Tai Chi in Your Life- 8 Principles That Can Change Your Life While Learning and Growing with Tai Chi
by Dale Napier
Softcover ( 179 pages) 2010
Mastersoft Press, Houston TX $16.99
Review written by Sal Casano
While browsing in a local bookstore the title of the book caught my immediate attention, along with the simple elegance of the cover photo. While looking through the book I found the size of the font was very appealing and I knew this was going to be an enjoyable read. The author uses his experiences in tai chi ,neigong and qigong to present a very informative book. A good deal of the content is based on the T’ai Chi Classics, which gives a strong foundation to the principles discussed.
The book is divided into ten chapters, eight of which reflect eight principles of tai chi. The last chapter titled “Extra: Ninth Principle-Take It to the world” basically invites the reader to share his or her experiences in tai chi with experiences and stories that reflect these eight principles. In the Introduction (first chapter) the author sets the goal of “making tai chi practice your own.” He states on p.xvi
“Making it your own means interpreting the essence of a technique in such a way that you do not slavishly imitate the instructor. Instead you make the best use of your personal experience, physical stature, abilities, and attitudes to deliver an interpretation that is faithful to the original intent.”
The eight principles discussed are relaxation, intention, awareness, continuity, focus, linking to your center, accepting/yielding, and detaching the ego. Each principle is discussed in terms of martial effectiveness, how the principle can work in your daily life, and exercises for self practice which are based on cultivating the qi(chi). There are many photographs(black and white)to help the reader in performing the exercises and/or illustrating a concept.
In discussing each principle the reader is naturally brought to an understanding of how these principles are integrated into your practices. As an example, the fifth principle “Focus” is defined by the author to be “the continuous application of intention to a task at hand.” (p.96) As we practice tai chi ( whatever style ) it is vitally important to focus on the details of the individual form or posture. “You cannot practice Tai Chi while you read a book or play on the Internet or watch TV; it just does not work that way.” Since Tai Chi is an internal art one needs to focus on what is occurring internally: inside your body, inside your mind, and inside your spirit. Our daily lives are filled with diversity, job, family, church, political or social activities, etc. All these activities are good and make life fun and enjoyable, however, all this diversity will cause a problem with focus, thus your tai chi will be adversely affected. The author provides exercises to help one improve focus. He ends the chapter with “Learning to turn all your attention and intention to a single topic, unceasingly, removes stress and tension from your life and improves productivity and quality. “ ( p.106)
It is this approach that is used in discussing each of the remaining seven principles. My own personal experience with the book was to read it straight through. Afterwards, I would return to a certain principle re-read it and re-work the suggested exercises. This book is an asset to anyone practicing tai chi. It will encourage you to question and think, perhaps lead into the discovery of more principles. In a sense, this book is living opus with lots of good information.
In summary, the discussions in this book can help add much positivity to your tai chi practice and to your daily life. The author has a website which you may wish to check out to get more background information. www.TaiChiInYourLife.com Readers of the book are invited to visit the website and to share their own personal experiences and stories.