My tai chi journey started about four years before my major medical event. Tai chi was initially a way to stay at least peripherally connected with my martial arts background as I aged, but classes then became a big part of my recovery from sudden onset paralysis due to a brain mass and rare infection. One morning in late October 2012, I simply could not get up out of bed. A head CT at the emergency room revealed a two-centimeter benign tumor in my right frontal lobe. Fortunately, my vitals stabilized, and a surgeon removed the mass several days later. Despite the tumor removal, I spent nine long days completely paralyzed on my left side due to inflammation from the infection. It was unclear how much mobility I would regain.
The gentle slow-moving art of tai chi focuses on balance and body awareness. It is incredibly beneficial to anyone suffering from mobility or balance issues, and can even be learned and practiced while seated. Shifting weight from one leg to the other and stepping forces both sides of the body to work. Simply learning the form also helps with memory, as the 108-move Yang-style (long) form consists of three distinct sections. While tai chi is fundamentally a martial art, it can be practiced by anyone and is not at all aggressive. The best description is “a moving meditation.”
I am thankful I was able to call upon my tai chi skills which helped in physical therapy. Balance, awareness of my center, and being able to funnel chi (energy) into my paralyzed left side helped tremendously. I recovered my ability to walk, work, and play guitar and ukulele. At Touchmark Meridian, we are very lucky to have Jeffrey Vik—one of the best instructors that I’ve ever encountered anywhere. Join us for the next class and feel the stress melt away!
This guest post is told by Earl, Touchmark at Meadow Lake Village resident and avid Health & Fitness Club member. It has been edited for brevity.