In a dramatic change of weather it is now 30oC in Wudang! Hard to believe that only a few days ago everyone was wearing two pairs of trousers and sleeping with hot water bottles. Training has suddenly become a bit of a battle against exhaustion but a fresh supply of coconuts, pineapples, mangoes and watermelons is making it manageable. Thanks goodness for tropical fruit.
Along with such delights being back in full time training is a gift. Each day is a challenge but the body really loves the transformation. The muscles and tendons are changing, the organs relaxing and the density of the body begins to alter after the first couple of weeks. And at the same time the mind and emotions seem go through various stages of release and repair.
Now into my forth year here I have been able to incorporate more meditation into each day which is balancing out the extremes, although it doesn't leave time for much else! Yesterday there was literally a half hour free in a day that started at 5.30am and finished at 10pm. Someone described the training this year so far as "nicely internal" and I have to agree, it has shifted focus and is a welcome change after years of the 'higher-lower-faster-stronger' mantra. Master Yuan is also well and the kung fu family here all strong and healthy despite a cold winter.
I am feeling very lucky to be fulfilling one of my long term wishes in learning snake form this visit. It is amazing how creatively the movements imitate that of a snake and each day I am given a short lesson in their anatomy by my teenage coach, Gao, who seems to have taught himself solely through watching snakes closely and trying to understand the movements of the form himself. I still feel a bit daft trying to be snake-like but it is definitely helping to rid me of self consciousness.
As always it feels like the time here will never be enough and each day I am counting my blessings and giving thanks to everyone back home; most especially students and colleagues.