From congee to …congee!

Dr Lam Tai Chi for Health Newsletter 
- Issue Number 190, June 2017

STOP PRESS: The closing day for July Workshop in Sydney is June 5, please enrol asap.

In this issue:

My grandmother's house in China 68 years ago. We were evicted from our own house into the small storage room, where grandmother perished from persecution by the communist government.

Hello <<First Name>>

The sweet potato is an amazing plant, there are many species, colours and sizes but they all have one thing in common; if you take a cutting or accidentally drop a piece on the ground it will germinate in no time. It probably grows faster than anything else I know, especially the tasteless varieties!

Sweet potatoes really were a life saver when I was a teenager during the Great Famine 56 years ago (when 70 million people perished). Li Cunxin in his book “Mao’s Last Dancer” refers to them as yams. They ate them day in and day out. In my memoir I talked about how we narrowly escaped starvation then. We survived on congee; a handful of rice boiled in a large volume of water to make a thin soup. Those liquid meals kept us alive – with a piece of sweet potato floating in it when we were lucky – of course the tasteless kind.

Once I escaped and had a reasonable diet I developed a severe phobia of congee and sweet potatoes. Just the words would bring back that desperate time of suffering and the taste.

56 years later something happened to me on my way to the June workshop I stopped in Taipei to meet my brother. I love Taiwan and the Taiwanese people – they are friendly, honest and hard-working and have a wonderful energy. I was lucky to have a very good deal at the Taipei Marriott because it has still not officially opened while some construction is carrying on. They gave me a complimentary breakfast, where there was a sumptuous buffet. In pride of place, an elaborate tureen was filled to the brim with gently steaming congee and sweet potatoes.

I thought that it was time to get over my phobia, not one but both congee and potato all togther. I served myself a small portion. The china was delicate, the tables were covered with beautiful tablecloths, the view was stunning, and the congee was …congee. It still reminded me of that horrible time, but I ate it up, appreciating that humble food did kept many people alive. The luxurious setting with the potatoe congee are yin and yang - I finally harmonized them!

The June workshop is fast approaching, and I was sad to have to refuse some enrolment requests after the closing date. We love to have all of our friends at the conference, but it is not just the record enrolment this year; the venue needs exact numbers for catering and accommodation, and time to prepare for our arrival. Do make sure you enrol early for next year – we will announce the dates and venue as soon as we can.

This brings me to the July workshop in Sydney. The closing date is only days away – June 5. I hope you can come to join my team at one of these workshops. They are the only workshops I run in Sydney this year. I will be teaching personally aloneside with some of my most wonderful colleagues. We are looking forward to share our tai chi knowledge and energy with you.

Even if you have done a similar workshop before you will find that each time is different and you will be able to learn and absorb more. We enjoy tai chi and continue to improve our knowledge and method to share, so each year we can present the workshops in deeper ways. I look forward to seeing you there.

Yours in Tai Chi,

Paul Lam, MD

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This Month’s Special

Buy any Health Series DVD and receive a 20% discount!  Please use coupon code JUN20HLTH when ordering. Offer expires June 30. Not to be used with any other discount.

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Upcoming Workshops by Dr Paul Lam




September 2017

October 2017

November 2017

January 2018 

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A Letter to Dr Lam
Monika Reiss, Participant, Dortmund

Dr Lam offering gift of tai chi at the garden of Marriott Hotel in Taiwan where he harmonized congee and potato.
Dear Dr Lam, I read with interest the article about tai chi and eyesight in the May newsletter.  As a kid, at school, I was already short-sighted. 7 or 8 years ago my oculist tried to persuade me, that my eye-sight was so bad, that I needed to undergo surgery to get artificial lenses. I refused.
In 2014 I learned my first tai chi steps in a course for seniors, that I still attend regularly. Since last summer I’m a pensioner. I’ve developed a routine last winter, to take at least one hour for qigong exercices and the tai chi form in the morning and in the evening. I noticed earlier this year that my eye-sight was better than before, but it couldn’t be, could it?
I had been wearing glasses since February 1973, I have been night-blind, bright light dazzled me. In the meantime I couldn’t read a book or work at the computer without wearing reading glasses…
Since February 13th 2017 I go about my life inside and outside my home without glasses! I have no problems reading, no problems with bright light. It’s unbelievable! I used to be a nervous wreck while I was still working and I’m ever so calm now, thanks to tai chi. But I never expected that tai chi would heal my eyes. Every day I start by looking out of the window to see if it wasn’t a dream, if I can still see everything out there clearly.
I read that MA Cheng Man Ching called tai chi a jewel of Chinese culture. We can’t thank him enough, and all the other Masters who brought tai chi into the World outside of China. What a gift for mankind!

Keep up the good work!

Dr Lam replies:

Great to hear from you, it is a very special bonus! Tai chi has so many beneficial effects to the practitioners it is nice to hear the less common ones. I noted that different people gain different benefits. I would love to see a scientific study on tai chi and vision, though just because there is no study does not mean it does not work. Ten years ago there are hardly any studies on tai chi, but its benefits are the same then. I suspect many of greater benefits such a vision, inner energy, positive spirit, happiness and personal development would never be fully proven. Most importantly the proven benefits are already so impressive that most doctors and health departments around the world support tai chi.

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Tai Chi Sledding

Sonia Tidemann, Instructor, Port Lincoln

‘Feel the gentle resistance between your palms, open, breathe in; close, breathe out, sink the chi.’ My visualisation was broken by, ‘Go! Don’t let go of the sled.’ With a sudden jolt, my dogs were off and I was hanging on for dear life.

I had recently turned 70 and to prove that I wasn’t yet ready for the coffin lid to be screwed down, I needed a challenge. One week’s dog-sledding, in Lapland, staying in cabins amongst the snow, ice and cold. It seemed all right until I was actually there, on the sled. Fortunately, by the time we left, it had warmed up to -28 C.

We had been given a little tuition. ‘Don’t let go of the sled or the dogs will head off into the distance and you won’t see them again. Always brake going downhill or the sled will speed up and run into the dogs, breaking their legs.’ Cheery thoughts that added to the impending doom.

After 2 hours, we stopped, anchored the sleds and set about making a fire in a hollow in the snow to melt ice to make soup. My legs were shaking with the terror of it all but I hadn’t come off!

From then on I incorporated some tai chi principles. I kept my knees bent, more or less, depending on the roughness of the terrain. That enabled me to ‘yin and yang’ with my weight as I negotiated corners. Combining these with keeping my posture upright gave me the stability I needed and little by little I was able to relax and take in the beauty of the environment. We traversed frozen lakes and rivers, climbed up above the tree-line passing through a stunning crystal forest, the huge ice crystals on the leafless birches glinting in the sunlight.

In the late afternoon, as we chopped up the frozen dog food with an axe, boiled water (collected after smashing through the river ice with a special crow bar) to thaw the dog food and fed the dogs one by one, I experienced no stiffness thanks to my tai chi thighs. On the coldest day (-38 C), I focused on directing chi to my extremities. It worked for my fingers but not my toes!

The exhilarating experience was amazing and fulfilling, my dogs just wonderful. I also came to the realisation that tai chi is a part of everything.

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Mission Possible: India!

Kartikey Shukla and Sylvia Das, Instructors, Singapore

Kartikey Shukla and Sylvia Das 

From Dr Lam:

I am so impressed by the enthusiasm of Kartikey and Sylvia.  They are determined to establish a tai chi school in Calcutta, which has a population of just 5 million people!  I have no doubt they will achieve their goal, and I wish them well and would offer any assistance I could.

Updates from our tai chi mission, by Kartikey Shukla and Sylvia Das:

On our recent trip to Kolkata we met Dr Anirban Biswas, a consultant Neurotologist, current Vice-President of International Neurotological and Equilibirometric Society, also, an Ex-Editor of Indian Journal of Otolaryngology & Head Neck surgery.
Dr Biswas has authored a book on improving balance for the people who suffer from Vertigo. In the book, he has recommended tai chi to his readers. He showed us the pages of the book where he has written about tai chi forms like Brush Knee, Waving hands in the clouds etc.
To get details of those tai chi forms useful for balance improvement and instructional DVD made for his patients he got an Instructor to fly down from Beijing. He doesn’t have access to an instructor locally yet.
He got very excited when we told him that both of us are certified instructors from TCHI and have plans to bring the programs to India later this year. He noticed the Tai Chi for Health wrist band (we got it at the Sydney workshop) I was wearing when we took Sylvia’s father for consultation. He has asked us to meet him once we have shifted back to Kolkata.
Dr Anirban Biswas has plans to promote tai chi as a treatment for Improving Balance and Fall prevention. We have already shared links to the TCHI website and other relevant information with him like CDC recommendation for TCA.
We also conducted two TCHI programs awareness events during our 4 day stay in Kolkata.
First one was at a corporate office of Accenture Kolkata on 13th April, more than 40 people turned up, most of them young IT professionals and we received very good feedback from them. Many inquired about the regular classes for which we had to ask them to wait.
Second one was in open at a Public Park on 16th April, this was at 7:00 am in the morning, still we got about 20 people to join us, few of them were completely unknowns. Some walkers and joggers came up and joined us by themselves, the session went well, people were smiling. They too expressed interests in learning more about our programs.
We are still in Singapore, yet we have started working on the spreading the word regarding our programs in Kolkata.

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Product of the Month Review Prize Winners

Congratulations to KaZ Blake-Owen (Australia) and John Arnold (USA)! You have won 3 DVDs of your choice, valued at AUD $120. You can see your reviews below, please contact us within one week to claim your prize.

When you post your review please include your name, country and email address. 

See their reviews below:

Product: Tai Chi for Beginners
Reviewed by: KaZ Blake-Owen, Victoria
 Rated 5 out of 5 stars 

Having completed Dr Lam's Course on Tai Chi for Diabetes a month ago and totally loving teaching this form to my new Students, I now want to expand on my knowledge of Tai Chi for my own personal benefit into the future. I decided to buy Tai Chi for Beginners to get a more complete picture of the art and have found that the DVD is easy to follow and very professionally put together as I have come to expect from Dr Lam.
I thank you for creating a Tai Chi series which is accessible by all and I hope to be promoting Tai Chi under the Tai Chi for Health banner for many years to come.


Reviewed by: John Arnold
 5 out of 5 stars
Best instructional DVD out there

I possess a large Tai Chi DVD collection. The TCA DVD by Dr Lam is by far the best instructional DVD out there, any style. This DVD sets the bar for all other instructional Tai Chi media. I own some pretty fancy Tai Chi videos that are basically worthless when it comes to learning. What good is it if you can't see or hear what the instructor is trying to teach? 

Dr Lam must of worked hard with a team to bring easy to understand and follow lessons to anyone desiring to bring Tai Chi into their life. Well worth your time and money.

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Humor, Laughter and Radiant Health

by Dr Bob McBrien

Sharing a good laugh seems to double the benefits of laughter. Mary Gene, one of my tai chi students commented on my humor essay in a recent newsletter. She went on to say. "I just can't tell a joke” I asked Mary Gene about her experiences sharing   humorous stories. She said, “I want to share a good story with my friends, but I always forget the punch line."

Here are a few tips.
  • Look for humorous stories in sources such as Reader’s Digest.
  • Rehearse telling a story privately (just like singing in the shower).
  • When you have practiced a while, tell the story three  times to three friends .
  • By telling the story three times you have a chance to improve on the delivery.
  • To remember a story, just repeat the punch line several times to yourself during the day.
Remember, there are two parts to telling a joke, the set up and the punch line. The skill of getting the laugh is in the timing. Tell the set up, then pause, then deliver the punch line. Have fun with the following. 

*Little Johnny attended a horse auction with his father. He watched as his father moved from horse to horse running his hands up and down each horse's legs, rump and chest.   Johnny asked, “Dad, why are you doing that?"  His Father replied, “Because I have to make sure that the horse is healthy and strong before I buy it.” Johnny, looking worried, said, “I think the mail man wants to buy mom.”

*A burglar breaks into a house. Shining his light around he locates a jewelry box.  As he reaches for a jewel, he hears, "Jesus is watching you." Startled, the burglar looks for the speaker. Seeing no one, he puts more jewels in his bag. Again, he hears, "Jesus is watching you." This time, he sees a parrot.  "Who are you?" the burglar asks.   "Moses," the bird replied.  "Who the heck would name a bird Moses?" the man laughed.” I don’t know," Moses answered," I guess the same person who would name their Pit Bull Jesus."

One liners are a way to share a laugh. The set up and punch line are found in a sentence or two:

*I used to be in a band called "Missing Cat". Maybe you saw our posters?

*Years ago, when I first used our new TV set’s remote control, I thought, "This changes everything!"

In my essays, I choose humor that promotes radiant health, involves creating good feelings and not resentments. 

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Click Here to Sign Up Now for the July Workshops in Sydney


Comparing this to fighting my way in the Inca Trail last year, this climb at the beautiful Japanese Garden is a cinch. 
Visit Dr Paul Lam's Tai Chi Productions website for information or to purchase instructional products
Dr Lam and Associate Professor Shirley Ngai of HK PolyT University met to discuss research projects
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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