Herb Blurb
  • Northeast Wisconsin
  • September 2011
Written by  Andrew Mertens

How Tai Chi helped me

Tai chi means, "Supreme ultimate." The yin yang symbol is the Tai chi, the dark representing the yang and the light, the yin. Everything in the world has both the essence and dependence of yin and yang. High/low, left/right, male and female, they cannot be separated. It is impossible to think of one and not imply the other. This philosophy is core to the art of Tai chi. In the next few months, I will be sharing with you what we call the principals of Tai chi, the first and most important of which is: relax. If you were to do this all of the time you would find that everything in your life would get better. More on the concept of "relax" next month, for now I believe an introduction is in order.

Most people call me Andy and know me as the bassist who plays with The Jazz Orgy and several other bands. Since early childhood, music was my passion and I pursued a classical bass degree at Lawrence University. I've been fortunate to work as a professional musician for 24 years. Sometime in my late 20s while playing a gig, my left arm went completely numb. I could no longer feel the bass or where my fingers were on the strings. That prompted me to try yoga, massage therapy, Reiki healers and chiropractors to help remedy my problem. I was very resistant to seeing a doctor as surgery would mean not playing for a month or more. My health began to spiral downward. I began to have trouble keeping down food and water. A friend who was recovering from cancer suggested that I try Quantum Energetics because it was helping him greatly. Q.E. is a structured therapy that finds and removes energetic blocks in the meridian system. I decided to give it a try before heading to the doctor.

After a few Q.E. sessions, I was getting food and water down and feeling much better, but my left arm was still going numb after 45 minutes of playing. An occupational therapist friend suggested that I learn Tai chi. He would not teach me, as he was not a certified teacher, but he recommended his teacher, Mike Milewski. Unfortunately, Mike's school was in Milwaukee. After extensive research I decided to commit to a weekly class for three months. My friends thought I was crazy to drive all that way for a class. After a few classes it became clear that my problems were all due to the way I was holding my body. If I could learn to relax and follow the Tai chi principles, my problems would go away. I soon was playing for more than an hour before my arm went numb. I decided to continue with the next 12 weeks, which eventually turned into 11 years. I can now play for more than 10 hours without numbness. In addition, after discovering the power of Q.E. and the impact it had on my overall wellbeing, I studied to become a Quantum Energetics practitioner myself and now see clients regularly.

I cannot say that Tai chi has completely healed my arm, but if I skip my daily practice I will notice it while playing. In my early 40s, I feel better than I did in my 20s. I attribute this to my practice of Tai chi. There is no other exercise that can achieve such great results with just 10 minutes of practice in the morning and evening. Before I began practicing Tai chi, I was sick, always tired and feeling old. Now I have all the energy I need to play music, teach Tai chi, help my clients, work in my garden and enjoy my friends and family.

Andrew Mertens is the director of the Oshkosh Tai Chi Center and a certified Quantum Energetics practitioner. He holds a bachelor's degree in music from Lawrence University and a bachelor of science degree from the New Physiology Institute. He is also a professional bassist and founding member of The Jazz Orgy.

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