I’ve been reflecting lately on the first taiji course I took, “Integral T’ai Chi” with Dr. Sean Kelly at the California Institute of Integral Studies. I consider Integral T’ai Chi to be one of the most influential classes I took at CIIS. Sean is an excellent t’ai chi and qigong instructor, and he makes the practice accessible, fun, and highly meaningful. When I enrolled in the course back in Fall 2006, I had no idea that t’ai chi would shape my life in the way that it has. T’ai chi helps me slow down, breathe deeply, pay attention, move mindfully, and vividly experience qi — the life force that flows in and as all things. The integral practice of t’ai chi has become a way of life for me, and I can’t thank Sean enough for training me in this practice for over a decade now.
Dear Taiji Friends,
I hope you’re all thriving!
I wanted to let you know that I am transitioning out of my role as the teacher of the Integral Taiji & Qigong class at CIIS. I’ve really enjoyed my time practicing with you all over the past 7 years that I’ve been leading the class. However, I feel that I can’t continue teaching the class at CIIS because I need to focus on finishing my doctoral dissertation and graduate in May 2017. Simplifying my calendar will help me carve out more time for writing.
To give you context, I’ve been teaching 10 1-hour classes each semester for the past 2 years. (In prior years, I had been teaching up to 14 classes each semester.) In order to receive a modest stipend from Student Alliance for teaching the classes, I am required to attend the mandatory Student Alliance meetings. While these meetings are very interesting and a great way to build community, they are also time-consuming. This semester alone, I’ve spent over 60 hours total teaching the classes, attending the Student Alliance meetings, and commuting between my home in Berkeley and CIIS. While this has been time well spent, my top priority at this stage is finishing my dissertation.
It’s been a blessing to have been given this opportunity to teach, and I’m so grateful to you all for helping me develop my teaching style and deepen my understanding of taiji and qigong. I will continue to offer private lessons for individuals and groups, so don’t hesitate to contact me if you’re ever interested.
I wish you well, and I look forward to seeing you again soon!
Take good care,
Tai chi is mentally, as well as physically, grounding. I’m finding it the perfect antidote to the pace set by the digital world; having been seduced for years by the delights and benefits of click-of-a-button rewards, I’m relearning that working slowly, with method and intention, can be just as gratifying.
The practice of mindful walking, says Thich Nhat Hanh, is a profound and pleasurable way to deepen our connection with our body and the earth. We breathe, take a mindful step, and come back to our true home.
Here’s a good Huffington Post article about how tai chi makes your brain bigger, keeps you on your toes, and helps you shake off stress.
3 Ways Tai Chi Trains the Brain
By Karl Romain
Your brain on meditation: calm, clear and confident. Your brain on Tai Chi: calm, clear, and confident. As a practitioner of both meditation and Tai Chi, I can attest to the shared outcomes of each practice.
But, I’ve seen students wrestle with the challenge of finding time to do both. While it’s optimal to sit in meditation, it’s often not necessary — especially if you practice Tai Chi. The common denominator may be that both Tai Chi and mindfulness meditation focus your attention on the breath. That single focus may help your brain make lasting changes that impact the way you see (and cope) with things.
The benefits of tai chi are numerous. Here’s a recent article on how tai chi helps with Parkinson’s disease:
If further studies confirm the findings, experts say it appears that tai chi might be an effective therapy for improving a person’s ability to walk, move steadily, and balance. Tai chi may also reduce the chances of a fall.