Thursday, March 18, 2010

A Surprise Visit, Lessons on Focus & more Street-Crossing Tactics

Greetings Friends!

Wow! I just had a most sweet visit with Dr. Zhao and his wife (I call her Ayi - meaning "Auntie" :))

A Surprise Visit
I was back in my room after dinner in the hotel (and I was again delightfully surprised with another beautifully arranged plate of fruit from the servers in the kitchen! I gobbled it up too quick before I thought of taking another picture to share with you though - this plate was sliced Asian pears with a little peeled "lizi" pear - crunchy and sweet (I learned how to say this in Mandarin -- "cui he tian") and sliced yummy little oranges arranged like butterfly wings on the side)...and I was checking my email to see if I had any letters from you :) when I heard a knock on my door. I opened it only to see two sweet smiling faces - Dr. Zhao and Ayi! After being with them in clinic all day, I didn't expect to see them and was so delighted -- I felt just the same excitement as when seeing a good friend that I haven't seen in a long time. They are both so wonderful to be with. Ayi hadn't seen my room yet and she wanted to make sure it was "anquan he ganjing" - safe and clean. That way she could "fangxin" --or relax and not worry. Gosh, moms seem to share this same characteristic regardless of what country we're in :).

She was happy to see how beautiful my room is and wanted to see where I do my "writing work" (this is the work I do with the California Health Advocates), to make sure my bathroom and shower were suitable for me, to ask how I was sleeping in my bed, and to make sure I had enough snacks (reminding me she had milk. peanuts, fruit and more snacks at home she could give me and also making sure I wasn't eating the pre-packaged, more junk food-like snacks that the hotel has for sale - she also gave me a bag of 6 apples, 6 mangos from Jun Lin, almonds and...chocolate! She is doing her best to keep me well fed! :)). She is sooo sweet!

Really, I feel so pampered with the room Dr. Zhao's friend found for me. It's really like my own apartment and it's been a great place for me to rest and get some well-enjoyed long, deep sleeps after recovering from jetlag. (I included a couple pictures below) For those of you who haven't been to China or are more unfamiliar with Chinese culture, "guanxi", or relations, are very important here and who and how good and strong your relations are with others can get you far -- that's really the way things get done in this culture -- in the U.S. too certainly to a degree, and in China, your "guanxi" means everything. Well Dr. Zhao's "guanxi" with one of the head policeman in town is the reason I am enjoying my room so much. He's a friend of Dr. Zhao's - and one of his family members with a serious illness was successfully treated by Dr. Zhao-- and Dr. Zhao's friend knows the owner oft his hotel and was able to negotiate a good, reasonable rate for me (not to mention I'm feed a most delicious Chinese breakfast and dinner here too!)

More on Food

By the way, on the subject of food and snacks again, I am eating VERY well here :) and am managing to gain some weight -which is a good thing. Today, when Dr. Zhao and I were giving each other treatments as a way for me to learn these techniques, he said "oh, ni bian pang yidian" -- "oh you're fattening up a bit" -- while that doesn't sound very flattering in our culture, it's still meant as a compliment in China :) -- Also, with all the good food Ayi is making for me each day at lunch and then continuously encouraging me to eat more while putting generous additional helpings of each dish into my bowl while Dr. Zhao is smiling and shaking his head at the same time, how could I not start to add a few more pounds of me to my body? :)

Even today, after eating a very delicious and filling lunch, when I was back in the clinic with Dr. Zhao, Ayi came by outside calling my name. It sounded a bit urgent so I rushed out only to find she had bought and cut up big slices of pineapple for me and Jun Lin to eat as a mid afternoon snack :) - later she also came in the clinic with a large bag of sweet potatoes and a big smile on her face (I had mentioned to her the other day that I love sweet potatoes :)). She promptly put 3 in the coal burning stove that keeps our clinic warm for Dr. Zhao and I to enjoy for another mid-afternoon snack! (It was funny - Ayi happened to come in to take the sweet potatoes out of the stove right when I was in the middle of video-taping Dr. Zhao reciting on of the Meridian "Ge Jue" -- Poem/songs -- these are so beautiful -- they recite all the names of the points in a specific meridian and also tell each point's location. He was giving a mini lesson when Ayi came in -- and she has a very full, strong, and loud voice....and didn't realize this was all on video-tape :) - (I tried to attach this as a compressed file but it didn't load -- if any of you reading this know of a way I can post this online (not youtube b/c that's blocked here), let me know :)) Also, in this video, unfortunately I held my camera screen lengthwise so it comes out sideways -- I have another video of it but it doesn't have Ayi in it so I'd rather show you this one -- I may be able to have my friend put it on my blog too -- see below)

More on Chinese Medicine and Health Care with Dr. Zhao
Dr. Zhao, Ayi and I had a good chat tonight and I even showed them the emails I'm writing to all of you - even though they couldn't read the English, they were happy to see pictures of themselves being shared and were surprised that I had so much to say! I just told them how grateful I am to be with them and to witness another powerful, simple, effective, loving, accessible, affordable and enjoyable way of health care and loved sharing about this with all of you! We fantasized about the possibility of them both coming to the States to open a clinic where Americans (all classes, colors, shapes, sizes, ages, backgrounds) could come and receive excellent and loving health care (and Ayi also said she could cook for everyone too :) - maybe start a restaurant). It could be a new model and a doorway for accessing, recognizing and embracing the treasures of what Chinese medicine has to offer.

Each day, Dr. Zhao receives a newspaper all on the research and news of Chinese medicine. Today he was showing me so many articles concerning efforts to preserve, reclaim some of the "lost" elements of Chinese medicine. After the Cultural Revolution, Mao Zi Dong decided to fashion Chinese medicine more after the Western medicine model and much of the treasures and power of Chinese medicine was taken out of the books, schools and universities. While what is taught is still helpful and effective, it is only a basic foundation to the power and depth this ancient and evolving system of medicine, health and life has to offer. In recognizing that some of the last Chinese doctors who were trained before the revolution or the change in training styles are now in their 60s, 70s and 80s and over and that some are beginning to pass on, the government is taking steps to help bring back the missing elements.

Chinese medicine schools are starting to require students to do one-on-one study/apprenticeships with older, experienced doctors after they graduate. It's one step in returning to a way of teaching that has successfully passed down the medicine for 1,000s of years, generation by generation. Some articles in the newspaper also speak to a new idea of having other countries (such as the U.S.) invite and give visas to well-known Chinese doctors for them to come teach students and share this invaluable knowledge, skill and wisdom.

Speaking of wisdom, I am learning a lot just observing, participating (this is where my cultural anthropology training in participant observation techniques come in handy! :)) and being with Dr. Zhao, his family and patients each day. Having been in many spiritual communities, having read LOTS of spiritual teaching books,having gone to seminars, etc., I have so many times heard the wise advice to refrain from judgment -- not to judge things as good or bad, but to instead remain in a state of happy expectation; to live the "middle path"; and to, as St. Germain says, "see, feel, and be the perfection" I desire in my world. Well this is exactly what I see Dr. Zhao living in simple, yet profound ways. For example, if he were one to judge, I probably, for one, would not still be at his clinic (given my slow learning curve with the seemingly simple task of wrapping herbal packages!:)). Also, I remember when he came to the states last summer -- adjusting to being in the States and being so far from his family and community was not easy, yet everyday he greeted me with a big smile and I witnessed him over and over give his very best to each and every client who came to see him. Actually I witnessed him give his very best to each and every task he did -- whether it be writing an herbal prescription, cooking a meal, giving an acupressure treatment, washing and folding his small pieces of cloth he used in treatment, or washing rice bowls and chopsticks from our meal. Each task was done with the same similar steadiness, full presence, love, thoroughness and solidity. I see and witness that here too -- with Dr. Zhao and his whole family. It's really quite amazing and transformative to be in this kind of loving, steady, fully present energy all day.

For example, sometimes while at home I can easily get distracted with getting a snack, checking email, texting messages (which I haven't yet figured out how to do on my Chinese cell phone!! -- probably is a good thing for my studies in "focus" now :)), etc. Dr. Zhao on the other hand, focuses on what's important to him. In the clinic, people are free to just come in - no one ever calls ahead of time to make an appointment - people just come. With this way of seeing patients, sometimes we have a big line, and other times no one is there. In those times, Dr. Zhao will often read various old essays (from before 1980) written on Chinese medicine (he's shown me several books friends have helped him find from libraries with essays on Chinese medicine techniques -- few people ever read these and many of these books have been lost -- but Dr. Zhao says they contain many, many good "secrets" that most doctors if they knew would not openly share with one another in current times). Sometimes he'll start reciting poems that contain the names of all the acupuncture points as a way to review (I love listening to him recite these -- it is beautiful - and you can listen to one too in the attached video clip :)). Other times, like today, he'll take out his 'maobi' - Chinese calligraphy brush and start writing out these poems in beautiful Chinese characters (See pictures). (I took one class in Chinese calligraphy in college so Dr. Zhao had me show him how I write-- with Ayi looking over my shoulder. - Ha! "Buhaoyisi" -- meaning "how embarrassing" :)- well I wrote a few characters but they were obviously written by a foreigner :)) I love how his days are full of what's meaningful and most important to him, and how he gives the same loving kindness, presence and attention to each person he's with or task he is doing. And from this space, "perfection", happiness and the fullness and richness of life blossom forth.

I can easily give similar examples to the attention and love both Ayi and Jun Lin bring to their tasks with working with and filling herbal prescriptions, cooking meals, and keeping our clinic neat, tiddy and beautiful. The anxiety that I often sense is so prevalent in American society (and that I felt stuck in my gut for so many years) is gone here and has no place with Dr. Zhao and his family. I so love and recognize the power, ease and freedom in this way of being.

One small example is when Dr. Zhao had me go out to ask Jun Lin to come back into the clinic to help with filling herbs. I went outside to call for Jun Lin, and Ayi was standing out by the street enjoying our glorious sunshine (it's been pretty cloudy or smoggy or -- sometimes it's hard to tell the difference!) She said smiling, "lai shai taiyang ba" -- "come enjoy the sun with me." Instead of just rushing back into the clinic, we both enjoyed the brightness and warmth of our sun together.

Oh...I have so many stories!! And so many wonderful people/patients coming - above is a also a picture of 2 women in their 70s who both had very, very serious heart disease and were often hospitalized just 2 years ago. Now, after taking Dr. Zhao's heart formula herbs, they are healthy with much energy and vigor, their feet and hands are warm, the "yan dai" - literally meaning 'eye bags" -- puffiness under their eyes is gone and one of the woman's blood pressure, Dr. Zhao measured it with his stethoscope today, is 120/60. So many people come in each day for these herbs -- and they love sharing their stories with me :)

Street-Crossing Tactics
Okay, one last story for today - as I know this is a very long update--- (Mom, you may desire to save reading this paragraph for when I'm home :)) -- on my way home from the clinic today, I had one more accomplishment to make ahead of me....crossing the street. This time, while there was a cadre of bicycles at the cross walk ahead of me (which I would usually choose to cross with because of their sheer numbers), I chose to stay at the cross walk I was at which just had one bicycle for me to tag along beside. I chose this one because in the middle of the street (where one often has to stop to wait to cross the other side of oncoming traffic) actually had a flimsy cone barrier. While this isn't really much of a barrier in reality, I, for some reason, feel a bit safer just standing next to something if I get stuck in the middle of the street. So I started to cross with the bike on my right...and all went well until the bike made a bolt and went for it to the other side of the street....without me! yikes - now I was in the middle of the road with just the flimsy barrier and I found my feet still wanting to follow the bike and...consequently I found myself now standing in front of 2 buses coming right at me - Aiya!! I quickly came to my senses and went back to wait by the flimsy barrier for a safe passage moment, but what was funny (in hindsight after I finally made another 'crossing-the-road' accomplishment) is that while Chinese drivers seem pretty comfortable and in the flow with predicting the road-crossing behavior of other Chinese, they don't seem very comfortable with predicting such behavior of foreigners! I think the 2 bus drivers may have been more scared than me when I walked in front of them as they both started to swerve in ways I hadn't seen before, and then went back to their usually bumbling down the road when I went back to stand by my flimsy barrier. :)

Below are some pictures of my room, Dr. Zhao's calligraphy, a video of him reciting the poem for the Du Mai (Governing Vessel) acupuncture points (available at a later date), two cute kids who were at the clinic today (Dr. Zhao helped this young women be able to get pregnant - and now she has 2 beautiful little ones :)), and Jun Lin and I at a street market :)

Tomorrow I'll meet with two of Dr. Zhao's colleagues, one being Dr. Fu who went hiking with us and the other being another doctor from Hebei Province. He's coming in to share and discuss some medical techniques with Dr. Zhao and Dr. Fu. They like to meet periodically to share and learn from each other :) I'll include some pics in my next update. (I had thought I sent this one out last night but woke up to discover I only sent it to myself! :))

Travel Blog
Oh yes and my friend, Rick, has helped me start a blog too! (As blogs are blocked here, I'm unable to create one or update it while here) Rick will be posting these updates on the blog and you or others you know, can see my updates there too :) It's still under construction(Thank You Rick!!!).
Much much Love to you all! And Thank You again for your emails!! I soooooo love hearing from you!!!! xoxoxoxoxoxoxo
Love, KarenJoy

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