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My practice of Taiji began in 1996.  One Sunday evening, about half way into my sermon at the evening worship service at the Presbyterian Church in Chinatown, I suffered a “blackout”.  I did not lose consciousness; I knew precisely where I was and what I was doing.  What happened was that suddenly, the sermon manuscript before me was not the sermon I was preaching.  I recognized it as a sermon I had written previously, but it was not that evening’s sermon.  One of the ushers dashed downstairs and went into my office to see if I had accidentally left a couple of pages of the sermon on my desk and that I was simply missing those pages.  That was not the case.  Norman Fong, the liturgist, whispered to me, “just wing it”!  Members of the congregation later told me that it looked like I had suffered a stroke, even though I looked and acted normal.  What changed was that I stopped preaching suddenly and informed the congregation what had happened.  “This is not the sermon I had prepared”.  After what felt like an excruciatingly long period of anxiety and confusion on everyone’s part, I suggested we all pray.  Shar Hall, in the choir, broke the silence and prayed aloud.  The moment she finished the prayer, it was as if I woke from a deep sleep and began to preach right where I had left off about 15 minutes ago.  I finished the sermon and led the rest of the service to its completion as if nothing had happened, except for those terrifying 15 minutes.

CK Jeong, who had been teaching Taiji for many years, started an early Wednesday morning class at a park near his house and invited me to practice Taiji with him.  He had heard what happened to me at that evening service.  That was the beginning.  I have been practicing Taiji on and off for almost 30 years.

I made an appointment with my primary care physician immediately; and he referred me to a neurologist.  The neurologist put me through a battery of tests, including an MRI of the brain.  In the end, the neurologist informed me that the tests revealed nothing and so he had no explanation for what happened to me that night.  The only possible explanation was that I had suffered something akin to an epileptic seizure, a momentary electronic miss-firing in my brain.  He offered me medication for epileptic patients.  I asked how the medication would help my condition.  His answer was that it would do nothing.  So I asked why anyone would take it.  His reply was that for some people, taking something, anything, gives them a certain level of comfort and reassurance.  I declined the prescription.  Because he had no idea what caused it, the neurologist said that it was possible that it could happen again.

After a year of practicing Taiji, I had a physical examination which included some blood work testing as part of my application for a life insurance policy.  My agent was shocked at the results of my examination.  In all her years of selling insurance, she had never had a client who tested at the highest level of health and as a result qualifying for a premium policy at the lowest rate.  I give credit to Taiji practice.

Since then, I have practiced under several teachers. And today, my teacher is George Lai, a retired Math teacher, former Department Head at George Washington High School, San Francisco.  And if you are wondering, I have not had another one of those episodes. Also, I have met a couple of people who have had similar incidents and they were told that there is a name/diagnosis for what we suffered: Transient Global Amnesia.

1 thought on “Taiji”

  1. I never heard of Transient Global Amnesia and wonder if it is like having been under lingering hypnosis. From your previous stories, your life and time in ministry as clergy has been constant stress, always “ON”. That can be hypnotic. Happy to get affirmation that the ancient art and science of Taiji has been an effective antidote.

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