“I’m not a particularly nervous type, but I can remember that I was pretty shaky on the day of my first practical exam. This assessment consisted of examining a patient. After you had made your diagnosis you then had to treat the patient in a appropriate way with acupuncture and by putting together a proper herbal formula. All actions and conclusions had to be explained extensively, of course.
The exam would be invigilated by two professors of the university, exalted, of course, above us mere mortals. We were not told in advance what kind of patient they would give us. You could get an easy one; for example a young guy with a sport injury or a difficult one, as a classmate had been assigned before me. An older Lady with heart and lung complaints who had not long before had a brain haemorrhage. Even though these difficult patients were much more common, we all of course hoped for an easy patient. It was like a driving test. Whether you succeeded or not was to a large extent determined by what you encountered. Yet it was not so much the patient that made me anxious, it was the place where the exam would take place. Exams were done in the normal treatment rooms of the hospital where other patients and other doctors were present. Now fate had decided that I had to do my exam at an old internship of mine, a place where everyone knew me. That put the most pressure on me.
Just like every other day that morning I went to Di Tan park to train with Dr. Sun. The last couple of weeks we were busy practising the ‘ pushing hands ‘, an exercise that you do with a partner. I performed in the worsed possible way and Dr. Sun saw me messing about. He walked towards me and my partner and took me aside. ‘It is better you do something else today. ‘ Afraid that I would miss out I protested and said that I’d rather carry on.
‘ I don’t think you are going to learn anything here today. Go walk in the park, not as you would normally do, but make it an exercise. ‘ I thought that I was really being sent away on a wild goose chase. As I was a moody and typically sceptical teenager I asked. ‘ What good would it do? ‘ He replied: ‘ By being aware of each step that you take. ‘ Without responding to my attitude Dr. Sun went on quietly with his explanation: ‘ At first you set your feet on each blade of grass and sense every pebble that you walk upon. Then you are going to look how your feet, your legs and finally your entire body moves in the environment. That’s all you have to do. ‘
Reluctantly I began placing my feet in the way he told me to. ‘ Do it slowly, ‘ Was his last remark. Paying full attention I put my feet down and consciously I followed my movement. Soon I felt my feet were getting sticky and glued me to the ground. It felt like as though I was walking through syrup. Luckily people in every park in China don’t surprised when someone with a peculiar walk passes by. In the beginning I thought everybody would look at me, which was not the case at all. I became more engrossed. The whole environment became a kind of a décor passing me. Not that I was walking through this décor, but trees, the sky, a Tai Chi group, a mother with a child on a bicycle and some old people doing Qi Gong passed me as a projected movie on all sides. I found this new experience amusing as well as bizarre and continued inspired. Eventually I decided to exit this mirage and return to normal; hard and touchable. I went back to Dr. Sun who, to my surprise was the only one remaining of the group. He sat on a bench apparently waiting for me.
‘ How did it go? “he asked. I told him about my experience. ‘ And how do you feel now? ‘
‘ Very good, fit, refreshed, more energetic, ‘ I replied.
‘ And your thoughts are they still somewhere else? ‘
I realised with his question that my thoughts were not somewhere else, The whole worry about the exam had disappeared from my mind. I told him this and this knowledge gave me an even freer and happier feeling than before.
‘The things that seem important are usually not,’ he said, ‘you think you can handle everything at the same time, but you can only deal with the things that are here now. Without self-confidence you divide your energy and deliver only half a job. And half a job is effort wasted. If you are totally there where you are, then what you do becomes bigger than yourself. What really matters is right in front of your nose and literally up for grabs. It is as the experience you just understood where you take all your energy back to yourself. That is where your peace is together with your strength. There lies the experience of the moment and there you can alter. ‘
‘ Yeah, it was really great,’ I said. I looked at my watch and was alarmed by the time. I apologised myself to Dr. Sun: ‘ I have to hurry now because I still need to run some errands, I have to eat and I also must prepare mentally for this afternoon. ‘ I said goodbye, jumped on my bike and raced off.