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Find The Balanced Path - At The Tai Chi Studio
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Are You a Seeker?

In one of my ‘moments’ the other day I was thinking about the sort of people I would like to attract to the studio and how they would benefit from classes. The word ‘Seekers’ came to mind immediately and I wondered how I have overlooked this before.

‘Seekers’ are people who are looking for that little something they know is missing or hiding away deep inside of them. They know that there is something more inside of them but just can’t put their hands on it or know how to start looking. I believe that Chi Kung is a perfect catalyst for this journey of self discovery but like all journeys to actually arrive anywhere you have to ‘get on the bus’!!!

The first realisation on the journey is how little you know about your body – how unaware you are of its role in helping you emotionally as well as physically – through meditation, standing postures, moving forms and coordinating movement with breathe we start to understand how miraculous our bodies are.

The next stop is connecting to the internal energy in our body – that force that keeps us alive and well – we begin to feel when there is stagnation or blockages in our energy flow and learn what may be the causes (usually a buried emotion) and once again through meditation and working with the 5 Element Theory of Traditional Chinese Medicine we learn to acknowledge and work with our bodies and emotions etc.

At this time, we also connect to the external energy around us which is prevalent in nature – a matrix of energy that we can merge with bringing a balance that was previously missing from life. Artists, musicians and writers usually find this a place of great inspiration and their chosen art forms take on new dimensions. A time of real creation from deep within.

Now I know that this all sounds a bit ‘airy fairy’ but that is far from the case – those that know me well will vouch that I am about as far from ‘airy fairy’ you can get! When you come along to a class your feet are still firmly on the ground and we definitely don’t do any crazy stuff – so why not come along – get on the bus – enjoy the journey – I’ll save you a ticket!!!

don't underestimate what Chi Kung can do for you

The benefits of chi kung has many layers - just like an onion, as you remove one layer a deeper layer presents itself.
At a basic level chi kung greatly improves your body awareness, breathing, posture and opens up the joints, relaxes muscles and relieves stress and aids digestion. These 'advantages' are great and felt very quickly and because of this people think that is it!
But, as you continue with your practice you find a much deeper effect happening - You become more aware of your internal energy and start to feel any blockages or problems with your body. I know several people who have realised they have something wrong and got medical attention quickly. Yes, medical attention is sometimes needed and when used along with chi kung practice a quick recovery is often possible. Obviously, this isn't always the case - sometimes your time is up!!!
Beyond this stage you find a more spiritual meaning behind your practice and you find yourself living much more in the flow of things (the Tao) - intuition often improves and you feel that harmony between mind, body and spirit often referred to as the 'three treasures' - Jing, Chi and Shen.
So don't just settle for the obvious benefits that come from practice - never stop searching and looking for the deeper mysteries that lie within Chi Kung.

Don't Get Hung Up On Learning Forms!

Lots of people who take up Tai Chi and Chi Kung get obsessed with learning forms without understanding the basic principles and concepts behind the forms they have already learned. This is why sometimes a form looks like a dance with absolutely no intention or energy behind it.
I like to make sure that everyone at least knows the basic principles and concepts behind what they are learning and hopefully put these into the form they are practising. Sword form particularly needs this understanding or it just looks like someone waving a piece of wood (if you are using a practise sword) around.
Chi Kung is the same - you must have intention (Yi) in the movements so that your energy (Chi) can flow (no Yi no Chi!!!) - yes, you have to be relaxed but also the intention behind the movement has to be there (a bit of a paradox really).
I was once told by a teacher that when you see someone practising Tai Chi it should look like a spiritual person who shouldn't be messed with - I think this sums it up quite well!!!

Can You Learn From A Book?

People often ask if it is possible to learn Tai Chi or Chi Kung through a book or DVD. Well, you could probably learn the moves but it is impossible to feel or understand the moves without proper tuition. I once had someone come along who had learnt the whole Yang Long Form from a Video and to be fair she hadn't done a bad job of it but at the end of the day they were just moves with no substance or intention. This is something that cannot be conveyed to you via a book or DVD. Billy Joel once summed it up in one of his songs saying 'There's a new band in town but you can't get the sound from a story in a magazine'.
You do need someone who understands the principles and concepts of Tai Chi or Chi Kung to make any real progress so don't be afraid to ask for your teachers credentials - who have they trained with? how long have they practised themselves? I have practised both arts for over 25 years with various masters and teachers, all of whom have been absolutely brilliant and if I am honest I would say there are probably other master/teachers out there who can take me even further along the path. That is one of the things I love about Tai Chi and Chi Kung it is a never ending journey - never a dull moment!!!

Support Cycle of 5 Element Chi Kung

When you come along to the studio I like to work on the theory as well as practical side of Chi Kung - I find that if a student has a basic understanding of the concepts behind the movements they are being taught then the easier it is to visualise what is happening with your energy.
Elemental Chi Kung works on the five element theory of Traditional Chinese Medicine (Earth, Metal, Water, Wood and Fire). Each of these elements have their own characteristics and feed into each other as a mother would feed her child to bring about balance to our energy system.
The support cycle is Earth supports Metal, Metal supports Water, Water supports Wood, Wood supports Fire and Fire supports Earth. When all of these elements are balanced and supporting each other we have a healthy body, mind and spirit.
Each Element also has a direction, season, emotion, colour, taste and animal (and other characteristics) - The list is long but the good thing is that if you look the chart up on the net it doesn't really vary so you can get a good idea of what is element achieves.
At the studio we work on the support cycle mainly because we are looking to achieve balance - When one element gets out of line then the Control cycle comes into play but a deficiency or lack in one element is not always easy to diagnose so we work on keeping the elements balanced which usually means things even out over a period of time.
We also work on the balance between Yin and Yang and explore the extremes of the elements - Metal and Water being the Yin elements and Wood and Fire being the Yang elements - Earth is central and  helps balance the extremes.
Chi Kung is a fascinating journey into ourselves and like Tai Chi there are many styles but all look towards the same outcome - a balance between Mind, Body and Spirit.

Bit of a rant!!!

I am really sorry but this is a bit of a rant - two of the things I really expect (and admire) in people is honesty and integrity. I wish I could figure out why people say they will be turning up to a taster class and then not bother - it doesn't take a moment to text, email or call if circumstances have changed and you can't make it - Last night I held a class up for ten minutes for someone who didn't show and didn't have the decency to call and say they wouldn't be there after all - Just a word, I do not need people like you - please do not call.
Sorry, rant over!!!

New Classes Coming Up

I See that once again I haven't made an entry on the blog since the end of February - I must get back into the habit of writing regularly to let you all know what's going on.
Firstly, I seem to be making a full recovery from my Guillain Barre Syndrome and that is where most of my energy has been going the last few months - Unfortunately, this has meant that things at the studio have been rather put on hold with no new classes or new people being taken on. Also, I have also fell behind with keeping in contact with friends who wish to come and see me - I will get round to you, I promise.
looking to start new classes at the studio from May, particularly filling the classes that are already up and running as well as starting some new daytime classes.
Also looking to rent studio out for other classes - Yoga, Pilates etc and other workshops - I offer really good rates and the studio is ideal for a good quiet class especially if you are looking to take a weekend workshop. So, if anyone would like to take advantage please get in touch.
Write again soon.

Alleviating Common Cold Symptoms

One way you can instantly start to alleviate cold symptoms (runny nose etc.) is to cut out your dairy intake (completely if possible) - Dairy products help create mucus and cutting out milk, cheese etc goes a long way to stop those runny noses!!! I'm not a great dairy eater although I can't say that I don't have any at all - I am rather partial to a certain high street coffee chains cappuccino's and I do also like the odd lump off cheese (all cheese) but as soon as I find a cold coming on and the nose starting to run freely I cut them out and by including certain Chi Kung exercises (standing and moving) I find the problem really starts to ease.
You may not know the Chi Kung exercises but there is certainly nothing to stop you trying the non dairy approach to the problem.
Try stopping milk in your tea altogether or change to Green Tea too. 

The Power of Chi Kung

Well, you may have noticed there has been very little activity on my blog page recently with very good reason - Please read on.

Around Christmas 2016 I caught a rather nasty chest infection which rather took me by surprise being such a healthy specimen!!! It got so bad that I went to the doctor for the first time in about 10 years and I made the trip very reluctantly - I was given a course of Antibiotics which again I rather reluctantly took mainly because, if I am honest, I was looking for a bit of a quick fix rather than working my way through things through Chi Kung as I would normally do. Near the end of the course I noticed that I was beginning to get pins and needles in my fingers and toes and then I began to feel very weak in the legs especially at the knees. The situation got worse until I found it almost impossible to walk more than a few steps and then to my horror my legs just gave way every now and then - I had to call the doctor once again who called an ambulance and sent me straight to Colchester General Hospital.
Now, before we go any further I have to say my treatment at the hands of the doctors and nurses was second to none and this is not going to slide into a diatribe against the NHS.
To cut a long story short they could not believe I was on no sort of medication for any other problems - 68years old and fit as a fiddle apart from this latest intruder into my life. I was given blood test, CT scans and various other 'test' and nothing really came up apart from a sodium deficiency in the blood. Over a couple of days the sodium levels built back up but my condition was not getting any better until the Neuro Consultant told, after given me a lumbar puncture, that he thought I had Guillain Barre Syndrome, a particularly nasty virus whereby the immune system turns against itself. Apparently, it can be brought on by Antibiotics and also a simple flu jab. I was told that around 75 percent of people make a complete recovery and there was a treatment that could be given over five days - after that well...
This syndrome can be fatal and I thought there is no way I am going to roll over and just let this virus win - I called upon my 30 years of Chi Kung and Tai Chi training to sort myself out a course of action. I went back over thirty years of notes and had to simplify some exercises at first because my flexibility was rather limited. While in the hospital I was at first reduced to 'shuffling' about with a Zimmer frame until eventually I could manage a few steps with the aid of a stick but I knew I had to get back into training if I was going to show any significant improvement.
So, I was sent home after two and a half weeks in hospital by this time back on the Zimmer frame and 'shuffling' about again.
Everyday, first thing in the morning and last thing at night I would go through one of my routines also adding some acupressure to my treatment. I set myself a date to return to teaching at my studio - Feb 20th 2017. Everyday I found myself getting stronger and stronger and although I still have some pins and needles in my fingers and toes they are slowly getting back to normal. I am totally convinced this change was entirely down to my Chi Kung training and when the hospital physio called to see how things were working out she was amazed that I was now up and about - no stick and getting more flexible by the day - it was obvious that I would not be needing any help from her.
I can honestly say that this illness has reinforced my belief in Chi Kung and I believe, without doubt, that I can help other people who find themselves in a similar predicament. You must have the mind set though. You cannot just expect Chi Kung to do the work - you need belief and intention and believe me miracles happen.
Did I get back to work by the 20th Feb - of course I did!!!!

What's the difference between Chi Kung and Tai Chi

I am frequently asked what is the difference between Chi Kung and Tai Chi? This is the way I see it - again, like so many things your opinion may differ from mine but here goes.
I imagine Chi Kung as a way of charging the battery or putting petrol into your car and Tai Chi as being able to start the car and letting it take you where you want to go.
Fact of the matter is, if you battery is flat or you have no petrol then your car can't start or go anywhere!!!
Happy Christmas and New Year to all and I hope to see you down at the studio in 2017 charging those batteries and starting your engines!!!
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