Monday, December 30, 2013

Free T'ai Chi! Happy New Year!


Begins Monday, Jan 20th    -    Mondays 6:00-7:30pm   
In our beautiful new studio at 110 Ward Hill Road, Phillipston, MA

I have recently been inspired by two things in my life, one recent and the other of more than 40 years ago, to offer some sort of service to the world I move in:  

Recently by my connection with the Indian Guru Amma Chi; the other in 1971 when I was a founding member of the Boston Repertory theatre where we offered free performances. That continues to be one the most memorable and rewarding experiences in my life.

The connection..........

I have often found myself in disagreement with the exorbitant amount of money some T’ai Chi masters charge for their teachings. 


it feels absolutely appropriate and rewarding to me to offer ongoing free T'ai Chi classes for those who want to learn this art. I will freely teach and share everything I have learned from all my esteemed teachers in this class.

I will not be advertising the class in any other way than by word of mouth, so PLEASE pass this on to your friends especially if you live in Central Mass.

Instructor: David Zucker. 

Training: 41 years of experience having studied with a wide variety of masters during that time, including T.T. Liang, John Chung Li, Peter Ralston,  Kumar Frantzis, William C.C. Chen, and Alan Shapiro. 

Teaching: 35 years of teaching thousands of students at many different locations: Interface; New Age Expos; Boston Center for Adult Ed;  Skyros Institute, Greece; Ferry Beach and privately in Boston, Watertown, Belmont, Waltham, and Concord, MA.  I also created the T'ai Chi program for Harvard Pilgrim Health and taught it for many years, employing at one time up to five additional instructors in the Harvard Pilgrim network.

The Fine Print
  1. Class size limited to the number who can comfortably fit in my home studio (about 10 people). Phillipston isn’t exactly the center of the world, so travel may limit your decision.
  2. Donation: You will be expected to make a donation. It is my intention to offer the class for free, but that is more for my benefit than yours, as strange as that might seem (maybe not). For your benefit, however, things are often not valued unless there is some sort of ‘cost’ to the student. I have several ideas on how to establish that cost, one of which is to ask you to make a donation after each class. It should be something you are absolutely comfortable with. I make no judgements on the amount and will make it a point to not know who is giving what. If you truly feel you can afford nothing, then the class will be free in that way to you.
  3. Practice: You agree to practice everyday.  T’ai Chi is an art that is impossible to learn without practice. It is possible, for comparison, to get some benefit out of a yoga class if you only practice during the class. It is not possible to approach T’ai Chi that way for the very simple reason that there is too much memory involved, and the memory involvement gets more progressive with every passing week (perhaps a good anti-Alzheimers’ exercise). The good news: You are only required to practice a minimum of one minute a day to fulfill the requirement, but you MUST put at least that one minute into it.
  4. Participation:  You are encouraged to sign up and be expected to come to class. I am not expecting hordes of people to descend on Phillipston, so I am initially allowing drop-ins; but people who have signed up for the class will have preference if, for example, 15 people show up some Monday for a space that only holds 10. 
  5. Flexibility: My work sometimes calls me to travel. There will be no class on the Mondays when I have to be away. There will be plenty of advance notice of these dates. I will notify you via email of these cancellations (another reason to sign up rather than drop in). My experience is that this will happen less than once a month.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Cardinal or Can of Coke?

I am playing T'ai Chi outside at Harvard Business school yesterday early morning (before teaching a class there - yes, on a Saturday!), and I see a cardinal (bird, not prelate) flying around. Every now and then I see him as I turn, catch him out of the corner of my eye; but also every now and then I would think I see him only to find that my attention has been caught by a red Coke Can that someone has discarded on the lawn. 

It is obvious that my mind is projecting a cardinal when I am really looking at a Coke can. The cardinal is in my mind. The not-so-obvious and even profound thing that occurs to me is that I am probably not seeing the cardinal EVEN WHEN I AM ACTUALLY LOOKING AT THE CARDINAL, that I am seeing the SAME projection of a cardinal that my mind furnishes when I look at the red Coke can. 

Suddenly everything shifts and I start SEEING what I am looking at, without filter or expectation. The remainder of my T'ai Chi workout is pretty sweet. The lesson is deep and memorable.

It is pretty good indication that whenever I look at something I don't actually see what is there. I usually see what I expect to see from my past experience of the thing - my mind furnishing the image from its' memory banks that most closely corresponds to the thing I think I am seeing. When that thing actually is a cardinal it is almost impossible to notice that I am really seeing a projection rather than the real thing. When the cardinal is a Coke can, the phenomenon is much more obvious - (thank you Coke Can for the lesson!).

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Stop using the word, "Terrorist!"

Isn't about time we stop dignifying and enabling people who plant bombs or commit acts of violence with the name of "Terrorist?" Don't they just love that name? Why give them this power and authority? "Animal" or "Beast" is unfair to animals and beasts. I think "Unhuman" or 'Subhuman" or "Low Life" or "Pond Scum" would be better words. Just SOMETHING that would BELITTLE these people, not dignify them Come on Media, get smart. Politicians do this all the time, trying to define the opponent with very specifically chosen words. Words can be game-changers so let's get smart. Surely we can stop using the word, "Terrorist!"

Thursday, March 7, 2013

I am an iPhone, not a mainframe computer!

Scientists have used computers as metaphors for the human experience for almost as many years as computers have been around, so let me extend the metaphor:

Looking at my new iPhone I realized that I am more like that than I am like a desktop or mainframe computer.

I have a running conversation with a good friend of mine about the existence or non-existence of 'God.' He is an Atheist and I am a believer. But I am a believer who admits that my belief is just a belief - I could be right or wrong.

What I realize though, is that my belief is really not about whether or not God exists, but about there being more to life than what most of us see as 'reality'. I am pretty convinced that what passes for reality is mostly illusion, smoke and mirrors, ...... theatre! (Hence the Title of my blog: "Looking Backstage in Life")

I am pretty convinced, through my own experiences, that "I" is more than my mind, emotions, or body; and that "I" continues after 'death.'

From my experiences and from reading about Quantum Physics I have come up with an extension of the computer metaphor.  "I" is more like my iPhone than my old non-cloud-connected desktop computer. Most people think that consciousness resides in, and is generated by, the brain. I think that Consciousness ('God') exists 'outside' the brain, in the 'Cloud' and that my brain is a transmitter, or focuser, of Consciousness, much like my iphone brings the content of the web/cloud to me, but the web/cloud does not reside on my iphone.

If my iphone (mind, emotions, body) breaks ('God' forbid!), then I just get a new one and download the content from the cloud/web - no loss of 'Me.'  Now, just as with my iphone, there is some content stored on the device of my mind/body/feelings, and that content probably does get lost when I die. I liken that to my personality in this particular incarnation. As Alzheimers shows, the personality IS destructible, when memory goes - identity goes too. As Thornton Wilder says in Our Town, "What's left? What's left when memory's gone, and your identity Mrs. Smith?"

So, my grand purpose in this particular lifetime is to make sure that the "I" I identify with is NOT the personality but the larger, indestructible, eternal, evernow "I" of Consciousness.

That is the purpose of meditation, T'ai Chi, Yoga, zen, and all real spiritual practices. It was the purpose of the founders of the world's religions before those religions got corrupted by ignorant followers. Every great religious figure saw into Truth, saw the distinction between the temporal and the eternal and tried, with the metaphors available to them at the time, to point the way to Truth.

I also do not think such an idea is unprovable or lacks evidence. I believe science and mysticism are getting closer and closer - that if such a concept is 'true' then at some point it will be provable and evidence will be discovered. Until that time it will remain a belief for me, but a belief backed up by personal experience, and one that makes a whole lot more common sense to me than the belief that our "I" is just an amalgamation of memory, mind, and body.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Relax, you'll be more productive - by Tony Schwartz

Renewal Article from NY Times

I have chosen specific parts of the article and copied them here. If you'd like, email me and I will send you a link to the article itself. Not much commentary from me here, just what Tony has written and which makes complete sense to me.

Here it is..........

"A new and growing body of multidisciplinary research shows that strategic renewal — including daytime workouts, short afternoon naps, longer sleep hours, more time away from the office and longer, more frequent vacations — boosts productivity, job performance and, of course, health.

Although many of us can’t increase the working hours in the day, we can measurably increase our energy.

This impacts two of the three work areas of my life: Leadership consulting for The Ariel Group and T'ai Chi (I already put these principles in place in my performing world)

Our basic idea is that the energy employees bring to their jobs is far more important in terms of the value of their work than is the number of hours they work.

Working in 90-minute intervals turns out to be a prescription for maximizing productivity

As athletes understand especially well, the greater the performance demand, the greater the need for renewal. When we’re under pressure, however, most of us experience the opposite impulse: to push harder rather than rest.

Human beings aren’t designed to expend energy continuously. Rather, we’re meant to pulse between spending and recovering energy.

Professor K. Anders Ericsson and his colleagues at Florida State University have studied elite performers, including musicians, athletes, actors and chess players. In each of these fields, Dr. Ericsson found that the best performers typically practice in uninterrupted sessions that last no more than 90 minutes.

The power of renewal was so compelling to me that I’ve created a business around it that helps a range of companies including Google, Coca-Cola, Green Mountain Coffee, the Los Angeles Police Department, Cleveland Clinic and Genentech.
Our own offices are a laboratory for the principles we teach. Renewal is central to how we work. We dedicated space to a “renewal” room in which employees can nap, meditate or relax. "

Monday, December 17, 2012

Gun Control

A different post today.....

Sometimes, once in a great while, something happens that is so close and personal to you (I performed for these children last year), and so awakening in its brutality that you have no choice but to not let it go until something is done. Ya gotta pick the battles that im-passion you.  If it doesn't touch your heart then you won't have the passion to do anything about it

The Sandy Hook massacre is that for me.

Actually, I have had it with extremism in all its forms. The sickness in our society is that we now see what divides us as more powerful than what we have in common, when the opposite is true. We all love, we all want to laugh and enjoy our lives. We all want to protect our children and make a world where they can live in peace and happiness. We all cry; we all bleed. We all share our humanity and this is so much more powerful than our differences of opinion as to the nature of, or existence of God, who should be president or be able to marry, etc. These things just are not as important as our common humanity.

Extremism, in all its forms - Left, Right, Christian, Muslim, Jew or Arab - is a disease.

The gun issue raised by this tragedy in Newtown, CT  just pushes me over the top. My specific focus for this will be the extreme views of the Gun lobby and the NRA. Not the 2nd amendment, which I support, but extremism. How we treat mental illness in our society is also on the list.

I have no idea what my next step will be, but step I will. I guess my first step would be to ask for your support and to contact your politicians to demand sane and balanced gun regulation, a return to balance in our general discourse, a recognition of the disease of extremism no matter where it shows up.

Thank you for whatever support you can agree to, even if it is just to pass this on to someone who might give me some ideas.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Pursue The Ordinary

I don't know if is the fact that I am in spiritual India, or the jet-lag, but I woke at 2am this morning feeling the desire to do T'ai chi. I spent the next extraordinary three hours with T'ai Chi, Standing meditation and just general "Being" This is what came to me as an experience:

If you want to find the extraordinary - pursue the ordinary. The extraordinary exists only in the ordinary. If you pursue the extraordinary you will never find it because you are making a distinction between the experience you are having now and something that you think does not exist at this moment that you are calling, "The extraordinary."

The ordinary IS extraordinary.

Think about it: The extraordinary is experienced as something rare, one of a kind, special. OK then - that is the precise definition of the ordinary "Now." The ordinary, now, moment is rare, is one-of-a-kind, is special. It is these things because it is the ONLY moment that EVER exists - ALWAYS and forever - "World without end."

If you can pursue the ordinary so that you actually get to experience it unfiltered, raw, as-it-is, you will have a guaranteed extraordinary experience. And if you can let go of that so that you stay open to experiencing the very next ordinary moment, you will have another extraordinary experience. If you can let go of THAT one too so that you can fully experience the next ordinary moment as it appears, and the next, and the next, and the next, and........ Then you will have a never ending experience of the extraordinary "Now." You will have eternal life because the only thing eternal is the Now.

That is why I say, "The most transcendent enlightenment experience you have ever had cannot compare to the experience you are having right now." Right now is REAL.

It is ordinary because it never ends.
It is extraordinary because it is the only one there IS.

WOW! THIS is all there is. Nothing else exists. Existence IS "What is." "Right Now" IS what IS. Period. The fun, the play, the work, the game.... the ONLY thing really worth pursuing is the unfiltered experience of THIS moment.

Think of it: Everything else will end. Your children will leave you. Your wife or husband will leave you or you will leave them because eventually you will both die. You car will fall into disrepair. Your favorite shoes will fall apart. Your body will stop being able to do what it is used to. EVERYTHING is impermanent and ends...... EXCEPT right now.

What else is truly worth pursuing but that which is always new and never ends. Every sage who ever lived saw that. Jesus said (supposedly), "Behold, I maketh all things new." I don't think he was talking about himself. I think he was one with the Now moment (God) and having an unfiltered experience of the eternal Now, which indeed does make all things new.