Sunday, July 29, 2012


                                   Mountain Top Tai Chi

              How can I make the most of exciting travel plans? 

"I'll pack Tai Chi to Go!"

Long trips have always been a physical challenge for me even as a child.  How can I manage feelings of restlessness, anxiety, even pain and stiffness?

I began to prepare well in advance for two long trips by practicing coping skills suggested for attention deficit disorder.  I visualized, wrote to do list, and consciously relaxed muscles and mind.  I gained confidence as I pictured breezing effortlessly through airports. 

Daily Tai Chi practice, physical meditation, based on *Tai Chi for Health programs created by Dr. Paul Lam topped my schedule.  Dr. Lam's programs are easy to learn and follow with self-teaching DVDs.  Best results happened with several short Tai Chi sessions daily.  These exercises gave me fast acting pain relief plus time released qi (energy).

Acupressure points recommended by my Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine completed the picture.  I use selected points after Tai Chi sessions and before cool down.

Travel day dawned chilly and grey as Paul and I drove to windy Chicago's O'Hare airport.  Waiting for the shuttle bus in the damp chill, cold wind spread through me.  Practicing Dr.Lam's "Open-Close" Tai Chi/Qigong exercise warmed me.  It worked!

Travel is a blend of rush and wait.  We whisked briskly through security, but faced a five hour boarding delay due to strong storms.  In place of fidgeting (outward anxiety) or reading (going within), I consciously relaxed muscles and joints, deepened breathing, and visualized my Tai Chi form practice. 

I Tai Chi walked gently up and down the crowded terminal picturing a cat as I placed my feet down softly on rock hard floors.  Like a cat, I felt relaxed alertness.  I smiled openly to myself as I heard and saw these words:

**  "Become like a young kitten."  "The cat is a Tai Chi master,"   Jou, Tsung Hwa.      


"Relax, breathe, and think blue!"  Thinking in colors is fun.  Blue brings me great peace as I picture sky and water.  I felt Tai Chi's  meditation benefits kick in as I watched passengers hurry by or run frantically to catch that plane.  I felt centered and calm.

The Flight of the Phoenix
It was 11PM in Chicago as Paul and I boarded.  Too excited to sleep on the flight to Phoenix, I watched the jewels of stars above and strung pearls of city lights below etched in gold, silver, and turquoise. 

Exercises from Dr. Lam's Tai Chi in Flight helped us stay limber.  My favorite is raising the knee, supported by hands under the knee, to lift and give a gentle stretch to legs and back.  When we landed in the middle of the night, we were free of stiffness and moved effortlessly up and out of our seats.  I noticed much younger people struggled as they tried to stand up and exit.

The next morning came quickly after cut and paste sleep.  As I peeked out through the window blinds, neon bright Arizona sunlight flooded my eyes.  I opened the hotel curtains and reached for my sunglasses while viewing the street below and sharp southwestern mountains in the blue distance.  I inhaled light and color.

Morning Tai Chi wake up concentrated on the first six movements of Tai Chi for Arthritis and Tai Chi for Back Pain repeating cloud hands back and forth several times.  I noticed my mind coming into sharp focus and feeling much qi (energy) flow for fast acting and long lasting results.  Tai Chi for Health forms are easily cut and pasted into a small space such as a hotel room or lengthened as location and time schedules permit. 

Later we united with our two grown daughters and their families for a joyous reunion lunch and a college graduation celebration for one of the girls.  Walking through the sun dried heat to the ceremony, Paul and I easily kept up with young adults and our grandchild.  Tai Chi builds stamina, a blend of play and rest.

Departure morning, back to the sunny airport, I watched planes take off and land while practicing Tai Chi walking.  Airborn, Paul and I repeated Tai Chi in Flight stretching for a relaxed and enjoyable homecoming. 

Chasing Time 
Road trip, a week later, the long trek back to Phoenix, Arizona began again.  After driving to southern Illinois to pick up our son, in the thick heat of early evening, we drove on into the night.  Crossing the Mississippi River by moonlight and spotting a barge on the historic river brought a moment of reflection and peace.  We arrived, bone weary, in humid Tulsa, Oklahoma at 4:30 AM.

Next day, hazy sun painted dusty plains spotted with sagebrush and longhorn cattle.  We practiced Tai Chi and stretched out at refreshing rest stops.  Tai Chi kept us limber.  Lunch in Tucumcari, New Mexico gave a panorama of colored mountains and stark sands.  I watched and daydreamed as mesas, deserts, and tumbleweed blurred along while pondering similarities and differences of quick air flight vs. longer Earth view by car.  Gratitude for both experiences became blended reality. 

In Albuquerque, New Mexico, fresh breeze blew as we practiced Tai Chi under shadows of dark blue mountains laced with silver clouds.  As we rode into the southwestern velvet night, stars sparked brighter than belief.

A new day brought a wind down through mountainous Flagstaff and steep, lush green Oak Creek Canyon.  On into Sedona, Arizona to view the Red Rocks reminded me of pioneers cutting paths through uncharted raw land:  Zen and Now. 

In Phoenix, our daughter's wedding was perfect!  We noticed the desert heat was much more intense than on our first quicker trip.  A short stay then into the car again for the long return home.   

Mountain Top Tai Chi
On the way out of Phoenix, Arizona, we climbed high in the mountains.  Morning sun toasted the view by painting rocks, sand, and shadows with brush stroke combinations of lavender, snow shadow blue, and sun ripened orange.  Perfect stillness invited a Tai Chi experience.  Fine gravel crunched underfoot as I practiced.  Sunset Point Overlook on I-17 was/is "one perfect moment" in my memory bank.

On the drive home, I remembering practicing Tai Chi at 3 AM "Somewhere in Texas."  We wound easily around Zen Time and No Schedule as we drove.  Sleep came easily with relaxing cool down.

Tai Chi Travel
"Re-Creating" with Tai Chi PRN (as needed), coupled with relaxation strategies are part of a bargain round trip ticket.  Bonus miles include sustained relaxed state and increased enjoyment of life:  a balance of inner and outer harmony. 

Homecoming is happy with freedom from discomfort, crash and burn emotions, and significant jet lag.  ***Debra used Tai Chi in Flight DVD for flying to and from Thailand with excellent results!  Tai Chi Travel works!

Tai Chi Travel 1-2-3

1) Relax:   Ease muscles, ligaments, tendons, and joints, clear mind of thoughts.

2) Breathe:  Switch to deep breathing, feel centering and deep peace.

3) Think Blue:  Visualize color/colors, scenery, or Tai Chi Forms.

Now:  Practice Tai Chi on the Mountain!

Related Posts:  My Healing Story (top tab, July 2012),  Tai Chi Nurturing Life (Apr 2012), Recreate, Relax, Transform with Tai Chi and A-B-C's of Tai Chi (Nov 2012), Carry Water Chop Wood (June 2011), Universe, Shadows of Cranes and Color Y(our) World, (March 2011).

Resources:  Paul Lam, M.D., is a family practice physician in Sydney, Australia.  Dr. Lam manages arthritis and can help others improve health as well with unique Tai Chi for Health programs.  Free Newsletter, Articles, DVDs, music, workshops and more.  This post is based on Tai Chi to Go, article from Dr. Lam's online newsletter, June 2006, reprinted with permission. 

**  The Tao of Taijiquan and other books by Jou, Tsung Hwa, mathematician and Tai Chi Master.  Edward M. Hallowell, M.D., expert advice includes Driven to Distraction and Answers to Distraction.  Dr. Hallowell experiences ADD and suggests coping skills.

***  Joel P. Bowman, Ph.D and Rev. Debra Basham, CHTP, Executive Wellness Consultant, create ways to visualize your healing and help your pet heal as well.  New blog posts are Meaning Conversation: Body Dialogue and Detach.

Photos:  Mountain Top Tai Chi, photo by Paul
Oliver Cat, photo by Emilie