I conduct daily Tai Chi classes for Mental Health Services In-patient facility at the Navy Medical Center - San Diego. Most of the patients have suicidal depression or Paranoid Schizophrenia. The classes are conducted on both our locked and transitional (unlocked) wards.
A series of six TaiChi movements have been selected from the Tai Chi long Yang form (Yang Chen Fu). Each movement is repeated six times (corresponding to six breaths). Patients are asked to watch their hands move, and to move at the same rate of the group - which performs the movements at the pace of the instructors breathing cycle.
A nurse walks around and helps those who have become distracted to get "back on track" with the movements.
We are tracking patient behaviors, restraints, neuropsychological functioning, length of stay, and repeat visits - all which are reported by staff to be improving as a direct consequence of the Tai Chi.
I believe that slow moving meditation is more appropriate for psychosis and severe depression than is silent sitting meditation. This way, we can immediately track where the patient's attention is going, and help them learn to attend to the sensory environment in each moment, rather than succumb to internal "noise."
A videotape and manual of this Tai Chi series is available for those who are interested.
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