World Tai Chi day is coming Saturday. I wanted to touch on an aspect of my relationship with it. Some thirty years ago, I first taught a Tai Chi workshop at a science fiction convention. I was stumped: if it takes a year to learn the form, and you had to learn the form before you could really learn the “feeling” contained in the form, and it is the feeling, the capacity to relax and feel “flow” under stress, that creates the core value IMHO.
Because stress doesn’t hurt you. It is STRAIN that hurts you, and strain is a maladaption to stress. If your life stress doesn’t negatively affect your posture, breathing and muscle tension, it simply doesn’t become strain, and what happens is that that life stress: physical, mental, or emotional, will trigger an ADAPTIVE RESPONSE, and you get STRONGER. That’s how we grow. Stress plus nutrition (physical, emotional, or mental) plus rest equals Growth.
(Bonus question: who can spot the relationship between this and the “Secret Formula”: Goals X Faith X Constant Action X Gratitude = Results. If you can see it, you’ve just learned something critical)
Anyway, what I decided was that I could NOT teach tai chi the traditional way and give my friends and family something of value in just one or two hours. Not possible.
So I “cheated” and brought in body-mind concepts from Yoga, other martial arts, Pancultural Shamanism, Eriksonian Hypnosis, NLP and the other disciplines that had been proven to be of genuine power and purpose. Other material came from Sri Chinmoy, Harley “Swiftdeer” Reagan, Sufism, and Circular Strength Training.
Anywhere and everywhere.
One of the concepts I used was what is called a “Perfect Template.” A PT is a physical movement pattern which, if done correctly and consistently, will change you on multiple levels. “If I could do THAT, I would be THIS.” There are many forms of sacred and profound motion that contain within them the secrets of being a healthy, dynamic human being. You simply cannot practice them daily without changing. If your ego is strong enough, and clings to your “old patterns” enough, what will happen is that you will NOT BE ABLE TO SUSTAIN THE PRACTICE. If you do it, you change. Period.
Tai Chi can be one of those, especially.
One reason is that fear is the greatest barrier to growth. Oh, it might come under the label “stress”, “anxiety”, “anger”, or whatever, but if, for the sake of communication, you consider the underlying emotion to be fear, it can be addressed directly and powerfully.
Because if you “act” brave long enough, you actually become able to DO the things “brave” people do–in other words, the fear is there, but you can perform anyway. And when you actually take actions long enough, if you are also practicing one of these “Perfect Template” disciplines you will begin to internalize things that cannot be put into words…and you wake up one day, realizing you are a different person.
Here is a way you can “hack” your nervous system to get his effect even if you don’t have a “Perfect Template” practice:
The next time you feel “up”, optimistic, filled with energy and joy: notice how you are breathing, your expression and posture, the language you’re using, and where your attention is focused. REMEMBER THIS. Then, the next time you are feeling “down” hit “replay” and do the exact same things–and you’ll trigger the same emotions in the exact way that, were you to imitate the language, body movement and focus of feeling “down” you would “crash” the best mood of your life. It goes both ways!
- “Is it really that simple? And is it as easy as you make it sound?” I was asked this just minutes ago.
- And the answer: I never said it was easy. SIMPLE, yes.
- Your ego thinks it is you. And will fight to the death to defend its ground. And if you have a negative ego-identity that means it will literally destroy your external life to maintain your self-image. As the man said: “your ego is not your amigo.”
- That means that we need to use the “Five Minute Miracle.” EVERYONE HAS FIVE MINUTES A DAY. IF YOU THINK YOU DON’T, YOU ARE LYING TO YOURSELF. Period.
- The “Five Minute Miracle” uses a fantastic “cheat”–if you need to learn something, you will learn it better practicing multiple times during the day. Practicing piano for 12 minutes, five times a day, is better than practicing it for an hour in a lump.
- And sixty seconds of breathing, posture, and focused thought five times a day, once every three hours, can change your life in a single month.
- Catch yourself in a positive mood, and learn to intensify it. Catch yourself sliding into a negative mood, and interrupt the negative pattern. The breathing is probably the single most important thing to change. Go to a tai chi teacher, yoga teacher, or opera coach and learn deep, diaphragmatic breathing. Do it for sixty seconds, five times a day (every three hours), along with the postures and mental focus and internal dialog you use when ‘up’ and the effect is startling.
Stand up or sit up straight. Smile. Breathe deeply and slowly (work with a teacher! If you have a hard time staying in a positive mood I PROMISE you are breathing non-optimally!). Walk with confidence. Move like a healthy animal on the prowl. Say something positive, aloud, with confidence.
Five times a day, once every three hours.
That’s all it takes to get started. I’ve had hundreds of fans over the years tell me that a single hour of working with me at a con, teaching them how to breathe and move and relax properly changed their lives. Now, I have a goal of changing one MILLION lives. That’s my goal. That’s what I want to do with the rest of my life, and have developed a way of doing this far more deeply and profoundly in a single day. I’m open to brain-storming about how and where to introduce this one-day workshop across the country, and thoughts would be welcome.
But first–help yourself. Try it, and see if I’m not telling the truth. Then…get in touch with me. Let’s change some lives together, shall we?
theancientchild dot com