The Chi Revolution
By Bruce Frantzis
$19.95 Softcover 223 pp.
Energy Arts, Inc. CA ( 2008)
Bruce Frantzis a well known and respected Taoist, Qigong Master and Teacher of the Internal Martial Arts has written a very clear , inspiring book on using the internal energy arts ( e.g. qigong, tai chi, et.al.) to help people bolster their health. When this book was published in 2008, Sifu Frantzis wrote that an impending health crisis was forthcoming. The healthcare system of 2011 is burdened by an increasing aging baby boomer population, increased medical costs, a rising diabetes and obesity epidemic , and a very high percentage of stressed (emotional , financial and physical) populace. Since 1985 Sifu Frantzis has made it his mission to teach people to take responsibility for their own health and to alleviate the pain and suffering endured by so many. I read this book while traveling to visit family and was struck with the power of the words written with so much encouragement, foresight , and expertise. We indeed need to seek out ways of Yang-Sheng( nurturing) our health, and well being.
The author begins by telling of his auto accident that left him with massive injury to his spine which included cracked vertebrae, hairline fractures, and torn spinal ligaments. Prior to the accident Bruce was an accomplished martial artist being proficient in the internal arts of ba gua, tai chi, hsing –i as well as karate, judo, jiu-jitsu and aikido. His accident and recovery taught him was that mastering your physical body and having self-discipline was just a part of what is needed to heal. One had to master the mind and the emotions as well. He was fortunate to rely on his teacher, Liu Hung Chieh, who prescribed a particular form of tai chi, Taoist breathing and meditation. Bruce practiced these teachings 8 hours per day for over three years.
Central to the ideas presented in this book is the concept of chi (qi) – the life force energy that permeates all living beings and the environment. The chi practices of tai chi and qigong can help slow down the aging process, increase longevity and vitality with the understanding that no matter your age or health condition you can improve and keep on improving. It is through diligent practice that one can develop the full potential of chi. The “chi revolution” will change the way we think and feel about aging , interrelationships with others and the environment. According to Bruce “ The challenges for people today is not to become more intelligent. It is to use our intelligence to focus inward and embrace the integration of the mind , body and spirit.” (p.21) When the body, mind and spirit are integrated one creates a sense of wholeness. It is through the cultivation of your chi that is the basis for health and healing.
The Center for Disease Prevention and the American Medical Association has issued statistics indicating a large percentage of all illness and disease is stress related. Stress(tension) causes the nervous system to move into overdrive with an outpouring of powerful hormones through the “fight or flight” response which adversely plays havoc with the immune system and the recuperative powers of the body. Stress and tension depletes and weakens the chi. The flow of energy is blocked and/ or stagnant. This results in the body’s homeostatic mechanisms to be compromised resulting in ill health both mentally and physically. Through the cultivation of positive emotions , thoughts and actions using chi practices there is a letting go of mental and physical tension while at the same time reconditioning your body to relax more in doing physical activity. Key to succeeding in letting go is the practice of moderation which Bruce calls “ the 70%” rule. One should do only 70% of current ability, anthing more will produce stress or tension.
Liu Hung Chieh (Bruce’s teacher) remarked, “ You become what you practice. Practice suffering and you will get suffering. Practice becoming healthy and you will have health. Practice love and compassion and you will become more loving and compassionate.” (p.37)
Our current social setting involves multi-tasking , using a variety of electronic equipment, and having lots of distractions, thus avoiding what is really going on inside ourselves. We need to take the time to nurture ourselves, looking inside, taking some time to reflect to breathe, and to relax more. Pain and suffering are part of life and the real challenge is to learn to not let it tear us apart. We need coping mechanisms to lessen our stressful inputs and use moderation with improved energy efficiency to help resolve these issues
In Chapter 6, there are 12 factual statements regarding health and fitness. They are as follows; health has little to do with a beautiful body, life is better when you feel good, you can obtain health, vibrancy and sexual vitality will into your old age, tight abs can mess up your internal organs, obese people can be healthy, the more you push and strain, the more stress reigns, chi exercises , done slowly and in a relaxed manner are an equally powerful method for improving circulation, relaxation is about tuning into your body and letting go, breathing, standing and meditating are some of the most effective health and fitness practices you can adopt, most people do not breathe well, breathing is primarily about getting the nervous system to relax while gently massaging the internal organs, and anyone can learn to feel chi. These 12 statements are discussed in some detail providing some very good insights.
In the next few chapters(7-12), there are discussions of tai chi , qigong , internal power(nei gong), tao yoga and the tao of sex , and exploring your inner world with prayer and meditation. In Chapter 13 , the I Ching(Book of Changes) provides the roots of the Chi Revolution. All the chi practices help one cope with change by strengthening the spiritual potential inside yourself, how chi moves inside and affects us, the effects of our thoughts and emotions, the creative and positive forces in ourselves and others, and the energy around us becoming smooth and nourishing for a deep, inherent sense of life.
The book concludes with a detailed review and discussion of the “Chi Rev Workout” which consists of five energy exercises. They are in order, longevity breathing, chi scanning, chi balancing, heart opening and freeing trapped chi. These exercises will help create your own inner revolution by shifting your attention inward so as to develop internal consciousness and mobilizing your chi. Each exercise is carefully explained with easy to follow directions. No experience is necessary. There is an old Taoist saying, “ The teacher leads you to the gate, but only you, by your own effort, can pass through”(p. 203)
I highly recommend this book for all who are seeking to improve their health and vitality. Many of us often nurture and are caretakers for others, but many times neglect our own inner world. The “Chi Revolution” is asking us to step through the gate, so we can connect our mind , body and spirit, stay balanced , aware, and alive.
Review by Sal Casano, Ph.D. RNSalvatore 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.”