Tai Chi Alchemy XVII

Deep heartfelt thanks to all of you who supported TCA Sedona XVII. It was MAGIC!  I know some of you couldn’t make it this year but we felt the love. I’ll post a summary on my website soon for those of you who are interested. Each year we build on the years before and this was no exception. Truly a wonderful event!


TCA returned to a theme I have been exploring for decades: “Love or Fear?” and I’ll be taking that further in two seminars this month

(New York Open Center in midtown Manhattan- Saturday October 22 10 am to 1 pm) and Peaceful Wolf T’ai Chi in East Haddam,CT- Sunday October 30 10 am to 4 pm).

Those of you who have worked with me over the years have contributed to shaping this work. I am grateful for your participation and help, and hope you’ll take this opportunity to share in the exciting form this research has taken.

These seminars are called: “Love or Fear: Toward a Love-Based Martial Art”.  (Please register early as space is limited.)

It has long been my belief that each moment we are presented with a choice between Love and Fear. Love embraces and resonates with What Is (Tao) and Fear rejects and resists What Is.

We are empowered by Love. We enter a state of heightened coherence (and thus Wholeness), which grants us powers unavailable in a non-coherent state. We are weakened by Fear, which takes us out of rhythm with the universe we inhabit. We feel like we are swimming against an oppressive tide that sucks our energy and will. Fear can manifest in many ways: anger, anxiety, consternation, apathy, depression.

Love and Fear don’t just “happen to us”. They are responses to the challenges we meet in life. When we habitually respond in a particular way, we create an energy pattern that manifests physically, emotionally, and mentally. We actually change our brain chemistry by our choices, for good or ill. Biology is affected by our patterns and this affects the nature of the challenges we encounter. For example, if my habitual response my challenges is anger, then my internal chemistry will reflect this. So will my autonomic nervous system, endocrines, posture, digestion, sleep patterns, and behavior. Life will not be smooth and the challenges I attract will be qualitatively different than if I was calm and thoughtful.

The biggest barrier to actualizing a shift from Fear to Love is encoded in our DNA. We still carry around primitive biological programs that provoke a pre-limbic, reptile brain stress response. Fight, Flight, or Freeze. Unless we have learned a better way to deal with our challenges, we revert back to the default settings of our biology. Even highly trained martial artists can forget their gongfu when overwhelmed by their circumstances. Why? They haven’t learned to access their martial skills when stressed, or they were rewarded by a false sense of competence when they were “victorious” using their more primitive behaviors.

“Love or Fear: Toward a Love-Based Martial Art” is a gentle, fun introduction to a five part exercise designed to overcome the fear-based responses that stick us in unhealthy behavior patterns. As in t’ai chi, everything is slowed down so you can feel what is happening internally and observe how you respond to safe, measured challenges to your balance. The exercise is called “The EDGE” and develops an internal awareness of your personal “safe space” as well as how to expand it. With an expanded safe space, we can remain calm and centered when the going gets tough.

I came up with the exercise a few years ago to get past some of the folly and error of my three decades of internal arts explorations. I now begin each push hands class with The Edge as a means of quickly leading even beginners through the Western Gate and into the cool part of internal martial arts. It is a very powerful tool that helps bring clarity to your gongfu. When I showed this stuff to an old classmate recently, he remarked, “I don’t know what I’ve been doing for the last 30 years, but it hasn’t been internal martial arts.” (The good news is that he’ll now be able to actually use most of what he’s learned in thee decades of hard work.)

At its simplest, The EDGE develops the ability to:

1.Receive energy without fear, resistance, or contraction.

2.Explore the limits of your comfort zone and thereby expand your safe space.

3. Find your Energetic Coherence under stress, and thereby enhance your root, flexibility, and structural integrity.

4. Enhance your Presence in the face of challenges.

5. Expand your effective power by Engaging your partner in a conscious, loving way.

Of course, there will be the usual side trips to relevant topics to flesh out and illuminate this simple matrix. Its simplicity belies its universal application. People have used its powerful techniques for martial arts, sports, meditation, business, relationships, artistic creation, etc. While it’s not a panacea, it does provide  useful and transformative vehicle for those who want to bring more Love and Consciousness into every part of their lives.

Please contact me if you have any questions. In addition to the above seminars, you can also book private sessions with me customized to your personal needs.

Rick Barrett