Archive for March 2009
Posted on Friday, March 13, 2009 at 8:22 PM by Sifu TW Smith the site author">Sifu TW Smith
In every physical structure, its stability, balance, and internal system is based on a solid foundation. The foundation to its peak, every piece in-between support one another. The human body is one of the most complex physical structures in the universe. Thousands of miles of nerves, vessels, intestine, and essential organs are woven into this structure.
When the structure is tilted, bent, or sagging every element is compromised. Compensation causes wear and compression leads to stagnation on every system. Let me further state that Sifu David Chin taught me more posture and framework, how it related to energy flow, effected organ health, and generated power than graduate level classes of exercise science, anatomy and physiology, and sports performance.
Consider that if we can't achieve and maintain good posture in stillnes, we have little chance to achieve it in movement.
What is good posture? Where do we begin? I have heard and read that 'good posture is simple'. I disagree with such a statement. First we must have to know what constitutes good posture. We must become aware and repeatedly take an inventory of habits. Good posture is difficult to sense due to old habits, it is deceiving because the body will transition itself to those old habits, without the mind being consciously aware.
We work everyday with people who intellectually understand the framework of good posture and work daily to position themselves into good posture. Many experiences mild soreness because the tendons and ligaments are being stretched and strengthened to get into position. Many experience levels of frustration because it isn't simple to maintain good posture. However, once a student has taken 90 consecutive days to achieve and maintain good posture, they become very aware of when their posture is unbalanced.
Lets use myself as an example. As a young man, I spent 13 years in the athletes 'ready position'. As a college football linebacker the ready position was burned into my system. Changing this posture took years to retrain and I continue to have to be aware of stealth creep into old habits. For the first year, Sifu Chin would walk by while I was practicing in my standing meditation, slap me on the fanny (to brings hips under slights) and put his finger on my chin (the dreaded 'head up' posture).
With consistent work I was able to retrain my body and mind to move into good posture. It took much more training to understand what the old kungfu classics stated, "When a student has congestion in movement, 70% of the time, the problem is in the waist and below". The foundation of our framework represents 70% of our ability to comfortably move our energy and bodies, and we haven't lifted a finger yet.
During standing meditation, we see students go through a variety of 'torquing'. We see twisting, swaying, leaning, drifting, tilting and all the compensation that goes with it. The student will confidently and calmly feel they are in good posture, until it is pointed out.
We start every student in achieving good posture, in both stillness and motion such as tai chi. We start with the feet and go through:
- Body Alignment in space
- Joint opening and stacking
- The whole body as a single unit
- Then balance in each direction
- Relax excessive tension
- Relax the organs
- Learn how to do a 'Body Scan'
- Address individual issues, scars, injuries, and other physical concerns
Posted on Monday, March 02, 2009 at 5:14 PM by Sifu TW Smith the site author">Sifu TW Smith
Cortisol is a hormone, that is very important to human function. The adrenal glands secrete cortisol and part of the endocrine system. Anatomically the adrenals sit on top our kidneys. A main effect of cortisol is to reduce the reserves of protein in all body cells except cells of the liver and gastrointestinal tract. It also makes fatty acids available for metabolic use. Cortisol is referred to as the 'stress hormone' because it is released with prolonged or intense stress.
Cortisol is involved with the following systems:
- Immune Function
- Regulate Blood Pressure
- Glucose Metabolism
- Insulin Release
- Inflammation Responses
Cortisol is present at higher levels in the mornings and lower levels at night in most healthy adults. The 'stress hormone' cortisol is released with stress and 'fight or flight' situations. The yin and yang properties of cortisol have been and are continuing to be studied. For example, low gentle release of cortisol has positive effects of:
- Quick Energy Burst
- Improved memory function
- Less Sensitivity to Pain
- Burst of increased immunity
With chronic higher levels, the negative effects of:
- Blood Sugar imbalance
- Decrease in bone density
- Decrease in muscle tissue
- Higher Blood pressure
- Decrease immunity strength
Recently at UCLA, in the Journal of Brain, Behavior and Immunity the study 'The Mechanism Behind Mind-Body Connection' was published in the May Issue. In the study they reported that all living cells have a clock called a 'telomere'. Each time the cell divides the telomere gets shorter. Having many cells with short telomere (short clocks, thus dividing and dying rapidly), has been scientifically linked to diseases such as:
- Heart Disease
- Of course, AGING
Our immune system cells, has a special enzyme built into the cell, it is called 'telomerase'. Telomerase acts on the telomere keeping the 'cell clock' long. This keeps the immune system cells young by preserving their time clock and ability to divide. How does cortisol tie into this study? Cortisol prevents our immune system cells to activiate telemerase, so the immune system begins aging, weakening, and dying like other cells. People who do not manage their stress through relaxation, meditation, prayer, breathing and other techniques have shorter telomeres on their immune system cells.
In this photograph, you can see the chromosones of an immune system cell, the chromosone is colored blue. The yellow cap on the ends is the the telomere.
This Mind Body Study shows the link between the power of your mind, to manage and reduce your stress, learning to relax and let go, as compared to those who do not. It explains why people who are under stress gets sick more often, with a variety of health care problems.
Every student with us at Tibetan Kung Fu and Tai Chi Chuan is taught and encouraged to practice calming the Heart - Mind (Yi). We know through personal experiences that the benefit of calming the mind, soothing the heart, and smoothing our chi is beneficial for ourselves and those we are around. If you want to read further how Cortisol is reduced through meditation.Edited on: Thursday, July 03, 2014 12:53 PM
Posted on Sunday, March 01, 2009 at 7:15 PM by Sifu TW Smith the site author">Sifu TW Smith
Cortisol levels reduced with meditation.
Department of Anatomy and Physiology, under the Faculty of Medicine studied 82 males ages 20-25 years for the responses of Buddhist Meditation. 52 subjects participated in meditation, while 30 served in a control group. It was found that after meditation, serum cortisol levels were significantly reduced, serum total protein level significantly increased, and systolic pressure, diastolic pressure and pulse rate significantly reduced.
When we are at high stress levels as a result of life events, lifestyle, or whatever our stressors are, the cortisol levels rise, and with these increased levels abdominal fat increases. Having a lot of abdominal fat has been revealed by doctors to be a contributing factor to heart disease and other illnesses including high blood pressure, and impaired cognitive functions to name a few. You can read further on how meditation effects stress and cortisol levels here.
Meditation assisted another group to reduce cortisol levels as compared to a control group. Read Renin and Cortisol levels during Meditation here.
Meditation is recommended by a growing number of physicians. Meditation is gaining mainstream acceptance as a beneficial preventative health program. It is one of the better studied alternative therapies and has been shown to provide a wide range of health benefits.
More and more doctors are recommending meditation as an effective stress buster and useful support for patients with many types of chronic and acute conditions.
The effectiveness of meditation comes from the fact that you can achieve a state of deep relaxation in just a few minutes. When you settle down into a state of deep relaxation, the body and mind are refreshed and revitalized. This gives you many good effects that are both immediate and long lasting. Meditation recommended by health practiticioners report.
How long does it take for the forms of meditation to start having effect? In August 2006, the University of Westminister studied 57 people. 31 in the meditation (meditation intervention) group and 26 in the control group. The meditation intervention group attended 1 class per week for an hour, and was given a CD to practice at home. In the beginning their was no significant differences between these 57 individuals and two groups. Within 5 short weeks, the meditation intervention group had significantly improved reducing cortisol levels as compared to their peers in the control group. This study demonstrating Meditation can improve cortisol levels was published for your review.
With our meditation training we use the basis of Taoist Healing, Taoist Imagery, Heart - Mind Calming, Mind Scenes, Buddhist Mind Training, Contemplation, Emotional Energy Balancing, Chi Cultivation, and many more original forms of getting the Yi (heart-mind) together. In our culture, these meditation techniques are often given new names to emphasize some type of original work, for example, kinesthetic meditation is simply using our bodies and space to draw the mind back in (breathing exercises, being part of the environment, etc). We do this with each every practice, but it is the foundation we build our training.
If you want to read more on the sciences of howCortisol | Power of Mind | Target Body
"If you want to train Yi (heart-mind), you must calm Yi first. Power of the mind (great knowledge, deep understanding, contemplative) is at best random, if it is not harnessed and channelled."Edited on: Thursday, July 03, 2014 12:52 PM
Posted in Mindfulness - Attention