Monday, December 28, 2009

Save the Amur Tiger

For those that are looking for a worth cause to donate to by the end of 2009 please consider, The Year of the Tiger - Save the Amur Tiger.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Elizabeth Wenscott - Annual Newsletter 2009

  • A Year In Retrospect
  • What The Teachers Have To Say (not included in the post, see 9 additional post below)
    Sas Stark, Christopher Zalek, Dan Menzel, Tracy Von Kaenel, Don Tomei,
    Sharon Fierro, Christine Wallers, Kipling Swehla, and Lisa Hish
  • What Is Next? What Needs To Be Done? How Can You Help.
  • Thank You's 2009
  • Final Notes

A Year in Retrospect

I can undoubtedly say that 2009 has been a doozy of a year! We can congratulate ourselves for electing this country’s first Black President! In addition we inherited a long-brewing and now boiling over economic crisis, a global climate crisis, and a health care crisis. Finally, we have the mass fear of the swine flu pandemic, and if you sail the oceans... pirates!

And, no, we cannot blame any of these on the Year of the Ox! The Ox is about commitment, hard work and perseverance no matter the ease or difficulty; something that all of us can relate to.

So how has the above affected TC3? Well for one we managed to keep our doors open, something that many small businesses like TC3 were unable to do in this economic atmosphere. The global climate crisis inspired us to create an environmental arm at the school. And the health care crisis will ensure that people will need to reprioritize how they care for their health by taking control of it themselves, choosing preventive forms of care such as Tai Chi, Qigong and Yoga. So, all in all, this difficult year, I hope, will result in a much needed change for the future. And, with all of you, TC3 plans to be a part of those changes.

Below is a list of what we accomplished over the 2009 year, and in spite of all the fear and uncertainty, I would say, WE KICKED ASS!!!

    The school participated in 3 global events:
     World Tai Chi & Qigong Day (everyone) watch video
     Carbon Day (Tomei & Wenscott) (Wenscott, Benjamin, Manesky, Tomei, Swehla, Yee, Zalek) watch video
    We sponsored and/or participated in specialty lectures, seminars and special events:
     Ravenswood ArtWalk for the 3rd consecutive year (everyone)
     Qigong Open House - For The Alternative Healthcare Provider (Tomei)
     St. Ben’s Garden Club - Sustainable Gardening (Hish & Wenscott)
     Lane Tech High School, Chinese Language Class - Tai Chi & Taoism (Wenscott)
     Chinese New Year Celebration - The Ox Year (everyone)
     Women's Self Defense (45 women within the 47th Ward) (Wenscott, Stark, Zalek, Menzel)
     Think Peace Take Action - Movement Heals (Stark)
     Dr. Aihan Kuhn, Master, Chinese Medicine for Health, Boston, MA (Tomei, Fierro, Wenscott)
    Two new teachers were recognized:
     Dan Menzel - Tai Chi
     Sharon Fierro - Qigong
    The school received upgrades:
     A fresh coat of paint
     A new rain barrel (the previous one blew up!)
     5.1 Surround Sound speaker system!!!
    A new program was developed:
     Environmental Arm - Sustainable Return
Peace in the Tao,


What is Next? What Needs to be Done? How Can You Help.
    1) If you were a student and for whatever reasons had to take a leave... well we miss you! Come on back!

    2) The Tai Chi Program, the Qigong Program, the Meditation Program, and the Yoga Program could use your support. You can help these programs by telling everyone what you know about them. You can also place our beautiful postcards anywhere you can think of (we have 5,000 of each!).

    3) You can also make or or your browsers HOME PAGE so that each time you open your internet browser you accumulate a visit for our websites, which will move them closer to the top of the page in future searches.

    4) Stay in contact with the school by “friending” us on Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Myspace and this blog!!!

    If you want to share your love of Tai Chi, Qigong or Yoga consider buying a gift certificate. Some programs may offer you a discount based on your purchase. Also, if you want to gift a single class of Tai Chi or Qigong ask one of the intructors for a “free” try one class pass.

    Example: If you are in the Tai Chi Program, also join the Qigong Program. If you are in the Qigong Program, also join the Meditation Program etc. For just $30.00 a month more you can increase your training by participating in two programs. For just $50.00 a month more you can get it ALL and reach enlightenment that much quicker! Think of how many more classes will become available to you! (Initiation fee for the Meditation Program not included).

    The beauty of purchasing practice time is that it allows students to practice privately in a suitable space that they would otherwise not be able to afford.

    As you know practicing sword in your living room ain’t that great, and practicing out in our parks is not that private; it can often end with numerous interruptions: "where did you learn that," conversation, or some punk yelling "Hiiiiii-ya!, I can kick your ass."

    If you are interested in repurchasing practice time, or purchasing it for the first time, please contact me. And yes, you can share your scheduled time!

    The Tai Chi Center of Chicago has been activity looking for two more programs to join us (or sublets). If you know of anyone that is looking for space on a regular bases, send them my way.

    If you are able to make a financial donation, the school would gladly accept. If you are able to make a time donation, the school would gladly accept. Together and keep alive our beautiful oasis for ourselves and for our community.

Thank You's 2009

I would like to thank the following students and friends for their generous help and timeliness:
    All the teachers and assistant teacher, without you there would just be me.

    Steven Leavitt, Kipling Swehla, Christine Wallers, Stephen Walker for fulfilling another great year of art and music for the Ravenswood ArtWalk.

    Paul McEntee, CPA extraodinare.

    Sas Stark, for making everything in print look pretty.

    Don Tomei, for making everything sound pretty.

    Robin Manesky, for donating the 5.1 Theater Surround sound system.

    Ben Liberman, for installing the 5.1 Theater Surround sound system.

    Don Tomei and Dan Menzel, the men of the school! Whatever I can’t do these two sure can.

    Lisa Hish, for keeping me on my toes.

Finally, a thanks to all the Founding Members, for without you I wouldn't have a reason to thank any of the people above! So thank you!

Final Note

I would like to welcome the following future
Tai Chi’ist to the world!
Matthew Elijah Azuma Anyah (Eli for short)

Sas Stark - Newsletter 2009

Time Out

Over the last year I have learned to love the words, “Time Out”. To me these words define the time I allow my mind and body to step back from the maddening fast forward progress of life and pause to observe and reflect. My time outs happen daily, weekly, monthly, really any time I get the chance to become more present and to align with my world.

I have seen the Tai Chi Center of Chicago grow and stretch this last year, deepening its roots in the vibrant Ravenswood neighborhood, as well as stretching out with a sense of community to students both new and old. Offering this bond of Tai Chi family to all, the school’s serine and peaceful atmosphere has given many the opportunity to experience their own “Time Out”. The benefits those moments of clarity and understanding provide us are what I cherish most about our school.

Last years growth in our internal and external community has lead me to believe more will be in store for the coming twelve months. I look forward to something like to a community feedback loop taking shape, a space that builds by giving and receiving. And yes, I also look forward to more of the intermediate and advanced students gaining the knowledge and passion for Tai Chi weapons - Yeah, rock on!

And beyond that - I would welcome everyone embracing my new Tai Chi Center Chicago motto, developed by CZ and I while training with Sifu Elizabeth Wenscott, “TCCC - all practice all the time!”

Christopher Zalek - Newsletter 2009

Tai Chi Program

It certainly has been a great year for the Tai Chi Center of Chicago. Some of the milestone highlights included our continued involvement in the Ravenswood ArtWalk, featuring demonstrations and a fantastic display of student artwork. This was also the first year taking part in celebrating World Tai Chi & Qigong Day here in Chicago.

I’m really impressed with the growth and progress of the students themselves. As both student at the school and a teacher of one of the introductory classes, I have the opportunity to observe them learning each week. The questions we are hearing from the ongoing (and beginning!) students is a clear indication of their internal growth; the support they give by continuing their investigation in the introductory classes reinforces the foundation of the school as well.

Next year should prove to be very exciting as well. Not only do I expect to see more new faces every month, but I also look forward to the ongoing students exploring their practice by learning new forms. 2010 shall be a very good year, indeed.

Dan Menzel - Newsletter 2009

When is The Best Time to Practice Tai Chi?

Having been prompted to teach tai chi this year at The Tai Chi Center of Chicago has opened many gates for me to pass through. I will try to offer a few of my insights into this side of it. Perhaps "side of it" is a poor choice of words, as "the whole" of our Tai Chi training grows with each step we take. I have found it to be true, that teaching forces one to look upon each posture; with a keener sense of the intent, through our focus of the foundations that Elizabeth continually instills within us.

As for myself, I find it my duty and it is my honor to have the opportunity to offer what I have come to understand about this beautiful way of life. I have also found that there is so much to learn through the eyes of the student. There are so many differnt ways to look upon the same thing, that I find I am constantly challenged by the answers themselves. I am forced to investigate what may be a hurdle for one of the students, identify it and help with the proper corrections to their form. In doing this, the recommendations I offer the students, have a direct correlation to my own form, thus making me a better Tai Chi practitioner as well. Full circle! as they say. This gift that has been offered to me, I am pleased to be allowed the chance to help others find their own path through education and social graces. A very fine thing indeed!

As far as my personal training in 2009:
In 2008 I had decided to bear all my focus on refining what I had learned so far, and the only way to do that was to step up the amount of time I would practice as well as spend as much time as I possibly could at the school. I immediately took full advantage of Tai Chi Center of Chicago's full curriculum including the beginning classes, the ongoing class, intermediate classes and of course some private direction as well, and whatever seminars that Elizabeth is/was offering.

Although I had been trained previously with some of the same weapons forms or martial styles, I found the refresher courses, well, for the sake of redundancy, I found them refreshing! One can never know too much about our own paths, can we?. This schedule of mine has rolled into 2009 as well and during this year I have noticed a marked improvement in my form as well as in my general physical fitness.

The nagging question I suppose for most everyone is "time". Which brings me to this question that I hope each of us must seriously ponder from time to time. When is the best time to practice Tai Chi? How does one find the time? Sure, all one needs is a pair of flat bottomed shoes and a will to move forward, but this hustle and bustle lifestyle we lead in order to tend to our families and the whole "bringing home the bacon bits". The answer may be closer and easier than we all thought. Time, that darn time! The answer may be as simple as 1-2-3. Time, pesky time! Perhaps a closer study of The Tai Chi Center of Chicago (TCC) website may have the answer,'s right inside of you....perhaps its...about time to investigate.

Tracy Von Kaenel - Newsletter 2009

Yoga With Tracy Von Kaenel

What a wonderful year of yoga we have had at the Tai Chi Center of Chicago. This year felt as if we really inhabited the space with full energy and vibration. There were some new and wonderful happenings in the Yoga program. Some of the highlights include:

    1) The New Year brought several new students, each one wowed by the beauty of the space and the positive teachings going on there.

    2) The summer schedule expanded to include many specialty classes which students enjoyed greatly. Some of those included Sensory Practice (blindfolded), Gong Bath (a vibrational shift of awareness), Exploring the Chakras (an introduction to the role the energy centers of the body play), and Inversion Focus (looking at the world upside down), Partner Yoga (so much fun to share) plus many, many more. All the students who sampled these classes came away with fresh perspectives and a renewed sense of openness about their practice.

    3) This year we had our first Yoga Dance/Yoga Discussion/Yoga Potluck. We sweated through a free form style of yoga and dance that loosened up our bodies and minds, then calmed down with a philosophical discussion about yoga, and finished with a scrumptious vegetarian pot luck dinner. It was a wonderful evening.

    4) New on the schedule this year was Private Yoga Lessons... including Yogassage (a soothing, therapeutic form of passive stretching) Several students took advantage of these valuable one on one lessons.

    5) At this years Ravenswood Arts Walk, myself and the yoga students put on an impressive yoga demo that really inspired the viewing public. Everyone did such a wonderful job and had a great time.

The progress of the dedicated students has been amazing. I have seen so much more connection to the physical body and a deeper awareness of spirit. In some way, every student has made significant strides in their practice.

Looking to the future I hope to continue to bring the joy of Yoga to even more students, and further the depth of those continuing their path. We will once again have thought provoking, challenging and fun specialty classes in the summer, and another Yoga Dance Party. Also on the queue for next year is the making of a Yoga DVD, which I hope some of my students will participate in. I look forward to a great year of Yoga in 2010.

Tracy Von Kaenel

Don Tomei - Newsletter 2009

Wellness Qigong Program Director

2010 will begin my fourth year of teaching qigong at the Tai Chi Center of Chicago. I’ve now had three years to explore and experience this profound and elusive art, and that, on top of my 15 years of tai chi, seems to me like a good beginning. Hopefully, in another 5-10 years, I’ll have it figured out. They weren’t kidding when they called it “gong.” It takes commitment; it takes time; it takes focus. And it takes a willingness to suspend your sense of “reality” and immerse yourself in your own energy.

An ancient text called “The Jade Pendant Inscription on Qigong” states: In promoting and consolidating chi, depth promises storage; storage promises extension; extension promises descent; descent promises stability; stability promises solidity; solidity promises germination; germination promises growth; growth promises retreat; retreat leads to heaven. Heavenly qi functions from above; earthly qi functions from below. Conformity to this leads to life while adverseness to this leads to death.

So there it is for me in a nutshell:

Depth → Storage → Extension → Descent → Stability → Solidity → Germination → Growth → Retreat → Heaven.

Heaven above; earth below.
Life or death, your choice.

And all you have to do is practice every day with focus and a sense of purpose.

Simple enough. I choose life.

And so, another year of teaching and practicing Qigong.

Health, happiness and long life to you all.

Sharon Fierro - Newsletter 2009

Wellness Qigong

In the fall of 2008, The Tai Chi Center added a Saturday morning qigong class to the schedule. Elizabeth and Don offered me this wonderful opportunity and their support. This event launched my qigong teaching career. It was not the first time I found myself in the role of teacher, mentor, coach and guide. As a university faculty member and in my corporate finance career, I had fulfilled this role for many years. However, never had I been required to fully and creatively express myself in so many ways in subjects and areas so very new to me. Quickly, I realized the challenges and joys of self expression and communication with movement, words and heart in an extraordinarily open way.

Motivated by the beauty and health benefits of eastern exercise practices and this challenging teaching responsibility, I simultaneously began six months of intensive study to become certified as a personal trainer. My goal was to have an educational and practical foundation in western exercise science and nutrition to support my qigong practice/teaching and to provide custom-designed fitness programs to clients based on their health and mind/body fitness needs. I believe the qigong class experience for my students was enhanced, as the breadth and depth of my knowledge expanded and my teaching skills improved.

We have a core group of 5 committed students who have been practicing Qigong on Saturday mornings for the last year. It has been my great privilege and pleasure to see the progression of their individual and group practice. I am touched, moved and inspired by their commitment to this practice. Over the last few months, we have 5 or so new students who have also embraced the practice. Our core group welcomed the expansion of our community by extending their kindness and the generosity of spirit that is inherent in the qigong practice. Together, we are building a peaceful, healthy community, with ties to the overall Tai Chi center community, based on mutual caring, trust and respect. Internally, we have seen ourselves in each other as both students and teachers with our fears, strengths and weaknesses revealed, faced and accepted. Our separateness is dissolving as we are present to one another and as we learn, grow, heal and practice these ancient healing arts together.

In the late spring of 2009, I began to study Tai Chi. After months of resistance, a trusted moment of listening and an open heart revealed the possibilities. Are these teachings proving to be a path to truth and my life’s purpose? Is this form of self-expression and this supportive environment allowing me to be vulnerable, let go, be humble, accept, find compassion and rediscover my true nature? Am I finding my voice, creativity, passion and courage? I am challenged on so many levels; however, experiencing personal growth and feeling inspired to action, compels me to continue. I am just now beginning to feel the positive impact of this practice on my deeper understanding of myself, my relationships and my teaching of qigong.

In the fall of 2009, we sponsored Qigong workshops with Dr. Aihan Kuhn, CMD and Tai Chi and Qigong Master. The events were open to the public, as well as current qigong, tai chi and yoga students. Many of us attended the 8 Brocade Qigong workshop in anticipation of offering classes in this new form in the future. The weekend proved to be successful in building awareness and providing further education and training to The Tai Chi center teachers and students.

Looking forward to 2010, I hope to continue to foster a peaceful/healing class and personal practice. My goal, in concert with Don and Elizabeth, is to contribute significantly to the enhancement and expansion of the qigong class offerings/program. My intent is to build awareness in our community of the many benefits of the practice of qigong and tai chi through as many avenues as practical. By reaching out through the Tai Chi Center, The Tai Chi and Qigong Healing Institute and my Mindful Body Conditioning practice, I hope to expand the number of people we serve. With careful listening and attention to the voices and needs of our community, I will focus on more formal methods of information sharing and communication. Continuing education in both eastern and western exercise, wellness and spiritual practices will continue to serve as a cornerstone of my life. I look forward to sharing, giving and receiving the gifts of qigong and tai chi, while keeping a smile in my heart.

Christine Wallers - Newsletter 2009

Artist in Residence

This year for me has been about loss and being brave in the face of it. I've stood before walls movable and immovable. I have stood before walls that have collapsed...and walls impenetrable, conquering neither. At the end of this very long year I have learned what is left once I've tired of using all this force is to let go.
    Above: 4,000 (3,000 short of completion) lines of filament nearly pull the east wall down. A years worth of work and all had to be cut down. Below: 1,000 lines, what the wall could take.

Kipling Swehla - Newsletter 2009

Meditation Program

I have a confession. The first groggily mumbled words out of my mouth every sunday morning are, "I don't feel like going to meditation today…" It's become an on going joke because it's always followed a couple hours later by my proclamation, "WOW do I feel great! I'm so glad I went to meditation." and my girlfriend gives me her weekly response of an eye roll.

I know, as Eastern religions have known for thousands of years, that meditation energizes and invigorates the body and mind, but it seems that recently the media has come to the same conclusion through interviews with Western scientists and medical experts who use clinical studies and scientific research to offer logical explanations to validate a hypothesis that meditation is beneficial.

One recent interview with a psychologist described meditation as the leading approach in psycho therapy because there is a connection between emotions and breathing patterns. The Fight or Flight response is physiologically triggered by rapid shallow breaths. This is an innate message to the brain to prep the body for imminent danger which when you live in a densely populated urban environment can be problematic. Anxiety and anger are just as contagious subliminally as a yawn, but through routinely practiced meditation, you become aware of your breath, your consciousness, and your environment and are able to respond appropriately to situations.

In an interview with Dorris Taylor on NPR's Speaking of Faith, after discussing the endless possibilities and profound benefits of stem cells, she discussed studies which show that meditation actually increases the number of stem cells in your body. This evidence implies that through meditation, you can reverse the aging process. I can just hear Lao Tsu's response, "You don't say…"

During meditation, I find it usually takes me about 15 to 20 minutes for my mind to get fully settled in. Doing Tai Chi prior to sitting is the perfect primer and allows for the full 40 minutes of meditation to be an optimal experience. I look forward to practicing the Tai Chi form twice through prior to meditation beginning this sunday.

Lisa Hish - Newsletter 2009

Health & Sustainable Lifestyle

This was a quiet year for the health department at the school.

We discontinued both the monthly health class on seasonal living and physical care as well as the 5 element review included during most of Elizabeth’s seminars. We found that people are overwhelmed with scheduling obligations as the result of the changing economy. Even though there was no charge for this class for ongoing students, students’ schedules seemed full and attendance dropped. We will reinstitute this class when there is once again a demand.

Because the Health portion of the Sustainable Lifestyle was temporarily put on hold, this allowed us to focus our efforts elsewhere, and a new department was formed. We created an environmental arm to the school, which can be found under Sustainable Return on the website, divided into four categories: Water, Air, Land, and Lifestyle. It has a dual function of increasing awareness and creating a format for Tai Chi and Qigong students to jointly volunteer for environmental causes in the name of the school.

We formed a volunteer group of four in Chicago: Sas, Elizabeth, Christine and myself. In addition, we now have Rob Wittig as our Minnesota branch! Sas recently volunteered at the Alliance for the Great Lakes. For those of you who don’t know, water shortages will be one of our biggest concerns in the near future.

B.T.W. Elizabeth say's that the rain barrel went two weeks empty due to the lack of rainfall!

Elizabeth and 6 other Tai Chi’ers did a short video called 350 Breaths for, an organization focused on bringing awareness to global warming and the amount of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere, which is currently at 387ppm. 350ppm is what we need to return to in order to arrest global warming. That video was then re- posted on the website on October 24, 2009 as part of the International Day of Climate Action. A day where people came together during 5200 events in 181 countries for the most widespread day of environmental action in the planet's history. It was a documented protest with the goals of raising awareness and bringing pressure on the UN Climate Negotiations in Copenhagen taking place this month.

Elizabeth and Don Tomei also had a booth at Chicago’s Carbon Day where they promoted the low environmental impact that both Tai Chi and Qigong have on our planet. A video of that day will soon become available on our YouTube page.

My major contribution for the year was an experiment in Backyard Beekeeping. The hive(s) are currently kept on Grace Street, but are officially Tai Chi Center bees and may have pollinated the flowers on the Lexie Bruce patio garden this summer (see bee trail on the website). Did you know the little buggers travel 3 miles from their hive in search of pollen?

The remaining hive of sweet, Italian honeybees has been winterized and is ready for the cold. They are wind-sheltered (between the garage wall and 7 foot fence on two sides), insulated for warmth, and have a moisture-averting device to keep them from becoming damp from their own respiration.

From what I have read, they will attempt to form a small ball o’ bees, with the outside bees slowly migrating to the center, the inside bees migrating outward, and all of them flapping their wings to maintain a core temperature of 95 degrees near the queen (think penguins).

We left all of their honey in the hive (about 80 lbs), which they will pass along from bee to bee, choosing the type of honey based upon the medicinal needs of the bees. They still have access to the outdoors to fly on warmer days, giving them the opportunity to shake off any mites or illness they may have accumulated.

So we kicked off backyard farming with the bees. Next we will consider a bat house which will then cover both the day night pollinators. I have also begun research on chickens… Names being; Agnes, Fern, Gertrude, Hazel. Check out and

Next upcoming event is a “burn” at Angelic Organics, date TBA, conducted by two Tai Chi’ers, Laurel Ross, and Stuart Goldman of the Field Museum, and coordinated by John Diversey, a Tai Chi alumnus, on his prairieland project at the farm.

Elizabeth and I gave a lecture to the St. Ben’s Garden Club in February on Sustainable Gardening. OF course, we could not color in the lines, so we expanded it into “The Greening of St. Ben’s, a Sustainable Lifestyle.” In truth the two cannot be separated.

We covered:
Pollinators: Day pollinators: bees; night pollinators: bats
Colony Collapse Disorder: The negative effects of dryer sheet use
Dark Skies: Light pollution and its negative effect on bat populations, wildlife, plant life and human health
Soil nourishment: Biodynamic, organic nourishment of the soil (instead of fertilizer use)
Pesticides and genetically engineered plants: Trees providing our oxygen needs
Global Warming: Basics including the breaking apart of the Arctic shelf
Moss: A lawn alternative that holds both moisture and topsoil
Winter sidewalk management: Sand vs. salt

We asked them to consider doing one thing differently in their gardening this year and now ask the same of you!

Be well,

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Grandmaster Hsu's new Grandson!

WLS-Ch. 7 anchor Judy Hsu gives birth on the Ike

WLS-Ch. 7 morning news anchor Judy Hsu gave birth this morning to a baby boy as she and her husband rushed to the hospital on the inbound Eisenhower Expressway, the station reported.

"We were heading down the Eisenhower," Hsu said during the station's 11 a.m. news broadcast. "At a pretty fast speed."

"I said, 'Do you need to pull over?' Judy said, 'I don't know!' " Tracy, her husband, said.

"I didn't know. I think I was in denial the whole time. I did not want to pull over on the side of the expressway. But the time came, and I knew the baby couldn't wait. I said, 'OK, I think we better pull over and call 911,' " Hsu said.

The couple's baby came into the world at about 3 a.m. near the Cicero Avenue exit. They named him Alexander James but -- fittingly -- his nickname will be "Ike."

As of this afternoon mother and baby were doing fine, according to the station.

Tracy helped his wife give birth in the front seat of the car. He said he remembered a news story about a woman who gave birth on the side of the road and her husband used his shoelaces to tie off the umbilical cord. Tracy tried that too and it worked.

Paramedics soon arrived and took them to the hospital.

"Can you believe it?" Hsu told the station. "It's so wild. It's stuff we read about in the news, and I never, ever thought would happen to me. It just went so fast. It was pretty incredible."

-- Staff report

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Ancient Daoist Guqin

Stephen C. Walker will perform Saturday 12:30-1:00pm on October 3rd., 2009 at the Tai Chi Center of Chicago as part of the Ravenswood ArtWalk. Don't miss your chance to see this ancient Guqin instrument played by an exceptionally gifted musician.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Ravenswood ArtWalk @ Tai Chi Center of Chicago

2009 Special Events - 8th Annual Ravenswood ArtWalk
October 3rd & 4t

Demonstrating Master Instructors of the Tai Chi Center of Chicago:
Elizabeth Wenscott - Tai Chi Sword, Tai Chi Knife
Chris Zalek - Tong Bei Chuan, Xing Yi, San Shou.
Sas Stark - Tong Bei Chuan, Xing Yi, San Shou
Don Tomei & Sharon Fierro - Qigong
Tracy Von Kaenel - Yoga

Exhibiting artist:
Artist in Residence, Christine Wallers - Projected Video Stills and Installations
Steven Leavitt - Painting
Kipling Swehla - Photography
Stephen C. Walker - Guqin ( ancient stringed Chinese instrument !!! )
Sangeet Gupta - Ceramics

This years schedule of events.

11:00am - 12:00pm - Tai Chi Introductory - (Participation Welcome)
12:30pm - 1:00pm - Stephen C. Walker - Guqin Musical Performance
1:15pm - 2:00pm - Qigong - Instructor Don Tomei - (Participation Welcome)
2:00pm - 3:00pm - Demonstrations lead by master instructors, along with members of the TC3
3:00pm - 6:00pm - Art Opening

11:00am - 12:00pm - School Open House - Art Viewing
12:00 - 1:00 - Yoga with Tracy Von Kaenel (details forthcoming)
3:00pm - 6:00pm - School Open House - Art Viewing

Visit for more information and to SHARE event details with family and friends.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Neigong Longevity Exercises

Over the years I have received the same "Wow this is weird," or "Geeze I never knew I held so much tension there!" from practicing the Red Dragon Waves (Tongue) the Water exercise that we do after meditation. This exercise is extremely beneficial to ones health as the tongue is connected to the heart meridian according to Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Here is a list of some of the noted benefits:
reduces sleep apnea
cervical spondylosis
reduces risk of heart disease

Our own Dr. Rossi says, "Many people develop swallowing difficulties as they age, which does cause a myriad of problems that can eventually lead to death or severely impaired quality of life. I suspect that being able to consciously control and strengthen the tongue and some of the action of swallowing probably reduces or compensates for some of the degradation of the swallowing mechanism that some older people develop."

Next up, the importance of saliva!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Attract bees to keep garden healthy

Attract bees to keep garden healthy
August 16, 2009

BY DORIS TAYLOR - Special to the Sun-Times
Even when the stock market is in the doldrums, there's a whole world of buying, selling and trading going on as close as your own yard. Here, flowering plants and pollinators trade pollen and nectar for reproduction services.

Many homeowners call the Plant Clinic at the Morton Arboretum with questions about removing pests -- like Japanese beetles or ground-nesting bees -- from their yards, but not many call asking how to attract beneficial pollinators to their yards. But we should all be thinking about that. Pollinating insects and other critters are essential to home gardeners, particularly for growing fruits and vegetables.

"If you want the best production from your plants, you need honey bees or other pollinators to visit your garden," says Charles Lorence, beekeeper at the Arboretum, who raises more than one million honey bees to make the Arboretum's honey.

A variety of insects and animals pollinate plants, including butterflies, wasps, hummingbirds and bats. But the most important pollinators are the bees, especially honey bees.

To attract honey bees, Lorence suggests including plants they love, such as purple coneflower, blazing star, milkweed and raspberry, as well as herbs such as mint, lavender, borage and comfrey. Shrubs include privet, sumac, barberry, honeysuckle and burning bush. Bees like trees, too, especially linden, crabapple, tuliptree, redbud and orchard fruit trees, such as apple, pear and cherry.

For free information about growing requirements, visit "Plant Advice" at You'll also want to provide a water source. "It can be a bird bath, a dripping faucet, or a pan full of fresh water," says Lorence.

The process works like this: Flowering plants, including many trees and shrubs, attract pollinators in any way they can, including pollen, nectar, oils, resins, and fragrances. In return, pollinators move pollen from flower to flower, so those plants can produce nuts, seeds, fruits or vegetables to ensure their reproduction.

Avoid using chemicals in your yard, including insecticides and lawn herbicides, advises Lorence. If you must use them, avoid spraying during the day when bees are foraging.

You might take it a step further and actually raise honey bees. Chicago resident Lisa Hish decided to try beekeeping this summer out of her interest in the environment. "I am a well-researched, but novice beekeeper," she says. "I have a traditional frame hive that is filled with gentle Italian honey bees. I haven't been stung yet."

Hish, director of the health program at the Tai Chi Center of Chicago, is using that hive and another "top bar" hive that doesn't produce honey to teach her students about bees' role in our environment. Hish says seven of her neighbors recently expressed interest in keeping a hive on their property that she would maintain as part of what she calls a "bee trail."

"In our neighborhood, there are lots of families with young kids who are concerned about the environment and the future we are handing down to them," says Hish.

Doris Taylor manages the Plant Clinic at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle.

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Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Perfect Pair of Tai Chi Pants

Lincoln says "these are the best tai chi pants!" If you like to sew, and would like to make yourself a custom pair of tai chi pants, email me for a request for this pattern.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Guest Instructor Dr. Aihan Kuhn

The Tai Chi Center of Chicago
4043 N. Ravenswood
Chicago, IL. 60613
Invites you attend three special events in celebration of:
Dr. Aihan Kuhn's new book
"Simple Chinese Medicine: A Beginner's Guide to Natural Healing and Well-Being."

Three ways to get a personalized copy:
Barnes & Noble in Old Orchard on Sept 12, 12:00pm
Borders at 2817 N. Clark, Chicago IL on Sept 12, 3:00pm
or order a copy online and have it signed at one of the below events!

"The Secret to Good Health & Longevity"
Presenter, Dr. Aihan Kuhn, Master
Director of Chinese Medicine for Health
Sunday, September 13, 2009 9:30 to 10:30am
Fee: Free

Dr. Kuhn will give you her lifetime experience of the secrets to good health and a stress free life. She will also explain how natural medicine works, the differences between eastern and western healing approaches, tips for cancer healing and prevention, the healing power of Chinese exercise, and a simple 5-minute daily Qi Gong routine.

Qi Gong, the Perfect Exercise for Self-Healing
Presenter, Dr. Aihan Kuhn, Master
Director of Chinese Medicine for Health
Sunday, September 13, 2009 10:45 am to 12:15 pm
Advanced Payment Fee: $25.00
At Door Fee:$35.00

Qi Gong has been used for healing and disease prevention for thousands of years. Because it is effective, it is still practiced today all around the world. This total body energy workout is becoming more and more popular and is easy and fun to learn. You will experience an overall feeling of optimum health and wellness.

The gentle body movements are a perfect exercise for all ages and ability levels and provide powerful healing results. This exercise incorporates slow body movements, choreographed whole body stretching, and correct controlled breathing. As the energy channels open up, you can feel the energy or "Qi" as it moves through your body. This moving energy and release of stagnation is the key to healing and disease prevention. It can assist in the healing of health issues, such as: heart disease, hypertension, PMS, weight problems, headache, high stress, insomnia, arthritis, Fibromyalgia, digestive problems, muscular disease, cancer and more. Other benefits include: feeling younger, improved posture, better mental focus by clearing the mind, and improved vision and hearing. It enhances daily energy levels, improves metabolism and immune function, elevates the mood and emotions, prevents memory loss, and has a calming effect that helps to promote a better outlook on life. It is a lifetime tool for self-healing for all ages.

In this workshop, you will learn:
The Basics of Qi Gong
The relationship between Qi Gong and Chinese medicine
How Qi Gong works to assist in healing
What Qi is all about and the benefits of energy medicine
The movements of a special Qi Gong exercise routine (Qi Gong for Total Body Wellness)

Call 312-505-1276 or email to reserve your spot!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Game Show at Kipling Swehla's Studio

Game show is a collection of photographs of board games and toys I played with as a child in the 60's and 70's which are part of an upcoming book title, Playbook. All of the classic games will all be available for people to play including Aggravation, Battleship, Battling Tops, Clue, Connect Four, Electic Football (the vibrating board as well as the mattel hand held), Gnip Gnop, Hungry Hippo, Kerplunk, Life, Merlin, Mousetrap, Spirograph, Stratego,Trouble and many many more.

Feel free to invite your friends, your family, and your inner child!

Kipling Swehla Studio
1336 W Ohio #1F (NW corner door at Ada and Ohio)
Chicago, IL 60642

Sunday May 3, 2009 3pm-9pm

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Which Way Does She Turn For You?

If you see this lady turning in clockwise you are using your right brain.
If you see it her tuning the other way, you are using left brain.
Some people do see both ways, but most people see it only one way.

See if you can make her go one way and then the other by shifting the brain's current.

Experimentation has shown that the two different sides or hemispheres of the brain are responsible for different manners of thinking. The following table illustrates the differences between left-brain and right-brain thinking:

Most individuals have a distinct preference for one of these styles of thinking. Some, however, are more whole-brained and equally adept at both modes. In general, schools tend to favor left-brain modes of thinking, while downplaying the right-brain activities. Left-brain scholastic subjects focus on logical thinking, analysis, and accuracy. Right-brained subjects, on the other hand, focus on aesthetics, feeling, and creativity.

If you look away, she may switch from one direction to the other.

I found that if I just look at her feet or relax and look at the floor where the reflection shows, she will switch direction!

Left Brain
Looks at parts

Right Brain
Looks at wholes

Monday, March 30, 2009

The World Tai Chi & Qigong Day

The Tai Chi Center of Chicago invites you to
The World Tai Chi & Qigong Day
Northcenter Wellness Tour

Saturday April 25, 2009
9:30 am – 3:00 pm

  • Have you wondered about Tai Chi or Qigong and what they can do for you?
  • Do you want to know why so many health and aging experts recommend these practices to promote long, healthy life?

    Find out for FREE!

    Join us on World Tai Chi & Qigong Day for a celebration of the health and longevity that Tai Chi and Qigong practitioners have enjoyed for thousands of years. On this special day, our teaching staff and students will travel the Northcenter community lead-ing FREE guided practice sessions in both Tai Chi and Qigong.

    All levels of experience are welcome in this once a year event.

    Choose one or more of these FREE sessions to discover what balance, breath and focused movement will bring to you:

    9:30 - 10:30 am Qigong @ the Tai Chi Center of Chicago
    11:00 - 12:00 pm Tai Chi @ the Tai Chi Center of Chicago
    (4043 N. Ravenswood Ave. Suite 228)
    12:30 - 1:00 Tai Chi & Qigong @ Northcenter Town Square
    (corner of Damen Ave. and Bell Plaine Ave.)
    1:30 - 2:00 Tai Chi & Qigong @ Wells Park
    (between Montrose Ave. and Sunnyside Ave. on Lincoln Ave.)
    2:30 - 3:00 Tai Chi & Qigong @ Giddings Plaza
    (between Leland Ave. and Lawrence Ave. on Lincoln Ave.)

    JOIN US and learn how to improve YOUR well-being!

    Visit us at
  • Monday, January 19, 2009

    Chinese New Year Celebration

    Hello Folks,

    It is almost that time of the year. You and a guest are invited to the
    CHINESE NEW YEAR CELEBRATION!!! Below you will find all pertinant
    information if you have any questions feel free to send me an email. See
    you then! We will have a lot to celebrate this year.

    Famous OX's: ME!!!, Barack Obama, Joel Hall, Wynton Marsalis, Walt Disney, The Vacuum cleaner, Silly Putty, Bill Cosby,
    Socrates, Nixon, Ford, Malcolm X, Van Gogh, Plato, Gore Vidal, Peter Sellers, Redford, Venessa Redgrave, Louis Armstrong, Billy Joel, Hitler, Napoleon, Charlie Chaplin, Chen Man-Ching, Rosie O'Donnell, Johnny Carson, Jennifer Tilly, the Bra,
    MDMA, the Internet and the Potato Chip.....

    Tai Chi Center of Chicago - 4043 N. Ravenswood #201
    Questions please call 773.396-2653 or

    February 7th, Saturday, 8pm - 12am.
    Gong'n will take place on the hour and half hour . Joss Paper burning
    will take place at 11pm out on the patio deck. You don't have to be here
    at this time but you must have your personalized paper prepared in order
    for me to burn it for you.

    Bring whatever you need to make yourself comfortable.
    New Year wishes/resolutions (Joss paper will be supplied).
    Some food and drinks will also be provided otherwise this is a potluck event.

    To welcome in the new year while having fund amongst friends!!!
    To Bang the Gong of course!
    To Burn Joss Paper outside on the Lexie Bruce Garden Patio.
    To read you Chinese Horoscope for the New Year, 4706.
    To play with puzzles and Tangram.