The Healers

Easy Does It


Don Myers '84 integrates Chinese therapies into his whole life.

Don Myers '84

by Christi Cox

In a way, the theft of his bike changed Don Myers's life. When the 1984 music education graduate unexpectedly lost his primary mode of exercise, he took up the study of tai chi, the well-known form of Chinese therapeutic movement. "It turned out to be 'exercise plus,' " he says. Right from the first class Myers noticed beneficial shifts in his energy. He was hooked.

Since then, no matter where Myers's life has taken him, his study --- and eventually teaching --- of Chinese movement systems have continued. Whether living in New York or Utah or California he has applied himself to the practices, taking courses with respected masters and in turn passing along what he learns to his students. He attributes his skill as a teacher in part to the curriculum at Ithaca, which trained him not only in methodology but also how to be at ease in performance situations. "I used to be very nervous before performances," he says, "but by the time I graduated I'd learned how to get over it" --- a good thing, considering his career path.

After graduation he taught music in school systems and earned a graduate degree in library science. Today, living in Berkeley, California, he works as a training consultant for a leading international supplier of library automation systems. It's high-stress work that keeps him on the road and very much in the public eye. Thank goodness for his tai chi practice, says Myers. He swears he rarely gets ill and has learned to remain (relatively) calm.

What exactly is tai chi? Myers explains that the practice is just one of thousands of forms of chi gung --- a term that translates roughly as "practice with chi," the energy that enlivens all things, according to the Chinese worldview. Tai chi happens to be the type of chi gung most widely promoted in the West, but in China other forms of chi gung are commonly practiced.

"Chi gung develops power and health," Myers says. It's because he's found it so personally helpful that he decided to open his school, Silver Ox T'ai Chi, where he holds classes one or two nights a week. "Most health care is about fixing problems once they already exist. I'm more interested in teaching people how to prevent those problems in the first place," he says. But it doesn't stop there. "The system I'm teaching begins at the physical/energetic level, and then goes on to emotional and mental health. "He teaches a very safe form, moving energy to stabilize the nervous system and then incorporating Taoist breathing practices.

"It's so rewarding," says Myers, "to see people develop, become more balanced. Even small changes make such a difference."

Photos by Adam Robersmith

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A. Ozolins, Ithaca College Office of Publications, 30 July, 2003