True Brain Fitness
by Dr. Aihan Kuhn.
Softcover (126pp.) iUniverse, IN (2010) $16.95 ISBN: 978-1-4502-6654-3
In this book Dr. Kuhn emphasizes the practice of tai chi and qigong as modalities for healing and treating disease through the mind-body connection. “There is no doubt that the mind can affect the body and can even heal the body…. But interestingly, I have to teach how to use the body to heal the mind” (p.3). According to her theory of body-brain-healing the use of physical exercise and movement stimulates the brain thus activating neural chemicals. Through body movements there is increased information in helping the brain cells to communicate with each other. It is also important to balance the left and right sides of the brain as well as the upper, lower, cross brain, frontal and rear sections of the brain.
In Chapter 2, the author describes the arts of tai chi and qigong. Tai chi is described as “a beautiful art involving motion, a form of meditation, an energy workout, training for discipline and focus, a martial art and a vehicle for preventative medicine. The practice of tai chi affects us physically by enhanced stamina, strength and balance along with strengthened immune function. Mentally, tai chi practice helps reduce stress and increases alertness and clarity of mind. In addition, tai chi practice has a positive effect on our emotions with evenness of mood, serenity as well as our spiritual affect by communing with ourselves and our interrelationships with people and the environment.
Both tai chi and qigong practice enhance our internal energy which brings harmony to our internal organs, balance to our biochemistry and metabolism. The slow meditative movements enhance the vagus nerve system thus reducing stress and preventing cardiovascular disease. The deep breathing associated with qigong practice helps improve respiratory and immune function. The gastrointestinal system is supported and strengthened through the positive effect on the autonomic nervous system. Lastly the musculoskeletal system is enhanced since muscles and joints are in constant motion.
Chapter 3 is the meat and potatoes of the entire book. The nervous system is described in basic terms and not in a detailed manner as one would find in a textbook on brain anatomy and physiology. The author attempts to give the reader a basic understanding of how the nervous system functions, a comparison between Eastern and Western brains. She gives an excellent discussion of brain aging and brain anti –aging principles. Based on the author’s many years of experience preventing brain aging Dr. Kuhn hypothesizes that the practice of tai chi and qigong provides lifelong learning, better sleep, increased oxygenation, increased sensory and spatial orientation, better balance of emotions, body structure, rootedness, social group interactions and improved awareness , focus and increased organ system efficiency and energy. In concluding this chapter, the author gives a nice summary comparison between tai chi and qigong art forms.
In Chapters 4 and 5, various principles are discussed leading to increased happiness and diligent practice principles of tai chi and qigong. The weakest part of the book is in Chapter 6 where the author describes her 27 movement exercise program. The verbal description of the exercises is terse and they all had photos depicting each exercise I feel this would have improved the comprehension by the reader for self-practice. In her four step practice are warm up exercises, Qigong exercises, Tai Chi practice and Cooling down Relaxation. As part of her practice, Dr. Kuhn as videos and workbooks available at her website www.Chinese MedicineforHealth.com which do contain the visuals for all the exercises.
The advice given in Chapter 4 on ways of wise living was nicely presented. These include exercise regularly, keep a positive attitude, don’t be afraid of hard work, be honest with yourself and with others, help other people, avoid over analyzing, forgive others as well as yourself, use Daoist wisdom in everyday life, continue learning and keep an open mind, and cherish love and friendship in your life. All of these help increases one’s own happiness and nurturing one’s life.
In the 7th and last chapter, the author presents a checklist for self-evaluation for developing of self-awareness. Some good advice and helpful suggestions are given that will help people who are concerned about the mind-body –spirit connections. “If you focus on disease, you have disease; if you focus on problems, you have problems; if you focus on success, you will be successful; if you focus on the positive of everything, everything in your life will be positive. “(p. 123)
Review by Sal CasanoSalvatore Casano R.N., PhD – a registered nurse with a PhD in Holistic Health, and is an ATCQZ certified Tai Chi and Qigong instructor. His Tai Chi and Qigong journey began over 20 years ago while working as a chemistry instructor, when he felt the need for a more holistic approach to health care. Participating in many programs and projects relating to health, Dr. Casano educates the community on living a healthier lifestyle to avoid obesity and diabetes, and as a way to reduce stress. Over the years, he has learned from many masters including Bill Philips, Marc Issacs, Richard Chu, as well as two ATCQA advisors, Dr. Roger Jahnke, and Bill Douglas. Dr. Casano, along with his wife Veronica, often sojourn together on his healing path, as they use their skills in helping others connect the mind, body, and spirit. They have four adult children, seven grandchildren, and a cat, “Tiger.”