Thursday, December 21, 2006

Missing Links

Link after link after link.... I wonder how can I get from searching web about competencies into a pdf on psychic defense? Time clashes with lines and circles and the day is almost over. Do I full myself thinking that I have learned anything new? I downloaded all the fancy free stuff and put it away into the folders. Just in case - maybe some day I will find it useful. In meantime, Mozilla crashes and links disappear into the cyberspace.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Growth of Awareness

An old samurai warrior knew his time on earth was nearing an end and wished to bequeath his sword to the brightest of his three sons. He designed a test.

He asked a friend to hide just inside his barn, above the doorway, and gave him three small bags of rice. He then invited each son inside, one at a time.

The first son, after feeling the rice bag fall on his head, drew his sword and cut the bag in half before it hit the ground.

The second son halved the bag even before it hit his head.

The third son, sensing something amiss, declined to enter the barn - and so earned his father's sword.

Photos taken November 2005 in Tian Tan, Temple of Heaven, Beijing
Story taken from Body Mind Mastery (Creating Success In Sport and Life), Dan Millman

Monday, December 18, 2006


I've got 6 Seconds calendar for 2007 as a present. Hasty to know what was the artist's good wish for the next year I opened January: Self Awareness.

Recommended movie is Walk the Line - about Johnny Cash who follows the dream and lives the path of self-awareness that is not always bright and happy. Is the path to self awareness always filled with some dark, horror stories? Is there always that little (or big) surprise that shifts the paradigm and moves the behavioural mountains?

Stories are often told that major awareness shifts happen at times of dealing with grief or any difficult situation. Times of 'reaching the bottom', 'hitting the wall', 'holding a straw' are there not to tell us that journey is dangerous but to let us celebrate the learning.

I choose to be free.

There was a story on Internet - The one where Johnny lives in the moment. He chooses to be happy.

Recently I realised that Johny's choice was valuable for any evaluation of success and quality of life.

I choose to be free and happy.

Michael Neil talked about the scale of emotions in his newsletter. The last on the scale is peace. I totally agree.

I choose peace, freedom and happiness.

Images below (Celebrating moments):
1. Settling Mist, taken in Tibet, 2002 - on the way to Kailash. Thin air brought this image of peace and beauty.
2. Zmaj, taken by my sister Anita. The kite was bought in China, flown in the skies of Switzerland. I felt complete sense of freedom and peace when I saw this photo. I imagined my nephew Ivan learning how to 'work' the wind and succeeding to take it high into the clouds. Well done Ivan!
3. On the Top of the Hill - taken in the hills surrounding Beijing. One of K's and mine hikes that gave us amazing sense of freedom, peace and happiness.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Free to fly

Sometimes it just happens so that I feel like a bird - unaware that light is shining right under my feet.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Difference In Perspective

Yesterday on a reality TV show host brought women of various nationalities and asked the audience to say what they think of them based on their appearance. Not long after the comments were shared heated discussion started. There were tears, most women felt insulted and how wouldn't they? Hispanic woman was labeled as The Maid, Iranian woman was perceived to be of use since she must have connections with Taliban (hence can help if terrorist attack), African-American woman was perceived poor... The women were bombarding each other with judgement, prejudice and conviction that the perception was justified since media was projecting it.

Being willingly brain washed is probably the laziest way of using the mind.

Wake up, travel, see different, experience different for you will think, feel and act differently and if there is anything you are not happy in your life with - it is time to change.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Happiness comes from harmony

Like a fortune cookie words stare at me stating:

Happiness comes from harmony, not wealth and fame.

Lao Zi

It further explains: In this saying, Lao Zi captures the Taoist attitude toward money and social status. while most people aspire to such goals, imagining them to be a source of happiness, the Taoist masters dismiss them as at best irrelevant and at worst an impediment to well-being.

Yang Zi teaches, "Four desires disturb our peace: The desires for a long life, fame, social prestige, and wealth. Those without these things are given no rest by their dissatisfaction and those with these things live in constant fear of losing them. It is the opposite with those who entrust their lives to destiny."

From the Taoist perspective, the majority of us spend most of our time valuing the wrong things, so it is no surprise that so few people are really happy. Lao Zi teaches, "the wise do not value a huge gemstone as much as a little time. Time is hard to find and easy to lose." If we fail to appreciate fully the gift of life, we are wasting our most precious resource and no amount of fame and gain will ever help us. Yen Zi comments, "If someone neglected his business to wander around aimlessly, people would say he was crazy. Yet those who completely ignore the inevitability of death and obsessively seek wealth and prestige are called sane!"

Happiness is our natural state when we are in harmony with Tao. When we allow our desires for wealth and status to disturb our innate contentedness, they become hindrances to happiness. True happiness lies in changing ourselves on the inside so that we come into harmony with Tao, not accumulating wealth and prestige in the world. Lao Zi explains, "The wise transform the inner to make the outer enjoyable, they don't try to transform the outer to make the inner enjoyable. They experience spontaneous enjoyment within themselves.

The photos above are the closest I got in visually expressing what I just read.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Dying for banana

Yesterday I conversed with my mind and when the question came up: "What is Death?"
It answered promptly: "A waste bin"
A grin and silence requested an explanation.
"It is like a banana peal - you throw it into a waste bin once you ate it. Dying is the peal - life is the act of eating banana. Once you are done you don't regret eating banana and you don't question the peal why you suddenly got it. It just is."

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Invisible Ink

The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible. ~Vladimir Nabakov about writing

I was walking along the streets of Beijing when I saw a quiet group of people dipping their big brushes into icy water to write calligraphy on the pavement. Poems, quotes, words or even a simple character would briefly resist natural laws before they evaporate. Calligraphers, as it seems, remain inspired and fulfilled - otherwise they wouldn't be there every day.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Tribute to the signs near the travel-road

I have been thinking about different crossroads I have encountered in my daily decision making.
Abundance of choices, determined action and need to move forward. Sometimes I break through the walls, sometimes I ignore signs that say Stop! Often I look down when the sign is high up in the sky. There are no rules - each place will have own signature surprise. By the time I reach the destination signs make sense.

Look for Respect, Stop-Challenge-Choose, Ask for directions

This is the tribute to the signs near the travel-road

“Between the fear that something would happen and the hope that still it wouldn't, there is much more space than one thinks. On that narrow, hard, bare and dark space a lot of us spend their lives.”
Ivo Andric

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Early morning epifany

I have been resisting early morning practice for two weeks. Sleeping in, enjoying warm bed, resting lazy bones - what a bliss! It is a mental block when none of the practice seems valuable and winter weather is way too cold to comprehend. At the same time I have to be honest: I know I 'd practice again but postponing the start seemed more valuable than dealing with frostbite.

Today was the day to break the spell. I hated every moment of the waking, I questioned my intentions, I rediculed the meaning of practice and was suspicious about Shifu's teachings. I went out anyway - as if I dared myself to check once again why I was so determined to practice in the past and possibly even hoping that I'll find reasons to completely stop practicing afterwards.

In silence I followed K who practiced all this time on her own. And there it was - full moon greeted us while night still resisted early morning call. It is 6AM, occasional joggers, early bus brings constructions workers to their site. I start practicing: I still hate it. I even forgot the most simple excercise. Simply not present. Step by step - after each sequence he double checks how I'm doing.

"I'm hating it", I say.
"Never mind, keep practicing" he says.

Epifany hit me while I was doing 'Dragon Moves Qi' excercise: I realized that I was doing something that was not common, not daily task, not something that everybody could do. Not at all. I felt priviliged to have exposure to secret knowledge, ancient Chinese culture and my humble place in it.

Today I learnt that my practice will not bring any advancement during winter. The only purpose to practice now is to maintain what I have created during Spring, Summer and Autumn. Not a great incentive, not the best combination, but I still decide to practice. It stills my mind and often that is the best part of it all - silence accompanied with the bright moon, like that time in Kailash while camping on 5200m and struggling for breath. Learning about the simplicity and power of the nature.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Unstructured day

Today is one of those days when meetings get cancelled and priorities shift so I get a chance to look at everything I have started once and not quite followed up on. Yesterday I worked on some photos, today is the day of writing and gentle reading, Monday I have coaching session, after that - I really don't know and I am loving it!

This was not an easy path of realisation. I have been resisting my nature for quite a while until signs were so obvious that I could only be blind if I continued doing what was not giving any results - trying to have one profession, work full time for corporate sector. By all means I don't mean that this is wrong thing to do - it was just not right for me!

Besides some obvious metrics and personality tests (Kolbe A Index, Strengths Finder Index, Enneagram), crucial person in my steady focus on what it is that fulfills me is my coach Michael Neill ( You can subscribe to his newsletter on the same website - inspiring.

Inspirational tips for a better life!

In meantime - my blog became visible in China, we got a new puppy and I am learning new ways of happy thoughts. All is well.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Changes and tricks to view my blog

As I am trying to find the way to view my blog in China I set up another blog thinking that having China in my blog may be the cause of it being blocked. So, for those interested to hear more about my experiences and lifestyle in China please go to which I also cannot view here but I still decided to keep it as the main blog.
I am still learning how to use all the tricks of blogging.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Blogging in China - disciplined practice

I have started blogs somewhat suspicious and wanting to experience the new wave of communication when I realized that I can't view my blog in China. Enthusiasm waned out, idea of daily writing turned into weekly thought that I should write which inevetably leads to not writing... I am currently in Europe and just for fun of it checked how my blog looks like on the web - what a pleasant surprise. I saw one comment and that was enough to motivate me to write more.

This reminded me of the hurdles I passed with practice, not seeing the outcomes of doing standing stance or any other practice. I rebelled, thought that teachings were not real, that stories I heard about outcomes practice gives were fake. I read John's comment to my blog on finding shifu, and then I read his blog about the benefits of practicing alone. I can't agree more - getting to self discipline, self motivation and persistance is focal element of any practice. I also think that it is very important to have a healthy base of non-dependant relationship with a person that triggers that kind of approach to the practice, something I didn't add when I wrote about finding master.

Over and over again I learn how to observe self during practice, how to adjust body and intent while the nature does the rest. Whatever the journey and exploration of any practice is, if it is good for you keep doing it, five minutes a day is better than no practice at all. Evenutually you will find your own way by teaching others, passing the knowledge and learning even more.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Martial Arts and Daily Living

A lot of people are put off by the idea of martial arts for a simple reason that you need to wake up early and practice outside during winter. In my opinion these are such minor components of the whole practice and if you do get into practicing at dawn and during the winter than you are already into it that much that it doesn’t matter. Your teacher may be flexible enough to assist you in learning whenever it is convenient for you, some teachers take it easy during winter and if you have a spacious apartment you can practice at home. So, first of all martial arts teaches flexibility.

Another simple implementation of martial arts in daily living is that you learn how to keep be focused, relaxed and under pressure at the same time. The pressure comes from the point of twisting your body in new directions, using muscles you haven’t used before, learning what ‘natural posture’ means in terms of martial arts. After a while your body becomes soft outside (for the observer) and hard inside (you experience the flow of qi in your body). Simply, if you manage to keep your body relaxed in strenuous exercise then in daily living you can maintain being relaxed in stressful situations. Needless to mention, daily practice enabled me to remain calm and focused despite the circumstances and the environment.

Many students ask – what do I do with my eyes? Where do I look? Regardless what the practice is – standing, walking, moving – eyes are looking straight but your mind does not register information taken by your eyesight. The gaze is turned internally, observing your muscles, your legs, your hands, scanning every single request with your mind. I used to go to crowded places to train for competitions – the more distraction the better it was. Well, no doubt, I learned how to focus and keep final destination constantly in my mind – perfection of the body posture, allowing the energy to flow freely like cleaning blocked pipes or dirty chimneys. Meridians are fresh, blood circulates to all parts of the body, there are no blockages and as qi starts in your dan tian it swirls through the whole body and is being released into the ground. To reach perfection you first hear about what it is that you are looking for and then step by step focus on each requirement until you get it and lift yourself up to new horizons. I take focus as another insight for daily living.

Recently I have been translating for Liu Shifu – he has new students who don’t speak much of Chinese and I am amazed (again and again) how much patience he has. Each student is treated in a new way, with new perspective, so much appropriate for their personality. I stopped asking how he does it, each time it is just as if he knows how nature works. Of course, practicing ba gua was helpful for increasing this insight (amongst other things). As I translate I keep rushing ahead, giving my perspective on what is being said, talking about my experience while he sits calmly and waits for me to finish. Never a single comment, never a single request. I look at new students practicing zhang zhuan (standing stance) and keep thinking: they must be bored, there is so much more to it! And yet, I realize – their mind is so occupied by simple standing stance (as it looks simple to an observer) and giving them more just takes them away from the final destination. I learned patience by living in China and I know that patience is part of every journey – accept the fact that beginning is slow and that some things you will do well, some will be hard. I accept patience as part of my daily living – with flexibility, calm and focus I look forward to every new challenge.
Copyright 2006 Dalida Turkovic

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Finding Shifu

When master and a disciple meet they are both ready for the exchange and mutual growth. In Chinese this is called yuanfen - destiny.

There is a perception that all good Masters have left China and now live abroad. Martial Arts are in China somewhat regarded as old school, tradition that society wants to break away from while embracing modern lifestyle. To certain extent this may be true however, Masters are still around in China, abroad – everywhere. Once you are ready you will look for one and he will find you.

Long ago, before I was looking for a Master I read that you can recognize one if they have great sense of humor, presence, calmness and wit. Avoid teachers that insist you should be practicing with them, those that speak highly of themselves are fake and avoid them. Real Master will speak highly only of their own Master and the practice itself.

I found my first teacher early in the morning in September 1999 (I believe it was 0630) in the nearby park (Temple of Sun) where I’ve seen people practicing taiji. I almost gave up after 30 minutes of looking for groups of people – it felt like it was a day off for taiji practitioners. And then, just at the tip of my doubt that I will find what I was looking for hundreds of people appeared before me simultaneously waving in small circles. I was enchanted and observed who amongst them could be my teacher. I wanted it to be a woman, I needed a role model and one quiet gentle woman drew my attention. When I approached her she pointed in another direction and suggested I talk to a woman who in quite harsh way required perfection from the group. She scolded people openly calling on their weird posture and laughed at them shamelessly. At first, I thought she was somebody I’d rather avoid but once recommended I accepted the challenge and agreed to meet with her the following day. Day by day I practiced every day with her for 5 years.

He Laoshe is a 7th generation Wu style Taiji (although she thought me Yang Style) and after bad press falong gong brought to Chinese energy practitioners she accepted modern style practice – forms approved by government, mostly focused on competitions (performance). She detached from traditional ways, didn’t talk much about qigong nor history. The base of the practice was to keep learning various forms and at that time I found it interesting, precious and soothing for me. I learned and grew, I conquered my fears in competitions, all very useful and applicable in my daily living, my memory and focus improved through memorizing all the movements and learning what ‘natural posture’ means in Taiji world. One after the other I learned forms: 8, 16, 24, 42, 48, 32 sword, 56 sword … each new form was helping me improve the performance of the old one.

After 5 years of practicing with He Laoshe one thing became apparent: I was getting medals on competitions, everybody could see that I mastered forms but I was ‘empty’ inside. Daily practice brought me insight that in 10 years I may get a grip on what my Qi flow is and how to work it out for personal benefit. It seemed like long time and my impatience triggered need to explore more teaching styles, to look for other teachers, compare what was out there and who was the best for me.

I met with 4 male teachers over next 2 years and each one brought something different into my perspective. The first one was young, also competing in Yang Style – looking back to time I met him I realize I wasn’t ready for him. From him I learned gentleness. The next one I met was a former soldier, he came to class in his pointy shining shoes and I thought he was all over the place. I didn’t find him grounded, he was too immature for my perspective of Master and how one should look like. From him I learned to appreciate calmness. Soon after that I met a teacher who was disabled, living in a poor neighborhood, who knew the theory, talked a lot but wouldn’t practice and didn’t require that I practice either. He required RMB500/month which would cover 8 classes and I could come more if I wanted. That didn’t quite work for me either, and even I saw him 3 times the connection faded away. From him I learned I learned the role of mind in the martial arts practice. The closest I got to change the teacher (Shifu) was when I met Chen Laoshe who had presence, posture, some charisma and strength that attracted me. I met with him 4 times, practiced for a bit and then found myself being dragged to dinners and gatherings where he wanted to show to others his new foreign student. As that was too much show off for my taste – so I stopped. From him I learned that the quickest way for worm to eat a wood is moving horizontally rather than vertically.

3 months later I had a privilege to meet with Liu Shifu, originally I knew him as masseuse. After inspiring massage session and few talks about Tao I was intrigued with his style, calmness and ease he was presenting life. After asking if I could learn massage from him he said I had to practice to attain gongfu (workmanship, skill, art). The way I understood it then is that I needed to fill my empty bones with strength and ground myself in practice. That is how I started practicing Bagua and Xinyi Style Martial Arts with Liu Shifu. Traditional ways of Chinese gongfu presented in the considerate way of learning how to act in harmony with Nature.

I can’t say I won’t practice anything else, I can’t say I won’t practice with another shifu. I am definitely not sure if I would’ve captured teachings of Liu Shifu if I met him 7 years ago but one thing I know for sure – after 3 months of practicing with him my Taiji improved significantly and I was able to sense the flow of qi.
For one year I didn’t learn any form, I was stretching my body, learning about Chinese culture and philosophy, sharing daily problems, talking about dreams and how they could be interpreted. Yesterday I had my first massage class – 1,5 years after I originally intended to learn Tuina.

In China I learn patience.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Martial Arts and Daily Living in China

When choosing a master one need not be hasty. Observe people around yourself with patience and understanding, teach them of yourself and understand inner path you are taking. It later allows you to look at your master’s eyes with humility, understanding and acceptance. Great masters have been but a few and only history keeps their records, few alive ones keep battling about own theories and perspectives being more concerned about claiming others being wrong rather than proving self being right. Considering the fact that training in martial arts partly requires imagining opponent (with an aim of being ready once it really gets to that point) I assume verbal dispute is a modern way of contemporary practice..

* * *

“You are the sixth generation of Bagua Zhuang Style,” Liu says proudly. I try to hide confusion of my mind going through a Bagua genealogy calculation:
“If he is proud for me being the sixth generation, it must be even more special to be the fifth one!” thoughts are racing each other while hoping he doesn’t misinterpret my disappointment: I came in one generation too late…
I am convinced that karma carries something within my matrix which has distinguished code for martial arts. I start practicing 3-4 hours daily. There is some force that I like and follow in this instance. Projected initially through the energy of money I keep questioning decision to invest in myself and pay double of the fee to somebody I hardly know. There is something in his eyes that I want to get: clarity, calmness and depth. He keeps convincing me that it is just the matter of time.
Gentle strokes and testing of the physical capabilities are nothing but the beginning of the vast exploration of Internal School of Martial Arts. Taichi, Xinyi and Bagua. He is proud of his own way, as all the other masters (Shifu) are. I have not met many but can distinguish pride from arrogance.