• About Cloud Wandering

    Our Journey

    Daoist Tradition

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  • Our Journey

    We (Kate & Henri Lebedev) are inspirited by the Eastern Wisdom Traditions.

    After years of search, 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", which was the culmination of his 3 years of academic rigour studying Chinese and Asian studies, whilst immersing himself in Qigong.

    Kate had been practicing Qigong for years and was at the time undertaking a Masters degree in "Health benefits of Qigong on mental health & wellbeing".  

    She joined the conference as her mother was also a presenter.

    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 Asian 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 and mediation.

    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 : )

     

  • Kate

    Henri

  • Qigong Inc

    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 were 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 in March 2020 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.

    If before we were very passionate about Qigong, then now we have come to realise that Qigong is merely a tool in 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 not go as far as claiming ourselves to be high level by any means, mastery is still behind many mountains, however we are evermore inspired the follow the Way.

     

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  • Daoist Tradition

    "Wandering Like a Cloud" is a Chinese origin tradition, especially present amongst the ancient Daoist cultivators. The idea of "Could Wandering" is to have a healthy, balanced spiritual cultivation path or "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, meditative and religious. The character Dao is also popularly used in Buddhism, Confucianism and conversational Chinese.

     

    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 indicated "knowing" the way and being able to stay on the right path so one would not get lost.

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  • Wandering like a cloud (by Damo Mitchell)

    Every experience is a form of information, an energy that is transformed down through various layers of the mind as we process and distort this information in some way (based on personal biases and dislikes). One concept of Daoist meditative practices (Nei Dan) is to try to balance out this forming of the acquired mind by working with the various facets of the consciousness.

     

    In this manner we become more aware of the nature of the acquired mind, which enables us to contact the deeper realms of true consciousness. Advanced Daoist practices attempt to silence the acquired mind for periods of time in order to allow true consciousness to shine through us. This will then begin to transform the manner in which we perceive existence and, we hope, lead towards some kind of inner transcendence.

     

    Advanced stages such as this require that we take ourselves away from the world for periods of time so that we can avoid as many of the things that contribute to the forming of the acquired mind as possible.

    Although we will never be fully free from its formation, we can try to minimise the amount of emotionally charged distraction that otherwise pulls us from our inner journey.

     

    (excerpt from "White Moon on the Mountain Peak" )

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  • Ancient Cloud Wanderers

    Daoism was never a monastic tradition. The concept of Daoist monks and priests came much later in Daoism. The teachings of the shamanic Wu people (ancient Chinese shamans) and the writings of Laozi and Zhuangzi were never designed to be interpreted within the hierarchy of a religious community. Originally known as "folk tradition", Daoism was based around the mix of periods within society and periods of self-imposed seclusion.

     

    The idea was that Daoists "wandered like a cloud" for periods of time with no fixed abode and I (author Damo Mitchell) was taught that travelling with no fixed abode was an important part of the Daoist journey. This was the perfect balance for the Xin (Chinese concept often translated as heart-mind) to learn about the world before processing those concepts and shedding layers during seclusion.

     

    The nature of the Xin (heart-mind) is to be studied with regard to how we allow our Xing (Chinese concept of our "nature") to form from within it. From here we can see that several key themes appear (continued below)...

     

    (excerpt from "White Moon on the Mountain Peak" ).

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  • A period with no fixed root...

    First, there is a period of time with no fixed root. This lack of root enables a person to understand who they are without the distortion of learned behavioural patterns coming from fixed environmental factors. Many people believe that they have developed totally as an individual in this life without being influenced by factors beyond their control.

    This is simply not the case because, to a great extent, people's views are formed by socio-economic, national and cultural location where they were born and grew up.

     

    People around the world often strongly insist that their country's or religion's view is the correct one, when in fact, if they had been born in a different location and society, they would argue the same from that position instead.

    If we stay fixed in one location for the whole of our life, this has a strong effect on our Xin (heart-mind), which exerts a strong influence on our Xing (nature).

     

    Whilst there is nothing wrong with this - it is natural that we should need to adapt to our personal surroundings - in ancient China it was deemed more useful for a full-time Daoist practitioner to free themselves from this condition at least a period of time while they allowed their Xing (nature) to adapt to different surroundings. Different circumstances produce very different people and an important aspect of searching for the Dao while "wandering like a cloud" was to try to "forget yourself", which meant to try to see how your true consciousness could adapt to each location and experience that you had along the journey you were undertaking.

     

    (excerpt from "White Moon on the Mountain Peak" ).

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  • Staying away from the noise of society (periodically)

    The second important aspect of this kind of tradition is that individuals spend periods of time away from the "noise" of society so that they could process who they really were with as little as possible in the way of outside distractions. Classically, these periods were carried out up in the mountains, partly because of raising Qi which is useful for internal meditative practices, but also because up in the mountains it was quiet.

     

    Getting away from many influences like this was a powerful way to begin dissolving the layers of acquired mind as many of these layers are only formed in the first place to enable you to communicate effectively with others. From early age humans learn to defend their own inner sensibilities by projecting themselves through the protective layers of acquired mind. When there is nobody to communicate with but yourself, many of these layers naturally begin to fall away.

     

    If you have never tried a period of time like this and you get a chance to do so, I (author Damo Mitchell) highly recommend it. The first time I entered into self-imposed seclusion was for a period of 4 weeks. It was very difficult indeed. The strain on my mental state was far harder than I had though it would be because the acquired mind wrestled with the process of starting to break down.

     

    Emotions surfaced and released themselves in an uncontrollable way as the seclusion started to take effect on me. This was quite different experience from going into retreat in a monastery or somewhere similar. This is not really seclusion; even if you are in complete silence, you still have tools for the acquired mind to attach itself to.

     

    For those who are sincerely dedicated to the Daoist path, I believe that complete seclusion is far superior to going into a monastery designed for meditation retreats, provided, of course that you have already had introduction to a system of practices to follow.

     

    (excerpt from "White Moon on the Mountain Peak" ).

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  • Stabilise the result of practice and learn how to carry these back into the outside society

    A third factor in this kind of training is that a practitioner should learn to how to stabilise the results gleaned from these periods of seclusion and then learn how to carry these back with themselves into outside society. There is no point in being able to live constantly within a state of true consciousness if the second somebody cuts in front of you in a bus queue you lose it completely and the acquired mind surfaces to make you feel angry.

     

    It is always said that the most difficult art of spiritual elevation is keeping it once you are back in the outside world. In many ways the path of "in and out of retreat" is more difficult than the monastic path of always living in a spiritual community.

     

    (excerpt from "White Moon on the Mountain Peak" ).

  • The descriptions above about the "cloud wandering" tradition and approach is an excerpt from "White Moon on the Mountain Peak", written by a world renown Daoist teacher and author Damo Mitchell.

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