Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Bus Stop Broadcasts, a Modern Daoist Sage, Meditation and the Sore Buttock Syndrome, the Power of Emotions & Enjoyment

Greetings Friends!

I hope you are enjoying the beginnings of 2013!! :) I have so enjoyed being in Beijing, and…as I mentioned in my last update, it has been soooo COLD!!! :-)  One of my friends, Richard, who was visiting Kundawell and practicing qigong with us during our meditations with Grandmaster Xu, kept teasing me that I always had sooo many layers on! Cuz…well I did; in Beijing I basically wear ALL of my clothes at once…and then I’m barely able to stay warm enough while biking around…but I’m warm…well, everything but my eyeballs! They are cold! :)

So my life here in China continues to be an adventure and I have so enjoyed my studies with Grandmaster Xu and his faculty at Kundawell :). It has been quite intense as we have had class 6 days/week, practice qigong 2-4/hours a day, plus I do my writing work. So! I have been quite grateful for my little warm, cozy room that I've gotten to come home to each day to rest, write, practice qigong, and sleep :).

Bus Stop Broadcasts & Microphones
So the other morning while biking to Kundawell for class, I passed one of the many bus stops on the side of the road. Beijing buses are full, well used, and heated!—so many people ride them. And to help keep all the passengers in line and make sure everyone pays, etc, each bus has a “ticket master” who announces the upcoming stops and collects people’s money. Well on this morning when I passed this particular bus stop, there were two of these “ticket masters” dressed in their big, warm parkas, hats and head-piece microphones on waiting for their respective buses to start their day of work. They were both standing on opposite sides of the bus station area and were having a conversation….which seems normal enough, right? Well, yes except for the fact that they were having this conversation through their microphones so it was broadcast to everyone waiting for the bus and all of us passing by! Ha!! I thought it was hilarious (and have since seen them many mornings while peddling by but haven’t stopped to take a pic as it is just too COLD!! :))…yet to everyone around them, they seem to all think (or at least act) like this is normal and no big deal, actually no “deal” at all. Well, this is just another example that China is so not a quiet place!

Meditation....& the Woes of Aching Buttock & Comparing Mind Syndrome
Oh I am so happy and grateful to have this time of study and qigong practice with my qigong teacher, Grandmaster Xu and his faculty at Kundawell Institute. I’m also continually amazed how my life journey is so intimately connected to my Qigong training and how my development in Qigong is also intimately related to listening to, following and living out my Life Path. Qigong, I find helps me deeply digest and integrate the experiences, information, lessons, blessings I receive in life, and my experiences help deepen my Qigong practice. When I first started on my qigong journey with Grandmaster Xu 7 years ago, at times I got caught up in my “comparing mind.” Grandmaster Xu had invited me to train with him at Shaolin Monastery for 1 month and then to travel with him as his assistant throughout Eastern Europe the following fall. It was more than a dream come true and I was so ecstatic to have this amazing opportunity with my Grandmaster! Yet I didn’t quite know why he had invited me and why he was giving me this amazing opportunity to learn, grow and develop, as I was such a novice….but my heart had a huge YES to go with him, so I did. 

One of the challenges I encountered on this journey, though, was my own mind, and my comparing mind in particular. In my travels and training with Grandmaster Xu, I was often with many long-time, highly developed practitioners and, as I mentioned, I was a novice. After our group meditations with Grandmaster, everyone would often share about their “amazing experiences” and certain phenomena and markers they were experiencing that all pointed to their “good practice” and development. Me, on the other hand, I often just struggled to keep my eyes closed and sit still in our long meditations! Ugh! :( I felt like a “preschooler” when it came to meditation. Also, people talked of all these amazing visions they had and I, on the other hand, only saw darkness and maybe some fuzzy, vague images during meditation. :( I kept waiting for something, some sign to say I was doing something “right”, yet usually just got aching arms during standing Big Tree meditation, or a sore buttock in our epically long sitting meditations. One time during my travels with Mingtang in 2005, I asked him about my struggles and he said, “Ni yao jixu liangong.” “You must continue practice. Just do it. Just do it.”

Importance of Joy
It took me a while to see what I was doing to myself, but I realized that all this comparing myself to others was eating away at my joy and sense of wellbeing and instead creating feelings of depression. Also, when I would practice, I was creating a sense of needing to “get somewhere” and pressure to “do it right,” or else face being a failure. This wasn’t working for me and in time I realized my real practice was to reclaim and cultivate my Joy both in qigong and in the rest of my life. So in addition to qigong, I also turned to dance, as I immediately felt my Joy rise to and express profusely through my Heart and entire being when dancing. And I also for a while focused my qigong on the practices I loved to do, the ones that made my heart happy. So I listened to my Grandmaster and I continued practice, and at the same time shifted my focus and commitment to follow and trust my Heart and rising Joy. 

Role of Emotions, Language & Consciousness in Qi Cultivation
In just our first day at Kundawell, our teacher Olga, who is one of the Image Medicine faculty, spoke at length on the power of our language, purity of our thoughts and emotions and power of Joy in creating, cultivating a high level of Qi and of practice. She spoke as to how many serious problems are related to how we communicate within (our inner world) and with the world around us. Many serious illnesses come from “bad” emotions. “Bad emotions can ruin us inside,” she said.  As we change ourselves, transform our emotions and thinking, we also increase our qi. Gosh, in reflecting on Olga's words, I feel this is just what I have been doing on my path. Yet, not from a “trying to get somewhere” or to “do it right,” but through following and trusting my heart and my teachers who have come and shared so deeply with me. And all the while I have been receiving from my other teachers, and the wilderness, I have continued to practice Qigong. I think as humans we are "integrationists" (a new term :)) as, like sponges, we gather new experiences, teachings, understandings, and then integrate them into our being and share ourselves with the world around us. I realize now that my Qigong practice helps me “digest” all I receive and transforms experiences into embodied understandings to share. I find my Qigong augments what I receive in the world, and what I receive in the world also augments my Qigong.

Humans & Trees ~ Conduits Between Earth & Sky
As I’ve mentioned before in other posts, in my home lineage of Qigong, ZY Qigong ( 中原气功) one of our main practices is called Big Tree standing meditation (). This is a powerful exercise for accumulating and building strong energy quickly, like a tree gathering both Sky and Earth energies, and it is a stationary exercise, meaning one must stand as a tree for long periods of time. Well in our first day of class in my Image Medicine training at Kundawell, Grandmaster Xu and one of our Image Medicine faculty, Olga, also spoke of one preparation exercise, Reaching Between Heaven and Earth 通天达地, and how this exercise (which is one of my Favorites!!!) is similar to Big Tree in that it is also extremely powerful in building/gathering sky and earth Qi, yet it is a dynamic exercise where one is in constant motion. It also cleanses our body, our tissues, organs, ligaments, tendons, bones, blood, etc and brings yin/yang balance to our body. Xu Mingtang has helped many women cure themselves of myoma through doing this exercise, though one must do it ~1hour/day for 3-6 months. It is a most beautiful practice. I have started doing it everyday for ~1 hour plus Big Tree and I find many of the places I’ve visited in the wild, both in China and the U.S. come to me in meditation, such as the stunning, expansive blue waters and sunset and sunrise skies at Erhai Lake in Yunnan, or the vividly bright and twinkling starry skies of the small village of Nuodeng, the grand old growth trees of the Hoh Rainforest, or the majestic snowy, towering mountain of Mr. Genyen in the Tibetan Plateau, Sichuan Province.  Visiting these stunning places again in meditation, or having them visit me, provides another powerful opportunity to receive from the energies and teachings of these sacred places. I feel so much gratitude for our Earth and all She provides! I also find this “revisiting” of places I’ve traveled to, another confirmation of the purpose of travel and the importance of time in our wild places. As humans, like Trees, we are conduits of Earth and Sky energies, Yin and Yang and can be of service in the exchange of these energies, as well as a recipient of much Love, teachings and growing wisdom.

Meet Miao Yin 妙音!A Young, Wise Old Soul
Wow! I am so excited to share with you about a most amazing meeting with a young yet very old, wise soul, Miao Yin 妙音. She’s a Chinese doctor, is from the countryside of Yunnan province, having grown up in one of the beautiful mountain villages. And she is a very, very special person.

Synchronicity & the Power of Connection
So first how we met. Remember in update 7 when I spoke of my dream, and how I recognized the blue waters and stone wall at the fishing village of Shuanglang by Erhai Lake and knew I was to go back there?…And how when I was there I met Tania (the Queen :)) from Germany? And how then 1 week later on my way back from the small village of Nuodeng, Tania happened to be in Dali where I returned to for 2 days and invited me to attend the special meditation gathering on 12/12/12? Well at that gathering I also met some amazing people. Two of them are a wonderful couple – the woman is Chinese and the man is from Holland, Xixi and Bommie, respectively :). They met while studying with a Kundalini Yoga teacher in India and now lead trips for people from China to India to study yoga. While we were together I shared what I was doing in China and my great interest in Chinese medicine and study of and passion in Qigong. I mentioned then that I was on my way to Beijing to study Image Medicine with my Qigong Grandmaster. Well the two of them had been living in Beijing and had recently moved to Dali, Yunnan. They gave me the names of two extraordinary Chinese medicine doctors in Beijing to see and also possibly study with. One, Dr. Lu, is similar to Dr. Zhao, in that he is a self made master. They laughed when talking of him and said if I go to his humble clinic I’d find a vibrant, jolly man who could teach me Taichi, talk of Chinese Medicine philosophy, put needles in various patients and perform back massages by standing on his patient and using his most adept big toes to precisely and powerfully stimulate acupoints….all at the same time! HaHa!! Well what they described is all true!! When first arriving at my hostel, I met a young woman from Germany (who by the way was leaving the next day to go home for a few months and promptly offered her bike to me for rent…only minutes after I announced to the hostel staff I was looking for a bike to buy or rent in my month here! :)). Her boyfriend, Clement from France, who I also met after we started chatting had recently thrown out his back and had some numbness in his legs. So I told him of Dr. Lu.  He went to see him for treatment and his description of the whole event is just how Xixi described him! :-) (BTW, I so love how we are all connected, and how through our connections, we help others and each other experience the magic of life and receive all we desire and more! In meeting Clement he told me his deep desire to start studying Qigong and meet a Master. Well, of course I told him about why I was in Beijing and my studies with Grandmaster Xu Mingtang and the magical story of how I met Grandmaster, etc. Clement was wide-eyed and asked how he could meet such a teacher. Well, I said his job was not to ask how and to be ready with his bike at 8:30 a.m. the next morning and I’d take him to Kundawell with me. Well! He ended up staying for Grandmaster Xu’s lecture, buying our ZY Qigong Level 1 book and my friend, Zuzana offered to teach him Level 1! Ha! Who knows, maybe he will start a ZY Qigong chapter in France!)

Bubbling Blisters & Healing Herbs
So back to my story about Dr. Lu and Miao Yin….The other person Xixi recommended I meet was Miao Yin. When I met Xixi, she had some blistering on her face. She told me more about Miao Yin as she explained what was happening with her skin. A couple weeks earlier, Xixi got a strange rash on her face. She had no idea where it came from and was nervous. As our face is what we present to the world, having this un-known rash grown and spread over her facial skin was scary, and her home remedies didn’t help. A week before I came back to Dali, Miao Yin came through town and was with Xixi for 2 days. She saw Xixi’s condition and that night had a dream about the plant that could help Xixi, and how to use it. Miao Yin woke up with a clear image of this plant, yet didn’t know what it was called. (This is similar to some stories from Grandmaster Xu; when treating patients sometimes he knows they require some herbs to assist their healing but is not sure which plant. I remember a distinctive time this happened when I was with him in Hungary. He got up from beside his patient, sat in another chair across the room, meditated, and within 5 minutes, received his Image of the plant. That time he knew which herb it was, but sometimes he’s had to look up in books or on the internet as to which plant matches his image. :)) That day, Xixi and Miao Yin happened to take a walk down a small path, and lo and behold this blessed plant from Miao Yin’s dream the night before was there, as if lovingly and expectantly awaiting them. Miao Yin was delighted and told Xixi of her dream. Xixi knows Miao Yin and of her special capabilities and listened intently to her advice. Miao Yin collected some of the stems of this plant, told Xixi how to use it and then had to leave to check her train and then plane back to Beijing.

Xixi followed Miao Yin’s advice of putting the liquid from the plant’s stems all over her face, covering the rash. At first it felt good and cool and soothing….but then it started to burn. I burned bad and huge blisters and swelling appeared. Xixi was nervous and called Miao Yin. Miao Yin said, good, it was working properly and in a day the swelling would go down, to let the blisters scab and they would naturally fall away, leaving her once again with her beautiful clear skin on her face. Well when I met Xixi, there was just a few more scabs left and most of her face was back to its beautiful self :).

Miao Yin: a Talented Chinese Medicine Doctor, a Young Woman from the Yunnan Mountains, a Modern Daoist Sage
So Miao Yin. She is extraordinary and I feel blessed to have the profound pleasure and joy of meeting her. As I mentioned, she grew up in a small mountain village in Yunnan, and from an early age had a strong interest in Chinese Medicine. Her father also got quite sick when she was only 8, and she started learning as much as she could to help him, further triggering her interest in this immense system of Medicine and philosophy. Her family also knew at an early age that she was "different.” While she liked school, her parents didn’t pressure her to spend all of her time studying. They understood the importance and power of play, and being from the mountains, she often would go off by herself into the trees and wild places to play…and meditate. She began early learning directly from nature.

Dreams & a White Bearded Sage
She also has the most profound dreams. While we were eating our delicious meal of hot pot, she told me how teachers often come to her in dreamtime, teach her healing techniques, knowledge, wisdom, etc. When she was beginning her university studies, an old white bearded man, a Daoist master, came to her in her dream and told her she was to study medicine. He also told her about some previous lives. Miao Yin’s description sounds much like the same teacher Grandmaster Mingtang speaks of who will greet us when our level is high enough and our soul first goes out of our body during qigong practice. When working with patients, just like what happened with Xixi, specific plants and herbs appear to her in dreams and when she then sees her clients, these herbs are exactly what the clients require. She also often sees events that affect her family or people close to her before they happen, and she told me so many examples/stories. In one case, Miao Yin woke up from a dream in which a child in her home village was murdered with a knife. She immediately called her Mom and asked her about the child. Her Mom said, “No, no one has been hurt.” Yet just minutes after her Mom hung up, a man came running over to her Mom sharing the horrific news that one of the village’s children was stabbed to death the night before.

Soul Travel
While she has studied and is a licensed Chinese Medicine doctor from the University, her knowledge and wisdom is so enriched through her own self-cultivation, qigong and Daoist practices she has learned from several Daoist masters and her time in nature. She also had her own bout of a strong illness at one point, and as others were unable to help well, she turned to herself, did her own research, cultivation and reclaimed her health as well as much wisdom. Miao Yin has also mastered soul travel, which is something I mentioned above that Grandmaster Xu teaches and that takes a very high level of qigong practice and cultivation to achieve. She is sooo amazing. And it is so very rare to meet someone like her!!

Similar Paths, Different Countries, Different Cultures
Gosh in our short first meeting together we have already shared so much! I remember the day I called her, we both felt an immediate kindred connection, both immediately liking each other, as if being re-united from a long, long time ago. I told her my time in Beijing was short this time but she laughed and said, “Oh you will be back. We will have much time together.” In our sharings, we also realized that several areas of our life paths have much in common! She said “It's like we've in many ways walked and followed similar paths, just in different countries/cultures and on different sides of the planet...and now, here we are, together, meeting amongst all the millions of people in the giant city of Beijing, China!”

A Reminder of Our Innate Potentials
Just being with Miao Yin is super special. Being with someone who knows and understands the way of Life on a very deep level, is an experience that’s challenging to put into words. I find her inspiring for providing a reflection of what is possible. She reminded me in our conversation that all of her abilities are natural to everyone. I know Grandmaster Mingtang says this too, and to hear this from a peer, from my new friend is also very inspiring. She has many connections with other Daoist Masters and also to good places in the mountains here to practice and meditate. And she greatly encouraged me to keep practicing, especially in Nature.

Returning to Nature
Just this week Grandmaster Xu also spoke again to the importance of returning to Nature. He said that all the answers to our questions about Life, healing and health can be found in Nature. “Look to nature for the Natural way,” he said. “If you want a healing method, look to Nature. Nature always tells us.” The old Chinese Medical texts have the saying, “法子自然” “fazi ziran,” “the method, the way is in Nature.” Qigong practice too is a way of developing and cultivating our bodies and channels to be a conduit and to receive energy and information, Qi, from the Natural world. In this way we can learn and receive directly from all other Life forms and sources, from animals, plants, water, mountains, trees, wind, as well as other Spiritual Teachers.

Power of Water
In lecture the other day, Xu Mingtang spoke to the power of Water, and said, “Water is the most important medication in our Life.” While we have many medicines, herbs, and pharmaceuticals out there that can provide good assistance when needed, water is a simple and important “medicine” to remember. It can be used for both “hot” and “cold” sickness (terms used in Chinese medicine). Water both absorbs heat from our body as well as coldness; it cleanses and circulates through our blood and other fluids to and through all our tissues. In nature, water, our rivers must circulate for good ecological health and balance. In our bodies, water (in our blood) must also circulate and cleanse. Xu Mingtang reminded us again of the power of understanding Life deeply…the simple science of Life and applying this to our own cultivation of health and wellbeing. Our bodies all have a most powerful, intrinsic self-healing ability. Our bodies are designed to heal. When using Image Medicine for treatment, the patient does 70% of the healing work, while the practitioner does only 30%. The practitioner works with the body, spirit and energy directly,…basically encouraging the natural healing abilities of our body. 

Oh I have much to say about Image Medicine, it’s history and roots from the Bian Que school, and all we have learned and experienced in this precious month of study..and more of the dear, dear friends I’ve met in this month….and I will share more in another update. First, I have a beautiful story to share from our Image Medicine graduation day! :)

Transforming a “Bad Student” Image
Oh my goodness! It was an amazing day! In graduating from my 1-month intensive Image Medicine course at Kundawell, I felt and feel so happy. I feel so thankful for this opportunity to learn about health, medicine, and Life at such a high level. And on our graduation day I also had such a special, special meeting with a Chinese woman. Most of the students in our class are from Russia and a few from Slovakia, and one from Spain, and two of us from the States :). Today though I noticed a Chinese woman who joined our last class before our graduation. She then sat behind me and was with one of our professors, Dr. Li Jun. Li Jun introduced us and we started talking. She was so curious about Image Medicine and said she really wanted to come study more. She told me she’s a Chinese Medicine doctor and has come to a few 2-3 day classes and, while some people got results right away (with their 3rd eye opening for diagnosis, etc), she hadn’t gotten any results yet and wanted to talk to Xu Mingtang. We chatted more, and she asked me about my qigong practice. She felt she was a “bad student” in that she didn’t do the exercises she was given and I sensed she felt bad and a bit guilty about it. I could tell she felt weighed down…and that her qigong practice had become yet another thing she “should” do in her life. I could relate as I had a similar feeling when first starting. She also spoke that she felt pressure as she wanted to use her “results” from practice right away to make her a better doctor. But sometimes in practice, the more the mind “wants” something, the harder it is to achieve.

So I started sharing with her about my practice and how I found my Joy in my practice. I shared how I first compared myself with others in terms of “results from practice” but soon realized that was not a wise way. Instead I focused my practice on my Joy, on enjoying my qigong practice, on first doing exercises I really loved and adding in others as I developed in my own abilities. The main thing was to enjoy my practice, and to be consistent. I also shared how I take my practice out in nature and receive so much from the Trees, Mountains, Waters and Land. She was so intrigued and listened intently. She asked if I could give her an example of some of the things I receive. I could feel a thirst, a yearning in her heart to connect to something deeper, something so awesome as the Mystery so exquisitely expressed in our Wild Lands. So I shared with her about my time in the Tibetan Plateau, my qigong session where the mountains around me seemed to transform into Buddhas while I practiced and the immense depth of Joy I felt in my whole Being and Heart. And also how I received such a beautiful message from the mountains in dreamtime during my trek…as well as other wilderness qigong training and connection stories. She was deeply moved and I felt an opening, a lightness in her heart and being.

Dr. Wang Speaks from Her Heart
Well it turns out this woman is one of the head doctors and professors at the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine! When we finished our conversation, someone came to get her, as she was to sit up front with the panel of professors and Xu Mingtang for our graduation ceremony! During the ceremony, all the teachers and people upfront (including my friend and colleague Dr. Maria Jorgenson who is also her studying Image Medicine and working at Kundawell for 3 months :)), also gave a short speech to all the students and other faculty. When it was this woman’s turn to speak (her name is Dr. Wang Yanping), ….oh she is so beautiful!! And I was so surprised! She spoke right from her heart and everyone listened intently. She said she was a professor and doctor of Chinese Medicine at Beijing University. She had had the opportunity to study a little bit at Kundawell and desires to study much more. She said we were all very, very fortunate to be here, to be studying Image Medicine, to be studying with Xu Mingtang. She said Western Medicine is very good with working on the physical level. It is a “substance” medicine, a physical medicine and Western Medicine knows the vast intricacies of our bodies’ anatomy and physiology. Chinese Medicine, her profession, is very good at working on the energetic level. It is Qi medicine. “Yet, Image Medicine,” she said, “is on the spiritual level.” It works on all three levels, physical, energetic and spiritual…and it is on a very high level. Image Medicine, while it is a part of Chinese Medicine from the ancient school of Bian Que, it’s methods and teachings were cut out of texts and school curriculums. “It is not taught in our universities because it is too amazing,” Dr. Wang said. Grandmaster Xu Mingtang is doing a huge service by bringing this system of medicine back. And through his Kundawell Institute, university professors and doctors are starting to study Image Medicine again. Dr. Wang Yanping expressed how lucky we all are “because we are contacting this high level of medicine directly.”

Power of Enjoyment & Enjoying Our Journey
She then smiled and said she had come today to ask Xu Mingtang why her 3rd eye hadn’t opened yet. But she then looked at me, and said, “But I already got my answer from this girl from Seattle.” She explained how she felt she wasn’t a “good student” in that she wasn’t practicing what she “should.” She also felt a lot of pressure to get the extra healing and diagnostic abilities she wanted…as it would help her in her profession. But this pressure and “need” to get somewhere took all the joy and enjoyment out of practice. It was just another thing to do. She said after talking with me she realizes she can choose her qigong practice out of her enjoyment of her practice. She can trust herself and her own process…like the quote “Life’s a journey, not a destination.”…and she can just do it, just do her practice and enjoy it. :)

She then said that this girl from Seattle was here studying Image Medicine, not so much for her career, as she is a writer, but to further develop her own spirit and soul. To learn more deeply about health, about life and gain wisdom to share with others. Dr. Wang Yanping also realizes she can take a wider view of her practice, her spiritual journey….and enjoy the process! Wow!!

Oh I was so moved by her sharing, as were others. Afterwards I went up to give her a big hug. She was so moved and kept thanking me and I kept thanking her and we gave each other about 3-4 hugs! :) She said she’d like to study with me. Well that night after our graduation dinner, I was saying my goodbyes and mentioned I was going to the meditation room to do some practice. Well, Dr. Wang Yanping came with me and asked me to teach her my practice! Oh I am so honored and humbled!! She is so beautiful, and I so loved sharing with her! We had a most beautiful practice and she can feel her Qi and felt her palms warm for one of the first times. We will be staying in touch and she’s told me that next time I’m in Beijing, she’d like to keep practicing with me. Thank you! I am so honored and am a conduit for sharing all the Blessings I receive.

Okay, phew – another long update! Thank you sooo much for all of you who have made it through another marathon sharing :). Sometimes there is so much I desire to share that I pause in even starting to write as the task in sharing is a bit daunting…but I know I just require starting to write and my stories flow to you. Having this opportunity to share means much to me, and thank you so much for your emails and responses! I love hearing from you!! I’m not always the fastest responder, BUT know that I so appreciate you and your words. :)

I’m now in Taiwan. :) My first time back in over 14 years (I studied abroad in Taiwan in college and came back for my thesis fieldwork). It is AMAZING to be here again and I have many stories brewing to share from here as well (not to mention all the earthquakes we’re having too!) :-)

Attached are some pictures of my dear friends at Kundawell, including Andrey from Moscow, Zuzana from Slovakia (we met in Slovakia 7 years ago when I traveled there with Grandmaster Xu! So great to be reunited and we had a most special sharing and have a treasured friendship), pics of some of us in our YiJingJi martial arts class, a pic of me and Adelaida from Spain, Zuzana, Eduard from Moscow, a pic of me and Auntie Zhao (Zhao Ayi)...she works at Kundawell and is such a sweet woman (we both laughed and giggled each morning when seeing each other and through out the day...such a generous, kind and loving soul), a pic of Miao Yin and me in my room the first time we met, a pic of me and Dr. Wang Yanping at graduation and one of us with Maria :), and several pics of an afternoon visiting Miao Yin at her place with her friend, Julia and her sister, Shan Yuan. The last pic is of my Taiwan mother, Peng Mama!! Oh she and her husband, Peng Baba, and their daughter, my dear friend Peng Ling (Rosey is her English name) are all soooo GREAT!!! They so treat me as another member of their family and it is so sweet to be reunited with them after 14 years apart! In this pic of Peng Mama, you can just see her great, vibrant, humorous and alive spirit! She is awesome...more about her and her family in my next update :)

So Much Grand Love to you all!!
Much LOVE and JOY,
Kailun 凱倫

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Snake Blessings, Purple Sequins, Knee Warmers & Police Officer Angels

Greetings Friends!!

Happy New Year!! And Happy New Year of the Snake!!

Gosh, I have sooooo much I desire to share with all of you, and this will be just a quick update as my Image Medicine studies, qigong practice, writing work, meal breaks to eat yummy Chinese food, and the time-consuming task of putting on and taking off multiple layers of MANY clothes to do my best to stay warm in these frigid Beijing temperatures are keeping me all quite busy. :) I've started writing my next longer update and will send that out later....

So below I have a short video to share with you. We had a most grand New Year's Celebration at Kundawell Instutitue in Beijing with Grandmaster Xu, all our other faculty and all my fellow classmates. Many of my classmates are from Russian and it turns out that New Years is a much bigger deal to celebrate than Christmas (Christmas was just another day of work/class here in Beijing...but New Years is another story! :))...So the week before New Years, many Russian students were busy preparing hilarious skits, dances, videos, songs and a whole 2-hour line up of performances for the evening. There was also the whole "cooking team" who invested a whole day in cooking tables full of delicious Russian dishes for the night as well....

Receiving my "Snake" Appointment
So, during prep week last week, a group of Russian women who were organizing all the various performance pieces came up to me and in broken English said, "You, Snake...sexy, sexy!" Ha! And then the promptly handed me a shimmery, slinky dress to wear and said I was to give the Blessing to the group in Chinese at the end! They instructed me that I was to have two men carry me in on stage, make a "snake-like" entrance, receive the candle/fire from Dragon (my new friend, Martin from Slovakia made a Great Dragon -- you can see him in is costume in the video :)) and then give my Snake Blessing to Grandmaster Xu, his family and the whole group. Well this sounded like fun, so I went to see my dear friend, Yajun who lives in Beijing and she helped me find a perfect Chinese "Snake Blessing" on the internet. :) And I'm happy to report I was able to successfully deliver it w/o notes or mistakes! Yay! :)

The Snake Blessing video is below...

And here's the blessing in Chinese: 

It basically says that...
"The New Year is here. Any past troubles float away in the wind; any past worries are let go and forgotten. Prosperity and happiness are here. When encountering any situation, remember to smile. May you be healthy, positive and happy in your heart. May all things flow in Grace and in happy freedom. The year of the Snake will be an even better, Grand year!" (it sounds a bit awkward in English, but in Chinese, it's beautiful and has a wonderful cadence and rhythm :))

And one more funny story to share in this shortest-update-ever (for me that is :))....So I had met up with my dear friend, Zuzana (I'll tell you more about her in my next longer update) from Slovakia before the celebration to introduce her to the delicious pleasures of eating Chinese hot pot with tahini sauce (yum!!!) and to get dressed in our costumes together in my cozy, little hostel room. So when we were ready, we took the bus to Kundawell together (since she doesn't have a bike..I usually bike here). (Well, on a side note, I looked quite funny on the bus and got a few wide-eyed stares as I had my shimmery dress on, with my BRIGHT green jacket, pink hat, and purple sequined scarf, jeans under my dress, my bulky knee warmers with my leggings bunched up over and around them and boots!! I would've worn more too but I couldn't get any more layers on and still be able to move!) So...we took the bus to the party...BUT I didn't think through as to how I would get home at the end of the evening. :( Hmmm... So after 1 a.m. when I decided to leave the party and head home, it dawned on me when I got out onto the COLD street, that...the buses stopped running at 11 p.m. :(. Oh dear! And, there were a whole bunch of other Chinese people out on the big boulevard trying to wave down taxi drivers to get home and warm quickly too. 

One Rare Exception to the Joys of Being a Foreigner in China
Well, I quickly realized that I found myself in one of the very few situations where being a foreigner in China was to my disadvantage! Almost all other situations, it is really to my advantage to be a foreigner as the Chinese make all sorts of exceptions for foreigners and are really super sweet to us! :)...Again, that is except for when trying to flag down a taxi! :( For some reason, taxis often go out of their way to avoid foreigners and my thought is because many foreigners don't speak Chinese and these drivers don't want to bother with the challenge of communicating in broken English or with some sort of creative sign language. :) So with the combination of most passing taxis being full, having many other Chinese also on the streets trying to flag down the few-and-far between empty taxis, and having most taxi drivers look the other way when they seeing my blond hair (as pretty much everything else was covered up! That must have been the only give-away that I wasn't Chinese :)), I realized I was probably in for a long, cold walk home. Plus I had hurt my foot so...my walking was a bit slow. 

Police Officer Angel 
At one point I did happen to successfully flag down a taxi, but when I told him where I was staying, he said in Chinese, "No, I'm not going. I'd have to turn around and besides there's always a bunch of traffic in that area," What?! At 1:30 a.m. he's telling me there's traffic?! The streets were empty...except for those of us looking for a taxi of course! So he sped off on his way and I continued on my slow journey back to my hostel. Well, I must have looked sad or something, because the next thing I knew a police officer came up to me and in a friendly voice and a smile said, "Where are you going?" Oh I was so surprised! I told him where I was staying and he said he was going that direction on his motor scooter. I could hop on and he'd take me there! "Oh really?! Gosh that is sooooo sweet!" I thought. I said thank you profusely and most delightedly and quickly hopped on. In a matter of minutes I was back to my warm, cozy hostel room ready to enjoy my first night's sleep of 2013! :)

So, that's it for this brief update! I have soooo much more I desire to say...and it is once again my bedtime. I am learning much and have had many more magical encounters, information given and received and new dear friends come into my life. 

In addition to the Snake Blessing, here are also a few pics of the party (note the one of Santa Claus is Grandmaster Mingtang! :)), one of me excitedly hugging the box of chocolates and yummy snacks my Mom sent to me (see I opened the box under our token Christmas tree at Kundawell :)), a pic of my friends Richard and Maria eating hot pot :), a few pics of a most amazing middle aged man we saw jump into the iced-over Houhai Lake and swim around quite calmly and happily!!, and one silly one of me (with Zuzana) after class one day all dressed in my face warmer, knee warmers, leggings, hat, and coat ready to hop on my bike. (The temps are sooo COLD here! It was 0 degrees Fahrenheit on Christmas eve day! I was actually nervous about going outside that day, BUT when I saw from my window that morning  that others were already up and out, walking and going about their day normally and surviving just fine, I too decided to bike to Kundawell! OMG -- well I about froze so I now have a new rule of no biking in temps under 10 degrees Fahrenheit! :))

Okay, I'm really going to stop writing now :)

I love you all and wish you all a most magnificent New Year, Year of the Snake! 

Happy Happy Happy Happy Happy New Year to you All! :)

Much LOVE,
KarenJoy aka Kailun 凯伦 aka Snake :)