About persistence and new habits…

Beep beep beep… The alarm goes off in the morning. Way too early, like everyday. What do you do? Do you hit snooze a few times before you finally stumble out of bed or do you jump out ready to start your day?

Your action has a lot to do with what you think. If you think about all the tasks that are waiting for you, or that annoying colleague that you have to face or that you have to leave your warm bed and are simply not ready to face the cold yet. Then, for sure you will hit snooze.
But… When you think about the things you are grateful for first thing you wake up, then you will feel more energetic and ready to start! You can be grateful for a lot of things, like being healthy, having a place to sleep, having enough food, etc. You get the picture!

There is another way to jump out of bed as soon as the alarm goes off. One that I apply and it really helps me to take immediate action. One of the new habits I wanted to create, was to start exercising in the morning. To be grateful was good to get me out of bed, but not to make me feel motivated to immediately start running or so.
So, now, whenever I want to hit the snooze button I remember the person that I was (and still am) and picture the person I want to become. I create a lot of pain in my mind, that is, I imagine that if I snooze, I will never realize my goals, will not be fit and be just the person I am today or even worse (getting fatter, getting lazier,…).
I, then, picture the joy I would have to get up, do a healthy morning routine of exercise and healthy breakfast that I just jump out of bed and have enough energy to run 10 km or practice Tai Chi or do any other kind of exercise.

That is how I believe we can achieve our goals faster and be more productive: link pain to your past behavior that didn’t serve you and link pleasure to habits that will help you become the person you want to be!

Check my website for more information about what I do:
http://www.bodymindchallenger.org

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Tai Chi as a lifestyle

What is Tai Chi?
When I ask people this question, they picture old Chinese people doing exercise in the park, so they see it mainly as a health exercise.

Did you ever think that Tai Chi could be like an iceberg? The top you see above the water is what you see people doing. The rest (most of the mountain) is hidden under water, like most of Tai Chi is hidden in our bodies and mind.

How to start Tai Chi practice?
Tai Chi starts with basic movements and meditation. For me, I also didn’t like meditation the first months of my Tai Chi practice. I found I didn’t want to waste time to just standing still. I wanted to learn the Tai Chi movements and focused on how to perform them well. It was only after I really put some effort in doing the meditation every day for 15 to 20 minutes that I felt a huge difference. I walked differently, like my feet were sucked to the ground with every step and my Tai Chi practice took a whole other level: I had better balance, better focus, better… just an overall huge improvement of my movements.

The basic movements in Tai Chi consist of the figure 8 movement to loosen your hips and to improve coordination with your legs and arms. Our hips are very stiff, because we always do exercise in a linear way: walk, run, cycle,… Our hips don’t loosen, on the contrary, they become more stiff. With Tai Chi you have to move your hips in a circular way, you will loosen your hips and release any blockages you have in any of your joints.

Further Tai Chi practice
With every Tai Chi movement, you focus on your Dantian, the energy center in your body, located just 2 fingers under your navel. From there the energy moves all over your body, to every limb and back to your center. When you feel uncomfortable in a certain area of your body, you have a blockage there. With continued practice and the flow of the movements and Qi (as your energy is called in Chinese), you will release this blockage.

Tai Chi is much more than just exercise, it works with your energy and enhances the natural healing process of your body.

I welcome everyone to my workshops to experience it for yourself. If you can’t attend, send me a private message and we can do an online session. I don’t like to make videos, because you need a teacher to correct your movements. If you do the movements wrong, you will hurt yourself.

Visit my website: http://www.bodymindchallenger.org

“Kathy De Leye. originally from Belgium, has been in China since 2008 where she has been studying Tai Chi ever since. In 2013, she won a gold and silver medal at an international competition in Henan, China. She received a high score in both the traditional and sword form at the Tai Chi World Championship in 2014, respectively 8.65 for her traditional form and 8.88 for her sword form.
Her aim is to let everyone know the benefits of Tai Chi.”

Communism and Capitalism

Last Saturday, we went to see the movie 芳华, Youth. It’s about young people growing up in the seventies in China. They are part of an arts group of the Communist army and they are singing and dancing to keep morale up for the soldiers and to promote the communist ideas of Mao.

I am fascinated about that time. How can millions of people be captured by the ideas of one leader and still until this day, Mao Zedong is revered by many Chinese as their Big Savior. When I lived in Yangshuo, I could still see his picture hanging in many houses and even though my husband doesn’t really care, he still knows all the songs and he is singing them with a big smile. So, even though he doesn’t want to admit it, but he has the communist ideas as it was still a big part of his childhood.

China is so different from the West in the sense that everyone is following what others are doing. I have difficulties with communicating with Chinese people as they don’t have creative thoughts and no imagination. When they have been more exposed to the West, I can see that they are thinking differently. So, even after decades that Mao has died, he still holds power over this nation. His ideas are still a big part of Chinese culture and many people are singing his songs with great fervor.

That same Saturday evening we went to a friend’s place and were playing monopoly, a capitalist game, although before I never thought about it that much. Eric, my husband never played it and I guess this is what is happening to China now: going from a very communist setting into an ultra-capitalist setting. We experienced all of it in one day.

It is going to be interesting how the future of China is going to look like, but I think it is already remarkable and something unique in history of what they are doing now. They are a capitalist society with a communist political system. The 2 ideologies that are totally opposite of each other, China knows how to combine. These opposites you see reflected everywhere: big neon signs, but then still older people dressed in Mao’s times clothes. Or, like the movie 芳华, shown in movie theaters and still preaching the communist ideology in Western looking malls. We have to cherish these unique Chinese quirks as they will disappear someday.

Also, because Chinese are getting a taste for the first time of their lives of what real capitalism is. That same day, we saw in front of a mall the newest Cadillac being advertised. It was sitting in a big aquarium with fish swimming around the car. That is some big extravagant exhibition and Westerners are amazed that this happens at such a level. We feel it is too over-the-top and we don’t agree with this kind of extravagance, but Chinese love it! They want the bling-bling.

Who can blame them? They have been denied their piece of the cake for a long time and now they are taking their part – big time!

Modeling Jack Ma

A couple of weeks ago, my husband organized a big meeting to explain our new project. After the meeting, a guy came up to me and we were talking about Kung fu and Tai Chi, as he knew I was practicing and teaching Tai Chi.

He told me something very interesting, which my husband also told me but I didn’t want to listen. I knew Jack Ma was practicing Tai Chi and that he had a school for Tai Chi in Hangzhou. But, my husband said that his school was not successful and that even he couldn’t earn much money with it.

I have been frustrated that people didn’t want to pay much money for my Tai Chi classes, even though I have many years of experience and did a few competitions. I wanted to make Tai Chi a part of my career, but have been struggling for 2 years now. Eric, my husband, was already saying that I shouldn’t focus on something that I love, but that I need to earn money in another way and just practice by myself. Which makes more and more sense because I could already feel that I liked Tai Chi less and less, because I became frustrated with me struggling to get students and to try to get people as motivated in Tai Chi as I was. I realize now that I can’t change people: I have to accept that most people don’t see Tai Chi the way I see it.

That man told me that Jack Ma is going to make a movie with him acting in it doing Tai Chi. He has an amazing cast, all big Kung fu and Tai Chi stars will be in it: Jet Li, Donny Yen, even Tony Ya from Thailand. I was amazed that he could pull this off. But, now I realize that I have to do like him: I need to earn money in another way. And when I earn enough (doesn’t have to be as much as him), I can practice Tai Chi and do whatever I want with it, because I will have enough money from my other business(es).

I took Tai Chi as an example, because that is my passion and I was listening to too many videos of following your passion and money will follow. Everyone has a different passion, so you can change Tai Chi into your passion. But, I also found out that I have a few passions. My other and greater passion is to be a coach and stand on stage in front of many people. This new project with my husband will get me there. And, who knows, when I have enough money and enough exposure, I can stand on that stage and teach some Tai Chi there!

Western habits

I am teaching at a Chinese company now for a couple of months. They asked me to help them to practice their English, because they will have to go to a conference in London in November to try to attract new business partners.
I love to teach them as they are very eager to learn and they are curious about the Western life and mentality. I realize that I have much experience now about Chinese habits too and am able to tell them that not all foreigners are used to China, its culture and habits.So, we should always bear in mind that when we are abroad people are not familiar with our way of living.When they asked if they could invite potential business partners to dinner, I also realized that I will have to teach them about the Western style of dining and the table etiquette. I know this is now also big business in China! I love it that we can learn so much from each other’s culture.
At home, we are a bit in the same situation. Our tickets are booked to go to Belgium in October. It’s going to be the second time for my husband, but I can see he is already getting nervous and wants to eat more Western food and want to eat with fork and knife again just to get used to it again.
I, on the other hand, love to eat with chopsticks. Even when I was in Belgium I would sometimes eat the food with chopsticks, because I am so used to it and I love the feel of it. I am amazed to see on how it opened my mind to live in another country and in a totally different culture. I appreciate things from Belgium much more when I am there, but on the other hand, I miss things from China a lot as well when I am there.


I feel that I have one foot in Belgium and one foot in China. My husband thinks of moving to Belgium in the future, but I am not so sure. Although, I do miss the European life, because it is more relaxed and quiet, but I also miss China when I am in Europe. I think once you are familiar with 2 cultures, it is hard to choose which one you like more: you learn to love and hate certain things of each culture. I do think it would be good to move to Belgium for a certain period, so my husband can experience what it is to live in another culture and also so he knows my culture more. But only the future will tell where we will live permanently.

7 day juice fast

My husband and I will start a juice fast for 7 days, which is about our new project.

My husband had a restaurant for about 8 months and he could see what restaurant life was. He was shocked at all the food additives that existed and he got the insight that a restaurant is all about making money and doesn’t care about our health. So, they take the low quality cheap meat and vegetables, load it with food additives to look, smell and taste nice.

This was against his and my values! I was more than happy that he sold the restaurant, because I was against it from the beginning as I know that it is hard for a restaurant to keep high quality and still make money.

Our new project is about healthy, natural food. We are reading books and watching a lot of documentaries about healthy food and maintaining a strong healthy body. Later, we will give trainings in these health matters and we are looking for farmers in China to cooperate with us to sell organic food.

Our body is the most important thing we have. When we don’t keep it healthy, we can’t do anything anymore. Money can’t buy health, but you can buy good healthy foods. Many people, Chinese and Westerners, go to fast food places and don’t’ think twice about what they are putting in their mouth.

With this fast I want to see how I will change over these 7 days. We have been eating unhealthy for a few months now, because of the restaurant, because of being too busy to cook at home. And I can feel it: my skin has pimples, I have less energy and my mood is not so good. Last year, I was jumping out of bed at 6am to do exercise. Now I stumble out of bed after 8am and need more coffee to just wake up and start my day. This is not who I am.

I am taking control over my life again by taking care of my body and giving it the food it really needs. I see so many people around me that are unaware of what they are doing and we want to teach people, Chinese and foreigners, here in China and abroad about why we shouldn’t eat at restaurants and what a healthy diet really looks like!

Tai Chi teacher in China

I came to China in 2008 to study Kung Fu. I was practicing Kung Fu in Belgium and came to China for the first time in 2007 to travel through the country of this beautiful martial art! I visited tourist places, like Yangshuo, Xi’an and Beijing and also went to Shaolin to see some real Shaolin Kung Fu. When I was in Yangshuo, I met a Kung Fu teacher who had a beautiful family style, BuDiZhen, a mix of Shaolin and Wudang Kung Fu.

 

I decided to live in Yangshuo for 1 year, study Kung Fu and then I thought of moving back to Belgium. Little did I know back then that my life would never be the same again…
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I stayed in Yangshuo and learned from my Kung Fu teacher for 2 years. I had some money saved, so I was an English teacher just part-time and I focused on learning a lot of Kung Fu.

But, after 2 years, I started to hear more about Tai Chi and how it helps you to cultivate your internal energy. I was intrigued by it and finally found a good teacher to teach me Chen Tai Chi.

From 2010, I started to practice Tai Chi. I loved the slow graceful movements, but also the martial aspect of it. Every movement represents a self-defense technique and it is actually hard work. I practiced really hard and went to a couple of competitions: in 2013, I went to Henan, Jiaozuo, the birthplace of Tai Chi to participate in an International competition and I got a gold medal and silver medal. The year after, I went to the World Championship, but didn’t get a medal there.

 

In 2015, I moved to Shenzhen and I started to teach Tai Chi to expats that I met here. I never thought I could be a Tai Chi teacher in China and I didn’t profile myself like that at first. Some people wanted to know a bit more about Tai Chi and because I could speak English, they asked me to teach them. Little by little, I started to be known as the ‘Tai Chi master’ and more people were texting me to know my teaching schedule.

 

I am teaching almost every month now and am having more and more students. I am thinking of a whole project to teach Tai Chi as a whole lifestyle: the movements, the history and the philosophy.

 

When I tell Chinese people that I teach Tai Chi, the first reaction is almost always: but you are not old! Apparently, for Chinese people you have to be old to practice Tai Chi. I always answer: “it’s because I don’t want to become old that I practice.” Because Tai Chi helps to balance your body and mind, makes your body stronger, you will not become old that fast.

 

I find it a shame that Chinese people don’t want to practice Tai Chi anymore. The new generation is not putting much value on it. I heard that in my country it is becoming very popular. The West is discovering ancient Chinese philosophy: Chinese medicine, Chinese arts and Chinese martial arts are all becoming very popular. But, in China they are becoming less and less popular. Do we, Westerners, in the future will have to teach the Chinese about their traditional culture?