My Week at Nam Yang Kung Fu Retreat

I wrote this post shortly after I visited Nam Yang Kung Fu Retreat for the first time:

I could’ve never imagined as I walked into Nam Yang Kung Fu Retreat in Pai how those days, merely 8 days in a Qi Gong and Meditation Retreat, would change my life forever!

It is hard to describe an energy that has no words to it. It’s like trying to describe an experience with hallucinogenic substances (actually it was brilliantly depicted both by Alan Watts in The Joyous Cosmology and by Aldous Huxley in The Doors of Perception) or the feeling of being in love and making love with someone you’re deeply in love with. However, I’ll do my best to try to express in a few lines what I have experienced.

We always think that when we come to life we’re suppose to be some finished thing. We tend to look at ourselves a bit like a complete work as adults in the societies we live in and the truth is that we will never be a static thing. I remember the funeral of a very good friend of mine, the Priest said something that still echoes in my head: “Today it’s the happiest day in Ricardo’s life.” I cried sorely as the meaning of those words sunk in. Indeed we are never a complete work, up until our last breath – that blessed day as the Priest made it sound – when our path here in this shape comes to an end, at least in terms of living experience in this form. Until that day comes, we have the chance – and maybe the obligation – to grow and develop in every single moment!

What if we had the power to change our perception and to make our awareness completely different from what we are used to perceive from the world, as if opening our eyes or inhaling was in each moment an entirely new experience in itself? What if we had the capacity to change all of that just with the power of our breath? Or our soul’s temple: our body? What if I tell you that we can do that? Both Nikola Tesla and Dr. Joe Dispenza refer to such themes. Even though I knew theoretically about these concepts, I actually came to experience them in these eight days during my Qi* Gong (or Chi* Kung) and Meditation Retreat at the Nam Yang Kung Fu Retreat in Pai, thanks to the wonderful guided meditations, the awareness we get from interacting with our Qi through the Qi Gong and the Kung Fu practices and the training we receive which connects us with our deeper self and by consequence with everything that surrounds us.

Sunrise at Nam Yang Kung Fu Retreat

The retreat is located – not by chance – in an harmonious place that fills you with its peaceful glow and even a sea dependent, who grew up by the coast and can’t spend one week without longing for the sounds and smell of the ocean (only people raised by the seaside know what I mean), feels completely at peace there! This truly is a life sanctuary that will replenish you with a magical vibration attuned to all living things! Pai is a delicious small town which literally means “Father” in my native language and – to be honest – I don’t think this funny coincidence happened by chance. There aren’t many places with this vibe. I felt this in the Pacific Islands, especially Rapa Nui and Bora Bora, and both the Pacific and Nam Yang Kung Fu Retreat were the only two times in my life when I felt like crying when leaving a place.

I met wonderful people with whom I had a great time and I feel truly grateful for the unexpected bounds I made at the Retreat! They know who they are so I will not name all of them here, I’ll just say that my roommate had the same name as me and I truly enjoyed meeting her and sharing a few point of views on life, Kung Fu, good readings and the role of women in societies with her. I also had the privilege to interact with four of the instructors of this beautiful place.

Master Iain is a life force presence. He reminded me of Dr. Charles Xavier with such a strong powerful energy running a place where people come to be connected to their inner self and self empowerment is the key word! He also made me think of a real life Captain Fantastic like Viggo Mortensen – only movie geeks will get this one – where we were all his children and he was training us to develop ourselves: body and mind, inside and out, because they are both intrinsically connected and dependent upon each other.

Jan is like a thunderstorm. You can watch the video with his inspiring life path at the Nam Yang Kung Fu Retreat Website. His perseverance is contagious: he truly is an example of what it is to never give up!

Both Lefa and Freya look like young Star Wars heroes and they seem to have been natural born for these teachings.

Lefa has an easy smile that immediately makes you feel comfortable. He transmits a feeling of calmness that set you in a peaceful mood to start learning all the moves and flows. By following his flowing moves he can make you feel the force and according to one of my colleagues it was during a Lefa training that he felt the Qi for the first time.

Freya during a Kung Fu practice

Freya is delicate yet powerful and she is extremely competent in her instructions, clarifying every last detail (and you know the old adagio “God is in the details”). Her guided meditations are the best I’ve ever experienced. They are quite intense and really have the capacity to make you dive deeper into yourself. Plus she has the perfect voice for this activity, a very gentle, yet consistent vibrational sound that will make you think you’re in heaven surrounded by angels as you close your eyes.

I can truly say that I met real life heroes at the Nam Yang Kung Fu Retreat!

It’s hard to arrive to a Kung Fu Master as an empty cup and be able to drink everything he has to offer. For one because we are filled with knowledge and ego from the societies we live in and for two because we are at times so eager to drink everything all at once that we fail to recognize one of the most basic principles of Kung Fu or life “a journey of a thousand steps begins with one single step”.

I feel truly grateful for this life changing experience. I will not be able to ignore parts of the self or of the whole anymore and how they are intimately interconnected. The seed is planted and its roots are spreading all over what I was, what I am and what I’ll be. It will – of course – be the daily nourishment of this living force (that is my solely responsibility) that will make the greatest difference on either it will keep on growing or it will just be sleeping within, but it’s undeniably there and there is no way to go back now unless I wish to deceive myself.

I can say that one week is not nearly enough to experience this proverbial temple for the body and the soul that is Nam Yang Kung Fu Retreat. If you have the chance make sure you go for a month – or at the very least – two weeks to give yourself a life changing experience. I guess the most important lesson that I’ve learned at Nam Yang Kung Fu Retreat – and particularly with Master Iain – is to learn to be my own heroe. My gratitude is beyond words!

Kung Fu is creating beauty in an inspiring way and empowering people to be connected with their own inner force!

*In traditional Chinese culture, Qi or Ch’i is believed to be a vital force forming part of any living thing. Qi translates literally as “breath”, “air”, or “gas”, and figuratively as “material energy”, “life force”, or “energy flow”. I’ll be sharing more info in a future video. stay tuned to my YouTube channel.

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