Book Review: Total Chi-Fitness by Sifu William Lee

chifitness
TheBreakaway
Zy Marquiez
February 16, 2017

Like Healing Chi Meditation [review here], Total Chi-Fitness by Sifu William Lee is an easy to follow, and yet robust book that discusses the benefits of employing Chi in your daily fitness routine

While Healing Chi Mediation is slightly more complex, Total Chi Fitness is much more simple in its explanation and application.  In fact, its fitness routines are so simple that even an elderly individual could partake in these rather easily.

Lee begins with a short explanation of how the knowledge of Bodhidarma, which lead to many practices such as Tai, Chi, Chi Kung, Acupuncture and more, came to be.  Thence he continues supplying the reader with additional information that explains what Chi – which is what the book is about – is, how it works, general characteristics and much of the exercises and more.

Besides some other added information to help the reader understand additional concepts, Lee suffuses information on how to prepare, ranging from mindset, which is extremely vital and often overlooked, to the importance of breathing, which cannot be overlooked, and more.

In any case, in Total Chi Fitnes, the author Lee provides the reader a veritable fitness routine crash course that gives the reader 18 different exercises, the last two of which are an energy burst workout, composed of four different exercise types, and the last one which has an energy raising technique with two separate positions which help harness chi if employed properly.

This particular book reads rather quickly, and is easy to comprehend and employ.  In fact, my close friend’s grandmother who happens to be have significant health issues and is obese, has no problems doing the exercises provided within this book.

For me personally, am employing the exercises in this book every third day or so, alternating with yoga, regular weight lifting and cardio and it’s become part of my daily routine.

All in all, Total Chi-Fitness helps individuals net great benefits, although it requires a little more time to do the exercises than 5-Minute Chi Boost by the same author.   If 5-Minute Chi Boost is seen as an simple introductory, and yet a worthy energy boosting entry-level exercise book, then Total Chi-Fitness is a slightly more robust, yet not overly-complex book which just builds on similar concepts and rounds them out in salient fashion.

Just thought mentioning each in relation to each other might help the reader narrow down which way they might go.  Either way, both books are high recommended and complement each other rather well.

Book Review: Philosophy 101 By Socrates – An Introduction To Plato’s Apology by Peter Kreeft Ph.D.

philosophy101
TheBreakaway
Zy Marquiez
February 10, 2017

My introduction to Peter Kreeft’s work took place via his magnum opus Socratic Logic A Logic Text Using Socratic Method, Platonic Questions, And Aristotelian Principles Edition 3.1With that book Kreeft set the bar extremely high for his own work given the phenomenal job he did in the creation of that book.  Thankfully, that type of high quality standard travels with him to this other book.

Philosophy 101 By Socrates – An Introduction To Plato’s Apology by Peter Kreeft PhD is an indispensable introduction into the realm of Philosophy.

Although notably not as long as Kreeft’s book cited initially, this book still packs a punch.  The author creates what one may call a ‘user-friendly’ guide to Philosophy.

Given its length, the book can be read rather quickly.  Additionally, Philosophy 101 by Socrates is distilled to serve as a jump-off point for the reader/learner to venture forth into other philosophical topics.  Not only is it possible to use this book as a portable classroom, but it can be useful for homeschooling and even college classrooms.

Arguably the main strength of the Kreeft thesis is that philosophy takes no prisoners.  It questions everything.  Like a curious kid asking why in their nascent stage, it seeks truth – not belief – within every crevice it dares to delve into.  This may be problematic for individuals that do not want their beliefs question.

Kreeft shows how Socrates ‘philosophy operates in the following passage:

“Socrates is the apostle of reason.  He demands that we give logical reasons, grounds for beliefs, and follow the logical consequences of our beliefs, taken as premises or hypotheses, to their logical conclusions through a number of logically compelling steps.”[1]

Such incisiveness will undoubtedly get to the core of the issue far more often than not if employed correctly.

And yet, as Kreeft implies, philosophy isn’t an antithesis to certain disciplines, such as religion.  In fact, Kreeft goes to show how faith and reason can coexist if used trenchantly:

“One of the main functions of philosophy as practiced by Socrates is a critique of religion, finding reasons for (or against) faith.  These reasons often claim only probability rather than certainty; and even when they claim certainty, they may be mistaken) for man is not God and infallible); but it is surely a gain to use binocular vision, reason and faith, and to make at least somewhat clearer and/or more reasonable the ideas most people find the most important in their lives.”[2]

As an introduction to philosophy and Socrates simultaneously, one would be hard-pressed to find a better book than this.  In that Kreeft does an exceptional job in showing how Philosophy and Socrates interweave, especially given how Socrates planted many of the seeds for this whole discipline with his life’s work.

Using Plato’s Apology as a jump-off point, Kreeft undertakes the task to show the reader many of the ways philosophy can be understood by using forty different descriptions of the subject.  It was particularly interesting seeing the range of descriptions that Kreeft was able to come up with – some of it which might shock the reader – and how he was able to seamlessly show how apt those descriptions were to the act of philosophizing.

Subsequent to that Kreeft gives readers a cursory analysis of parts of the Euthyphro, as well as Phaedo, which are both dialogues by Plato, the latter of which details Socrates’ last days.  There are various purposes for the dialogues and the commentary that follows, and these merge swiftly with the overview of philosophy that Kreeft undertook.

One of the main strengths of this book is its ability to narrow complex topics into practical – but not overly simplified – gems of information that the reader can glean.  By contrast, many other philosophy books tend to overcomplicate philosophy, which turn readers off, or to oversimplify philosophy, which ends up not showcasing the latitude that philosophy can employ when used trenchantly.

This practical primer of philosophy also helps readers realize the importance of the art of cross-examination, which Socrates is the father of.  Coupled with that, and more importantly, by its very precision cross-examination employs in philosophy, Kreeft helps readers gain an understanding of the thorough depth which philosophy will go to in search for truth.  This journey in search for Wisdom will percolate into all disciplines, and can only strengthen an individual’s repertoire.

Drawing on all the data above, the book should be an integral component in education.  What the book offers is a template for what’s possible by philosophy’s employment, and not having these skills/knowledge in life emblematic of a surgeon at the operating room without a scalpel.

_________________________________________
Sources & References:

[1] Peter Kreeft Ph.D., Philosophy 101 By Socrates – An Introduction To Plato’s Apology, p. 104.
[2] Ibid., p. 141.

Book Review: How To Read A Book – The Classic Guide To Intelligent Reading by Mortimer J. Adler & Charles Van Doren

howtoread
TheBreakaway
Zy Marquiez
February 8, 2017

“A man is known by the books he reads.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Read not to contradict and confuse; nor to believe and take for granted; nor to find talk and discourse; but to weigh and consider.”
– Francis Bacon

This particular book is a book that helps you think better, shaper, more incisively.

At the behest of the author of Socratic Logic [review here], Peter Kreeft PhD, the following book was recommended.   Holding Kreeft’s opinion in high respect – and after doing some research into the book – getting this book seemed to be more than a safe bet.  In fact, it was much more than that.

How To Read A BookThe Classic Guide To Intelligent Reading by Mortimer J. Adler & Charles Van Doren is a phenomenal book in various ways.  Not only does it ‘teach’ the reader how to read different kinds of books – by reading proactively, by rather reactively – but it also provides essential tools for the synthesis of other great – and more meaningful – pieces of literature.  However, it also features much more than that.

As a caveat, the authors make the distinction in the fact different type of genres should be read in different ways.  To say it another way, poetry, plays or even fiction will be ready drastically different from nonfiction books.  This is something that’s not taught to individuals for the most part, and sometimes we miss out because of it.

Adler and Van Doren cover an extensive set of tools for reader’s to learn and implement – if they so choose – in order to maximize one’s understanding of the information held within books.  The book features a wide ranging set of suggestions that build on themselves throughout the chapters that help the reader navigate all the way from the basics to the more advanced.

Without a doubt, the authors show the lengths to which proper reading can be taken too, as well as the depth that can be gathered by undertaking their advice.  As an avid reader and researcher, the information within the pages of this book have helped me considerably not only in pushing myself as a reader, but in understanding – and even merging – the depth and scope of information that is stated, as well as sifting out deeper implications when information isn’t obvious.

Furthermore, covered within How To Read A Book are topics such as inspectional reading, systematic skimming, problems in comprehension, ‘x-raying’ a book, coming to terms with the author, criticizing a book fairly, reading aids, how to read practical books, how to read imaginative literature, suggestion for reading stories, plays and poems, how to read history, how to read philosophy as well as much, much more.

Particularly of interest to me related to the above point was the topic of syntopical reading, which is what the authors call ‘The Fourth Level Of Learning’..  In laymen terms, syntopical reading is the ability to essentially synthesize information from various sources.  Since synthesizing information is a process carried out [or attempted too] on nigh a daily basis by myself, the information for me in this particular section was quite noteworthy.  Admittedly, some of it was already being done by me since one learns how to streamline various components of one’s learning when done long enough, but the book still offered more than plenty in this and many other areas.

A book like How To Read A Book should be an integral component in everyone’s education, and that is no overstatement.  In an age where cognitive decline of education continues unabated, it’s those that push themselves into the realm of self-teaching or autodidacticism that will breakaway from the pack.

This book should function as a foundational piece in a school curriculum, because, after all, a large part of what individuals learn comes via reading.

All of the suggestions in this book seep into most if not all books [or reading] in some way shape or form.  When carried out, this undoubtedly filters into an individuals’ everyday lives proportional to how much its concepts are used.  It’s sure helped me in such a fashion.  There really isn’t too many books out there that urge the reader to go beyond the conventional baseline understanding of data within books, but this book is certainly one of those precious few.

Appreciatively, the authors also make it a point to strive for a greater education as individuals, to seek to further one’s education beyond the bounds of modern schooling.  Mind you, schooling and education are not the same thing, which is an important distinction because what society gets in America nowadays – given that we have strewn away from classical education – is barely a facsimile of schooling, and in no way shape or form the true education of times past.  Authors like award winning teacher John Taylor Gatto’s in his landmark Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling, Dr. Joseph P Farrell & Gary Lawrence’s Rotten To The Common Core , and Charlotte Iserbyt, who served as the Senior Policy Advisor in the Office of Educational Research and Improvement, U.S. Department of Education, in her The Deliberate Dumbing Down Of America outline the deliberate dumbing down of America quite saliently, and these authors by far are not even the only ones talking about it.

In any case, at the end of the book the authors also thankfully feature a set of the greatest books of all time, and after having read the list it’s hard to disagree.  Having read perhaps a dozen or so of them, out of the more-than-one-hundred books recommended, it’s definitely something that’s worth considering.

Furthermore, the authors postulate that there exists specific books which fall into the category of what they call ‘Great books’, such as The Illiad, The Odyssey, Organon, The Republic, Paradise Lost, The Divine Comedy, et al.

The authors also postulate that only 1% of the millions of book out there – if not less – fall within this category of ‘Great Books’.  What makes this particular category of great books so unique?  That the gems of knowledge contained within these books and growth the reader will attain will not only be extensive, given the depth and immensity of the concepts within the book, but these books will teach you the most about reading and about life.  Moreover, regardless of how many times one reads these books, they are so profound and demanding of the reader that one will always learn something from them.

If you appreciate books, reading, classical education, or are striving to demand more from yourself or even plan on building a home-schooling curriculum, GET THIS BOOK!  This book really is for everyone.  Educated minds have great foundations, and this book helps lay those foundations in an ironclad manner.

Book Review: Three Moves Ahead by Bob Rice

3movesahead

TheBreakaway
Zy Marquiez
February 6, 2017

Three Moves Ahead by Bob Rice is a solid synthesis regarding the seemingly disparate aspects of business and chess.

Rice reveals many core aspects of Chess theory and gameplay that can and do apply to business in everyday life.

Weaving the reader into myriad historical business ventures – both successes and failures – the author illustrates what made these particular businesses succeed or fail, and goes to underscore the essential Chess tactics that were involved in those scenarios.  Furthermore, Rice journeys beyond that to show the reader how even more can be gained from further introspection if one carries out that additional mental weightlifting.

The analogies Rice employed in the book to compare the subjects are rather adequate.  Admittedly, some are much stronger than others.  Still, Rice gives the reader ample information to chew on regarding the similarities between chess and business.

A noteworthy point is that, even if the reader isn’t an avid player at all or knows nothing of the game of chess, the author explains himself rather well and is easy to follow as he seamlessly flows from topic to topic within the book.

Three Moves Ahead is definitely something to ponder for business-oriented individuals who are seeking ways to grow.  But even beyond that, the principles of the book can be applied to other aspects of life depending on how creative the individual uses what Rice delineates in the book.

If you’re looking for an additional book along the same lines, but with more Chess flavor to it, go on to read Garry Kasparov’s How Life Imitates Chess: Making The Right Movies, From the Board To The Boardroom.  It’s kind of similar to this book, but from the opposite side of the spectrum.  For me it was more enjoyable than this one, although because am coming at it from a chess perspective than a business point of view.  Still, both complement each other rather well if you’re looking to see ‘two sides of the same coin’.

Book Review: How Life Imitates Chess by Gary Kasparov

lifechess
TheBreakaway
Zy Marquiez
February 1, 2017

How Life Imitates Chess by former World Chess Champion and grandmaster Garry Kasparov does an incisive job of showing how life is a mirror for chess.  Or is it the opposite?

Filled with much erudition regarding the intricacies of life, How Life Imitates Chess sifts through Kasparov’s career in search for the gems of wisdom[syn] that not only helped him become a sharper, stronger, and more intuitive individual, but also dives into the importance of quality actions via precise decision making which undoubtedly help individuals rise to meet challenges as they go.

Throughout the length of the book Kasparov carries out a rather trenchant job in detailing many of the data points, or perhaps ‘life-lessons’ is a better term, which helped him grow as a chess player that became a grandmaster, but more importantly, as an individual.  Each of these life-lessons helped him grow in countless ways, regardless whether it was facing dismal defeats, or manifesting intense resounding victories.

To that effect, Kasparov makes it a point to go into why constant self-analysis is essential not only to survive in the world, but in fact to thrive.  Self-awareness and peak performance go hand in hand, as many of you know, and because of this he urges everyone to become conscious of our inherent decision making process and strive to polish it to become wiser.

An interesting component in the book are the myriad fascinating stories of individuals, chess matches, companies et al. which are used to drive home lessons to be gleaned from the events that took place within those instances.

Another notable point mentioned in the book is the importance of not becoming your own enemy.  In one instance, the author noted how it’s important to find the nascent stage of a crisis before it becomes a full-fledged crisis.  This might seem obvious at first blush, but we’ve all seen our mental state – or that of someone else – be overridden by emotions, which therein overrides our logic.  And not being able to use logic is downright disastrous since your mental precision is only a shade of its true power.

Furthermore, when an individual get emotional, not only does the amygdala go into overdrive, but “…the logic center processors [neocortex] get almost turned off and blocked.  Adrenaline, hormone levels, and blood pressure rise, and our memories become less efficient.  We begin to lose our ability to communicate effectively, and we turn to a form of autopilot to make decisions.”[1][Emphasis Added]

Hands down, my favorite part of the book, although admittedly there were many intriguing points, was how Kasparov relentless speaks about having to question everything.  As he warns:

“Question the status quo at all times, especially when things are going well.  When something goes wrong, you naturally want to do better the next time, but you must train yourself to want to do it better even when things go right.”[2][Bold Emphasis Added]

This reminds me of poker, as well as many other things in life, where one might make the most ridiculous and stupid choice, and still get rewarded.  If an individual chooses not to question their actions, they will simply not grow. Someone may make a very poor choice, and still end up winning untold sums of money.  When such is the case, individuals rarely if ever opt for introspection to verify that they were correct.  The assumption is that if the money is won…then the choice ‘had to’ be a good one.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

Moreover:

“Questioning yourself must become a habit, one strong enough to surmount the obstacles of overconfidence and dejection.  It is a muscle that can be developed only with constant proactive.”[3]

Another additional point brought up by Kasparov  was about the vital significance not only to move out of our comfort zones, but also to challenge ourselves in creative ways to push us into new boundaries.

Regarding this, Kasparov minces no words:

“When we regularly challenge ourselves with something new – even something not obviously related to our immediate goals – we build cognitive and emotional “muscles” that make us more effective in every way.  If we can overcome our fear of speaking in public, or of submitting a poem to a magazine, or learning a new language confidence will flow into every area of our lives  Don’t get so caught up in “what I do” that you stop being a curious human being.  Your greatest strength is the ability to absorb and synthesize patterns, methods, and information.  Intentionally inhibiting the ability to focus too narrowly is not only a crime, but one with few rewards.”[4]

This book almost has shades of being a self-help book, almost.  The book isn’t that, but it’s so versatile, and the book harpoons so many little nuggets of knowledge that it can certainly be used as such a tool.

Regardless, the book offers more than ample information for it to be worth the price, and it gives plenty of grist for the mill for individuals to ruminate upon.

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Sources & References:

[1] Christopher Hadnagy, Unmasking The Social Engineer, p. 166.
[2] Gary Kasparov, How Life Imitates Chess, p. 135.
[3] Ibid. pp. 34-35.
[4] Ibid. p. 170.

Book Review: Healing Chi Meditation by Sifu William Lee

chimeditation
TheBreakaway
Zy Marquiez
January 29, 2017

Healing Chi Meditation by Sifu William Lee is a rather straight forward, and yet methodical book that covers the subject of meditation from a no-nonsense point of view.

Lee does a compelling job in laying out an easy-to-follow guide covering the main components of meditation.

This book covers just enough information to help people get an essential crash course into meditation, but it doesn’t become overly complex like some other books.  It’s strength definitely lies in its simplicity in learning and application.

Covered within the book are the foundational stages of meditation, the how’s and why’s of why to do meditation and how to prepare to net the greatest benefits.  And yet, the strongest part comes at the latter stages of the book.

Lee covers what is known as Dan Tian Centering as well as the 8 Moons.  And he anchors all of this with a template for the Little Universe Micro Cycle.

This is my first book from Lee, and have two others, one of which am currently reading and am definitely glad to have gotten these.  The other book is just as pragmatic as this one, and am enjoying it just as much and even netting benefits from it.

Simply put, if you’re interested in meditation and don’t know where to begin, get this book.