The 8 Immortals Cross the Sea
Dear all Life Cultivators!
I’d thought I’d write a little bit more about my vision for this meetup group so that everyone can get a sense of why it started, what role it can serve and what you can get out of it.
I became interested in Chinese Medicine while living in Taiwan studying Mandarin. I discovered first hand that Chinese Medicine was a powerful system of healing and wellness. Words fail to describe how I feel about Chinese Medicine but here are a few anyway, Majestic, Poetic, Nuanced, Systematic, Scientific, Empowering, Effective…
I also began to discover that Chinese Medicine wasn’t just what you experienced in a Chinese Medicine clinic with Acupuncture, Massage and Herbal Medicine. It embodied a set of principles that ran through all aspects of Chinese culture and life. Using these principles, not only can you keep healthy but you can take control of your own health and ultimately your own destiny. The use of these principles in everyday life is referred to in Chinese as “Yang Sheng” 養生 or “Cultivating Life”. That’s why membership of this group makes you a Life Cultivator!
Anyone born in China or Taiwan or who has spent some time there will be very familiar with this concept. It is not esoteric although it may contain some esoteric aspects. If you walk into a restaurant in China or Taiwan, the chances are that there will be one or two ‘yang sheng’ dishes on the menu. This means that the dishes have particular effects within Chinese medicine and invariably indicates that they contain Chinese herbs. Maybe it’s a Dang Gui soup or a Ren Shen hotpot. The science of cooking with Chinese herbs is called “Yao Shan” 藥膳 or “herbs that benefit the body”. Yao Shan is an integral aspect of Yang Sheng.
However it doesn’t stop there. Yang Sheng can extend into every aspect of one’s life, from practising qi gong, tai chi or daoist meditation techniques to soaking your feet in hot water to stimulate blood and qi circulation. Other aspects include self-acupressure techniques, Chinese nutrition, external herbal preparations and formulas and harmonizing with the seasonal, yearly and cosmic cycles.
The Chinese method of staying healthy is dynamic, fascinating, empowering and fun. It is more about great things you can add into your life than giving up things that you enjoy (which most people associate with ‘being healthy’).
The reason why I started this group has come from a combination of my experiences in Taiwan and China with great doctors and how they used Yang Sheng but also my experience as a Chinese medical practitioner in the UK. I practice Acupuncture, Massage and Herbal Medicine in North London. For me, the highest level of healing is empowerment. I want my patients to be able to take control of their lives and health in the way that I have been able to through Chinese medicine. Hence, I do not want Chinese medicine only to exist inside a clinic. My inspiration is to create a forum and a network where those interested in Chinese medical principles and how they can be used for better health can get access to information, training and workshops on this subject. Also, I think the natural development of a community around these ideas can act as a support network for people to manage their own care. Finally, I hope that the meetup group can be a place where we can hang out with like-minded people and other Sinophiles and have fun!
So what is going to happen in this group? Well in large part that is up to you. I have lots of ideas about events that could be run and will endeavour to keep the group active and things happening. However, I would encourage all to give suggestions and feedback as to what you would like to see this group do and organize. I am part of multiple Chinese medicine networks both Chinese and non-Chinese nationality and hence have access to a lot of different speakers and facilitators. Perhaps, you have expertise in an area and want to share some information or run a workshop. My only stipulations are that a) it is clearly within the Chinese medical paradigm and b) it is based around the principles of Yang Sheng with clear practical methods that people can use to enhance their lives.
My idea is that seminars and workshops should be free or low-cost. Myself included, most Chinese medical practitioners and Daoist art practitioners jump at the chance to talk to people who are already interested in Chinese medicine and culture so this shouldn’t be a problem.
Finally, I think the odd social night wouldn’t go amiss either so that we can get to know each other.
My vision for the group is to foster real community, to help empower others and to truly help bring Yang Sheng to the West. A libertarian at heart, I want to keep the group as open and flexible as possible while still keeping sight of those goals. This is a learning experience for me as it is for you so please keep the feedback coming in.
Happy Year of the Snake and 祝大家 長命百壽!