It is the end of the year and the time to reflect on what we have done and what we want to work on in 2017.
We have had a good year in 2016: providing quality service to participants from New York, the US, and other countries through classes, seminars and teacher training at the Center, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, and through collaborations with Kripalu, Esalen, and Canyon Ranch. It is rewarding to think about how many peoples' lives our work is touching. I would also like to congratulate Dr. Karen Caldwell on her research and publication this year on the benefits of taiji/qigong for anxiety and sleep in younger adults, as reported in the article by Patrick Dillon and Matthew Komelski in this newsletter.
I truly believe, as one school of Chinese philosophy holds, that human beings are born innately kind. This is why we feel happy when we extend kindness to others. Sharing the art of Taiji and Qigong with the general public, enhancing their wellbeing, is how we extend our kindness in the world. So, we are happy with the work the center has done in 2016.
Enjoying sincere positive feedback from participants, I do feel rewarded. And at the same time, their kind words also inspire a sense of urgency: how can we touch more people who can similarly benefit from this art?
Reaching this goal requires focusing our precious energy on our work. We must waste zero energy on that which we cannot change.
Those reading this note are probably like-minded, hard working people wanting to do good in the world. In order to do something good for others, we must all maintain our health and cultivate our energy. Equally important is channeling our precious energy toward our life-purposes. One goal is to spend minimum, if not zero energy complaining. Instead we need to concentrate our energy on well-conceived, right actions we can accomplish.
Mastering these skills is part of our lifelong practice.
We cannot end our new year reflection without touching on the recent election. This year’s presidential election has impacted many people. As reported by the American Psychological Association, 52% of Americans of both parties are experiencing high levels of stress related to the election.
We should not blame an election for the stress. Actually, we should welcome this opportunity, or call it a gift life presents to us. It is a chance to improve our ability for dealing with challenges in daily life.
Chinese philosophy can help us become effective in this regard. Zhuang Zi (370-287 BC) said, "the mind of a perfect man is like a mirror, it does not move with things, nor does it anticipate them. It responds to things but does not retain them. Therefore, he can deal successfully with things but not be affected by them."
We can train our minds to focus on the positives of our present reality, letting go of our feelings about the election results, regardless of whether Trump was your candidate. Elections come and go, but the challenges in our daily lives will always be there. Every challenge presents an opportunity to become a more peaceful, effective, happier, stronger and useful person in society.
Training our minds to be more like a mirror will allow emotions triggered by the reflection of an election (or other past events) pass by in the mirror. That will, in turn, allow us to channel precious energy towards extending kindness to the world.
We have to be honest and real with ourselves: it is not easy to extend our kindness whgile meeting challenges in our daily life. The challenges are essentially the opportunities to improve ourselves. With the right practice in understanding reality better and in masteringt a few principles to interact with reality, we will be able to live a tranquil, happy, productive, and meaningful life.
Don't forget, be kind to yourself and stay healthy: it is the starting point and foundation for our journey.
We do feel blessed for having the opportunity to share our healing and nurturing art with the world. And we can all look forward to working together while contributing something meaningful to others in the New Year.
All photos courtesty David Gilmore