Senior’s Day Celebrations in Prague

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Last weekend in November was dedicated to celebrations of Seniors Day. Already on Friday evening we precooked a “Russian” soup called Boršč (several hours of cooking) and rice for frying, set up a sample roundtable and prepared a few more things to be able for all of us to enjoy seniors and their company fully. We welcomed about 35 seniors with small presents.

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A 2-hour class followed a morning of cutting vegetables. Before lunch, we set up tables and played a presentation about Orangeville Centre talking about its 30th Anniversary and a purchase of the Fenway property. After enjoying a delicious 3-course menu marvelous cakes, homemade mostly by seniors, flooded tables resulting in a vote of winners in three categories: sweet, salty, and an overall winner.

An intense experience was a common chanting, namely for one of our esteemed senior who left us last November. Beside his huge support of The Taoist Tai Chi Society he also shared with us his Boršč recipe. Although we all worked together in a harmony whole Saturday, we mainly tried to treat seniors in a way they are very important to us and we can still learn a lot from them. Common cleaning and dish washing finished an amazing Seniors Saturday.

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Christmas in Colchester: Taoist Tai Chi™ participants celebrate the holidays at the European Centre

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“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…” sang Bing Crosby as over eighty members arrived at the European Centre in Colchester last Saturday for the annual Christmas lunch. Greeted by a delicious glass of Fruity Fenway Xmas Pu-erh Punch, tropical palm trees, the twinkling Christmas tree and the deities looking on, the scene was a perfect example of cultural exchange.

The food preparations had begun in advance with various classes chopping vegetables in their tea breaks and a growing team in the kitchen. As one member later commented, “In how many other organizations would you find the directors, presidents and manager in the kitchen cooking the food for everyone?” And they did a fantastic job with roast chicken and chipolatas for the carnivores and buckwheat veggie nut roast for the vegetarians along with potatoes, carrot and swede mash, peas, brussel sprouts with chestnuts and of course lashings of gravy. After we spent a little time digesting, the desserts were wheeled out and everyone dug into Upside-Down Key Lime Pie and mincemeat tart with custard.

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A call had been put out asking for people interested in entertaining the crowd during an open-mic session and thankfully a few brave souls had signed up. Steve from Chiltern branch led the acts on guitar with a range of festive songs and some classic rock and folk numbers that the crowd sang along to.  Helen from Cambridge played a number of impressive Christmas tunes on her saxophone, despite having only been practicing for six months. Director Kate Mitchell then joined Steve with her recorder for some more beautiful music and singing.

During the lunch each table had also been debating a series of questions as part of the Christmas Quiz. Did you know that Oliver Cromwell banned Christmas in the 1640s? Or that mistletoe is not a plant but a parasite? And Father Christmas has his own postcode in Canada – HOH OHO? The winning table was awarded the surprise privilege of singing a few songs and they rose mightily to the challenge, as did most of the audience.

As with all of our events, the best part was saved until the end – the clean-up. And in excellent spirits everyone mucked in and had the place looking spick and span within no time.

The lunch was not the only event of the weekend, however, two Branches, Mid-Essex and North East Essex, also hosted a Friday night intensive led by Paul Davies, Sam Masters and a number of enthusiastic group leaders. The focus was on the don-yu and tor-yu, working on the connection with the feet and pushing up from the ground. There were lots of concentrated faces and smiles as people found new connections and deeper understandings. The well-deserved tea break included both Branches’ AGM’s, each completed in less than five minutes. A record we believe.

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All in all it was a wonderful weekend with the efforts of so many people enabling us to come together and practice the Taoist Tai Chi™ Arts and chanting as well as the arts of food, drink, music, quizzing and cleaning and of course fundraising – for the Fenway both through the meal and a raffle.

Merry Christmas, seasonal best wishes and a Happy New Year to you all with love from the Taoist Tai Chi Society in Great Britain.

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WOW!  Another large gathering at the Toronto Branch, Etobicoke location Intensive on December 9, 2014.

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The Fung Loy Kok Toronto Branch in the Central Region, Canada, hosted another amazing Intensive on December 9, 2014 at its Etobicoke location. Over 150 participants attended and enjoyed a great evening of fellowship, and Taoist training led by Tony Kwong. Intensives are 3 hour sessions conducted for education and fundraising throughout the Central Region.  As part of our philosophy and oral traditions, senior instructors volunteer their time to lead these sessions and share their insights and understandings.

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For the Toronto Branch, this was the final intensive of the year, and at just this Intensive over $3,000 in donations were made by enthusiastic participants to support the organization’s current projects, most noteworthy the Fenway renovation project  in Florida. Also, a gift box was donated by the Markham-Stouffville location and raffled. The raffle raised over $300. John Balinski was the raffle winner. He, in turn, re-donated the gift box to the St. Catherines location for an event planned at that location for the following weekend.

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The evening commenced with an excellent pot luck dinner.

It was followed by a set (moving meditation) and then standing meditation.  Tony then led the group through foundations, with much time spent on Tor- yus and Don-yus. Everyone worked hard and enjoyed the practice and refinements shared by Tony. Tony also demonstrated the first part of the set up to repulse monkey and then Marsha Eberhardt, President of the Fung Loy Institute of Taoism, demonstrated wave hands like clouds. Watching and meditating on the moves assists us in achieving deeper understanding and in gaining enlightenment.

The next Toronto Branch intensive will take place in February 2015 at a Mississauga location.

Participants in Central Region and the Toronto area extend best wishes to all participants worldwide for the New Year and look forward to crossing paths at future events.

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Holiday Fun at Pleasant Hill, California (San Francisco Bay Area Branch)

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Sharing more than 108 moves in Costa Rica

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If Taoist Tai Chi™ was just about 108 moves, what would be the point of offering a demo?  But, you know, there is so much more that is involved when we share a demo.

     To the outside observer, at the beginning, we are just a bunch of happy, smiling people, dressed alike, that practice some movements that are allegedly going to make you feel good both physically and mentally. But when you take a closer look, if you keep training your eyes you´ll have the chance to marvel at the power of these internal arts for health because within minutes you will be able to see a change on people´s faces –  going from tired and concerned to relaxed and enjoying that moment of life.

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     In the past few weeks, we were invited to participate in several different demos, invitations that came from people that had heard, here or there, that Taoist Tai Chi™ could help. We shared with many groups; a Women´s Heart Clinic, Fibromyalgia patients at a Pain Clinic, a Stress relief workshop, and a Senior´s Day celebration at a community Health Clinic. We were also invited to celebrate World Arthritis Day, where two of our members, Marielos Murillo and Liseth Weigelt, offered impressive testimonials in which they talked about their own experience and how the practice of our arts gave them back a sense of enjoying life, and how not to be defined by a label describing a health challenge; this way both were able to build a powerful connection with the attendants.

     Last, but not least, we attended a cultural celebration at a primary school near our main Centre in Heredia, sharing a few minutes of tai chi with the toddlers; it’s quite an amazing experience.

     In two of the demos, we followed latin dances (which were fast and loud), so people were too tired (if not exhausted) to practice tai chi standing on their feet. This lead us to begin seated, and after a few minutes people began to feel better – happier, more relaxed and energized.

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     But a demo is not just a gift for others. It touches all the members that open their hearts to be involved. One of the stories we have heard about Master Moy is one where he tells a group of members,  “Don´t think you are doing this for yourself, you are doing this for humanity”. We can apply this principle to each demo and share tai chi with people that can benefit greatly from its practice just as we do. In this process, when we put aside our own needs and go talk to others, we start understanding what it means to be more than 108 moves. In that process our health improves, our ego diminishes, and for sure we can do our part to build better communities and societies one demo at a time.

Join the next demo at your club, you´ll have fun!

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Red Deer’s “Tai Chi Chai Tea” Event, 09 Dec 2014

Red Deer Alberta’s Lacombe branch, which is part of Canada’s Western Region hosted their 5th annual “Tai Chi Chai Tea” on December 9th, 2014. Twenty one participants did 2 Tai Chi sets out in the snow and then warmed up with Chai Tea and goodies inside while watching the 40th Anniversary video and enjoying each other’s company. The outside temperature was the warmest so far at a balmy +4C, usually it is around –20C. A fun time was had by all.

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Holiday Season Banquet 2014!

Over 450 people enjoyed our traditional Holiday Season Banquet 2014 at Dim Sum King on Dundas St. in Toronto on Sat Nov 29th.

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