A word from Amy Katharine Evans about her own experience of Wandering Dao…
Today marks a full week since I returned home from the 5 month work/study program at Wandering Dao. A full week since I last had a Mood Food smoothie or one of Ayi’s amazing soups. A full week since I drank Chinese tea the way it should be drunk (with many friends and tiny cups)… and a whole week since it’s just been me, my practice and the big wide world.
It would be very easy to write a simple, complimentary summary of this program. The food, the people, the location were all fantastic. But that wouldn’t represent the real reason I applied, or the benefits I believe Wandering Dao offers. Maybe I’m a little masochistic in my approach to life, but I didn’t start the Work/Study Program expecting, or wanting, to simply have a ‘nice time’. And, to my (un)pleasant surprise, I didn’t.
“Qi Gong won’t make you feel better, it will make you feel more” were Master Daniel Li Ox opening words to us on our first day. And so it has. These 5 months have been a roller coaster of emotion… meeting trauma, smiling to pain, breathing it all in and then letting it go. This is a program of self-healing, and as we discovered, that’s not always very enjoyable. In its entirety, Wandering Dao provides a ‘holistic toolbox’ of practices for exploring both your internal and external worlds and taking responsibility for what is there. The depth and breadth of what we have learnt in just a short few months could have been overwhelming. It is a real tribute to Master Ox that it wasn’t. Although his teachings are deep and intrinsic in nature, they are shared with a simplicity and lightness that is accessible to everyone.
“Make space for pain, and wisdom will grow” is another phrase that we heard a lot… often during the most uncomfortable times! It refers of course to space within ourselves, but I think it is also a nice representation of what Wandering Dao offers. Nestled amongst the misted mountains of Yangshuo, Daniel has created a safe space for people to get in touch with, and find confidence in, themselves. So they may journey through life feeling more empowered, healthier and fundamentally wiser. As I write this, reflecting back on the last few months, it is this gift of wisdom for which I am most thankful.
What makes the Work/Study Program particularly special is that it is an exchange. The ‘work’ element represents 480 hours of the 5 month period, and during that time I was involved with a number of projects… posting blog entries, working with social media platforms and writing articles for a Nutritional Healing Resource. One could be mistaken for thinking that the work might have pulled us away from the practices, but in fact the opposite was true. Not only was I researching and writing about topics that deepened my knowledge of self-healing, but the work period offered a chance to put everything we learnt into practice. Aligning the body, focusing on the breath and stilling the mind all became fundamental to the work process. And through the structure of the day, moving from practice to work and back again, the two elements started to flow as one. Work became the practice and the practice became the work. In addition, having the opportunity to experience Daniel’s teachings as a part of a working day provided a structure for us to reflect on when we left Wandering Dao, and is proving very useful as I create my own routine back at home.
Now as I go about my days, there is one final mantra that I find playing through my head… “What energy are you cultivating right now?” It’s something we heard often at Wandering Dao, and it is one of the most powerful teachings I have taken with me from my time there. Every day, minute, second, I have a choice about the energy I want to create and the life I want to have. How empowering is that!