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‘Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom.
Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power.’

– Lao Tzu Chinese philosopher (604 BC – 531 BC)

Marie Favorito and Sharon Smith – Instructors

By Bill Douglas

According to a twenty-year study by Kaiser Permanente, between seventy and eighty-five percent of illness is caused by stress, meaning that in the U.S. alone stress is costing us about one-trillion dollars per year in healthcare costs. Since most absenteeism is due to stress, US business is losing upwards of $300 billion per year.

On a more personal level, it is disturbing to realize that aging is accelerated by stress, and stress is a growing issue with all of us. Studies show that change is stressful, even “good” change. So as we computer jockeys settle into the saddle of a new age of rapidly changing information, we need an edge that can help us stay healthy, sane, “younger” and more vibrant, even as we are often at the very center of the hurricane of modern change, such as keeping up with new hardware and software.

Ironically an ancient mind/body tool provides the perfect balm for our generation’s modern problems — it is called “Tai Chi” (pronounced tie-chee). T’ai Chi is a gentle series of relaxing motions that cleanse the body’s tissue of accumulated stress and, by doing so, boosts all aspects of our health systems. According to emerging research boosting the immune system’s strength dramatically, while reducing the incidence of depression, anxiety, and even reducing chronic pain conditions, are just a few of T’ai Chi’s myriad benefits.

What makes ancient T’ai Chi the perfect modern balm is that it doesn’t require special facilities or clothing, and doesn’t even make you break a sweat, meaning you can do it in office attire in an empty boardroom just by kicking off your heels. Yet, it provides the same euphoria of a long run, the cardiovascular benefit of moderate impact aerobics, and burns nearly as many calories as downhill skiing.

Our time is filled with paradox. A problem in this modern age stems from the great promise of the information age — a tidal wave of data being created by and offered to our “left brain”; that part of our minds that is analytical, calculating, and categorizing the world. Of course, this is a powerful and important part of who we are. This is the part of the mind that gets things done, pays the rent, builds the houses, and makes the cars. Our “right brain,” however, is getting left behind in our rapidly changing techno-world, and this imbalance of thought processes is at the heart of modern stress.

Our right brain is the feeling, smelling, sensing . . . enjoying part of the mind. This is the part of the mind that smells the flowers, not to analyze the smell, but to be filled with its beauty — and this is the part that has been left behind in the digital world. When we go to the cyber mall, for example, our right brain doesn’t get to play. The cyber mall is a wonderful thing that saves us time, money, and gas for our cars (and thereby saves the environment), but there are no Auntie Anne’s Pretzels to smell in cyberspace, or warm sunlight streaming in through the big skylights.

So what do we do? We get the best of both worlds. T’ai Chi is a series of exercises to balance the mind. T’ai Chi teaches us to experience life for sheer pleasure, thereby creating balance in our busy “get things done yesterday” world. If you learn T’ai Chi and practice in the morning before you sit down at your computer, your right brain (the sensing and enjoying brain) will be turned on more. You will feel the texture of your computer keys. You will remember to take the time to get a nice cup of green tea or herbal cinnamon spice tea, and you’ll interrupt your staccato keyboard occasionally to smell the tea’s rich aroma, feel the warmth in your hands, and breathe the breath of life deeply into your lungs.

Although you are at the cutting edge of the information age revolution, you are also in the garden of life. This will give you an edge in the long run. Why? Because chronic stress diminishes our cognitive skills and therefore, our creativity.

Einstein said, “Creativity is more important than knowledge.” Even if we have the world’s knowledge at our fingertips, if we are too stressed out to use the knowledge “creatively,” we are much less effective. Plus, we’re not as much fun!

The bottom line is T’ai Chi is a set of exercises to practice enjoying life. It’s not enough just to say, “I’m going to enjoy life more.” We actually have to practice mind/body tools that can positively affect our brain wave activity, in an integrative way, as T’ai Chi is proven to do.

T’ai Chi is an extremely sophisticated mind/body science that evolved over millennia, and is now being made available to all of us after centuries of being closely guarded secrets in China. Even though the practices are ancient, they are in many ways just as cutting edge as the multi-gigabyte computer.

Don’t just be “cutting edge” with your left-brain. Go all the way and stretch the envelope with your right brain, too, by weaving T’ai Chi into your life. You will be forever glad you did, as you discover balance and calm in the eye of the modern world’s ever accelerating storm of changes rushing at us.

Author’s Bio

Bill Douglas is the Tai Chi Expert at, and is the Founder of World T’ai Chi & Qigong Day (held in 60 nations each year). Bill has authored and co-authored several books including a #1 best selling Tai Chi book “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to T’ai Chi & Qigong.” Bill’s been a Tai Chi source for The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, The South China Morning Post, Reader’s Digest, etc.


On April 25-27th please join Senior Healing Tao Instructors, Marie Favorito and Sharon Smith for a Special Weekend Retreat of Taoist Meditation and Chi Kung. Explore the mystery and healing power of chi, build a more intimate relationship with your energy, Immerse yourself in the Tao practice and return to your life refreshed and renewed

Take advantage of this rare opportunity to study with Marie and Sharon who together have over 50 years of experience in the Taoist arts! We guarantee that you will come away with a solid base for your Healing Tao practice. This will be held at beautiful Angels’ Rest in Leyden, Massachusetts (2 hours west of Boston & 3 hrs from New York City).

Your retreat fee of $475.00 includes all teaching, accommodations on Friday and Saturday nights, and six high quality organic meals. Arrival is on Friday at 3:30 PM and departure will be Sunday at 4:30 PM. Accommodations are elegant dormitory style with 2 to 5 per room (because of space limitations, there are no single rooms). Each guest will enjoy the beautiful facility, high-quality linens and towels, and restful sleep on a Posturpedic mattress. You may want to bring your own towel for the pool & hot tubs and comfortable shoes for exploring the surroundings. The retreat is limited to 22 participants.

You are sure to be inspired and refreshed by the energy we will generate in this beautiful country setting. Angels’s Rest is in the heart of nature, in the small, peaceful town of Leyden. Located on 20+ acres of private woodlands and meadows in the Berkshire foothills of Western Massachusetts, the elevation of Angels’ Rest offers breathtaking and far-reaching views of mountains to the east and south. With its pristine natural environment, comfortable quarters, and personal care, Angels’ Rest creates the perfect setting conducive for deep work in Meditation and Chi Kung.

*This weekend retreat is also important training for those Healing Tao students interested in becoming Associate Instructors (first level of instructor certification). If your intention is to train for this HTIA Certification now or in the future, this workshop is a MUST! Students who already have the prerequisites may be eligible for Associate Instructor Certification. Marie and Sharon will make these determinations after the weekend. See for information on prerequisites. Or speak with Sharon or Marie. Students in training will arrive earlier on Friday afternoon for their first session.

We will emphasize the following practices:

The Microcosmic Orbit Meditation
The Inner Smile Meditation
The Six Healing Sounds Chi Kung

Taoist meditation practice starts with opening The Microcosmic Orbit, a meditation practice in which you focus on circulating your life force through two of the most important energy channels in your body. These two channels, the Functional (Ren Mai), and the Governor, (Du Mai), connect in a flowing circle going up the spine, over the head, and down the front center of the body. The front and back channels are joined to form a circuit of continuous energy flow which is called the Microcosmic Orbit. Bringing your tongue to the roof of your mouth generates this connection. Also referred to as the small heavenly cycle, this meditation allows you to increase, recycle, and store reservoirs of chi in an energy center in your abdomen called the lower Dan Tien. The
Microcosmic Orbit meditation is further enhanced by blending and supplementing your body’s own energy with the energies of Nature, the Universal, Cosmic, and Earth Forces which surround us. This not only raises your ‘vibration’, but greatly increased resistance to stress and illness.

The Inner Smile is the most basic, profound relaxation meditation in the Healing Tao. This meditation begins in the eyes and quickly produces the relaxation response. It calms and strengthens your nervous system by bringing the energy and essence of a smile and healing light into your body. In addition, the Inner Smile harmonizes your emotions and enables your body to rejuvenate itself with light, relaxation and the power of your mind. Using this focus and mindfulness, you guide the smiling essence through your major organs, the digestive tract, the brain and spine, enlivening and strengthening the central nervous system. Used as a tool, the Inner Smile meditation helps you handle life’s everyday challenges, allowing you to stay centered in the most trying of situations. Learn to Transform Stress into Chi and vitality that can be used for healing and creativity!

The Six Healing Sounds is a simple but profound practice that balances and regulates the body temperature by releasing trapped cold or heat, creating perfect ‘weather’ inside. Based on Chinese medicinal principles, this sitting chi kung involves simple arm movements synchronized with the breath and meditation to relieve stress, cool the inner organs, and cultivate tranquility, energizing the body with regular practice. Useful for anyone in any stage of health or healing.The Sounds are easy to learn and joyful to practice. They are part of the ancient and often overlooked science of Traditional Chinese Medicine. For centuries they have been used for detoxifying, strengthening, and regenerating the internal organs having a positive effect on physical health, emotional stability and spiritual unfoldment.

SImple Chi Kung to wake up your chi! Movements and meditations to lubricate the joints, stimulate chi flow in the organ systems, and set up a positive emotional disposition. Chi Kung literally translates as “skill in using energy.” Chi Kung means the practice or discipline of moving your life force and breath. Chi Kung provides internal power that can improve general health and is claimed to help maintain youthfulness. Chi Kung practice increases your Chi (Life Force) and brings a sense of calm and centeredness. With the graceful moves of Chi Kung, you can invigorate yourself, sculpt a lean, supple, agile body, fine tune your senses and supercharge your immune system.

The fee for this weekend retreat is $475.00 which
includes all teaching, accommodations on Friday and Saturday nights, and six high quality organic meals. For more information please visit

Retreat Payment Policy:

Full payment is required by April 1st, 2008. Any refunds requested prior to April 1, 2008 will incur a $100 cancellation fee. After that, refunds will be made only if a replacement can be found. This policy is firm.

Boston Globe – September 10, 2007

Tai chi, the slow, graceful Chinese exercise program that is sometimes called a “moving meditation,” was originally created centuries ago as a martial art. It does appear to have some health benefits, though rigorous studies are hard to come by.

The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, an arm of the National Institutes of Health ( ) notes, “It is not fully known what changes occur in the body during tai chi, whether they influence health, and if so, how.” But so many Americans now practice the slow-moving exercise – 1.3 percent, according to a 2002 survey – that the government is now funding a number of studies to see what health benefits tai chi may hold.

Among the best-documented health effects for tai chi is its ability to improve balance, said biologist Peter Wayne, director of Tai Chi Research Programs from Harvard Medical School’s Division for Research and Education in Complementary and Integrative Medical Therapies. In a systematic review of the published literature, Wayne and his colleagues found that 20 of 24 studies support the hypothesis that tai chi improves balance.

A recent study in the Journal of the American Geriatric Society found that tai chi can also boost immunity and protect older adults against shingles, a painful disease caused by reactivation of the chicken pox virus, which can linger in the body for decades. In this study, 112 adults age 59 to 86 were randomly assigned to tai chi or health education classes for 16 weeks.

Those who got tai chi had nearly twice as much immunity against the chicken pox virus (all participants had had chicken pox) measured by a blood test, as well as a stronger immune response to the chicken pox vaccine.

Tai chi has also been shown in a number of studies to lower blood pressure in people with hypertension.

But whether tai chi is any better for health than some other mind-body practices such as yoga and meditation remains to be seen, said Wayne. Tai chi teachers are not licensed by state boards, so a word of caution: If you are new to tai chi, check out several teachers and pick one with the most experience.


Boston Globe

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With hellish hours and info overload now the norm, the C-Suite set is turning to extreme meditation to cope, says Fortune’s Oliver Ryan.

FORTUNE Magazine
By Oliver Ryan, Fortune writer-reporter

July 20,2007 9:05 AM EDT

(Fortune Magazine) — The crowd of Harvard Business School alums who gathered at their reunion to hear networking expert Keith Ferrazzi speak earlier this summer might have expected to pick up strategies on how to work a room, remember people’s names, or identify mentors. But tactical skills, it turns out, aren’t what turned Ferrazzi into a bestselling author or sought-after speaker.

Instead Ferrazzi let his fellow alums in on a little secret. The key to connecting, he told the group, is “not being an a**hole.” And the most effective path he’s found? Meditation. Exercise and prayer work too, he said, but meditation has been so effective that he now spends ten days every year at a silent meditation retreat. In other words, the man whose latest book is “Never Eat Alone” credits much of his success to alone time.

Meditation has been around for thousands of years, but not so long ago extended retreats or programs that banned speech were reserved for aging rock stars or college students on the ten-year plan. And while the practice isn’t exactly mainstream in corporate America, more and more executives are open to anything that might help them thrive in – or temporarily disconnect from – today’s BlackBerry-addled ADD business climate.

Meditation devotees include junk-bond-king-turned-philanthropist Mike Milken; Bill George, the former Medtronic (Charts, Fortune 500) CEO; ad industry mogul Renetta McCann; and NBA coach Phil Jackson. Silicon Valley is full of meditators, such as Marc Benioff, the CEO of (Charts), and Larry Brilliant, head of Google’s philanthropic efforts. Naturally, a crew of Google (Charts, Fortune 500) employees has organized twice-weekly open meditation hours, at which it has hosted Tibetan monks and a team of mind-science researchers.

Particularly hard-core is Bob Shapiro, the former CEO of Monsanto (Charts, Fortune 500), who has done three ten-day silent retreats and is considering a 30-day tour. He must certainly be the first person to serve simultaneously on the boards of the New York Stock Exchange and the Center for the Contemplative Mind in Society.

Shapiro says that meditation has improved his ability to listen and to think creatively – and there’s an increasing amount of scientific evidence to back that up. Dr. Richard Davidson of the University of Wisconsin at Madison has, among other experiments, used cranial electrodes and MRI scans to study Tibetan monks on loan from the Dalai Lama. His basic finding: The brain functioning of serious meditators is “profoundly different” from that of nonmeditators – in ways that suggest an elevated capacity to concentrate and to manage emotions. He calls meditation a “kind of mental training.”

Like Ferrazzi and Shapiro, the most intrepid corporate types gravitate toward vipassana meditation centers (the term translates to “insight”), founded by S.N. Goenka, an 83-year-old ex-Burmese businessman. Though inspired by Buddhism, Goenka centers are secular, and the introductory retreat features ten days spent in “noble silence.” “It takes that much time for people to calm down,” says Andrew Cherng, the chairman of Panda Restaurant Group (as in Panda Express).

Life at a Goenka center is communal; the morning bell sounds at 4 A.M. and lights are out at 9:30 P.M. In between are meals, lectures and nearly 11 hours of private and group meditation. “I’ve found that you’re so sharpened by the ten days alone that you recover that lost time in the next ten days,” says Subhash Chandra, founder of Indian media giant Essel Group, who has “sat” 15 retreats.

The retreat, however, is only the start. Back home, students are advised to meditate twice a day. Shapiro admits he struggles to find the time, but he also notes an old saying: “If you can’t spend half an hour meditating, you need an hour.”

Author’s Bio (thanks Bill)

Bill Douglas is the Tai Chi Expert at, and is the Founder of World T’ai Chi & Qigong Day (held in 60 nations each year). Bill has authored and co-authored several books including a #1 best selling Tai Chi book “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to T’ai Chi & Qigong.” Bill’s been a Tai Chi source for The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, The South China Morning Post, Reader’s Digest, etc.


You don’t have to be a CEO or have a crazy life to meditate but either way meditation sure helps to create a more satisfying life. Learn to Meditate with Marie Favorito. Her guided Meditation CD’s are professionally mastered and easy to use. Just sit back and listen.

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