Dr Paul Lam, Sydney, NSW, Australia
I started Tai Chi from 1974 after graduating from Medical School. I have had osteoarthritis since my early teens. By the time I graduated my arthritis was quite debilitating I felt I really had to do something for myself. I remember in the village where I grew up in China, Tai Chi was considered effective for arthritis. I decided to give it a try. I tried a couple of teachers but did not feel comfortable with them. After a while I was fortunate to learn my late father-in-law was an accomplished Tai Chi practitioner and he had been my main teacher. Other great teachers have also helped me enrich my Tai Chi experience.
Over the years Tai Chi has virtually changed my life. Now in my late sixties, my arthritis is well controlled. I work more than twelve hours most days, teaching Tai Chi and practicing medicine. I feel happy and healthy. My Tai Chi journey has been more than just an enjoyment; it has become an integral part of my life. My memoir shares my life story including the tumultuous years struggling to survive starvation for several years.
I am glad to see so many people from all walks of life having wonderful experiences in their Tai Chi journey. I have enjoyed reading your stories; they will be an inspiration to all of us. Thank you for sharing.
Why I Learned Tai Chi: Listening to the Inner Voice of Wisdom, Caroline Demoise, Master Trainer, NC, USA
When I was in my early 40’s I had this persistent, recurring thought “If you want to be healthy when you are old, see a nutritionist now.”
One evening at a meditation class, I overheard a woman talking about a nutritionist, a shaman who had studied Chinese Medicine and decided to honour that inner voice. At the first visit, he radically changed my life. Sugar, salt, grains, alcohol and coffee were out. Fresh fruits, vegetables, fish, low fat meats and Tai Chi were in.
Because of these preventative practices, I have avoided several genetic health challenges in my family. I know in my heart that if I had not made these life altering changes in diet and embracing Tai Chi 25 years ago, I would not be the vibrant, healthy person I am today at 66.
I began Tai Chi for health reasons, 6 or 7 years ago. I had osteoporosis. I was a regular swimmer. Weight-lifting was out, I couldn’t walk any further than I already did – I felt like doing less rather than more exercise because I had contracted poliomyelitis in 1954.
A friend, Wendy, talked constantly about Tai Chi, clearly under the influence of some acute Asian fever. She took me to an outdoors practice. I asked the teacher, Elizabeth Halfnights, if I could join a regular class. She later admitted that she thought it would be too hard for me, but then, so did I.
I joined all of her classes: Beginners, Intermediate, and Advanced. The following year, I went to the St Vincent’s January workshop, and now I try to go every year, as well as to the Sydney updates. I have found something that I can do, despite a very fragile left side.
This year, with Wendy, I began to teach two classes a week, taking over from Elizabeth. What a big difference there is between demonstrating and following! We teach Long Yang and Tai Chi for Arthritis. Some of the more physically challenged members of the class are interested when I demonstrate toned down movements, in place of the more energetic kicks. Others are delighted when I suggest that they experiment to see how certain movements will fit in with their particular disability and disabilities are not only physical. We take in Tai Chi ‘refugees’ whose past teachers have reprimanded them for their weaknesses. We also teach strategies for remembering the routines, something we have all struggled with.
My bone density has returned to normal. I can finally perform TAI CHI without a prompting list of moves. We are helping others to experience the benefits of Tai- chi. Thank you Dr Lam and the wonderful Tai Chi workshops.