Medicating by Meditating: healing spirit and body with TCM

Written by Maria

If you live in a concrete jungle like London, New York or Hong Kong, you are certainly very familiar with stress, anxiety, and pollution that negatively impact the quality of your life. Your tight schedule makes you feel like everyday is the same as the day before. All this planning in advance causes an amount of stress that it gets harder and harder to bear. You feel like you’re about to crush and then it is Friday again. A pub crawl on Friday, some laundry on Saturday, and a lazy Sunday. Of course it will happen that some weekends are more exciting than others, but some are just extra hours of work. If you are lucky you will spend them on a Ryanair cheap flight towards an unknown small town where they barely understand you and you barely understand them. And it is Monday again. How to get out from this ordinary nightmare?

As I see it, we are all left with 2 options. We move to a desert island and leave it all behind. But what about your friends, your family, and all your fancy clothes? Also, human are after all social animals, we really need people to get by. And some pets too. And a sofa. Fortunately, there is another option. It only takes 5 to 20 minutes a day and, once again, it comes from the Far, far East. Just Meditate. Mind I said “Meditate”, not “Think”. Think involves our brain to function in a certain way: to formulate hypothesis, to plan, to take decisions, to supress our emotions. It involves stress. We have just agreed that we want to get away from that. So, what is meditation?

Origins

Meditation is a practice which involves full concentration, awareness of oneself and one’s surrounding, and the aim is to reach stillness of the mind and a deep status of mind-body relaxation to prepare it. In a way, meditation is the opposite of thinking, because we want to observe our thoughts, physical and emotional senses, as they were pictures in our minds.

Rooted in Hinduist tradition and dating back as far as 4,000 years ago, meditation arrived in China with the diffusion of Buddhism, although meditative practices are also very common in the Taoist tradition. 

In Chinese Traditional Medicine, Meditation has developed as a crucial as Acupuncture and a balanced diet, to favours the correct flow of Qi within and without body and mind.

Be Still: Meditation and Movement

In terms of techniques, stillness can mean many things. Stillness is about the mind, and it doesn’t necessarily imply that you only meditate in static positions, like laying down on the floor or sitting in a lotus pose with your legs crossed.

Yoga is a very popular choice. In Chinese tradition, Tai Chi and Qigong are the most common meditative movement practices. Apt for all ages and bodies, they engage in a sequence of slow, mindful bodily movements, to enhance balance, bodily control and breath. Such practices are great for your health, particularly for your muscular tone and your back.

To some meditation sceptics…

Now I can hear some of you saying ‘Do you seriously want to make me believe that if I lay down and tell myself not to think I will not think anymore? And isn’t it thinking about not thinking a thought anyway?’

See, that is the problem. A good meditator is one that focuses only on his breath. He does not impose himself what to think, he is not judgmental of losing his focus from time to time. When it happens, it only accepts it and comes back to his breath. It takes some time practice and time to appreciate the positive results of meditation. Some of us just call it patience. I prefer to call it commitment.

About patience…

‘What if I fall asleep while I am meditating?’, or ‘How can I not think not to fall, if I am standing upside down in a very odd Yoga position?’ are other kind of concerns. Well, if you fall asleep, you reached your purpose: certainly you have gotten relaxed, although you should maybe work on your awareness, trying to counting your breath to keep your mind active, though even and stable. Same when your practicing Tai Chi or Yoga. Just focus on your breath and keep tracking of your movement through inhalation and exhalation: it will naturally relaxing your muscles, thus encouraging a better withstanding of the pose; also, it will keep you distracted from feeling challenged, unbalanced, by the position, pain, stretch etc.

Meditation as Medication in Chinese and Worldwide Culture

Meditation practices spread throughout all the East because of their link to the Buddhist tradition, and were used as a form of healing alternative to religious rituals and conventional medicaments. Still today, especially in ethnic populations there is a diffuse belief that bodily illness is only a physical manifestation of spiritual illness, caused by a bad thought, evil demons, etc.

But apart from the mystic side of meditation, its benefits are undeniable. As I mentioned already, meditation is an engaging practice, which trains our minds to control emotions and impulses in a healthy way, without ignoring or supressing them. It helps keeping an even attitude through stressful times, or to certain emotionally-charging events in our lives. And it is commonly known that a calmer temper is good to keep our blood pressure steady, our heart rate at ease, and our anxiety and sleepless nights only a bad memory.

Not convinced yet? Based on Eastern practice of Meditation, the ‘Iceman’ Wim Hof (among his Guinness World Record gestures: a barefoot half-marathon on ice and snow, a swimming several times half-naked under the ice for more than 110 minutes) developed a method to defeat our human frailty and enhance our resilience through the power of our minds and breath.

Personally, I am a big fan of Wim and can’t wait to join one of his crazy expeditions. But many of you may disagree. Believe it or not, scientists and doctors still pop their eyes in front of his extraordinary, super-manly health conditions. It’s not about magic, it’s just about commitment. Meditation is a way of life. To keep a steady mind clears the view from dusty confusion, facilitates decision, increases our self-esteem. It is not a surprise that there is a corporate trend to integrate yoga and similar practices in their employee schemes.

So what are you waiting for? Close your eyes and just breathe.

About Interact China


“A Social Enterprise in E-commerce Promoting Oriental Aesthetic Worldwide!”

Aileen & Norman co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters and tailors, along with 13 years of solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we are well positioned to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and directly bring you finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste.

So far we carry 3000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion via ChineseFashionStyle.com, Kungfu Fashion, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speak English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts.


P.S. We Need People with Similar Passion to Join Our Blogging Team!
If you have passion to write about Oriental Aesthetic in Fashion, Home Decor, Art & Crafts, Culture, Music, Books, and Charity, please contact us at bloggers@interactchina.com, we would love to hear from you!

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Tips For A Healthy Life: Qi Energy And How To Let It Flow

Written by Maria Giglio

We all know that modern Medicine is about blades and stitches, but to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM} blood is not the only thing that flows in our body. Healing is rather a matter of mind-body and Qi (氣). 

What is Qi? 

Qi is the vital energy flowing in the Universe and its parts, including men. It doesn’t start or end, it eternally transforms. 

Two opposites make one

Qi has a dual nature represented by Yin/Yang (陰陽) polarity. In other words, how could you know good without bad existing, or see the light if you had never experienced darkness?  

Keep balance  

Balance of the opposites is the key to keep Qi in harmony and live a healthy and happy life. As Ancient Greeks used to say, ‘Meden Agan’, nothing in excess.  

Zen remedies to disharmony

Disharmony can reveal both in physical and emotional forms. For example, emotional stress and air pollution are similar causes of excess in Qi. TCM offers different ways to practice control of Qi and keep a steady mind, like breathing techniques, feng shui, acupuncture, or tai chi

Mens sana in corpore sano 

TCM doesn’t offer a cure but rather methods to take care of ourselves. Whether it is by directing furniture towards east or taking 5 minutes to lie on the floor, we have the power to shape life as we want it.

After all, don’t you think it is exciting to feel that we are more than just flesh and blood?   

About Interact China


“A Social Enterprise in E-commerce Promoting Oriental Aesthetic Worldwide!”

Aileen & Norman co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters and tailors, along with 13 years of solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we are well positioned to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and directly bring you finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste.

So far we carry 3000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion via ChineseFashionStyle.com, Kungfu Fashion, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speak English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts.


P.S. We Need People with Similar Passion to Join Our Blogging Team!
If you have passion to write about Oriental Aesthetic in Fashion, Home Decor, Art & Crafts, Culture, Music, Books, and Charity, please contact us at bloggers@interactchina.com, we would love to hear from you!

Qi And Chic: Feng Shui For A Life Full Of Energy

Written by Maria Giglio

Why moving furniture gives you thrills? Ask the Universe.  

Feng Shui (风水, literally wind and water), the traditional Chinese geomancy, teaches how to set up our living space so to keep the Universal energy, Qi, in balance between its opposites Yin and Yang, and thus live better. 

Want to know how? Here are some tips! 

Take a compass

Suppose you have a compass. At the centre, you have Yin and Yang. Each direction instead represents an Earth element and an aspect of human life.

Colours matter 

Colours channel energy. Want the sun to shine in your social life? Use bright colours like yellow to grant the right amount of Yang in your living room.

In bed instead, opt for darker tones to help you relax or use red to enhance passion.  

The right spot 

Want to get that promotion or have more love in your life? Put them in the right place!

Place your kitchen stove to South to Fire up your meals. Point your bedroom to Southwest to improve relationships.

Mirror, mirror…off the wall! 

Mirrors reflect Qi energy and double it up, so they are perfect for hallways or small spaces.  Don’t put a mirror in front of your front door: it would reject good luck. 

In bedroom, avoid placing a mirror facing the bed. As it reflects the personal energy of the sleepers, it bothers their rest. Also, by doubling up love luck, it enhances the chance of infidelity between lovers.  

Natural Decoration 

Don’t take the use of plants for granted. As plants are full of Qi on their own, they can help or stop the correct flux in the house depending on their position. 

If you enjoyed this very short guide about Feng Shui and want to learn more, here are some readings for you: 

About Interact China


“A Social Enterprise in E-commerce Promoting Oriental Aesthetic Worldwide!”

Aileen & Norman co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters and tailors, along with 13 years of solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we are well positioned to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and directly bring you finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste.

So far we carry 3000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion via ChineseFashionStyle.com, Kungfu Fashion, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speak English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts.


P.S. We Need People with Similar Passion to Join Our Blogging Team!
If you have passion to write about Oriental Aesthetic in Fashion, Home Decor, Art & Crafts, Culture, Music, Books, and Charity, please contact us at bloggers@interactchina.com, we would love to hear from you!

What is Self-Cultivation?

By Joshua Neuhaus

One of the Chinese terms for self-cultivation is xiu-shen (修身) which means to strive to raise one’s own standard of virtue and morality. Another phrase for it is xiu-xin yang-xing (修心养性), it literally means rectifying one’s mind and nurturing one’s character. The term is used in ancient Chinese philosophy and if viewed in more detail takes different shapes in the schools of Buddhism, Daoism, and Confucianism, even within one school of teachings it varies slightly from author to author. As this is just an introductory article it will take a less differentiated approach and try to give you a general idea about the term and – as it is the topic of our blog – will relate to the practice of martial arts.

Just as the schools share the motive of self-cultivation they also share the idea of a sage, a figure that has become the epitome of its schools moral and wisdom. Self-cultivation is an autonomous way of raising yourself to become much like such a sage. It is a process of self-finding and self-observation that will ultimately lead to the achievement of the perfect state of mind and body. Steps this might include are familiarizing oneself with the Chinese classics to the point of understanding their deepest meaning. In order to achieve this kind of understanding, you are expected to read those classics over and over at different stages of your practice and your life. Interestingly enough, another crucial step to self-cultivation is meditation – and that is valid even within the Confucian school, which out of the three might be the least spiritual.

Characters say: “Yijing”, a Chinese classic (Engl.: Book of Changes)

Just as writings of Chinese scholars show an awareness of the lack of language and words in conveying the deeper meaning behind their teachings, they are convinced that once you embark on this journey you will naturally come to see its value and necessity. The encouraging outlook on self-cultivation that Chinese scholars have given over centuries suggests that you will come to be in harmony with yourself and naturally will be able to interact with your environment in a way, that you are able to help others and bring health to the world, without harming yourself. One of the strongest arguments to encourage you to commit to self-cultivation might be how it really puts you first. Even a lost person that doesn’t understand their own unhappiness and is trapped within perpetually gasping for momentary escapes from this desperate state of self is supposed to grow to have a strong heart filled with enduring happiness, perfect emancipation, autonomy, and health. The Chinese teachings take this process of finding your middle and explain, that it goes hand in hand with becoming a cornerstone that will benefit the whole world.

 

Meditation and Qi

 

As for Chinese martial arts, they are deeply integrated into the idea of self-cultivation and can be considered one of its methods. In general, a practice that is common to almost every martial art is to calm the mind and to stop thinking. What this leads to is not numbness and stupidity as one might think, but rather it gives you nimbleness and the ability to adjust to any situation with unmatched ease. Things can be seen as what they are, and fear or other emotions will not cloud one’s judgment. Depending on the detail of each martial art, there are many more crucial practices. Any martial art will give you autonomy. Strength and skills achieved in martial arts will help you overcome fear and give you confidence, that there is something no one else can ever take away from you. If we took Tai Chi for example there even is the practice of being able to achieve one’s goals without exhausting oneself using force or going directly against others, these skills can be transferred to real life situations and are actually crucial skills of the sage.

If you enjoyed this article, I would be much obliged if you left a Like. Any comment you give will be answered by me and I really hope you do, because there is so much more to say and learn from each other.


About Interact China

“A Social Enterprise in E-commerce Promoting Oriental Aesthetic Worldwide”

Aileen & Norman co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters, and tailors, along with 12 years of solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we are well positioned to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and directly bring you finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste.

So far we carry 3000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion, Tailor Shop, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speaks English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts.


P.S. We Need People with Similar Passion to Join Our Blogging Team! 
If you have the passion to write about Oriental Aesthetic in Fashion, Home Decor, Art & Crafts, Culture, Music, Books, and Charity, please contact us at bloggers@interactchina.com, we would love to hear from you!

The 5 Elements in “The Art of War”, Knowing Yourself and the Enemy

By Joshua Neuhaus

Sunzi is a scholar and a military commander of the warring states period in China. That puts him into the same period of scholarship that also Confucius and Laozi are said to have participated in. In “The Art of War” he compiled strategies that cover in considerable detail how to be victories on any battlefield. The format he follows in doing so is to bring up a problem and then offer a method for solution. He teaches which criteria you need to analyze and how to evaluate the input you gain. Furthermore, he covers the qualities a good leader needs and many psychological components, such as how to make your troops follow your command or how to make your opponent pull back.

“Who knows himself and the enemy, does not need to fear the outcome of a hundred battles. Who knows only himself, but not the enemy will win as many times as he fails. Who knows neither himself nor the enemy, will lose without exception.” Sunzi

To know yourself or the enemy cannot be achieved without developing a holistic view. The social and emotional climate of your troops and your people might change any time. A change in this climate might, for example, be caused when the ground you are acting on is lacking in providing foods or shelter for your people. If your people are starving anger might arise in their midst. Keeping in mind that you will want the climate to be peaceful and productive and supportive of your own goals you will need to set your mission accordingly. When you know what your mission is, then you can understand what kind of commander is suited for it. The command needs to be able to establish authority and lead your troops, it needs to understand which moves are necessary to accomplish the mission. This means that the command is in charge of designing methods. The quality of your methods and the assertiveness shown in applying them will decide over loss and victory of ground resources. And that is where one complete circle is drawn, as now you might have new ground to life off, which offers foods for your previously starving people. Success has come, your people now are not angry due to starvation anymore. On the other hand, your territory might be too great and your police forces too small to keep up with suppressing criminal activity. That is when your climate will make another change and you will have your next mission.

This flow of climate -> mission -> command -> method -> ground is one possible interpretation of the 5 elements model. While Sunzi does not emphasize this terminology himself, his book does indeed apply the idea just as the above-described way. To be precise the above is not just any 5 Elements (wu xing 五行) model, it is the 5 Elements in its flow of creation and nourishment (sheng). Originally it would read as earth condenses to create metal. Metal dissolves to nourish water. Water is absorbed to nourish wood. Wood burns to strengthen fire. That which is burned by fire returns to the earth.

In the application of “The Art of War” to the 5 elements, one might go further to reverse the flow. The reversal of the above flow (Sheng -> Cheng) is called flow of information, it follows the idea, that if you know if you know the opponent’s mission, then you know the needs of his people. If you know the troubles their climate has, then you know which resources their people are lacking. This flow emphasizes the need of concealing yourself from your enemies because if you don’t, they can easily learn all about you and anticipate your moves.

The 5 Elements interpretation of “The Art of War” can help you to understand yourself and your enemy. You could try to find a few parallels in your own martial arts system. Or even go as far as to apply this method to your business or personal life. While the original texts might have been about war, it’s application is universal. It is a study in its own right.

Your ideas and thoughts are always appreciated, please share them!


About Interact China

“A Social Enterprise in E-commerce Promoting Oriental Aesthetic Worldwide”

Aileen & Norman co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters, and tailors, along with 12 years of solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we are well positioned to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and directly bring you finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste.

So far we carry 3000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion, Tailor Shop, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speaks English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts.


P.S. We Need People with Similar Passion to Join Our Blogging Team! 
If you have the passion to write about Oriental Aesthetic in Fashion, Home Decor, Art & Crafts, Culture, Music, Books, and Charity, please contact us at bloggers@interactchina.com, we would love to hear from you!

 

Yamada Mumon Roshi – Finding the Self

By Joshua Joshua@InteractChina.com

Yamada Mumon during his time was a monk of Mahayana Buddhism. In a collection of his words, Zen and meditation are explained in an easily comprehensible way that resonates with the broader masses of people. “Yamada Mumon Roshi’s Words” gives us insights into the role that Zazen (Engl.: sitting Zen meditation) plays in everyday life. It also emphasizes the hope that Zazen will not only be practiced for the benefit of oneself but also would come to benefit everyone. Lastly, his words even give detailed instructions on how to practice Zazen.

This article focuses on the meaning of Zazen and how Zen can help us to learn more about ourselves.

Yamada Mumon

Zazen and the Role It Plays

Yamada wants to clarify that Zazen first and foremost describes a certain mentality, and actually, body posture has less significance. Yamada explains the mentality of Zazen humorously, telling an anecdote from the Second World War. It is said that there was a line of people and more continued queuing up, as everyone expected to find something interesting with so many people gathered there. It turns out, at the end of the line there was a stranger’s funeral waiting for them. This anecdote is intended to convey the need for investigating our own self. We should avoid following a way just because others before ourselves took it. How to find and walk your own way, that is the question Zazen starts with.

Answering this question is not about conceptualizing or taking a scientific approach. On the contrary, it is about surrendering instinct, habit, and intellectual judgment. The “real self […] sees, listens, laughs and cries”: emotions come without thinking. Meditation can give rise to an inner clarity in which the real self can be perceived.

Mentality and Physical Posture

As mentioned, mentality takes precedence over physical aspects of meditation. Provided we have the right mental practice, we can, in fact, do Zen-Meditation regardless of whether we’re sitting, lying, standing or walking. That said, a beginner’s preference should be to do sitting meditation. Out of the four postures sitting is the calmest, yielding an inner calm as well.

Yamada Mumon instructs us to find both physical and mental calmness. Just like clouds in water will only go away when one stops stirring, the real self can only become visible through practicing tranquility.

As for how to enter the right mentality, we are instructed to cut all ties with the world surrounding us. We must separate ourselves from our sensual impressions. The Chinese monk Hui-Neng said, “not to move from seeing self-nature inwardly is called Zen.” By detaching oneself from the outer world, one can find tranquility.

Lastly, Yamada remarks that one should not be tempted to believe a dark surrounding could ease the difficulty of practice. Rather, a dark environment can cause illusions, daydreams, and might also lead you to fall asleep unintendedly. So, we should keep our eyes slightly open and stay in a well-lit place.

How to Find the Self?

Yamada’s instructions on meditation go into deep detail describing the correct lotus posture and how to ease the breath and heartbeat, among other things. However, the core principle remains tranquility yields transcendence. Yamada’s advice to beginners simply is: pick a bright and calm environment and sit down in the lotus posture. Do this as often and committedly as possible and the inner fog clouding our view from our inner self will slowly clear. This practice might even become an inspiration for others, teaching them to stop getting in lines that we don’t really belong in.

Source: http://onedropzen.org/uploads/Yamada_Mumon_Roshi.pdf


About Interact China

“A Social Enterprise in E-commerce Promoting Oriental Aesthetic Worldwide”

Aileen & Norman co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters, and tailors, along with 12 years of solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we are well positioned to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and directly bring you finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste.

So far we carry 3000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion, Tailor Shop, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speaks English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts.


P.S. We Need People with Similar Passion to Join Our Blogging Team! 
If you have the passion to write about Oriental Aesthetic in Fashion, Home Decor, Art & Crafts, Culture, Music, Books, and Charity, please contact us at bloggers@interactchina.com, we would love to hear from you!

What is Zen

Zen is becoming a hit nowadays as more and more people are paying attention to mental health and meditation. What is Zen? Zen is the Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese character “Chan (禅)“,which is interpreted in many different ways, such as living simply or habits. However, it is over-analyzed. Zen is a word that was originally translated from the Indian Sanskrit term “dhyana” and it means meditation.

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Zen as the Feeling of Being Home

There are different interpretations about Zen. It is a state, a method, and most importantly, it is a spiritual home. Some people believe that Zen is a state of awareness. From their point of view, despite the differences in appearances, everything is equal in the world. Some others see Zen as a method which helps to show the wisdom of every single creature. Finally, Zen is the spiritual home to some people. There is nothing as reliable as home. Zen can bring the feeling of being home to people and help them find their original selves.

A very famous monk called Huineng once said that Zen is when a person can remain in inner peace despite all the external temptations. One’s spirit is free when he orshe is not limited by the appearance of objects, which is called “Ding” (stable) in Chinese. The highest state of life, according to Huineng, is mastering both Zen and Ding.

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Zen is also a method for modern people who are very busy to relieve their stress.  Through meditation, you will awaken your true nature.

 

The Story of the Four Friends

Once upon a time, there was a businessman and he had four friends. He was very generous to his first friend and always offered him the best; the second friend was very sophisticated, so the businessman valued him a great deal and always tried to impress him so he could show him off to others; he didn’t give his third friend any special treatment because that friend is very ordinary, however, the businessman was still satisfied with this friend because he was very reliable; as for the fourth friend, the businessman barely noticed him.

One day, the businessman was going on a trip to a faraway place. At that time, traveling was a sweaty and dirty undertaking that nobody enjoyed. To make the journey more tolerable, he wanted to bring one of his friends with him. When he asked his friends, all of them rejected him with different excuses, except for his fourth friend. The first friend told the businessman that he is not obligated to go on this trip, which broke the businessman’s heart. The second friend told him:“I know that you are very nice to me, but that cannot be the reason for me to go with you, because there are so many other nice people in the world.” The third friend offered him company, but only for the beginning of his trip. Only the fourth friend followed him without saying a word.

 

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A lesson of what is the most important in life

In this story, the businessman is you and the place that he is traveling to is death and the story is trying to tell us what is important in life.

The first friend is our body, throughout our lives we are trying to satisfy our body’s desires, which we cannot take away with us when we are dying. The second friend symbolizes money and social status. Most people are fighting for these two things for their whole life, yet they can only be left behind once we die. Families and friends are the third friend in the story. They are very important and precious to us, but even they cannot stay with us until the end of our journey. The only friend that can stay with us forever is our mind/spirit, which are easily forgotten or neglected by us.

What this story really teaches us is that finding our true self and our spirit is a very important lesson in life.  Through Zen, through meditating, we can start paying attention to and listening to our heart and find our spiritual home.

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Written by Bota @ InteractChina.com

Posted by Yuqing@ InteractChina.com


About Interact China

“A Social Enterprise in E-commerce Promoting Oriental Aesthetic Worldwide”

Aileen & Norman co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters and tailors, along with 12 years of solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we are well positioned to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and directly bring you finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste.

So far we carry 3000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion, Tailor Shop, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speak English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts.


P.S. We Need People with Similar Passion to Join Our Blogging Team! 
If you have passion to write about Oriental Aesthetic in Fashion, Home Decor, Art & Crafts, Culture, Music, Books, and Charity, please contact us at bloggers@interactchina.com, we would love to hear from you!

The Philosophical History of Kung Fu

The Birth of the Art

The most ancient of martial arts, Kung Fu can be traced back to more than 4,000 years ago when it originated in China as a form of battlefield combat. The Yellow Emperor, who rose to power in 2698 BC, was passionate about writing about several fields, in particular medicine, astrology, and martial arts. He propagated different forms of martial arts, and during the Zhou Dynasty, a philosophical element was given to martial arts that is present in modern-day Kung Fu. This philosophical take was based on ideals of Confucianism and Taoism, and in Taoism, the Ying and Yang (universal opposites) were spectrums for the hard and soft techniques in Kung Fu. The Taoist I-Ching system of divination gave mystical elements to Kung Fu philosophy, enforcing a sense of spirituality. For Confucians, martial arts is one of the “six arts” that should be practiced in life, alongside calligraphy and music, among others.

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Elite Warriors from the Shaolin Temple

A few hundred years after Buddhism had made its way to China, the arrival of an Indian Buddhist monk, Bodhidarma, brought his religious influence to the martial arts. He came to the newly established Shaolin Temple, and there is still much discussion amongst historians of whether he introduced the religious element to the Kung Fu practice or if this was already in development by the monks who lived at the temple. Regardless, since then, Shaolin monks have dedicated themselves to Kung Fu and have become elite warriors that have spread their influence and knowledge throughout China. Engaged in numerous military campaigns, they are known for bringing and keeping peace in their province. Experts have travelled to visit them and learn from their Kung Fu secrets, many of which include rigorous daily training hours that are highly demanding for the body and mind. Spin offs of the Kung Fu practice have propagated across China; for example, rival Taoist monasteries have trained different styles of Kung Fu that focus on heavily internal training. Popularity, intrigue and admiration for the practice grew.

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Kung Fu Today

In the early 20th century, Kung Fu became mainstream and ceased to be practiced solely by an elite group of expert warriors, adapting to the likes of ordinary people across China and the world. A Chinese cultural recovery was much needed to re-establish thousands of years of building Chin prestigious cultural reputation and pride after the European and the Opium Wars from 1860 to 1939. In an attempt to recapture the Chinese spirit, the government encouraged and made martial arts accessible to the public. This led to a spread of Kung Fu adaptation into literature, film, and several athletic associations devoted to the modernised practice of the art. The central governing body for Kung Fu was established in 1928, and Kung Fu competitions began taking place thereafter. In 1936, Kung Fu was in the global spotlight during its introduction to the Berlin Olympic Games.  In 1949, Kung Fu values and ideals were aligned with the Communist Party of China (CPC), and because the CPC did not recognize religious beliefs, Kung Fu was modernised as a sporting version called Wushu. Wushu was present in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, and is currently now practiced by many universities and schools, as well as athletic centers in China and around the world. It is clear that what defines Kung Fu practice today is what has always shaped it in the past; its philosophical disposition to the people  who can practice and master it.

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Written by Monica @ InteractChina.com

Posted by Yuqing@ InteractChina.com


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Martial Morality

People who do not do kung fu might think of martial arts as somehow encouraging violence, but the exact opposite is true. Practitioners of Chinese Martial arts attach great importance to wude (武德), or martial morality, which is a set of ethical standards strictly followed by Martial arts practitioners as a creed. Chinese Kungfu

Martial arts are the way to train in developing good habits of mind and body and morality is an integral part of this training. In kung fu, the level of a person’s achievement in martial arts is in direct relationship to their morality. Morality is not as simple as “thou shalt not lie, cheat or steal”. It is a total way of acting and thinking.

Martial morality deals with two aspects; “morality of deed” and “morality of mind”. Morality of deed concerns social relations; morality of mind is meant to cultivate the inner harmony between the emotional mind and the wisdom mind. The ultimate goal is reaching “no extremity” (closely related to the Taoist concept), where both wisdom and emotions are in harmony with each other.

 

MORALITY OF DEED

Morality of deed includes Humility, Respect, Righteousness, Trust, and Loyalty.

Humility or being humble, admits in a sense that there is something above or beyond your reach. It is the foundation for all learning. Imagine if you felt there was nothing more for you to learn, you would then stop improving. However, by being humble, you will realize that there is always a gap to fill by constant practice and learning and you will always be looking for ways to better yourself.

Respect is the foundation of your relationship with your parents, teachers, your fellow students, other martial artists, and all other people in society. Respect makes a harmonious relationship possible. However, the most important type of respect is self-respect. Respect must be earned; you cannot request or demand it.

Righteousness and Trust, if the kung fu student has these traits he or she will stand up and fight for what he or she believes is right and just, wherever they can.

Loyalty involves faithfulness to ideals of family, teachers, friends, culture, nation and martial style. Without this loyalty, the style would undergo many changes and proper techniques will eventually be lost through time.

 

MORALITY OF MIND

 

Morality of mind consists of Will, Endurance, Perseverance, Patience, and Courage.

Will. The study of martial arts is a lifelong commitment. It is not a hobby that a person drops after a few months or years of practice. It requires a lifetime of devotion and a guiding force through times of personal trouble, laziness and self doubt. Only the will can provide such force.

Endurance, Perseverance, and Patience is the manifestations of a strong will. People who are successful are not always the smartest ones, but they are always the ones who are patient and who persevere. Through cultivating these three elements you will gradually build up a profound mind, which is the key to the deepest essence of learning.

Courage In facing the truth the martial artist must stand up to any situation and deal with it in a courageous way. Courage is different from bravery. For example, if you have the courage to accept a challenge, that means your mind has understood the situation and made a decision. Next, you must be brave enough to face the challenge. Without courage, the bravery cannot last long and be blind and stupid.

Any Chinese martial arts practitioner must understand, demonstrate, and promote these concepts, and work to reestablish martial morality as an integral aspect of all martial arts training.

by Xiao Xiao @ InteractChina.com

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Tai Chi Chuan and Ancient Chinese Philosophy

Tai chi chuan is a time-honored scientific way of maintaining physical and mental health. It is an art for strengthening man’s organism, developing his intellect and ennobling his soul. Based on the theory of yin and yang and of the unity of man and nature expounded in ancient Chinese philosophy, it helps the self-actualization and physical and spiritual emancipation of man.

 

Terminology

Chinese Kungfu

The name “Tai chi chuan” is held to be derived from the Taiji symbol, commonly known in the West as the “yin-yang” diagram.The term Tai chi chuan translates as “supreme ultimate fist”, “boundless fist”, “great extremes boxing”, or simply “the ultimate”. The concept of the Tai chi (“supreme ultimate”) appears in both Taoist and Confucian Chinese philosophy, where it represents the fusion or mother of Yin and Yang into a single Ultimate. And its theory and practice evolved in agreement with many Chinese philosophical principles, including those of Taoism and Confucianism.

 

Yin and Yang

 

Chinese Kungfu

Yin and yang are inseparable from each other; as extreme yin becomes yang and extreme yang becomes yin, the two transform into each other all the time. A similar relationship exists between emptiness and solidity in tai chi chuan movements: the two opposing aspects, coexisting in a single entity, are interdependent and interpenetrable, with each transforming itself into the other all the time.

The philosophy of Tai Chi Chuan is that, if one uses hardness to resist violent force, then both sides are certain to be injured at least to some degree. Such injury, according to tai chi theory, is a natural consequence of meeting brute force with brute force. Instead, students are taught not to directly fight or resist an incoming force, but to meet it in softness and follow its motion while remaining in physical contact until the incoming force of attack exhausts itself or can be safely redirected, meeting yang with yin. Application of strength in taijiquan, for instance, is such that the movements appear to be slow and gentle but are actually charged with powerful force — just like a steel rod wrapped in cotton.

 

Contradiction and Unity

 

In fact, all tai chi chuan movements contain a unity of opposites: advance and retreat, upward and downward, slow and fast, stretching and bending, opening and closing, forward and backward, right and left, releasing and withdrawing, rise and fall, inhale and exhale, pull and push. Such a dialectical relationship also exists between motion and stillness in taijiquan exercise.

Chinese Kungfu

The theory of taiji, with all its implications about the transformation of yin and yang and their contradiction and unity, is explained in writing in Lao Zi’s The Classic of the Way and Its Power (Tao Teh Ching) and graphically described in Zhou Dunyi’s Treatise on the Taiji Diagram. These simple yet profound philosophical ideas form the theoretical basis of taijiquan and serve as the guiding principles for the performance of all kinds of taiji movements.

To the minds of some Westerners, Oriental culture is a baffling mystery, and so is the Chinese art of tai ch chuan with its indescribable charm and grace. For them to appreciate the true value of tai chi chuan, it is necessary to know more about the philosophical ideas underlying it.

by Xiao Xiao @ InteractChina.com

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