Something feels afoot with T’ai Chi Chih, and the image that comes to mind is a projectile in a slingshot. TCC feels ready to be propelled into the world with a force that would break apart if it wasn’t fundamentally solidified. Hurled out of a slingshot, it would disperse into pieces and fall to the earth. But it feels like TCC’s core is strengthening – from the quality of new teachers and a broadened participation of existing teachers, to the resurrection of Justin’s materials being available and the forthcoming taichichih.org with a prominent focus on students being able to find teachers and teachers being able to easily and thoroughly market their classes. Ready, aim, fire the Chi.
Submissions For This Issue
With each passing issue in the last year especially, we’ve received more accolades about the quality of reflections published here. More teachers and students are contributing for the first time, or the first time in a long time. We’re gratified that practitioners feel compelled to share their experiences. The diversity of encounters with Chi bodes well for Justin’s vision of TCC’s impact in the world.
The pent-up demand for Justin’s teaching materials has been clear since his site launched in early March. It’s heartening and I can feel Justin smiling that practitioners wanted to dig deeper and get closer to the source. On a personal level, Justin’s presence has become more tangible through each call or email answered and every order packed and shipped. Teachers: please email me for a discount code for ordering if you don’t have it.
Justin’s T’ai Chi Chih teaching materials are alive and well! His published writings, instructional DVDs, and recorded music and spoken word are now available to all in perpetuity. The website for free downloads and for purchasing physical copies of Justin Stone’s teaching materials is in process. Its completion is expected by mid-June (and hopefully earlier). Please visit the new website to sign up for notification of its progress and special deals as tangible items are made available. Students and teachers wishing physical products may order through the site; teachers will continue to receive the former discount.
The principle public face of Justin Stone’s T’ai Chi Chih moving meditation needs to inspire and inform current and potential practitioners. It also needs to be supremely useful for present and future teachers, and to connect students with teachers. This new website is coming along; it’s been exciting to approach a major refresh. Please email me by mid-March with your “pain points” – what do you need the site to do, in order of preference, what are your priorities for the site? Thank you!
The August 2018 article, “Help For PTSD“ has been retracted as it details a process improvement project that was misrepresented by the author as valid scientific research. The project did not receive Institutional Review Board approval, required to conduct a study with human subjects. The measurement tool used in the project for data collection was neither reliable nor valid to measure subjects’ responses, and so the data generated has no clinical significance. The project manager, who also authored the article, did not have permission from the Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center or the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to present the process improvement project as valid scientific research, or to publish the article. The Editor was informed of these facts after the article’s publication.
Teaching Wherever We Find Ourselves
On a recent slow boat trip through Vietnam for 11 days, I found myself teaching T’ai Chi Chih at 6am to most passengers on board. During the first of many communal meals, as we introduced ourselves, I mentioned TCC and much to my surprise, the passengers clamored for a morning class. (It reminded me of being in Melbourne and spontaneously teaching TCC to thirty Lonely Planet authors and staffers during a 10-day in-house workshop. Those authors around the globe continue to practice and some even participate in the TCC Facebook page.)
In Vietnam we rose before dawn to watch the sun rise, with the boat moored silently in the middle of the river, and began with Rocking Motion. Currents ran around us, but the flat-bottomed boat remained so still that a glass of water showed no signs of movement. The practice and its effects came up in conversations throughout the day, during shore excursions and well into dark, quiet evenings. For our last morning we tied up to the shore, and as we gathered for our final practice, a dozen school kids riding by got off their bikes to watch us move. I get reports from passengers, who’ve become friends, that many are still practicing. We never know when or where; we just have to seize the moment.
As Justin says When the Chi flows freely and is balanced, the Cosmic Rhythm begins to move us.
Please consider a tax-deductible year-end gift to support the far-reaching, impactful activities spearheaded and continued by The Vital Force (detailed lower on this page.)
Watch this website for Justin’s life’s work, most of which will be available for free download and/or viewing. Book groups, like this one from Northern Colorado using Spiritual Odyssey, will have physical books as long as there is breath. As Justin said to me after he died, “You have my words now.” Little did I know what that meant.
Allow me to change hats for a moment, from editor of this quarterly journal to my former role as GKP publisher. It was my distinct honor to run GKP from January 2004 until mid-February 2015. Working with Justin, and preparing Justin’s materials to reach a wider audience, was a privilege. Even before becoming the CEO, I vividly remember photographing him at a rental studio for the photo textbook. It was 180 minutes of non-stop paying attention to lessons. There were many more to come. I have been grateful for all, and Justin’s teachings echo throughout the day.
During my professional freelance career in publishing I acquired many skills that would come in handy at GKP: author, editor, photographer, designer, publisher, app developer, marketer, public relations writer, small business owner and more. I do not believe the earning of those skills was coincidental.
On July 16, 2018, the Good Karma shareholders and Board of Directors voted to dissolve the company, effective at the end of 2018. The vote was 4 ‘yes’ and 1 ‘no.’ Please see Vic Berg’s message on page 18.
Were other alternatives considered? Yes. Please note this important fact: On October 9, 2016 the GKP Board voted 3 ‘yes’ and 2 ‘no’ to offer the Justin’s trademarks, copyrights, inventory and a sum of GKP cash as seed money to the T’ai Chi Chih International Foundation. The Foundation Board declined the offer.
On July 16, 2018, GKP voted to offer me the same, minus the inventory. I accepted the offer and am humbled and happy to resume my role as caretaker of Justin’s writings and teaching materials. Minus the profit requirement.
The night Justin died on March 28, 2012, while I was still the CEO of GKP, he said to me, “You have my words now.” In the intervening three years, I’ve had to consider and reconsider what Justin’s words must have meant. What I have concluded is this: In Justin’s absence, we all have his words. He left us a lifetime of lessons, books and transcribed talks to absorb and re-absorb, videotape to watch and re-watch.
As the custodian and guardian of his words now, I have one mission, which was the same mandate I had while running GKP: to keep Justin’s words and work alive, to keep them available and easily accessible to all. To that end I will create a new website where all his words and work are free and accessible to a worldwide audience. I will also keep in tangible form many of his books and audio/visual materials. Please be patient as details develop.
I would like to thank everyone who supported GKP over the years: teachers who shared Justin’s materials with their classes, students who availed themselves of every resource available to them, and my wonderful, dedicated assistant Mary Ruiz. The future of T’ai Chi Chih resides within every sincere practitioner. The path forward is clear. Sincerity and integrity light the way. Thank you.
I recently attended Lisa Otero’s workshop in Fort Collins, Colorado, where Lisa shared a handout with 10 philosophical keys to understanding the writings of Justin Stone. Not only did they spur lively commentary, they infused the practice with another layer of richness and depth. Caroline Guillot (also in attendance) and I welcomed the opportunity to chime in with a few first-hand stories about our years with Justin.
A Sketching Challenge & TCC Movements
Judy Kistler-Robinson recently joined a challenge issued by the international Urban Sketchers group to sketch 100 people in one week. She decided to sketch the T’ai Chi Chih movements from short videos of Lisa Otero’s class and last October’s Teacher Training (shared on the T’ai Chi Chih Facebook page). Some sketches were first done with ink and then filled in with watercolor; others began as watercolor with ink outlines were added. As Judy says, “Some might recognize themselves here.”
In Justin’s words from Spiritual Odyssey:
It is necessary to remember that T’ai Chi Chih is a spiritual discipline and must be taught with this in mind… we wish to urge the teaching always be kept on a high level and that the teacher practice his own self-cultivation so that he will exude this spiritual quality.
Love It Or Hate It
Facebook is undeniably one of the world’s most influential platforms for connecting people. Whether you play in that sandbox or not, it’s important to be aware of how many teachers are building communities – and practitioners are discovering – T’ai Chi Chih on FB. These screenshots show some of the FB groups people have started. Thanks to Lisa Otero, community manager of facebook.com/taichichih (which is under the umbrella of The Vital Force as are the other main social media pages), for encouraging and helping others grow these sites. (Please contact Lisa if you need help starting a page for your community.) They are a testimony to TCC’s decentralized nature and one reason TCC has the potential for unlimited reach.
Resources Constantly At Our Fingertips
When was the last time you surfed YouTube to watch teacher Amy Tyksinski’s great TEDx talk, “The Effects of T’ai Chi Chih on High School Students.” I encourage you to revisit it (or check it out for the first time), give it a thumbs up, make a comment about your own TCC experience, and share it. It’s a valuable resource.
The 2017 Conference Continued
The Boulder conference was bursting with so many great presentations that we needed to roll many over into this issue. Even though they are by teachers, they are directly applicable to students of all levels. See pages 3, 8-11 and 14-17.
We Are All The Beneficiary
Thank you to the anonymous teacher who bequeathed a percentage of her IRA to The Vital Force. She writes: “Please share receipt of my gift. It might encourage others to do the same. If every teacher included a $1,000 bequest in their estate, it would make a huge difference. Most people want to leave their kids as much as possible, but $1,000 less to your kids (especially if it is split by multiple kids) won’t be a drop missed in the bucket.”
The Vital Force is committed to supporting community outreach activities. If you wish to participate in these efforts, donations are gratefully accepted on taichichih.org, or by calling or writing using the contact information for The Vital Force on page 24.
Justin is speaking. Do we hear him?
Sincere practice is rewarded – more than you know.
Practice when you feel like it. Practice when you don’t.
This Issue & The Conference
The Boulder conference in mid-June was northing short of stellar, amazing and impressive. The ramifications for, and influences upon, teachers and students will be far-reaching. Among other things, it demonstrated to all in attendance that the community is thriving, coalescing and expanding.
Although many of this issue’s articles are drawn from conference talks and demonstrations, they are directly applicable to students of all levels. These include articles by Dora, Caroline, Amy and Dorene on “Feeling the Chi” (pages 3, 9 and 14) and by Pam and Carmen on Grounding (pages 7 and 8). We are saving others for the November issue.
A Thousand Points of Light
The Sunday morning conference session, where teachers shared news of projects and ongoing community initiatives, was particularly inspirational. Dozens of teachers stood to briefly mention ways they are sharing T’ai Chi Chih. It was so heartening to see Justin’s oft-professed wish, that each teacher pursue his/her own path, was taking hold. Teachers were not waiting to be told what to do; they were taking the reigns to shape their teaching lives. There was cross-pollination and camaraderie; there were supportive groups and spontaneous connections.
That TCC lacks an institutional organization, espoused by Justin since the beginning, is what allows a “flat” structure where each of us is empowered to lead. Nothing could control or corral the energy popping up that morning.
It’s an exciting time to be a practitioner, a new teacher and/or an experienced teacher. Justin– pictured on page one with his friend and teacher Roshi from the Bodhi Manda Zen Center in Jemez, New Mexico, towards the end of both of their lives – would be pleased at the abundance of inner sincerity.
I’m sure everyone attending the 2017 conference is eager for this year’s gravitas, grounding, playfulness and lightness to be taken to the next level in 2018 in the Philadelphia area. (No pressure to April Leffler and Kathleen McAllister!) The Vital Force will do everything in its power, in print and through social media, to support their efforts. Starting making plans now.
If you are a serious student thinking of becoming a teacher, there’s no better time to register for a training course – so that you can play with us next summer.
It’s been about six months since we celebrated the 100-year anniversary of Justin’s birth and less than two months since we noted the five-year mark of his death. His stories and personal interactions with him are never far from the surface; in fact, they exist more like Chi pressed into our bones.
Many, many interactions with him pop to mind. When I traveled back-and-forth between Boston and Albuquerque for a decade, I would spend the return flight to Boston writing down the revelations and riddles that my time with Justin prompted. Here are a few stories.
We’d been in our Albuquerque house for two years but Justin had never accepted an invitation to visit until he invited himself over – the morning my cat was to be ‘put to sleep.’ Justin made a beeline to my office, where the cat was curled up (although no one had told Justin anything), and he made one of the most compassionate comments that I’d ever heard him utter. Then he left. Later that afternoon when he opened the door for meditation at his house (which he never did, as we all just barged in), he said, “I’m glad you are here; you’re in the right place.”
Another time, I’d been doing T’ai Chi Chih with Justin and three others in his living room when he began really hammering home on some point about how I was moving. I became upset and refused to go out to dinner with them afterwards. When examining what had happened later that night, I said out loud, “I don’t trust that guy” and in that instant, an enormous and related issue was completely resolved. It “only” required Justin’s expression of unconditionality.
Another time, I was having a difficult conversation in his living room with him and another person. Justin interrupted, got up and asked me, “Dear, would you like a soft.” He was referring to a soft drink, but in that moment, he was telling me to let go of the matter. My response? “No… thank you.” He returned without a drink (for me or himself), to a softer situation and we exchanged a small smile.
There are a thousand more stories, all different but the same.
Photos & Conference 2017
The images featured on page 4, 5, 10, 11, and 17 were taken in and around Boulder and at the conference center, compliments of Lisa VV, as a way to entice you to attend the conference on June 15-18th.
Annual Board Meeting Report
The Vital Force Board meets annually to monitor and provide direction for the fiscal health of The Vital Force, a non-profit 501 c3. We also review the prior year’s activities and set priorities and intentions for the forthcoming year.
We are pleased to report that membership levels remained consistent from issue-to-issue (and even increased by a few percentage points). Your current tax deductible membership fee exactlycovers editing, designing, printing and mailing the journal. All other activities that The Vital Force engages in are entirely supported by donations.
What else does The Vital Force do? We:
- create and maintain the community’s website (taichichih.org), which includes posting events and conference materials for the benefit of all;
- maintain the enormous database so students may find teachers;
- at the community’s urging, updated the database by contacting (multiple times) each of the 2500+ teachers in the database.
- maintain the social media platforms of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Flickr and a website blog – so that people around the world may find and connect with other practitioners.
- Provides free subscriptions when we have resources
Without them, we will be unable to continue the above endeavors. The Vital Force is committed to support these community outreach activities during 2017. But this is not sustainable if the current trend continues.
Membership Fee Increase
As a result, the Board voted to increase the annual fee to $50. This will cover some of the above activities. We have begun a free monthly e-newsletterette with Vital Force excerpts (to practitioners who’ve requested it) as a way to test growing the community.
Huge gratitude to benefactors who have allowed The Vital Force to maintain its outreach. If you wish to participate in the community-building outlined above, you may donate on taichichih.org, or by calling or writing using the contact information for The Vital Force on page 24. Mary and I agree that it is an honor and privilege to serve in this capacity.
*The Board consists of Lisa Otero, Guy Kent and Dora Wiemann.
Have you ever noticed the “Get Updates from Us” form on the homepage of taichichih.org? About 200 people have. So we have begun sending a free, monthly e-newsletterette featuring snippets from The Vital Force. This outreach has a dual purpose: increase subscriptions by offering teachers (who have signed up for the e-newsletterette) an easy way to electronically share inspiration with their students, and 2.) introduce students to the rich sharing within The Vital Force. Please sign up through the homepage if you’d like to receive it.
Updated Teacher Database
Per the request from the community, our database of teachers has been updated! We sent three email requests to every teacher for whom we had an email address. And we called everyone for whom we only had a phone number. If we did not get a response during our outreach, we removed that teacher from the list.
We “abandon hope” undertaking this endeavor. Since your membership fee only covers the creation of the quarterly issues, extra projects like this are entirely funded through contributions. If you would like to make a donation towards this important effort, you may do so through the green “Donate” button on the homepage. Thank you.
New Teacher Voices
This issue features a wealth of reflections by new teachers accredited in Pennsylvania and Colorado during the last quarter. It’s apparent that they, individually and collectively, had an incredibly transformative week. Surprised? Many of the stories were the basis of their in-class presentations. Many are reflections of before, during and after the intensive process. All are heartfelt.
The impact of these pages might be threefold (as if anything more is needed than simply taking time to reflect and share):
- Inspire other serious students to take the leap and teach.
- Help current teachers reconnect with their own initial sparks of wonder.
- Gently challenge forthcoming teacher trainings to continue the outpouring.
To paraphrase Nancy Werner-Azarski elsewhere in this issue, We see the future of TCC. Enjoy.
Request To All Teachers: Contact Information Update
From Sandy McDonald, Hayward, California
Many people become teachers because they find benefit in the practice and want to share it with others. But this is hard to do if perspective students can’t find you. The taichichih.org website has a list of teachers. This list is woefully out of date. It is not unusual for me to receive calls from people looking for a teacher in their area as the ones on the list they have tried either don’t teach any more or their contact information is not valid. Frankly, this is not a good reflection on the quality of TCC teachers.
Please take a few minutes and look at the website to see if your information is up to date. If it is not or you are not teaching at this time, please send that information to [email protected] It you think you might teach in the future we can always add you back on the list.
The Vital Force would be an empty shell without your contributions. Thank you for always putting fingertips to the keyboard.
If you are a visual artist, The Vital Force welcomes a submission of 10-12 images of your creative work. (Of course we welcome single, stand-alone photos and specific photos to accompany articles, too.)
Consider organizing three to six articles from your community for a higher-impact double-page spread which you can then use to promote TCC in your area.
August Teacher Conference in Seattle
For those attending (see taichichih.org/conference-2016 for forms), please take notes about presentations and your experiences – to share in articles with those unable to attend. Photos of practitioners moving are always welcome!
Please share the Chi and amplify the message by posting images on social media, including on Facebook.com/taichichih, and on Twitter and Instagram using #taichichih. Whether you are attending the conference, teaching a class or practicing outside with a group of people, let your visuals be part of a broader conversation.
As Justin wrote:
“It is the absence of any pressure, moving slow motion in a dream, that allows softness to prevail.”
“You can chase your shadow all day and never catch it, but stand still at noon and it will merge with the body – with no effort.”
The quality of, and participation by, a wide range of students and teachers continues to be inspirational. May The Vital Force remain a safe and independent harbor for expression.
Albuquerque Teacher Training
I was fortunate to speak about The Vital Force at the recent teacher training, where I also sought and received feedback and input about what was working (or not). A challenge was also extended to each candidate to write about their accreditation experience, why they chose to become a teacher or to offer their oral presentation as an article. As a result, this issue contains six training-related articles. It’s my hope that future candidates will pick up that mantle and that the community will hear even more reflections from our newest members. You inspire us.
Teachers and students continue to say that movement articles are helpful in teaching and learning. But I can’t print them if I don’t have them.
Art Submissions: Sculpture Photos
The issue is peppered with images taken by Rebecca Paulson, who writes: “The northern Colorado T’ai Chi Chih community is doing outreach practices in one of Loveland’s parks, a sculpture garden. Last month while strolling through, I spotted one delightful sculpture that is all giant feet, with a vanishing point perspective up to a tinier waist. I squealed with delight: Grounding in the soles of the feet! I hope you have enough pictures from this collection for The Vital Force.”
To save money, beginning with the May issue, The Vital Force will be shipped media rate rather than first class.
“As a first time mother-to-be, there were times, especially during the later months, when I couldn’t sleep at night. Baby was keeping us both up. So I would wander through the house. I found that if I did some T’ai Chi Chih moves, these would calm the baby and me and we could return to sleep.” Stephanie, Elbridge, NY.
In Justin’s Words
In Spiritual Odyssey: “You cannot give the same teaching to two people. It must fit the Karma of each one and never be a teaching by rote. How do you know what teaching to give? You will be guided.”
Something seems to happening out there. Communities are growing and strengthening through grassroots efforts. One teacher at a time. Each responsible for herself or himself. It’s heartening.
T’ai Chi Chih Musings
“Many times during my TCC practice on my lanai I feel Justin Stone looking down from the heavens and feeling him seeing someone or somemany practicing TCC all in the same moment, all over the world. It is quite astonishing to feel this and fills me with joy.” – Terry Jennings, Honolulu, Hawaii
Have you dipped into the T’ai Chi Chih Facebook page recently? At press time facebook.com/taichichih had 2,036 followers. Share the page with your friends, students, families. It links a worldwide community of practitioners who might not otherwise have connected with like-minded souls. And we know, Justin, it doesn’t take the place of practice, practice, practice. That said, you can always count on a heartfelt discussion, shared TCC experiences, archival videos of Justin, videos of new students and teachers practicing, quotations by Justin, open-ended questions and specific questions. Thanks to Lisa Otero and all who participate.
- Anecdotes about your time with Justin, or, if you’d never met him in person, an anecdote about how you’ve come to know him through his writings.
- Interviewees like we present with Marie Dotts; see page 4-5.
- Articles about your experiences with prajna; you will make April Leffler pleased.
- A double-page spread of articles from your community. (Hello New Jersey, Northern California, Portland … and more.)
- Articles about your experiences with various movements; you will make Stan Corwin very pleased; see page 3.
- Where in the World photos
- Artwork (5-10 thematic images)
Justin wrote, “The great secret in T’ai Chi Chih is what happens to the Vital Force. We should be grateful for it.”
Nothing more is needed in this moment. Justin’s statement and joyous visage are enough. One “right” second in his presence (whether in person or through his work) always had a way of sweeping things clean.
Conference 2015 – August 6-9, North Carolina
Read all about it at taichichih.org/conference-2015. It’s not too late to register.
This edition follows up on some compelling interviews from the February issue – with a few more teachers sharing their motivations for teaching T’ai Chi Chih, their ideas about training the next generation and connecting with others in the TCC community. If you would like to contribute, please email me for a set of questions that will help frame your thinking.
Justin’s Storytelling: Truths To Live & Die By
During his younger years Justin created children’s records for a publisher-friend of his. He didn’t have a contract, but rather relied on a mutual agreement between the two of them. Justin trusted what he knew to be a clear understanding. The recordings went on to generate millions of dollars but Justin never received a penny because the publisher reneged on their deal. Justin always referred to his publisher as stealing the royalties out from underneath him. The publisher had been able to do this because the t’s had not been crossed and the i’s had not been dotted.
Justin always told stories with a pointed purpose. And he told them to (and for) specific people in the room. When I became the CEO of Good Karma Publishing in January 2004, Justin relayed this particular story when I and another member of the TCC community were in the room. It was a haunting story.
Justin’s heightened awareness allowed him to see things, to Know – whether in the present or future. No matter our listening prowess, Karma unfolds one way or the other. Knowing what I Know now, I’d still rather play the part of the trusting and trustworthy actor. Any day. It’s all a play within a play; the lesson has been internalized. With each turn of a screw and on the drop of a dime, we actors choose our roles.
Animals & TCC
Most of us have heard stories about animals being attracted to our presence as we practice TCC. Some of us have experienced it. And we know how viral animal stories and photos can become on social media. To that end, please send photos and short stories about the intersection of your practice with wild or domesticated animals. We’ll share the interspecies love in The Vital Force and on the web.
Interviews In This Issue
The Vital Force posed the same series of questions to a number of T’ai Chi Chih teachers in the community, with the intention of sharing their light. We have published the first four interviews in this issue, and we hope and expect to share more throughout the year. Whether you are a student or teacher, we also hope they inspire you vis-a-vis their thoughtfulness, integrity, vibrancy and the sheer variety of voices within our community. Enjoy.
Your VF Membership & Teacher Website Listing
The Vital Force will not charge non-subscribing teachers for their listing on taichichih.org/tai-chi-chih-teachers, as outlined in the November issue. Although it costs $39.52 for us to produce the four quarterly issues of The Vital Force, which carries a $40 U.S. membership fee, thereby leaving nothing leftover to operate taichichih.org, we hope enough readers will donate to The Vital Force to cover these operating expenses.
YouTube Videos: Voting Up/Down
Each of us has the power and ability to exert responsibility about how the public perceives T’ai Chi Chih. Log onto youtube.com/user/tccabq and click the “thumbs up” for videos you think show TCC at its best. If you see video clips by anyone doing a disservice to TCC, click the thumbs down. If you want to go one step further, add a comment that says, “To really understand Justin Stone’s T’ai Chi Chih please visit taichichih.org. That would be of enormous value and a vital contribution to spreading the word. Thanks.
Andrea Vargas Studio – Featured in this Issue
“As an artist I frequently create in response to ecological disasters and aspects of violence against the body. However, with T’ai Chi Chih I can hear and honor my spirit’s desire to create with peace and love. What I have contributed to The Vital Force is a collection of paintings that utilize the energy and spirit of water.
To work with pigment and water is to balance control with surrender, rhythm and practice. For me, there is constant joy and learning available with a process that honors the cycle of life, the polarities of energy and the power of balance.
I now live and work in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Southern California. I give thanks that with the support and inspiration of Lisa Otero, T’ai Chi Chih has given me a language for the energy I hold in my hands, and a means to expand in joy and love with each breath.”
Hi, I am a student and future teacher of TCC. I wanted to let you know how much I appreciated and enjoyed the May issue. It was packed full of good information, offering a path to follow when I decide to become a TCC instructor. I loved the tips
Database Update: Find A Teacher
Per your request, we are trying to make our website’s “find a teacher in your area” function a more effective tool to link prospective students to active T’ai Chi Chih teachers (taichichih.org/tai-chi-chih-teachers).
Teacher contact information on the website is currently self-reported. As such, much of this information is out-of-date. Bounce-back emails, disconnected phone numbers, and unreturned telephone messages are all-too-commonplace for students looking for a teacher. The feedback we have received is that this results in considerable, frustrating downside for our community. To that end, Mary Ruiz has been painstakingly updating the database. The paired-down but more accurate and relevant teacher listing will appear in early January. Please help us keep our community’s teacher contact list current and “vital”: please check your listing for accuracy and promptly report any errors or changes. And, if you know that an accredited teacher has passed on, please notify us asap.
Website Teacher Listings
Teachers, your membership to The Vital Force includes a free listing on taichichih.org! It’s a 100% value-add, since your subscription covers the production of the journal, with no resources left over for the website. (Yes, the website is completely funded by tax-deductible contributions.)
Going forward, non-subscribers of The Vital Force will be charged $25 for a 3-year listing on taichichih.org/tai-chi-chih-teachers.
That’s one more reason to maintain your subscription! Please help spread the word to accredited teachers who are non-subscribers that there is even more reason to subscribe to The Vital Force journal and to keep your subscription current.
Year-End Giving & Matching Funds
The Vital Force maintains taichichih.org, which exists solely through the generosity of our subscribers.
Please consider a contribution to support the essential (and vast) outreach of the website. Donations can be made by credit card (via the green button on the homepage of) https://tai-chi-chih.local or by sending a check to The Vital Force, PO Box 92674, Albuquerque, NM 87199.
Gifts to The Vital Force are fully tax deductible, always appreciated and used effectively to reach tens of thousands of practitioners around the globe.
The online and print calendar is open to ALL teachers offering daylong, weekend, and other special TCC events. (At this juncture, keeping a current listing of on-going classes is simply too time consuming for our volunteers to maintain.)
A Prajna Request
April Leffler has requested that The Vital Force offer a regular space for T’ai Chi Chih teachers to express how Prajna has shown itself in their lives. If you write it, I’ll print it.
On page 5 of the August issue, the last (punch) line of Doug Harned’s piece “Cucumber” was inadvertently left off. It should have read: “I’ll close with my favorite poem by Paul Reps: ‘Cucumber unaccountably cucumbering.’”
Have you heard of the “AmazonSmile” program? It’s a simple and automatic way to support your favorite charitable organization every time you shop. And it costs you nothing.
When you shop at smile.amazon.com, you’ll find the exact same low prices, vast selection and convenient shopping experience as Amazon.com. The added bonus? Amazon will donate 0.5% of the purchase price from your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to your favorite charitable organization.
The first time you logon, simply type in Vital Force Journal Inc and click “select.” And that’s it. Thanks for the support!
It’s here: the newly re-launched website. Improvements include:
- Easier (and more prominent) social media sharing
- Online ordering (and more prominence) for this newsletter
- More dedicated conference links, pages and post-conference content
- Easier-to-find (and share) blog posts
- Separate tab for “Find a Teacher”
- Liberal use of Justin Stone’s quotations from most of his books
- Up-to-date software
- Easier and faster content updating
(no column this issue)
Grounding & Graceful Conclusions
In the November 2013 issue and now this one, I’m grateful for the continuing conversation (and tone) in relation to whether we practitioners rise after closing a movement – or remain with knees bent before starting the next movement. I’m glad everyone feels free to make his/her experiences known.
“We started class tonight by listening to parts of Spiritual Stories of the East. There is something about hearing Justin speak. Merle (one of my students) heard the chanting for the first time when she came to Sunday meditation. It was special for her to hear Justin chant and then give an explanation. It set the tone for a very good class. Thanks for making so many excellent materials available to us.” – Sheryl Adair, Atlanta, Georgia
Stu Goldman’s Artwork In This Issue: “Embracing My Continuity”
“I am among the fortunate: I have made my living from doing things that most people only dream about doing. Since childhood I have been an actor, cartoonist, author, illustrator, stained glass artist and now a T’ai Chi Chih instructor [as of the November 2013 accreditation]. These are all, believe it or not, related careers. They all communicate, inform and energize intellectually.
The most accidental of these was the stained glass. While copying one of my political cartoons for syndication distribution, instead of reducing, I enlarged it so big that only a portion of the image appeared. It was a minor mishap and easily remedied, but the lines looked like the lead lines of a stained glass window. Later that week, walking past a stained glass studio in my Philadelphia neighborhood, I noticed a sign in the window offering lessons. I signed up. The next twenty years became history, as the saying goes.
From early on, as inspiration, I combined my interests in Japanese Haiku and Sumi-e ink drawing. The melding of these two art forms is known as Haiga. It’s noteworthy that the root of the term illustration is ‘to bring light to…’ I like to think that I used the light to ‘come through’ as well.” – Stu Goldman, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
Where In The World …
TCC is practiced around the world and we have two new photos in this issue to prove it. Keep them coming.
Why An Issue Dedicated To Conference 2013
The Minnesota T’ai Chi Chih community created an incomparable conference that embodied both a gravitas and a lightness. The outpouring of material contained in this issue is a testimony to the spirit and execution of their event. May it serve to unite the teachers who could not attend. And spur more teachers to attend next year.
Social Media Breakout Session
Taking responsibility for filling significant but unmet challenges, The Vital Force has been building out T’ai Chi Chih’s ever-expanding social media presence. The conference committee allowed me 30 minutes to present overviews of T’ai Chi Chih’s social media presence on various “platforms” – for which I was (and am) grateful. And to explain why social media is so important to spreading TCC, thus growing classes and building a market for Justin’s works. And to explain how each of you are completely essential to the success of these ventures.
Platforms (called out below) are where we communicate, rather than sell. Through our message we earn trust, which is built slowly over time. It’s about the same human qualities of connection that have existed for thousands of years. It’s about offering something that others want in their lives. It’s about attraction rather than promotion, as they say in Alcoholics Anonymous.
Mostly: it’s about empowering others (you!) to spread the message, influencing your friends and their friends.
All URLs are on the last page of The Vital Force. Briefly, TCC has a presence on:
- YouTube: The world’s second biggest search engine. Teacher demos are side-by-side with Justin’s instructional videos.
- Twitter: Where journalists and reports hang out. So TCC must too.
- Instagram: Photo-sharing. TCC is a visual and particularly well suited to good photography. See page 18 of the August 2013 issue.
- Flickr: The world’s largest photo repository. Sets of TCC images include groups, movements, “how to,” Justin, Andrea Cole imagery, seated TCC, conference images, a teacher training, Where in the World.
- Pinterest: The TCC target demographic, i.e. women of a certain age. TCC homepage “boards” are grouped around: inspiration, health benefits, press clippings, movements, the app and much more. See page 19 of the August 2013 issue.
- Facebook: The granddaddy of social media. Our page has grown to almost 1500 followers under Lisa Otero’s guidance. See page 23 of the August 2013 issue.
Vital Force Wrap-Up: The 30-Minute Conference Presentation
The Vital Force has also pushed forward in the last 12 months:
- The Vital Force now accepts credit cards over the phone; call 505-797-7300.
- You are now able to renew for two years (@ $75US, $95CA) and three years ($110US, $140CA).
- Financials were posted; The Vital Force balance sheet is $1300 in the black, thanks to generous donations that fill the gap.
- Subscriptions continue to decline, but we are looking at more effective renewal methods.
- There is no printed directory; please visit taichichih.org/the-teachers for an up-to-date list.
- The Justin Stone May 2012 “memorial issue” is available online for $12 per copy.
- All back issues are available online (free or paid) @ taichichih.org/vital-force.
This website – a fountain of TCC information for the world to see – was put under the umbrella of The Vital Force before my time. It is completely supported by donations. Thank you.
Please visit the blog and add your voice @ taichichih.org/category/blog. Please visit the teacher resource page @ taichichih.org/teacher-resources and send ideas for additions.
Vital Force Improvements
We did a bit of brainstorming about how The Vital Force can better serve the community. Don’t be shy about letting me know what you like, and don’t.
When I began in 2007, there were funds earmarked for scholarships to attend various events. The earmarked scholarship funds have now all been used. In fact The Vital Force distributed $650 more than it had collected. That said, accepting funds for dispersal to individuals requires a lot of IRS paperwork, and strict adherence to rules and regulations. Which is beyond the capacity of this volunteer “organization.” That is why The Vital Force pulled out of that business.
After some discussion The Vital Force was happy to learn that a one-year subscription would continue to be included for every newly accredited teacher. We think this is an easy way to unite the teachers, and we were happy for the support of the community.
Charitable Giving Over The Last 12 Months
Your donations have been put to effective use and continue to make an impact:
- We printed 10,000 TCC postcards (free to all teaches) – thanks to one gift.
- We created a dedicated webpage for each conference – thanks to one gift.
- We archived past issues thanks to two major gifts and many smaller others.
- We increased our social media presence thanks to one major gift.
Year-End Giving Opportunities
- Consider doubling the reach of your gift if your company offers matching funds.
- Consider a donation of $500, which covers 6 months of maintenance for the website which reaches 50,000 people.
What Would You Like To See In The Vital Force? A Request/Recommendation
“I would like to see a Q & A column in The Vital Force.
I have learned a lot from different people about how to teach students different movements. Take Around The Platter. I can describe it as a round platter, or the face of a clock looking up at me, or a record with a needle attached to the base of my palm while I travel around the grooves. There are so many creative teachers out there; I think it would be interesting to get input from some.
It’s like learning tennis or golf. One instructor can try to help you, then another words it differently, and one says exactly what clicks to allow you to execute it correctly. I try all sorts of verbiage when teaching to maybe hit just the right note with each student.
Anyway, you’d have to start with just questions … maybe 4. And at the next issue print answers that are not in Justin’s books or tapes … different approaches to certain movements while staying within the principles. Then at the end of the column add questions for everyone to ponder for the next issue, and so on.
For instance, I have had one student for two years who executes everything beautifully, but she cannot get her hands and fingers to relax. So, for two years I’ve said, “Soften your hands.” She immediately softens, and within a few minutes she’s back to tense hands and fingers. She’s soft everyplace else. I wonder if someone out there would have another approach that has proved successful.
Also, I have an 85 year old student who fell over two years ago and has developed dementia. I learned through experimentation what clicks with her. When she first came to class she was hunched over a walker, then she progressed to a cane, and now (even with snow and salt on the ground) she often now walks in with her caregiver. She recently had a three-pound mass removed from her stomach, and I didn’t expect to see her for a while. But her doctor told her to go back to class the same week as her surgery. So I wonder if there is even more I can do to keep her progress going. Maybe someone out there has ideas.
Just a thought … I look forward to each issue but was thinking of something a little different.” – Dee Burton, Orland Park, Illinois
It Takes A Village
Have you ever read an online article about meditation, yoga or “T’ai Chi” and thought, “Hey, the same could be said about T’ai Chi Chih!” It’s ok, admit it; we all have. But have you followed through to join the online conversation? Have you piped up and mentioned TCC? It only takes a few minutes to influence the dialogue, and help spread the word about T’ai Chi Chih. Practices flourish by word of mouth. You can talk to one person, and you can also talk to thousands with a simple comment online. Put your fingers to a keyboard and use your words, exert your soft but powerful voice. You don’t know who (or how many) you will spark.
The screen shot above shows a comment made in response to a meditation article appearing on huffingtonpost.com and oprah.com. It’s always important to be relevant to the article at hand – before softly pitching T’ai Chi Chih – and referencing taichichih.org.
The screen shot below shows an excellent comment by Indiana teacher Pete Gregory. He posted in response to Tara Parker-Pope’s “Help for the Deskbound” on the well-read New York Times Wellness Blog. In fact, Pete was the third in the nation to respond and his comment also appeared on the TCC blog, continuing the conversation.
Teacher Website Database: The drop down menu on taichichih.org/the-teachers remains out of commission from the website hacking last year. But the downloadable PDFs (also on this same webpage), with teacher names sorted alphabetically by name and/or by region, are available to all and updated every six weeks.
Gratitude For VF Volunteers: Special thanks go out to Mary Ruiz, Mary White and Joyce Veerkamp – who maintain the database, subscriptions and much more for The Vital Force and taichichih.org. Their efforts, and indomitable spirits, are heroic.
Facebook: Enormous appreciation, too, to Lisa Otero, the community manager for the T’ai Chi Chih Facebook page (facebook.com/taichichih), which has grown to a resounding 1200+ voices. Lisa poses questions about practice, inspiring quotations by Justin Stone, and sets the table to get a robust conversation going. Check it out.
Photos Of TCC Practitioners: Huge thanks to professional photographer, Andrea Cole (Minneapolis, Minnesota), for her super images of the local community practicing T’ai Chi Chih. They are being used in The Vital Force, our taichichih.org website, Pinterest and Flickr. It’s all in the service of spreading the word about our practice.
TCC Experiences Needed: The Vital Force is your publication, and it will only continue to exist if enough readers write about their experiences with T’ai Chi Chih. (A typically expansive call for submissions returned only a tiny response of writings for this issue.) Don’t be shy about sharing. And please don’t think you have to be a perfect writer.
Vital Force Archives – Free To Download: Thanks to incredibly generous contributors, we were able to scan, post and offer bullet points for every issue available since The Vital Force began publishing in 1985. Visit taichichih.org/vital-force-archives to download free out-of-print back issues.
Single Back Issues: For issues published since 2007, if there are printed copies available, they may be purchased on taichichih.org/vital-force-back-issues. When an issue sells out, we will move it to the archive page. But not until they are sold out.
The 44-page May 2012 Justin Stone “memorial” issue is also available at taichichih.org/vital-force-back-issues for $15 domestic, $18 international shipping.
Feedback About Remembering Justin
“Thanks for sharing all the recent experiences about Justin. I loved it. I can feel the conversation. Talk about really listening… I loved hearing Judy Hendricks mention something “off the cuff” about Justin. And I overheard Carmen Brocklehurst tell a “Justin story” while in the restroom at conference. Both examples were in and of themselves “no big deal,” however, they were way cool since I’ve had such limited experiences with him. It would be so great to keep hearing about him through stories from others who lived with him and knew him so intimately.” – April Leffler,
Prospect Park, Pennsylvania
The Vital Force would like to run a Justin Remembrance page as long as people share stories.
Cosmic Consciousness Image From August 2012
“I love the picture of Justin in the resting pose – the one with five of him in varying shades of whitish to blackish – in the last issue of The Vital Force. Is that a poster? I would love a copy. Makes me warm all over.” – Terry Jennings, Honolulu, Hawaii
If “enough” subscribers are interested (please drop me an email at [email protected]), we can make it happen.
As you consider your year-end charitable contributions, please inquire whether your employer offers matching funds. It’s an easy way to double your tax-deductible gift with “the-effort-of-no-effort.” The Vital Force, and the adjunct taichichih.org, is a 501(c)3.
Your Generous Contributions Put To Good Use
There were multiple, overwhelming and spontaneous acts of generosity at the Portland conference and beyond its borders. One teacher donated funds to reprint 10,000 copies of the popular T’ai Chi Chih promotional postcard. Another teacher donated funds to add new pages to taichichih.org – for dedicated pages for forthcoming conferences (taichichih.org/conference_2013/) and for presentations given at the prior year’s conference (see taichichih.org/conference-2012/). A request on facebook.com/taichichih raised funds to begin archiving (and posting) 25 years worth of back issues of The Vital Force. (See taichichih.org/vital-force-archives/)
Justin kept teaching all the way to the ‘end.’ Quite a few months prior to his death, his caretakers decided he needed more rest and fewer visitors as he prepared to die. We were asked to stop coming to his house. As you can imagine, there were some private discussions between community members about this. I am not aware that anyone told Justin about this decision, but I am positive that he was utterly conscious of the conversation (and consternation) surrounding this.
I was among those who continued to go to his house for meditation and to share a meal with him. One day upon arrival to his house, Justin was just returning (with Carmen and a caretaker) from an outing – to buy some magazines at a local cafe. Justin ‘never’ bought magazines. But today he just wanted to get out and get some things. He was impeccably dressed, with his sunglasses on, cardboard shade nearby, a big smile on his face and a slight spring in his shuffle. As if to say: I know what’s going on here. I’m not dead yet. I’m still calling the shots. A “good” meditation followed
Justin was/is the love of my life. (Luckily my partner understands what this means!) He links me to the Absolute; his love was/is utterly unconditional; he was not concerned with my personality; all he cared about was if I was doing T’ai Chi Chih and meditating; every interaction was to encourage/prod/move me in the direction of Awareness.
So in this regard, which I hold as the main value/guiding principle of this life, he will always be singular.
Although the world seems a bit dimmer, and many of us feel a bit more alone and lonely, Justin has not forsaken us, for he has left us with a clear Path, a Practice.
Good Karma Publishing will keep his words alive, and The Vital Force will continue to share his teachings and his student’s experiences. It is a privilege to be of service. I am eternally grateful.
On The Value Of The Vital Force To Readers
From T’ai Chi Chih practitioner and Vital Force reader Linda Prosche: “My heart is full and I am sending this to say thank you. We never know who [or what] will show up in our lives and the seemingly random things that arise because of that ‘chance’ meeting.
These last two years have been an extraordinary time of healing and growth for me on Maui and I am, humbly, not the same person. This journey was possible because I had a mainland connection with [The Vital Force], as a teacher, student and friend.
In hindsight, I can see that this human link has been a necessary anchor for me to thrive on this elemental island. The relationship has been an important thread whether you were aware of it or not. And as my practice continues to deepen, I am so grateful for the people and opportunities that continue to magically show up and teach me more wondrous things. Thank you for making a difference in my life.
A hui Hou Kakou malama pono. (Take care until we meet again.)”
Our new website redesign makes building community and connecting students and teachers so much easier. Take a look at this typical exchange (to the right). And speaking of building community, our TCC Facebook community went from about 600 “likes” (aka “friends”) to about 825 within two months of launching the new website – just from including a “plug-in” at the bottom of each website page. That’s an increase of about 40 percent, of folks who are reading weekly quotations by Justin, chiming in about their experiences with certain movements and more. Little grains of sand, little grains of sand.
– Website Funding & Year-End Tax Deductible Donations –
The major website overhaul was partially funded with a (previous) generous contribution. But it is not entirely funded. If you would like to make an outreach donation, please visit taichichih.org/donate/. You can see that your money is/will be/has been put to superb use already. Thank you. (As a reminder, your Vital Force subscription does not cover website expenses at all. The website is pure, free, added-value for all community members.)
- We’ve almost worked our way through discussing the movements (even though articles have been dwindling for some time).
- We tried “Where in the World,” which I’m hoping will be better received if you get to see yourselves practicing TCC on the new website. (Don’t be shy; send photos to [email protected] Locations don’t have to be “exotic” – just interesting and/or somehow attractive.)
- We organize layouts by geography when “enough” teachers respond to a solicitation.
- Hannah Hedrick has suggested a discussion theme/thread noted below for the January 1st deadline.
- What other ideas would you like to see addressed as themes for upcoming issues? Please email them to [email protected]
Reader Voices: Laurie Jacobi
I’ve been meaning to pass this story along to you for some time: Remember the story I submitted about my experience teaching TCC in Kazakhstan? Well, a while ago I got an email from my embassy contact there who said that the NGO person who organized the artists’ workshops I was leading was at another gathering in the south of Kazakhstan recently and found the women doing TCC before their workshops began each day!! Someone who participated in my classes was passing it on to others as best she could. It was so heartening!
Reader Voices: Chris Norkus
I have ongoing T’ai Chi Chih sessions two days per week and will teach a new round of classes for beginners soon, but recently I had more students than ever attend. I even extended the classes so we could listen to Spiritual Stories from the East and the KNME Justin Stone-Carmen Brocklehurst Interview DVD.
While I have kept many older issues of The Vital Force, I have also cut up some and given away others. Recently, I started looking through the older saved editions again. I always see something in them that makes me want to hang on to them. But today, I just decided to let them go. I took a big stack to my big class and asked every student to take one Vital Force, read it, and come back to the next session with an article, paragraph, or sentence that resonates with them and that they want to share. I also asked them to return The Vital Force issues so that we could continue circulating them until the issues (perhaps) don’t show up anymore. Maybe this process will generate some new subscriptions. Every copy I brought in disappeared. Circulation.
One of my students who took lessons a couple years ago, and has been a regular attendee all year, did not take a copy today. I asked her why before she left. She said she had taken one a couple of years ago when I offered and had not returned it yet, but she would do in an upcoming session. Circulation.
I do hope that somewhere there are copies of all the back issues of The Vital Force. They could be of future interest as a reference for documenting the growth and evolution of TCC. Maybe knowing that there is such a stash would make it easier for others to let go of their copies.
Editor’s Note: There is a stash of back issues, which will be archived on taichichih.org.
The Vital Force is publishing springtime flowers in this May issue because it’s Spring, but also because there is a dearth of high quality and high-resolution images of people practicing T’ai Chi Chih (and practicing correctly). Please send some along when you get a chance. You will be credited and the whole community will benefit.
Your The Vital Force subscription fee not only pays for the publication to reach you via First Class, but it also goes towards maintaining and improving taichichih.org – with valuable information that reaches around the globe. Please remind teachers you know, who do not subscribe to The Vital Force but who enjoy the reach and influence of taichichih.org, about this service and benefit. Thanks for helping.
Reader Voices: Meg Costello
“The Vital Force is where I catch up on the news, events and conference excitement. May Swanson’s article in the last issue and this sentence of hers led me to write: ‘As long as we continue to teach classes, with the pureness of heart and love that Justin intended, students will come to learn.’ Even with my heavy schedule and without advertising classes, I teach T’ai Chi Chih following closely all that Justin has taught me. It is my dream that Justin’s words live on in the men and women I meet. Another dream is to get TCC into the school system so that violence may be eliminated from the minds and hearts of our children.
During a Christmas holiday open house, a kindergarten teacher asked if I could teach TCC after school. I offered to volunteer my services. When I am free with my services a class will appear. This January five New Jersey women are traveling to Philadelphia to learn TCC. The AARP article aroused their interest. A sadness hangs heavy because we do not have enough teachers to service the need for classes in Philadelphia. I have been asked to teach in the Chestnut Hill area several times – again because of the AARP article. But I am at the opposite end of the city and only teach in my home. Saturdays are the only mornings that I am available, and it is too far for people to travel. But still some come.”
Reader Voices: Jane Dick
“Enjoyed my talk with you when I ordered my Seijaku DVD. It’s had a lot of use already. Since my mate of 61-plus years has had some minor health challenges, I haven’t been able to attend reviews and/or conferences recently. Miss everyone and, of course, the stimulation and powerful energy. Pretty please, give Justin my love and appreciation, once again. Now that he has (understandably) requested no mailings, I miss this contact. I do have my Justin post card collection. … I had a physical challenge at the end of summer and was doing T’ai Chi Chih in bed for several weeks, then sitting TCC and now recently Seijaku. The increased energy is amazing. And I love sharing the DVD with Justin. We have our very important, private meetings.”
Reader Voices: Bill Moore
“BTW, I started adding the website addresses for taichichih.org and gkpub.com to all my student handouts (on movements, principles, etc.), so they could have them for ready reference. Positive responses from students. Not sure why it took so long for this idea to bubble up.”
AARP & T’ai Chi Chih
“I wanted you to be the first to know that my article on T’ai Chi Chih will appear in AARP The Magazine’s November/December issue in all of its three editions (for ages 50+, 60+, 70+). Originally, it was slated for only the 70+ issue. You should also know that the article is very brief. Much of what the editor asked for she ultimately cut; I had no control over that, or the reference she made in the subtitle and diagrams to “exercise.” Nevertheless, this can only be a good thing for the practice. The magazine prints 24 million copies and has 40 million readers!” From Roselee Blooston, Montclair, NJ
Brush Paintings by Susan Kissinger
After being inspired by Antonia with the joyful possibilities of brush painting, I enrolled in a course taught by a visiting artist from China. When she instructed us to copy an ancient Chinese masterpiece, I simply sat breathing, not knowing what to do. I allowed the Chi to show me the way. Minor insights kept me painting: controlling the water, loading the brush to create a rich gradation of ink and color, exploring dry brush technique to paint mountains that looked like mountains. One day my teacher painted flowers that danced next to my seemingly-wooden flowers. The sense of energy flowing through her flowers filled my bamboo leaves several days later. Just as with T’ai Chi Chih, my skills improved with regular practice.
Mandalas (August 2010) by Steve Marsh
Mandalas (Sanskrit for “circle”) have roots in sacred images and are often used for meditations. My versions were born from personal work with Jungian psychology (Carl Jung was a creative conduit of mandalas) and the unexpected invitation by a T’ai Chi Chih student to join an art group. The true catalyst, however, was my daily TCC practice and the resultant stillness. It was with some surprise (and joy) that the images sprang forth (and continue to do so). Mandalas can be quite elaborate and detailed, but my colored pencils and liquid pens on paper cast a more immediate and simpler presence. They’re more reflective of me and the creative energy – undoubtedly as I journey towards wholeness and connectedness.
As you consider your year-end charitable giving, please consider making a gift to support The Vital Force and taichichih.org outreach efforts. Your contributions are fully tax-deductible. You may donate online at https://taichichih.org/vital_force.php. Thank you.
Please join the almost 450-person-strong group on facebook.com – where students from around the world can ask questions, make comments, and find support and inspiration from others who are also practicing T’ai Chi Chih. We get detailed reports showing anywhere from 372 to 534 people visiting the page each week. Teachers, add your voices of experience. And please tell your students about it. Join the fun.
A Gift Horse Arrives In The In-Box (In The Nick Of Time)
Even though this issue lacks as much geographic diversity as one would hope for in an international journal, I’m grateful to the TCC practitioners who wrote at the last minute. One day prior to the deadline, only two unsolicited submissions had been received. Additionally, only two out of forty people emailed earlier in the month had promised to write by the deadline. Justin and Carmen always write. Sandy, Antonia, and Pam have been given columns, so they have to write; I have to write pieces for the VF and GKP. “Events” always come through with one article each. That would inch things up to 17 articles. But issues usually have 35 to 47 articles. There were some older submissions from the last few years to draw upon. But I fully expected to publish an edition half filled with Pyramid Poems. For this issue, there are no writings on the movement Pulling Taffy, Variation #2, Wrist Circles – except the short piece that Amy Tyksinski always submits. Perhaps this section isn’t that valuable to readers. Neither are there articles on the Justin’s quotation: “When the Chi flows freely and is balanced, the Cosmic Rhythm begins to move us” – which is only suggested to help people organize their thoughts around something (because people said they wanted to write but just didn’t know what to write about). Perhaps a theme is unnecessary to jumpstart inspiration. Whatever the case, there are less than a handful of unpublished
articles waiting for a place in the next issue, so unless you are looking forward to 12 pages of Pyramid Poems, please do write. Fellow practitioners are eager to hear what each of you wants to share.
Teacher Resource URL
Teachers: the following resources are posted on a non-public section of taichichih.org web site for you to use freely: a press kit from Good Karma Publishing to help you promote classes; sample brochures; information on getting replacement teaching certificates; guidelines for teaching TCC to people with COPD and to seniors; and important lists of other teachers who are teaching to specialized populations. The latter provides great networking opportunities for those who can’t attend conferences. To be reminded about the hidden url, send an email to [email protected]
New Tag Line
Thanks go to Tudor Oprea – a great supporter of The Vital Force and its mission to spread the word about T’ai Chi Chih – who came up with this new tag line: “May The Force Be With You” – as in, The Vital Force. We like it and hope you do too.
Criteria For Inclusion in the VF
Writers occasionally submit articles and stories with a postscript: “Hope this meets your criteria.” But what are the main criteria? That the writing and experience comes from the heart. Of course it has to be about TCC; it can’t be too long (see below for suggested lengths); and it generally
needs to pair with other articles so that the journal is cohesive. But those are minor points compared to the first.
From one author: “P.S. I actually enjoyed [writing] when I finally made myself do it!” And from Cathy Dalton: “I’m grateful at the realizations that came from deeper exploration and putting thoughts on paper.”
Duplication Of Articles
There has been some recent overlap with articles submitted to The Vital Force and then to Antonia’s website and/or newsletter (and/or the T’ai Chi Chih New Mexico News). But, like any worthy publication, we’d prefer not to have redundancies. We think you want to read original content. The value of what we offer is lessened when you can read the same thing elsewhere.
We rarely publish articles promoting upcoming events. Of course, the annual conference is an exception! In addition to the VF print calendar and the taichichih.org e-calendar (the latter is updated every six weeks), we started posting downloadable PDF flyers with registration and general information for each event on the website – when it was re-launched a few years ago. If we printed articles about forthcoming events and articles about the events after-the-fact, The Vital Force will be half-filled with just event information before you know it. I’d like to leave plenty of room for more than that.
If an event host would like to include a flyer within The Vital Force, you are certainly welcome to (for the cost of printing the flyer).
T’ai Chi Chih Enters Social Media Marketing Realm
TaiChiChih.org is embarking on an exciting outreach campaign to spread word of TCC, to reach more people who could benefit from practicing this moving meditation. To do this, we will employ online social media marketing tools such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. (Yes, we have already dipped our toes in this arena, but now it is time to wade in with both feet.)
Why social media marketing? Through it TCC hopes to:
- Increase our web site traffic;
- Increase TCC’s presence online (on other sites);
- Broaden the reach of our content by starting conversations about the practice and its benefits;
- Build valuable, interactive relationships with web site audiences;
- Spread awareness of our mission and increase advocacy of that mission.
We will build a stronger online presence through a number of strategies, including the development of a TCC blog comprised of posts and videos centering on health themes and upcoming events. The purpose of the blog will be to provide current content, answer questions and build an audience while increasing the relevancy of TCC’s web presence. Most importantly, the blog will give you a central place to share your TCC insights, testimonials, class videos and more. It will be your place to publish content that can reach millions of people via Facebook and other social media outlets.
GKP currently has a fabulous collection of video clips of Justin Stone teaching that are housed on YouTube, and taichichih.org would love to increase the collection with videos by teachers and students from around the country. Other ways to help include supporting the TCC Facebook page by joining and commenting; and sharing our content with others via Twitter and social bookmarking sites such as Digg and StumbleUpon. Additionally, we are considering reaching out with an e-newsletter to various health communities to spotlight benefits, fabulous teachings, testimonials, classes, tips and news.
As always, we greatly appreciate your support of this endeavor to spread the word about T’ai Chi Chih. We can’t do it without you, and we’ll need your help to make it a great success.
As you consider your year-end charitable giving, please consider making a gift to support The Vital Force and taichichih.org outreach efforts. Your contributions are fully tax-deductible. You may donate online at https://taichichih.org/vital_force.php. Thank you.
We’re trying to make your lives easier: The Vital Force now offers secure, on-line renewals. Visit taichichih.org/vital_force.php. Subscribe for one, two, or three years (domestic and foreign) and hit the blue “BUY NOW” button. It’s almost as easy as one-two-three. If you don’t have a gmail account with a password (to use on the right side of the screen), you can use your regular email address and a made-up password (on the left side of the screen). Of course, you can still order via our post box and check.
Renewing (In General)
The mailing label for your Vital Force contains your subscription expiration date. A few weeks after you receive your last paid issue, we send you a “snail mail” renewal form – printed on colored paper to grab your attention. About sixty percent of subscribers renew immediately using this form. Then, a month before the next issue goes out, we send an email reminder to those who have still not renewed, and another twenty percent renew via snail mail or using the on-line link we provide. Because this process represents a great deal of time for a tiny volunteer operation, we ask that you renew on-line and renew early. Although we strive for a one hundred percent renewal rate, we gain and lose subscribers in unequal (and decreasing) number. Thanks for your help in spreading the word about The Vital Force.
Creative Gift Giving
We’re up to $851 and counting – that’s the amount given in one person’s name to The Vital Force. One particularly devoted teacher, who wishes to remain anonymous, recently celebrated a 60th birthday. Since she was not in need of anything material, she asked attendees to her celebration to consider making a donation to The Vital Force, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. (Donations are fully tax deductible.) Apparently her friends and family are well aware of her enthusiasm for T’ai Chi Chih and couldn’t resist her request.
Perhaps this is something you might consider for an upcoming celebration or holiday. We can assure you that the funds are put to very good use in distributing The Vital Force and in upgrading the website, taichichih.org. We deeply thank this teacher and her generous circle for their gifts and this idea.
Photos Available For Use
Jim Eagle, who posted dozens of 2008 conference photos on Flickr, the photo sharing web site, has graciously offered use of his banner photos (featuring quotations by Justin Stone) that appeared in the November 2008 Vital Force. Sheila Leonard, who spearheaded this initiative with Jim, suggests using them on your web site or in promotional materials. They are available for download at http://flickr.com/photos/jeagle/sets/72157606285837025/. From there, click on the thumbnail photo you want; then click on the small magnifying glass directly above the photo labeled “all sizes;” then click on “original;” and then click on “download the original size.” This downloads the largest (most detailed) photo.
– Reprinting The Vital Force –
To clarify: Subscribers of The Vital Force are welcome to make copies of articles with permission. (Authors never need permission to make copies of their own articles.) Only one person has been denied permission in the last two years – when he wanted to reprint the entire issue every quarter
as a series of blog posts. If that had been allowed, why would any of those readers subscribe to The Vital Force? Why do people need permission to make copies? To maintain copyright protections. Protections from what or whom? Unfortunately, we don’t know that answer until it is too late. So we need to be proactive. The only thing we ask when permission is granted is that you include The Vital Force footer (or cut and paste the masthead) on your reprint – to give credit to and spread the word about The Vital Force.
Perhaps you’ve noticed that The Vital Force articles are laid out so that they don’t spill over on to additional pages. Why? So they are easier to reuse if and when they are copied. Perhaps you’ve noticed that articles of a similar ilk are laid out together (see the New Jersey articles by Bill Moore’s students or the Nebraska ones from Rita Otis’s students or the teacher/student articles from Donna Aldous). Why? Again, this is done with reprint usage in mind and to help teachers build community.
– Comment on Sandy’s Article: “T’ai Chi Chih Versus TCC” (see page 7) –
I understand and respect the points Sandy is making in her article. But it’s simply a matter of style and every publication develops a style sheet: The Vital Force spells out the first use of “T’ai Chi Chih” in every article and then uses the abbreviation “TCC” to save space and for convenience. (You’ll also note that Justin often uses the abbreviated form, “TCC,” in lieu of spelling out its entire name in every instance.) I would suggest that if you, too, are getting hung up on reading “TCC” aloud, simply substitute “T’ai Chi Chih” when you come across it. It may be second (or first) nature. As for abbreviating with initials in print (after the first full use of the form’s name), it doesn’t seem to have hurt Transcendental Meditation to be referred to as TM sometimes. Certainly, if you are writing about T’ai Chi Chih for a general trade publication, web site, or newspaper, it would be beneficial to write out the whole form each time. Don’t be surprised, though, when the publication utilizes its own style guidelines.
We haven’t blown our own horn since our tenure began with the May 2007 issue, but when someone commented at Justin’s 92nd birthday party in November that, “Would it really matter if there was no more Vital Force,” we felt like it might be time.
Although we get lots of complimentary emails that we don’t publish, here’s one from Jocelyn Sampson, a devoted student working to become a teacher: “As I practice entirely alone up here on my lakeshore in Northern Ontario, I am hungry for The Vital Force. What a boon it is to be connected through this and the website. After reading Justin Stone’s words on the last front cover of The Vital Force, I became newly mindful of the weight transfer through the whole of my TCC practice. Hopefully this is the impetus for further progress. I am working diligently on enlarging my understanding of Bass Drum, just as I continue to work on softness during Rocking Motion (after having re-read the teaching tips in the May 2007 newsletter) that I downloaded on-line. I am so very grateful. Thank you for providing me with a point of connection to the TCC organization.”
[Editor’s Note: or non-organization, as the case may be.]
And from YouTube, where two instructional videos were posted by Good Karma Publishing and viewed by almost 19,000 people around the world in the last 12 months: “It’s so nice to watch you teach. I am Chinese but I know nothing about it. I didn’t believe those things about Chi before but recently I saw a few videos on YouTube. I strongly believe that the famous Chinese T’ai Chi masters would not lie to make [falsities] due to the Chinese culture background. Really appreciate your work here which can passes one of the greatest human civilizations. Hope I could learn it.” – supersig
Renewing Subscriptions On-Line
You’ve asked and we’re answering. Quite soon you’ll be able to renew your subscription on-line with a credit card via a secured server. This should be particularly helpful to those who are piles-of-paper-everywhere-challenged and to all Canadian teachers.
You’ll also note that the web site indicates when it was last updated.
Printed Annual Directory
The annual teacher directory is available for FREE on-line at taichichih.org/teachers.php. You can access teacher information by last name and by location (by state and country). Most importantly, the on-line version is updated every six weeks. In light of this (and the rising costs of printing the directory), the cost of the printed annual directory will be $15 for the 2010 version.
Articles do not pour into The Vital Force in numbers great enough to sustain a quality publication without solicitations from the Editor. We know from feedback that you are quite appreciative of The Vital Force and look forward to reading it cover-to-cover upon arrival. So please consider adding your voice to this chorus by writing. If you don’t, who will? Well, perhaps the people that the Editor calls and emails … perhaps. As the deadline approaches each quarter, when not enough submissions have been received, active teachers around the country are contacted and asked write. Most do. (And we are grateful.) But what happens if the Editor does not know you or if you aren’t as active as others? Does that not mean you do not have anything to contribute? No. Every single teacher and student of TCC has a story worth sharing. Ideally we’d like a more organic process of submissions, with readers taking responsibility for their publication. The Editor is often asked, “What would you like me to write about ‘X’?” The answer is always the same, “I wouldn’t for a second imagine that I could know what you should write. I am continually surprised and impressed at the breadth of what people express. Your consciousness is your only limit (or not).” Please carve out some time to give back, to put your thoughts and experiences on paper. Take a little risk by writing. You might be pleasantly surprised at what comes out. That’s the feedback so often heard. If not you, then who?
This is the seventh issue of the new incarnation of The Vital Force, where we have suggested a theme around which to help practitioners organize their thoughts. Going forward, we hope to pose a different question for each issue and have teachers and students respond. The November 2009 issue will be the first with this new format. Please email us your suggestions for questions.
Time Is Running Out
With its new appearance, The Vital Force costs more to produce and mail than it receives in subscription fees. If this situation does not change within the next six months (or two issues), modifications will have to be instituted. Please encourage your fellow teachers and students to subscribe to The Vital Force. We only need 100 new subscribers. Make a phone call and ask your TCC friends if they subscribe; show them a recent issue. Tell them that they can download a free sample from taichichih.org/vital_force.php. Thank you.
After our teachers, the web site is our most valuable resource for spreading the word about T’ai Chi Chih. If you are a teacher, please consider linking your site to this main one. On the flip side, it has long been the policy of The Vital Force not to link out to individual teacher sites, as we do not want to co-mingle TCC with other practices. This is the same reason that we only list 100% TCC-centered events in the Community Calendar.
The website serves many purposes for a myriad of audiences. If you are a teacher who wants to give an overview of TCC to a journalist, the site has great background information about the benefits of TCC; commentary, articles, and insights about the originator, Justin Stone; a photo gallery of Justin Stone performing the movements; and press clippings and studies about TCC in the news. It has a complete Community Calendar for events held around the country, as well as information about Seijaku (advanced TCC) and Good Karma Publishing. If you are a student who just moved and are looking for a teacher in your area, we have an easy, drop-down menu to search state-by-state or country-by-country. If you are a student wishing to become accredited to teach TCC (which is a requirement), all the information is readily available at your fingertips. If you are a teacher wishing to promote a retreat or event wholly related to TCC, the site has a place for you. It’s all there in an easy-to-use format.
Although teachers are listed publicly on the web site, so that students may find them, this contact information is not to be culled from this site for any use. We rely on the integrity of the teachers to maintain this.
Accredited & Non-Accredited Teachers
If you hear of people teaching TCC without having become accredited to teach, please contact Good Karma Publishing (which holds the copyright and registered trademark for T’ai Chi Chih) and Antonia Cooper (TCC’s guide) with pertinent details. Contact information is on the back page. In order to maintain the high quality of teaching and the integrity of the practice, accredited teachers must impress upon their students that only accredited teachers may teach TCC. The future of TCC depends upon it.
Sharing The New Website
You’ve sent some great feedback about the new taichichih.org site. Thanks and keep it coming. At the upcoming Bay Area conference, a supply of promotional postcards for the site will be available. The postcard is an easy and attractive way to spread the word about TCC. Those not attending and wanting a supply of postcards should sent a check (payable and mailed to The Vital Force) for $3 to cover postage.
Press Kit & Brochures
Under the web site’s hidden community resources page (contact Lorraine Lepine in Kansas if you have forgotten to bookmark it), I have posted seven Word files from the Good Karma press kit presented at the 2006 conference. Feel free to download them and use the press releases verbatim (after inserting your own contact information). With Pete Gregory’s permission, I have posted a pdf of the brochure he designed to promote his classes. I encourage others to send fine examples of their brochures to be posted and shared with the community.
The graphics from the taichichih.org web site are copyrighted by The Vital Force and are not for use by others. To allow that would imply that there is some organizing body for TCC that confers an imprimatur of authority. But there is not.
It is with honor that The Vital Force has received so many wonderful testimonial stories from students. As a result of this sharing, one teacher (whose students have shared their stories) has written to The Vital Force, “Thank you for the opportunity to know my students. I had no idea. The lives we touch, the feeling of new life that our students experience is beyond what I had known. When I teach, I am not myself. Something else comes through me and happens. It is good to know that.”
Change In Subscription Price
A couple of years ago, The Vital Force subscription price was reduced from a longstanding annual price of $40 to $30. But costs have risen and it is time to reinstate the $40 annual price. The fee also includes designing and maintaining the new web site. We hope you agree they’re worth their weight in gold.
It’s done! Please visit taichichih.org. Regular monthly site updates will now be done through our consulting web designer. Submit your changes by the first of the month and information will be uploaded within a few days. As a reminder, all teachers are welcome to submit calendar events for upcoming retreats and workshops. We will have a space on the site for folks to download information about events. The VF thanks Lisa Thorburn, our web mistress, who has been a dedicated servant of TCC.
To All Subscribers
As Justin says of the letters he has received: 90 percent of practitioners have been changed by T’ai Chi Chih. Tell us how you have been touched. The Vital Force is only as vital as your contributions, and we think it gets more vital with each issue!
Some have written asking why their articles did not appear in the last edition. It’s about balancing voices and shaping content into a cohesive journal – within confines of space. Rest assured that all submissions are considered for future editions.
The Vital Force is as much for you as it is for students! In fact, your experiences are vital to reminding teachers why they teach in the first place. We value your voice and want it to ring loud and clear.
To Workshop Participants
Because of space limitations, The Vital Force will generally only run one specific article from each event with one photo. This does not mean that people cannot (and should not) write a general article about what they’ve experienced. It just doesn’t have to be done in the context of an actual event summary
Our community site, taichichih.org, exists under the aegis of The Vital Force. I am in the process of branding it and making it more reflective of gkpub.com. Now (through early December) is the time for your feedback. The new site should be ready to unveil in the next edition of The Vital Force.
It is my hope and expectation that this newsletter will be in every reporter’s hands who writes about wellness, healing practices, and the like. It is also my hope and expectation that it will be in every hospital waiting room in the country. Please join me in affirming many, many more outreach venues.
Wikipedia.com and YouTube.com
Welcome to the 21st century: I have recently posted entries about T’ai Chi Chih and Justin Stone on wikipedia.com. And I have uploaded a video clip of Justin Stone teaching Bird Flaps its Wings on YouTube.com. Even more people will now be exposed to the pearls of T’ai Chi Chih.
To All Subscribers & Teachers
Thank you for your outreach donations for The Vital Force. From $5 to $150, your generous contributions enable us to cast a wider net spreading the word about TCC. You have large hearts.
If you are teaching somewhere and think it would be beneficial to have an additional subscription to leave where you are teaching, please let us know. Or, as Donna McElhose suggests, consider buying an extra subscription that you can circulate among your students.
Google Alerts: What? How? A Google Alert is a means of creating a do-it-yourself customized Internet clipping service for the subject of your choice. I created two alerts for Tai Chi Chih (without the apostrophe) and T’ai Chi Chih so that any news story which appears virtually anywhere in the world will be relayed to me via email. It may relate to medical news, classes, intensives being offered, or a new research project.
To sign up, follow these instructions: Go to http://google.com/alerts. Enter the topic you wish to monitor. Under search terms, write Tai Chi Chih. Under type, select News or Comprehensive. Under how often, choose once a day, once a week, or as it happens. Then fill in your email address. Press the Create Alert. Then repeat the process and create a second alert using the correct variation of T’ai Chi Chih. You will then get an email from Google with a link to confirm that these are alerts you wish to receive. You must follow through with this last piece. Ken Gray, New York, NY
Many of you may have noticed that the Community Calendar was opened up to community members giving T’ai Chi Chih retreats, workshops, and intensives. As Justin said when he and I were discussing the fact that the Calendar had been limited in the past, “The only thing reserved for Teacher Trainers and Guides is teacher trainings.” Imagine … when our calendar listings grow to be three pages long! That will be a wonderful “problem” to have! In considering the issues, someone asked, “What will happen if a teacher publicizes an event that is not completely about TCC?” In considering a “bright line” test, the cleanest and clearest way to make it police itself is this: When you contact the Editor with your TCC event, she will ask you if it is 100 percent about TCC. If it is, it gets in the Community Calendar. If it turns out that it isn’t (after the fact – since we can only rely on the integrity of the teacher), that teacher will lose Community Calendar privileges. (Sorry if this sounds harsh.) Someone also asked, “What happens if the teacher giving an event doesn’t do TCC properly? Will s/he still be allowed to list their event?” The Editor is not a policewoman. Hope this is fair and clear.
It has come to my attention that the email list is being used improperly for purposes other than that for which it was originally intended: for important (border-line emergency) announcements directly related to The Vital Force. The Vital Force cannot control the email addresses being taken from taichichih.org, but we do have the responsibility to act responsibly in regards to what is sent from our email address. The policy is simple:
“The database is not for personal use or public distribution. If you have an announcement you consider extremely urgent and it is something that needs to be brought to the attention of the entire community (between editions of The Vital Force), please contact the Editor, who will discuss it
with the Guide. Because we respect your privacy and time, it will be a rare event when something is distributed to the entire list.”
For the Record
The last edition was mistakenly mailed bulk rate by the printer, who called to apologize. Please accept our regrets. The printer also mistakenly used GKP as the return address for that issue. Please note, for practical and legal reasons, The Vital Force and Good Karma Publishing are completely separate entities. … Photo and credits were omitted from the last edition. Stones were photographed by Kim Grant and designer Amy K. Brown; other photos were supplied by the article’s author. We will always give credit where credit is due.
Revitalizing The Vital Force
When I first learned that Victor Berg had resigned as editor of The Vital Force, I thought that if no one wanted to step forward from the subscriber pool, perhaps the journal should fold. If the community then felt it had lost something, the newsletter would be resurrected. If not, it would remain dormant. But then I realized what a shame that would be. So here we are.
Over the last 20-plus years of professional life, I have developed some expertise that will be helpful as editor – not the least of which is that, in my role at Good Karma Publishing, I have the opportunity to speak to the most active and enthusiastic teachers and students each week. These folks speak volumes about the vitality of our community.
For the record, this is basically a volunteer position, although I am paid a small sum for each of the quarterly issues. My day jobs, from which I have picked up relevant skills, are numerous and include being: an Acquisitions Editor for Countryman Press, a division of WW Norton; a public relations and marketing freelancer; a travel guide author for Lonely Planet and other publishers; a travel writer for numerous Web sites and new media companies; a professional photographer; and the one-woman ringleader of Good Karma Publishing.
Since the editorial change was announced in late April, there has been an outpouring of support for the VF. Justin is heartened.
I know you are out there and you have offered to share your experiences. So keep those cards and letters (and photos and artwork) coming.
We hope you like the look of the new Vital Force. Comments, ideas, and suggestions are always welcome.