June 2016

Mary Chapin Carpenter and Mindfulness

Thanks to Senior Intermediate student Jonathan Scheinbart for bringing our attention to Diane Rehm's interview with Mary Chapin Carpenter on May 23rd, 2016.

Jonathan was moved to hear Carpenter echo several ideas we seek to embrace as students of T'ai Chi. He specifically points out the lines:

"...you reach a time in your life, and what's far more important to you than answers are the questions you're asking yourself."

"…it's not knowing everything, but it's just being open to the world, and it's being open to everything, and that's what I want to be....In every way, ... leaving behind old habits that don't make sense, not even remembering why you have them."

It's said that when we go deep into any mindful practice, whether it be gardening, running, songwriting and performing, cooking, entomology, painting, T'ai Chi, child care, marriage, verbal self-defense, woodworking….whatever, we meet ourselves and the world in a more thoughtful, open and fulfilling way.

I agree!

T'ai Chi vs Physical Therapy for knee pain

Thanks to Jonathan Scheinbart for bringing our attention to the May 16, 2016 article in the Washington Post entitled, "Achy knees? Tai Chi may work as well as—or better than—physical therapy."

The study the article references appeared in the
Annals of Internal Medicine, and reports NIH as the primary funding source. The results and conclusions state:

"Of note, the T'ai Chi group had significently greater improvements in depression and the physical component of quality of life. The benefit of T'ai Chi was consistent across instructors. No serious adverse events occurred….T'ai Chi produced beneficial effects similar to those of a standard course of physical therapy in the treatment of knee osteoarthritis. "

The study was reported widely, as you can imagine, including in Science Daily, WebMD, the Chicago Tribune, and by NIH itself. The Post article states that a year after the study, "improvements in depressive symptoms and overall quality of life were greater, on average, among those who practiced tai chi."

I think we're far from seeing the last of these studies.

Back in August, I wrote here, in
Knee Pain, Surgery and Side Effects, about studies that showed that surgery for osteoarthritic knees promised to relieve pain for up to 6 months, yet the risk of having adverse side effects, however unlikely, remained for years.

T'ai Chi practice, whose pain reduction benefits seem to be more enduring than surgery offers, (according to the study above, 52 weeks at least), has "side effects" which all seem to be only beneficial (improved quality of life, lower blood pressure, better outlook, improved lung capacity, reduced risk of falling, and on and on…).

Seems to be highly cost effective as well.

For me, it's also great fun!