We (Kate & Henri Lebedev) are inspirited by the Eastern Wisdom Traditions.
After years of searching, we have found ourselves quite naturally "cloud wandering".
Below we have shared our ongoing journey with a few photos & stories.
How we met...
Destined to meet
We met at an international Buddhist conference in Australia where Henri was presenting "Roots, stem, branches and fruit of Qigong", a culmination of his 3 years of academic rigour, studying Chinese and Asian studies, whilst immersing himself in Qigong.
Kate had been diligently practicing and studying Qigong for years and at the time was undertaking a Masters degree titled "The Effects of Qigong on Stress & Wellbeing". Kate joined the conference as her mother was also a presenter - plus her own interest in Buddhism.
Engaged in 1 month
Naturally we got talking as we were both very dedicated to the internal arts, especially Chinese Energetic Arts.
We soon realised that we are very suitable for one another and that we were heading towards the same direction.
We started training, studying, walking, talking and having fun together and it was a mere month since we met that we got engaged (our engagements ceremony took place in a small Buddhist temple).
We got married three months since our first meeting, having recognised our compatibility, shared passion for Internal Arts and deep love for one another.
In search of the "Dao"
The central pillar of our relationship is our spiritual journey through life.
We are both deeply passionate about Asian cultures, Daoism, Buddhism, Yogic studies, Internal and External Martial Arts, Chinese Medicine, Qigong, Neigong, meditation, etc.
We also immerse ourselves in nature, surfing, gardening, walking, swimming and wandering about, both in cities and country sides.
A constant theme of our relationship is finding teachers. Mostly in the areas of Asian Internal Arts, but sometimes in more abstract areas such as ballet, book binding or choir singing.
The strength of our union is a shared destination beyond this life and acceptance of impermanence, knowing that all that has come together, will depart. Luckily, all that departs will come back together : )
Raised by two passionate gardeners who met in Taiwan, one a life-long surfer, the other Jungian Analyst, Kate grew up in a supportive, nourishing and fun environment in Fremantle, Western Australia. Seeing difficulties people faced - from worldly travels to local communities - Kate had an innate drive to help make people’s lives better.
Kate studied nursing, specialising in mental health with the intention to learn the system and enhance it from the inside out. In 2016 Kate travelled to China, finding herself at a little temple in the mountains learning Kung Fu and QiGong - previously unexplored areas. So profound were her experiences with the Eastern Arts, Kate has deeply studied and practiced daily since. Kate has sought and studied under teachers in China, Singapore, Malaysia, South Africa and Australia, became an internationally qualified QiGong instructor and began a master’s degree titled “The Effects of QiGong on Stress & Wellbeing”.
The Eastern Arts and cultivation practices have given Kate a richer, more colourful and spiritual meaning to her life, which she continues to explore and share with others along the way.
Born is Estonia, Henri got hooked to Daoism since the age of 13 when he read books about Daoist worldview and the story of the sage Qiu Chuji interacting with Gengis Khan.
Due to lack of Eastern Martial Arts, Henri got into boxing, becoming the champion of Estonia at the age of 15.
Henri further ventured to Asia, living years in Thailand, where he also competed professionally as a Thai boxer.
The hard style brute force martial arts gave Henri a good foundation and also a burnout, leading him towards QiGong, TaiJi, Chinese Medicine and rekindling his interest in Daoism, which he so strongly felt in his teenage years.
Henri studied Chinese language and Asian arts in Curtin University and got deeply into doing business with China for several years, acting as a consultant to several big companies in their respective fields, carving pathways to their Asia success. This however caused another sort of a burnout, namely using ones potential and creative force just to make money was not good enough, due to lack of higher purpose. Henri quit his China business and for several years, became a reclusive gardener and QiGong practitioner. Henri is very passionate to share the little that he knows about Asian culture, especially Daoism, Buddhism, Qigong, with his own scholarly pathway ongoing for many years to come.
When we first met, Qigong was the pivot of our daily practice and we whole heartedly wished to learn, practice and share these arts with others. We registered our fist joint venture "Qigong Inc" in Perth, Western Australia and started offering classes, workshops and educational lectures about Qigong.
How we came to "Cloud Wander" in Aotearoa
We arrived in New Zealand, or 'Aotearoa' in indigenous Maori, meaning 'Land of the Long White Cloud' in early 2020. We had been planning to travel to China to further pursue our studies in Qigong and Chinese Medicine, but along came Covid-19, so we swiftly changed our plans & ventured to New Zealand instead.
We arrived just before the country went into a complete lockdown, which we spent in an idyllic farm with 7 horses, 2 cows, 40 sheep, 20 goats and very few humans. Our China adventure was put to a halt and we had to reconfigure our plans.. as did most of humanity.
Arriving to New Zealand & Covid-19 coincided with a key milestone in our cultivation path. Namely, one of the leading figures in Daoist Internal Arts, Damo Mitchell, launched The Internal Arts Academy.
Previously, we studied from a great number of teachers from China, Asia, Europe and Australia in a number of different systems.
Damo Mitchell and his teachings have transformed our cultivation path and given us profoundly deeper insight into the potential of these arts. We now spend many hours daily practicing in the Internal Arts Academy and highly recommend it to anyone interested in these arts.
Since arriving to New Zealand, we have no fixed place where we live as we are new in this country. Instead, we have enjoyed roaming about the cities, mountains and forests, learning from various teachers and periodically staying in self-imposed retreats.
Our cultivation and skills have increased and deepened.
We have come to realise that Qigong is merely a tool in the cultivators toolkit and not a destination on its own. Since we are in a new country, we thought of rebranding our previous Qigong Inc and we came up with "Cloud Wanderers", which is the tradition that inspires us at this stage of life, as well as our business and website name.
We would certainly not claim ourselves to be high level by any means, mastery is still behind many mountains! However we are evermore inspired to follow the Way and share some of the drops of knowledge we have acquired from the ocean of wisdom.
"Wandering Like a Cloud" is a Chinese origin tradition, especially present amongst the ancient Daoist cultivators. The idea of "Cloud Wandering" is to have a balanced spiritual cultivation path of "one foot in, one foot out", meaning periodic seclusion for deeper practice between life in society.
Chinese character of Dao
The Chinese character of Dao is used in quite a number of ways. It is the general term for the Daoist traditions, which can be philosophical, energetic, meditative and/or religious, all stemming from the shamanic traditions of Asia and especially China. The character Dao is also popularly used in Buddhism, Confucianism & daily conversational mandarin.
The simple translation of Dao is "path, way, road". The character consists of two parts. Firstly there is Chuò 辶, which means to walk. The second bit is Shǒu 首 which pictures a head. Together, head + walk means path or way.
The head also indicates comprehending the way ahead & being able to stay on the right path so one would not get lost.