10k is done and (nearly) all about your 3 bodies

It's done.

The 10k is over and money has been raised for Maggie's.

How much? At the moment it's £345, which I'm absolutely delighted with and I know Maggie's will be chuffed too, so a huge thank you to every single one of you who sponsored me for the event!

All I have to do now is gently rehab my right hamstring over the next couple of weeks until it's back to normal again. Yup, it started niggling just before I got halfway through the run but I just plodded on, jogging and walking, until I finished. Even walking and jogging I managed to complete the 6 mile route in around 1hr 23m ??s, so I'm quite pleased with that.

Anyway, today I wanted to talk a little about awareness, and specifically, awareness of your 3 bodies.

Three!

Well, yes, because in the Daoist view of things you have 3 bodies:

  • Physical body
  • Energy body
  • Consciousness body

Generally we're only ever in touch with our physical body ’cos it's the easiest one to feel. Saying that, many people don't even feel their physical body that well and have no idea what kinds of mischief it's getting up to while they're moving about.

S'true. In one class a few weeks ago we were working on rotating the weighted hip and a couple of people had to first get in touch with:

1. Where their hip actually was, and then
2. How to rotate the joint open and closed to feel the structural point in action and move the pelvis and centre.

Before they'd investigated this, rotating the weighted hip was just a concept. They were trying to do it in their heads or minds. And your hip joint isn't in your head, it's... well... it’s where your hip joint is...

But once they'd played around a little, all was good in the land of hip joints!

So it's good to feel the physical body.

But what about the energy body? Well, we need to able to feel that too. That's some work we started on in earnest at the Elite class last week and will continue to do so.

Because as we get older, it's very important to have a strong and vibrant energy body and the more aware of that energy body you are the more effective your work will be in strengthening and cultivating it.

And your health will benefit a huge amount from that, because you won't be able to rely so much on the physical body (although we like to keep that in good nick too!)

Ok, as well as your 3 bodies you have the 3 treasures. I've mentioned these before and here's how the treasures and bodies are linked in the Daoist view.

  • Consciousness body => Shen or Spirit => Yang
  • Energy body => Qi or Energy => communicates between yin and yang
  • Physical body => Jing or Essence => Yin

It's important to note that conditions in the physical body can affect the energy and consciousness body and conditions in the consciousness body can affect the energy and physical body. That also applies to conditions in the energy body. All three are connected, and what affects one can have an effect on the others.

And there's more..

Much more.

But you'll have to wait, ’cos I've run out of time for today.

Before I go though, there are some changes to the classes. The main thing being that many of the classes are now full. There are possibly a couple of beginners classes planned for the U3A next month but no more.

So if you want to join a class you'll preferably need to have some experience. You don't have to have experience. If you have a strong willingness to learn you'll be fine. If you don't, then the classes aren't for you, although you should bear in mind that most people start in an already established class, it's only people with the wrong mind set that don't progress or give up. Either that, or they don't really know what they're getting into when they start taijiquan. I know someone hasn't done their research when they ask if they need a mat ;-)

Still with me? Great.

Check out the new class page and the new guidelines if you're thinking of joining us here:

Classes
Guidelines
FAQs
All Levels Classes

Have a great week...

Later,
Mike
PS I've been busy doing more filming for the online training web site too and it's all coming along well.

Last week I filmed the warm up exercises and the 7 structural points and I'm editing them at the moment.

When it goes live you'll have access to those warm up and structural point videos, 4 daoyin forms and the taijiquan set but there'll also be more. For example:

Small Talk - is a section of the site where I give short video talks (between 3-10mins) about different subjects related to the arts, health and well-being
The Vault - will grow into a huge archive of articles and documentation and will become a fantastic resource for all your knowledge and background needs.

New stuff will be added every single month, so you'll always have new content to learn and study but I'll keep you updated on the progress...

I have the body of a God. Seriously...

I'm very fond of reminding Adele that I have the body of a god.

Unfortunately, it just so happens to be Buddha ;-)

But to help ease her suffering, I always offer to let her 'rub the Buddha's belly' for luck.

Her reply?

"If you think I'm walking that far down the garden, you can forget it!"

Which, I think, is a little bit harsh...

But fair.

You see, I've been a bit lax with the nutrition stuff lately, and I don't really have an excuse for slipping up, it's just me being lazy in that area. The last few months have been spent focussing on other things.

Life happens, right?

But with the new kitchen island and all, I've been adding to my toyz list.

And no, it's not from Screwfix this time!

My latest toy is an electronic pressure cooker, called an Instant Pot. Brill, it is. It can replace my slow cooker, steam my veggies, keep meals warm after cooking and, as a pressure cooker, cook them in a fraction of the time it takes my slow cooker but with the same 'fall off the bone' results.

And, it can cook rice, porridge, yoghurt an' all that kinda stuff. Nifty keen.

If you like Indian food, I also found a web site that does 'paleo' versions of many Indian favourites, including a gluten free naan bread. The site also has other non-paleo recipes you may be interested in. You can check out My Heart Beets here…

I also came across a fantastic demonstration of 'leading' as we do in the Cheng Hsin arts. Ralston has often used bullfighting to explain leading, and how we can move our partner/opponent somewhere to our advantage.

These 2 clips (same clip but from different angles) show how effective leading can be - even against a bull

Leading 1

Leading 2

Enjoy, and we'll catch up again soon.

Oh, and before I go, don't forget to tell your friends about the new classes starting soon in Sketty Park, Cwmbwrla and possibly Pontardulais

Later,

Mike

It's all connected...

While channel hopping the other night, I came across a couple of episodes of the Likely Lads, remember that?

With Rodney Bewes and James Bolam, it was set in Newcastle and followed the lives of Bob Ferris and Terry Collier. I really enjoyed watching the episodes but the only thing is that I can’t get the theme tune out of my head.

I keep humming it at odd moments here and there and getting on Adele’s nerves ;-)

Damn, I’m feeling all nostalgic now…

But honestly, I do seem to enjoy the older programmes more: Dad’s Army, Get Some In, Citizen Smith and the classic Fawlty Towers.

I don’t watch much telly but recently I’ve recorded a couple of the new programmes and thought they were excellent. Did you see Brief Encounters? All about the Ann Summers parties and set in the 80s? Brilliant! Good fun and the music was fab too (well, for me anyway)

And then there was New Blood, set in London following a couple of guys who become friends, one a copper the other working for the Serious Fraud Office. Those were 2 series that I was always looking forward to catching up on.

Ok. Back to business.

An interesting thing came up in conversation the other day. I was chatting with one of my students (and assistants) and we were discussing how some people (not you, obviously) have difficulty in making the connection between a specific practice and their general practice of movement. Here’s what I mean…

For example, I’ve been getting quite a few people in the classes to practice the structural points and/or principles in isolation from their taiji sets. getting them to create a feeling of that particular rule in their bodies. And they do. I know, ‘cos I can see them manifesting that rule as they move. But here’s the point…

After doing all that work on clarifying the rule and creating the feelings they then forget about it in the taiji set (or qigong, etc). It’s almost like it’s held as separate form the taiji set practice, when the whole point of doing the structural points in isolation was to get them to clarify what they were doing in order to integrate those structures into the sets.

Sometimes we don’t make a connection between one practice and another. But they are connected. Definitely. It’s good to notice this.

And that’s also something I’m working on getting you to notice more in the classes too

Talking about classes, there’s a U3A Open Day in October and there’ll be new beginners classes available if you or anyone you know is interested. There will definitely be a new class on Friday at 12pm in Hazel Court, Sketty Park and there are 2 more potential classes too. One on Monday afternoon at 2:30pm and the other on Tuesday morning at 10am.

The last 2 depend on how the class numbers go leading up to the Open Day and I’ll be advising anyone who’s on the taiji stand on the day, and the conveners, exactly what’s available.

For a current class list go here...

Best,

Mike

How to change your nervous system for better health

In one of the classes last week, I mentioned how many people scoff at t'ai chi as a martial art because of the slow motion movements.

But, of course, they're missing the point (as usual).

One of the reasons you train slowly is so that you can pay close attention to every part of your body, mind, and energy. Becoming aware of how you're moving, thinking and your intent and focus, slowly, will enable you to begin to change your nervous system and the existing programs it uses for movement.

And how does this relate to your health, you're wondering? Hang in there. I'm getting to that…

Doing the t'ai chi set is not about looking pretty, it's about being functional.

You don't do your t'ai chi set just for the sake of doing it, you do it to become more skilful in movement, to open and stretch out the body and to train a way of moving.

Stretching out and opening the body relieves muscle imbalances, moves lymph (your body's waste drainage system), pumps nutrients through your tissues and tonifies the muscles. Amongst many other things, but that's a good start, right?

Once you've trained the body to move according to the rules of t'ai chi then you can start to speed up the movements with no loss of quality, but speed up too soon and you'll relapse back into your old way of moving because you haven't changed the nervous system yet. You can begin to train t'ai chi as a martial art more effectively if you have the basics of movement, otherwise you'll just do your own thing and turn t'ai chi into kung fu. Which many people do, by the way.

And t'ai chi is not kung fu.

All that said, if you're practising as you should be, you'll be aligning your body and posture, freeing up any tension that's hanging about, improving the effectiveness of your body's systems like the respiratory, circulatory, lymphatic and digestive systems and increasing your energy, flexibility and power.

Not too bad for 'slow motion' stuff, huh?

It's useful to bear in mind that you can (and should) perform the t'ai chi movements at many speeds including full combat speed (but only if you're interested in t'ai chi as a martial art obviously).

Ok, that's it for today, I'll catch up with you at a class soon

Best,

Mike

Being effective and why I'm never doing t'ai chi again...

It's true.

I'm never doing t'ai chi again, its a pain in the backside.

What!?

No, not the art, the spelling!

T'ai Chi is a pain, all that apostrophe stuff each time I type. So I'm using the more modern taiji in future.

Did I have you going for a bit there?

Sorry, I couldn't resist it! But, I'm not giving up taiji anytime soon.

Ok, thanks to everyone who came along to the summer social on Saturday, it was great to see you there and it seems that everyone enjoyed the food. Xmas social is next and we've already had one suggestion for a venue, the Swansea Yacht and Sub Aqua Club.

We'll make it a traditional Xmas lunch, so if you have any suggestions for venues please let me know and I'll make enquiries.

And while I'm here, allow me to share something with you on being effective.

When you do your daily practice, what's your goal? What do you want to achieve? What's the purpose, if you like, for your practice?

Once you've got clear on what your purpose is, ask yourself if your practice is achieving that purpose.

If it is, you're being effective. If not, hmmm…

If not, you have to change what you're doing so that your practice becomes effective.

Know that you will have some ineffective practices or habits, nothing wrong with that. But noticing you're ineffective and remaining ineffective, well, that's a different ball game.

So, are you being effective?

It's a simple question to yourself which requires an honest answer (for you to be effective, are you getting the idea?). Don't avoid the question or pretend to answer it, answer truthfully.

And be effective!

There's more I'll say at a later date on the avoidance and ignorance stuff, but notice that there's a lot in what I've said above, short though it may be.

A great way to measure how effective you are is the Cheng Hsin / Taiji martial work, and I know that quite a few have already signed up the the Open Class on Saturday 20th August, but there's still a few places left

Check out Cheng Hsin here and if you fancy having a free lesson, hit reply and book a place for the 20th

Ok, have a great day

Later,

Mike