It has been an interesting 2018 so far. Hasn't it? And the year is still just getting started it feels like. Especially now that spring has finally arrived. So, as you begin getting more active, I hope you remember the lessons from our podcasts and blogs this year that will guide you to a year of fulfillment and a year of doing what you absolutely love most. One word of caution though. Be aware of your expectations you have for yourself.
The old saying goes "expectations breed pain". This doesn't mean that you should have ZERO expectations. It simply means you should focus on raising your standards rather than your expectations. Your standards define who you are in life and are the foundation for all decisions that you make. Standards are completely in your control. Expectations, on the other hand, are typically in relation to other people and are not entirely under your control because of this. For example, you expect that your child will pick up after him or herself, or you expect your boss will give you enough time to complete a project on top of all the other work you have piling up on your desk. If you are familiar with either of these, then join me in saying good luck with these expectations!
Your standards define who you are in life and are the foundation for all decisions that you make.
Standards on the other hand, define you on the inside and are the root of every action you take. Standards build morality; they strengthen character; they control your thoughts and your emotions; and they instill in you the qualities of the type of person you envision yourself becoming in this world. Your standards are the foundation for your entire life and determine how far you will go and how much impact you will have on the world. Think of it this way: When you get excited about something, and jump high into the air screaming with joy, there are a few things you need. You need something under your feet to push off of; enough space to jump as high as you can; and the ability to express yourself freely in the biggest and loudest way possible. In this example, your standards are like the ground beneath your feet. They provide you with a solid base to push off from. And when combined with your internal drive to seek fulfillment in your life (this being your expression of your excitement in the previous example), you will have the potential to reach as high into the air as possible and feel totally uninhibited and larger than life.
Make the choice to depend on yourself first, just like when putting on your oxygen mask on the airplane. Go on a journey and explore what you love most in life and what you believe you are or capable of. Discover what fuels your fire to live and search for more of it. These are the key components of your personal standards that will help them to grow and thrive. Standards that no one can create for you. We on the outside can only see your potential when you have forgotten what it looks and feels like. We cannot see the standards you create for yourself. However, we most certainly CAN see the standards you choose NOT to live up to.
Your next decision after raising your standards should be to lower all of your expectations to a level that you know will not impact your mission in life and your life's purpose. If expectations breed pain, you will either have too many of them or you will invest yourself too much in the few you do have. Redirect this energy NOW into developing your standards so that you can sculpt your own Sistine Chapel of inner confidence and self-understanding.
These powerful instructions should give you the boost your need to achieve what some people refer to as happiness, others refer to as fulfillment, and we all experience as a sense of satisfaction. If we can learn to raise our standards and lower our expectations, we could all walk out into the world each day knowing who we are.
Right now, we live in a culture of wasting. We waste water. We waste food. We waste gas. We buy the most unnecessary products, which we end up throwing in the trash most of the time anyway. Do we really need gigantic SUVs that burn less than 20 mpg to carry all your passengers and everyone's waste with it? Does The Cheesecake Factory really need to serve portions that could quite literally feed an entire village for a week? People of the world today are all experts in wasting. And worse, this destructive skill is tearing our world apart. We even have challenges figuring out what to do with our waste.
By covering up our waste, it doesn't mean it will disappear forever, no matter what we build on top of it. Trash cans and landfills are not black holes, but yet we treat them as such. It's kind of like dealing with a problem in our personal lives. Sometimes we just cover it up and hope it will either disappear or resolve itself. Out of sight, out of mind. Right? Wrong.
All three of these resources are infinite on a macro scale, but as individuals, they are as finite as life and death.
The good news is there are three resources you have complete control of simply by making a decision and sticking to it. These resources are:
Since we are experts at wasting material resources, it comes to no surprise that we are also experts at wasting immaterial ones. Therefore, it should be our sole responsibility in life to focus on conserving these three as much as humanly possible. It is easy to waste your BREATH by arguing about something pointless. It is easy to waste your ENERGY by either using too much or by not using enough, the latter of which is more a pity than a waste. And perhaps the worst of all is wasting your TIME, because it can happen at any moment. Especially when we consciously decide to participate in actions or interactions we have no desire to join in the first place. For example, going to a job you completely and utterly hate but continue to go to anyways.
Once your resources are depleted, it will be too late.
All three of these resources are infinite on a macro scale, but as individuals, they are as finite as life and death. How you use them, and how well you can conserve them, may ultimately determine the quality and duration of your life on this planet. So, I urge you to focus on the important elements of your life; your health, your family, your passion, and anything else that provides you with the ultimate life experience. Because once your resources are depleted, it will be too late.
Isn't that enough to make you think twice about how you use your breath, energy, and time?
I certainly hope so.
Join us for a free 15-minute consultation, a personalized acupuncture appointment, a Tai Chi class, or one of our events as we teach people this month on how to avoid wasting these three life resources. We guarantee you we will stop wasting them if you do. But we can't help you if you don't! So, come on by. We're ready to eliminate all waste!
"How old are you?" and "How old do you feel?" are two very different questions. They are questions of external versus internal; questions of authenticity versus a pseudo-you; and questions of freedom versus inhibition. Your outward appearance tells a very different story than your inner truth, if you can reveal it.
The world around us is surrounded by pointing fingers, lines in the sand, and razor sharp words of criticism. The amount of inflexibility in those who enact these destructive motives grows larger every minute they get older. The physical body, as it ages, changes in similar ways. Muscles get tighter; blood vessels get narrower; synapses in the brain fire slower; and our steps get shorter. It seems like we are heading downhill at an alarming speed as we age. But, as I like to say, that's one way of looking at it.
When was the last time you did something your parents told you growing up was either dangerous, difficult, or dirty?
Another way of looking at it is as if everyday we are getting younger. How do we do this? With each day your body gets older, you hold on to the young, free-willed, inspiring, and open-minded you. Can you remember one of your most precious and happiest childhood memories? When was the last time you let yourself experience it? When was the last time you skipped down the street? When was the last time you did something your parents told you growing up was either dangerous, difficult, or dirty? Perhaps you tell your own children these things!
If parents, teachers, and adults in general have the most influence on how children grow and develop their own personalities, then what are you doing to maintain your own inner child?
Can you access him or her at anytime you want?
Could you dance freely in the middle of a busy sidewalk?
Could you sing out loud in a big park?
Could you make up a song with only silly bathroom words that we yell at our kids for saying?
Your experience in life is determined by your ability to enjoy every moment. And if you have a difficult time letting go of your thoughts and beliefs about how life should be or about how other people should act, then your experience is going to be even more of a challenge. So much of a challenge that others will have a hard time being in your presence.
My suggestion to you is to awaken your inner child by first focusing on the most enjoyable experiences of your childhood. Close your eyes and re-experience them. Then, find a way to bring them back to life. Re-awaken your inner child by shedding the shrouds of judgement; the expectations of adulthood; and the belief that the good days are behind you. For the best days are ahead of you if you continue to look forward, move freely, and perhaps even dance a little on the way.
So, go nudge the little one inside you and tell them it's time to wake up.
We all reach a point in our lives where we hate our job, we wanna quit and move to the Bahamas or some exotic location far the hell away from ridiculous people who "have no idea WTF they are doing." As one of my favorite aunts would say, "Clueless!", as we drove Nascar-style through the streets of Pittsburgh. (Love you Aunt! You know who you are!)
So why is it that we end up growing angry with those we work for who in the end we blame for pushing us off the edge of our plateau? Do we really hate our job? Do we actually hate the people who "robbed us" of a fulfilling career? That's a really strong word, "hate", so we had better use it carefully!
I don't believe this is the reason at all. I believe the reason why we grow resentful and regret taking the job that we now "just show up for the paycheck" is because WE ARE NOT CHALLENGED ENOUGH! Even better, we're not challenging ourselves enough!
"The thing that kills us faster than anything else is our expectations."
Sure, you were hired for a job. (One that YOU applied for by the way.) But if you only do what you're hired for, OF COURSE you're not going to be satisfied with it at some point! It will become BORING! You have to step over the line of your hired responsibility bestowed upon you by the company you slave for, and you must freely immerse yourself in everything you find interesting and useful by taking responsibility for yourself!
Will you have to work overtime? YES!
Will you have to do things they don't ask of you? YES!
Will you have to sacrifice things you enjoy doing? YES!
Will you reap massive benefits? YES!
Will you be more successful than you could have ever imagined? YES!
Will you be happier? YOU BETTER BELIEVE IT!
The thing that kills us faster than anything else is our expectations. The more you expect from others, especially those you work for, the faster you lose your identity and your sense of self. Then before you know it, you're on your death bed talking about nothing other than your regrets and giving life advice about all the decisions you wished you had made.
So, I implore you to stop saying you hate your job, and start challenging yourself in every moment possible. If the work you are doing doesn't amplify who you are as a person and what YOU know you're capable of producing, then have that conversation with someone at work who will listen and who can make the decision to allow this to happen. But never forget that YOU are responsible for who you are and who you become. As my son's favorite song from Lego Ninjago goes, The Time is Now!
So, take responsibility for your life...STARTING NOW!
ID 94246605 | Dreamstime Stock Photos
Our mentally and emotionally-induced unnatural resistance to adjust our basic routines together with the seasons causes a clash between our internal environment (our physiology) and the external environment.
Each morning for the past week, I have found myself to be a bit more tired than usual. There were nights when I went to bed a little late and nights I went to bed early, but it didn't make a difference. Some mornings I even felt a little tickle in my throat and others I noticed a slightly runny nose and little extra saliva in my mouth. Too much detail? Well there's a reason.
When the seasons change, our bodies do the same. When the physical environment, and even the emotional environment, begin to change around us, our bodies, being the pros they are, automatically make an effort to change with them. If they didn't, we would enter an unfortunate state of dis-ease. Our mentally and emotionally-induced unnatural resistance to adjust our basic routines together with the seasons causes a clash between our internal environment (our physiology) and the external environment.
This is the reason I personally prescribe the art and exercise of Tai Chi during these times of the year. Although there are numerous styles of this exercise, its overall gentle movements and calming nature provide one important element in this time of seasonal transition; Movement.
A consistent Tai Chi practice during any seasonal transition, especially from summer to fall, will allow for a healthy experience of movement from one season to the next, no matter the type of climate. Whether you live in the northern or southern hemispheres, on the equator, or in Antarctica, there is always a transition in the environment, which has an inevitable effect on your body's physiology.
The main reason why practicing during the summer to fall transition is so important is due to the overall nature of the seasons. What I mean is, during summer exists the peak temperatures of the year in the external environment, which create physiological changes that lead to the release of heat (sweating) from our bodies. Or it can lead to something we refer to as warm diseases (think heat exhaustion) because our bodies are unable to release the heat inside of us leading to dangerous and sometimes life-threatening conditions. Additionally, as you may already be aware, there is a large amount of breathing occurring during the practice of Tai Chi. This breathing is a constant exchange of air and its contents between the external and internal environments which allow is to more rapidly create a level of balance between the two ultimately guided by a mindful approach to practice.
After summer, we transition towards the colder seasons, first moving through fall; a season of dryness, chilly temperatures, and less and less movement in the outdoors (e.g. the beginnings of hibernation). So as you can see, if we live in these environments, then our bodies are certainly affected by them, and we must take appropriate action to adjust in parallel with them.
What action is that? The action is Tai Chi. Which I believe, as a Licensed Acupuncturist, to be the single most effective form of exercise that offers and guarantees (with your consistent practice and close observation of your physiological changes) the opportunity for a healthy transition through any season change.
So, if you usually struggle during these times of year, particularly from summer into fall and then into winter, start your Tai Chi practice as soon as you notice the seasons beginning to change. Don't wait! Unless of course you prefer to catch a cold, get the flu, dine on throat lozengers, suffer from sinus infections, and yell at the top of your fluid-filled lungs "I hate this season!"
Every single day people get out of bed and go on with their lives and their routines. What sets some people apart from others is their point of focus. They focus on their purpose, their WHY in life. They find drivers for success and always move towards them.
Sometimes, however, people get caught up in the idea of success. They have the thought flowing through their head that success is the only option. They are constantly bombarding their brains with success this, success that, no failure this, no failure that. They shield themselves from the rest of the world by opening an umbrella of success. In most cases, this works in the long run. As long as you don't focus on the label and, instead, focus on the contents of the success jar in connection with your vision of what success looks and feels like..
It doesn't matter what label you put on the jar because it will be meaningless if you don't focus on filling it up with the necessary contents or ingredients for your success! Yes, you can have an image or vision of what your success ultimately looks like, but if you only focus on the outcome, you never get a chance to observe the environment and the landscape you are traveling on. You will never appreciate the journey and what you learn along the way because of your unbeknownst ignorance.
So, if you are working your tail off to achieve the success you envision for yourself, then label the jar and be done with it. Then focus on filling it with as many awesome things in your life as you possibly can. It doesn't matter the experience, the size, the weight, or any other method you use to measure with to see if they will fit in your jar. Because the moment it is filled is the moment it's time to get a new jar and pour the contents of the old one into it. All the while using the same label.
Labels are things that keep us confined and comfortable within a specific set of boundaries we or other people have created for ourselves. The label does not matter. NOT AT ALL! The contents of the jar are the most important and require the most attention. In order for you to be fulfilled, your jar of success must also be Full Filled.
My question to you then is...
What are you going to put in YOUR jar today?
Every time I hear the word motivation, I am taken back to my days of being a teenager when I stepped foot into my first martial arts school. It was a small school in an even smaller town in western Pennsylvania. The class had no more than 10 people, most of which were light years ahead of me in ranks.
I'll never forget the feeling I had when I first entered the room to line up with the rest of the students. Because of having the lowest rank, I was told to stand at the beginning of the line. It didn't matter if my height had me towering over most of the students, I still felt smaller than anyone else in the room. My confidence was severely lacking, and my experience was non-existent. Plus, the constant thoughts running through my head were making me dizzier than I ever had been in my life. Then, the class started.
We began our warm up, which to me at the time was worse than running a marathon. Although, I had never run one before, I imagined that this was what it would feel like, PAIN. Then we got around to practicing kicks and punches. When they brought out the striking pads and asked the higher level students to demonstrate proper technique, I recall the person holding the bag nearly toppling over onto 3 or 4 students next to him. All of us beginners chuckled, and we knew that we did not want to be behind the bag. Then, it was our turn. One by one we practiced our kicks and did our best to show proper form and deliver a powerful blow each time.
After a few turns, I noticed an energy building up inside of me. And the person holding the bag noticed they had to hold on tighter and tighter each time I came around. Then once again, it was my turn. I stepped up to the bag; put myself in position; took a deep breath; and delivered one more kick. The next thing I new, the same person holding the bag lost their balance again and fell into a group of people just like the earlier demonstration. I was completely stunned and thrilled at the same time because I couldn't believe that I possibly kicked this person which as much power as one of the higher level students.
My teacher saw this and immediately walked over. I assumed right away that I was in trouble for doing something I wasn't supposed to. Instead, to my surprise, he began explaining to the other beginners that I had done something RIGHT! Really? In my first class? He then asked me to be an example for the other beginners to observe. He adjusted my posture, corrected my form, and guided me with my breathing. Then he shouted powerfully, "Go!" I immediately kicked the bag as hard as I possibly could, and this time, my kick not only knocked the person off balance, it penetrated the bag and I unknowingly hurt the person's arm, but thankfully the injury was not serious. At that moment in time, I had tapped into a part of my mind and connected it with my body in the most exhilarating way possible. The only word I can use to describe that feeling is POWER.
What exactly does this have to do with motivation?
Most people believe that before you can do the things you want, you need to first have the motivation. Like getting up and going to the gym, this takes a certain amount of motivation, doesn't it? Or, reading the book that has been sitting on your coffee table for more than a month, which you keep telling yourself you will get to. Still needs motivation, right? Or perhaps even making the first move to starting a relationship by asking somebody out on a date. Motivation, right?
WRONG! ALL wrong!
Motivation is not required to take action. ACTION is required to develop MOTIVATION!
Remember the story I just told you about myself? If I hadn't discovered the feeling of inner power and strength after delivering a few hard kicks to a striking pad, do you think I would have returned to the class? If I hadn't followed the instructions of the teacher, do you think I would have had the energy to kick that hard, let alone complete the whole class? The answer is obviously no. Without developing my own motivation by taking a massive amount of effective action, I would not have become the national martial arts champion that I am today. And to this day, I am still able to create and tap into this ability by knowing it only takes one action to get me moving.
Without taking action and committing yourself fully to that action, you will never develop the ability to generate your own motivation. You will only be an adequate follower. Not an outstanding leader.
So, let me ask you. Are you satisfied with being adequate? Or do you want to be OUTSTANDING?
Do you want to discover and experience the highest potential of your inner power? Do you want to develop an impenetrable level of confidence and master your ability to create your own motivation? Then you HAVE to TAKE ACTION! Once you do this, your first spark of motivation will be created. Then, by repeating your action again, and again, and again, you will have a blazing fire within you that will keep you motivated from the inside out for any moment when you need it.
The bottom line is that if you have your heart and soul set on accomplishing a specific goal in your life and reaching the next level of success, you need to take action! You need to step up and kick the bag! Now get moving and start mastering your motivation!
A Message from an Acupuncturist
It is 9 o’clock in the morning, and you are searching the internet for a doctor who can take a look at your ankle you rolled during an evening soccer match yesterday. The pain is bearable yet still throbbing, not to mention your ankle is now the size of a tennis ball. While searching, you come across several acupuncturists not far from where you live. This reminds you of your close friend's sports injury who told you was helped with acupuncture. Recalling this, you look further and notice some of these acupuncturists appear to have Asian names and some do not. Assuming your thoughts are correct, you choose to contact an Asian practitioner because, of course, they MUST know more about what they are doing since they are Asian. Plus, their methods are probably more authentic. Right?
This common assumption is incorrect and is damaging to the profession of Oriental Medicine. It spreads even further into the many fields of medicine serving the public today leading to further discrimination of minorities, ethnicities, and genders. Since when has it become so acceptable to discriminate against a trained, licensed, and well-qualified health professional whose only interest is helping you live your life with as little suffering as possible? Dare I insert the word “racism” into this message and invoke a conversation laced with hate? This is not my intention, but it seems the injection of such is nearly unavoidable. Sadness ensues me when I hear that simply because my race is different from others, I must “learn to accept the truth” that was etched by others into the foundation of medical history. A foundation seemingly built upon “should-bes” rather than “could-bes”.
Yes, I am not Asian. What’s your point?
Times change. Shouldn’t people do just the same? Sure, I am not fortunate enough to be a descendant of an ancient lineage of Asian doctors famous for serving the masses, developing world-renowned healing techniques, or safeguarding the health of a royal family. What I am, however, is inspired, motivated, and interested. Inspired by the history, literature, and origins of the medicine I practice; motivated by my mentors, teachers, students, and patients; and interested in the unique life stories of people like yourself. Healers are not formed or defined by their ethnic roots let alone by similar patterns repeated in society. They are also not defined by what they see in their patients (e.g. health conditions), but rather by what they help their patients to see in themselves and how they empower them to change and make wise choices for the sake of their own health. More personally, when I search for someone to provide me with care, I refrain from making assumptions about their abilities I have yet to experience firsthand. For these abilities may be exactly what I need on my road to recovery. Of course, one's experience is an acceptable form of measure when making the choice to have someone evaluate your health. Experience, though, is achieved no differently than the height and strength of an oak tree. The seed must be planted and nurtured well enough for it to sprout and begin its journey out into the world.
If only we could learn to listen to someone’s story without writing the end before it was told.
Sadly, during my years of exploring the Asian medicinal and martial arts, I have been a victim of subliminal discrimination, false assumptions, and impossible expectations. I have been viewed as an outcast, thought of as “the unique one in the family”, and doubted repeatedly to the point where others give up and change their career altogether. I have been called in Chinese a "waiguoren", or literally "outside country person", which is ironic because I'm fairly sure I was born in this country where I am also licensed to practice this medicine. Wouldn't that technically make you, the name-caller, the outsider? This is beside the point of this message though, and while I endured this constant bombardment of negativity and bullying, I studied rigorously, forged my mind, and trained my body. Not so that I could defend myself, but rather so that I could learn to open my eyes and heart for the sake of every patient that enters my treatment room. And to this day, I still repeat these previously painful words in my mind so that I may remind myself they are not definitions of who I am or who I have become. For the people who have uttered them do not have permission to define my existence or evaluate my abilities with false pretense. If only we could learn to listen to someone’s story without writing the end before it was told.
Your healing has nothing to do with who I am, only who you will become.
So again, yes, I am not Asian. Who am I then, you ask? I am someone who cares. I am someone with hope. I am someone worth reaching out to who will care for your well-being, no matter your race, gender, appearance, or societal status. I am someone whose hope is for you to create memories laughing and playing with your children while they are still young and innocent; to remember what it was like to open your heart to your beloved mother and father before they took their last breath; to never forget the feeling of the soft breeze grazing across your skin as you stand in your hometown hundreds or thousands of miles away. True healing comes from within ourselves and will take you anywhere you wish to go. Besides, your healing has nothing to do with who I am, only who you will become.
So, I ask you. The next time you search for a care provider, will you choose based on their name, their ethnicity, their gender, or their ivy-league education, or lack thereof? Will you close the fable-filled storybook modern society has been reading to you over the years and begin writing your own story of how you see the world of healthcare and how you wish to be cared for? Have you even asked yourself HOW you wished to be cared for? It is certainly a conversation worth having with yourself.
After all, you may not be Asian either. But there is certainly no one else like you. Never forget that.
Tai Chi was born as a philosophy, adopted as a martial art, and transformed into a widely-accepted and effective form of self-care and movement therapy for all.
Within the hustle and bustle of today's modern life, we are all searching for ways to escape. Escape the mundane routine we drag ourselves through each day, the unavoidable annoyances we encounter at work, the addictions to technology and social media that have flooded our lives and households, and the constant state of busyness we have inflicted upon ourselves.
Is it too much to ask for just a little break? Absolutely not. For this is the purpose of Tai Chi in today’s society: an ephemeral antidote for all of the above.
Tai Chi was born as a philosophy, adopted as a martial art, and transformed into a widely-accepted and effective form of self-care and movement therapy for all. Not to mention, it is frequently prescribed as such by doctors and healthcare practitioners around the world. Don’t just take my word for it; see for yourself. In recent years, the benefits of Tai Chi have been greatly magnified through the lens of scientific research to include the following (NIH, 2015):
Although many more benefits do exist beyond general physiological adaptations, the research lens becomes a bit blurry when attempting to focus in on them. For example, here are a few of my own personal benefits I have experienced over the past almost two decades:
Nowadays, there is more and more talk about the interference of technology in our daily lives and the constant stresses at work that lead to life-threatening conditions that have flooded emergency rooms, filled appointment schedules at health clinics, and generated monstrous wealth for pharmaceutical companies. In fact, “90 percent of visits to primary care physicians are stress-related.” Also, “over 60 percent of American workers say their jobs are a significant source of stress and it’s leading to an increase in heart disease, insomnia, obesity, hypertension, depression, and decreasing your life expectancy.” (Lippe, 2015)
"Non-communicable diseases are the leading causes of death globally, killing more people each year than all other causes combined..."
Tai Chi can be beneficial in helping people with many types of health concerns. More specifically, there exists a category of diseases that could potentially be eradicated by instituting a regular Tai Chi practice in one's day. This category is referred to as non-communicable diseases (NCDs); diseases which are typically preventable by the individual who contracts them. It is known that “NCDs are the leading causes of death globally, killing more people each year than all other causes combined . . . .” (Clements, Coady, Gupta, 2012)
Think about this for a second. Diseases we inflict upon ourselves are killing more people on the planet than any other disease. Look a little further and you may also come to the realization, like I have, that as a result of these NCDs, we are the cause of packed waiting rooms, higher out-of-pocket costs, and an extraordinarily large national debt.
So, I have one question for you. Do you wish to continue to be part of an immensely growing problem or will you choose to step out of these packed waiting rooms, save a vast amount of money, and help turn our nation’s healthcare around by taking responsibility for your own health?
I hope you will join us by answering with a resounding Yes!
If you wish to experience the life-changing benefits of Tai Chi and begin making a difference in your health and ultimately our nation’s healthcare, then join My Metro Medicine for either a private Tai Chi class or keep your eyes peeled for our new Tai Chi group to be announced on our website this week which will start in October 2015!
We look forward to helping you step into this new world of health, balance, and self-empowerment.
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Justin is a licensed and board-certified Acupuncturist, Tai Chi and Qigong instructor, and the owner of My Metro Medicine. He has been practicing and teaching Tai Chi and other martial arts and has been working in the healthcare industry for nearly 20 years. He is a multiple-time national champion in martial arts as well as a renowned teacher in the Washington, DC area. For more information, please see his biography here.
Clements, Benedict; Coady, David; and Gupta, Sanjeev, The Economics of Public Health Care Reform in Advanced and Emerging Economies (Washington, D.C.: International Monetary Fund, 2012), 5.
Lippe, Jordi, "Study says workplace stress is as bad as secondhand smoke: Tips on how to cope," Today, September 10, 2015,
"5 Tips: What You Should Know About Tai Chi for Health", NIH, last modified August 21, 2015, https://nccih.nih.gov/health/tips/taichi.
Recently, I had the honor of participating in a Tai Chi performance at the Washington National Cathedral's event "Seeing Deeper" with my teacher, Master Nick Gracenin, and other masters across the east coast. The event was created to offer learning opportunities to the public designed to enhance one's awareness of the body, mind, and spirit. The magnificent space of the cathedral was cleared entirely of chairs and benches in order to mimic the vastness of medieval cathedrals, served traditionally as places of gathering and community. The "Seeing Deeper" event also served as just this, a place of gathering, with nearly 100 people performing together the relaxing arts of Tai Chi and Qigong for nearly two hours.
During our practice, my teacher inserted elements of these art forms that trace back thousands of years into their philosophy which was used as the foundation of the healing arts of China, including Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine. These elements included the essence of not only health practices and Tai Chi application but also important methods used to enhance one's quality of life.
Traditionally and modernly, we know these elements as Yin and Yang as well as the Five Elements. Unfortunately though, many sources of traditional teachings were lost during the Cultural Revolution that took place in China during the 20th century. Although some of this was safeguarded, many people to this day are constantly excavating and learning through self practice the true essence and meaning of the Yin and Yang, the Five Elements, and simply how to live a life of peacefulness and understanding.
The combination of the five human senses is the foundation of love.
So, what does it mean to be "Seeing Deeper" anyway?
Does the act of "seeing" in fact require the use of the human eye? And does "deeper" refer to the space or ground beneath us?
The human body is known to have (at least) five senses: sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch. When you remove one of these senses, e.g. close your eyes, does it make it easier or more challenging to "see"? The question is only relative to the situation in which you are attempting to "see". If you were walking ten miles across an unknown landscape, this would make the task challenging and perhaps more dangerous, but not entirely impossible. If you were simply trying to experience the texture of a piece of fruit, removing your ability to see might in fact make it easier.
At the same time, would your other four senses be reduced or heightened? If your mind is no longer focusing on the use of your eyes, then your intention required would be sent directly to the senses you are still capable of utilizing allowing for them to be heightened. In the example of the piece of fruit, your sense of smell would be heightened as you would know exactly what piece of fruit it would be without even touching it, you could tap it to determine its density, you could examine its texture by touching it, and lastly, you could experience its deliciousness with your sense of taste.
The art of seeing deeper requires not the skillful ability that is developed over time, but rather the innate ability that reveals itself after years of shedding away the layers of human suffering.
So again, does the act of "seeing" truly require the use of the human eye? It depends on the context in which you are applying the act of "seeing". On a deeper level, when we wish to see within ourselves to understand our purpose as well as the meaning of life, we must first make a connection with our surroundings, both material and immaterial. Then we must use equally and non-judgmentally our five senses in order to experience what life has to offer. The combination of the five human senses is, in fact, the foundation of love.
The art of seeing deeper requires not the skillful ability that is developed over time, but rather the innate ability that reveals itself after years of shedding away the layers of human suffering. This said, we can only discover what is within ourselves by relating it to what is without ourselves (the outside world). Looking within is only possible by looking without.
In the year 2015, practice enhancing your ability to "see deeper" by using your senses in these ways:
Truly experience the textures of the food you eat.
Envelop yourself in the smells of a gorgeous flower garden.
Naturally move your body with the sounds (of music) that surround you.
Take in visually the artistic palette of colors the world has to offer.
Sensually feel the skin of the person you love and adore the most.
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inspirational ideas on healthy living through eastern medicine, optimism, and possibility through empowerment.