Join Michael Winn and Mantak Chia to celebrate Healing Tao’s 30th Anniversary atop Mt. Wudang – and have the spiritual adventure of your lifetime!
Trip Co-Stars: Everyone who comes on the trip! Why are China Dream Trips so special, and very different from typical tourist trips? We attract a fabulous group of Tao-minded spiritual adventurers. Not mere curiosity seekers or jaded tourists, but fascinating folks who are excited about literally following in the footsteps of Lao tzu and doing powerful qigong ceremonies in China’s highest spiritual energy spots.
After every Dream Trip is the same refrain: “the incredible people I met and grew to love were as important as China itself”. This is the kind of trip where you make lifetime friends – or might find your soul mate.
China Dream Trip Mission:
Swimming Dragon Qigong at entrance to Taoist temple.
“To experience the spiritual essence of China. To meet & study with spiritually powerful Taoists. To do qigong in its most sacred and beautiful landscapes and connect to its ancestral chi. To deeply taste China’s ancient culture and peoples, and feast on its local cuisines at sumptuous banquets. To share the very best secrets I discovered on previous trips to China — before it disappears in China’s madly modern rush to forget its rich history. In short, The Dream China Trip I would give to myself, if I could only visit China once.
This trip explores new riches not offered on the previous Dream Trips, including Tao Garden in Northern Thailand. The trips are designed to keep the door open between Western and Asian Taoist adepts, and to deepen the ground of our personal practice. Our qigong practice will connect us to the uniquely powerful Qi currents flowing in China’s sacred mountains. If your heart feels drawn to China’s mystery, I advise you to trust your soul’s guidance, and trust the Tao will supply the time and resources to GO.”
A few succinct testimonials from earlier Dream trips (longer testimonials below, after the itinerary):
“I am still unpacking the chi from my unforgettable experiences doing qigong in China’s sacred mountains. This trip gave me continuous ecstasy, amazing landscapes, superb food and powerful sacred temples and monasteries – all with a crazy bunch of warm-hearted western adepts accompanied by a premium group of Tao immortals! Thank you all for such an extraordinary experience!” – Aurelio, Mexico City
“The Qi (chi) I experienced in China was simply mind blowing. I got a transmission from being in those mountains that has totally opened up new levels of my inner vision.” – Mark, Fla.
“Thanks seems extremely insufficient to express my gratitude to you for making this trip to China possible – but, anyway, please accept my sincere gratitude. It was the most powerful experience of my life and continues to have a palpable moment-to-moment effect upon me.” — Very Happy Camper
“I can’t begin to tell you how much we enjoyed the trip and what a profound effect it had on us and our practice” – Couple with minimal previous qigong experience
Primordial Tai Chi on the Great Wall of China.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you! You have been the gateway to what my soul was seeking for. This China trip is a milestone in my life, a profound spiritual development. Each time I think about you and the group my heart beats faster and a big unstoppable smile takes over!
The outer trip was set up perfectly, to make our inner spiritual trip go perfectly! From start of the trip to the end, it was like yin and yang making love… it was so beautiful! Poetic…simply magnificent! – 2nd generation Chinese man, living in Toronto
2010 DREAM TRIP HIGHLIGHTS
If you want to increase your resonance with all things Taoist, this is the trip for you!
Dream Trippers having fun at a Dumpling House
For collection of my top China Dream Trip photos:http://www.healingdao.com/china_dream_trip_photos.html
For photos of previous Dream trip to HUASHAN, see:http://www.healingdao.com/china_2008.html
For Photo Index: http://www.healingtaousa.com/photos.html
HOW TO SIGN UP for CHINA DREAM TRIP
Money back guarantee: on returning home, you will not be the same person who left!
Trip cost is $4850. including international airfare from Los Angeles + three flights and all land costs within China, at 4 star hotels where available. (Note: the 3 flights within China cost nearly as much as the international flight. For perspective: our flights within China are equivalent to flying from New York to Phoenix, from Phoenix take train to Los Angeles, then fly to Phoenix and then back to New York.
Not included: airline fuel surcharges (set at time of ticket issue), visa fee, trip/medical insurance (about $150.+ strongly recommended). For tips to the dozens of porters, drivers, interpreter-guides, I simplify by asking each to contribute in advance $75. for core trip or $105. full trip (about $4.50 per day).
You must be at LAX (Los Angeles) late on Saturday night, May 8 (to catch early am flight May 9). Low cost round trip add-on fares to LAX from domestic US cities maybe available. Contact our travel agent, Virginia Chan, at 626-571-6727 (Calif.)
I’ve done my best to keep this trip affordable. It is priced about $2500. below comparable quality tourist trips to China, which don’t cover the same range of exotic locations. High inflation – 15 % a year in the cities – and a strong Chinese currency are driving up travel costs. In the travel market, this trip is a good bargain given all that is packed into it. But your life-changing experiences will be priceless!
Optional Week: Taoist Cave & Mountain Meditators Week: only $885. This covers all expenses (meals, lodging, travel, coolies to carry gear up mountain, extra guides, and donations made to support Taoist monasteries in appreciation for any teachings and use of caves for meditation. $150. Single Supplement extension available for Louguantai-Xian last 4 nights. Optional week atop Huashan and at Louguantai is offered only to those attending the core trip.
Travelers NOT flying from Los Angeles: cost for core trip starting in Beijing is $3995. (+$150. Air China non-international ticket surcharge on 2 domestic flights, unless YOU fly Air China). You’ll meet LAX group arriving on Monday, May 10 at 7 a.m. in Beijing’s 4-star Tientan Hotel.
If you arrive on May 9, 2010 we’ll arrange group hotel rate for you. Book your return flight from Beijing in afternoon/evening of May 24 or 30. There are many Xian-Beijing flights (we pay for it, just tell us which flight to Beijing you want).
$100. DISCOUNT to my personal students, Healing Tao instructors, past China trip members or any attendee of Healing Tao USA summer retreats in the past three years.
Single Room: $695. (for 17-day core trip only; no singles available two nights at monastery on Mt. Qing unless you want Chinese-style bathroom.
RESERVE YOUR PLACE with $600. deposit, subject to terms of cancellation policy posted below. Credit cards accepted for deposit, but checks or wired funds are requested for balance of payments. If you need to finance the trip with credit cards, it’s acceptable, but please call us to arrange. The trip is not priced for everyone to pay by credit card.
BALANCE DUE: Trip fee balance due by Feb. 8, 2010. All checks payable to trip organizer: Dao Alchemy Research Institute (or its educational branch, Healing Tao USA).
TAX DEDUCTIBLE: As an IRS approved 501c3 non-profit activity, US nationals may claim 40% of total trip fee as tax deductible. Depending on your tax bracket, this may substantially reduce the actual cash cost of trip (in 30% bracket, over $500 savings).
TO MAKE A DEPOSIT FOR CHINA TRIP:
You may call in your deposit to our office at 888-999-0555 inside USA, or phone 828-505-1444, or email:firstname.lastname@example.org
A phone call or email will also “time stamp” your deposit for a week while you mail a check payable to:
Healing Tao USA , 4 Bostic Place , Asheville, North Carolina 28803
Trip registrar is Jan Gillespie. It is safe to leave credit card information on the message machine, or send an email with card number in two sections for security. Note: Jan has NOT been to China; email your questions towinn@HealingTaoUSA.com. You will receive extensive information on what to pack, how to stay healthy, how to prepare for cave experience, etc.
PLEASE CONFIRM YOUR DEPOSIT (phone or mailed) WITH EMAIL TO: info@HealingTaoUSA.com.
DON’T DELAY in making an advance deposit – reserve your space as early as possible. Last minute applications are accepted on space available basis, but may cost more if airfares have changed.
Questions? Contact registrar at 888-999-0555 or email:email@example.com
Day 1: Travel day to Los Angeles. We meet at LAX on Sat. May 8 for check-in anytime after 9 pm. It’s your option as to either arrive early, take a layover day with L.A. hotel at your expense, or visit the beach until its time to go to the airport. OR get an evening connection to the LAX flight. Check in at Air China is individual (you’ll have your ticket, but no seat pre-assignment, so first come/first served). Air China #984 departs at 1:40 am (Sunday morning).
Day 2: Since we leave LAX early in a.m., the plane is kept dark for most of the way to facilitate sleeping. The flight is 12.5 hours. You will receive detailed instructions on how to avoid jet-lag and stay fresh.
Day 3: We arrive Beijing 5:20 am. Stay at 4 star Tiantan Hotel, near the wonderful Temple of Heaven park. We immediately visit the Taoist Temple of Heaven (Tien Tan) park, the most sacred place in Beijing. Spend morning at Temple of Heaven park, Beijing’s largest and most colorful potpourri of people. It is filled each morning with qigong & tai chi players, ballroom dancing, gambling, folk singers, gymnasts & musicians.
Qigong class in park. Everyone coming on the trip will already have received the Primordial Qigong / Tai Chi for Enlightenment DVD. I will give corrections and more in depth understanding of its energetics, so that everyone feels totally comfortable with doing it daily for the rest of the trip. This 800-year old lineage form is inherently alchemical in natureIt speeds up your self-transformation process and smoothes out your life karma. It is the most balancing and most deeply centering form I’ve ever encountered, with many medical applications as well.
Tour the magnificent Taoist “open sky” Altar of Heaven with its white marble stones in patterns of 9, and the Temple of Heaven, an extraordinary three tiered circular temple that looks like an antique spaceship – built without a single nail. The Emperor, as Son of Heaven, had to visit here twice a year to receive Celestial instruction.
Day 4: Qigong early morning in the park. Morning visit to the White Cloud Taoist Temple, headquarters of the Complete Perfection Dragon Gate sect. This is a powerful place to meditate & practice qigong. Drive to Great Wall of China. The Wall is very impressive, a wonder of the World, part of a 2500 mile long wall. We’ll hike and do Primordial qigong on the Wall at sunset. Evening banquet. Beijing.
Day 5: Morning we will learn the ancient Shamanic Seven Star Big Dipper Stepping Qigong Ceremony from the Path of the Female Immortals, taught to me by Master Jiang Nan, current lineage holder. This form, which moves in squares, is a perfect companion to the spiraling circles of Primordial Qigong.
Both are spiritual qigong forms that affect you personally as well as organize the larger field of your life/Nature. Both are unlike any other medical or martial qigong forms I’ve ever seen; each generates a unique and powerful chi field. Performed together, they are off the charts.
The 7-Star Big Dipper shamanic ceremony is undoubtedly of older historical origin. It is also a closely held lineage form, from the Path of the Female Immortals. It feels really ancient and shamanic. It looks like a kind of “brain gym” of alternating hand and foot movements while walking a Big Dipper star pattern. It forces you to stay very centered while invoking different energetic frequencies and simultaneously toning. This may be challenging at first for some of us (smile!). But I guarantee that everyone will get it after a few hours practice.
Late morning free to rest, get treatments from Jiang Nan, or giant maze of the nearby Red Pearl Department store – a cultural tour in itself. Or visit the Summer Palace, 4 pm bus departs to airport, and we fly to Xiangfang, Hubei Province, not far from Wudang Mountain. Wudang.
Atop the highest peak, Mt. Tianzhu, we can look down from the spectacular cliffs onto the clouds below. We’ll do a special ceremony on its Golden Peak to celebrate Mantak Chia’s 30 Years of teaching Tao in the West. We’ll invite in the Mountain Gods and Tao Immortals, including Chang San Feng, the creator of the first 13 posture Tai Chi form. He is the Wudang Taoist for whom Golden Peak was built atop an impossibly high mountain citadel with the Emperor’s donation of 30,000 men. The emperor hoped to get the secrets of immortality from him. Chang San Feng instead at age 95 disappeared into the mountains. He was reported to appear numerous times for the next 400 years, which is why he is assumed to be an immortal.
We’ll do group practice of our Primordial Qigong, which originated with Chang San Feng on Mt. Wudang about 800 years ago. This lineage alchemical form, unlike his Tai Chi form, was kept so secret that few Taoists on Mt. Wudang were initiated into it. It passed down to my teacher Zhu Hui, by a Wudang monk named Li Tong who died at the age of 106. I could not find anyone on Mt. Wudang who knows this form today.
We’ll watch an hour long demonstration of the famous Wudang martial arts (bagua, taiji, sword, xingyi, etc.) at the Purple Cloud Temple. The late female abottess died at the age of 126. At Taizipo – the Crown Prince’s Palace, we’ll taste the fabulous local teas. We’ll meditate in Nanyan Temple, perched on the edge of a steep cliff. I also hope to arrange a special Taoist ceremony of the “9 Paces of Yu the Great”. This is an esoteric dance of the bagua pattern in which the adept shape shifts out of this physical time zone into eternal time.
Late on day 8 we’ll take an overnight train to Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province, bordering Tibet. The train ride itself is a wonderful cultural experience, and allows us to view hidden landscapes of rural China.
Arrive in Chengdu. We check-in at the “Dream Mansion”, a traditional Chinese courtyard style hotel situated in the heart of Chengdu’s “old city” with traditional Chinese architecture. We’ll feast at a restaurant on Sichuan’s famous cuisine. Nearby is Qingyang gong “Green Goat” Taoist Temple. It’s one of my favorite temples in China, with lovely feng shui on three hills and a powerful sequence of temples.
It has a magnificent I Ching pavilion and printing presses for ancient Taoist alchemy texts, which can also be purchased in their bookstore (in Chinese, but the vibe still transmits). Evening banquet, followed by the fabulous Sichuan Opera, with its amazing “mask-changing” technique and dozens of performing artists (far superior to Peking Opera). Chengdu.
Day 10: Bus to one of China’a most famous Taoist Holy Mountains: the lovely, magical Qingcheng Shan (Azure Mountain), birthplace of 2000 yr old Celestial Masters Taoism. Covered with soft forest trails and temples tucked in caves, this Taoist holy mountain has a lot of nature spirits present in addition to its 150+ Taoist monks & nuns. If available, we will meet with the female abbott and head of the local Taoist Association. She is,very open about sharing her Tao practices.
Mt. Qingcheng has a very soft, “yin” quality that invites you into the fold of endless layers of peaks. it is somewhat akin to being in a “waking dream’. We’ll take the cable car up to save time, and share simple but delicious begetarian meal with the Taoist monks and nuns at the Supreme Purity Temple near the top of the peak. Nearby is a 60 ft. high bronze Lao Tzu riding a buffalo, over looking a vista of endless mountain peaks.
Its an easy one hour hike down where we will stay in the extremely peaceful Celestial Cave monastery for two nights. Porters will carry our bags to the monastery separately. There is a powerful 1800 year old ginkgo tree here. Rooms are recently renovated to 3 star level. Celestial Cave Monastery, Mt. Qing.
Day 11: Morning qigong. Day free for relaxing and meditating, or hiking to various temples nestled within the soft valleys. We will meet with local Taoists, perhaps hear a talk on the Complete Perfection Taoist sect approach to immortality. Perhaps a musical concert on the gu zheng (zither) or flute by my monk friends (if they haven’t wandered off to another mountain!), or some demonstrations of local martial arts. This is a powerful place to practice qigong, and we’ll spend extra time training here. Celestial Cave Monastery. Mt. Qing.
Day 12: Morning Qigong. Easy 45 minute hike down the mountain. Enroute to Chengdu, we’ll stop at the wonderful Panda Preserve, the largest collection of captive pandas (about 30) in a natural habitat of refreshing bamboo forest. They play, chomp on bamboo, and have tiny adorable babies kept in incubators. We’ll see smaller “red pandas” (related to the raccoon). We’ll enjoy the lovely bamboo forest, and visit interesting museum on these “bear cats” (pan-da in Chinese).
Then take a short late afternoon hour flight to Xian. Our hotel is in the very center of Xian, the 4 star West Capital Hotel. Xian was China’s ancient capital from Han to Ming dynasty (200 b.c. – 1400 a.d.). Immediately behind our hotel is the Taoist “City God” temple, which has a very powerful chi field. After dinner, we’ll walk to the nearby lively Moslem Night Bazaar, which has the best craft bargains found anywhere in China, and delicious local foods. Xian.
Day 13: Free day exploring and shopping in Xian. It was the ancient capital of China for fifteen hundred years, and is a giant outdoor museum, with China’s many ancient layers of history exposed. We’ll visit the enormous city walls and famous gates, and the 1400 year-old Taoist 8 Immortals Temple, still one of the most revered seats of Taoism in China. The temple dedicated to “Doumu” the Ancient or Primal Mother, is especially powerful. Time to meditate and do qigong inside the temple compound, and visit its Taoist gift shop with paintings by local Taoists.
Next to the temple is a colorful flea market filled with curiosities, sculptures, jade & Han dynasty antiques dug up by farmers from their fields (another chance to sharpen your bargaining skills!). Xian has the best bargains in China, and we’ll visit a Jade factory, a silk carpet/silkclothing outlet, and a freshwater pearl outlet, which has beautiful low cost cultivated pearls of all colors. You can leave your purchases and extra baggage in Xian while we journey off to Mt. Hua. Evening free. Xian.
Day 14: Visit the impressively vast Terra Cotta Army of Emperor Qin’s tomb (the size of 5 football fields), the #1 tourist attraction in China. Then a short drive to visit the oldest and most famous Taoist sacred mountain in all China, Hua Shan. Check into hotel at base of Huashan. Tour nearby Jade Spring Monastery where, according to legend, the famous Taoist adept Chen Tuan did dream practice for 3 years continuously.
Chen Tuan is the designer of the famous “tai chi” or yin-yang symbol, and the master of Taoist dream practice. We may catch the local Taoists doing their evening ceremony and arrange a teaching on the Huashan tradition of Taoism with one of my longtime monk friends. Huashan village.
Day 15: Take the spectacular cable car ride (the highest in all of Asia) half way up the 7,000 ft. Mt. Huashan, and spend rest of day hiking on its five summit peaks, which form a giant 5-petalled flower (Hua shan means “Flower Mountain”). The views are stunning, with many temple shrines (mostly female deities) built in caves along the trail. There are thousands of stone-carved steps, which also make it impossible to get lost. The precipitous granite cliffs have the majesty of Yosimite Park, but this is far more amazing for its feeling of human will carved into the granite since ancient times.
Those attending the core trip only will descend by cable car and return to the village below. Those staying for the extra week will stay in a monastery atop Mt. Hua or hike to the cave area where they will stay. Huashan peak or Huashan village.
Day 16: FOR THOSE ON 17 DAY CORE TRIP: Morning transfer by van from Huashan village to same hotel in Xian. Afternoon free in Xian for last minute shopping or visiting historical sites. This group will have its own guide. Those staying on for the additional week, see Optional Itinerary below beginning with Day 15.
North Peak of Mt. Hua (“Flower Mountain”)
Optional: Taoist Cave & Mountain Meditators Week
Read this article: For Michael Winn’s experience of living in a Taoist cave at Huashan for a week with no food or water, see article “Taoist Alchemy & Breatharians” originally published in Qi Journal: http://www.healingdao.com/cgi-bin/articles.pl (you must be subscribed to “Tao News” on homepage or articles page to enable reading of articles).
Also, please read the intense experiences from previous cavers following this itinerary.
I go out on a limb…my favorite meditation spot on Mt. Hua.
Who should attend this extra week? It is open to everyone with the time and interest. I’ve kept the cost minimal to encourage you to stay – you’ve come all the way to China, why not go a bit deeper?
The core 17 day trip gives everyone exposure to three sacred mountains and the highlights of Chinese culture. It’s a pretty action-packed travel itinerary. The extra week is time to stop moving around, to go within, to digest the powerful earth chi that is unique to these cultivated mountains. This week gives us time to relax, to sink in deep and attune ourselves to the spirits of Taoist masters who merged with the spirit of the mountains, opening an earth-centered portal to immortality.
For people who have already developed a serious meditation practice, it is suitable to spend part of this week fasting in caves on Huashan. For others, it will be far more comfortable and useful to sleep in a Taoist monastery atop Mt. Hua and explore its fantasically beautiful peaks and caves, with shorter periods of meditation and qigong. Or do both – two days in a cave, and two days atop Mt. Hua.
To sleep in the caves requires bringing special camping gear (sleeping bag, pad, extra warm clothes). It is a hassle to schlep this extra stuff across China for just a few nights in the caves. So you really have to deeply DESIRE this experience to go through the extra hassle.
Dream Trippers at Sun-Moon Cave facing Mt. Hua
It also requires extra hiking up a steep mountain opposite one of Huashan’s peaks. The caves can be cold even when its hot outside. You are not given any food (you can bring your own if you are not comfortable fasting). But basically it is a physical hardship to live in a hard cave.
I’ve designed the extra week to satisfy the needs of both paths of contemplation, one staying in mountain peak monasteries, the other spending part time in caves. Let me know which you feel called to follow when you put your deposit down. There are limited cave spaces and I may have to figure out a complex schedule to satisfy everyone.
Priority for reserving caves will be given to 1) my Kan & Li alchemy students 2) date when firm deposit is made, 3) general virtue and commitment to meditation, 4) willingness to explore bigu (fasting on food while feasting on chi) in the cave.
The Optional Week Itinerary May 23 – 30, 2010
Days 15-18: Those staying atop Mt. Hua after climbing on the peaks will divide into two camps: Cavers and Mountain Meditators-Explorers.
The Cavers will hike down for one hour from the cable car landing area, and then hike up for 1.5 hours to the Pole Star cave area where they will check into a pre-assigned cave. There is a wonderful Taoist hermit, whose spiritual name is “Master Stone of Perfection”, living in the cave area and maintaining the caves physically and with meditation and ceremonies. Even though you are there to fast, he will undoubtedly offer to feed you in case you’ve had enough of fasting.
The Mountain Meditators group will stay in a monastery atop Mt. Hua, in a temple compound dedicated to the “White Ruler God” of the mountain. White refers to the metal/white gold element; this temple is the ruler of all the gods and immortals who are attracted to this mountain.
The monastery group will stay for a three or four nights (you must choose in advance) in this Taoist monastery nestled beneath Huashan’s peaks and giant old pine trees. It has superb feng shui. There is a great courtyard for practicing qigong or talking to the Taoists living at the temple about their life as mountain adepts. In one corner of the courtyard is a cave, open for meditation with a small shrine inside it. The cave is said to have been used by San Simiao, a famous Chinese doctor from the Tang Dynasty.
The food at the monastery is excellent. The rooms are shared dormitory style, with two, four, eight or more beds in each room. The rooms will be divided into men and ladies rooms. By this point on the trip, we will be quite intimate after traveling for two weeks together, so this will feel somewhat like a spiritual slumber party. The monastery will be reserved exclusively for our group, not open to the streams of hikers who visit Huashan. We’ll have electricity, but no running water or heat. Hot water buckets available for bathing, and simple latrine. Mt. Huashan
After spending two days in the cave, some of the Cavers may wish to hike up to the monastery (four hours hiking) and join that group atop Mt. Hua in order to explore the peaks. And some of the monastery folks who want to stay in the caves will hike down (and back up, total 3.5 hours hiking) to the cave area. This exchange will depend on how many people are seeking the cave experience. We have a total four days atop Mt. Hua, and cavers may be limited to two days in caves in order to allow others to stay there. Usually some people end up loving the caves and stay all four days if there is room.
These caves have been used for hundreds of years by Taoist adepts, are carved from solid granite, and thus generally free of mold, dampness or water seepage. Their location has been kept secret, and thus energetically protected from the polluting influence or desecration of caves found on the main peaks by government and tourists. No cooking or heating fires permitted. Weather should be warm, even hot in June, but can still be cool at night. Come prepared for sudden changes in mountain weather (equipment list is provided). Some caves are large and may be shared by two people, both expected to maintain respectful silence.
Huashan’s death-defying “board walk” (optional)
Those staying at the monastery atop Mt. Hua will find plenty to occupy themselves exploring its different peaks and sheer cliffs. Many Chinese climb Mt. Hua to view the sunrise from the East Peak. The sunsets off the West Peak are amongst the most sublime I’ve found on planet earth, and strange paranormal events have been known to occur here (flying immortals showing up, etc.)
For the more adventurous, there are steep ladders and a “board walk” across the backside of the South Peak cliff that leads to a cave carved into the sheer side of the cliff. This gets you to the tree growing horizontally out over a 3000 ft. cliff, my favorite meditation spot on Mt. Hua. This group will also have the opportunity to practice the Primordial Qigong and Seven Star Big Dipper Qigong in a very powerful place. Mt. Huashan.
Day 19: Those staying atop Mt. Hua will descend to Huashan village where they can get a hot shower. You have the option of leisurely 1 hour hike halfway down the mountain and take the cable car to the bottom. Or hike down the other half of the mountain. This is a very beautiful hike, through a valley with a river filled with giant boulders and magnificent views of Mt. Hua in the background. It will take an extra 3.5 hours, more if you stop to explore and play along the river.
The cave dwellers will descend (baggage assist by porters), about a three hour hike. They will shower and join the other group at a lunch banquet. Then we will drive 4 hours across the Shaanxi plains to the smaller but exquisitely beautiful Zhongnan mountains.
We’ll stay at Louguantai, the Taoist monastery built on the spot where Lao Tzu is said to have written the Tao Te Ching after being stopped by the guardian of the pass to the West. We’ll stay at a lovely mountain resort up a nearby valley with waterfalls that cascade past our rooms. Louguantai.
Day 20: Rest, explore, meditate at Louguantai monastery or its nearby Lao Tzu Temple. The vibration here is soft but intensely spiritual, very different from Huashan’s strong yang rock & earth. A nice balance, and a good place to digest and internally cook the powerful Huashan experience. We may have a chance to meet with my friend the Abbot, Ren Fa Rong, if he is available. One of the most famous Taoist adept-scholars in China, he is very busy these days as he is currently the president of the China Taoist Association. We may spend some time with the vice abbott Ren Xing Zhi, who is also very accomplished in meditation and Taoist esoterics of the I Ching.
Cauldron at Lao Tzu Temple, Louguantai
We’ll tour the famous large temple and statue dedicated to Lao Tzu. Or hang out and do qigong or tai chi in a beautiful courtyard with red lanterns hanging from the Palace of Lu Dong Bing, the Taoist immortal who is the patron guide of inner alchemists. Another option is to rent horses and ride a short distance (or hike) to a majestic 10th century pagoda built by Nestorian Christians. The Taoists were generous and open minded to allow them to build near their most sacred site. Louguantai.
Day 21: Free day at Louguantai to meditate or relax. In the afternoon we’ll visit the Lao tzu Ascension Site. The chi is very ethereal here, and it takes a while to quiet down the mind enough to be able to entrain with it. This is my favorite power spot/vortex in all of China. We’ll do a powerful qigong ceremony here.
We will also hike the small mountain behind the Ascension site to a temple atop the hill, with a special cave dedicated to Lao tzu. This cave is famous for healing many people of illness. Louguantai.
Day 22: Depart in the morning to Xian. Two hour drive, then check into same 4-star hotel where we stayed previously. Time for final shopping spree in Xian’s wonderful bazaars and crafts shops, or explore the rich history of China’s ancient capital with its city walls still intact. Final group banquet. Evening free for packing. Xian.
Day 23: Depart to Xian on afternoon flight to Beijing, connect to Air China #983. Depart at 9 pm, arrive in Los Angeles at 6 pm same day (miracle of International Date Line), Sunday May 30.
For collection of my top China Dream Trip photos:http://www.healingdao.com/china_dream_trip_photos.html
For photos of previous Dream trip to HUASHAN, see:http://www.healingdao.com/china_2008.html
For Photo Index: http://www.healingtaousa.com/photos.html
“This was my 2nd Dream Trip. I didn’t want to leave China (maybe next time I won’t). The rhythm of travel and the energy of China, the succession of encounters that keeps us on our toes, reminds me that it’s fun, that life is play, I don’t need to take myself so seriously. I feel acutely in the present moment as the road unfolds the energies of the earth and its sacred places.
Sometimes it’s going by so fast we don’t have time to realize how “amazing” it is. Later, after falling into the routine of home, things come back that make me stop and appreciate it all over again, but with a new perspective. Or as Proust says, that this returning memory is the experience coming to its full maturity and really felt for the first time; it becomes more real when you remember it. There seems to be a lot more packed into that Dream Trip than I could comprehend as it whizzed by each new day.
Our experiences reverberate into our subsequent lives. My qigong and meditation practice has gained traction and substance. Something is happening and I feel changed. My orbit is deeper and more solid-feeling. I fall into qi-pulsations spontaneously at unexpected times, like standing in the grocery checkout line, or on the subway.
I think “shopping qi” is a legitimate thing. I’m glad you pointed it out to us as a powerful spiritual practice to circulate energy between our cultures. As with internal alchemy, a strong center is recommended. I think I learned to become more free with myself by practicing “money-flow gongfu”. Even going on the trip was already a first step in that workshop.
I really love the everyday authentic encounters on the trip, the moments that are not scripted. Just the pulse of life happening and the wonder of it is the air to be enjoyed, the delight of change, feeling welcomed into that flow of Chinese life.
There was something pretty great about our dinner with guides-in-training in Kunming, exchanging cross-cultural views about hot broth and weather. The girls were adorable, they gave us name cards with special notes written for the occasion: “I love you.” “I miss you.” “Have happy life.” And then, some of them really broke down with sobbing goodbyes. One was gripping my shirt, weeping, not wanting me to leave. It was a shock. I felt unprepared, unsure how to respond, and also moved by the intensity and openness of this feeling in them. Java also cried saying goodbye at the end of her guiding us. Maybe it’s surprising because I don’t expect Chinese people to be emotionally expressive.
Similarly, in Dali, at a bistro, there was a gorgeous young woman who’d decided to get up and dance with herself. There was music, soft lighting, her dancing was very slow, and as sensuous as I’ve seen anyone anywhere dance. Mesmerizing undulating hips. She’ll have no problem opening qi flow in the orbit. This was erotic and not vulgar. And this was a young woman in China, in public! Quite the surprise, and even to this day I think of her from time to time. Feeling the magic of her movements, and the self-possessed power in her eyes.
I actually met the Jade Emperor when I prayed to him alone, and gave myself up completely. It was the first time I ever prayed in a Taoist temple. I became transparent and was not afraid to let God, or Original Spirit or whatever people call it see me… all my good, all my bad. In total openness I truly saw my self…
But then some crazy stirrings happened in the lower tan tian. Rumbling, earthquake… explosion in my head. Feeling pressure.. mouth open wide, eyes shut tight, indescribable feelings in whole body… then boom!! It expressed through me as great laughter, I laughed like never before, my whole body was shaking in laughter, my lungs gasping for breath, my eyes tearing like crazy from laughter… Then crying…like never before crying and crying.. Then dancing and spinning like never before..
I was being guided by some very strong invisible force. Chi? Spirits? I’m not sure what but I felt it hold me in key points on my body as it moved me effortlessly. I was just there watching my body dance in wonder! Then the strong force made me run outside and dance and sing before everyone I met. I loved everyone and everything!!! Life felt incredible! so fun!!! so amazing!!!!!
I was flying, jumping, doing flips, spinning, and running all over Weibanshan mountain expressing my joy, love and compassion to all! I believe I was taken over by my own spirit. There was nothing that could make it unhappy, I could be slapped in the face, or beat up and I would still be in love and happy!
I was drunk with life! I remember running, hugging and kissing everyone from the group. Some were happy and touched, and some thought I went crazy! Some thought I was possessed – but to me it didn’t matter! I saw and felt so much love and beauty in everyone, I loved everyone so much and wanted to be one with all.
When I got back home, I did primordial chi kung with the intention to connect all the power spots in China, to help bring change, inspiration and new life to Toronto. It was very very gray, dark, lifeless. During the form, the sun broke through the clouds and shined a bit. When I finished the whole sky was blue with beautiful white clouds, birds were flying and chirping, insects were buzzing, and life seemed to have arrived.. It was just such a wonderful feeling and reponse from nature…
Also, I really miss the food in China…you picked great restaurants! The food back here is so tasteless and lifeless! I might have to move to China just because the food there was so great, so rich in life and flavour! The food, the people, the group, and the experiences in the China trip has made me feel and be younger, more loving and compassionate.. So many incredible positive things have resulted, the list is endless. Thank you so much!
I asked the question: How did the China Trip change your life? Names withheld for privacy. I will note that two Dream Trip members moved to China as a result of the trip! Another one married one of my best guides. (There is yet another very pretty one looking for a husband…). As you can tell from these letters, this trip is not for simple tourists. It’s for people open to intense transformation – my definition of inner alchemy.
A. How did China change me? That is too difficult a question, I will stick with, What did China change in me? My practices, I seem to have acquired a much stronger Chi field. Meditations have a lot more depth and in some meditations what were just words or thoughts are now strong physical/energetic/spiritual feelings, experiences. I have a much deeper understanding/connection with my bodies.
Same with Qigong my arms are moving through a much denser chi field. I find myself experiencing a much deeper experience of Tai Chi. I find it easier and easier to connect with the energies of the cave and various monasteries. I have had some great experiences connecting with Lao Tzu’s ascension site then taking it into the cave.
I have been working on converting my garage to a practice place. My father pointed out that I was sawing timber in straight lines and hammering nails without bending them (and without hitting my thumb) This Is most unusual and my father noticed right away. Was it worth it? Absolutely undeniably yes. A great group of people. I look forward to the next trip.
B. Your China Dream trip changed my life. One experience in particular comes to mind. On our first day on Mt. Huashan, I crawled out on a rock ledge and sat there drinking in the beauty of the incredible vista before my eyes. I was looking down on the tops of clouds. I didn’t have anything particular in mind, just a little rest and a few moments of solitude to drink in the beauty before me.
I easily settled into meditating and immediately began to feel so light. Quite spontaneously, fears, the existence of which I had never fully acknowledged, surfaced and were released down into the emptiness in front of me along with more than a few tears. In that moment, on that ledge up above the clouds, I knew I was no longer able to settle for less than living my life fully. ..
Days after returning from China, I filed for divorce, something I had been trying to do for years. It was a peaceful parting. Thank you so very much for all you did to make that trip an incredible experience for everyone involved. You did a fabulous job!
C. Just writing to thank you for organizing the trip to China. I had an amazing time! I met a lot of fun and interesting people, ate a lot of great food, and the places were powerful and spectacular. Thanks to you my entire life is about to undergo a huge change. I will be moving to Chengdu in Sichuan province in January, and living in China for at least a year to learn the language at Sichuan University. After that, who knows, the possibilities are endless! Thank you Michael, I hope to meet you again. I hope your life has changed for the better as radically as mine. (Note: this young Australian did move back to China and married my Chinese tour guide!)
D. China was an extraordinary trip for me! I am still swirling in the experience and richness of it all! My world feels much bigger and at the same time, the exquisite sameness of all people is resonating throughout my being. I will try to get some words down to describe some of it before too long, but meanwhile wanted to thank you!
E. I do think about the group often. I don’t take it lightly. Our time together was important to me. Being a novice at these practices. I wish I had consulted with you more on your experience. Our time together was short but intense. There wasn’t a person on the trip that wasn’t an inspiration for me. But I do feel lucky with my roommate, as he was my greatest inspiration. Nothing bothered this guy, and I found myself doing meditation on that. What kind of attitude would a person need to have this positive way of looking at things, events, life? Thanks!
The connections I felt during primordial qigong allowed me to feel my goal of connection to God (within) is possible. Primordial is extremely powerful… not just arm waving. I made new friends, and plan to visit them. I have really come to appreciate the Chinese people and their lifestyle. I love Temple of Heaven park and all the people there, just hanging out.
H. I spent three days at the group’s “secret spot” atop Mt. Hua. During Primordial Chi Gung I saw the clouds mystically rise like angels and dragons and daggers. I could sense the clouds as the dragons breath. I stripped naked once, and laid down on the rocks, My spine aligned with the spine of the granite mountain. Now that I am home, I am feeling my spine aligning with the mountains. I rode a cloud dragon up a spiral towards heaven, taming my wild mind as the wind washed through me, playful & euphoric. I thought: THE IMMORTALS ARE THE MOUNTAINS. I saw them through the eyes of the dragon, a bat, and a butterfly. I feel altered forever. I still ride the dragon now that I am home.
I. The most special part of the trip was bonding with others and sharing laughs in our group. Christina and I bonded immediately as if we had known each other our whole lives. We stayed awake each night sharing our experiences of the day and talking about everybody. We giggled like little school girls and wondered how Michael paired us up so perfectly…???
I am a loner at heart, but I so enjoyed my time with everyone. I grew to love many of you. Memories spent together still pop into my head out of nowhere, and I and miss everyone. Michael, I told you that Huashan was difficult for me, but I knew one day I would be grateful. When I returned, I had lost 10 pounds and got my high school wash-board belly back!
J. Things were definitely rocky the first couple weeks after the trip. I was physically in Los Angeles, but I was mentally and spiritually back in China. I still float off to the caves, the various peaks at Huashan and other places whenever time and situations allow. My wife will often ask me where I am if I’m being quiet, and the reply is always the same – China.
All my computer desktop pictures are China pics. Amazingly, I find little pieces of everyone I met in China here at home, reflections of you all. One of the people I train with could be Russell’s little brother, another reminds me of our lovely guide Cherry. I try to bring Teddy’s excitement on Weibaoshan to all the Tai Chi classes that I teach.
The few lessons I received from the monks have served me well and my own Tai Chi is really rocking lately. Like many I think I’m still digesting it all and lessons I didn’t understand or even realize were happening now surface when I least expect it. The spiritual awakening I experienced doing tsunami relief work in Sri Lanka was really kicked into overdrive in China.
I came back from China a much calmer, more well balanced person. Situations that might have resulted in arguments or just general negativity now bring on compassion. And if I am brought to the darkness of anger I’m immediately embarrassed and sorry.
I’ve had a couple moments where I’m positive an immortal is present. Words of encouragement from people I’ve never met from out of the blue or just a simple look in the eyes of a passing stranger. I know, that sounds nuts. But the overwhelming rush of emotion in these situations and the sense of peace that consumes me after it’s passed are very powerful.
My friends have sensed profound change in me as well but I realize I’m very much a work in progress. I’m already on the list for the next China trip as is another Tai Chi student from my school. I’m still getting used to the new me, but I like the changes so far.
There is no penalty for canceling before midnight Oct. 31, 2009 (full refund of deposit).
Note: Low cost travel insurance is made available to all trip members. (Last year it cost average $150.- 200. depending on your age & trip length). You are strongly urged to obtain it. If you do NOT obtain it, you must sign a legal release.
SARS has been officially eradicated in China according the World Health Organization. If SARS or some other killer bird-flu or swine-flu virus should it break out before the trip date, I personally believe the trip will still happen. Two reasons.
1. During the last epidemic there were virtually no cases where we are spending most of our time.
2. Chinese health system is much better prepared and alert this time around.
3. Extensive instructions are given to all trip members on how to stay healthy before and during the trip. These are my time tested travel methods to keep immune system at peak operating level. This strategy has proven very effective on previous trips.
Fees for cancellation are as follows:
1. if cancellation notice is received before midnite Dec. 31, 2009 – $300. fee.
2. If cancel Jan. 1 to midnite Feb. 8, 2010 – $600. fee.
3. If cancel between Feb. 9, 2010 and departure date of trip, full trip cost is owed and forfeited (NO REFUND). This is why it is essential you get trip insurance.
4. No refunds for termination of travel AFTER trip begins. Even if a member must involuntarily cancel for physical health reasons AFTER the trip within China has begun, and does not use a portion of their already pre-paid services, no refunds will be made. It is simply too difficult to collect in China, and not worth the trouble. No refunds are made for unused excursions and special program activities.
We will supply you with a reliable and inexpensive travel insurance option (or you can choose your own). Check the terms and conditions of the issuer of your travel insurance policy as they are defined in the policy’s cancellation clause, which outlines your coverage, its limitations and exclusions. Usually written medical excuse from doctor or proven death in family are accepted.
I hope to hear from you soon – that you’ve decided to join me for the spiritual adventure of a lifetime!
Love, chi, blessings,