So it was that almost exactly 28 hours since leaving the depths of rural Suffolk I found myself (not unexpectedly) arriving at Jianshe’s new, purpose built Qigong centre in Hainan. This cool, airy building, tucked away at the back of the village of Jianhua Shan in the Dongjiao Coconut Forest offers great practice space both inside and out and is the perfect spot to relax and immerse yourself in Qigong.
With a slightly fried internal clock, I headed to bed, got up for supper, then joined the evening practice session before heading back to bed in the hope of acclimatising to the temperature and adjusting to the new time zone.
The next day the familiar routine starts at 7am with morning practice on the roof, weather permitting, and as the sun rises over the coconut palms its really rather easy to enjoy the moment and be ‘present’ within your practice. It seems that I’m already running on Chinese time.
Having a couple of days either side of the conference, we were able to immerse ourselves in longer periods of practice and the occasional sight-seeing/shopping trip, but the main purpose of the visit is the 6 days of talks by the much-talked-about teacher Xu. With just over 60 delegates assembled, including 16 graduates of the Huaxia centres 2 year teacher training and 17 foreign visitors from North America, Central America, Polynesia, Africa and Europe the conference started.
With an initial emphasis on developing our ability to practice with our ‘eyes open’ and integrating practice into daily lives, the conference moved through an array of subjects from developing awareness, oneness and being in the moment, through to the relationship we have with students, money, fame, arrogance and our ego, stopping along the route to explore aspects of healing, the link between Zhineng Qigong and Daoist and Buddhist practices, and the details of physical practices like Ro Fu.
I was told a story a few years ago about a western journalist going to see a Buddhist monk. The story goes that the monk prepared a pot of tea for the journalist and as he poured the tea into the small cup, the cup overflowed. The journalist, surprised at the apparent waste of tea asked the monk why he hadn’t stopped pouring. The monk’s response was a question: why do you bring such a small cup when I have so much to put in it.
It’s fair to say that I felt like that western journalist. Once I realised both the quality and quantity of information on offer I quickly decided to swap my small cup for a bucket and, as my written notes will contest, there was a lot of information provided.
The only problem is that it takes a long time to drink a whole bucket of tea, and so it is with the amount of information offered to us in this sunny paradise in the South China Sea. It’s way too early to say what I’ve learned, it’s only really fair to say that some time in the future, when I’ve actually taken onboard the lessons offered (and drunk the proverbial bucket of tea), will I be able to really attest to the power of the lessons for me.
I’ll leave you with a small selection of photographs of the conference, the sight seeing, and the delegates while I head off to practice, drink tea and make plans for my next visit.