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Learning by Playing: Tai Chi Training in London by Carla Verhaaf

carla learning

A fantastic view over London, the sun in our faces and all of us together on the top of a major green hill. What a perfect playground for the second part of our Golden Flower International Training in England today. All the energy I have gathered so far in our training sessions flew through my body even more intensely. Being with all these wonderful Golden Flower instructors and students on this perfect spot with the wind in my face made me happy, light, grounded and focused. A spontaneous wrestling-session with colleague and friend John was exactly what I needed to express the feeling of joy and tremendous energy I felt in my body. There is such a desire and need to learn more about Golden Flower’s rich Tai Chi principles which support me and my life everyday.

A lot of exciting, spontaneous playful learning moments followed my morning on the hill. The light atmosphere provided me with the perfect way to practice and integrate the many principles San Gee and Annukka have shared with us so far, such as:  feel your body, stay aligned, keep your body straight and your energy grounded… if you don’t accept that you’ll be “thrown away.” Fall down and stand up again. Try again. Remember that I am in this beautiful place with the supporting people of the Golden Flower Family around me. There are no worries. When I fall I don’t get hurt because I’ve learned to flow and not resist. I just get to my feet again and laugh about it with the people around me. Now I’ve learned to stand up straight.

By playing around and enjoying everything that comes my way the child in me is awakened. I am able to relax even more and experience the internal, energy power that is flowing through my entire body. Amazing things are happening. I felt great empowerment. I had no problem in throwing and get thrown away. I felt great and inexhaustible. I have reached a new level in my development by experiencing what I can do and apply just by feeling, focusing and then allowing and relaxing.

I have learned to play with what I’m learning! And I really felt that I created it myself. I woke up and I really wanted to go outside, in the sun to enjoy this gorgeous place. It’s a joy to play with the beautiful people of this Golden Flower School around me. And the amazing thing is that it just happened. Although in the beginning I felt a little bit uncomfortable rolling in the grass on this big hill. But then I tried just jumping in to it, relaxing and enjoying every moment. In this way I created beneficial, happy and very playful learning moments.

My take away from this morning’s training was to create it, allow it, play with it, allow myself to fall a bit, stand up straight again and try again. I feel strong, energized and happy because of these amazing playful learning moments. I am allowing and eager for what is coming next. I am so happy to continue on learning more about this rich practice of beautiful Golden Flower Tai Chi and I am grateful for all the people who have joined this wonderful school and become part of my life.

With gratitude and joy,

Carla Verhaaf

Carla Verhaaf

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Focus and Flow: A Message From Master San Gee Tam

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In last month’s message I addressed focus. From the feedback we’ve gotten internationally from the Golden Flower Community, developing focus is of interest to many people. This is a vast subject and I’d like to explore it more deeply with you now.

Many times our focus gets attached to triviality.  We’re so focused on the small things on our to do lists we ignore big things like our relationships, taking care of ourselves, and creating an authentic life. Many times we tell ourselves that we’re not taking care of the big things because we don’t have enough time or money. For instance there might be a dream trip you’ve been eager to go on knowing you really need some time to play and relax.  But instead of focusing on how to make the trip a reality in your life you become distracted and repeatedly focus on the story that you have too much to do to take time off, or that your resources are low.

When we do that we’ve forgotten about the power of focus. We’ve forgotten that we have the power to create the life we want. We’ve forgotten how important it is for our health to prioritize fun, friends and personal growth in our lives.

The reality is that life is going to go the way it goes, sometimes in unexpected directions.  This is where flow comes into play. If you can remain focused on what is truly important to you, if you can feel into the flow instead of fighting it, all the help and support you need will come to you.  You will start connecting with your real life, the one that is always there underneath your day-to-day activities.

Just like it is important to begin each day with The Be Here Now Process and by focusing on gratitude and what it is you want to create that day, it is very helpful to step away from your typical day-to-day existence.  The benefits of taking a break from your daily life are immense, whether it is for one day, a few days or even a week.  These breaks (like going for a long hike in the mountains or attending a weekend workshop or travelling for a week or more) offer you a valuable opportunity.  This time offers you space to step back, to rejuvenate, to re-check and re-set your focus.

When you re-set your focus you can better maintain it when you re-enter the flow of your day-to-day life.  You are better able to find your center and stay there. Your mind more easily enters a different, more laser-focused space and you can connect with your true-life experiences deeply and consciously. When you connect to your center, you connect with more and more true-life experiences, finding your true place.

There is no road map to this true place. You find it through using tools like the Be Here Process and Standing Chi Gong which shows you who you really are beyond your body, your emotions and your thoughts.

Standing Chi Gong can be challenging for some people.  For the first five minutes or so your mind tends to be focused on how long you’ve been standing, when you can stop, how your legs or arms are feeling.  But when you are able to stay in place past these first few minutes, something begins to happen.  Your mind begins to shift out of awareness with time.

The domination of the clock, of how much time we have, is very strong for most of us.  But there is one thing that will easily break that domination… focus.  When you are deeply focused time disappears.  Think back to when you have been completely focused on a dynamic heart-conversation.  Hours can go by in a without you noticing.  The same is true when you’re lost in doing something you deeply love or are excited by like playing music or walking on the beach. With practice and focus you can also reach these same states during meditation and Standing Chi Gong.

I invite you to spend some time thinking about where your focus has been lately.  How often is your mind caught up by trivial matters and how often are you focused on what you want in your life, what you are creating so that you may be fulfilled, happy and serving your true purpose.

~ Master San Gee Tam


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Your Focus Determines Your Reality: A Message from Master San Gee Tam


I’d like to share with you some helpful insights I offered to the Golden Flower Instructor Trainees who spent the day at Heavenly Way last week.

Focusing your mind is an essential element of Tai Chi and self-cultivation. Focus and commitment dramatically increase your ability to progress towards mastery. It is something most people don’t think about much of the time, but give it some consideration now:

  • If you wake up in the morning and think about the multitude of things you need to accomplish over the next thirteen hours, you’re likely to have a stressful day. In contrast, if you wake up, listen to your breath, and focus instead on what a wonderful gift your life is, you’re more likely to enjoy your day.
  • If you let your attention jump from one thing to another, you are likely to have a busy, fractured and unproductive day. If you begin your day with standing Chi Gong and focus on one element of The Golden Flower Form you want to practice, you’ll have a more centered, peaceful, productive day.
  • If you focus on feeling tired and wanting to veg out in front of the TV, you’re pretty certain to get a lot of television watching done. If, however, you focus on being healthy and fit, over time you can become healthy and fit through movement, a little Tai Chi practice at home, and eating foods that are full of benefits.


Focus is an important determinant of whether you’ll achieve a goal or stick to creating healthy habits. Not self-discipline, not rewards, not sheer willpower, not even motivation (also an important ingredient, however). If you can maintain your focus, your mind and spirit will bring a centered power to achieving that goal.

A few more helpful ways to increase your focus and ability to tap into the peace available in every moment:

  • Attend Tai Chi class two or more times a week.
  • Take advantage of the opportunity to deeply learn from the beauty of nature during our Annual Retreat at Heavenly Way in August.
  • Practice Golden Flower’s “Be Here” Process. It will help you learn to achieve a relaxed focus, which slows down your breathing and quiets your mind so that learning can come easily and naturally.
  • Make a commitment to do your standing Chi Gong practice every morning.

This is a very exciting time on our planet.  All of us have an opportunity to wake up and be happy.  Life is about being happy.  If you’re not happy, what are you doing here? It’s something you might want to focus on.

~ Master San Gee Tam

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