What are the Tai Chi Benefits for Seniors?

By Craig Nagy [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Where ever you travel in the Far East you’re likely to see images similar to this. Groups of people gathered in open spaces going through what looks like a slow motion dance routine. Look even closer and you’ll probably see that most of the participants are ‘mature’ adults. What is this strange art they are practising and why is it so popular amongst the older generation?

The movements are from the ancient Chinese practise of Tai Chi Chuan, most often referred to simply as Tai Chi (‘tie-chee’). They consist of slow, fluid movements performed with concentration and focus, thus allowing practitioners to fully exercise the mind as well as the body. It is Tai Chi’s focus on mental health, physical fitness, and general well-being that make it such an excellent activity for seniors seeking to maintain functional fitness levels and a positive mental outlook.

By Sigismund von Dobschütz [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Revitalising Stiff Joints

The low impact nature of the exercise makes it kind on the joints, a key benefit for seniors. I only fully appreciated this particular benefit of Tai Chi in my early fifties; after thirty years of teaching traditional Japanese martial arts my joints were suffering badly to say the least. Getting out of bed in the morning was not a pretty site as I gingerly coerced my stiff and sore joints slowly into life!

A drastic decision had to be made. I abandoned my former training in favour of Tai Chi, an art that I had dabbled with as a much younger man. Within a very short period of time my joints started to regain some of their former spring and suppleness and I have continued to maintain this improvement since.

One of the great things about Tai Chi is that it requires no specialist equipment and can be done in a minimal amount of space. Traditionally they say that Tai Chi can be practised in the space that an oxen would take up if it was lying down – about the same footprint as a three seater sofa or couch. These characteristics make this form of exercise especially accessible to seniors; they can learn the forms and transitions in a class and practise at home whenever they wish.

By Daniel Case [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Tai Chi Practise – A Shared Activity

Although Tai Chi is essentially a solo exercise, we can see from the photographs that it is usually practised in a group setting. Learning Tai Chi therefore serves another really important function for many senior citizens – allowing people to socialise and bond together in a shared activity.

Because there is no sense of competition in Tai Chi, everyone develops their own way of doing the form and experiences the benefits of the art together. It is partly this sense that everyone’s Tai Chi is ‘right’ that allows a group to practise with a real sense of shared endeavour and harmony.

Socialising with peers in this way is well known to improve the quality of life for all ages, but becomes particularly important to older adults who may feel more lonely or isolated. We are holistic beings and our emotional health greatly impacts our physical body. Happy, fulfilled people of any age do tend to be healthier; whether we like it or not, our sense of happiness is closely linked to the strength of the relationships we have in our lives.

By m-louis  [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Tai Chi Improves Bone Density

Seniors who practise Tai Chi regularly gain strength, endurance and improve their balance. They also greatly reduce the risk of bone density loss.

Although low-impact, Tai Chi is still a weight bearing form of exercise as practitioners move with, against, and through their own body weight. Weight bearing exercises are well know to build and maintain bone density, something that is particularly important for seniors 65 years and older. As an aside, this can also be an important benefit of Tai Chi practise for women who are menopausal and at an increased risk of developing osteoporosis.

Keeping You on Your Feet

Beyond bone health, Tai Chi builds strength in the legs and lower body. It also strengthens the ankles and knees, which increases balance and stability in movement. This becomes of major importance as we get older and greatly reduces one of the problems of more advanced years, the increased risk of a serious fall.

According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention in the USA, one out of every three adults aged 65 or older experiences a fall in any given year. These falls can often lead to quite significant injuries in the elderly that include head traumas or broken bones, particularly broken hips.

By SONGMY  [CC BY 2.5 cn], via Wikimedia Commons
The US Surgeon General’s Report on ‘Bone Health and Osteoporosis: What It Means to You’ states that elderly people who suffer a broken hip are four times more likely to die within the three months following the injury. Elderly people who recover from hip fractures often experience continued health complications for the remainder of their lives.

By way of illustration, my aged mother managed to break her hip twice within the space of a few years. Although she was fortunate and did recover, she still walks with quite a marked limp. Considering where she was after the second break, the fact that she walks at all is something of a minor miracle but the damage done in the fall definitely impacted the rest of her life.

If you are already wheelchair bound and think there is no way you could do Tai Chi at all then you may be surprised to know that it can even be done from a wheelchair in an modified form.

Additional Benefits of Tai Chi for Health

Unlike many other forms of exercise, Tai Chi does not deplete the energy reserves of the body but actively enlivens it with increased vitality. This remarkable art has been shown to have many positive benefits, including:

  • Assisting sufferers of Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease.
  • Improves cardiovascular health by encouraging deep breathing.
  • Lowering blood pressure.
  • Help with pain relief from conditions like arthritis.
  • Promote recovery following a heart attack or stroke.

In addition, has been shown to reduce risk of stroke in high-risk patients.

Tai Chi Benefits Stress

We have seen how Tai Chi can provide a simple, enjoyable, and accessible way to offset and prevent many of the health concerns faced by those of more senior years. The benefits of this ancient activity go way beyond the physical and can have huge mental advantages too.

Studies have shown Tai Chi actually improves brain power and memory. In one study, subjects who did Tai Chi were able to increase grey matter in the brain by as much as 40%! Could regular Tai Chi practise help prevent or slow that other scourge of old age, dementia?

The integration of mind and body during a Tai Chi session does seem to engender a general sense of mental well being in practitioners. This aspect of the practise also alleviates the symptoms of stress and improves general mental capability and concentration.

By Tom Thai [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Tai Chi Benefits for Seniors? The Verdict.

Tai Chi is an ideal form of exercise for seniors.  It is low-impact and regular practise carries with it multiple benefits, both physical and mental. Tai Chi promotes and allows you to retain high levels of functional fitness leading to a full and energised life well into your retirement years. It improves mobility, bone health, memory and brain power; all key elements that support your general well-being and energy and allow you to live life to the full

If 60 is the new 40 then 80 must be the new 60! The simple practise of Tai Chi can help make these extended golden years for us all an experience of great quality. It can, quite literally, add years to your life and life to your years.

Thanks for stopping by. If you are interested in finding out more about how Tai Chi practise can benefit you please sign up to our monthly newsletter ‘Confessions of a Misguided Monk‘ or email me directly at info@universalenergyhealing.net.  Please, keep in touch. Share a comment or questions and I will get back to you. Click here to read The Big Idea – it may help you to understand more about our healing philosophy.

 

Reiki Self Healing Techniques – Do They Work?

How we ‘heal’ at all is something of a mystery. Why is it that one person will be healed by a visit to the doctor and a prescription for some drugs, while another will not benefit at all? Or, another might gain their health back through a course in acupuncture while someone else would find it complete a waste of time and money? And that is before we get into those medical anomalies of people healing after taking nothing more than placebos, or those who gained spontaneous and complete remission from life threatening cancer after undertaking a period of detoxification or meditation.

Healing Begins Within


(c) Can Stock Photo / Amaviael

We are the common denominator of our own health or wellness, and I suspect we are central to our own healing too. I am not talking about structural injuries where we need a leg set after a serious break or surgery for injuries received in a car crash or bad fall – for these we would almost certainly benefit from the skill of the doctors attending us. But for those health conditions that so often creep up on us over a period of several years, where perhaps lifestyle or diet choices play havoc with our body systems, I suspect we have far more power and control than we often believe.

At Universal Energy Healing we believe that all healing begins from within. In fact, we would suggest that no one can heal you without your consent or participation in the process. Perhaps this explains why different healing modalities work for different people but no one modality seems to work for everyone.

How Does Reiki Healing Work

So, how do Reiki self-healing techniques fit into this framework and why do we believe they offer a powerful way for people to regain their health and well being?

First and foremost, Reiki is far more than just a ‘sticking plaster’ solution to a specific malady. When you have a headache you might take a pill that relieves the symptoms but probably does nothing to help the root cause of your dis-ease. Although you might feel better in the short term, it is likely that your headache will return at a later time.


(c) Can Stock Photo / Amaviael

In contrast, Reiki provides us with a model of what it means to be fully human. I say ‘model’ because we have no way of knowing whether this model corresponds to reality exactly, or whether it is a close approximation to something that can never be entirely captured by words. It can be experienced and lived though, and it is in the living of it that its true magic can be felt. In the Reiki model we talk about the whole person (body, mind and spirit), recognising that problems that manifest in our body are often the result of causes that exist in other areas of our total system.

Reiki is an Understanding Not a Treatment


(c) Can Stock Photo / Amaviael

When you go to a good Reiki practitioner for a treatment you should actually be taught the full Reiki model; effectively you are learning Reiki rather than being treated by Reiki. You may feel the effects of Reiki through the hands of the practitioner you are working with, and this may help you to understand what Reiki is about, but it is you who will decide whether to connect to Reiki or not. Remember, all healing begins from within!

As you gain an understanding of what Reiki is about you will probably find that you are making changes in many areas of your life. Each of these changes builds to take you to a place of health and well being which lies far beyond your original reason for seeking out a Reiki healer. This brings us full circle to our original question, do Reiki self healing techniques work?

The answer is simply, it depends. If all you do is follow the self treatment hand positions as in the graphic on this page, then I doubt very much that you will receive any benefit at all. On the other hand, if you buy into the Reiki model we have spoken about, and understand how the hand positions relate to that model, then you will almost certainly feel much greater benefits from these Reiki self treatment techniques.

What is Reiki About?

A new philosophy, a way of life, is not given for nothing. It has to be paid dearly for and only acquired with much patience and great effort –  Fyodor Dostoyevsky

In essence, the Reiki model is actually quite simple but, unfortunately, simple doesn’t necessarily mean easy! It is built on three pillars of understanding:

  • That we are energetic beings with bodies who have forgotten our connection to the source of all.
  • That by reconnecting with the source energy we can restore our mind-body system to complete balance and harmony.
  • That it is possible to direct and channel source energy through our intention.

That’s it, although a quick search around the Internet may make it sound vastly more complex that that. Unfortunately, much that should be freely available for the benefit of all, has become veiled in either an ego driven, or a money driven, shroud of secrets and mystery. This is as sad as it is unnecessary and clearly shows that humans are capable of screwing up pretty well everything; especially an enlightened view on health and well being.

We believe that this knowledge should be available for the greater good of all and one of our goals is to make the philosophy behind Universal Energy Healing available for everyone. We are not just talking about healing specific medical conditions either. The search for a solution to a particular problem may be the reason why you arrived here, but I would hope that you can now see that the self-healing we are discussing is far more than just this. We are looking at righting the root cause(s) behind all our various maladies.

Thanks for stopping by. Remember, all healing stems from within. If you are interested in finding out more about the Reiki model we have spoken about then our online course will be available by the end of March 2017. Please sign up to our monthly newsletter ‘Confessions of a Misguided Monk‘ for notification of when it is available or email me directly at info@universalenergyhealing.net.  Please, keep in touch. Share a comment or questions and I will get back to you. Click here to read The Big Idea – it may help you to understand more about our healing philosophy.

We are members of the Reiki Healing Association

Tai Chi vs Yoga – Which is Best?

By Irepkabl, via Wikimedia Commons

Having owned and run a Martial Arts and Fitness Centre for many years I have a confession to make. Although I believed implicitly in the value of exercise, and was acting from the best knowledge I had at the time, I realise now that most of the training advice I dished out was simply wrong.

It was wrong because it was based around short term thinking and a view of health and fitness that was way too shallow. The type of overtly physical training we focused on was simply not sustainable beyond middle age and only concentrated on developing external strength and musculature. It was only as I arrived at my mid-fifties, with joints that were destroyed through over-training and things starting to go wrong throughout my body, that I realised the error of my ways. It was definitely time for a re-think. My choice was to either resign myself to becoming a couch potato, or find an activity that I could practise comfortably for the next 25 years.

You may have arrived here today for similar reasons. Perhaps you are not as young as you once were and the thought of fitness classes of a gym membership is simply no longer appealing. Maybe that type of fitness was never your thing anyway, and you are looking for an alternative solution. Whatever your current thinking you may be researching the benefits of Tai Chi vs Yoga and wondering which of these two alternative practises would be the best one for you.

Similar, Yet Different

By PBS NewsHour from Arlington, [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Yoga and Tai Chi are actually very similar in many ways. They both share many of the same mental and physical benefits and come from what might be called the Eastern mind-body tradition. Tai Chi emerged in China while Yoga developed in India and both arts can trace their roots back some 5,000 years. They both integrate breath control, meditation, and set poses or positions to facilitate health and longevity. Finally, both practises acknowledge the existence and importance of a universal life force or energy that facilitates wellness throughout our total body system. Called ‘Chi’ in Tai Chi and ‘Prana’ in Yoga, it is the successful management of this energy that is seen as the real key to our health.

That said, Tai Chi and Yoga do differ in significant ways. Firstly, they differ in intent. Tai Chi is focused on managing the flow of the universal energy for complete health and well being. In its original form it is also a very potent martial art intended for use in actual combat, although it is now largely now taught solely as a form of slow meditative movement promoting health and wellness. It is probably the case that the vast majority of Tai Chi teachers operating today do not know the lethal combat applications of the movements they make in each lesson.

Tai Chi for Health

Tai Chi vs Yoga
By SONGMY [CC BY 2.5 cn], via Wikimedia Commons
Tai Chi is about balancing the flow of chi around the body. Practitioners are encouraged to breathe slowly, deeply and naturally as they work through the sequences of graceful movements. Most Tai Chi movements are performed slowly from a standing position and take the body through its natural range of motion. Each individual pose is choreographed to flow seamlessly into the next in an unbroken sequence of movement. One of the great things about Tai Chi is that it can be practised by any age group and by people of almost any fitness level. The most popular sequence of Tai Chi is the 24 Form, which, once learned, takes about 6 minutes to complete. It can be easily incorporated into a busy lifestyle or become part of a diverse fitness regime. Studies have also shown Tai Chi can support the functional capacity of women with breast cancer, prevent strokes in high-risk patients and ease post stroke symptoms. Tai Chi also been shown to help with the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

Yoga – Spiritual Growth and Physical Well-being

In its original form,Yoga is very much a spiritual practise. It focuses on facilitating the union of body, mind and spirit, leading to eventual enlightenment. The word Yoga actually means ‘union’ or ‘connection’. Although Yoga also uses controlled breathing with each movement it applies this in a slightly different way. The poses are often held for a certain number of breaths rather than flowing from one to another on each breath.

While both practices improve physical strength and endurance, both are low impact forms of exercise. However, Yoga can be much more physically demanding than Tai Chi with many of the intermediate and advanced poses requiring significant levels of strength and flexibility to perform. Yoga encourages ever greater levels of flexibility and strength with preparatory stretches, poses and visualisations leading to even more advanced poses over time.

So, What are the Benefits of Tai Chi and Yoga?

People who practise Yoga or Tai Chi experience a very similar set of results:

  • Decreased stress
  • Improved cardiovascular and respiratory health
  • Gains in strength and flexibility
  • Decreased anxiety and depression
  • Gains in cognitive function.

By Mike H from Seattle, USA [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
When deciding which art would be best for you there are some questions you should be asking. What are you looking to achieve? Do you want your mind-body practise to focus on physical and mental health and general wellness or would you like an activity that promotes more spiritual engagement? How physically fit are you? Yoga tends to be more physically demanding. The truth is that it doesn’t have to be a choice between Tai Chi or Yoga. They can complement one another beautifully, with Tai Chi boosting meditation progress and Yoga improving physical strength and flexibility more rapidly.

Watch a short video on Tai Chi and Yoga by CLICKING HERE.

Thanks for stopping by. Remember, whatever your eventual choice you will experience significant mental and physical benefits from either art as both practices provide an amazing integrated health care and healing system for their practitioners. Please, keep in touch. Share a comment or questions and I will get back to you. Click here to read The Big Idea – it may help you to understand more about our healing philosophy.

Energy Healing Courses Online


(c) Can Stock Photo / Nevenova

Energy Healing has been practised by all cultures at all times throughout history. It might in fact be our oldest form of healing and perhaps is a throw back to a time when the human race was much more in touch with its true nature. Somehow, something became lost as humans developed into modern man; with our scientific world view and technological superiority we believe that we have mastered all knowledge, leaving no room for the beliefs of this older spirituality. Like our childhood beliefs in Father Christmas and the Tooth Fairy we believe we have grown beyond such a ‘simple’ understanding of our world.

This is a classic case of ‘throwing the baby out with the bathwater’ and completely disenfranchises us from our connection to the source of all existence. If the programme we our running in our brain doesn’t allow for the possibility of energy healing then no amount of evidence or personal testimonies will convince us otherwise. So, perhaps the first prerequisite as we explore energy healing courses online is to have an open mind.

Developing the Correct Mindset

Our starting point on this is the acceptance of 3 basic possibilities:

  1. That solid matter and energy are two aspects of the same fundamental energetic fabric of our universe.
  2. That we exist in, come from and will return to this same energetic source energy
  3. That we can control and direct this underlying universal energy through our focused intention.

Modern Quantum Physics seems to be saying exactly this. Particles can exist either as a wave or a particle (solid or energy), can communicate with other particles instantly across vast distances (possible only if they are not ‘separate’ in any way but part of the same vast energy matrix), and appear to be at the mercy of our conscious attention (scientist now realise that the act of observing our world seems to effect matter in some fundamental way).

If we accept that reality is in fact far ‘stranger’ then our high school science would generally have us believe then we are in a better place mentally and emotionally for considering the merits of energy healing.

Beware the Charlatans


(c) Can Stock Photo / ollyy

A word of warning though; when you’re looking for energy healing courses online remember that not all courses are created equal! Either driven by ego or the desire for financial gain there are a lot of charlatans out there. Spotting these is actually easier than you might think. Firstly, use your intuitive feelings about the words you are reading and the images you are seeing. Intuition is a valuable skill and comes to us from outside our conscious ‘thinking’ mind. In itself, it is never wrong and our ability to capture its guidance can be greatly improved by paying attention to its quiet voice within. Like any personal skill, the more we use it the more reliable it becomes. One of our guiding principles is the simple command to ‘Develop intuitive judgement and understanding for all things’. There is a part of you that will recognise whether you are being conned or not; go with that feeling.

Look also at the price. Does it seem reasonable to you or somewhat extortionate? A worker is always worth their wages – even healers have to feed their families and pay their mortgage! However, we have seen many so called ‘energy healers’ who seem to prey on the vulnerability and need of the person coming to them and charge fees that can politely be described as ‘somewhat high’.

Many courses seem also to rely on the magical healing skills of the individual selling the course. It is as though they are the sole holders of some secret knowledge or skill, but will of course share that with you for a price. We see this a lot in one of the healing modalities that we work with, Reiki. There are Reiki levels to be worked through, secret symbols to be learned and special Attunements to be undergone. Of course, only the Reiki Master can teach you this knowledge and attune you to the power of the universe. Nonsense! We are all part of the energy matrix that makes up reality and we don’t specifically need to do anything special to tap into it, except perhaps to give ourselves permission to accept its existence.

Your Truth Lies Within

The truth is that no one can heal you – you can only heal yourself. All any healer can do is to lead you to a realisation of this one simple fact. They may open your mind to things you have forgotten and help you to experience what is freely available to you at all times – connection and energy – but that is it. Once you start to recognise this for yourself you are on the road to being healed. Healing is often no more than a clearing of your own thinking processes, effectively rebooting your mind and body to a more natural and harmonious way of operating.


(c) Can Stock Photo / Nikki24

A good online healing course will take you through the process that allows you to direct your own healing but it cannot do the healing for you. It is vital that you understand this. If you do not then you are simply setting yourself up for disappointment and failure. Hopefully, armed with this information you are better placed to make a judgement about the online energy healing courses you are looking at. Remember: develop intuitive judgement and understanding for everything; of course that includes our words too!

Thanks for stopping by. Remember, whatever course you eventually choose there is no magic outside of our own self. All healing stems from within. If you are interested in taking this further our online Reiki course will be available by the end of March 2017. Please sign up to our monthly newsletter ‘Confessions of a Misguided Monk‘ for notification of when it is available or email me directly at info@universalenergyhealing.net.  Please, keep in touch. Share a comment or questions and I will get back to you. Click here to read The Big Idea – it may help you to understand more about our healing philosophy.

We are members of the Reiki Healing Association

Acupuncture vs Acupressure – Results Without Needles!

By Kyle Hunter [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Traditional Chinese Medicine offers a variety of treatments which can seem a far cry from surgery and the medication centric treatments that we are accustomed to in the West. Most people have a basic understanding that Acupuncture somehow involves sticking needles in the body but what is Acupressure? How are these two procedures connected and how do you determine which of these two alternative treatments might be the best one for you?

Acupuncture vs Acupressure

The key difference between these two traditional types of treatments is the way that they are administered. Both procedures use certain points on the body’s energy channels; normally referred to as meridians, these are the pathways around which the life giving energy (chi) is thought to flow. By stimulating specific points on the meridians, any blockage to the natural flow of chi can be gently restored, allowing the body to return to its natural state of health and well-being. However, Acupressure seeks to achieve this without the use of one critical tool which has been linked to acupuncture for generations. Needles!

By Polina ka [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Instead of using needles which are inserted into special points on a person’s body, acupressure uses simple hand or finger pressure on the same points. This makes acupressure a particularly practical method of self-treatment that can be applied easily and almost anywhere.

The Ultimate Question: Do They Work?

There has been a considerable amount of research done into these fields of alternative medicine and both have been proven to be effective in many cases. Research has clearly shown that acupuncture can be particularly useful for the treatment of chronic pain. Recently it has been shown to be as effective as strong opiate pain killers in blocking pain, without carrying the risk of any unpleasant side effects. Similarly, acupressure can also be used to treat some of the many everyday conditions with similar results.

One thing is for certain, Acupressure is likely to be a better choice for you if you are afraid of needles!

Thanks for stopping by. Remember, whether you choose Acupuncture or Acupressure the important thing is to find a skilled practitioner who can help you obtain the benefits you seek. Please, keep in touch. Share a comment or questions and I will get back to you. Click here to read The Big Idea – it may help you to understand our healing philosophy.