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Life Is Stressful for Parents and Kids
Most parents have their own professional careers that make enormous demands on their time, energy and ability to guard personal priorities. As for kids, it’s hard enough just dealing with the angst of growing up, with all of its social, emotional and physiological pressures. When the academic pressures are added into the mix, there is an increased likelihood that “meltdowns” will occur, creating even more stress for families.
Students who are struggling academically and those who have learning disabilities may be more vulnerable to emotional stress than those with stronger academic skills, but meltdowns can happen to anyone. When they begin happening on a more frequent basis, it may be time to stop and consider how to address the stress and learn to control it. If there are actual “panic attacks” that begin to strike suddenly and without warning, the need for stress management is even more critical.
Sometimes boosting academic skills can bring down the stress level, but psychologists and doctors often recommend learning stress management skills, including diaphragmatic breathing, stress-relieving movement such as tai chi and yoga, and visualization therapy.
Tai Chi Tao Stress Relief Training builds an array of skills that empower kids and parents to achieve immediate relief and also work toward longer-term goals of building relaxation and balance into their daily lives.
“I think that Tai Chi can really help you with anxiety and when you’re just not feeling well. When I first tried it, I had a great experience because my whole body actually felt relaxed (for once). It just made me really happy because my body was up for a new day!” Sam, age 11
What Is Tai Chi Stress Relief Training?
Gentle, healing exercise and breathing. Tai Chi Stress Relief Training includes gentle exercise that is healing and energizing for the whole person—body, mind, emotions and spirit. It consists of traditional Chinese Tai Chi and Qigong practices that have stood the test of time and that are being practiced by millions of people around the world today for their health benefits. Gentle movement is accompanied by diaphragmatic breathing, and relaxing, healing visualization.
Story form. Tai Chi and Qigong have nature imagery, such as wind, water, mountains, growing plants, sun, moon, stars, animals and birds, that add to the beauty and visualization of the movements. I teach the movements accompanied by a narrative that makes them easy to remember. The “Good Day” narrative associates a set of movements and breathing with challenges students face in the course of everyday life. These include:
• Good beginnings (positive attitude, greeting the sun, stretching out the sky)
• Addressing problems (calming waves, moving mountains)
• Growing and changing (plants, blossoming flowers, trees)
• Reaching out for new possibilities (sun and moon movements)
• Becoming wise (birds and sea creatures, plus sensitivity training)
• Becoming strong and taking charge (assertive movements such as Lion, Tiger and Bear)
• Rest and refreshment (includes energy self massage)
Emotional benefits: The movements, breathing and imagery in Tai Chi Stress Relief offer a way for emotions to be gently acknowledged and released. For example, “Calm the Waves” invites participation in calming the inner emotional waves and the outer waves of troubling circumstances. “Move the Mountain” offers a feeling of empowerment in addressing overwhelming obstacles. Imitating a Lion or Bear builds up courage and assertiveness, while the repetition of circled arms in the “Good Day” posture supports facing the day with a positive attitude.
Move the Mountain
Lifestyle application. Stress relief training includes application to real-life situations. A preliminary stress relief questionnaire and consultation helps identify various lifestyle factors related to stress. Working with both parents and kids helps enhance practices that create balance and harmony and eliminate causes of stress. As the training proceeds, we identify strategies that help students become calm and exercise self control during specific times and situations that are stressful.
Customized training. Courses are customized for each person. A training brochure and DVD's are available with the training.
Individual and group sessions. Training is done in individual or group sessions, depending on the needs of the family and schedules of other participants. I periodically teach group sessions in 8-10 week series in the community.
Overall health benefits. There is a large body of research that has been done in China on the health effects of the Tai Chi and Qigong (Chi Kung) practices that constitute Tai Chi Tao Stress Relief. Western scientific research is also proliferating that reveals a great variety of beneficial physiological, social and psychological benefits. Some of these are summarized below:
Tai Chi Stress Relief is a powerful mode of health maintenance and well-being for everyone, including adults, teens and children. Imagery of animals and birds makes it wonderful for children. Learning the strategies early can assist them through challenging times as they move into high school.
Exercises can be done anywhere. Tai Chi exercises are simple, require no equipment, can be done seated or standing, and require a minimal amount of space. Of course intentional breathing can be done discreetly at all times. These qualities make it ideal for creating quick, energizing moments in a busy day. Students can do movements and breathing at a desk, during study hall, on lunch breaks, during tests, in hallways and restrooms or in their own room or living room at home.
Certified teacher. I am certified to teach Qigong by Tai Chi Master Bruce Moran. I have practiced Tai Chi and Qigong since 1996 and have taught Tai Chi-Qigong in hospitals, rehabilitation centers, in-service trainings and community classes throughout the Chicago area.
Working with University of Chicago Laboratory School students. Stress relief is an integral part of my tutoring and consulting with students and families at UCLS since 2000. In addition to my private practice, UCLS hires me as an independent tutoring contractor for some students. I have five years of experience working with families as an Associate Pastor of a church in Hyde Park.
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