Rami's Blog

Like the Yin-Yang, Eastern Martial Arts and Western medicine are two halves of a whole. My mission is to preserve the ancient mind-body tools, and pass them on to you.

 

Meditative Shaking and Pulsing: Part 1, an Introduction

The following is an excerpt from my book Sunset Tai Chi: Simplified Tai Chi for Relaxation and Longevity


Western exercise starts with warming up by increasing the heart rate to saturate the muscles with blood and oxygen. Therefore, we can say that Western warm-ups focus first on the heart and muscles. On the other hand, Eastern exercise starts by charging and igniting the energetic system and then the rest of the body. You can charge the energetic system in more than one way.

One of the ways to jumpstart the energetic system is by creating a gentle movement in the joints or in the ligaments. This skill of isolating the ligaments and creating movements in them is actually part of our natural day-to-day physical behavior. It happens whenever we use our arms and hands. It is helpful to refine this skill and train our ability to isolate this skill in whatever part of the body we choose. 

In order to achieve this isolation, we need to first understand the various physical motions, and second, be able to put into actions these motions: pulsing, pumping, and shaking. Each of these words is important because each one affects the body and the energy differently, which creates different sensations and experiences.

Pulsing can be created though gentle up and down movements or gentle in and out motions, and with small side to side movements. It is a great way to loosen up. Pumping is a stronger movement than pulsing, although the actions of up and down, in and out, and side to side are similar. Shaking combines side to side first and then some in and out motion with a gentle up and down. All three have a gentle rotation that can be added to each one while they are happening.

You need to understand that each one is different and over time, you will experience the differences as well. This exercise (meditative shaking) will activate your energetic system, remove some stagnation, and can also serve as a good warm-up. Even if you only have five minutes, doing this meditation will go a long way.

When you shake, you may notice that the fingers are tense. This next piece of information is essential for loosening this tension. Move the joint above the one you want to isolate. For example, if you want to loosen the finger joints, shake the wrist, but put your mind on the fingers. Try to isolate this gentle movement in your joints, rather than moving the muscles or tendons. To loosen the wrist, move the elbow. Remember, your jaw is a joint as well. When practiced correctly, you will begin to feel patches of warmth in your joints and some warmth in your internal organs or lower energy center.

Next week, we will give you the how-to for shaking the upper limb joints: fingers, wrists, elbows, and shoulders!

Happy stretching, deep breathing, empty your mind, strengthen your energetic system, and evoke your spirit!

Tai Chi Reduced Severity of Fibromyalgia Symptoms at 24 Weeks Compared with Aerobic Exercise

Hello Mind-Body students! And Happy 4th of July! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday with your loved ones.

We have a short announcement blog this holiday week. A study that I did with Dr. Wang and her colleagues at Tufts Medical Center has been recognized by three different scientific journals very recently! The study is called "Tai Chi Reduced Severity of Fibromyalgia Symptoms at 24 Weeks Compared with Aerobic Exercise".

In this study, we recruited 226 patients dealing with fibromyalgia, who had both widespread and intense pain symptoms. For the intervention, we led the group in 60-minute sessions of either Yang-style tai chi or aerobic exercise, once or twice a week, for 12 or 24 weeks. After the intervention was complete, we were able to see a dramatic difference between the patients treated with tai chi, versus the patients treated with aerobic exercise. Although both the groups showed improvement, the tai chi group showed significantly more improvement!

The first entity to recognize the study was the Journal of the American Medical Association. They featured our study in the Clinical Trials Update section of their recent issue.

The study was also acknowledged by the Annals of Internal Medicine at the same time.

The third place that the study was featured was the European Society of Integrative Medicine, who notified us that 50 studies had been submitted this year, and ours was in the top 5! This is an especially strong showing considering we we received the "Best Clinical Integrative Medicine award" from them a mere 2 years ago!

Tai chi and mind-body integrative medicine continues to grow and be recognized for it's life-changing (and scientifically proven!) effects! The future is very bright!

Happy stretching, deep breathing, empty your mind, strengthen your energetic system, and evoke your spirit!

Mind-Body Workout #10: Strengthening Your Roots

Welcome back mind-body students! We have had a lot of posts about research and special events on the blog lately! These are all great, and I am so happy to share the amazing work we are doing with all of you. However, I also like to have action on my blog too!

So let's dive into a great mind-body workout this week, and get back into the groove of our mind-body routine!


Mind-Body Workout #10: Strengthening Your Roots

Let's begin with some stretching of the key muscles that support stability and balance. Stretching these muscles is not only important for flexibility and avoiding falls, but it is also a key part to releasing our skeleton from being a prisoner of the soft tissue. This improves blood flow, which allows oxygen to reach all of our cells more effectively, and energizes our whole mind-body system!

The first stretch will be the Flamingo Stretch for our hips. Our hips are the core of our body, and they are responsible for directing the strength that we generate from our legs. Having strong roots is not much help if you cannot use your hips correctly! Do the stretch to each side (each leg) for 2-3 minutes, using whatever support you need.

Next we will stretch our lower back out in each of its major directions using the Five Musketeers Stretch. Just like with the hips, the lower back is responsible for directing a lot of the strength of our root system (our legs). If your lower back is tight, you will not be able to properly strengthen your legs! Do this stretch like I show in the video, for about 1-2 minutes at each angle. Use blocks or books and pillows to properly support yourself so that you are doing 80% effort.

For our last stretch, we will be working on the tightest muscles in our body: our hamstrings! This technique is an old favorite I call "Vitamin H." While we do this stretch, we will also be focusing on performing "water breath." This will begin to really engage our mind and breath into the workout. This stretch you can hold for 3-4 minutes, but make sure you are doing 80% effort, just like before!

For our first of three strengthening exercises, we will be moving Up and Down Like the Moon and the Sun. Remember to do the two sets, legs apart and legs together. Up to 15 (in each set!) is beginner level, 15-30 repetitions is intermediate, and 30-50 repetitions is the advanced level of leg strength. Do the amount that you are able to with 80% effort. 

From working our quadriceps and other thigh muscles, we are moving down to the calves! This exercise has you go up onto your toes, and then roll back onto your heals. It works your calf muscles as well as massages the bottom of your feet. The feet are so important for generating the strength and force from the ground that everyone needs. Whether you are a martial artists who wants to throw a powerful kick, or just a person who needs to run up and down a flight of stairs, strong and flexible feet are so important. Do this 20-30 times, and be sure to pay attention to your breathing like I mention in the video.

Finally, we are going to practice moving up and down from the floor safely. This may seem like it contradicts what our workout is about. Why would we practice this if the goal is to have strong roots and not to fall over? The answer is pretty simple! Everyone falls over sometime. When you practice this movement, not only are you getting a good workout in for your whole body (especially your legs), but you will also be teaching your body how to react when it loses balance: bend the knees, move down low in a straight down way so your body can "collapse" instead of "fall". Do this 10 times to each side, practicing getting down and up from one side and then the other.

And that's all for this week! I hope you enjoy the workout!

And as always, happy stretching, deep breathing, empty your mind, strengthen your energetic system, and evoke your spirit!

The Zakim Story & Prayer, Part 3

THE ZAKIM STORY & PRAYER 
&
ZAKIM CENTER INTEGRATIVE THERAPIES FOR CANCER AT DANA FARBER CANCER INSTITUTE 

Part 3

2018 HONOREES
May 1st, 2018

(Read part 1 and part 2.)


I often ask myself, “is it coincidence, or destiny, that I am descendants of Zakim/Zakheim?”

I, a Tai Chi/Chi Kung practitioner from Jerusalem, Israel, was one of the first ones to be around when Dana-Farber was beginning to first consider complimentary approaches. And then, two years later, I had the opportunity to introduce mind-body approaches in a very limited way to their patients. Two years after that, I had the privilege of being around for the historical moment when Lenny took over and led the creation of the Zakim center. Before Lenny joined, we tried for a few years but it wasn’t enough; I had class only once a week, which moved from room to room. We had many meeting and lots of discussion, but it looked like it was going nowhere.

But within a few years of Lenny taking the lead, he was able to bring about such amazing progress compared to what was done before. No wonder he was what people call “a mover and shaker!”

Of course, he had help from other individuals such as: 

Cynthia Medeiros 

Dr. Lee Marshall Nadler

Dr. Paul Richardson

Dr. Kenneth Anderson

Anne Doherty-Gilman

Susan DeCristofaro

Meredith Beaton/Starr and her husband Billy Starr

Rick Kaitz and Erica Kaitz, both of whom paid for my Tai Chi and Chi Kung class at Dana-Farber before the Zakim center had any money. Erica passed away, unfortunately, from a rare form of Cancer.

Close friends of Joyce and Lenny such as Carol and Dennis Kanin, the Schwartz, and Laura Molta (who does the great video, for free, every year!).

The center has also had help from special, powerful individuals who wanted to help in appreciation of the results they received from mind-body intervention while going through Cancer. Individuals such as Larry Lucchino and others.

(P.S. Sorry if I missed or did not mention other individuals who helped and are a big part of helping lead the Zakim center to where it is today!)

One of the special individuals that keeps leading and promoting the center (and Lenny’s legacy) is Joyce Zakim, Lenny’s wife, who I have known since the day I met Lenny. Joyce is one of the kindest and nicest individuals I have ever met. Always wearing a smile, always positive and cheerful and down to earth. Her constant time and energy, and that of a group of supporters and friends to her and Lenny, are one of the main reasons for the recognition and success of the Zakim center today.

THE MEDICAL DIRECTORS OF THE ZAKIM CENTER

Over the years, there were three individuals/directors whose leadership and direction allowed the Zakim Center to make huge steps forward in operations and recognition. Their personal time, passion, positive thinking, wisdom, and amazing personalities are what led the Zakim Center to where it is today.

DR. PAUL RICHARDSON

The first Zakim director, an unbelievably charismatic individual, is Dr. Paul Richardson. Dr. Richardson put a strong emphasis on research and achieving recognition through scientific research. While Dr. Richardson was the director, we were able to conduct a small visibility study.

In addition to that study, we wrote a paper: “QUALITATIVE STUDY OF CANCER PATIENTS' EXPERIENCES WITH AND REASONS FOR INTENSIVELY PURSUING QIGONG, A CHINESE MEDITATIVE EXERCISE THERAPY,” as well as a Pilot Study of “12 weeks of Qigong as Gentle Mind-body Exercise for Metastatic Breast Cancer.” And finally, we presented a poster at a cancer research conference with the title "Pilot Study in Metastatic Breast Cancer of Diurnal Cortisol Variability, Mood and Muscle Strength Associated with a 12-week Program of Qigong as Mind-Body Exercise.”

Dr. Paul Richardson was offered the position of principle investigator (PI) in a treatment study for Multiple Myeloma, a treatment which then tremendously improved the rate off success with Multiple Myeloma. In the video, Dr. Richardson summarizes novel agents and combinations used for treating multiple myeloma. Key strategies include targeting protein degradation, restoring immune function, and combination therapy.

If Lenny had survived a few more years, perhaps this treatment could have prolonged his life for another 10 years, or maybe even put his cancer into remission; such is the world of Cancer. See Lenny's Story: Cancer and the Quality of Life.

DR. DAVID ROSENTHAL

The second Zakim Center director was Dr. David Rosenthal. Dr. Rosenthal is a great man, whose patience and huge heart will just melt you as you are working with him. He is smart, humble, down to earth and a loving individual to patients, colleagues, and his lovely and kind wife, Judy. Dr. Rosenthal was a great leader and promoter for the Zakim Center and his well established and recognized leadership in the traditional medical world brought the Zakim Center great acknowledgment and recognition.

Both Dr. Rosenthal and his wife, Judy Rosenthal, were instrumental in bringing the “Hope Lodge” to Boston. I met so many individuals and families that saved so much money by staying at the Hope Lodge, which also and allowed them to better receive their treatments in the Boston area. 

DR. JENNIFER LIGIBEL

The third and current medical director, and a very important individual to the Zakim Center, is Dr. Jennifer Ligibel, who started in 2014 and is our present Zakim Center director as well as a breast cancer oncologist. Dr. Ligibel is one of the smartest people I have ever met (along with my mother Professor Zichria Zakay/Rones and her research with Cancer, and my father in-law Dr. Irwin Harold Rosenberg, also known as Isaac.) Dr. Ligibel is such a kind, thoughtful, and funny individual, and her dedication and passion is another large reason for the success and recognition of our center. I am proud and honored to work under her at the Zakim Center. Her research is impressive, to say the least, and she is one of the leading scientist and expert in both exercise and diet benefits to Cancer patients and survivors.

After the event, Dr. Ligibel sent a beautiful and touching email to the Zakim Center staff that I would like to share it with you:

Dear Zakim Team-

I wanted to echo Joyce’s words last night in thanking you all for your hard work—some of you for more than a decade and some for not quite so long—in making the Zakim Center be a place of restoration and healing for our patients.

At the end of the day, what makes the Zakim Center great is all of you—the energy and devotion you bring to work each and every day, whether you work with patients directly, make the center’s appointments and programs flow seamlessly, or build the research base supporting what we do.

I hope you all listened to the words of the patients in the video and saw how much you work has meant to their lives, and saw how inspiring your work was to all of the people at Music Heals the Soul last night. For those of you who could not join us (we missed you!), we will make sure that you have a link to watch the beautiful video that so nicely depicted our new center and highlighted the difference the Zakim Center makes to our patients.

Thank you for all that you do. I look forward to further Lenny’s vision as we work to foster and grow our center.

Jennifer

Dr. Ligibel’s right hand assistant, Victoria Kennedy, is another great person contributing to the Zakim Center. And I can’t forget Meghan Mcloughlin! Another great and kind individual she is our program coordinator.

THE INDIVIDUALS THAT WERE HONORED THIS YEAR

Picture of our Zakim Center Team

Cynthia Medeiros has also been at Dana-Farber since before the Zakim Center was created, as well as during the creation. Cynthia is actually one of the pioneers and main reason for the creation of the center. She was, and still is, a friend of the Zakim family. She rides the PMC, the Pan-Mass Challenge, every year on team Lenny to support the Zakim Center and Lenny’s dream.

Dr. David Rosenthal, who I wrote about above, served as the previous Zakim medical director.

Acupuncturist Zhi ping Li, who has been at the Zakim Center since 2002.

Acupuncturist Weidong Lu, who has been with the Zakim Center since its opening in 2000. Dr. Weidong Lu has been involved in very interesting research about acupuncture and cancer. 

Here are some of his research publications:

Oncology massages Maria “Bamby” Mathay which you can also see in the short video by Laura Molta.

Massage therapist Theresa Ochenkoski.

And last; Tai Chi, Chi Kung and meditation teacher Ramel Rones (Rami).

Here are some of Ramel Rones’ publications:

Ramel Rones e mail to the Zakim staff:

Hi,

Thank you to everybody and for Joyce and Jennifer’s kind words; it is an honor to be a part of the Zakim team and Tuesday night will be a night that I will never forget. It is a good reminder that hard work, knowledge, and humility are the key elements of our work; thank you.

In the Tai Chi classics it is said; “when moving move as a great river when standing be as still as a mountain” the Zakim Center and its staff are a true testimonial to those words.

Ramel Rones (Rami)

THE GIFT/AWARD EACH ONE OF THE HONOREES RECEIVED

Some words from the Zakim family:

Our dad worked tirelessly to create The Leonard P. Zakim Center for Integrative Therapies which is dedicated to integrating the practice of complementary therapies into traditional cancer treatment. The Center provides complementary therapies and education to patients, families, and staff, and advances knowledge of the effectiveness and outcomes of integrative therapies through peer-reviewed, evidence-based clinical research. You can try the therapies at the event!

By Lenny’s children: Josh, Shari, and Deena.

And as usual, happy stretching, deep breathing, empty your mind, strengthen your energetic system, and evoke your spirit!

The Zakim Story & Prayer, Part 2

THE ZAKIM STORY & PRAYER 
&
ZAKIM CENTER INTEGRATIVE THERAPIES FOR CANCER AT DANA FARBER CANCER INSTITUTE 

Part 2

2018 HONOREES
May 1st, 2018

(Read part 1.)


The Zakim Name:

Zakim in Hebrew means “the seeds of holy people” and there is an interesting story behind this name:

The Zakim story, we write Zakheim. This version followed the first version, the “Heim,” meaning “they are.” There are many versions of the name: Zak, Zakim, Zakay, Sackhiem, etc. The meaning of the names: “The Holy Seeds” - הם קודש זרע    

The first people that called themselves Zakim, “Zera Kodesh Heim,” were the descendant of the Rabbi Israel one of the martyrs of Rosanoi that died/perished as martyrs on the second day of Rosh Hashanah in September 9, 1659 - 5420 being the year in the Jewish calendar. 

The Zakim story & Zakim Prayer:

The story started as a blood libel against the Jews that was very common during that period. The hatred to the Jews was very strong in those years - (Khmelnytsky pogroms which thousands of Jews were killed 10 years before). 

The events leading to the martyrdom began in the spring of 1657 just before Passover in the small Lithuanian-Polish town of Rozana (Rozanoi/ Ruzhany) the body of a murdered Christian child was discovered in the yard of one of the Jewish inhabitants. The entire Christian community rose up in anger and soon the story began to circulate that the Jewish needed the blood of the child in order to make matzos This was the repeat of the "blood libel" עלילת דם  A court was convened to find and punish the guilty person or persons. 

Since the perpetrators were unknown, the entire Jewish community was sentenced to death with the proviso that the death sentence upon the community would be lifted if the guilty one or ones confessed. The Jewish were in turmoil since they did not know who had committed the murder. What could they do? The community elders tried but not come up with a solution to their problem. There was no reasoning with the local Christian peasants who were led by religious fanatics.

In order to spare the Jewish community, the town's two rabbis, Israel and Tuvia, confessed to the deed and were sentenced to death. Grateful for the reprieve, the Jewish tried to think of a plan to save the two Rabbis. A committee was formed and sent to the king of Poland who had sovereignty over that area. The committee members hoped to plead their case and thus obtained a pardon for their leaders. The emissaries traveled for many weeks and months until they obtained an audience with the king. They pleaded their case and the king granted the pardon. 

With great joy they began their way back home. As they neared their destination, they realized that the next day was Rosh Hashanah. So they stopped in a nearby town to pray and wait after the holy day. On Friday September 9, 1659, the second day of Rosh Hashanah, the death sentence was carried out. The emissaries arrived with the pardon one day too late.

(Translated from Professor George Zakim, from Chicago, who dedicated his life to research the roots of the Zakim family – 13 generations are known. The Scattered Seeds by George I Sackheim- copyright 1986; R Sackheim publishing co - Crawford Avenue Skokie Ill 6007609151)

THE ZAKIM PRAYER:

The Selicha for the Martyrs
(According to the book “Daat Kedoshim”. The Selicha was written on a parchment in Hebrew writing and is stored in the Beit Midrash of Ruzhany. It was a donation of the leader Yosef the son of Tzvi of holy blessed memory in the year 5484 (1724) in Ruzhany.)

Rabbi and Gaon Rabbi Shimon the son of the holy martyr Yisrael, may G-d avenge his blood, formulated the text of a selicha (penitential prayer) to be recited in the synagogues of Ruzhany annually on Yom Kippur, and he formulated a memorial prayer for the souls of the martyrs that should be recited every year on the days that the memorial service (Yizkor) is recited. To this day, the residents of Ruzhany follow this custom in the Beit Midrash Lecha'k Gachsh'a and in the Beit Midrash of Rabbi Gershon. The descendent of the holy martyrs, may their merit stand before us to save the Jewish people from all disasters, until G-d resurrects the dead, rebuilds the Temple, and the redeemer comes to Zion. 

… Forgive us our Father
for we have erred through our great foolishness 
Pardon us our King, for our sins are many. 
Our G-d, you are slow to anger, and you have been called the Master of Mercy 
You have taught us path to repentance 
the greatness of your mercy and goodness 
you should remember this day and every day for the children of your close ones. 
Turn to us with mercy, for You are the Master of Mercy 
We have come before You with supplication and prayer 
As you have showed to the humble one (Moses) in times of yore. 
Recant your angry wrath 
as is written in Your Torah 
Let us dwell and be protected in the shade of your wings 
as on the day that G-d came down in a cloud. 
Overlook rebellion and wipe out our guilt 
as on the day that you stood with him there. 
Harken to our prayer and listen to our statements 
As on the day that You called out in the name of G-d, as is said there……

Next week I will share with you the names of the honorees, as well as great pictures, from the Dana-Farber event I first mentioned last week. Keep reading!

And as always, happy stretching, deep breathing, empty your mind, strengthen your energetic system, and evoke your spirit!

The Zakim Story & Prayer, Part 1

THE ZAKIM STORY & PRAYER 
&
ZAKIM CENTER INTEGRATIVE THERAPIES FOR CANCER AT DANA FARBER CANCER INSTITUTE 

Part 1

2018 HONOREES
May 1st, 2018


Every year, the Zakim Center for integrative therapies at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute has an annual event/fundraiser called “Music heals the soul” which honors Lenny Zakim.

Each year, the event also recognizes special honorees of the year. This year, they chose individuals who have been in the center since the beginning (or very near the beginning!) to be the honorees.

Check out the short video from this year, May 1st, 2018, done by Laura Molta of Molta Media.

The event Music Heals the Soul is a fun filled night of musical performances and exciting auctions. Proceeds benefit integrative oncology research and help to provide educational programs to the cancer community at the Leonard P. Zakim Center for Integrative Therapies at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. 

The evening also includes a cocktail hour, seated dinner, and complementary therapies from the Zakim Center, which offers integrative therapies such as massage, acupuncture, Tai Chi and qigong.

This year we also added musical guest Erich Bergen from the movie Jersey Boys.

Watch: Jersey Boys performing Sherry in the White House.

This year, the Zakim center honored some of the people that have been with the center for many years. And some even, such as your humble mind-body blogger, which have been working with these programs even before the center started, and were lucky enough to witness and be a part of history during the creation of the center.

I also had the opportunity and honor to actually work with both Lenny and his son Josh, and meet Lenny’s wife Joyce. 

Read: The Haute Life article about Josh & Lenny.

The Zakim Bridge

Many people ask me, “Is the bridge in Boston, the Zakim bridge, named after Lenny?”

Yes! it was named after Lenny, Leonard Zakim, who was a civic leader and a civil right activist who championed “building bridges between peoples”.

For those of you that do not know, I am actually a Zakim as well, from my mother side by Professor Zichria Zakay Rones.

Lenny Zakim Family Tree

Ramel Rones/ Zakay (Zakheim) Family Tree

Next week I will tell you the meaning of the Zakim name, as well as the story of how the name originated and the prayer that was specially created for the Zakim family. Make sure you are tuning in!

And as usual, happy stretching, deep breathing, empty your mind, strengthen your energetic system, and evoke your spirit!