Thursday, March 15, 2018

Sad News

It is with great sadness and a heavy heart that I inform you that our classmate, Marty Kleinbaum, passed away this morning. Funeral arrangements will be posted when I know more. He loved Tai-Chi and loved his classmates.

Stairway, not denied!

Sunday, March 11, 2018

A New Approach to Standing Meditation

A New Approach to Standing Meditation

Last August I visited Master Choi at his home outside Chicago. We discussed plans for him to teach a seminar in Minneapolis in October. We talked about what students wanted him to teach.  I knew some wanted to work on Chin-na, others wanted to work on Hsing-Yi. Many would just be happy to work on anything with the Master again. I noticed Master Choi was a little hesitant. He'd say, "Yes, we could do that" or, "Sure, we can do that." Then my gut told me to stop.
I looked at him and asked, "What do you want to teach?"
"It's not about what the students want, it’s about what they need," he said. He wanted to teach a seminar based on the first level of his "Choi Method." He had spent two years researching the most simple and accurate way to teach the first level: relaxation. 

 Master Choi feels that standing meditation is the best way to work with gravity to improve your alignment and relaxation. "Many people begin standing meditation with the position sometimes called “hold the ball.” The original name is Three Circles Posture. That refers to three parts of the body being round or circular. The chest is round and the back is raised. The arms are a circle, like holding a ball. The “tiger's mouth,” the space between your thumb and index fingers, are round. The body, hand, and leg need to work together, like three circles. Other parts of the body are round as well. The foot is round, means the toes grab.The knees turn out a little bit and the hips tuck, which not only makes the lower spine straight, it helps make the kua, the space between the thighs, round."
He felt that positions where the arms are up and elbows out, would very quickly make beginners tense. So he developed a position that would be accessible to all practitioners and would help even beginners reach the deepest levels of relaxation.
"This is from over 40 years of my teaching experience. When you practice, the whole body gets used to being relaxed. When you have the foundation of  whole body relaxation,then you learn the Three Circles Posture."

The following is a condensed version of Master Choi's lecture on relaxation and his approach to standing meditation.
The basics of meditation can help you relax, calm down, and control the nervous system so it can “take a break." There are many benefits to this practice. Meditation improves circulation, lower blood pressure, strengthen the nervous system, and aid digestion. The whole body will get more oxygen and have more energy. Most people, no matter what kind of job they do, need energy. The goal of standing mediation is to get more energy. 
Standing meditation can help you control your balance, your relaxation, and your mind. It can help you control your nervous system so you can calm down. You can't stop your brain from working. We just don't want to overwork or underwork it. The classics say: “There is emptiness, but you are not asleep."
When your body has low energy, or gets tired, it's easy to be angry, upset, fearful, or worried. Too much excitement damages your heart.  Anger damages your liver.  Being upset damages your lungs.  Fear damages your kidneys.  Worry damages your spleen.  All these problems stem from the mind.  Everybody needs meditation, and this generation even more so. Stress is pressure. Too much pressure, too much worry, will burn you out.
Standing meditation is the foundation of relaxation. Concentrate on your relaxed feeling. The shoulders should not be up, and the chest should not be out. Tuck your hips under. When your body is straight, it will not fight gravity. Try to see yourself from the inside. When practicing, don't let your mind focus on your external senses.  Don't look at anything, hear anything, or smell anything.

In my method, the hands looks like a kung fu salute , or a Buddhist bow or prayer position. Both hands naturally move up in front of the chest, about a foot away from the body, no higher than the nose, no lower then the navel. Only the ten fingertips touch.Keep the wrists straight, don't bend the wrists, because that is more relaxing. If you feel pressure on your fingertips, see if the tension originates somewhere in your body. You have to refine and adjust this basic position to make it comfortable to you. 

Use meditation to change the focus of your mind. Don't think about relaxing your feet, because they are supporting you. Don't think about your lower body, tuck it under, make your lower spine straight,that means tai-gong.  Just relax your upper body. Usually the shoulders get tense. Pay particular attention to that area.
Decide how long you're going to practice, but don't force it. The longer you stand, the more time you give the body to reset, to be relaxed. But follow your limit. Keep checking yourself; memorize the feeling of being relaxed. 
You can practice relaxation all the time. Take a deep breath, when you exhale, keep that relaxed feeling and position. You're feeling good, so enjoy that comfortable feeling. Don't think about anything except keeping that position relaxed. Focus on relaxation. Check your whole body. 

When you begin to learn standing meditation, don't start with “holding the ball.” That position is difficult for beginners to relax. It's easy to tense up if your arms start fighting with gravity. In my method, the standard of meditation is to be relaxed, inside is comfortable, outside is in balance, coordinating yin and yang together.

Once you begin practicing, don't change that comfortable feeling. Who is your teacher? Nature! It is your whole-life teacher. If you relax, your breathing will be natural. But sometimes you have to adjust your position to control your relaxation. The foundation is to feel and know what relaxation is in your whole body.
Standing meditation is for health and power. It affects your whole life. Remember, eat right, breathe right, and relax. Anything tense will make you slow; anything tense will burn you out. These ideas are simple and will greatly improve your health.

How to do the Choi Method of Standing Meditation

Stand with your feet shoulder width.
Point your feet one to two inches out.

Soften your knees.

Tuck your hips under until your lower back relaxes and releases.

Hollow your chest.

Lower your shoulders.

Lift the top of your head to make a plumb-line, being straight prevents loosing balance.

Lightly touch your fingertips together in front of you, keep your elbows down, the standard is to feel comfortable.

Take a deep breath and, as you breathe out, relax your body from your head down to your feet.
Remember how you feel after you exhale.
Lightly focus on your fingertips. If you feel any pressure building up, check your alignment and your relaxation.
If you need to relax, simply take a deep breath and, when you breathe out, feel the relaxation and try to maintain it as long as possible.

Take that light feeling and sensation at your fingertips and let it travel throughout your whole body.

 Don't use your mind to think about this, let this be a natural feeling in your body.

If you feel weak, or sick, you can still do this practice sitting in a chair or on the sofa.  Whether you sit or stand, the important thing is to maintain balance. If you are on a chair, don't sit back, or lean against the back. Leaning makes you loose balance. Having your back against the back of the chair or couch also blocks your circulation. Sit on the edge, towards the front, not collapsed backward, and you will get many of the benefits of standing. This is also a way to work your way up to the standing practice.

Three bends: your knees, your chest, and your elbows.

Smile! Put a small smile at the corners of your mouth, which will relax your nose and sinuses, making it easy to breathe and take in lots of oxygen.

Feel good and enjoy!

"Both hands naturally move up in front of the chest, about a foot away from the body, no higher than the nose, no lower then the navel."


Friday, March 2, 2018

MMTCA Newsletter March 2018

"Train and refine yourself. True Budo is within you to discover. Keep this in mind in the course of your training."
-Morihei Ueshiba

Spring is coming! Snow is going! And for those who got the flu, health is on the way!

Chinese New Year Demo, Celebration, Demo, Banquet, and Master Choi's 79th Birthday Party is Saturday, March 24th starting at 500PM. We will have a demo of various forms and styles, followed by an altar ceremony. From there we go to Peking Garden for a banquet and birthday party. Red envelopes, gifts, and best wishes are all welcome signs of respect for Master Choi. A sign up is posted at the academy. If you have any questions, please ask.

I now have my book, Lessons with Master Liang, updated and available at A new book as well as a revised, expanded edition of Real Gold, and some of my former publications are all in the works. Master Choi is also busy and we can expect a book or two from him!

Our very own Spencer Chandler is in the play "Indecent" at the Guthrie and is getting rave reviews! Go see him!

Book suggestion: On Tai-Chi Chuan by T.Y. Pang

I am gathering more information about our retreat this Summer at Wild Rice Retreat Center in Bayfield, Wisc.I will update you as soon as I know more. I have set aside the weekend of July 14th for now.

I'm working a new schedule and will post it starting in April.

Thank you for your support, appreciation, and dedication, namaste.

"Loving yourself does not mean being self-absorbed or narcissistic, or disregarding others. Rather it means welcoming yourself as the most honored guest in your own heart, a guest worthy of respect, a lovable companion."
- Margo Anand

My Blog: The Inspired Teacher (
Facebook: Ray Hayward, Ray Hayward Enterprises, Mindful Motion Tai-Chi Academy

Thursday, March 1, 2018

My Lulu page

I now have a Lulu page thanks to tons of research and work by the amazing Julie Cisler. My book about Master Liang is now available again, and others are already in the works. Check it out, buy books, write reviews!

Coming soon!