Wednesday, August 22, 2012

East Earth Travelogue: Po Lin Monastery

On my initial visit to Lantau Island I noticed a cable car going up a mountain. On further investigation I learned that it took people to visit Po Lin Monastery and the large bronze Buddha. My friends and I decided to visit it. The cable car is a fantastic ride. The only drawback was waiting two hours in line to get on. The wait was worth it though.
Po Lin Monastery is a Buddhist monastery, located on Ngong Ping Plateau, on Lantau Island, Hong Kong. The monastery was founded in 1906. The main temple houses three bronze statues of the Buddha – representing his past, present and future lives – as well as many Buddhist Scriptures. When I went inside I was surprised to find that people were taking pictures inside the Monastery. I have been to many temples in China and taking photographs is always forbidden. However, I could not find a sign here indicating not to take pictures. Feeling a bit guilty about doing the wrong thing I took a few pictures anyway. It was a rare opportunity that was unlikely to happen again. Here is a photo of the three Buddhas at the main alter.
Buddhist Statues in Po Lin Monastery

There is also a large Buddha associated with the monastery. The Tian Tan Buddha statue that was completed in 1993. It is 112 feet tall and weighs 280 tons. When you are on the cable car ride you can see it from miles away.  There are 268 steps to climb up to the Buddha. We didn't do that though. The temperature of Hong Kong in August was around 90+ degrees with 80% humidity and we were hot enough already.

The Tian Tan Buddha statue

Tian Tan Buddha from Ngong Ping Village

People walk up 268 stairs to go up to the Buddha

Note: If you are going to see Po Lin Monastery it is well worth the extra money to ride in the Crystal 360 Gondola with glass floors. It not only gives a better view but you get shifted to a different line that gets you on the gondola much faster. It saves you at least another hour of waiting in line for the less expensive regular gondola. The gondola ride is worth the wait though. It is over 5 km in length and you get spectacular views.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

East Earth Travelogue: Hong Kong's Lantau Island

On a recent trip to China I had to stay overnight before catching a plane to the mainland. I decided to stay on Lantau Island. Lantau Island is where the airport is and is connected to Hong Kong and Kowloon by road, ferry, and subway. It is also the home of Po Lin Monastery and an 80 foot tall Buddha. Po Lin Monastery and the Buddha statue are major tourist attractions and draw thousands of people each day (In fact, when I returned to Hong Kong two weeks later we took the 5.6 km cable car ride to the Monastery and had to wait two hours in line because there were so many people). Generally, this area is packed with people, as is the rest of Hong Kong, but on the south side of Lantau is Silvermine Bay where I booked a hotel room. This was a pleasantly quiet little town with virtually no one on the beach while I was there except for some cattle. Yes, "No Dogs Allowed" but Lantau has feral cattle, remnants to the days of rice farming. They now roam free and look really healthy. The sun, sand, and surf must be relaxing for them. It was the last thing I expected to see in Hong Kong.

"Feral Cattle on the Beach, Silvermine Bay,  Lantau Island"

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Why don't acupuncturist's recommend ice?

There are many opinions regarding using ice as a therapy. Often time doctors, chiropractors, and physical therapists recommend using ice on an injury. They may tell their patient to use ice or alternate using ice and heat. Acupuncturists on the other hand don't recommend ice. Why? Ice is not a part of traditional Chinese medicine. 

The theories of Oriental medicine go back thousands of years. Physicians at that time were great observers of nature and the cycles of nature. They noticed that during the winter, people were less active, animals hibernated or were very inactive, and plants looked dead. In the summer, when it was warm, plants looked alive and animals and people were active. They associated cold with inactivity or death and warmth with activity or life. They also noticed that people naturally gravitate to warmth. When it is cold people circle around the fire or source of heat. This was true since time began and is still true today. Heat was used as a therapy. Cold was not.

You should note that the word "acupuncture" is a Western description of the Chinese therapy of "Zhenjiu". "Acus" means "needle" and "punctura" means "to puncture". The Chinese word for this therapy is composed of two words "Zhen" meaning "needle" and "jiu" means "moxibustion". So the Chinese word for "acupuncture" is actually a reference to needling therapy and heat therapy. Moxibustion is the burning of the herb artemesiae vulgaris (Chinese: Ai ye) on the skin or over the skin. It provides heat and warmth to the body. The ancient Chinese must of thought highly of the use of heat in their treatment to make the word "jiu" a part of the description of what they were doing.

I think the Chinese realized that cold constricts the arteries and veins and impedes circulation. I often see people with chronic injuries and it just so happens that they've been told to ice the injured area which they do often. To me that is half of their problem. When I ask them if the the ice feels good the reply is that they don't like it but they are following the doctors orders. When I tell them to stop and use heat instead they often notice that their injury starts to feel better right away.

If you have an injury and want to use ice I suggest using it for 24 hours or less then use heat and of course liniments. There a good book about treating injuries called "A Tooth From the Tiger's Mouth" by Tom Bisio, L.Ac. I highly recommend the book. Mr. Bisio offers a good explanation of the reason ice is not used in Oriental medicine.
Remember, if you have a chronic injury or a recent injury don't use ice, use heat.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Sifu Lew will be missed

We were sad to learn of the passing of Sifu Lew. He was a teacher of Qi Gong. If you search this blog for his name you will find more information about him. Here is a brief bio taken from a workshop that he gave in 2008:
Share K. Lew, now in his nineties, is a Taoist priest with over 70 years experience in the traditional Taoist arts. Master Lew received part of his education at Wong Lung Kwan, a Taoist monastery on the Luo Fo mountains near Canton, China.
Master Lew studied at Wong Lung Kwan monastery for 13 years. During that time he trained in the full range of Taoist healing and martial arts. At the core of his training was the secret system of cultivation known as Qigong (Chi kung). Master Lew was the first person to openly teach authentic Taoist Qigong to non-Chinese, beginning in Los Angeles in 1970. Master Lew’s monastery style, the Tao Ahn Pai (Taoist Elixir Style), dates back over 1300 years to Lu Dung Bin, who was born during the Tang Dynasty, and became one of the Eight Immortals of Taoism.
We offer our condolences to his wife and daughter.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

More Tai Chi from the past

Diana Armstrong and Michel practice Tai Chi San Shou (Moscow, Idaho August 1977)

Michel and Diana Armstrong practice Tai Chi Single Moves (Moscow, Idaho 1977)

Michel and Barbara Isaksen practice Join Hands (April 1979, Idaho)

Step back like a Monkey. Tai chi in Merritt Island, Florida Nov 1979

Charles Quinn and Michel practicing Join Hands (Moscow, Idaho February 1980)

Michel practicing Tai chi on Snow Mountain (1982, California)

Michel and Laurie Laird April 1979 near Troy, Idaho. Laurie died five months later in an accident September 20, 1979.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

More Tai Chi from the past

Michel Czehatowski teaching Tai Chi to (left to right) Do Nghi, Huynh Hai Kong, Nguyen Hong Thu Thi, and Luong Phunon Dai at the Buddhist Council for Refugee Rescue and Resettlement (BCRRR), City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, Talmage, CA. This picture was taken June 18, 1981.

Teaching warmup Tai Chi Exercises at Cultivating Virtue School, City of 10,000 Buddhas, Talmage, CA October 1981

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Tai ji update

I recently got together with my Taiji instructor, Paul Pitchford, after not seeing him for more than 25 years. I took my first Taiji class with Paul in 1975 when he taught in Moscow, Idaho.
On the left is a picture of us taken in Moscow dated January 19, 1979 practicing double Join Hands (i.e., Push Hands).
Below is a picture of us practicing double Join Hands on January 21, 2012 - almost 33 years later to the day!