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.


Finding the Right Mind-Body, Tai Chi and Qi Gong Teacher, Part 3

Hello Mind-Body students! This week we are continuing the series on finding the right mind-body teacher, which you can catch on at these links: part 1, and part 2.

So far, we’ve covered the external arts that any mind-body teacher should be well-versed in. However, that is only half of the battle! What is the other key aspect of a great mind-body teacher that you should be looking for?

A truly great mind-body practitioner is equally trained in both the external arts and the internal arts. Most of the time, this means that the teacher studied with a renowned master (or masters) for at least 10 to 20 years. Having both kinds of training means your teacher will be able to help you by using a wide array of mind-body tools, and can tackle your particular issues or weaknesses from the best angle.

A great mind-body teacher will know how important it is to work with your energetic system. An expert should know qigong massage because that means they have lots of hands-on experience. It’s traditional for students of energetic massage to have thousands of hours of massage practice, and your teacher shouldn’t be any different.

In addition to knowing the energetic system, a mind-body teacher should lead you in evoking the spirit and harmonizing the three forces; heaven human and earth. This requires an understanding in the important parts of the human spirit. A sense of humor, experience with loss and death, open-mindedness, and being lifelong learner are all signs that your teacher will be able to instruct you in your spiritual development. Finally emphasizing the 5 building blocks of our being: Body, Breath, Mind, Energy, and Spirit.

A qualified teacher will have experience working with different challenging health issues such as: injuries, chronic pain, fibromyalgia, lower back and neck issues, joint problems like rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, cancer and all its side effects and symptoms from treatments or the cancer itself, and many more conditions and health issues. 

Character is also important in a great mind-body teacher. Compassion, being able to listen, some wisdom, intelligence, diagnostic knowledge, and the ability to make each lesson fresh and new even after 10 or 15 years with them. To find all of these qualities is a single person is rare indeed (almost impossible!), but finding several of them is good.

Next week I will start giving examples of the techniques and teachings that you would expect to get in each of these categories so you can tell whether a mind-body teacher is a good fit for you.

If you are struggling to find sources of mind-body knowledge where you live, you can always start by using my books and DVDs. Nothing is as good as a one-to-one lesson from a trained mind-body teacher, but the more you know from sources like my books, the easier it will be to know when you’ve found the right teacher.

Remember, when trying to understand and learn a philosophy like Tai Chi, Qi Gong, or Yoga through a book, you retain about 40% of the information. Adding a DVD or videos you will be able to learn 50% to 60%. Even with a great teacher, you'll get 70% to 80% of the information. The remaining 20% to 30% is your personal practice and experience.

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

Finding the Right Mind-Body, Tai Chi, and Qi Gong Teacher, Part 2

This series is going to give you a basic idea of the qualifications you should look for in a great mind-body teacher to guide you through lifelong learning. Part 1 came out last week, and this week we are continuing the qualities to look for.

It is one thing to learn a movements, stretches, forms, and strengthening exercises, and another thing to practice them correctly as an integrated mind-body practice. This week we go over some of the ways that a great mind-body teacher will do that.

Every mind-body teacher will show you how to do deep breathing, and a great mind-body teacher will show you how to do many different kinds of deep breathing, and how to practice them during your mind-body prescriptions. How you should breathe while doing each stretch or tai chi form is of key importance to the practice of those techniques. Deep breathing correctly will allow you to relax your muscles more effectively, which will improve your progress on everything we discussed last week. Increasing oxygen intake is also one of the most powerful things you can do to improve your health.

Not only should your teacher show you how to breathe deeply while practicing, but also while doing your regular daily activities. In the car at a red light. At your desk when you finish a work project. In line at the grocery store. A great teacher will remind you to always look for moments to breathe deep and be mindful.

A great mind-body teacher will instruct you in sitting, standing, and moving meditations. There are teachers out there who know sitting meditations only, or moving meditations only, but a truly wise teacher will have lots of experience with all forms of meditation. With a great teacher, you will learn how to focus your mind and breathe in the way that best accommodates your current form of meditation. A great practitioner knows that each form of meditation is good for different goals, and will help you develop all of them so that you have a well-rounded mind-body experience.

Next week, we'll continue on with even more qualities to look for in a mind-body teacher!

Happy stretching, deep breathing, and empty your mind!

Finding the Right Mind-Body, Tai Chi, and Qi Gong Teacher, Part 1

It isn't easy to find a good tai chi teacher or qi gong expert. For one thing, there are a limited number of people who have knowledge of the entire art. It takes almost a whole lifetime to learn and master the mind-body principles. Second, because it takes so long to learn, there aren't that many people who seek to learn these ancient techniques. I would say that if you are lucky enough to find a mind-body teacher in the Western world, don't call it lucky, call it destiny.

But how would you know that you've found a good teacher? Well, in my experience, a truly great teacher will cover certain key skills and techniques in their teachings. This week I will go over the some of the important material, and over the next weeks we will cover the other qualifications that a great mind-body teacher should have.

A mind-body teacher will teach you to free your body from being a prisoner of the soft tissue, and at the same time, will help you build strength. This is the most basic form of balance that you will learn in your practice. The body should be both flexible and strong, so that you can effectively direct your strength and will, which makes you powerful. This is a fundamental part of your mind-body journey, both physically and mentally.

A great mind-body teacher will help you isolate your joints with gentle movement, and stimulate your energetic system. You can think of your joints like the doorways that energy must move through in your body. When these portals are stiff and closed up, your limbs and organs can suffer. Opening these joints allows blood, oxygen, and energy to flow to every part of your body. This is important for healing, performance, and overall health.

You need to learn correct alignment when standing, sitting, walking, and moving slowly. Alignment is crucial for avoiding injuries and maintaining health. The older you get, the more important this is. Balance is largely based on correct alignment, and preventing dangerous falls is all about having good balance. Alignment is also key to preventing injury during athletic performance.

That's all we'll cover this week! Next week, we'll go further into the skills that a truly great mind body teacher will cover with you.

Happy stretching, deep breathing, and empty your mind!

P.S. If you haven't read it yet, please check out the special article spot that Cancer Wellness TV got on the NAMASTA website this week! NAMASTA is a highly respected association for mind-body professionals, and a great place to let people know about Cancer Wellness TV!