I wouldn’t be able to call myself a transformational expert if I hadn’t already undertaken a life-changing journey myself. It wasn’t intentional but in this case it was a matter of avoiding a slow death in a wheelchair.
I was born with most of my neck vertebrae fused together. As the x-ray shows, my neck is also very short, so it doesn’t bend much. I also have more fusion in my lower back. My upper thoracic spine, rib cage, as well as shoulder, are distorted, and my right lung does not fully inflate. By the time I was 10, my parents had taken me to more doctors than I care to remember. The specialists all said the same thing: surgery was the only thing that could save me from the wheelchair before I turned 13. They wanted to attach a T-brace to my spine, followed by six months of immobility, a procedure with only a 50% success rate and an 80% chance of worse pain. My mother said the decision was mine. It was an easy one but I still had a frightening problem.
At the time my family worked a 32-acre grape farm in the middle of nowhere. Because I’ve always had trouble sleeping at night, I would go to my favorite clearing in the woods to listen for the voice of the spirit in the sky, just like I’d heard about in church. I asked the stars what to do for I didn’t want to be crippled.
I was young enough to have an open mind and, as I relaxed, my body began to sway back and forth. I didn’t fight it. I assumed it was the spirit in the sky telling me how to move. I came to call these nightly practices my secret moving meditation.
I continued my nighttime practice whenever I could. It made me feel powerful and those were the times I felt my best. My skeleton remained the same; however, I became stronger and, as the years progressed, I continued the moving meditations and remained healthy and mobile. The issue of wheelchairs or doctors never came up again.
My family eventually moved to the Phoenix area, where, because I looked different, I got jumped in the streets and fought a lot, for many years. That was when I discovered I had a talent for redirecting other people’s energies, which I learned more about when I discovered the martial art of tai chi. I also came to learn that my secret meditations were a form of what the Chinese call qigong (pronounced chee-gung), an ancient Chinese art involving the breath and the body’s energies.
The more I studied various martial arts and, ultimately, tai chi and kung fu, the more aware I became of the transformative powers we all possess, regardless of our perceived handicaps. Over the years of training, I have slowly but surely changed my body in ways none of my old doctors ever thought possible. I have learned that not only our minds, but our bodies, even our bones, no matter the age or condition, are in a constant state of change.
Once I knew how powerful this practice could be, I wanted to share this knowledge with anyone who could use it. With my wife, Alicia, it has become my joy to spread this knowledge and instruct others in changing their lives. We have found that the earnest practice of tai chi and qigong will not only produce profound physical changes, but also boost your mental capacities and forge new, positive thinking patterns.
I eventually opened my own school and for a while I also taught acupuncturists how to become more sensitive to their patients, as well as deflect unhealthy energies. These health professionals were typically under great daily stress and found that tai chi and qigong provided them a balanced center of calm amid a constant influx of information. In addition to providing immediate health benefits, this form of attention training allowed them to remain focused and sharp during long hours and they showed notably increased productivity.
In business today, anyone striving to “be successful” suffers from information overload and non-stop stress. While qigong alone can renew your energy and ward off chronic physical problems, traditional tai chi training will give you something very special. The fact that tai chi is a martial art is often ignored in America, but this is to dismiss tai chi’s full potential. Its martial foundations will teach you to function better under mental and physical stress, heighten your intuitive senses, and improve your self-knowledge. This will transform the way you view and react to your circumstances, even insofar as creating new neural pathways. There is a reason why some of the world’s most successful business leaders are embracing tai chi and encouraging their employees to do the same.
Since those early days in the woods, I have continued to seek out and study authentic tai chi and qigong material so I can teach and train more effectively. It is a never-ending journey and one that now finds me studying to become a doctor in Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture. I believe this will make me a more effective tai chi and qigong practitioner and teacher. However, I will always see myself as but a student who loves to share and I look forward to helping many others with their physical and mental transformation through tai chi and qigong.
I hold an advanced instructor certificate from the American Tai Chi & Qigong Association and am a certified kung fu teacher. I taught CEU classes under the aegis of the State of Arizona Acupuncture Board of Examiners and am currently a doctoral student at the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine. I am also in the last year of diplomate program at the Institute of Classics In East Asian Medicine.