Reading is fundamental. This became like a mantra when I was growing up. There was a Reading Is Fundamental organization that would bring a mobile library around with books for children to read and they would also visit schools in the school district my schools was a part. Yet, reading which can lead to studying and even researching may be more than simply fundamental for functioning properly in the U.S. and the world. Reading may save your life.
While watching the 10 minutes of news per day I will allow myself to ingest, I saw the nearly 90-year-old Rev. Joseph Lowery on a news release on an event here in Atlanta. Looking as well he looks, hair looking healthy, skin looking healthy, he may have some physical difficulty, but the man was still full of life. I then remembered once reading something about the dis-ease named Alzheimer’s. It appears the higher the education, the lower the risk of Alzheimer’s. While looking at Rev. Lowery I could see that this was true. In fact Betty White is an example of a woman who has lived a significant number of years and seems to be very much in control of her mental faculties. Education, it appears, does keep people mentally aware in this day and age of brain deterioration.
Before we go on, allow me to deal with the term education. It’s quite common to relate the word education with higher learning, of course higher learning drums up images of college campuses text books and a beautiful autumn afternoon. Truly, we pigeon-hole ourselves if we only believe higher education is simply book learning. That thought reminds me of a humorous line on the Everybody Loves Raymond show when his brother Robert jokingly says “Pa wasn’t into fancy book learning…” But, I digress. Simply reading books and taking in whatever information you can glean from them is educating you. And, often this can lead down a rabbit hole of learning. Learning new words, new foods, cultures and even different languages or phrases and idioms of other languages that are not your own.
We need to learn to love what we are learning, and have learned, as a wonderful education and don’t dismiss it as trivia because it wasn’t learned at some “fancy named institution.” We should also be willing to accept, as part of our education what we learn physically. Muscles actually learn physical movements and activity. If you have ever lifted weights or did some biking then had to stop for an extended period of time then came back to it you should have noitced that restarting was not as difficult as when you first began your workout routine. Thats because of muscle memory.
Apparently, other studies have concluded that physical exercise fends off Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Studying Tai Chi Chuan is a fantastic way to exercise. Not only does Tai Chi include using the mind to imagine the next posture, but you must achieve the proper physical form to accomplish the posture. When I began studying Kung Fu, my Sifu admonished us to read as much as we can on the art, its history and read the concepts of all the forms. By the time I moved into the internal martial art of Tai Chi Chuan it became imperative to read and study what one reads. Then move into physically producing what was read and studied.
Tai Chi Chuan as practiced in its slow-moving form is deceptive to those that do not practice. The slow and precise movement are often viewed as not having an effect on the body, many complain that they may not receive a “good” workout. Yet, the opposite is the case. The slow movements allows you to analyze your body mechanics to perfect the posture. In fact each posture can be and should be studied individually. This then encompasses both the reading and learning aspect that may deter Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.