2019 Apprenticeship in Ukiah, California

This year our apprenticeship program will take place on a beautiful piece of land outside of Ukiah, California.  This land is full of epic mountain vistas, oak woodlands, fresh air, blue skies and abundant wildlife, including wild ponies!

Students will camp in their own gear, anything from a regular camping tent to a canvas wall tent, trailer or volkswagon bus, whatever you have.  This allows the students to immerse themselves in nature and its seasons in a connected way.  Most students find the thought daunting at first, then leave the program feeling completely empowered.

The first thing we are most excited about with our new site location is the prospect of starting a Chinese Herb garden.  Here we will cultivate our own Chinese herbs such as Angelica, Mugwort, Dandelion, Plantain, Honeysuckle, Yellow Dock and many more.  Students from this year’s courses will hopefully get to take part in the start up of that project.  In the future we hope to provide herbs for our courses in medicine making, liniments, herbal concoctions and other TCM therapies, as well as supply healers and acupuncturists with a sustainable source of herbs.

The second thing we are excited to announce for this year’s apprenticeship program is bringing on Guest Instructor, Loan Guylaine Tran, Daoist title Cheng Feng.  Cheng Feng is my Daoist sister of 9 years.  We have trained, translated and taught together under our Shi Fu at the Five Immortals Temple and shared many life experiences.

She will be bringing a richness of knowledge in Daoist Medicine after having participated and taught multiple years of courses at the Five Immortals Temple, as well as having completed her clinical training in Acupuncture and TCM in hospitals in China.

Another very special area of expertise which she holds is in Daoist Scripture Recitation and Ceremony.  With her musical background, powerful voice, and dedication she is playing an important role in the transmission of such Daoist culture to the west.  She is one of the few westerners who is proficient at the complete chanting, singing, instrumental, and ceremonial components of Daoist Morning and Evening Scripture, Zao Wan Gong Ke.

Participants of this year’s apprenticeship, July 1st- August 11th, will follow a daily schedule of waking up with the sunrise to morning qi gong, mid morning martial arts training, and afternoon theory classes on Daoist Medicine, Internal Alchemy, and Scripture, finishing each day with sitting meditation at night.  There is nothing more healing than the experience of being in nature, and the consistent daily movement of the body.  Movement is life.  Breath is life.  This 6  week program is just long enough to gain momentum and stride in these habits and have, what we hope will be, for all, a memorable and sacred experience that one can look back on in joy and continually gather strength from the practices they have learned.

Explore our website to learn more about the program and how to sign up!

Winter Solstice Retreat Reflections from Students

The following passages are from the Winter Solstice Retreat I taught this past December before entering the year 2018.  During the 4 day retreat, students were asked to strive for an alkaline diet, avoiding meat, dairy, processed and acidic foods, as well as avoiding garlic, onions, and alcohol.  This diet raises the vibration within the body and blood and can assist in deep sitting meditation practices as well as seasonally cleanse the body.  We covered many things in those four days from how to create a personal altar at home, Daoist bowing and lighting incense ceremonies, and how to make offerings.   We believe that ceremony and connection to ancestral knowledge is the most essential element in transmitting and receiving the true teachings of our Wudang lineage.  We also explored qi gong, sun gazing, tai chi, sword, and ba gua principles.  I hope to offer this same retreat next Solstice!

Driving away from Sebastopol, I felt a strong sense of taking something with me. Something new and bright and profound. A gift, that I can feel in my heart. Like a sense of return. I simultaneously feel an intense need to remember all we learned while also feeling a sense of settling into what we did over four days. The settling is a quiet, deep knowing that has shifted things inside me at the bone level and within my cellular network, changing my everyday routine in small ways that reverberate in large waves- though subtle and invisible.

I am grateful for the context of tradition and lineage. I feel a large part of my practice was hollow without the thread to ground and connect through the generations of those before and after. Like reaching for heaven without any substance, fire and no water.  The way you presented the tradition from Li Shi Fu- so thoughtful, specific, and filled with meaning- gave a different experience to learning movement and ritual.

At the very beginning of the retreat, when I lit an incense to place on the altar, I knew suddenly that my intention was for ancestral connection. Its been a recent theme in my practice, and I was very uncertain how to connect to or ask for guides or help, but knew that this was missing. The sort of hollowness that I mentioned before, seems to be gradually filling as I am just beginning to understand what it feels like to create this web of intention and prayer.
Just as the return of light and yang to the world emerges, I am starting over and growing again. Leaving old wounds and old self in the compost of winter, to rot and then be reborn again in spring.
-Meredith Horiuchi

As much as I value all the moments of the winter solstice retreat, there is one moment that is most shining in my memory.  It was in the park, the day we greeted the rising sun, and after we practiced Bagua pattern stepping.  It was during the time you were reading to us about 49 barriers.  How can I describe in words my experience?  I’ve given that question a lot of thought since then and now.

The best I can come up with is that it felt like I had a taste of what it would be like to be beyond the effects of the 49 barriers, centered in such a way that the lures and forces of the world could not pull or push upon me.  It did not feel like a dead state at all, but rather an extremely alive and pleasant state.  Thank you very much for somehow briefly transporting me to that state, or a least a shadow of that state.  I think about that experience every day.

-Mark Zima

Thank you so very much for the Solstice Retreat. It was a perfect way to reconnect with the practices, and spend some time in contemplation about what path my life will take.

The combination of Qi Gong and diet had powerful effects on digestion and elimination processes of the body, and my overall mental focus. Eating the fresher whole foods I felt a sustained nourishment from smaller amounts of food. I appreciated this experience, because it has been one of my struggles is taking the time to adopt some new habits.

There are so many more wonderful moments during the retreat where I felt my practice deepen… or become more empowered I should say. It was a brilliant, focused introduction to the practices for new students, and would be a great experience for students already familiar with the practice to re connect.

-Jen Sullivan


Elixir Pheonix Worships the Sun


Our Morning Qi Gong class took a field trip to see the Sun this Saturday in Sonoma County, California.  We woke up extra early at 5:45am to get out to our spot high up on the mountain to catch the predawn magic and the sun crest.  We have been practicing a special “sun gazing” qi gong technique for many months in class and students had a chance to experience it in its true form this morning.  There are many mysteries within the Sun, our source of light.  It feels as though we went to see a great Master or Deity this morning, who told us things in a language beyond words.  And to think… we have this chance every day…

Touch the magic.