Many thanks to all those who helped make the 24th Annual Tai Chi Alchemy in Sedona such a wonderful experience. You create the atmosphere of unconditional love that makes the magic happen!

The party started at least a day early as well over half the group came Thursday or before to hike and hug and acclimate to the extraordinary Tai Chi Alchemy vibe in one of the most beautiful settings we’ll see all year. Friendships are renewed and conversations resume without skipping a beat.

Maria, Jonathan, and I pulled in on Wednesday just as the rain clouds parted to make way for the beautiful weather that would stay with us through Monday. The three of us hiked the gentle Tea Cup trail (near Coffee Pot on Thunder Mountain) and were instantly welcomed by that unique rich, fulfilling ALIVENESS that I haven’t encountered elsewhere. It’s its own thing and opens me to an extra-dimensional awareness that keeps me coming back.

Coffee Pot

Many of us met for breakfast Friday, then off for more hiking, also in the Coffee Pot area. Some of us went to the Seven Sacred Pools, while I and others climbed the Sugarloaf Trail.

At Opening Circle Friday night at Mago Garden, I was struck for the first time that the majority did not practice taijiQUAN. Taijiquan is the martial art/moving meditation named for the TAI JI, the undivided wholeness that is the ALL. In its wholeness, the TAI JI is unfathomable by the human mind. When we try to make sense of it, and fit it into our own personal worldview, it becomes the interplay of polarities, the yang and the yin. Taijiquan attempts to utilize the energy created by this interplay for health, healing, martial art, and spiritual cultivation. Even though most did not actively practice taijiquan, we were all heavily invested in the universal principles that characterize it. And it’s still one of the best ways to empirically study and test some really woo woo stuff!

The theme this year was “Meeting the Big Qi,” and I began by sharing a fast, effective method for plugging into the yin qi of the earth by aligning the knee to the ball of the foot. When It’s a topic I covered in my four-part series with the exciting title, “Setting the Knee.” This isn’t some abstract BS. It’s something you can test. When you plug in correctly, your effective power amplifies immediately.

(As “Larry from Long Island” put it, “I’m here for the superpowers!”)

If you prefer to wait for the movie, wait no longer! Here it is:

Plugging into the earth pole is one part of zhong ding (Central Equilibrium). The heaven pole comes from REACHING with the yang NIWAN point, and we explored that Saturday morning. (I cover that in “Meditation in Action, Part 3.“) The effect is huge, because when you find your central equilibrium by connecting the earth and sky, you plug into the Big Qi in a BIG way.

Try practicing central equilibrium while doing “The Opening: The Most Important Move in the Taijiquan Form.” I cover this in “Setting the Knee” also, but the video is linked here for your convenience. Even if you don’t practice taijiquan regularly, this is an awesome moving meditation that shifts your right into superconsciousness with lots of energy.

Maria Barrett presented a series of exercises to enhance ting jin, or “listening energy.” It begins by developing the ability to discern between “touching” and “feeling.” They use different parts of the nervous system. Also important is to disconnect the sensation from the story we attach to it. This facilitates a shift into body-mind integration, a whole-brain coherence. As you refine your ting jin, you are able to make increasingly insubstantial distinctions.

Maria’s presentation set up the context for much of what followed.

We had great contributions at the dawn qigong gathering at Bliss Rock from Ethan Deford and Lynn Sharp.


Ethan leads qigong at dawn

Lynn at dawn at Bliss Rock 

The illustrious Guru Mike Casto, master of Silat and Filipino fighting systems, showed us how to get out of dicey situations by changing the energy of the encounter through simple movements. You create a trance induction by doing the unexpected, which changes the dynamic to produce an advantage.


Guru Mike Casto takes the fear out of self-defense

Ethan took Maria’s lesson a step deeper by applying it to push hands as a cooperative exercise in feeling what is going on with your partner.

Ethan leads push hands

Too much to get all the cool stuff into this one blog, but here’s a brief summary:
Wonderful healing sessions Saturday night were guided by Linda Addison, Scheila Scheffler, and Wendy Jensen. Linda spoke of the importance of identifying the two poles of Love and Fear in each action we take. Scheila did a heart meditation. Wendy split us into small groups to provide heart-opening reflection. And Maria and I guided a polarity earth session.

Anne McGuffey gave an inspiring talk about solo hiking the Arizona and Colorado Trails. (800 miles across Arizona folks! I get nightmares just thinking of it!) Nick D’Antoni shifted our awareness between gross and subtle movements to fine tune internal perceptions. Valarie Gabel blew our minds with some extemporaneous movement to some wonderful music. Then again the next day by providing us with local rocks to hold and ground attention as we did our various forms and movements. Jonathan Bricklin exuberantly brought home the importance of bringing your practice into your daily life.

And I haven’t even gotten into all the wonderful eating, hugging, loving, laughing, poetry-spewing, hot-tub-sitting, push-handing delightfulness that turned a few days into a miraculous eternity.

Next year will be the 25th Anniversary! The dates are set for September 20-22. Please register early. I expect a big turnout and want to make sure we have the space reserved at Mago.

Sorry about the T-shirt mixup. Micaela and Maria are on top of it to make sure you get yours. Make sure you send your MAILING address (we tried including a t shirt as an attachment to email, but so far no luck!)

If you didn’t get to TCA this year, but want one of these amazing shirts anyway, please contact me. I ordered extras. Original design by Micaela Barrett. (All those little squiggles are hand-crafted!)
TCA keeps getting better, and it’s all your fault! I thank you with all my being!