Ditching Evaluation

What if- just for a little while today we gave up all that constant evaluation of everything, most of all, our own sweet selves.

Evaluation, while it does have an eventual place under certain conditions, is generally just a form of death in which we give up our choice.

Because if we decide ahead of time whether something is either “good, bad, friendly or mean,” we eliminated all choice and are basically saying I’m not actually here and have no reason to be because I already “know” how it’s going to turn out. And we write off others in their truth and so much possibility!

But part of the juice and excitement in life IS making choices as we step moment by moment into the beautiful wild uncertainty of life.


Time Magazine says, “Tai Chi is the Perfect Exercise”

Check out this terrific article from Time Magazine and share it with your friends who may be curious about what all this tai chi business is.


Here is the link to the article.

I’ll just add that the article closes with saying that younger folks might need a greater aerobic challenge than tai chi presents. Maybe. Everyone is different but there are many forms of tai chi some of which move at a pretty good clip. Even the Yang 24-form which is normally done fairly slowly, can be done fast to increase the aerobic potential. And, I can tell you doing the form over and over, nice and slow gets my heart rate up to 135 easily.

As well, for advanced students, as you move through the form slowly, chewing on the fine details and uncovering the buried treasure for mind and body, one of the things you find is the forms natural centrifugal tendencies. This allows you to develop and make the most of those on many levels.

Let me know what you think. Come on in and try it out. Got nothing to lose but your stress!

Shi Ba Shi: Yang Tai chi qigong 18-form

This is the first of a series of videos I’ll be posting to support teaching at Calm Chicago. Each short clip features one posture from the 18-form qigong which are terrific mind/body exercises. They are great for preparing the body and mind for further study in tai chi if you wish but are also good on their own for general health of the body and to help support single pointed focus of the mind required for deepening meditation practice.

from yang tai chi shi ba shi qigong first posture

I present these videos of tai chi and so forth as part of my own practice, with all humility. I hope they help support your practice. Please let me know. I look forward to your feedback.

peace everyone,


New Qigong Video Coming Soon

Since it came up via Working Well Resources excellent blog, and since it’s clearly still the icky cold freezey season in Chicago as well as many other places – I thought it a good time to put together a little video about a blindingly simple but deeply profound qigong exercise that can with practice and determination lead us collectively into a life of virtually no more falls on ice. I make no promises on instant results but slowly, over time you will evolve into a more balanced person, physically, mentally and emotionally. And that, is what can make all the difference because of mind/body exercises.


Vincent practices Bear Hugs the Tree during class at Calm Chicago - Awesome for balance in mind & body

So, stay tuned, because it’s sliding your way soon from Calm Chicago! We’ll post it on our You Tube Channel. Come join us to learn for yourself. This is  one of the great exercises we’ll be doing as part of World Tai Chi and Qigong Day, Saturday April 30th.


Till then, wishing everyone balance and peace,



Spring 2011 Class Schedule

Class Schedule

Beginner classes:

Qigong / Meditation
Saturday 3:30-4:30pm

Tai Chi / Meditation
Sunday 10-11 a.m.

Beginner classes offer a gentle introduction to 18-form qigong, Yang 24 form taiji and meditation.

Ongoing classes:

Qigong / Meditation
Saturday 4:30-5:30

Tai Chi / Meditation
Sunday 11 – noon

Advanced students are encouraged to attend beginner classes. Their study continues Sundays with advanced taiji, qigong and meditation training.

Learn more about our course offerings.

Sunrise Classes

Tai Chi / Qigong:

in Ping Tom Park (weather permitting) otherwise we meet in the center on Lumber St.

Wednesday and Friday 7 a.m.

30 minutes  – $15

all levels welcome

No special clothing required, just sneakers. Go straight to work from class!


Drop-In Tuition: Want to try a class out? Students may pay drop-in tuition $20 for any open class.


Follow Up: Meditation Changes Your Brain Structure

Meditation Changes the Brain Structure for the Better!

Interesting Posting from O, The Oprah Magazine March 19, 2010: Learn to Meditate

from the website O, The Oprah Magazine March 19, 2010: Learn to Meditate

This article appeared online back in March and my bad for not finding it sooner. One thing about meditation, is it doesn’t make me feel much like surfing the web a lot. But it’s important to see what people are up to in your own field… SO…

1. Hooray to all the well-known who are bringing attention to wonderful things like meditation practice.

2. On the other hand, Danger Will Robinson! Caution anyhow. Sometimes, those good intentions lead to a over-reduction of practices to simplicity in-extremis.

Of course, if we make stress-reduction practices seem too difficult no one will want to do them. Still, it behooves us to describe things with a bit depth and offer additional direction that will truly help guide those seeking more than the quick fix-of-the-week and then onto something else.

I’m just saying. Here is the article as I found it online. The link above will take you directly Oprah’s website which is full of info on every subject under the sun.

Taking time to sit in silence every day can help you develop focus—and discover purpose—in your life.

Find a quiet, comfortable spot where you won’t be interrupted. Sit in your favorite chair, on a porch swing, on a rock by a river. Lie back in a warm bath, if you’d like, or on a blanket on the grass. If your eyes are open, focus softly on whatever is a few feet in front of you, your gaze, if you’re sitting, slightly down. The idea is to just be still for a few minutes. Be with yourself.

Try to concentrate on your breath—breathing in and breathing out (nothing special, don’t change the way you breathe). You might even want to say those words to yourself at first: “Breathing in, breathing out.” After a while, let the words go. When you find your mind wandering, notice the thoughts—don’t judge them—and let them go. Do this by coming back to your breath.

That’s meditation—simply being there with yourself for a few minutes every day, getting to know your own mind.

Under the article, there’s a place for readers to respond. Awesome, right?

Here is what one reader said, that prompted me to write this blog entry, that you are now reading:

Can it be that simple? I am secretly depressed and have been for years, can I really help myself be meditating in this way for a few minutes a day? I’ve tried it before. Perhaps I didn’t try for long enough…

I decided, uncharacteristically to write back. I just felt that this reader was sounding  like they were out there, feeling kinda bad, because like, “I tried it and if it’s that simple how come I don’t feel better yet,” or something like that. I don’t want to put words into the mouth (or pen) of reader Harris 497.

Harris497, The answer to your question, “can it be that simple?” is both yes and no. As a meditation teacher, I’d say that yes, in the beginning, when you first have the seed of an idea to try sitting meditation, it is that easy. Sit down, focus on the breath and when thoughts come along, don’t hold on to them, don’t judge any aspect of your experience and let everything go. Just sit. Just breath. And just be aware that you are sitting there breathing.

On the other hand, as a set of instructions for really developing a daily  meditation practice that can seriously help you reduce your suffering,  it won’t get you very far.
I don’t know where you live so I can’t make any direct recommendations but in general I suggest this: find a good meditation teacher where ever you do live. If you’re in the Chicago area I could make suggestions. A good guide is an important part of having long term success for establishing real peace of mind.

There are lots of teachers out there. Find one. Some wonderful and some, not so much. Be careful. Choose mindfully and don’t get taken in by any hype. Make a selection that feels right to you.

If you’d like to discuss this, I can be reached through my site and I’m happy to offer what I can. http://www.calmchicago.org We’re located in Chicago in Chinatown. I know of teachers, who know other teachers, around the country, so if you are not local, maybe I Can help you make some connections. Wishing you all the best in your quest.

What do you think?

PS. Let’s look at this one line for a sec…
That’s meditation—simply being there with yourself for a few minutes every day, getting to know your own mind.

Especially this last bit, “getting to know your own mind.” Getting to know your own mind means, we learn how the mind works and we do this by long careful practice of observing the tiny, micron slices of experience, of action that are the processes through which or by which the mind operates. And that, while not rocket science, in that anyone can learn to do it, is not something that simply happens with a few minutes of even daily sitting and breathing. It takes determination, patience and guidance and that’s just for starters. It’s an amazing, life changing journey that can be a huge benefit to yourself and to all around you and I wish everyone would do it. It’s changed my life! And I see how it benefits others and makes all of life more peaceful, it does take time and attention. And kindness, compassion to ourselves. One of the great amazing things is, that as we go through the process, the whole world becomes more peaceful. How awesome is that?!