Posted by: Mike Ferruggia | July 26, 2012

Magical Thinking; Positive Thinking; The Law of Attraction; Becoming an Alchemist

I just finished reading The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho. The story is one in which the basic premise is that if you know what it is you truly desire, if you have discovered what your Personal Legend is to be, then the Universe will conspire to help you succeed.

The same promise is made in Tai Chi and Taoism. If you align yourself with proper principles, if you align yourself with the sage/the higher power, if you allow it to work in your life, then in synchronicity you will get there.

Is this just a way of applying a rationale and a way of thinking to the natural random course of events, or is it a truth of our lives that this really is the way things work? What makes it difficult to know is that there are built in explanations for everything. When tings go well, it is because you have aligned with the Higher Power, you have allowed the Universe to arrange itself in a zen like way, you have used the Laws of Attraction to visualize and create the world around you. But also, when things to not go right, when you are confronted by adversity and obstruction and negativity, it isn’t just because these things exist in the world we live in and life sucks, it’s because there is a lesson to be learned in the adversity, it is because the Higher Power is working in mysterious ways behind the scenes, in ways we don’t quite understand, but should accept, or, as in Coelho’s story, in order to reach the final plateau, the Universe will test us with severe challenges to ensure we have learned the lessons and developed the spirit and are ready for the “success” it has conspired to gain for us.

Along the way, there are many of us, who in our youth know what our Personal Legend is, but along the way, find a comfortable niche, a successful job, a loving spouse, we settle down and live good lives, but the Personal Dream gets put aside. Does the Universe breathe a heavy sigh knowing that we have given up?

I don’t know if we are capable of magical thinking in reality or if it is just a really cool way to approach our lives. It certainly is a workable matrix to help us negotiate and deal with what appears to be a random existence. I do know that there are anecdotal instances in my life where I have seen it work. I also know that when I follow the counsel of the I Ching in dealing with adversity, it helps me make it through the day a little easier and without as much anxiety.

Perhaps, being on the fence is the very thing that keeps one from flowing with the universe and allowing it to work. Maybe we do have to take the leap of faith and just do it. And maybe, like in The Alchemist, we will learn to turn lead into gold, discover our treasure, and learn to turn ourselves into the wind.



  1. Hey Mike I’ve watched your vlogs on youtube. Love how you breathe into your poses as well as articulate with your hands. There is an artist in you. Also would like to know more about breathing into postures and meditative poses before starting my routine. How should I think about my meditative holds? Thanks.

    • Hey Mike,
      Thanks for watching the vids. When doing tai chi, we generally breathe in and out through the nose, maintaining a steady easy breath, relax the tummy and let the diaphragm do the work, then forget about it. The breath will naturally coordinate itself with your in and out, opening and closing movements. Trying to coordinate the breath will just make you self conscious about it. Never hold the breath either in standing posture or in tai chi movement. This may be hard to do sometimes. I got caught holding my breath many times!

      Now martialy, in tai chi principle, the same holds true. It’s continuing to breath in and out and maintaining that during combat that gives you the stamina to keep going. If you are holding your breath or shouting loud kiai’s(not to denegrate other arts in any way) you are expending a lot of energy. There are techniques, however, where you would issue a forceful exhalation while executing a move or strike through the mouth instead of the nose, verbalizing certain sounds such as , “paaaa,” or tsaaaa” Sometimes people tjhink I’m just adding sound effects toi my demonstration, but exghaling with an intonation like that improves the technique.

      So never force the breath, never do anything too much. Let it be natural and it will improve on its own as you simply do tai chi.

      If you have more questions, feel free. I haven’t been checking up on the blog lately but will from time to time.

      • Mike. I am a avid swimmer. I use Tai Chi as supplemental stretching for warm-up and cool down. Mike, the gains I feel off of doing tai chi for an hour or more before going to practice is truly remarkable. I’m looking to deepen my inner awareness. Is their a sequence of moves and standing postures that I can incorporate that will engage my dan tien as well as help me feel the power in my legs and hands. Thanks for your time!



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