Posts Tagged ‘identity’


At a certain point any healing teacher looks back over all the clients he has healed and asks, “What are the main problems causing poor health among all these people?”  Is there a fundamental change in our lives that can heal all people at once? 

In my experience as a teacher of Tai-chi, Zookinesis age reversal exercises and massage, I have been astounded by how disconnected people are from their bodies.  Their understanding of proper body mechanics is way off and the result is that they are constantly injuring their bodies. 

This is actually very understandable.  In ancient cultures a student would learn from his teacher in an apprenticeship position.  He would be practicing his craft while the teacher taught him – learning and moving at the same time.  Action was coordinated with using the mind. 

In our culture we learn to freeze our bodies by sitting in a still position while we learn to think.  Then when we go to a gym class there is little thinking and only action.  We have learned to separate the movement of the body from the movement of attention in the process of thinking.  So when we are about to think we automatically prepare ourselves by freezing our bodies. 

When the dynamics of the body and the dynamics of attention are separated, it is as if a large knife cut you in half.  Attention normally energizes the body.  The body’s dynamics ground the attention.  The attention/body split de-energizes the body and the attention as well. 

We are left with a very different type of thinking – that of imagining that we are split into two people and one person is talking to the other.  This is the constant mental chatter that all of us are too familiar with.  Many cultures teach sitting meditation to clear the mental chatter.  When Bodhidarma, a Buddhist monk, first came to China, he found the monks there sitting all day in meditation.  Their health was very poor because they didn’t exercise.  He taught them to exercise and from these basic exercises the martial art of Shaolin was born. 

There is no point in fighting against the mental chatter because you are then just creating a battle.  By teaching the body to move and to be mindful of that movement, you are re-joining mind and body.  This mind is not the talk-chatter type of mind but what is called, “The Ancient Mind” or “Body-Mind” which is attention joined to the body.  This can eliminate a fundamental cause of illness in our society and it is the basis of such teachings as Tai-chi, Zookinesis and other forms of chi-gung, Yoga and even modern Pilates exercise.

Our methods of education are not the only causes of illness.  When I ask people in class to tense up a muscle, they can do that with ease.  But it is very difficult for them to relax a muscle.  Tensing involves sending a signal through the nervous system to the muscle.  When you relax you just stop sending the signal. 

It would seem that it is easier to stop doing something than to do it.  In Tai-chi this is called, “not doing”.  It really means “not doing anything you don’t need to be doing”.  As people learn a Tai-chi form or Zookinesis exercise, the movements are quite simple.  Yet they struggle to learn them.  The process of learning involves more of “not doing” extra, unnecessary things than it is to learn the actual movements.  You learn to do each movement in its simplest, easiest form with no excess movement or intention.  The result is an effortless flow as if you were a cloud drifting in the sky.

And yet people feel they need to whip their bodies into doing the movement “right”.  They use excess movement and tension and their thinking minds are buzzing with worry about how they look and what others might think about them. Their minds and bodies are in a great battle.  Yet when they finally learn the movements, it feels as if they are not even doing them because the body and mind are so light and effortless.  In this state the body is constantly re-energized yet relaxed.  The mind is calm yet very alert and responsive. 

As a teacher I am most excited by teaching people who want to become teachers.  I can get them involved in much more advanced training.  People ask me, “How do you have the patience to teach beginners?”  Teaching beginning classes involves going over the same basic training again and again. 

Yet teaching beginners gives me a great insight into the most basic causes of illness and the most basic problems in coaxing people into a better state of health.  I can clearly see the resistance people have to letting go of their lifetime of destructive habits.  They feel those habits as being who they are.  If I suggest that they change the habits they feel that I am challenging their identity. 

So identity is the second fundamental problem to heal on a cultural level.  After all isn’t much of the cause of war that this guy feels he belongs to one group and has to oppose the other guy who is a member of another group?  We may fear belonging to the wrong group because we may not get to heaven.  The groups fight with each other about who has the only right philosophy. 

On an individual level we may identify with our thought patterns, tension patterns and emotional patterns.  Patterns are fixed and not creative, not adaptive.  It is the rare individual who identifies with his or her creativity.  Creativity is not fixed and it is adaptive. 

When we identify with fixed, rigid patterns, our bodies become rigid.  When we go to a Tai-chi or Zookinesis class and are taught to relax and let our bodies move fluidly, this may seem like a challenge to all the fixed, rigid patterns of our lives.  It is a challenge to our identity.  This is what makes learning these arts so difficult.  We resist healing ourselves because that may undermine our habits of injuring ourselves, habits we have identified with. 

What a teacher must do is to get the student to appreciate the beauty and fulfillment of his body moving properly and his attention becoming more creative.  Rather than putting the student down for being incompetent, the teacher should take a more positive approach and show how beautiful the body can feel and how calm the mind can feel.  When you are in this state you truly feel connected to nature.  Your skin is not so much of a boundary anymore because you feel the natural energies of nature flowing through you.  Those energies then heal you. 

As a simple example, you may feel gravity as a force pulling you down.  Yet if you yield to gravity, allowing all joints and muscles of the body to relax a little, your body becomes properly aligned and your movements become easier.  If you relax both your chest and your upper back at the same time, you will notice that your head pops up into its proper place because of this alignment.  Gravity becomes a force that relaxes and aligns you and because of this, actually energizes you.  You no longer battle against gravity but use it to energize and heal you.

You can think of gravity as a masseur, massaging you.  Your muscles can fight against the pressure of the masseur’s palms or fingers or you can yield to them, allowing the muscle to relax.  Many people are uncomfortable about massage precisely because it is designed to eliminate the rigid body tensions which a person identifies with.  But the result is that your identity itself is cleansed.  You now identify yourself with the healing process of your body, with your awareness of life around you and with your creative attention. 

The type of massage I practice is called “Tai-chi Massage” or “Chi-gung Massage”.  It is not the type in which the masseur just pushes your muscles around as if to fight against their tension.  It is a gentle, slow massage which coaxes the body to relax and allows the person being massaged to become aware of the process of relaxation.  In this way that person becomes more connected to his own body and the internal battles gently melt away.

One by one, all the battles of life are transformed into sources of healing.  Your life becomes much easier and more effective.  As a teacher, I can only work with a few people at a time.  The instructional DVDs listed in the “Online Store” on this site can reach even more people. 

But I think that the real healing transformation of our culture will happen when people take the principles of Tai-chi, Zookinesis and other such training, and incorporate them into other fields.  In this way these principles can permeate into our everyday way of life.  Who knows what creative ways people will find to use their own experiences in healing to heal others?


Most of our lives are dedicated to just getting through the day.  Many ancient teachings point to a technique which can be used in daily life, to completely change the results of your efforts.  Zookinesis explains that the nature of your identity, your impression you have of who you are, not only determines the results of your efforts but also subconsciously is transmitted to others.  The people around you pick up the impression you have of yourself and react to you accordingly.

This means that if your impression of yourself should change, it will change not only in your own mind, but in the mind of those around you. 

If your identity is tied to your past experiences you can never change.  Your past experiences are the result of your past identity.  Your identity determines how you interact with others and with situations.  Those situations result from a pattern of your own behavior which is based on your identity.  You see how you can be trapped in behavior patterns which then trap you in repeated situations.

The key to this problem, in many ancient teaching systems, is NOT to find out who you are, but to CREATE who you are.  Determine who you would like to be.  Create a character, as if in a play, and little by little surround yourself with the scenery to enact that play.  The scenery may be the décor in your house or it may be a behavior, such as singing during the day as you are working.  You might take a few minutes out each day to go outside and just enjoy being alive.  It doesn’t take much.

Gradually experiment with what scenery (internal or external) makes you feel good or bad.  Realize that you can become whoever you want to be.  In fact, one of the goals of life is to play.  We often forget about play as we grow older.  Play is not only for children practicing to be adults.  It is the joy of life.  And by “play” I don’t mean competitive sports.  I’m talking about playing with what your life is all about. 

It’s easy to feel that because the bills keep coming in it’s important to be serious all the time.  We have arranged our culture to “feed the economic machine” rather than to maximize the enjoyment of life. 

Do you really need all the new gadgets?  Or would your money best be spent living simply but not having to worry about the bills?  What is it that leads to a more joyful life and what is it that takes joy away?

These are questions you ask if you want to be creative with your identity.  Create a beautiful myth about who you are and what you are doing with your life.  Gradually move in that direction, while of course, taking care of practical matters.  Don’t let a day go by without spending at least a few minutes remembering your myth and asking yourself, “How could I have become that myth a little bit more today?” 

When our identity is the result of our creativity rather than our past patterns of behavior, we then gain power in our lives.  We have to be willing to let go of elements of our old identity to gain new, brighter elements.  We have to be willing to release our rear foot from the ground in order to take a step forward.

There is a story I always tell of an old ship which sank in the Hudson River in New York. and was buried under mud.  Ships with cranes were hired to lift it but none succeeded.  Finally someone suggested that an empty barge be positioned above the boat at low tide.  Chains were connected from the buried ship to the barge.  When high tide came in the buoyancy of the barge lifted the buried ship.

Your myth is similar to the barge.  While your life may seem to be buried under bills and problems, the myth can just sit there.  As the tide of time washes in, that myth can lift you up into a new life.

You are not being “false” by living a myth.  A myth does not mean that your new identity is not true.  It means that your identity is now part of your creative nature.  It is alive and adds to your vitality.

When your identity is alive and vital you feel energized and ready for life.  Who would you really like to be?