Photo of the Week
China
Photo Title


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    [post_date] => 2015-09-24 11:13:53
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    [post_content] => As I open it as my head starts to ache, I lick my dry lips anxiously. I think to myself, I should close it, I shouldn’t read it now, but yesterday, my past instructor, mentor- my good friend, told my group and I that new students are arriving and he was encouraging us to write a short entry about our trip and the advice we have for the upcoming group. I knew I had to write something, anything.

It has been on my shelf for about four months now. It is the color of cotton candy and smooth like leather, yet it is aged, scratched, bruised and weathered. Its pages are crinkled and stained from tea and torn from bouncing around in my purple backpack. It has my whole experience inside of it. It has my adventures, my feelings, my thoughts, and my love for China- my love for the people within the country. Within the group. It has my memories, my taste of the food, smell of the city and fresh rural air. It has the sound of my homestay sister laughing and the sound of water flowing through the mountains I once climbed. It has the touch of the first chopsticks I held in my hand. It has the touch of the last person I hugged. It holds this beautiful and irreplaceable moments that made up the most precious time in my life. Yet, I haven’t opened it once in these four months. As I slowly pulled it out of my bookshelf, dust sprinkled onto my carpet. How can one object be still for four months, yet hold so much life and energy to it?

I flip through the pages slowly, only reading the words, refusing to make them into sentences. The journal smells of dirt, dust and sweat.

Than I decide to make them into sentences. I read every page-every scribbly, every line and every drawing. The emotions I feel right now are unbelievable. My legs are tingling and my cheeks are soar from smiling, and they’re also stained from crying.

The most crucial advice I want to give to you all is to journal every day. If that means as long as three hours(it has been done) or 5 minutes, DO IT. It doesn’t even have to be sentences, but bullet points of what you see and how you feel. It could be a little sketch on the bottom left page. It could be a poem or a relatable quote to your emotions. My favorite, though, is it could be a sentence, word or conversation that really stuck out to you, Words that you don’t want to be forgotten. Journaling will keep those memories intact, and unedited. 10 years or 50 years from now, you can flip back to your favorite page and know you’re leaving no detail out- to know that you’re telling the memory from beginning to end. The way it’s supposed to be. The way you experienced it.

The second piece of advice I want to give to you all is to take care of yourselves. Basically that means to wash your hands and drink water. That sounds like a simple task to do or bland advice, but it could make the difference of staying in bed all day while the other group members explore Xian. Drinking at least two liters a day, while washing your hands before and after every meal is IMPORTANT. Don’t get sick because of not following these basic rules- it’s really not worth it at all. Also, encourage your peers and instructors to do the same. Never, ever, ever get dehydrated.

The third piece of advice is to never make assumptions. Be completely open minded with every situation and with whomever you meet. Never place judgments. Listen. Really, really listen. With group members, you will learn new things about them as each day passes. You all will become unbelievably connected and at one with each other. You may think you know someone fully, but new things will pop up and that’s wonderful, exciting and you should feel grateful to know more about the interior of them. With locals, be outgoing and friendly. Don’t hold back if self conscious of your language ability, you’ll only regret. The conversation might be a little awkward, uncomfortable and confusing, but special. Really, indescribably special.

Lastly, just enjoy every moment. Every view. Every smile. Every dance. Every laugh. Every answer and every question. Each of these little moments that may seem small at first, will be everything in the end. Your first conversation with your homestay family, your first lesson with your ISP instructor, your first journal entry, your first breakthrough within yourself and others. It’ll all come together in the end, these little moments of firsts and lasts, as beautiful and irreplaceable pieces. These memories and moments are too special for me to type or describe, so I guess you’ll just have to experience them for yourself.

I’m so excited for you all. I really am.

So much love,

Franny
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Past Traveller Through China

Francesca Crimi,China: South of the Clouds, China

Description

As I open it as my head starts to ache, I lick my dry lips anxiously. I think to myself, I should close it, I shouldn’t read it now, but yesterday, my past instructor, mentor- my good friend, told my group and I that new students are arriving and he was encouraging us to write […]

Posted On

09/24/15

Author

Francesca Crimi

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    [post_date] => 2015-05-10 12:10:07
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    [post_content] => During the final day of our transference activities students were asked to individually journal about the things they want their loved ones to know as they return home. We have been on a journey for the past 3 months, everyone has grown in their own way, everyone will take something different away from this experience. Some of these learnings will take time to settle, while others will be immediately clear. As you welcome your son, daughter, brother, sister, grandchild, friend, loved one home these are some quotes from them to keep in mind.

Dear family,

I want you to know…

… I have found my second fam bam. They accept the new me and love me for who I am. At this moment I am very happy, and I know I’ll continue to be happy every time I think of them.

…these three months were the best experience of my entire life. I made relationships that are impossibly hard to come by and make in as little as 3 months. I have no idea where I’ll begin and how I’ll begin answering all of your questions. Asking me “How was it?”, “Tell me everything!”, and “Did you make good friends?” are something I need to reflect on.

…even though I wasn’t communicating with you, I was still thinking of you.

…how happy I have been over the last three months. I have met various physical and emotional challenges along my journey and have tackled them head on. Now I finally feel decompressed from the stress and hard work of my last years at school, I believe I am ready to touch pause and engage at University. Thank you for supporting me and for enabling me to have this once in a lifetime experience.

… that all I ask is that you be patient with me and that you listen. In turn I will do the same as well as be honest about my feelings and thoughts.

…it will take me a while to explain exactly what this trip has meant and to readjust back home. I am looking forward to bringing more to our relationship and others. I want to continue to be more intentional with new habits and relationships I develop and continue to develop.

…I can’t wait to tell you about my trip, but I don’t know where to begin. Coming home is going to be a big change. I have become a new person, and I’m sure you have all changed too. I hope that we can be patient with each other in order to understand and communicate with each other. I don’t want to stop striving for my goals after the course ends, and I ask that you help me continue to push myself, learn, and most importantly be happy and content with who I am.

…that these 3 months have been everything that I could have hoped for, but I am ready to come home and I can’t wait to see you all in a few short hours.

…that you might want to start saving money for Christmas plane tickets because I’m going to live in China. I want you to know that I dyed my hair purple, so you can’t talk me out of it now, not that you could anyway. I want you to know that I want to learn a lot of things, and that this time I’m making my own schedule.

…that at the very least, I know that on this trip I have thought about things I never thought about before, and that right now my mind is a mess of questions and feelings wrapped up in a (hopefully) expanded perspective, and I am trying to adjust to many things in many ways simultaneously. For that I thank you. I thank you for giving me this opportunity, for helping me to get here, and for teaching me my entire life how to be a good person and someone who can grow from this experience.

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Dear family I want you to know…

Student group annonymous responses,China

Description

During the final day of our transference activities students were asked to individually journal about the things they want their loved ones to know as they return home. We have been on a journey for the past 3 months, everyone has grown in their own way, everyone will take something different away from this experience. […]

Posted On

05/10/15

Author

Student group annonymous responses

Category

China

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    [post_content] => The students have cleared customs and now on their way to the next part of their journey.

It was a teary send off but we are confident that the bonds we've forged over the last three months will continue beyond this course.

中国爱你们

Over and out from Team China!
    [post_title] => Take Off!
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Take Off!

Team China,China

Description

The students have cleared customs and now on their way to the next part of their journey. It was a teary send off but we are confident that the bonds we’ve forged over the last three months will continue beyond this course. 中国爱你们 Over and out from Team China!

Posted On

05/9/15

Author

Team China

Category

China

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    [post_date] => 2015-05-09 10:47:54
    [post_date_gmt] => 2015-05-09 16:47:54
    [post_content] => 
The third day in Beijing, being heralded by some (us), as the best day in Beijing, was so good thanks in no small part to the sheer spectacle of the sights we saw that day. It was a day in the heart of Beijing, with the morning dedicated to Tiananmen Square and the better part of the afternoon to the Forbidden City. Both of these sites are well justified in their status as Beijing's, and arguably China's, most famous and most popular attractions. In accordance with the leadership structure we developed, we (Zack and Bryn) planned and led the final two days of Beijing, of which this was the first. In Tiananmen Square we began (sans Annya who stayed behind at the hostel, sick) by taking in the spectacle: we waited in line to pay our respects in the fascinating and crowded mausoleum of Mao Ze Dong, then dispersed into the square to talk to some of it's patrons in order both to practice our Chinese and to get a better idea of what the square means to various people. 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This afforded an excellent view of the city, both forbidden and not, and also provided a location to talk and debrief the tour we had just completed. After this we headed for dinner to Houhai, one of the more recently redeveloped and trendier areas of Beijing, though it too is immersed in history and important cultural landmarks such as the ancient drum and bell towers, and the many Hu Tong (Beijing alleyways) that still wind their way through the city. We had a dinner of Chao Gar (glutinous intestine soup) along with many other traditional Beijing dishes, and were thoroughly satisfied by the time we headed home for a well deserved sleep and the surprising revelation that on her sick day Anya had gone out and dyed her hair a shocking purple. On our second day, we decided to give the group a day to explore the city individually. We thought that people would be able to use the time to see a new part of the city (and between all of us we have now seen a lot of the city), to buy presents for their families, to practice Chinese and to have some alone time for self-reflection. We gave a few guidelines: eat lunch, hydrate, go somewhere new in the city, take pictures, talk to someone in Chinese and buy a present for someone outside the course, and a present for someone inside the course (determined by a name drawing) and then sent people out for most of the day. People did everything from go to parks, the city walls, museums, the art district, spend the day shopping or printing amazing ISP presentations (Anna), or getting a haircut and wandering the city. At 4pm, we gathered up and discussed what we did over the day, shared pictures we took and the presents we bought for someone outside the course. We then separated for a quick dinner as the instructors had planned a surprise activity for the night. We took the train to a new part of town, and walked to what turned out to be a traditional Chinese acrobatics performance. It was a stunning show, with people leaping through small hoops, doing tricks on vertical poles, juggling up to 9 balls at once, being extremely flexible and strong (one woman spent a few minutes balanced on a single hand contorting and twisting her body in various ways), doing some aerial acrobatics where small women were thrown through the air, balancing things on feet while twisting and bending, and doing circus like tricks on bicycles and generally being all around impressive people. After that went home and finished up ISP presentations with Anna, she gave each of us a beautiful cookbook with recipes she learned throughout the trip and little notes about her experiences. During our two days of leadership, we tried to incorporate the lessons that we learned from our peers and our instructors, including delegation, awareness of group needs and trying to limit inefficient, time consuming, and often ineffective group meetings. After a night and a morning of packing and getting ready to leave Beijing, we boarded a bus for a two hour ride to Dazhenyu, a small town near the Great Wall. We are staying in a guest house in a converted farmer's siheyuan (a compound type house, with a courtyard surrounded by buildings), and our host is a chef of 30 years, which means every meal we have had has been wonderful and delicious. Yesterday our X-phase ended and we reverted back to instructors leading the group. After we arrived we had lunch, then made kites, and then spend the hour and a half before dinner having one-on-one conversations with each other, giving feedback, and saying the things we might not have a chance to later. After dinner we did an "I remember" activity to go back over our course. This morning we woke up and left at 5:45, hiked up onto the Great Wall and had breakfast. We then wrote each other notes on our kites, tried to fly them, and spent an inordinate amount of time taking pictures. After lunch we spent time doing course and instructor evaluations, and three-on-one feedback sessions with the instructors. We then spent the evening struggling against slow internet trying to fill out course evaluations. All in all, other than the slow connection, this has been the perfect place for us end our journey, and to prepare to return home. [post_title] => Final Days [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => final-days-6 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-01-21 14:06:52 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-01-21 21:06:52 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://wheretherebedragons.com/?p=118101 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [categories] => Array ( [0] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 27 [name] => China [slug] => china-spring-2015 [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 27 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 237 [count] => 136 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 6.1 [cat_ID] => 27 [category_count] => 136 [category_description] => [cat_name] => China [category_nicename] => china-spring-2015 [category_parent] => 237 [link] => https://my.wheretherebedragons.com/category/spring-2015/china-spring-2015/ ) ) [category_links] => China )
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Final Days

Bryn and Zack,China

Description

The third day in Beijing, being heralded by some (us), as the best day in Beijing, was so good thanks in no small part to the sheer spectacle of the sights we saw that day. It was a day in the heart of Beijing, with the morning dedicated to Tiananmen Square and the better part […]

Posted On

05/9/15

Author

Bryn and Zack

Category

China

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We've made it to the last stop on this incredible journey! After wrapping up a successful student-led expedition, we went to see a performance by the China National Acrobatic Performance Group, which drew endless oohs and aahs from the crowd. Our final three days of the program will be dedicated to looking back at the passage we have taken, as well as forward, towards home. We will spend these last days in the company of people that have become family, focusing on synthesis, integration, preparation, and celebration. In this moment as I type this Yak post, I can hear the laughter outside from the group while everyone is deeply absorbed in making their own kite. For the finishing touch, we will each write blessings and gratitude on each other's kite. Tomorrow, these kites will be set flying over the Great Wall! [post_title] => Transference at the Great Wall [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => transference-at-the-great-wall [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-01-21 14:08:53 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-01-21 21:08:53 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://wheretherebedragons.com/?p=118063 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [categories] => Array ( [0] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 27 [name] => China [slug] => china-spring-2015 [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 27 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 237 [count] => 136 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 6.1 [cat_ID] => 27 [category_count] => 136 [category_description] => [cat_name] => China [category_nicename] => china-spring-2015 [category_parent] => 237 [link] => https://my.wheretherebedragons.com/category/spring-2015/china-spring-2015/ ) ) [category_links] => China )
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Transference at the Great Wall

I-Team,China

Description

We’ve made it to the last stop on this incredible journey! After wrapping up a successful student-led expedition, we went to see a performance by the China National Acrobatic Performance Group, which drew endless oohs and aahs from the crowd. Our final three days of the program will be dedicated to looking back at the passage we […]

Posted On

05/7/15

Author

I-Team

Category

China

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    [post_date] => 2015-05-05 15:50:53
    [post_date_gmt] => 2015-05-05 21:50:53
    [post_content] => Dear China Semester Students & Families,

It is hard to believe that 3 months have passed since embarking on this incredible adventure!  It won’t be long and students will be boarding their planes back home.  We are sure you are anxiously awaiting their arrival!

Below is a reminder of the return group flight information for eagerly awaiting families:

May 10th, 2015
Air China #887
Depart: Beijing (PEK) 12:00pm noon
Arrive: Los Angeles (LAX) 9:00am

We will have a Dragons Administrator on call for the duration of the travel day.   Starting on Friday, 5/8, should you need any assistance after regular office hours, please call our “on-call” number at 303-921-6078.

We wish all students a great trip home!

Sincerely,
Boulder Admin
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China

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Return Group Flight Information

Anna Stevens,China

Description

Dear China Semester Students & Families, It is hard to believe that 3 months have passed since embarking on this incredible adventure!  It won’t be long and students will be boarding their planes back home.  We are sure you are anxiously awaiting their arrival! Below is a reminder of the return group flight information for […]

Posted On

05/5/15

Author

Anna Stevens

Category

China

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    [post_date] => 2015-05-04 09:20:12
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    [post_content] => This is our itinerary for our expedition phase!
Day 1: hiking in Wudang Mountain and camping (led by Ben and Ryan)
Day 2: hiking back to the Wushu School we had been staying in from Wudang mountain (led by Ben and Ryan)
Day 3: Travel to Xi'an 
Day 4: First day in Xi'an. Walk on the city wall and explore the Muslim Quarter, ending in the Great Mosque. Eat lots of local snacks. (led by Fye, Sara and Annya)
Day 5: See the Terracotta Warriors, have a lesson on the Qing Dynasty (by Fye) and Tourism (by Annya and Luke) -(led by Fye, Sarah and Annya)
Day 5: Xi'an Noodle Lesson and free time to explore the city. (led by Fye, Sarah and Annya)
Day 6: Graydon and Ben's ISP presentations.  Goodbye Lunch with Gong and go to train to Beijing. 
Day 7: First day in Beijing. Franny's ISP presentation. Go to a foreign owned pie shop. Annya's ISP presentation. (led by Franny, Graydon and Anna)
Day 8: Ryan's Birthday! Go to the park and then go to the Beijing Olympic Stadium. Have Beijing Duck. Be in a Food Coma of Happiness. (led by Franny, Anna and Graydon)
Day 9: Visit the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square (led by Zack and Bryn)
Day 10: Urban solo and surprise activity organized by the instructors (led by Zack And Bryn)

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China

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Expedition

Annya Serkovic,China

Description

This is our itinerary for our expedition phase! Day 1: hiking in Wudang Mountain and camping (led by Ben and Ryan) Day 2: hiking back to the Wushu School we had been staying in from Wudang mountain (led by Ben and Ryan) Day 3: Travel to Xi’an Day 4: First day in Xi’an. Walk on […]

Posted On

05/4/15

Author

Annya Serkovic

Category

China

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    [post_date] => 2015-04-30 10:23:34
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    [post_content] => 








Thirty spokes converge upon a single hub;

It is on the hole in the center that

The use of the cart hinges.

Shape clay into a vessel;

It is the space within that makes it useful.

Carve fine doors and windows,

But the room is useful in its emptiness

The usefulness of what is

depends on what is not.

- Lao-tzu, Dao De Jing, Verse 11

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Photos from Wudang Mountain Daoist Academy

I-Team,China

Description

Thirty spokes converge upon a single hub; It is on the hole in the center that The use of the cart hinges. Shape clay into a vessel; It is the space within that makes it useful. Carve fine doors and windows, But the room is useful in its emptiness The usefulness of what is depends […]

Posted On

04/30/15

Author

I-Team

Category

China

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    [post_date] => 2015-04-26 17:33:18
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    [post_content] => Ever since I was young, I've loved waking up early. Through elementary school and middle school at Buckingham Friends School, I wouldn't hesitate to leap out of bed and eagerly run out of the door. As I got older though, I became less fond of the idea of waking up early. Although I loved my high school, I would always be exhausted in the morning, even with a good night sleep. I would need multiple alarms to get myself out of bed and even then, it would be a challenge. I guess that may be because I've lost sight of the beauty of waking up early-the beauty of waking up before the sun rises. 


Waking up at home in Bucks County, nowadays, means eating breakfast, walking my dog, heading to the gym, or reading with a cup of tea. On my time, that may be around 8am. In China, during this adventure, waking up early means something a little more different. A little more foreign, but a lot more exciting. 

The morning of April 17th at the Buddhist Monastery, all of us attended the morning chants in the Buddhist temple at 5am. When I was awaken by the chimes of the bell, my perceived assumption of waking up early continued to be close minded. I had, to say the very least, much trouble managing to get out of bed. I had no idea what the next hour would be like in the temple. We all gathered outside the temple in the darkness awaiting to be enlightened, until one of the nuns gestured for us to enter with a smile. I stood behind a golden mat with a fluorescent pink lotus flower sewed into it and began to be a shadow of the monks and nuns movements. We began with our palms touching as harmonized chanting surrounded us. The sound was foreign and soothing and although I couldn't translate the words, I was moved by their voices. Maybe this is because even though I didn't understand, I wanted to understand. 

Throughout the hour, I listened to echoing drums, voices and wind chimes flow through the cold and thick air from candles and incense. The word Amitofou lingered in my ear after the spiritual experience and at that time, unknowingly, still lingers through my ears many days after. The experience of waking up at 4:30am drastically changed once the silent retreat began. Waking up to the only sound of morning birds in the darkness was peaceful and made the experience more authentic. On the last day of the morning chants for my last bow, I lightly pressed my palms together, gently put my hands to my nose, mouth then heart and knelt upon the golden mat. I bowed slowly and held my pose longer then I ever had before. Before the first morning chant, I woke up exhausted and hesitant, but on the last morning of the chanting in the temple, as the sky was dark and the air was foggy, I wouldn't have wanted to spend my morning any other way. 


In a Daoist Academy in the Wudang Mountains, we are currently at a martial arts school. On the first morning, we woke up at 6:30am, not quite sure what we were going to do. As we gathered in the courtyard, the students began running up a path and all of us trailed behind. We all went at various paces as the sun began to rise. Once we stopped, we ended at a barren, grassy field with a sparkling lake in our gaze, surrounded by greenery and overlapping mountains halving the sky. One of the older martial arts students began doing various stretching moves. After, he showed us a tai chi move called Ye Ma Fen Zhong. We all slowly progressed throughout the lesson. Although we woke up at an early hour after a day of traveling, no one appeared tired. We walked back to the school and I sat in the hammock chair reflecting on these two early morning experiences. For me, waking up early in itself is silence-whether you speak or not. We woke up at an hour where many are still under their warms blankets fast asleep, dreaming. While asleep, you're not running in the chilly air, under the golden sky, surrounded by mountains to practice tai chi or listening to monks chant with the sun slowly steaming through the windows as Amitofou resonates through your ears. These experiences aren't a dream, they're real. I do feel more awake then I've had in a long time, after all

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China

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Before the Sun Rises

Francesca Crimi,China

Description

Ever since I was young, I’ve loved waking up early. Through elementary school and middle school at Buckingham Friends School, I wouldn’t hesitate to leap out of bed and eagerly run out of the door. As I got older though, I became less fond of the idea of waking up early. Although I loved my […]

Posted On

04/26/15

Author

Francesca Crimi

Category

China

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    [post_date] => 2015-04-26 17:25:00
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    [post_content] => "Taiji (Taichi) is about being soft" we are told by the disciples of the traditional Daoist school at which we have been staying for the past three days. Taiji was supposedly invented when Zhang Sanfeng saw a snake and an eagle fighting, here in the Wudang mountains about 600 years ago, and saw that the snakes soft, quick, responsive movements allowed it to evade and frustrate the much 'harder' eagle. Each morning we get up to do morning exercise on the dam nearby at 7 am, just as the sun rises over the mountains. We do basic stretching and exercise (after some people do a warm up jog), and then practice taiji together, learning from one of the older disciples here. Each morning after breakfast we have practiced Wushu, a form of martial arts with many branches, part of the Daoist self-cultivation repertoire. We see how soft not just the disciples bodies are, as they spin and snap their legs through the air with incredible flexibility, strength and control, but also the movements themselves: so graceful and quiet that if you miss seeing the movement you wouldn't know it had happened. Each evening after dinner we do evening practice with the disciples: an hour of meditation or other forms of quiet, internal self-cultivation as someone plays the guqin, an instrument that predates the documented Chinese civilization, and is used to calm the mind and bring peace and balance.

Of course, none of us have developed the total softness that radiates from the disciples, their calm smiles, their lithe movements and air of control, but we have a similar mission. While they are trying to train themselves to achieve not just the physical softness and strength that comes from practicing Wushu and Taiji, but also the mental focus, strength and softness that comes from years of dedicated practice and meditation and philosophical education, we Dragons students are only trying to tenderize our minds.

By that I mean we are trying to break down our established ideas of the world and ourselves, and by travel and immersion and studying we are trying to open our minds, make them absorbent and soft and open to change, new ideas, and the beauty around us.

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The Eagle and the Snake

Bryn Huxley-Reicher,China

Description

“Taiji (Taichi) is about being soft” we are told by the disciples of the traditional Daoist school at which we have been staying for the past three days. Taiji was supposedly invented when Zhang Sanfeng saw a snake and an eagle fighting, here in the Wudang mountains about 600 years ago, and saw that the […]

Posted On

04/26/15

Author

Bryn Huxley-Reicher

Category

China

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