What is the state of flow? The state of flow can be characterized as the moment, when action occurs without thought. Many athletes describe it as a state “where time slows down, where objects appear larger, more focused, where you move with confidence.” The state of flow, is also known in Chinese philosophy as wu wei. In Tai Chi, the goal is to enter the state of wu wei…here is a great explanation of it!!
This is the beginning of a new year, and nearing the beginning of Chinese New Year! A time for resolutions, a time to set goals, a time for life changes. Some of your goals may be to loose weight, to become more patient, any number of things. Every year, it seems as if we set goals in January, only to have dropped them by February.
Why is this? It is because human nature makes us choose the easiest path. We may be sincere with our goals, and actually be disciplined enough to meet them for several days, but we taper off, going to the path of least resistance. We then feel terrible about ourselves, labeling ourselves as weak, undisciplined, or lazy. This is not true! We are following our nature.
To overcome this, author Shawn Achor, recommends the 20 second rule. If loosing weight is our goal, but we come home, tired, and plop down in front of the television, take the remote and remove the batteries. Place them somewhere that it takes you 20 seconds to go get them, like a bedroom dresser drawer. If you want to start running in the morning, place your running shoes and shorts right by the bed, so that you can go right away. No excuses having to find them. If you like to snack occasionally, as I do, place them on the highest shelf, with the healthiest food readily available.
I often find myself being sucked into the phone, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or just randomly checking emails. Without thinking, I pick up my phone to check emails, click on Facebook, because I already have the phone in my hand, and am pulled into the vortex, or black hole of social media. I found that just by placing my phone across the room, a distance away, I am able to avoid looking at it without thought or realizing what I’m doing. I must consciously make the effort to go pick it up. I turn off notifications on all social media. The only notifications I now receive are now text messages or phone calls.
By making it easier to achieve your goals, and harder to avoid them, you are setting yourself up for success. The goals become more of a molehill, and less a mountain! Best to all of you, and thank you for your support!
We get up, turn on the news, listening for it…we expect it around every corner. We can’t help it. It’s genetically wired into our systems. From the first man, we looked for the danger around us, the sabertooth lurking ahead, threatening our lives at any moment. We look for danger at every turn…chaos.
Because we are always looking for the chaos, we are expecting the worse. By expecting the worse, we are expecting the negative. We process thoughts with the negative in mind. It’s wired into us. Our mind is bombarded constantly by thoughts and emotions. 95% of the thoughts and emotions are negative, expecting the worse…
How can we change this? Being mindful is the beginning. By living moment by moment, we become aware when these thoughts arrive, and can stop them. We begin to live in the present, and not so concerned with what is around the corner. We are no longer expecting the worst life can offer, but expect the best. The universe gives us what we think of…and if what we conceive are negative expectations, that’s what we get. If we no longer concern ourselves with what could go wrong, we begin to see the wonderful possibilities life has to offer, and that is what the universe gives. Change your thoughts, change your life, and find peace in the chaos around you.
I've found myself, over the last couple of months, trying to be non-judgemental. It started with my Tai Chi, trying to not become critical of myself, to stopt telling myself that I need to be more perfect in my movement, in non-movement, and to accept what I was that day, that moment. It became a natural evolution to try to bring it into other aspects of my life. I found, it's very hard!!
We tend to judge just about everything we encounter in our lives. Likes, dislikes, ugly or pretty, bad or good, tasty or not, right or wrong. To be truly non-judgemental, you must put aside all of those things, and just accept. For me, it starts with just driving down the road. Someone cuts you off, you think that they are negligent, or a bad driver. Often, you think worse, taking it as a personally, a direct insult in you, when in fact, they probably weren't even aware of their actions. Seeing a person, who is homeless, we tend to judge them, as mentally incompetent, a drug addict, or some other issue that we can label. A person who is obese is labeled as lazy, someone who is talented is labeled as gifted...So many labels, some deserved, some not.
The problem with labeling, is that once you label something, you are defining it and grouping it. Once something is grouped, it assumes the identity of the group. It tends to loose it's individuality.
How do we achieve nonjudgementalism? The first step is to recognize you are judging. In my life, it happens constantly. Most judgements are inconsequential. Those are a matter of personal taste, "it's to hot", "it doesn't taste good", "it's loud"...these are irrelevant to anyone but you. I consider those tolerable judgements. Judgements of others begins to becomes problematic. Your grouping of people takes away their individuality, takes away considerations that have affected their lives, and places you in a position of superiority. We are superior to NO one! We are equal to all. When we accept that fact, we loose the need to rate or judge others. We accept them for their perceived faults, we don't try to change them, we love them as they are.
It's a constant battle, one I struggle with everyday. My hope is to be there someday, and if I can be there, maybe to effect one person, and they can be there, and eventually, eliminate racism, hate and conflict throughout the world...I love you all!!
Really...can we become stronger by exposing our weaknesses? Yes! Vulnerability is the ability to expose your weaknesses for the world to see, leaving you subject to criticism. Vulnerability means the possibility of ridicule, humiliation or scorn. Vulnerability is scary...
But, vulnerability is also freeing! it allows us to be free of burdens of life. We are stating to the world, "I am opening myself to you, I am not worried about your opinions or reactions." You may not be free from fear, but you are facing it. You are in control. You are living in the moment.
We spend our lives afraid of opinions of others. If we live in the moment, we are not concerned with what might happen, we are present in our lives. We all have weaknesses, we all have a past. We also owe ourselves the right to no longer be controlled by them. By exposing them ourselves, we are no longer giving power to others to expose them. We can live our lives in peace.
So I challenge you as I challenge myself everyday, be real, be authentic, be kind.
"Out of our greatest vulnerabilities come our greatest strengths".......Brene Brown, Rising Strong
We spend our lives in pursuit of it, all of our lives...we chase it, and often, it is always just barely out of reach. But what is happiness? Happiness is pure joy. Most of the time, happiness is confused with pleasure. They are not the same. Pleasure is not sustainable, it has a limited time frame, while happiness can last a lifetime. Pleasure is often derived from objects of desire, achieving those objects, it's only temporary. You'll soon find yourself wanting more...when does it end? When is enough finally enough? So many people spend their entire lives searching for just a little more...so much of society today is angry, not knowing why, blaming others, political parties, race, religion on their anger, I've witnessed it daily. I've seen people, who are normally kind, loving and giving, not care what others think, saying hurtful things, thinking they are right, and damn it, I'm going to prove I'm right by beating it into them. Their egos are ruling their lives.
Happiness cannot be achieved by material objects, or physical contact. True happiness is achieved within your heart. There is hope, even for those suffering from depression and PTSD. You can train yourself to be happy, to feel joy. It has been proven by scientific study, that we can rewire our brains to achieve happiness. Here are a few methods that were proven to work in just 21 days, with changes beginning almost immediately!
- Smile...Just the simple act of smiling can release endorphins, the feel good hormone. Even seeing someone smile can make you have this effect! It's known as mirroring, your mind sees the smile, and is tricked into thinking that it is you. Like when someone yawns, and the yawn is spread to the whole room.
- Find 3 things that you are grateful for each day, for 21 days. Everyday must be something different! No repeating the same three things over and over. Not only find 3 things, but think of a reason why you are grateful. This will slowly begin to help you realize that your life is good, and well worth living.
- Take 2 minutes and send someone an email or text, or write a letter, on why you appreciate them. What a positive impact they've had on you, the effect they've had on your life. It will not only make you feel better, but often you will receive back a message much longer, because they are not bound by the 2 minute rule! It must be someone different everyday.
- Start a gratitude journal. Write down the things, in the evening, in your life that happened during the day that you are most grateful for. By journaling them, you begin to realize how life has so many positives!
- Exercise for 15 minutes a day, 3 days a week. Exercise is shown to also release endorphins.
- Meditate for 2 minutes a day. Google has their employees take a 2 minute meditation break daily. Nothing mysterious about it, just follow your breath in and out, for 2 minutes. It slows your thought process down, bringing you back to the present moment, and releases the stress that has built up.
These are just a few things that can begin to bring happiness into your life. Just a few methods to try. I hope it helps for you, it has done wonders for me. Love you all, my friends.
Perceptions, both of the world and of the self, are distorted. We are influenced by others perceptions of our surroundings, in that their reality becomes ours.
When we are born, we are a clean slate...we only recognize that we are part of the human race. We have no perceptions of right or wrong, beautiful or ugly, good or bad. We only know that we are loved, fed when hungry, and cleaned when dirty. As we grow, we are told to stay away from there, it's dangerous, it's hot, it's ugly. What determines these things for us? Others perceptions of those things. We begin to be molded by what society determines is "good" or "bad", "right or "wrong", "safe" or "dangerous", "beautiful" or "ugly". Societies values become ours.
Unfortunately, society also determines how we feel about ourselves. We are told to use this product to be more attractive, implying that we are not already beautiful. We are told what is beautiful, physically, we must mold ourselves to look like this person, to be beautiful. We are told if you drink this, you will be part of the "in" crowd. To be popular (and we all want to be liked), we must dress like this, eat this, drink this... so much so, that our self image is no longer ours, it's what society has determined it should be. Our moral compass is determined by society. What is deemed right or wrong, is determined by laws and morals, that others feel should be imposed upon us. I'm not saying that if we feel laws shouldn't control us, to do as we feel, but most of us have a strong, innate moral compass, that deep inside, we know what is right and wrong. What I'm saying is that we are valued by societies perceptions of beauty, wealth, knowledge and contributions to it...
We must learn the true value that we have inside. We were born beautiful, we were born with eyes that see beauty everywhere. As toddlers, we explored movement, sights, sounds and touch. Everything was a new experience. As we grew older, we became responsible to act and conform to our groups traditions and values. We were taught to stand a certain way, if you were a good child, you would be rewarded, if you were bad, you were punished. Creativity was curtailed, you were taught to color inside the lines. As we grew even older, we were taught what to think politically to, what to value, what was important for success.
I propose, that all of this is the distorted the mirror that we see ourselves through. We no longer consider ourselves beautiful and valuable, because of the perceptions of others. We become depressed, because we are no longer capable of living up to others expectations. But why should we? We are all here for a purpose. That purpose is to live our lives beautifully and we all have lessons to share with others, till the day we are no longer here. We all have a purpose. Not one person is without value. Not one person is undeserving of love and respect, no matter what their past, not matter what their present.
How can we begin to clear our mirrors? First, begin to accept the fact, we are what we are, without judgement. We learn to value the things that we have to offer. I can no longer run, but I can move. I teach Tai Chi. Look in the mirror, everyday, and tell yourself you are beautiful, valued and loved. When in pain, I acknowledge the pain and tell it thank you for reminding me that I'm alive.
Meditate. Take 10 minutes a day to slow your thoughts down. Allow yourself a mental break by meditating, don't you allow yourself a break when working out, a few moments to physically recover? Your mind needs the same. Our thoughts and mental state is governed by past experiences, which are mostly negative, because that is what seems to stay with us more in memories. By meditating, we allow ourselves to be taken away from the past for a few moments. I find it quite refreshing.
Smile more. Smile at yourself, in the mirror, daily. Smile at others and smile often. You release endorphins, the "feel good" hormones, in your body, simply by the act of smiling. Don't feel like smiling? Fake it till you make it. The act of faking a smile, can improve your mood too!
Don't be afraid of making mistakes. Mistakes are frowned upon in our society. However, mistakes are what eliminates options that didn't work! Learning from mistakes is what brings us back to the path we are on. Mistakes are going to happen to everyone. Value them as life lessons.
Lastly, if you value someone, tell them, often. If you love someone tell them, often. I love you all!
Life is beautiful....I often didn't take the time to look and realize how much it has to offer. I would go through my days, mind preoccupied with either tasks ahead, or problems in the past, usually negative memories, things that I should have done differently or things I should have avoided. I'd get down on myself, worrying about not enough money (is there ever enough?), things that were, I felt, obstacles to my life. Things that kept me from getting ahead (if only I'd?). I'd be very down on the way I handled life. But that wasn't really living. That was putting everything on autopilot, going about everyday things because that's the way I did it yesterday. Yesterdays don't work today...
I started my Tai Chi practice about 5-6 years ago. I used my practice, originally as a form of exercise. To regain flexibility and strength. Little did I know the psychological benefits that came with the slow practice. As you move slowly through the forms, you begin to focus on exactly where your hands, feet, waist, shoulders and head are held. You cannot do that if you're thinking about what else needs to be done, or if only...You must live in the present moment. For those few minutes, I forgot about the past, or worrying about the future. I forgot to think if I was good enough, if I compared, if I, measured up to everyone's expectations of what I should be. the effects of Tai Chi, mentally, began to carry over to after my practice. Lingering effects, like an oasis of calm, in my normally hectic lifestyle. I found myself becoming calmer, less ego driven. Instances, where I would normally take offense to, became unimportant to me. It was no longer important to feel I was always right. I have become more mindful. What I have found is my day to day activities don't have to be stress inducing. Only if I choose to let them. I've discovered to pause, think before acting, and be decisive with my action...If I can, you can...my best to you always....
So many times in life, I feel as if I'm broken. I have an injury, and begin to think, if only I could...or if I didn't feel this pain, I could... We consider ourselves broken, imperfect. We hurt, we wish it would go away, we try to push through it for our definition of "fixed". I've spent my whole life with "I wish I could", "if only" and "I can't". Yet, there are so many things I'm capable of.
My instructor, David-Dorian Ross, teaches me, that I can't be someone else, I can only be me. In Tai Chi, that means that my Tai Chi is different from everyone else. It is unique to my body, my ability to move, to me. That doesn't make it wrong, it only makes it unique.
Quit focusing on what is wrong, what is broken, and focus on what isn't. Healing begins, not in fixing the broken, but discovering the unbroken.
In Tai Chi, we have principles that involve sinking and rooting...This is expertly explained by a good friends, fellow students and fellow instructors, Sas Stark and Dawn Nader. Here is their explanations...
Sinking & Rooting
At the end of every movement, exhale.
In that slight pause, let your body feel heavy and sink down to the Earth. Transition to the next movement is calmer, more mindful. In that space, choose an action that promotes or maintains harmony.
We use our physical movements in Tai Chi to practice the principle of sinking and rooting. It’s in creating this space, this gap, between your reactions and your responses, that we can choose a different response.
Any challenge can be overcome when we face it together.
Hmmmm.....a lots of things can be said about this...I'm tired? I'm carrying emotional baggage? I have a ton of items I need to eliminate. All of the above.
Let's start with the tough one...emotional baggage. I carry a lot of guilt, and am very self critical...in other words, I feel I could have done so much better in so many areas of my life. I am always thinking, "if I had only". Our brains are wired for this. We tend to look to the past, because we learn from it. That is what makes us unique. However, with that unique ability, we also remember events emotionally. We remember the pain of the past, and let that enter into the present moment. The result is self criticism. That past time, has no bearing on how you should feel right now. It may have been a mistake, but it's past. Let go of it. Because of the way we are wired to emotionally be involved with the past, we often let it influence our decisions for the future. We avoid what could be potentially a situation, because we relate it to a similar situation in the past that had an uncomfortable result. There are no guarantees of the same results. Be kind to yourself. Mistakes have been made by all, and with sincere regret, proper apologies, and retribution, they are past. Let them go.
My belongings....my wife and I live in a huge house, once needed because we had children, and it was all used. Now, it's just her and I, with 2 dogs and a cat. The entire second floor is full of things that are just stored. We have very little use of them, it's things that we've accumulated, no longer needed, and just boxed up and set aside. I have so many clothes that I never wear. I have shoes, that I don't wear. Why do I accumulate them? What is my attachment that makes me hang on to them? I don't know, but I'm working on it. I know that I have an emotional attachment, but why? This is changing. I have began with shoes. If I haven't worn them in the past 6 months, I'm getting rid of them. It's a start....
My belief is once I've cleared out the clutter in my life, physically and emotionally, I will become less tired...Possessions are often worried about...If I don't have it, I won't worry about it...I hope to live a clutter free life, very soon, it's a work in progress, emotionally and physically.
It has been a very tough year...so many friends lost, in the hemophilia community. One more today. All of them, so very much loved in the community, all of them similar in humor, wit and compassion. All of them unique... Maybe it's me getting older, these hit so close to home. Life is so precious. The older generations realize this, how do we share it with the youth? How can we reinforce the notion that one day you're here, and one moment, you're gone. We've all felt bulletproof and like superman, but we're not...Just let everyone know how much they mean to you everyday. No one can be taken for granted. All of my friends, all of my family, I love you, I cherish every moment...please take care of yourselves...
I know it's been awhile since I've blogged, I've been traveling up to May 21, and then on May 23rd, underwent an ankle replacement procedure. As many of you know, my ankles have been a source of constant pain and been my biggest issue over many years. Because of my hemophilia, in my younger years, I had numerous injuries, causing arthritis in both ankles. The last 10 years have been extremely painful, and recent innovations in technology finally made the procedure an option. It's been 5 weeks since the operation, and I'm well on the way to recovery. I'm able to weight bear fully, and have advanced to walking without my boot. My balance and strength aren't quite what it used to be yet, and with the many years of limitations, many ligaments and tendons have shrunken, so it is a slow process of stretching those out. Another thing, all my life I've had flat feet, but on the replaced ankle, I now have an arch for the first time in my life! The draw back to that is, the muscles in the arch are underdeveloped, and I have to work harder on those. For the first time, in so very many years, I'm able to walk on that foot without pain. It's a very surreal experience. The range of motion is already at least twice what it was prior to surgery.
I hope to begin leading sessions again and begin teaching within the next few weeks. My balance and strength aren't quite what they used to be, but everyday it gets better. I must be patient, not over due it, and just take each day, each moment as it comes. Isn't that the way we all should be?
Welcome to my site! I thank you for spending a few moments looking at it, and your feedback is always welcome. A little about myself...I am a 63 (almost 64) year old, severe hemophiliac. I discovered Tai Chi, specifically TaijiFit, after a heart attack.
Looking for someway to increase my physical activity, I happened upon David-Dorian Ross, a former World medalist and several times national champion in Tai Chi. His method of teaching and learning is unique, allowing you to get into the flow, a state in which the mind and body truly connects. I became hooked. I continued to train under him, eventually becoming an instructor, and a senior indoor student.
As a hemophiliac, I endured countless injuries to my body. Hips were replaced, ankles completely deteriorated, arthritis throughout my body. Because of the gentle nature of Tai Chi, I am able to practice, relatively pain free, daily. I have increased my strength and flexibility because of it. It became my mission to share this with others in the bleeding disorders community. I have appeared in videos for NHF, and for David-Dorian Ross, as well.
Next month, because of the deterioration in my ankles, I will undergo an ankle replacement. I will blog about it, or possibly video blog it, sharing my experience. Join me on my journey!