TMW in action
With TMW Teachers taking their skills and experience into a huge array of settings, we have been able to witness how TMW is multidimensional in its impact.
TMW and Long Covid
Working with the Royal Berkshire Hospital, TMW was delivered as a series of online 6-week courses to people presenting a multitude of issues as a result of having Covid.
Long Covid has complex physical implications – fatigue, pain, respiratory issues etc. Also, there are complex psychological and emotional issues – anxiety, frustration, denial, grief etc resulting from the shock of what has happened and the fear and despair of not ever “getting back to normal life”.
From the pre and post-questionnaires the reported impact of TMW was significant:
98% an improvement of one or more physical and/or mental health issues
64% felt an overall improvement with 62% of those improving with every issue/indicator
63% improvement of their respiration
51% improvement in fatigue
46% decrease in feelings of anxiety
40% decrease in feelings of depression
33% improvement in mobility
“TMW offers me a way back into gentle physical movement which is achievable for managing my Long Covid symptoms. It helps me to soothe my disregulated autonomic nervous system and the more familiar I become with the movements, the more I am in the present moment and a calming state of being. Learning how to move with my natural breathing rhythm gives another element of self-awareness and a way of helping my own recovery.”
F S, Berkshire Long-Covid Integrated Scheme
Rehabilitation – Post Surgery, Stroke, Movement Impairment
When concerned with a part of our anatomy which has been torn through surgery or injury, TMW has been found to make a positive change in patients’ lives not only through the physical benefits but by encouraging patients to take an active role in their rehabilitation.
Even if an individual is unable to fully follow the movements in the sequence, the fact that they can apply the underlying principles of TMW and visualise the full movements, brings a general sense of liberation and wellbeing.
In addition to the results TMW achieved with the rehabilitation of patients within the Hereford ABI study, the effects of TMW on patients recovering from surgery has also been researched. One focus group among women with breast cancer showed all had experienced benefits. In fact, a common question asked during the study was “Why didn’t anyone tell me about this before?”
TMW is being used in pain management and its value is summarised by TMW Teacher, Betsan Corkhill:
“Pain pulls your attention to the body part where you feel pain which can then become ‘separated’ from the ‘whole’. With TMW we are moving rhythmically as a whole mind/body in sync with breath which enables you to reach a point where you are no longer ‘doing’ the moves but are ‘being’ them.
Learning to move with rhythm, joy and safety as a unified, whole mind/body can enable people to experience a sense of peace and safety within themselves, creating a space that optimises the potential for healing. I would argue that this should be an essential step in our treatment of those who seek our help.”
Read Betsan’s full article here
Mental Health Issues, PTSD
Depression and anxiety can be a significant burden to any individual and their family. With an estimated one in six of the UK population diagnosed with significant anxiety or depression at any one time, it’s an economic burden to the country too, with rising health care and lost employment costs.
To address this situation, the government has introduced the evidence-based ‘Improving Access to Psychological Therapies’ (IAPT) initiative. And one of the most influential approaches to the management of relapsing depression has been Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT). This approach uses mindfulness meditation to increase awareness of the ‘here and now’ supporting new and healthier choices.
How TMW can make a difference
TMW offers a similar mindfulness-based approach – ‘Mindfulness in Motion’ – which comprises carefully structured and mindful Tai Chi movements. Sitting and extended meditation does not suit all individuals and TMW offers a simple and gentle movement and exercise approach. Unique movements, such as ‘Return to Centre’ offer an “anchor” for the individual to interrupt negative thoughts and awaken to more healthy, balanced and embodied choices. TMW would be excellent in addition to both MBCT and the IAPT approaches. It has also been designed to match the MBCT protocol and can be learned by virtually any qualified staff and provides an extremely cost effective solution.
One student’s story…
Following an accident, one of our students had issues with anger. Before the accident the student was used to being very active. However, a brain injury as a result of the accident meant the ability to make decisions and carry them out was severely affected. This resulted in a great deal of frustration, lack of self esteem and anger.
One of the benefits of TMW for mental wellbeing is its ability to calm an individual. For this student we used the “Return to Centre” movement as a prompt to calm them down whenever the frustration began to build. We also employed certain movements as mental triggers to help remind the student to release the problem.
One night, when the habitual cycle of frustration began again, the student used this movement to break the cycle and reflect another way of being with the frustration. As a result of the movement and the student’s decision to go outside and get some fresh air, a difficult situation was avoided – breaking the cycle.
For those suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, when reactivation of the experience is ungrounded the individual is literally back there. TMW offers the ability to calm and ‘centre’ the body using a simple movement or gesture, encouraging the individual’s equilibrium to be restored.
“TMW always helps me to find myself, to feel stronger in my mind and increase my feeling of self worth. It helps me calm my mind and forget my worries. It helps me clarify my creative mind and channel my energy better. And with time it’s becoming easier to release tension in my muscles and to relax – releasing pain.”
L.H. (Knowle West Healthy Living Centre, Mental Health Project)
Long Term Health Conditions
TMW improves mindfulness of the body and supports self-care. It introduces gentle exercise, flexibility and balance and can be practised seated or standing. TMW encompasses the approach of embodied mindfulness; this is designed to help manage distress, worry and anxiety – bringing a calmer and healthy mind in line with a balanced and healthier body.
One group’s story
TMW has been used to support a group of women at The Haven, a charity organisation in Hereford for women with breast cancer. The group was interested in exploring less conventional treatments and turned to Tai Chi based movement. For many of the women, the benefits exceeded their expectations.
“I have gained far more than I ever expected.”
“I go away feeling totally different … my life has changed since I started.”
In terms of their experience, many women found that TMW helped them to relax and better manage their anxiety. Some also sensed a feeling of empowerment of their health conditions.
“I had severe radiotherapy burns and had lost a lot of confidence. Through TMW I have regained a lot of my confidence.”
Perhaps the most profound difference TMW has made to these women is in their relationship with their cancer.
“The cancer is now in the background, it’s behind me, I’ve moved on.”
“It allows you to be in the right frame of mind to see health professionals, to be receptive and accepting of treatments. It changes everything around!”
Respiratory health – COPD and Breathlessness
The British Lung Foundation (BLF) states that respiratory diseases are among the largest causes of morbidity and mortality and conditions such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) lead to a considerable healthcare burden, with considerable unmet need.
Physical activity limitation is a key feature of people struggling with respiratory health and as a result there can be further health deterioration. This in turn can cause social isolation and resultant mental health issues.
Pulmonary Rehabilitation (PR) can improve exercise capacity, symptoms and ability to cope with the condition. However, access is often limited and adherence can be poor. Thus, there is interest in developing alternative and complementary forms of exercise intervention.
In 2019 the BLF funded the training of eleven TMW teachers to work in their communities, to evaluate the impact of TMW on the participants’ overall wellbeing. “Our results indicate that the Tai Chi Movements for Wellbeing programme (shows) statistically significant improvements in participant respiratory health-related quality of life and functional breathlessness.”
Quotes from participants
“The gentle exercises have enabled me to relieve stress, calming my mind which helps with my breathing.”
“I can manage without using oxygen yet still feel I have exercised.”
Staying Active in Older Age
Improving the physical and mental health of older people is at the heart of the government’s policy for management of the nation’s health. Central to this policy is the prevention of falls, rehabilitation after strokes, and better support for mental health.
How TMW can make a difference
Studies in osteoarthritis have shown that Tai Chi movements result in improved physical wellbeing and quality of life. TMW offers a gentle movement-based approach that can be used to help older people to stay active – supporting improved core stability and proprioception, increased body awareness and vigilance, as well as improved balance.
“I started going to TMW because of mental and health problems. Since the age of 14, I’ve had arthritis and now have osteoporosis and have had to learn to live with a lot of pain. I have found more movement and less pain in the few months I’ve been doing TMW than I have ever had. If you are a sufferer like me – do Tai Chi – it’s great. By the way I’m just short of my 70th birthday!”
PD (TMW for Rehabilitation Project, Bristol)
Beginning TMW at the age of 80, our student continued to use the sequence until she died at the age of 97. She practised the sequence every day because it helped her stay flexible, active and stimulated mentally.
As she eventually became frail and unable to stand, she continued to do the sequence sitting, sometimes even in her bed. This not only kept her stimulated, but helped her circulation and general wellbeing right up to the end of her long life.
Enhancing Wellbeing in Schools
Due to the effects lack of exercise can have on a child’s health and education, there’s a drive to promote wellbeing in the education process.
TMW is ideal for use in schools and colleges to help learners in:
- Better sleep
- Reducing stress and tension
- Improving concentration
- Increasing social contact
- Building confidence
- Supporting those who are more sensitive by teaching how to centre
- Enhanced listening by encouraging receptivity through awareness and relaxation
TMW will also help education providers:
“Using TMW has allowed me to be much more centred and grounded in the classroom. If I am fully present with my students they are open, alert and relaxed because they sense that in me. When I teach from this space, lessons are clear and enjoyable for everyone”
Steve Blake – teacher in West Midlands
TMW has been explored in a number of different ways within the educational system.
- A teacher in Powys Wales has used TMW to help her Year 11 and 6th form learners to prepare for examinations, helping them to centre and relax. She has also used TMW for Year 9 as part of the Wales 560 approach to getting learners moving and fit for life.
- TMW and its attendant principles has been introduced to a “Beaver Scouts” group in Malvern.
- TMW principles have been used by schools in Scotland to help reduce incidents of bullying.
- At the University of Wales students are offered a taste of Tai Chi’s approach to living life rather than surviving it as an additional viewpoint to their Religious Studies programme.
- TMW has been presented at the University of Bath to promote ways of reducing stress and enhancing performance through its essential principles.
- In 2009 TMW was invited by the University of Wales to present at their conference on Emotional Intelligence in Schools in South Wales. As a result, TMW was introduced to a large primary school in Newport. Both staff and learners were impressed by its calming effect.