Have you met Charly?
He shares his love for Tai Chi, Taoism and personal growth in this third How It Is To Be You video.
Though architect by education and profession he’s now at a turning point in his life and about to truly follow his passion and study Taoism and Tai Chi in the Wudang mountains of China after which he will open up his own Tai Chi school in his hometown Vienna.
Here’s the video that answers how it is to be Charly:
Who is Charly?
Charly (real name Karl) is a 43 year old architect living in Vienna. He’s been active in the world of Tai Chi, Qi Gong and Wushu (all sort of linked to Taoism) since 1998 and as he’s currently without a job he’s probably going to China next spring to study these Chinese body movement arts in more depth for at least 1 year and perhaps even 3.
Though a very normal guy who’s just trying to live his life as peacefully as possible (though not always succeeding just like the rest of us), Charly did have a few surprises for me regarding the way he lives his life:
- He works out, does Qi Gong and meditates every single morning before work.
Perhaps this is not super exciting and I’ve done my fair share of really early morning yoga and meditation in the past, but I always have the biggest admiration for people who have the discipline to keep on doing so (instead of snoozing 5 times like I do).
- He’s trying to get really old. Like really really old, namely 150 years.
My first question was: “Say what???”. My second was: “How?”. His answer: through Tai Chi and Qi Gong, meditating, not spending energy on useless arguments and of course through living and eating as healthy as possible. The third question I asked was: “Why?”. And it’s because he thinks we live in very interesting times and is simply curious to see what will happen.
- He’s able to live on prana (life energy/light), as in, he doesn’t need food.
And again my questions went from what, to how and why… I’d heard from distant yogi’s in India doing it but I didn’t know it was a thing in the West too. Apparently, it is. There’s even a book and everything! It basically means he’s trained to survive on nothing but the prana (the life energy that’s in and all around us) and the longest he’s ever gone without food or water is 50 days. It doesn’t mean he doesn’t enjoy food though; there were jars of Nutella all through the apartment.
Apart from all that he’s also a very down to earth guy with a good sense of humour and not above mocking himself. That, the Nutella and his love for Lord of the Rings makes him a great person to hang out with and learn from.
How Charly and I met
We met through a mutual friend with whom I was staying for a week. He felt it made sense for us to meet and connected us on Facebook. One cup of Viennese coffee later we’d planned the shoot!
I even ended up housesitting Charly’s apartment for 3 weeks while he was away on a Tai Chi workshop in Germany; life can be very simple at times!
The lessons I learned from Charly
Though I’m not well versed in Taoism, I did study Buddhism and Hinduism for a bit and have an extensive yoga and personal development background that allowed me to know exactly what Charly was talking about. But there was nonetheless 1 giant lesson in it for me:
Emotions don’t have to wash you away nor do they need to be blocked
My emotions are very at the forefront of my being and they can sometimes be a bit too much for me. Over the years, I’ve learned that there are 3 different ways of dealing with heavy emotions:
- I let myself get washed away by the tsunami of emotions. During this I can only keep my head down and hope I come out the other end as unscathed as possible. It’s a very pure way of dealing and sometimes very necessary but it’s not very practical and it makes that reactions are often very primal. In other words, they don’t make a lot of sense in relation to another person and often throw more oil on the emotional fire.
- I block the emotions. An oldie but goodie and I’ve had years of training in this; I sometimes happily stick my head in the sand so I don’t have to deal with the negative emotions that I come across. The problem with this tactic is that they keep popping up anyway and will become stronger as time passes. Also, it means that positive emotions are blocked too, which is rather sad in itself.
- I deal with them responsibly (and this is what Charly reminded me of). Like he says: take a few breaths, take a step back and observe the emotion for what it is. When you’re able to link the mind and the heart by stepping back you’re better able to see what’s really happening and take the appropriate actions without all the screaming, shouting and stampeding that comes with directly reacting from the emotion.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What exactly is Taoism?
Apparently, the point of Taoism is that there is no point…
This helped me: “The path of understanding Taoism is simply accepting yourself. Live life and discover who you are. Your nature is ever changing and is always the same. Don’t try to resolve the various contradictions in life, instead learn acceptance of your nature” (quoted from personaltao.com). I would recommend checking out the link if you’d like to learn more.
- What are the benefits of doing Tai Chi?
“This gentle form of exercise can prevent or ease many ills of aging and could be the perfect activity for the rest of your life. Tai chi is often described as “meditation in motion,” but it might well be called “medication in motion.” There is growing evidence that this mind-body practice, which originated in China as a martial art, has value in treating or preventing many health problems. And you can get started even if you aren’t in top shape or the best of health” (quoted from health.harvard.edu).
- Is Charly always dressed in white?
Yes! What started out as an act of rebelliousness against the uniform of the creatives (which is black), is now a way of dressing he feels most comfortable and happy with.
More questions? Or comments? I would love to see comments! Leave them in the comment section below.