iPhone “Pause” app is designed around your brainwaves and Tai Chi to help you relax

Your phone may be a constant source of distraction, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Amid endless notifications and bombardment of visual stimuli, it may be hard to conceive your smartphone as a place of peaceful refuge. However, ustwo (the creators of the massively popular Monument Valley game) set out to turn that conception on its head.

Introducing Pause, ustwo has created an app that aims to help you relax to a calmer state of mind. Pause brings “focused attention” to your iPhone’s screen, and is grounded in cognitive psychology and physiology resulting in a patent-pending technique to activate the restoration process and relaxation response.

Pairing up with PauseAble, the app is inspired by Tai Chi with slow and continuous movements. Essentially, it’s Tai Chi for your thumb, using a mix of sound and stimulation to keep your attention away from distracting and stressful thoughts.

Learn more about the app at its website here, and purchase it for $2 USD on the App Store.

Feng Shui: How a 2000-year-old Chinese art can make you more productive


RocketNews 24/Business Insider:

When Anthony Minko was designing his new office in Brooklyn, the estate planning attorney knew that it needed to feel calm and supportive. After all, a place where people talked about what will happen after they die should feel secure.

So Minko — who had studied the spend idly slow martial art tai chi — hired RD Chin, a New-York based feng shui architect.

The whole process started with our values in the law firm,” Minko said said, “how we care about keeping families together across the generations, where grandparents can come with children and grandchildren.”

“What surprised me was how practical the feng shui principles were,” he said.

Literally translating as wind-water from Chinese, feng shui has been practiced for at least 1700 years in Asia before becoming popular in the US in the 1980s.

Chin, whose lectures are on YouTube, argues that everybody can sense feng shui — it’s simply the how-it-feels quality of being in a place. If you feel inspired, creative, and capable in an office, then it’s got some positive feng shui going on, but if you feel trapped, blocked, and insecure, then it’s some poor feng shui, and your productivity will suffer as a result.

Vancouver-based feng shui consultant Rodika Tchi said that feng shui is “acupuncture for a space,” a way of increasing the sense of harmony in a room.

So how can we use these principles to improve our work spaces? Here are some tips from Chin and Tchi:

  • Pay attention to the quality of air. 

In most businesses, somehow we overlook the quality of air,” Tschi said, because “we get used to poor quality air very quickly.”

This is insane, given that the EPA estimates that indoor air is two to five times more polluted than outdoor air.

That’s where plants come in, she said, citing NASA’s list of the most air-purifying plants, like the areca palm and Boston fern.

Any business can have plants,” she said.

It doesn’t require anything new agey, you don’t need to run out and buy a set of healing crystals.

“Just to starting to pay attention to the air will do wonders,” Tchi said. “You have to be aware of what you’re inhaling, what you’re feeding your brain.”

  • Then improve your light. 

Light is nutrition,” Tchi said.

Most of us are malnourished.

Because while direct sunlight gives you 100,000 lux, or units of luminance, office lighting only provides around 500 lux.

The solution — beyond going for a walk — is to install “full spectrum” lights in your office, which are more nourishing than fluorescent lights, which have been shown to make you feel less alert and screw with your quality of sleep.

If you can’t control the overhead lights, then add a nice incandescent to your desk.

  • If possible, give your desk a “commanding position.” 

In feng shui, the commanding position is where you have your back to the wall and your face to the door, so you know who’s coming and going.

You want to position your desk so that you feel very safe, very protected,” Chin said. “You want to position your desk so you can see out the window and see who’s in front of you. People coming behind you creates a lot of distraction — you can get the feeling of being attacked, feeling of someone looking over your shoulder.”


  • And something to look at. 

You reduce stress by looking out the window,” Chin said, “because physiologically your eyes relax when you look out into the distance. That’s why you feel so great looking at the ocean — you can see a long, almost infinite distance into the horizon.”

So the obvious application is to make sure you can see out your window. If you don’t have ready access to a window, then make a window to another world: put a painting or a photo on your wall so you can stare “into the distance.” If you work in a windowless space, put a mirror up, since Chin said it will expand the space.

For managers, taking care of feng shui is way of investing in your team.

Ideally, a successful business has people who are energized,” Tchi said, “and there’s no way to have that unless you have a space that supports that energy. You can use feng shui to support that human well-being, creativity, and talent. If you put people in a space that has no light, no color, no images, you can’t expect that energy from them.”

Why billionaire Jack Ma hired a Tai Chi master as his personal bodyguard

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Alibaba founder Jack Ma recently became the richest man in Asia with a net worth of $28.6 billion according to Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Naturally, someone that important should hire some muscle, only Jack Ma hired a master of Tai Chi instead.li 4
Tai Chi, made famous by slow-moving elderly people in parks, isn’t traditionally known as a fighting technique. It focuses on soft, internal power rather than hard power, which we would attribute to fighting styles in kung fu or karate. As a master of the flow, Li Tianjin can use Tai Chi as an incredible form of self-defense At 35-years-old, Li stands at just over 5-foot-6-inches weighing 188 pounds. Before accepting the quest of guarding the eccentric but frail billionaire Jack Ma, Li was a coach at the Tai Chi Temple in Hangzhou.

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Li was born in the birthplace of Tai Chi in Chenjiagou, Wen County, in Henan Province.

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He began his practice of Tai Chi at the age of 8.
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By the time he was 14, Li became the apprentice of Wang Xi’an, a grandmaster of Chen-style Tai Chi, which can definitely be used as physical self defense. At 19, he won his first Tai Chi competition and went on to win several titles on the national level.

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A Jack Ma biography in Chinese, titled “Ma Yun in Cloth Shoes,” tells 27 stories that shaped Ma’s life, one of which took place in Mongolia when Li allegedly destroyed a wrestler “in the blink of an eye.”

Once, Jack Ma and some members of the Nature Conservancy went to Hulun Buir Grassland in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region for a study. There, a tenacious Mongolian wrestler approached them with a challenge: ”Three of you can pick one of us to have a fight.” Li came forward and replied, “Which one is the best wrestler among you all? Come fight with me.” Unsurprisingly, the low-profile Tai Chi master defeated the best Mongolian wrestler among them.

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Tai Chi has also heavily influenced Jack Ma’s life philosophy, and he sticks to three principles — calm, follow and abandon. Always remain calm no matter what, follow the flow after knowing one’s strength, and abandon your burden in life. Nobody better mess with Jack Ma.

13 Fascinating facts about Jack Ma, the Man behind the largest IPO in history


Next Shark:


Jack Ma, the 5-foot-tall Chinese man with a friendly looking face, is the chairman of Alibaba’s record-shattering $25 billion IPO, which now sits as one of the largest companies on the market. But how much does anyone really know about his amazing story of starting a small business in his one-room apartment to becoming one of the richest men in China?


Here are 13 fascinating facts from the legendary life of Jack Ma:


Jack Ma’s life is full of failures.



When he applied for admission to the Hangzhou Teacher’s Institute (now Hangzhou Normal University), Ma failed the college entrance exam twice. He eventually graduated in 1988 with a bachelor’s degree in English.

By 1995, he decided teaching wasn’t for him, so he decided to try his hand at business. Around this time, he even applied to a job at KFC in Hangzhou, only to be rejected. Ma also started a translation company, and on a trip to Seattle, he discovered the internet, inspiring him to start his first legit business, China Yellow Pages. While it is regarded as China’s first internet-based company, China Yellow Pages was also a failure.

As we all know, however, Ma’s second company, Alibaba, is doing much better.


How Jack Ma learned English.


Ma wanted to learn English so badly that when he was 13, he would wake up at 5 a.m. and would ride his bike 45 minutes from where he lived in Hangzhou to the then Hangzhou Hotel just to talk to foreigners and take tourists sightseeing for free. Through this practice, he not only polished his English but also learned “Western people’s system, ways, methods and techniques.”



The time Jack Ma was threatened with a gun, kidnapped and taken to Las Vegas.


From the “Alibaba Saga” in Forbes comes a story of Jack Ma’s crazy West Coast adventure.

In 1995, Ma traveled for the first time to the U.S. on interpretation business. Part of his business included trying to collect a debt for a friend from an American businessman in Malibu, California. It turns out that this American didn’t want to pay back the debt and instead locked Ma in his house, trying to force him to cut a deal. This guy was clearly crazy. Jack Ma explained:

“At one point he started playing with his handgun. It was obviously meant as a threat.”


Scared of what he assumed was a trigger-happy American “cowboy,” Ma complied with his demands while trying to find any way to escape. We aren’t sure if Jack was forced to stay with the American, but a few days later, the American decided to take Jack to Las Vegas as a “routine showcase trip” for Chinese businessmen. It was clear that Jack was still his captive.

To make matters worse, Jack Ma had almost no money on him. Seeing as how matters couldn’t get worse, he decided to try his luck at the slot machines. Miraculously, Ma won $600; he managed to escape the businessman, left everything he had behind with him,  went to the airport, and used his winnings to buy a plane ticket to Seattle where his friend was waiting.

“It was a terrible experience … Every time I think of L.A., I have a nightmare,” says Ma.

True story.


When Jack Ma first discovered the internet.



In 1995, while in Seattle visiting his friend, Jack first laid his eyes on a mysterious box-like device that he later learned was called a “computer.” His friend told him to try it out, and that’s when he discovered the world wide web. This inspired him to create his first business, China Yellow Pages, which he started with 7000 yuan ($1140) of his personal savings and a loan from a family member. Ma entered the world of dial-up internet.

“The day we got connected to the web, I invited friends and TV people over to my house … we waited three and a half hours and got half a page …. We drank, watched TV and played cards, waiting. But I was so proud. I proved (to my house guests that) the internet existed.”


How Jack Ma picked the name Alibaba.


Originally posted on Alibaba’s company forum, but no longer available, someone asked why Ma chose the name Alibaba. This is what Jack said:


“One day I was in San Francisco in a coffee shop, and I was thinking Alibaba is a good name. And then a waitress came, and I said do you know about Alibaba? And she said yes. I said what do you know about Alibaba, and she said ‘Open Sesame.’ And I said yes, this is the name! Then I went onto the street and found 30 people and asked them, ‘Do you know Alibaba?’ People from India, people from Germany, people from Tokyo and China… They all knew about Alibaba. Alibaba — open sesame. Alibaba — 40 thieves. Alibaba is not a thief. Alibaba is a kind, smart business person, and he helped the village. So…easy to spell, and global know. Alibaba opens sesame for small- to medium-sized companies. We also registered the name AliMama, in case someone wants to marry us!”


On the day Alibaba went public, Ma didn’t even ring the bell at the NYSE. Because Alibaba is supposed to be focused on customers, Ma had eight Alibaba customers ring the opening bell instead.


Jack Ma loves dogs and owns an Alsatian named Apollo.


Zhang Ying (Jack Ma’s wife) was there with him from the very beginning.


“Ma Yun [Jack Ma]  is not a handsome man, but I fell for him because he can do a lot of things handsome men cannot do.”


Zhang Ying and Jack Ma met in school when they were studying to be teachers. They married shortly after they graduated in the late 80s. She remained a teacher while Ma was building China Yellow Pages and she eventually quit being a teacher to jump on Alibaba’s team from the very beginning as the company’s “political commissar.”

As the Commissar, she spent the early days cooking meals for clients and associates and apparently running odd errands. She eventually became Alibaba China’s GM. She now focuses on caring for the couple’s two children.


How Jack Ma told his wife how much money his company made.



A couple years after Ma started Alibaba, his wife asked him how much money the company had made. Jack responded by raising a single finger.

Ten million yuan ($1.6 million)?” she asked.

No.” Jack responded.

A hundred million yuan ($16 million)?” she asked.

No.” said Jack again. “One million yuan ($160,000) …” he said to his wife’s disappointment.

… a day.” he added.


Jack Ma’s lifelong hero isn’t even a real person.

In his quirky, broken English, Jack Ma explains his love for Forrest Gump:


I watched the movie again, telling me that no matter whatever changed, you are you. I’m still the guy 15 years ago, you know, I only earned like $20 a month. Today I can do that much.


In all seriousness, Jack Ma has a beautiful soul.



How running Alibaba caused family trouble for the Mas.


Unfortunately, focusing on growing a multi-billion dollar company takes its toll when it comes time for family.

Zhang admitted in earlier interviews that they had effectively “sacrificed” their son, who was born in 1992, for the company. They put him in daycare five days a week, only seeing him on weekends, and their parental absence eventually led to his addiction to online gaming at internet cafes, where he spent most of his time rather than returning to an empty home.

Jack later asked his wife to step down from her role as Alibaba China’s general manager to become a stay-at-home mom for their then two children, a move she was very reluctant to make, but in the end she chose family over the money.

“She helps me a lot with my career and family,” Ma tells of his wife when it comes to balancing the success of Alibaba and his family.


Why Jack Ma leads his company by “not leading at all.”

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd founder Jack Ma gestures in front of the New York Stock Exchange before his company's initial public offering (IPO) under the ticker "BABA" in New York

In an interview with Xiao-Ping Chen, a professor at Washington University, Ma explained his very unique and humble management philosophy that mixes Tai Chi, Taoism and Buddhism.


“In Taoism, the best leadership is not leading at all … No teachers want their students to fail. So I never steal the spotlight from newly hired young people. If someone warns me about an employee who is trying to overstep me, I reply that I’m a teacher and that’s the way it should be.”


When Jack Ma was called crazy (a lot) for starting Alibaba.

Annual Meeting of the New Champions Tianjin 2008



In 1999, Jack Ma founded Alibaba after raising $60,000 with 18 friends in his one-bedroom apartment. He started his humble e-commerce company in an attempt to connect small Chinese businesses with global markets. As the underdog going up against an already established and expanding eBay in China, many people called him crazy. Ma told Xiao-Ping Chen:


“I gave a speech at Harvard in 2002. After my talk, a CEO from a foreign company said that I was a mad man. He said he had been in China for many years, and didn’t believe that my way of managing a company would work. I invited him to visit Alibaba. After a three-day stay, he said, ‘Now I understand. Here you have 100 mad men just like you.’ ”


15 years later, Alibaba now holds the record for the largest IPO ever in U.S. history at $25 billion with a market cap of $231.44 billion, more than Amazon’s $153.08 billion and eBay’s $65.04 billion combined. Alibaba trades on the NYSE under (BABA).

Underdogs do win after all.


Trailer: “Man of Tai Chi” (directed by Keanu Reeves)

Man of Tai Chi – Official Trailer (2013)

Release Date: November 1, 2013
Genre: Action
Director: Keanu Reeves
Writer: Michael G. Cooney
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Tiger Hu Chen, Karen Mok, Iko Uwais
Studio: Radius-TWC

Plot: Set in modern Beijing, MAN OF TAI CHI marks Keanu Reeves’ directorial debut. The film, also starring Reeves, follows the spiritual journey of a young martial artist (played by Tiger Chen) whose unparalleled Tai Chi skills land him in a highly lucrative underworld fight club. As the fights intensify, so does his will to survive.


Keanu Reeves’ directorial debut: “Man Of Tai Chi”


The fight is the thing in “Man of Tai Chi,” Keanu Reeves’ down-and-dirty and generally diverting directing debut. A story about the past and the future, the good and the bad, the strong and the weak, the movie finds a Januslike Mr. Reeves looking in two directions at once: toward the old-school kung fu movies of once upon a matinee time and the modern China emblemized by the high rises that slice through smog-swathed Beijing, where most of the story unwinds. It’s there that Tiger (Tiger Chen) logs hours between lessons with a tai chi master, Yang (Yu Hai).

Talented but headstrong, Tiger has a serious qi (life force) problem. It controls him, Master Yang warns, rather than the reverse, which leaves Tiger unbalanced (he’s more yang than yin) and opens the door for the ensuing narrative complications. “Use four ounces to deflect 1,000 pounds,” advises a classic tai chi adage, words that Tiger has a hard time embracing. Intent on proving that there’s more to tai chi than meditation and old people moving really slowly in public parks, he competes in televised events that bring him to the attention of a wealthy fixer, Donaka Mark, one of those cackling villains, played by Mr. Reeves himself, in one of his few wrong moves here.

Written by Michael G. Cooney, “Man of Tai Chi” hits its largely generic paces efficiently, introducing elements like a tough female Hong Kong cop, Suen Jing-Si (the reliably sympathetic Karen Mok), who knows that Donaka is up to no good. Some scenes in the Hong Kong police station where Jing-Si and her supervisor, Wong (the great Simon Yam), modestly thicken the thin plot and show that Mr. Reeves has watched his share of Hong Kong procedurals. While Jing-Si tries to figure out what role Donaka plays in illegal fights, Donaka chases after Tiger to be his next underground champion, slithering through the shadows as he feeds both Tiger’s vanity and empty pockets.

He likes it,” Donaka observes of the fighting Tiger who locks arms and legs around bigger men who snap like twigs, a comment that suggests Mr. Reeves knows exactly what his audience wants. Mr. Chen isn’t much of an actor and, with his inexpressive face and stillness, he tends to disappear into the background whenever he’s not fighting. Mr. Reeves seems to have figured this out, and he keeps Mr. Chen in consistent, beautiful motion — the fight choreographer is Yuen Wo Ping — staging many of the encounters inside an austere gray room. There, men transform into gyroscopes as limbs and torsos spin, and you are reminded, once more, that one of the enduring pleasures of cinema is watching the human body move.

Directed by Keanu Reeves; fight choreography by Yuen Wo Ping; written by Michael G. Cooney; director of photography, Elliot Davis; edited by Derek Hui; music by Chan Kwong Wing; production design by Yohei Taneda; costumes by Joseph A. Porro; produced by Lemore Syvan; released by Radius/TWC. Running time: 1 hour 45 minutes.

WITH: Tiger Chen (Tiger), Karen Mok (Suen Jing-Si), Keanu Reeves (Donaka), Simon Yam (Superintendent Wong), Yu Hai (Master Yang) and Ye Qing (Ching Sha).

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Keanu Reeves’ directorial debut: “Man Of Tai Chi”