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Stress affects every one of us, seemingly more-so every year. One popular solution - personal development courses - can be truly life changing. After two or three days of intensive learning, we begin to feel deeply relaxed, joyous, at peace with the world. Then, more often than not we are asked to commit an hour or two a day to meditation, yoga, tai chi, prayer, journal writing or whatever. No problem, we say. I deserve to feel this good all the time. I'll just get up an hour earlier every day...

 

Within 24 hours of returning home, the harsh reality of life smacks us right between the eyes. We truly and often desperately want to keep up the practice, but family, business and life commitments simply demand most of our time. Usually after a day or a week, we quit. This sad end result can be just one more blow to our self esteem, rather than the anticipated path to enlightenment (or at least reduced pain). Sound familiar?

Well, I had too many demands on my time. Too many obligations. My life is huge! Just like yours. But I need the benefits, just like you do.

So do we just forget about our personal development for a few years (or decades?), and receive zero benefits? Do we simply tolerate the stress and pain? No we can make small, manageable goals.

Tai Chi for Busy People and 4 Minute Fitness are designed to give you maximum benefits in minimum time.

The result? A few minutes before going to work, before interacting with the family, or before sleep can significantly improve your quality of life. And then, after a period of regular practice you may begin to make decisions, even lifestyle decisions that will bring more balance into your life.

I firmly believe that a few minutes a day is infinitely superior to no minutes a day, and that even just a small amount of this quality time will increase your productivity and performance at work, improve health in all ways and reduce your stress levels.

It is said that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Five minutes a day is the single step needed to begin a journey toward wellness.


I recently received a question about ways to improve balance while standing on one leg.

It seems that most people have poor balance. In fact, we are a nation of falling people. Sadly, falling related injuries take a huge personal and financial toll. Beginners in my tai chi classes who stand on one leg look like a forest of trees in a strong wind, initially swaying all over the place. Yet, with practice and technique, balance improves in a matter of weeks. The key? Learn how to improve balance, then practice.

Anytime you need to stand on one leg, or need to have better balance when standing on both legs, here's what to do. Relax onto the supporting leg(s). Bend your supporting knee(s) a little more, then feel all the weight sink onto the foot, drop the shoulders and relax the abdomen (thereby lowering your center of gravity). Then take a breath as deep as it will go into your lungs, so it actually feels like you are breathing into your abdomen. And keep breathing this way. Soon you feel rooted, solid and connected with the ground.

Better balance comes with PRACTICE. Everyday. It will not get better by wishing it so. Tai Chi for Busy People (and/or) 4 Minute Fitness teaches effective and easy balance exercises. (add URLS).

Ever find yourself juggling your life, feeling out of balance? First thing you need to do to regain a healthy perspective is to become grounded. Stand on both legs and begin taking deep breaths. Breath deeply and fully, focusing only on the inhale and exhale. Nothing else matters. This is a perfect time to do a little tai chi or yoga. It seems that people who improve physical balance find an improvement in life balance. Interesting...

Perspective is needed to help you determine what is actually important in your life. Take a few moments to determine the most important parts of your life - your relationship, your family, your own mental, physical and spiritual health - and commit to attending to those first!

Determine what is least important (many phone calls, junk mail, other peoples' drama, many TV programs and junk novels) and reduce those significantly. I found the book First Things First by Steven Covey very helpful. Especially his powerful question How many people on their death beds wished they had spent more time in the office?

Daily practice of 4 Minute Fitness (and/or) Tai Chi for Busy People helps immeasurably with finding life balance. Both these videos incorporate much of what tai chi, chi kung, yoga and meditation have to offer. Check out the following link  for more information on the concept of easily introducing just a few minutes of profound movement into your life each day.

 


1. Each day, spend some time alone. Time in prayer, meditation, yoga or tai chi. Time just sitting. Not reading, knitting, watching TV, talking, scratching, or sleeping. Just sitting. Not even thinking. Thoughts will of course try to invade. That's fine, but let them drift away, like clouds floating across the sky.

This process will awaken you to the frenetic, constant, repetitive activity of the mind. The constant pressure to be elsewhere with the assumption that something more needs to happen so you can be "happy". The first step is the recognition of this process on a regular basis. The next step is to continue spending time alone, in prayer, meditation, yoga, tai chi...

2. Each day, find something simple in your life that is beautiful, interesting, wondrous or amazing. Like a spider web. Or a flower. Or the sun reflecting off a colorful bird. Or a sunset. Maybe the moon. Or a smile. You get the picture. Living in appreciation makes every day better, and there is always something to appreciate.

3. Each day, decide to listen completely in every conversation. Without second guessing the content you are expecting from the other person. Without finishing the sentences for him/her. Without already preparing your rebuttal to the anticipated conversation. Just listen. Listening is a rare skill these days. It takes practice, and is enhanced considerably by having a quiet, still mind.

4. Quit fighting "what is". Whatever is happening in the present moment is happening, whether or not you like it. It is as it is for now, so increase your level of contentment by accepting each moment as if you have chosen it. Of course you can take actions to improve your life, but you can't change the present moment because it already is... 

Mental stillness, discovering the profound in everyday life and living in the moment are very elusive experiences for most people. We put so much value on doing, on accomplishment, and so little on being. One of my favorite cartoons showed two cigar smoking, pinstriped executives in discussion. One lamented that "maybe true happiness comes AFTER the first $700 million".

Tai Chi for Busy People and 4 Minute Fitness teach methods designed to help you become present. Both offer vital principles taken from tai chi, chi kung, yoga and meditation, as well as a powerful sense of body awareness and energy (chi) development. Just a few minutes a day. That's it...

They say that it is wisdom to know others, but it is enlightenment to know oneself. Take a few moments each day to get to know yourself.

 

The Audio/ Video Package - Comments

   "Keith, love your tai chi tape. You are such a good instructor, you make the learning process easy to understand and easier to learn... correctly, that is. You are a great source of inspiration and motivation. God bless."
   
L. Gibson, October, 2001

   Re: Tai Chi for Busy People. "I have more energy than usual, I'm able to focus on things easier than before and my friends are jealous of me. I try to practice at least a few minutes a day. It's not really boring, it's fun!"
     S. Laney (teenage practitioner), Georgia, September, 2001

   "I have both your videos and weight loss CD and enjoy them constantly. The concepts have made a great difference in my life.
I find that I feel so much better physically and mentally."
     E. D., Georgia, September, 2001

   "I follow the video precisely. I go through the routine 3-4 times right after I get up every morning and sometimes before I go to bed. I feel much better, I'm more flexible, my body is becoming stronger (I don't understand why) and I'm much more aware of my surroundings."
     L. Schlabach, Ohio, September, 2001

   "The tapes are just great, informative and easy to follow, and very well thought out."
     C. Capili, Hawaii, August, 2001

   "The tai chi is going well and helping. My balance is noticeably better and the leg muscles are more toned. Thank you for your excellent tape."
     P. Ambroziak, Ontario, July, 2001

   "You've done an excellent job on the tape - by far the best beginning Tai Chi tape I've ever seen. I can't say enough good things about it. You've done an excellent job in covering the basics in a straight forward manner and I like your combination of humor and insight."
   
A. Simon, Cloudwater Tai Chi, June, 2001

   "I had studied tai chi from a very old Chinese man in Chicago years ago, 1979 for about 6 months. Your video brings back some of the good body feelings of that earlier time.

Just wanted to drop you a note to tell you how much I enjoy your tai chi tape and to say it is a pleasure to 'meet you'. so to speak. Your enjoyable personality comes through and adds to the learning"
     J. Obrien, California, June, 2001

   "I purchased your tai chi tape over a year ago and have been practicing it at least five times a week. I just love the ease and portability of your system. I feel much more relaxed than before and do sleep much better. I have not had an anxiety attack since practicing Easy Tai Chi"
     R. Simond, June, 2001

   "I currently use your instructional Tai Chi video at home to keep myself focused and in shape. (Your tape) promotes an improved sense of well being and awareness."
     M. Smith, Scotland, June, 2001

   "Keith, I really have enjoyed your tai chi video. I think I was one of the first to buy it.   (He was the first!)
I was stuck at the New Orleans airport late one night after a tough day. I stepped to the side of the concourse and started doing Easy Tai Chi. I was relaxing and meditating as I slowly moved and breathed. A small crowd gathered to watch a business exec in a suit doing this bizarre movement... but it was great for me :)."
     K. Woody, Ohio, June, 2001

   "I am a semi-retired nutritionist/Naturopath. Needless to say, I have been exposed to many modalities, products and have studied with many masters.
The tape is outstanding in your presentation. Simple, meaningful and a credit to the depth of your knowledge and techniques.
You are making a profound contribution to self awareness and application.
     C.B, Arizona, May, 2001"

     "I've tried many different tai chi tapes and was always disappointed with the lack of technical detail. I've taken several tai chi and qi gong classes and was searching for a tape that gave me that same feeling of being in class with an instructor clearly demonstrating the moves. With your tai chi video, my search is over. I really appreciate the audiotape that accompanies the video as I really enjoy doing tai chi outdoors."
     P. Lieberman, Arizona, April, 2001

     "Your video is fabulous. It's clear, inspiring and funny - excellent! I feel happy, healthy, vibrant, positive and empowered when I do these exercises"
     C. Hillstrom, Vancouver, BC, March, 2001

   "The video is really excellent... The pacing and presentation of the video seems top notch to me. Thanks!"
   
Dr. Tim Pare - Jasper, Alberta

   "I am happy to find messages of hope and stability among the simple but profound exercises in your tapes. It appears you have successfully interwoven a complementary collection of deeply beneficial exercises techniques. In this complex and rapidly changing world, it is important to have people like yourself to keep us close to what truly nourishes and heals. Thanks for the great tapes!"
     J. Munson, New York, January, 2001

   "I am one of those people who quit a tai chi class because I felt like a total klutz during class and couldn't remember the moves later to practice. Your video is a wonderful tool for beginners.
Let me say that your suggestion to practice the moves in stages, feet first, then add upper body, then breath, came as a revelation.
My teacher faced us, and I routinely confused left and right as I stumbled through movements that I couldn't remember, usually holding my breath and increasing rather than reducing my anxiety level.
Obviously, you've seen these problems occur before. I'm not the only klutz!   Thanks for making your video.  I'm enjoying it"
     L. Freeman, CT, January, 2001

   "Your video and tape instruction are excellent! I am very pleased and am promoting others to order from you.
     Waddell Robey, Dec, 2000

  "Just a note to tell you how much I have enjoyed your Tai Chi for Busy People. Many years ago I earned a 3rd degree brown belt in Kenpo karate, but as I aged I found that high impact exercises had to be left behind. Your tai chi video has been a great replacement."
     Mary Thompson, Nov. 2000

   "I practice Tai Chi (for Busy People) regularly, in fact every morning when I arise.  Your tai chi video is really first rate!
     Professor Howard Poizner, Newark, NJ     Oct. 2000