China once more

Something odd happened recently during a work trip to Tianjin. I had a few spare periods, and I used them to practice my ZMQ-37 taijiquan form. Like most things that I write about in this blog, it’s been over four years (closer to five, in fact) since I did any work with this, but it came back surprisingly quickly. One set in particular went very well; I entered the flow state, with my mind quite empty of thoughts except for the feeling of my soles in contact with the floor, the movements of my joints and bones, and tendons and ligaments.

Suddenly, the room seemed to fill with the smells of a forest. There was the spicy fragrance of flowers, but also herbal undertones, and the richness of spring vegetation. It was quite inexplicable; I was on the eighth floor of a concrete monstrosity, in the middle of a dusty concrete campus on a very hot and smoggy day. There were NO plants anywhere nearby; the windows were firmly closed, and the aircon was blowing full blast. The experience only lasted for the duration of that set, and it was the only time I smelt anything natural during the two days I worked in that room.

On the other hand, although it’s not something I’ve experienced before, this is the kind of thing that is supposed to indicate a spirit presence. Even to me, that last sentence seems a bit far out but, after I heard the dragons singing in Qingbiankou a few years ago – when I was also in a deep meditative state – it’s an explanation that I’m open to.

Aaah. Yes, I’m back in China. There are different rules here….

My re-entry was kind of bumpy. There was a LOT to take in with the new job: quaLifictions to acquire, evaluations to pass, not to mention apartment-hunting and so on… That’s more or less all sorted out now, so I can concentrate on a) earning some money at last and b) picking up the threads of my life in the Jianghu…

Not everything is good. For almost five years I was going through intense daily stress; pretty much my only goal was simply to make it through to the day’s end and, although that’s now over it turns out you can’t live that way without consequences. I’m going to need to work very hard on my qigong, etc, and to consult some TCM practitioners. Fortunately, I have a good idea of what I need to do, and who I need to contact. More of that nearer the time; it may well involve a trip to Singapore later this year.

Speaking of TCM, shortly after I arrived back in Beijing an old rib injury opened up again. For nearly a month, I was in a *lot* of pain, and I had real trouble sleeping. For whatever reason, this injury – to the ribs on the front right side – also caused the muscles on the right-hand side of my back to clench up tightly, so getting up out of bed in the morning was a major exercise in willpower. During that month, it didn’t heal or ease up one bit.

I had to see a Western-trained doctor about some of my other issues, but I didn’t bother asking him about it. Instead, I went to see a TCM doctor. She gave me a session of acupuncture and cupping; when I got up, the pain had *immediately* diminished significantly. She told me that my qi had been been blocked, so the healing process hadn’t been able to start. She also gave me a course of herbal tea treatment, custom-blended, which I had to take morning and evening for about ten days. I still have a faint ache, but the pain has almost entirely disappeared, and I’m sleeping and getting out of bed without difficulty. So, chalk one up for TCM 🙂

On the martial arts side, I’ve been to a couple of yiquan lessons with Yao Chengrong laoshi, which has been great. He hasn’t changed a bit: a bit older, of course, but aren’t we all? Now that my work schedule is settling down, I’m hoping to get to two to three large group lessons, and one or two small group lessons, per week – but we’ll see how it goes. Of course, after so long without training, I’m not at the level I was at in late 2010 – but, like the taiji, it’s coming back quite quickly. I can already feel the zhang zhuan standing ironing out postural issues that have crept back in, and I’ve had some intensive tui shou sessions that didn’t go to badly, with partners who were younger and rather more muscley than me… Aaaah, yiquan is great 🙂

I’ve also started to catch up with my old friends, when work has allowed. It’s all going slowly, but it’s progress. I’m back in China: yay! Perhaps life is beginning again…

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