Winter 2005 Edition, Volume 12 Issue 4
One World . . . One Breath . . .
World Tai Chi & Qigong Day - Hong Kong and Thailand
One World . . . One Breath . . .
Canadians help establish a
worldwide movement for global healing.
"T'ai Chi Event to Spread Peace . . . There's more to World T'ai Chi and Qigong Day than spreading the gospel of the gentle movement and meditation practice that is credited with a plethora of health benefits. . . ."
-- Canada's Red Nova News on 4/22/2005
Toronto, Canada - World Tai Chi & Qigong Day 2005
1st ever World Tai Chi & Qigong Day, Kansas City
HOW did this all begin ?
T'ai Chi & Qigong teachers across North America and the world came together after the Kansas City Tai Chi Club held their first mass media event involving one of the largest mass Tai Chi exhibitions outside of China nearly eight years ago, in front of Kansas City's beautiful Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.
When CNN Headline News carried the event to other city's Tai Chi enthusiasts throughout Canada and the rest of the world, many wanted to get their groups and cities involved.
WHY did this all begin ?
T'ai Chi teachers in Kansas City, who were now moving out of the martial arts studios and yoga centers into mainstream hospitals to teach their classes, began to realize that a startling number and wide range of health issues bringing people to their classes were either helped dramatically or totally relieved by Tai Chi's gentle exercises. Unbeknownst to them at the time Tai Chi teachers across Canada and countries worldwide were discovering the same thing.
Canadian Tai Chi teacher, Tammy Bilodeau, of the Rising Tai Chi Club, leads a World Tai Chi & Qigong Day event in Fort St. John, BC
Some of these new students who were benefitting so dramatically from their newfound Tai Chi practice were long time health professionals. Dr. Loredana Brizio-Moltene, who was a long time member of the Faculty of the American College of Sugeons, came to a Tai Chi class after suffering for years from a chronic pain and limited mobility health issue caused many years before by an accident. Over the years after trying all standard Western medical therapies to no avail, Dr. Moltene, ended up in a Tai Chi class at the Shawnee Mission Medical Center where after eight weeks of Tai Chi, she found that she not only regained full mobility, but was completely relieved of her chronic pain condition.
And Dr. Moltene was not alone, many health professionals found profound relief from health conditions as well as stress. Dr. John Hernandez was a young emergency room physician who discovered that Tai Chi profoundly reduced the stress he aquired from the rapid demanding pace of emergency medicine work. Dr. Hernandez sparked an interest in the area Tai Chi teachers by doing a scan of medical research being done on Tai Chi. Once area Tai Chi teachers got the bug, they began to reach out to other schools nationally for medical research that they had become aware of and as they learned more they discovered the potential was mind boggling.
Dr. David Sobel had written on a profound study done by Kaiser Permenente. In an interview with Dr. Sobel, he informed me that the study's findings indicated between 70 and 85% of all illnesses sending patients to Kaiser Permenente's doctors were found to be caused by stress. This is a stunning realization. This means that today over $1 trillion per year is spent to treat illnesses that could likely be avoided by teaching people effective stress management techniques.
At the same time facts like this were surfacing, Tai Chi teachers were learning of medical studies confirming that the ancient mind/body sciences of Tai Chi & Qigong were profoundly effective stress solutions for many people suffering from many conditions directly resulting from stress. Medical research was revealing that Tai Chi reduced anxiety, depression, mood disturbance, lowered high blood pressure, reduced resting heart rates, boosted immune system function, and dramatically reduced the symptoms of teenagers with Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder. If the major stress related illnesses were effectively treated with Tai Chi, this would suggest that pre-illness practice of these tools could likely help the majority of people avoid the overwhelming majority of illnesses that are nearly all caused by stress.
Yet, hardly any one knew about it. Millions or even billions of people who suffered from stress related illness, which was most illness at least in the industrial world . . .were largely ignorant of an ancient mind/body health technique that could in some cases save them not only from their illness but possibly from a lifetime of expensive pharmaceuticals often with deliterious side effects.
So, the Kansas City Tai Chi Club invited all their students and the public to an unprecedented mass Tai Chi exhibition in the heart of Kansas City's lovely mid-town area. A "publicity stunt" if you will, to capture the media's attention and to help them become a media that educates their readers/viewers of practical solution based news inforamtion. Press releases were issued with a links to medical research on Tai Chi & Qigong, and on the beautiful spring day, under a blue cloudless sky, two-hundred people slowly gathered across the sprawling lawn of the Nelson-Atkins Art Museum, surrounded by a small army of media, print and television.
Unlike most events that interest the media, there were no explosions here, no bodies, or even injuries. Across the street a lone bag piper played a hauntingly beautiful tune that echoed through the silence as the people silently flowed through their ancient Tai Chi movements with the only sound an occasional clicking of a media camera. Later that day calls began coming in from other Tai Chi practitioners, as CNN Headline News picked up the event nationally. Others wanted to play.
The success this event had of interesting the media in the health benefits of Tai Chi & Qigong, so that the millions unaware of their benefits could learn about them via the media coverage . . . inspired the organizers to expand this event. A website was created, www.worldtaichiday.org. It became an organizing hub for Tai Chi practitioners worldwide to list their events so that people in their community could find them and learn more about Tai Chi's natural health solutions. But, the event began to metamorphisis as it grew.
The New York Times, The South China Morning Post, Reader's Digest, The Wall Street Journal, Parade Magazine, Russia's Omsk Weekly News, and Italy's La Storia, and hundreds of media worldwide began to cover this event. The Daily Texan reported in it's 5/2/2005 edition, "Austinites spread positive energy, more than 100 people help transfer chi around the globe at Town Lake [Texas]. The Citizen-Times of Ashville, North Carolina wrote, "Mayor Charles Worley has proclaimed Saturday Tai Chi and Qigong Day, joining government officials worldwide in recognition of the health benefits of these Chinese exercises." Canadian media took an interest as well, and from an even more interesting angle.
World Tai Chi & Qigong Day - Waterford, Connecticut
Canada's Red Nova News on 4/22/2005 reported, "T'ai Chi Event to Spread Peace . . . There's more to World T'ai Chi and Qigong Day than spreading the gospel of the gentle movement and meditation practice that is credited with a plethora of health benefits. . . . Practitioners will gather on Saturday, April 30 in hopes of creating peace across the planet. Starting in New Zealand, groups that use the ancient Asian healing arts will form a wave of practice across all the time zones in the world. . . . "The purpose is to educate the media and the world," said Jill Mitchell, a local instructor. "The essence of t'ai chi and qigong is about the energy of peace and love." . . . Peggy Mohr has been doing t'ai chi for about 12 years and will be there on April 30. Her concept, she said, "is my little practice here connects with all the minds all over the world," she said.
World Tai Chi & Qigong Day - Genk, Belgium
Messages began to come into World Tai Chi & Qigong Day, that echoed this healing wave of energy effect the Canadians had spoken about. Paul Claroni, a Vietnam Veteran, sent in a message to World Tai Chi & Qigong Day organizers, "By doing extra T'ai Chi and Qigong forms and exercises during this year's World Tai Chi & Qigong Day I was able to positively transform that melancholic anger into a peaceful and positive mindset, enhanced by knowing that people world wide were also in a peaceful connected state of mind. Overall the mind-body exercises, based on harmony with one's environment, has enabled me to have a better out look on life and more confidence in humankind."
World Tai Chi & Qigong Day - Bergamo, Italy
World Tai Chi & Qigong Day - Aukland, New Zealand
This event evolved, which now involved, mass Tai Chi & Qigong exhibitions beginning in Aukland New Zealand (the earliest time zone), and then spreading silently like a global Tai Chi movement across city's events throughout Australia, across Asia, Africa, Europe, North and South America's, and eventually ending with the final event in the last time zone of Hawaii.
Tai Chi and Violence
Preliminary experiments indicate that Tai Chi & Qigong reduces violence in prisoners in prisons, and dramatically reduce the likelihood of their returning to prison. In fact, a Santa Fe, New Mexico, judge now sentences road rage convicts to Tai Chi classes. World Tai Chi & Qigong Day organizers wonder, "What would happen if our entire planet were teaching Tai Chi in public schools and all graduating students were Tai Chi, or even Yoga masters? What impact would that have on our global society, and global affairs that can result in either war or peace?"
[ Linda Bowers [top left, bottom 2nd from left], who founded a successful Tai Chi program for women at the Topeka Correctional Facility for Women, in Topeka Kansas, meets with Kansas Govenor, Kathleen Sebilius, just prior to World Tai Chi & Qigong Day 2005, to share her success and suggest that Tai Chi could be more widely used in Kansas prisons and beyond.
Tai Chi & Qigong's ability to manage the stress that is costing global society trillions of dollars annually is a huge and yet to be reported story. However, if the tens of trillions spent on weapons that are used in conflicts and wars could be avoided if "cooler-heads" were weilding power, and inhabiting nations worldwide, that would be an even bigger, and yet to be reported, story.
World Tai Chi & Qigong Day - Irvine, California
Tai Chi & Qigong are based on Taoist philosophy. One aspect of reality that Taoists noted was that the microcosms of life reflect the larger microcosms of societal and global reality. Taoism observed that if the individuals in a society are agitated and upset, then you have an agitated and upset society. When an animal feels cornered, they often lash out. People are the same, and so are societies. Which means that if stress and fear are prevelant in societies, then they are more likely to behave in unhealthy ways for themselves and others. Just like the microcosm of the human body functions in a destructive way when it is over stressed.
Tai Chi has a calming effect on practitioners that has a healing impact on all the systems and structures that maintain health in the body. However, research indicates that even watching the slow calming motions of Tai Chi has a calming effect on those watching. If this is true, then the global wave of Tai Chi would have a calming effect on the whole of humanity as the media carries those images to millions. Therefore society not only benefits from the dispursement of medical research on Tai Chi that is part of the global event, but also from seeing the calming images of Tai Chi via their media.
Tai Chi and the Environment
Modern physics shows us what ancient Chinese philosophy has held to be true for millenia, that we are all made of energy, and we exist in an ocean of dynamic energy systems that make up our world and universe. The Chinese term for this "life energy" that permeates all things, is "Qi", prounounced "Chi." When people practice Tai Chi or Qigong (Energy work), they become more aware of the energy that makes them up and flows through them, and also of the energy of the world around them. The feeling these exercises cultivate is a strong sense of being "a part" of this world, interwoven in the energetic fabric of all creation. This feeling changes the way people see the world, and act in the world. When we realize on a cellular level that we are part of the global biosystem, that we are not seperate from the weather, and flora, and other creatures, we behave in a less independent, mindless, and reckless way.
World Tai Chi & Qigong Day - Rio de Janero, Brasil
Returning to the Taoist premise that the microcosm of individuals makes up the macrocosm of the world or humanity, then people who feel a connection to the web of life, will behave in ways and make decisions that are more mindful of the common good for the entire eco system. They would opt for solutions that support the long term health of the entire system, rather than making self centered short term decisions that in the end destroy the support systems that are needed for long term human health.
World Tai Chi & Qigong Day - Winston-Salem, North Carolina
The creators of World Tai Chi & Qigong discovered on a personal level the profound benefits these ancient mind/body health tools had on them. Through that discovery and the sharing of those tools they discovered through medical research that these benefits were common to others. Then the desire to share the healing information they'd been lucky enough to acquire, led them to connect a global web of people with a healing intention. This became more than the threads that wove it, and eventually became a force for global healing on a physical, social, national, and environmental level. At World Tai Chi & Qigong Day's website, www.worldtaichiday.org, you can now not only learn about Tai Chi & Qigong's personal health benefits and find a directory of teachers worldwide, but can also find links to world healing information like the Virtual March to Stop Global Warming, and the ONE Campaign to Make Poverty History, or the United Nations Peace One Day Campaign. Of course, www.worldtaichiday.org will also teach you how to get Tai Chi & Qigong classes into your company, your school, your church, or your local health care network.
But most importantly remember, that on the last Saturday of April each year, you can participate in a global healing wave of energy that begins in New Zealand, and rolls silently across the face of our precious planet with its healing intention like a global Tai Chi movement that brings the ancient to the modern, the east to the west, and brings humanity together across racial, ethnic, economic, and geo-political boundaries united by one simple goal . . . . healing.
World Tai Chi & Qigong Day - Greenville, South Carolina
by Bill Douglas
Bill Douglas is the Founder of World Tai Chi & Qigong Day, www.worldtaichiday.org, and author of the best selling Tai Chi book, The Complete Idiot's Guide to T'ai Chi & Qigong (Penguin Putnam, 1999, 2003, 2005), and a contributing author of Chi Kung - Energy for Life (Harper Collins, 2003). Bill is also author of The Amateur Parent - A Book on Life Death, War & Peace, and Everything Else in the Universe, as well as a contributing author to The Entrepreneurial Parent. He's been commissioned by some of the largest corporations and health networks as a stress management consultant, including Hallmark Cards Inc., Associated Wholesale Grocers, Yellow Freight Internationa., and SPRINT Corporation.