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Why are you organizing this World Tai Chi and QiGong Day?
Are you doing it for love? Master Li asked.
Excerpt from The Complete Idiot's Guide to T'ai Chi & QigongThe Complete Idiot's Guide to T'ai Chi & Qigong - Chapter 24
Celebrate World Tai Chi and QiGong Day
In This Chapter
--Unleashing the power to change the world
--Getting involved in Tai Chi and QiGong day
If we want to make something truly spectacular of our world,
there is nothing whatsoever that can stop us.
Rainer Maria Rilke
Too often in our lives we underestimate and undervalue our power as human beings. Tai Chi and QiGong practice are designed to unblock the rigid limitations we hold so that the greatest potential within us can flow up and out through our relaxed mind and body. This may sound like a grandiose ideal, until you realize that it is very true, and the first edition of this book proved it to the world!
In this chapter, I'll explain why it's actually very unhealthy for human beings to settle for less than their greatest potential, for repression of enthusiasm and hope can diminish our health. Studies reveal that when people give of themselves to make the world a better place it improves their physical and mental health personally. Kind of an Instant Karma if you will (kudos to John Lennon). And Tai Chi and QiGong help energize and motivate us for right action, as Tai Chi philosophy extols us to aspire to. Ill close with ways you can expand your Tai Chi and QiGong journey to include joining with tens of thousands worldwide each year to be part of a fun and beneficial global health and healing event, known as World Tai Chi and QiGong Day. And this chapter will explain how your community activism may improve your health as well.
Unleash the World-Altering Power Within You!
Not only are you truly profound and unique, but you are holding a truly profound and unique book. Because the first edition of this book actually launched a world event, changing the world in a healing way. For World T’ai Chi and QiGong Day has educated millions about T’ai Chi and QiGong. Therefore, this book doesn’t just “talk the talk”it walks the walk of T’ai Chi’s expansive personal power.
When you catch your mind revolving around the negatives of “I can’t do this,” or “I can’t change that,” practice the QiGong breathing/energy exercise taught in Part 3, “Starting Down the QiGong Path to T’ai Chi.” Let your mind and body let go of everything. Releasing negatives will fill you with hope as you fill with light.”
Bill Joy, Chief Scientist for Sun Microsystems (a backbone of the Internet), explained that “the speed of technological change is doubling exponentially every few months.” Psychological studies show modern change is stressful. By learning to breathe and relax through Tai Chi's changing postures, we learn to relax into the changes of the stampeding future.
As we practice T'ai Chi, we realize it changes our lives, by showing us that most of what holds us back is not “out there” in the world, as much as it is in our own mental and emotional limitations, in the form of rigidity we’ve constrained ourselves with unconsciously. As earlier chapters explained, this mental constraint actually constrains circulation and health functions over time. But, it also holds back our lives. My Tai Chi and QiGong practice enabled me to open to large expansive ideas like, for example, creating World Tai Chi and QiGong Day, first by announcing it in this book's first edition. Then, these powerful tools gave me the stress-management techniques needed to endure the stress of actually fulfilling that dream.
This ability to open to new possibilities and manage the stress of seeing them to fruition, is increasingly needed by all of us in these modern times. This is because we all have much greater potential and also more stress due to the emerging information age. We are in an age where ideas are communicated globally in nanoseconds, meaning our thoughts and dreams can become not only personal realities, but global realities very quickly.
And the speed of change is about to go into hyper-speed, as we are on the verge of the creation of tiny computers only 10 atoms across that will compute in hours what today's computers might take centuries to compute. When ideas become reality at this speed, we are literally on the threshold of living the lives of our dreams. So T’ai Chi and QiGong's ability to help us clear our thought processes, relax into change by handling stress better, and find more inspiration and hope, changes the world. The end result is we will find ourselves getting healthier by feeling more empowered and less victimized by a rapidly changing world that often seems out of control, surfing the waves of change rather than being beaten down by them.
Embracing an Idea That Changes the World
The way Tai Chi's personal empowerment changes the world is rooted in the Tai Chi philosophy that each of us contains aspects of the entire world. Therefore, by becoming more attuned to our own health and life patterns we tap into the entire world’s rhythms and patterns as well. Our example of personal growth and health heals the world the way cleaning drops of water eventually cleans an entire pool.
The physical benefits of Tai Chi and QiGong actually change the world around us, as they teach you to breathe and relax through challenges and fears. This helps us discover the courage and power to change things in our lives and the world that don't work as well as they could, rather than just tightening up and complaining about what we don’t like. From the quiet place in our backyard (and mind), when we do our T'ai Chi, great things can emerge through our loosening mind and body to permeate all aspects of our lives and world with calm and clarity. Enabling us to see life's “big picture.”
World Tai Chi Day, inspired by the first edition of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Tai Chi and QiGong, was reported in The New York Times, The South China Morning Post, FOX National News, CNN Headline News, and hundreds of media worldwide.
Sage Sifu Says
Chinese philosophy explains how all the universe exists in each of us. So by learning how to heal ourselves and our community, we heal the world.
When we are flowing in the Tao, using our lives to nurture and heal life, Taoist philosophy tells us that we have great unseen support for everything we do.
Learning the Essence of QiGong
When I first began organizing World Tai Chi and QiGong Day, I was invited by the National QiGong Association to come and speak to their annual forum. While there, I met an extraordinary man named Master Li. He'd been perhaps the best Kung Fu coach in China's long martial arts history, but gave it all up to begin teaching QiGong for health. He stopped me in the hall one day and asked this, “Why are you organizing this World T’ai Chi and QiGong Day?” “Are you doing it for love?” he asked.
This caught me off guard, because I’d been doing it simply because it was proven to help people's health. But, Master Li insisted that it must be much more. He said the world’s Qi, or life energy, was depleted of love in this age of hustle and bustle, no one taking the time to enjoy life or one another. This great QiGong master, and one of the world’s greatest martial artists, gave me the quintessential QiGong lesson when he said, “Love is the essence of QiGong.” I realized over time that he was right. Not just about World Tai Chi and QiGong Day, or QiGong, but about everything we do in our lives. If we don’t do it for love, it is meaningless, and will not last, or have any real consequence in the grander scheme of life. Even when battles must be fought, if we do it with the intention of our love of peace, we find greater victory. This seems to be what Tai Chi philosophy has always been trying to suggest in extolling us to employ “right thinking” and “right action” as we flow through our lives, to be “nurturing to all things” as Taoist philosophy writes. As always, QiGong practice goes to the center of life, whether it be health issues, or ways of behaving.
A T'ai Chi Punch Line
Some may begin using T’ai Chi or QiGong to get “special powers” to dominate others with. However, from my experience that doesn't work. To truly experience the deep benefits of Tai Chi and QiGong, we have to let go of such trivial behaviors and desires. Tai Chi and QiGong make us more caring, loving people. As Sun Tzu wrote in The Art of War, “the highest way is not to fight and win in every battle; the highest way is to win in every battle without fighting.”
Allowing Our Greatest Potential to Emerge
When we hold on to fears, angers, or trivial obsessions, our mind tightens down, our health is diminished, and our vision squeezes to a tunnel vision, cut off from the flow of life. That’s how we “hold on” to things physically, physical things like forks, spoons, or baseballs, and so on, by squeezing them. And this is also how we hold on to thoughts and emotionsby tightening our consciousness around them. This in turn tightens our physical atoms of our body and being, which can translate into “pinched” nerves and high blood “pressure” as the mind tightens down the body. When we hold onto old stagnant images of ourselves, others, or the world, there is no room for new inspired images of reality to flow through us. Even though there is always a new, better reality wanting to emerge through our minds into the world all the time, this gripping of old reality keeps us tight. Tai Chi and QiGong are designed to teach us to breathe…and to let go…of everything our mind and heart hold on to, so fresh creative and inspired thoughts can continually flow through us. Just as that same loosening unlocks physical power.
The spir in inspired means to breathe, as in breathing new life into reality. When we squeeze onto old realities in our heart and mind, we suppress our inspiration, and this damages our health. Doctor Andrew Weil, the great author and Harvard educated physician, explains that many of our health problems are rooted in poor breathing habits. It may be that our “life” problems are rooted there, too.
Sage Sifu Says
Feelings are important. When we feel irritation or upset, that is information that our lives, or our world, are in need of change. This is the purpose of feelings, to communicate a need for change. Tai Chi and QiGong enable us to breathe into those feelings, hearing their purpose without being overwhelmed by them. In this way we become very adaptive to challenges.
Fear is often what keeps us locked down and rigid. This is because breaking out of old patterns can make us feel unusual and lonely, and this is “frightening.” The fear of that alienation causes us to freeze up, squeeze down, and suffer increased stress damage, as well as denying the world our precious inspired thoughts and feelings. So you see fear often causes us to limit ourselves, rather than expanding outward and upward toward limitless visions of possibility. Both Tai Chi and QiGong offer great therapies to work through fear, and in a way, make the energy behind fears our ally. Not running from fear, but being with it.
Making the feeling of fear an ally can help us deal with problems rather than running from them. Each of us in our own way often expends huge resources running away from fear rather than feeling it. My dad suffered from delayed stress syndrome from World War II, and when his mind would begin to fill with fear, he always wanted to drive, as if he could drive away from who he was and what he was feeling. He wasn’t alone, as much of the world thinks it can “drive away” from problems. We burn more and more CO2-producing fossil fuels even as scientists warn that we may be dangerously elevating the global temperatures by creating “green house gasses.” Yet we still drive and drive away from our fears. By being with our fear, and doing our Tai Chi everyday, we may save much more than our health.
In summary, Tai Chi and QiGong can …
-- Help us get healthier, which means we think more clearly.
-- Help us learn to be with our fears, so that we don’t have to run from them.
-- Help us use the energy of fear as a catalyst to help us take on the tasks of change that evolving modern life throws at us.
-- Provide that “wakeful rest” state that can allow the truly “great ideas” that exist within all of us to come out. Great ideas like World T’ai Chi and QiGong Day.
Becoming Involved in World T’ai Chi and QiGong Day
World Tai Chi and QiGong Day begins on the "last" Saturday of April each year at 10 A.M. local time, worldwide. Visit www.worldtaichiday.org for exact dates each year. It begins at the earliest time zones with mass events in New Zealand and then Australia, where New Zealanders and Australians come out in public and do T'ai Chi and QiGong together. Then as the Earth turns, T'ai Chi and QiGong players in Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Americas join in and eventually this healing global Tai Chi movement ends with the final events in Hawaii. We even had an event on the North Pole one year!
Research shows that when we “care” about others in the world, it actually makes us healthier. Getting involved in a healing event like World T’ai Chi and QiGong Day, to help others learn how to get healthier, may actually make us healthier.
Lili Feng, Associate Professor at Baylor College of Medicine is working to prove how truthfulness, tolerance, and compassion may directly affect the physical function of the immune system.
As an individual, you can get involved and hopefully get healthier by helping with this global healing event. Teachers and schools can get involved as well and meet new students, grow their class size, and expand public health. Visit www.worldtaichiday.org and find events in your area, or list your event if you’re a teacher or school, and print out Free Organizing Kits.
If you do Tai Chi and QiGong, publish articles or letters to the editor about how you’ve benefited from it in your life. Encourage local hospitals, bookstores, and media to do educational specials around Tai Chi and QiGong and other natural health modalities, like airing QiGong: Ancient Chinese Healing for the 21st Century. Encourage your workplace wellness director to have a Tai Chi, QiGong, or other stress-management program (see Chapter 21, “‘Tie’-Chi: Corporate T’ai Chi”).
Go to the Internet and contact every Tai Chi and QiGong group and refer them to www.worldtaichiday.org.
We are entering an extraordinary time in human history with access to modern and ancient wonders to make life better and better. We are learning that by healing ourselves we heal the world, and vice versa. And today we have access to the best of both modern and ancient sciences. By marrying the dynamic power of our modern Western technological world’s information age with the inner peace and clarity that ancient Eastern wisdom has cultivated and refined for us over the last 2,000 years, we may be at the beginning of a wondrous human renaissance where health and clarity merge with limitless potential to create the world of our dreams.
The Least You Need to Know
-- You have the seeds for wondrous change in you.
-- Fear limits our ability to expand our mind and world to open to hopeful visions.
-- T’ai Chi and QiGong can help you breathe, and relax open to limitless possibility.
-- Joining in World Tai Chi and QiGong Day can help change the world.
-- Your world and our world become limitless as we practice life tools enabling us to relax into the future.
Why the Yin Yang & Da Vinci
Vitruvian Man symbol?
"Humanity's six billion people are reaching critical mass,
the ancient wisdom of the East is now being embraced
worldwide by people seeking quality in the deafening
roar of modern life. The contemplative clarity of Eastern
mind/body sciences "must" become part of, woven into,
the fabric of modern developement if we want to truly
create the modern world we truly want to live in."
Bill Douglas, Founder of World T'ai Chi & Qigong Day
We, at World T'ai Chi & Qigong Day have often been asked "why a Western symbol is included with the Eastern yin yang symbol in the World T'ai Chi & Qigong Day logo?"
The answer is complex as the yin yang concept. All matter, all existence is comprised of dark/light, male/feminine, positive/negative aspects. Taoist philosophy which is at the root of Tai Chi health science understands that balance is where health and healing are found, not in favoring one aspect over another, but in finding balance between the polarities of life. World culture often falls between Eastern and Western ways of observing life. Some, including we at World T'ai Chi & Qigong Day, may say that the world is over balanced in the Yang or Western way of action, progress, and movement. While underbalanced in the more Yin, contemplative, passive ways of the East.
As Lao Tzu, the great Taoist philosopher observed, balance is key. He would say that Yang is not "right" or "wrong," nor is Yin "right," or "wrong." Both are necessary dynamics in finding balance and health and well being.
However most, if honest, will agree that modern life is out of balance as indicated by the level of stress disease in the modern world, especially in the faster moving Western societies, but increasingly worldwide. Kaiser Permenente did a 20 year study revealing that 70% of the illnesses sending patients to their doctors were the result of unmanaged stress. This realization seems overwhelming as technology races forward, the stress plague only seems to grow. However the paradox of yin yan waves weaving together exists in all things.
"We are living in a moment
. . . where hope and history rhyme."
-- Seamus Heaney, Irish Nobel Laureate
The Chinese character for "crisis" is made up of two characters, "danger" and "opportunity." Our modern racing technological world is repleat with danger as stress, both personal and international, becomes increasingly intense. However, at the same time ancient wisdom and profound health and healing technologies are being spread throughout the planet . . . as evidenced in the mass participation each year by tens of thousands from all corners of the planet in World T'ai Chi & Qigong Day Celebrations from Argentina to Zimbabwe, and Nebraska to Siberia. And also in the increasing interest by Western medical institutions in researching the benefits of Tai Chi and Qigong.
The modern world swarmed with Western technology is helping to spread the ancient Eastern tools of health and wellness globally at near light speed. This must happen. Without the instrospective, contemplative sciences of the East being woven into modern technological development, technology offers a cold and sterile future. Modern Western "crisis" medicine in the form of pharmaceuticals and surgery cannot bear the burden of global health, without the wellness technologies of the East becoming part of modern healthcare equation.
Today is a fascinating time to be teaching and sharing the ancient tools of Tai Chi & Qigong, because Western science is becoming subtle enough to measure and validate the benefits of Traditional Chinese Medicine that has evolved over several millinea of research in the East. What was discovered by "internal" research in the East, is now being objectively/"externally" validated by Western research. The waves of the Yin and Yang are washing together.
WHY WAS "DA VINCI'S VITRUVIAN MAN" CHOSEN TO JOIN WITH THE "YIN YANG"?
Da Vinci's Vitruvian man has long been considered the Western symbol for balance and health. Just as the Yin Yang has been in the East. Tai Chi and Qigong are perhaps the most highly evolved developmental sciences for cultivating balance in human beings. Both Easterners and Westerners have sought balance, but unfortunately much of the developed wisdom in the West was destroyed due to ideological or religious fanaticism, purges and book burnings. However, in the East, China specifically, although empires rose and fell the knowledge was not destroyed in wholesale purges in the way it was in the West. Tai Chi and Qigong are some of the treasures that came from that uninterupted progression of wisdom.
Da Vinci, in some ways could be considered the Lao Tzu of the West. He understood the need for balance in life, and contemplation. Westerners feel Qi too. All human beings seek the balance that clearing our minds and bodies produces with the free flow of life energy. But today, China's gift cultivated over many hundreds of years to facilitate that balancing in a highly effective way . . . is beginning to be recognized by the entire world for the treasure that it is to the entire planet.
"Practice non-action. Work without doing."
"Doing nothing is better than being busy doing nothing."
-- Lao-tzu, The Way of Lao-tzu
"Every now and then go away, have a little relaxation, for when you come back to your work your judgment will be surer. Go some distance away because then the work appears smaller and more of it can be taken in at a glance and a lack of harmony and proportion is more readily seen."
-- Leonardo Da Vinci
Davinci understood that Yang or "action" was more powerful when balanced with Yin "contemplation" or "respite." Judging by his writing, Da Vinci would have loved the elegance, and simplicity, of the profound sciences and arts of Tai Chi & Qigong. Da Vinci understood that nature was where the power of life was found, and not the hubris of man. Lao Tzu and Da Vinci would likely have become fast friends.
Human subtelty will never devise an invention more beautiful, more simple or more direct than does Nature, because in her inventions, nothing is lacking and nothing is superfluous.
-- Leonardo Da Vinci
Water is the driving force of all nature.
-- Leonardo Da Vinci
The best [man] is like water.
Water is good; it benefits all things
and does not compete with them.
It dwells in [lowly] places that all disdain.
This is why it is so near to Tao.
-- Lao-tzu, The Way of Lao-tzu
Da Vinci also understood that the power of humanity was only expressed when the energy of the unseen was allowed to pass through our minds, hearts and hands. He understood that simplicity of existence was the most profound existence. Lao Tzu expressed that eloquently.
Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.
-- Leonardo da Vinci
In dwelling, live close to the ground.
In thinking, keep to the simple.
-- Lao-tzu, The Way of Lao-tzu
Where the spirit does not work with the hand,
there is no art.
-- Leonardo da Vinci
It operates everywhere and is free from danger.
I do not know its name; I call it Tao.
If forced to give it a name, I shall call it great."
-- Lao-tzu, The Way of Lao-tzu
The West is in desperate need of the ancient technologies of the East, in order to survive in a healthy balanced way the onslaught of the bullet train of change the modern world is riding upon. The entire world needs to embrace the brilliance that thousands of years of research in the East now offer us.
The World T'ai Chi & Qigong Day symbol was designed by a tai chi student, to convey that, and to convey the ideal of World T'ai Chi & Qigong Day, to bring the world together, to foster balance, by honoring and weaving the wisdom of the East into the structures and systems of the West, to in some subtle way from the field of the unseen have a nurturing and healing effect on the way we progress into the future.
The Way of Heaven is to benefit others
and not to injure.
The Way of the sage is to act but not to compete.
-- Lao-tzu, The Way of Lao-tzu
It has become appaulingly clear that our technology
has outstripped our humanity.
-- Albert Einstein
The power of T'ai Chi & Qigong is in it's balance, its non-contention. In the
World Tai Chi & Qigong Day symbol the Eastern yin yang is subtely, beneath
the surface, creating the motion and force behind the Western image. Becoming
part of and powerfully affecting without overtly dominating.
The yin yang is powerful and moving, but yet subtle and uncontending. Affecting by weaving into
the reality of the image. Just as Eastern mind/body health sciences are subtely, powerfully, and very
positively beginning to permeate and affect modern action and the Western world.
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