The quest for immortality is timeless. Lost Horizon is a novel written by James Hilton in 1933. He set the story in a hidden valley called Shangri-La. The valley was a sanctuary of peace, wisdom, and long life. At the turn of the century, Li Ching Yeun was an internal martial artist living in China. The New York Times reported that he was 256 years old at his death. In today’s news, Mahashta Murasi claims he is 179 years old. If his claims are true, then he is the oldest living person on the planet.

Li Ching Yuen

Li Ching Yuen

It is estimated that human beings are made up of 37 trillion cells. At any given time, 50 million cells die and are replaced with new cells. Some say we become whole new people about every 7 years. While that is not a completely accurate statement, it is close enough to the truth to give pause for thought. Since we have the capacity to replace dead cells with fresh new ones, you’d think we would live forever. So why don’t we?

I don’t pretend to have the answer to that question, but I do have a few thoughts on the subject. As a starting point, the possibility of such a long life stirs contradictory feelings for many of us. Some fear it, while others lust for it. Many of the elderly that I have spoken to on this subject tell me they would not want to live forever. When I ask them to explain, they get kind of vague about it, but their negative feelings seem to be tied to the aches and pains of growing old. On the other hand, young healthy people tend to believe they will live forever. The difference seems to depend on our quality of life.

We can begin by working to improve the quality of our lives as we age. Many exercises, like running, cause wear and tear on the body, especially the joints. On the other hand, Tai Chi can help improve the quality of life without damaging the body. It has been shown to improve circulation, mobility, and reduce chronic aches and pains. Tai Chi is slow, gentle, and available to everyone. It is one of the exercises that Li Ching Yeun was said to have practiced.

But what about the business of replacing dead cells? To practitioners of Tai Chi, the area surrounding the navel is considered to be the center of our bodies. Taoists call this area the “Tan Tien” or “Energy Field”. It is the place where conception occurs. Taoists believe our “First Cell” resides in this area, just behind our belly buttons. This “First Cell” contains all the blueprints of who we are, and it uses those blueprints as it goes about the business of replacing dead cells.

As we know, life is full of dangers and challenges that we must adapt to if we are to survive. If too many cells die too fast for the First Cell to complete its task of replication, then we die. Fortunately, we have an amazing capacity to adapt. Likewise, our First Cell can adapt to things like environmental toxins that interfere with the job of replicating cells.

It only stands to reason that if we want to prolong our lives, the First Cell’s job of replacing cells and adapting to dangerous conditions must be supported. The practice of Tai Chi can help. If Tai Chi isn’t an option for you, then try a simple daily meditation where you reconnect to your First Cell or Perfect Self. This is easy to do, just focus your smile on the First Cell located behind your belly button. Give it a figurative pat on the back and agree to take some of the load from it. It’s that simple.

Here’s to our perfect health…peace out…..


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Inner Smile

Inner Smile

Someone recently said I was Hunter S. Thompson incarnate. Okay, okay it was my friend Lisa, the founder of the Naked Tao Book Club. Sorry Lisa, they beat it out of me.

I think she intended it to be a compliment. I sure took it that way, since the Gonzo wrote some pretty amazing stuff. However, I’ve always thought he was a bit obsessed with the whole ‘fear and loathing” thing. I’d like to think I’m a positive, upbeat person, but I have to admit that my first book, Naked Tao, is edgy.

Arguably, the protagonist is similar to one of the Gonzo’s characters. He has a pretty steep character arch, but like the protagonist in the amazing movie, Silver Linings Playbook, if you hang in there long enough, his transformation is inspiring.

So, let me get back to the “fear and loathing” thing before I digress too far.

As a Taoist, one of the meditation practices I enjoy is the care and nurture of the inner smile. A real smile radiates from the inside out. It can’t be faked, although I love Laughter Yoga because you do in fact fake it until your laughter magically transforms into the real thing.

Doorway to the Inner Smile

The inner smile is called by many names…contentment, peace, serenity, happiness, joy, etc. When you connect with your inner smile, everything changes in your life. It’s easy to do. You just choose it.

Peace out,

Robert W. Grant

Long Live Foodies

Rebecca and I were recently married, and like most newlyweds, we are busy integrating our separate lives into one life together. She has taken charge of turning the house into a home and has done an amazing job. Thanks to her keen eye for design, our things are playing well together. I like to think of Rebecca as an artist and our home as her palette. It is shaping up to be a warm and comfortable place to live.

We are both foodies and one of the wonderful things we discovered is our love of cookbooks. As it turns out, we have 70 of them. I know, know, you can get any recipe online these days, but there is something special about thumbing through a cook book don’t you think?

One of the things Rebecca did with our cook books was dig them out and prominently display them on the counter. This got us thinking about the great food inside and we decided to choose a book each week and prepare one of the recipes inside.

We love thumbing through old cook books.

We love thumbing through old cook books.

I know it sounds suspiciously like Julie & Julia, the 2009 film starring Amy Adams and Meryl Streep. Yes, we both saw and loved the movie about Julie Powell’s struggle to cook all the recipes in Julia Child’s cook book, but what the heck, it’s all about the food for us.

So come join us at the Daily Tao Blog for a weekly dose of Robert and Rebecca’s adventures in food.

Robert W. Grant



From Chapter 11 of Naked Tao

If Pony Tail was the killer, he must have changed into the hippie clothes after he ditched the robe. It was a perfect disguise to blend in with this peace and love crowd. Still, I couldn’t be certain he wasn’t another body guard hired to protect Padma, like me. I decided to keep a close eye on him.

The gun concerned me, but he made no move for it. Instead his eyes were locked onto Ginny. The way he watched her every move bothered me. What were they talking about last night at Eric’s party and what was he doing at my office?

Ginny stood before the packed house. She was focused on the audience and did not acknowledge me or Pony Tail. Given her reaction to the bloody knife a few minutes earlier, I wasn’t sure what to expect from her. Was she going to cancel the event while the police searched for the murderer…searched for me? The buzz from the audience slowly subsided until you could have heard a pin drop in the place. Everyone waited, including me.

Slowly Ginny began to smile. It seemed to radiate from her whole being. I was certain you could feel the smile in her touch and when she began to speak, you could hear it in her voice. This is not what I expected at all!

“Hello. My name is Virginia Bardough, but my friends call me Ginny. So, please call me Ginny. I want to thank you for joining us at this session of Ideas to Change the World. These presentations are offered to you on faith. Not blind faith, but absolute faith in you.”

“We hold the sincere belief that each of you has everything you need to have an impact on the world,” she said. “Sometimes all it takes to get things going is a little reminder of what could be. So without further fanfare, we would like to present a remarkable man who inspires us with his simple message.”

Ginny paused for dramatic effect before saying, “We are sovereign.”

Her shining eyes surveyed the audience. One by one she pointed to individuals in the audience and repeated, “You are sovereign.”

The audience was riveted to their seats by the spell she had cast. She scanned the crowd before adding, “No one has the right to interfere with a sovereign’s decisions. You choose how to live your life.”

Great Power

Within each of us is a great power. We all have it. No exceptions. It exists whether we feel it or not. It is self-sustaining. Often ignored, it never leaves us. It asks nothing of us. It can be accessed at anytime. It does not require special instruction. It nourishes us whether we want it or not. It is indistinguishable from who we are. It is called many names and it is called nothing at all. It can be shared, but not given away. We are sovereign. Abdication is an illusion.