It’s a fantastic country! This is a place steeped in unique relevance for both world history and world future, and it is a culture I believe to be most unlike ours than anywhere on earth. The Chinese people I admire more than any I have met. I hope we can learn from them.
I obviously first encountered China from the usual childhood facts: colourful dragons for Chinese New Year; eating with two sticks in one hand; the great wall that can be seen from space. The English are less proud to admit that their greatest love – tea – also originates from this place. Later, globalisation led to China entering our trends, like Chinese incense sticks, tinkling stress balls and Chinese writing on fashion products, including tattoos! Around this time I started to hear some other ideas from China – and these Chinese approaches to health and wellbeing were much more than a passing fad.
Complementary therapies such as Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture have some evidence that they work. Beginning in China, they have built up a strong following across the world, even though western science cannot explain what they do. Another Chinese practice is the theory of Feng Shui. This defines how to best design you environment and also defies the logic of science, as we know it. I don’t know too much about Feng Shui, but I do know that when I followed instructions to move my mirror and change my bed around, I did seem to feel much calmer. I also know that strolling through one of the central Beijing parks had an amazing relaxing effect. There was a slate floor surrounded by a square of trees, and it wasn’t incredibly beautiful or anything – but I felt overcome with pleasure at my surroundings. Surely, there is something in that, too.
Tai Chi is another Chinese practice – and that I do know something about. I have studied this amazing martial art for years, and experienced its ability to relax the body and focus the mind. From a clumsy 18 year old my balance and posture are now very good. Tai Chi has a reputation for being suitable for older people only, but this is not true. This will be beneficial, whoever you are. Go on – give Tai Chi a go. But if not there’s always Kung Fu…
I think the reason I first came to China was fascination with the place that could provide a serious conflict with western science. China has philosophical approaches that contradict western science. This therefore also contradicted everything I had been told was fact. If there was another way of seeing things, then perhaps the west isn’t always right? Maybe – and how can we know without investigating – China has better ideas than us? I think alternative views are very important because it’s very difficult to know if any one is best. As I think we see from this apparent ‘war on terror’ – the west is perhaps becoming too dominant in the world.
I love anything mysterious and to me, that’s what China represents. For a long time this country was closed to the world – so with practically no one going in or out, nobody knew what was happening there. Disturbing stories have since been exposed, and even now there are constant rumours of cover-ups. What is the true China? It is this question that I am increasingly curious to answer. If you will join me, I hope that together we can explore this fantastic country.