into a glass, any patron who could squeeze one more drop of juice out of the lemon would win $1000.
Many patrons had tried over time but no one could do it. One day a short, thin man in a tiny soft voice announced "I'll take your challenge."  The bartender laughed, said OK, grabbed a lemon, and squeezed away. Then he handed the crushed remains of the rind to the little man.
But the bartender's laughter turned to total silence as the man clenched his fist around the lemon and quickly squeezed six more drops into the glass. As the patrons cheered, the bartender paid the $1000, and asked the little man, are you a lumberjack, a weightlifter, what is your work?"
The man replied, "I'm a Government Tax Collector."

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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. 

Sign up now for June Workshop
Dr Paul Lam with the speakers for his memoir launch: Linda Martin, CEO of Arthritis Victoria and Professor Andy Choo from Melbourne University.
Dr Paul Lam with friends and tai chi family at the launch of his memoir in China Books March 2015
Dr Paul Lam autographing his book
Dr Lam at Western Australia conducting Tai Chi for Energy Instructors training workshop March 2015
Dr Lam at Western Australia Foundation, conducting Tai Chi for Energy Instructors training workshop March 2015
Dr Paul Lam conducting Exploring the Depth of Tai Chi for Arthritis workshop in Melbourne March 2015
Dr Paul Lam conducting Exploring the Depth of Tai Chi for Arthritis workshop in Melbourne March 2015

January tai chi workshop

Mike Soric speaking about challenges at the January tai chi workshop in Sydney

Dr Paul Lam and Susan Brown at the Tai Chi for Energy Workshop in Dallas 2014
Dr Bob McBrien facilitating the Exploring the Depth of TCA workshop with Dr Lam in Vermont, USA Sept 2014.

Dr Paul Lam inviting you to join our 18th Annual Tai Chi Workshop in Sydney


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