Friday, April 24, 2015

Tai Chi better than stretching.


Some self appointed specialists tend to believe - and are vocal about it - that all forms are exercises are beneficial. 
 


THEY ARE...


Some exercises can be detrimental to people; some exercises are more beneficial than others.

Since 2004 The Oregon Research Institute has been running an evidence-based fall prevention program for community-dwelling older adults. 

A study was carried out on a sample of 256 physically inactive, community-dwelling adults aged 70 to 92 recruited through a patient database in Portland, Oregon. The participants practiced either Tai Chi or a routine of Stretching exercises three-times-per-week for a period of 6 months.


At the end of the six-month program the risk for multiple falls in the Tai Chi group was 55% lower than that of the stretching control group. Compared with the stretching control participants, the Tai Chi participants showed significant improvements.

Read the Full article here.


My name is Frederic Lecut and I have been teaching Tai Chi and Iaido in Dothan, AL. since 2000.




If you would like to learn more about Tai Chi or come try it for free for one week, please contact me by email at frederic.lecut@gmail.com or by phone at (334) 798 1639.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Try tai chi to improve balance, avoid fall


Compared to the pumping intensity of Zumba, Tai Chi looks like it’s performed in slow motion. Watching the gentle, graceful movements of this ancient Chinese practice, it’s hard to imagine that it can burn off a single calorie or strengthen muscles. But Tai Chi is actually far more dynamic than it looks.



"The slowness that you see from the outside is deceptive. As an aerobic workout, Tai Chi is roughly the equivalent of a brisk walk (depending on the intensity at which you perform it). And as a resistance training routine, some studies have found it similar to more vigorous forms of weight training," says Dr. Wayne, co-author of The Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi.

Tai Chi and Balance

With its integrative approach that strengthens the body while focusing the mind, Tai Chi addresses a range of physical and mental health issues—including bone strength, joint stability, cardiovascular health, immunity, and emotional well-being. Tai Chi is especially useful for improving balance and preventing falls—a major concern for older adults.

Studies have shown Tai Chi to reduce falls in seniors by up to 45%. It can also improve balance in people with neurological problems. A recent study in The New England Journal of Medicine found the program particularly effective for balance in people with Parkinson’s disease.

Tai Chi helps improve balance because it targets all the physical components needed to stay upright—leg strength, flexibility, range of motion, and reflexes — all of which tend to decline with age.

Interestingly, one of Tai Chi’s biggest benefits to stability isn’t physical—but emotional.

Anyone who’s had a fall or who has instability has what we call a ‘fear of falling. Ironically, a fear of falling is one of the biggest predictors of a fall. By making you firmer on your feet, Tai Chi takes away that fear. Tai Chi also makes you more aware of both your internal body and the external world, giving you a better sense of your position in space, so you won’t be as likely to trip and fall if you try to simultaneously talk to a friend and navigate a busy sidewalk.

Getting started with Tai Chi

One of the best things about Tai Chi is its adaptability to every age and fitness level. I have students in their late 80s. Because Tai Chi has “zero impact,” it doesn’t put too much strain on aging bones and joints. But it’s not by any means something that’s only for the elderly, and it can be quite demanding for the young.



You can start Tai Chi at most levels of health, and you can ramp up your activities to be appropriate to your level of fitness and function. 



Tai Chi is also incredibly safe—even for people who are older and have chronic diseases. 

I have been teaching Tai Chi in the Wiregrass since 2000. Interested, Curious ? Please come watch or participate in a FREE class. Call me at (334) 798 1639 or email me at frederic.lecut@gmail.com.



Monday, March 23, 2015

Habit : the Genesis of Identity





My 2 puppies Itto & Tomoe are charming, smart and very destructive. It is important to keep them busy unless they do stupid things. People are also like this. I try to keep them busy by teaching them different things : walk beside me, stop, sit... etc... I have trained dogs before. Border Collies are smart and easy to train, they want to learn and they want to please.





However, I quickly realized that you cannot train 2 puppies at the same time. It just does not work, and I believe I know why.

Actually, dogs do not really know their names. Nothing happens in Itto's head that tells him he “IS” Itto. Itto does not think “I am Itto”; he has no concept of Identity. 


However, a particular dog will understand a command preceded by his name. But, if other dogs are around and if you do not call the dog's name before giving the command, the dog won't understand.

There is no point trying to teach Itto or Tomoe to answer the command « Sit ». It can be done, but there is no point doing it. You can individually teach each dog to sit. But when both dogs are together and you ask Itto to sit and Tomoe does not sit, she will realize that she does not have to follow the command « sit ». She will get confused, and later will not follow your commands. You will get frustrated, think she is stupid, but really and truly, it is not the dog's fault, it's yours !





So it is necessary to teach each dog separately "Tomoe, sit" and "Itto, sit", This applies to any command: "Itto, come"; "Tomoe, Stay"... Once the dog understands which command applies to him or her, it become possible to have them work together. You can ask one dog to come while the other stays put. That is how shepherd use several dogs to handle their flocks. They always give personalized commands to their dogs.

Itto does not know his name. However, he knows he should sit when he hears "Itto, sit" . This is true of many commands : "Itto, Come" ; "Itto, Walk", etc...

Little by little, Itto realizes that when he hears the sound "Itto" he will  be asked to do something specific. So every time he hears this "Itto", he lifts his ears and focus.

THIS is why we can say the dog knows his name.

Knowing his name is nothing but the ability to react to a sound; the result of a conditioning. This ability is voluntary at the beginning (The trainer triggers it in various ways, this is what dog training is about) and little by little it becomes involuntary: the dog reacts without having to pay attention. We say that the dog knows his name, and who he is, but it is just a pattern of acquired behavior, an habit.

Likewise our personality – our Ego - is the result of such an habitual and cultural conditioning: an acquired behaviour. And this conditioning is so powerful that from an early age we come to believe that this personality is an actual entity, a "Real Thing", and we totally identify to it.

Human mind has a hard time perceiving and conceiving of an ever-changing reality. It loves to imagine immutable things and sort them in categories. 


We call this construct Ego, Soul or Atman.



And we imagine it has a transcendental and eternal nature because we cannot conceive it is just a convention of language for an acquired behaviour.




And this is one of the roots of suffering...






Monday, March 16, 2015


So we had better think again and use our common sense. 

If we let our mind mistreat us so that we spend our lives suffering and making others suffer around us, that’s a sign of a lack of common sense. The thoughts and words that come from a disturbed state of mind can be considered “negative.” 

Instead of complaining about our fate, if we cultivate altruism and compassion, so that those “positive” states of mind improve our well-being and that of others, that shows that we do have common sense.

JIGME KHYENTSE RINPOCHE (born 1964) 

Oral Advice translated by Matthieu Ricard


Sand Mandala by Tibetan Monks in Dothan, AL. March 2015


Please note that Jigme Khyentse Rinpoche does not say that thoughts and words coming from a disturbed state of mind are negative, but that they can be considered "negative." This is important !

 

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Anatma



The following is clearer than anything I have ever heard.


The term anatman is usually translated as "non-soul", but in reality atman is here synonymous with a personality, an ego, a self, an individual, a living being, a conscious agent, etc.

The underlying idea is that, whatsoever be designated by all these names, it is not a real and ultimate fact, it is a mere name for a multitude of interconnected facts, which Buddhist philosophy is attempting to analyse by reducing them to real elements (dharma). Thus "soullessness" (nairatmya) is but the negative expression, indeed a synonym, for the existence of ultimate realities (dharmata).

Buddhism never denied the existence of a personality, or a soul, in the empirical sense, it only maintained that it was no ultimate reality (not a dharma). The Buddhist term for an individual, a term which is intended to suggest the difference between the Buddhist view and other theories, is santana, i.e. a "stream ", viz. of interconnected facts.


It includes the mental elements and the physical ones as well, the elements of one's own body and the external objects, as far as they constitute the experience of a given personality. The representatives of eighteen classes (dhatu) of elements combine together to produce this interconnected stream.

There is a special force, called prapti, which holds these elements combined. It operates only within the limits of a single stream and not beyond. This stream of elements kept together, and not limited to present life, but having its roots in past existences and its continuation in future ones - is the Buddhist counterpart of the Soul or the Self of other systems.


From Theodore Stcherbatsky in 'The Central Conception of Buddhism and the Meaning of the Word "Dharma".'
 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Samadhi of Action - Judo



In Judo, normally, when two persons practice, each of them grasps the collar and sleeve of the other, and tries to score with throws and pins. Through intensive practice, one can develop muscular strength and use it to control an opponent if victory is strongly desired. We can see this competitive process, for example in the style of competitive judo which is now an Olympic sport, and as judo is practiced in many places in the world. 

People that only know this type of judo may not understand the concerns voiced in the following remarks by Jigoro Kano - the founder of modern Judo in 1918:

In the Kodokan, each person practices randori by grasping his opponent’s collar and sleeve. This must be done for beginners to improve their skill, but that method is not the ultimate one. If you grasp your opponent’s collar and sleeve, you must grasp extremely softly and without strength. Otherwise, you cannot move quickly.

This clearly and amazingly demonstrated here by Kyuzo Mifune, 10th dan.






Now this is Mastery. And the lightness of Mifune Sensei is a perfect illustration of the first verses of Zen Master Seng Can's Shin Jin Mei:


The Great Way is not difficult
For those who have no preferences.
When love and hate are both absent
Everything becomes clear and undisguised.


Keep training...

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Churning water.


I would like to share with you Matthieu Ricard's thought of the Week, directly from his Newsletter - suscribe to it !
 
Getting butter from milk is only possible because milk already contains cream. No one ever made butter by churning water. The prospector looks for gold in rocks and not in wood chips. Likewise, the quest for perfect enlightenment only makes sense because the buddha-nature is already present in every being. Without that nature, all efforts would be futile. 

JAMGÖN KONGTRUL LODRÖ THAYE (1813-1899)

 

 

Matthieu Ricard is a Tibetan Buddhist Monk, author and Photographer born in France in 1946. After completing his doctoral thesis in Molecular Genetics in 1972, he decided to forsake his scientific career and concentrate on the practice of Tibetan Buddhism. He has been the French interpreter for the Dalai Lama since 1989.