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News & Article Archives > Grab Bag Articles > Return to Health with Taoist Tai Chi

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Return to Health with Taoist Tai Chi
Posted by on 01 December, 2005

Learn about the Physical Science of the ancient Taoist Art of Tai Chi: Join one of the Beginner classes in Taoist Tai Chi starting soon in Calgary:
Monday evening class 7- 9 pm starts November 7th
Thursday evening class 7- 9 pm starts November 10th

The most powerful benefit of Taoist Tai Chi is that, with practice, it helps people regain a sense of control over their health. Our health can decline quickly through acute illness, or slowly as we get older. Disability and discomfort can gradually erode our ease of movement. It is a great irony that until our health is lost, we hardly notice it at all.

Movement is essential to maintaining good health. This involves not only the movement of muscles and bones, but also the coursing of blood to and from the heart, the flow of air in and out of the lungs, the transmission of electrical impulses along nerves, the propulsion of food through the intestines, and the ebb and flow that occur within each of the bodyís organs. The word circulation describes this omnipresent ebb and flow. Circulation refers to more than just the movement of blood through the arteries and veins. According to traditional Chinese medicine, ìchiî (intrinsic energy in the body) is the source of all movement in the body and accompanies all movement. Impaired of blocked movement of chi leads to disharmony among various parts of the body and therefore to illness. Taoist Tai Chi was developed as part of the Taoist Chinese system of health maintenance, along with techniques like chi kung, meditation, acupuncture and herbal remedies. Improving movement and circulation through the practice of Taoist Tai Chi can improve health and slow down aging.

Those who have experienced prolonged of severe illness may find it difficult to recover fully. Illness is usually accompanied by a reduction in physical activity and results in weak of stiff muscles, tendons and ligaments. Even the supposedly normal process of aging can slowly erode strength and mobility. It is challenging to return to a previous level of activity when your joints are stiff and your strength decreased. You may be in pain or perpetually exhausted. Further, anxiety and depression are frequent companions to illness to the aging process. Not believing in the possibility of recovery can be as disabling as the disease itself and may lead to feelings of despair and helplessness.

Taoist Tai Chi can give back hope and health by providing a gentle by powerful therapeutic tool, which works by restoring strength, flexibility and balance, thus improving movement and circulation throughout the body.

The body and mind are intertwined in many ways affecting health. To work on one without the other is to solve only part of the problem. Taoist Tai Chi is different from other disciplines because it begins with on premise that

the most effective therapy is one that will improve the functioning of the entire system of body and mind. The quiet practice of Taoist Tai Chi is an efficient and enjoyable way to work on the entire body and to calm the mindís turbulence as well. Practising the art develops our awareness of the immense and subtle powers that reside within us, and this awareness is essential to developing a belief in our own healing powers.

Beginning with modest effort, the student of Taoist Tai Chi will see steady improvement in strength, balance and flexibility. It is essential that these movements be practised daily. The greater the daily effort of the student, the more profound will be the improvements. In time, and with hard work, the student may regain control over illness and aging. Students of Taoist Tai Chi usually find that the practice of this ancient art is more interesting than other forms of repetitive exercise, and they are more inclined to keep practising it faithfully.

Taoist Tai Chi emphasises balanced stretching and turning. Is it is a form of exercise that helps to relax and strengthen the body and mind. It is gentle and anybody can practise it, regardless of age or physical condition. Even seated practitioners can receive great benefit from daily training. With practice, the body the body will change gradually. Tendons and ligaments that have tightened and contracted through disuse will become more elastic; muscles will become fuller and more able to bear body weight. As strength increases, it will be possible to stretch further, and this will lead to increased flexibility. With improvement in strength and flexibility, balance and walking skills will improve.

Rhythmic turning and stretching, which is common to all Taoist Tai Chi movements, encourages the spine to loosen and move more freely. For those who are able to do the exercises standing up, the legs will strengthen to support the spine. As the student learns to control his or her body weight, turning it slowly and smoothly from one foot to anther, a sense of balance will develop and the joints of the arms and legs will stretch out and move more fully. Regardless of whether they are able to do the movements standing or sitting, most students will become aware of the subtle changes created by the practice of Taoist Tai Chi, such as warmer hands, stronger legs of greater endurance. The gentle turning and stretching use in Taoist Tai Chi differ form traditional Western forms of exercise, increasing circulation and mobility more effectively and with less stress on the body than Western exercises.

The Taoist Tai Chi Society

The Calgary Taoist Tai Chi Society is located at 2310 24th Steet S.W. You can reach them by phone at (403) 240-4566.

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Anger, Negative Feelings and Shame
Posted by on 05 November, 2004

Anger is generally perceived as a negative emotion in our society. We have two basic ways of how we deal with our anger. We either express it readily, or hold it in. It is more common for women to suppress their anger, and for men to aggressively express anger. Of course there are many exceptions to this.

Anger, Negative Feelings and Shame
By Ingrid Cryns

Anger is generally perceived as a negative emotion in our society. We have two basic ways of how we deal with our anger. We either express it readily, or hold it in. It is more common for women to suppress their anger, and for men to aggressively express anger. Of course there are many exceptions to this. For many women, they can feel quite often embarrassed and debilitated by their anger or rage. Our society has names like ‘bitch’, ‘shrew’, or ‘hag’ for angry women. There are no equivalent names like this for angry men.

Quite often women prefer to find a way to avoid conflict, to make peace at any cost. It can seem like it is a lot easier to make everyone else happy and suppress their own anger or needs.

In the end, I have had to learn how to not feel shame about owning my own feelings of anger. It simply is a feeling and it is there in my body. It’s ok to feel it. It’s ok to feel anything in my body. And I can no longer deny it anymore. I have made a commitment to myself to feel my body wholly and fully. So I am “coming out” now in allowing my anger to simply be there without shaming myself and hiding it from myself or anyone else anymore

There are nine basic affects through which our body instinctually expresses feelings. An affect is defined as the biological portion of emotion. When your face smiles, you are showing the affect of enjoyment. The circuitry to produce affects is stored in the primitive portion of the brain called the reptile brain. When an affect is triggered it activates “a mechanism which then releases a known pattern of biological events” . A feeling is when one becomes aware of an affect. Affects are an instinctual part of our bodies that we are all born with and express. From the minute we take a breath we somehow know how to cry and scream for comfort. This would occur through a combination of the affects of fear, distress and anger. Of the nine affects, there are two that are positive, one is neutral, and there are six that are classified as negative feelings. Below is a list of the nine basic innate affects from Donald L. Nathenson’s book, Pride and Shame (some of them are listed as a continuum of a range of feeling);

1) Interest - Excitement
2) Enjoyment - Joy
3) Startle - Surprise
4) Fear - Terror
5) Distress - Anguish
6) Anger - Rage
7) Dissmell [contempt/rejection]
8) Disgust
9) Shame - Humiliation

It is clear that negative feelings far outweigh the positive 3:1. Shame is the hardest feeling to find and then to learn how to dissolve. Shame happens when the natural flow of either of the two positive affects, interest-excitement & enjoyment-joy, gets disrupted. Quite often anger can be a response to the feeling of shame. A defensive response to attempt to reestablish a positive feeling.

There are other feelings, but they generally are a combination of these basic nine affects. For example, guilt is not a basic innate affect but an outcome of the combining of the innate affects of fear and shame together.

Did you ever wonder why it is so difficult to stay in the positive sometimes? Shame is an impediment to further positive affect. Over time, if you don’t use your positive affect, or neural pathways, you can begin to loose access to them. This is what can happen if you have trauma in your system. Trauma has a tendency to keep pulling you back into a negative feeling loop (called a trauma vortex). Then it becomes harder and harder to remember what it was like to feel good.

In trauma, body sensations can be interpreted as negative sensations. Anger is often interpreted as a negative feeling. The experience of feeling overwhelmed or flooded is a fear response. It is not pleasant to go into the body if it is in fear, or if a part left because of fear. Therefore to heal trauma, it is important to be able to re-organize what the meaning is of what it is like to be in your body. Body sensation and fear are hooked together in trauma. To uncouple this negative relationship, the idea is to initially learn body awareness of experiences of pleasure and safety, and to be able to contain or negotiate how to come out of the experience of fear in the body. These are called resource tools. Anger and boundary work are often important ways to help re-claim the body. For many people with trauma, anger is often a very difficult feeling to actually connect to and feel. Trauma can cut off the feeling of anger.

Concentrating solely on the affect of anger, its expression in the body can be seen through the basic tensing and contraction of tissue and muscles. There are a multiple of variations of this, such as your face going red (skin tissue inflamed, contracted), a frown (mouth muscles turning down, contracted), screaming (throat muscles tensing) , swinging with your arm to hit (arm and hand muscles tensing and contracting).

You can also hide, repress, or suppress an angry affect in a number of ways. For example, through tensing your shoulders, by clenching your jaw, clenching your fist or knuckles, taping your foot, feeling restless, etc. Irritable bowel syndrome can be the result of tension in the intestines of the feelings of fear and resentment (holding onto the anger). You can have anger in your body without even realizing in your mind that you are angry.

I personally want to learn from my anger what it is that I am not fully recognizing that I need to clarify in my life. I have made a choice to embrace all of my feelings in my body fully and accept the process of transformation needed for my own psychospiritual growth. It is the harder path, but it also is the one with the most rewards.

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