Hello from Kunming China….
VMS are you ready? Ginger and I just arrived getting things ready here on the ground and well let me tell you one thing I had almost forgot…Expect the Unexpected 😉
We spent the entire day in an airport in China which wasn’t even on our itinerary it was a stop over on a “direct” flight. Now these experiences can be utterly frustrating or they can be profound learning experiences and the choice is really up to each of us.
Yesterday I was reminded of something I wrote many years ago after living in China for 5 years straight. You have to be ready in every moment for things to not go as you planned. If you expect them to go as planned it will be a constant stream of disappointment and frustration. Don’t worry, we will see Kunming and explore a modern city as well as journey to the Mountain city of Li Jiang and the rural Village of La Shi Hai. Only it may not happen exactly as we expect it to. If you are prepared to suck the life out of each moment. To talk to the locals around you. To watch and journal on what you are seeing, hearing and observing and how it is different with what you are used to, if you are willing to have an inspiring book and a journal at hand at all times then China will never cease to surprise you with opportunities to dive deeper into it’s culture and yourself.
Can you begin to sense the magnitude of our upcoming adventure? Can you taste the exotic spices in your mouth? Can you see the Bustling city streets? Can you smell the temple incense? Can you hear the simple, humble yet profound chants of the Tibetan monks?
If you’re getting excited, you’re not alone. Even when one has lived in China for many years there is still excitement at returning to the great enigma that the country is. These are merely previews of the myriad of experiences your going have this winter.
As you prepare for your trip I offer you this passage from the Dao De Jing:
“Thirty spokes meet at the hollowed-out hub;
the wheel won’t work without its hole.
A vessel is molded from solid clay;
Its inner emptiness makes it useful
To make a room, you have to cut out doors and windows;
Without openings, a place isn’t livable.
Each of you will come to this journey with a lifetime of experiences and you will all gather what may seem like a new lifetime of experiences before the trip is over. As your packing the most important thing may not be how much you can fit in the ‘useful emptiness’ of your backpack but rather how much you can leave behind. Bring an open mind. The more open and empty you come the more experiences you can fill your cup with.
I heard a few of you maybe interested in practicing Chinese Health Practices like Qigong, TaiChi and GongFu. So if you are still reading here is a little be about my background.
Let me conclude by sharing a little bit about my personal relationship with China. I remember sitting in a Physiological Psychology class my last year of College, watching a documentary on Tibetan monks who were meditating in the snow. They had wet blankets on their backs and their task was to dry out the blankets through a breathing practice. The researchers making the documentary where highly trained physiologists and they were baffled by these simple monk’s ability to seemingly defy physiological laws and raise their body temperature in the frigid cold of the Tibetan plateau.
It was that look of disbelief on such highly educated men’s faces that propelled me to ask my psychology professor how the monks did that. He paused and responded that it was our job as students to discover how they did it because frankly he said “science doesn’t know how they do it yet.”
That really planted the seeds of curiosity and began my journey into Eastern thought, medicine and three years later I boarded a plane for China. What I thought would be a year stay turned into seven.
During my time in China I studied with doctors in hospitals where acupuncture, breathing exercises and herbs were the main medicine, practiced TaiJi in the parks where staying healthy and vibrant was the focus of China’s elderly population, most of whom are responsible for taking care of their grand children while the parents both work full-time. And it was there that I discovered things I appreciate about my own culture and things I’d like to see change.
10 years ago I returned from China to begin my masters degree in Chinese Medicine. It was so clear in China that the population enjoyed a health and vitality into their eighties and nineties that most Americans only dream of. Not only that but they seemed to achieve this state of health by doing whatever it is that they love. It could be playing Chinese chess, dancing, singing or swinging from a tree branch. It wasn’t pumping iron at the gym or sweating in an aerobics class. I was amazed at how they seemed to put their entire spirit into any simple activity and the result was magical. Since then I have devoted much of my time to learning the medicine, cooking and philosophy that forms the basis for China’s simple but profound wisdom.
I invite each of you to spend some time each of these last few days before your trip and on the plane over. Just 5 minutes a day can make all the difference. Start to open yourself to what is ahead. Maybe start a journal, or Google some aspect of China that interests you. Read some Chinese poetry or write your own. Just take a little bit of time to open yourself to the journey ahead. Truthfully what you do in the next couple days can 10x your experience in China.
If you want to get a head start on the language try this:
Here’s a video about Chinese Cooking:
Here’s a video on Taoist Health Practices:
Or Check out this website which has news articles about China including politics and economics:
Here’s a Kung Fu(Gong Fu) movie to watch on YouTube or rent.Besides being a good kung fu movie it has many historical aspects.
Myself, Ginger, and Andrew Lao Shi are setting the course for an amazing adventure. One that will take us back and forth between China’s ancient and modern faces. From rice paddies to bustling city streets, from the modern elite to the village farmers, from majestic mountains to high rise buildings.
Please don’t hesitate to contact me with your thoughts, questions and concerns.You can e-mail me at [email protected]. I’d really enjoy hearing from all of you in the near future.
We are so looking forward to meeting you in LA.
In the Qi of Anticipation,