Chinese New Year 2015: The Year of the Goat

19 February, 2015 at 17:14 | Posted in Chinese culture | Leave a comment
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By Lily Choo and Tanya Harrison
Epoch Times

This year, Feb. 19 marks the beginning of the Year of the Goat, from which we will enter a new Chinese zodiac year.

Chinese New Year is the most important festival to Chinese people the world over. Like the solar New Year, it represents a time for reflection, for resolutions, and new hope in the year to come.

Chinese New Year celebrations run for about 16 days, from the New Year’s Eve until the Lantern Festival on the 15th day of the first lunar month.

The Chinese lunar calendar incorporates both the lunar cycle and the position of the sun. So, using the traditional Chinese lunar calendar, the first day of the Chinese lunar year may fall anywhere between late January and the middle of February.

Chinese people have used the lunar calendar since 2600 B.C when the mythical Yellow Emperor, or Huang Di, started the first cycle of the Chinese zodiac.

According to legend, Huang Di named an animal to represent each year in a 12-year cycle that includes the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig.

Good Associations And Attribution

The Chinese character羊 (yáng), which generally refers to a goat, sheep, or ram, is considered a symbol of auspiciousness, good luck, and peace. Since ancient times, people have used 羊to symbolize good-naturedness.

羊is among the animals that Chinese people like most. It is generally gentle, calm, and quiet by nature and is a source of many things that benefit humankind.

羊 is close to the meaning of good things. As such, it is used in many Chinese characters to indicate something beneficial.

Here are a few characters related to羊

祥 (xiáng) means good omen or auspiciousness. It has a 羊 on the right.

善 (shàn) means compassion and kindness. There is a 羊on the upper part.

義 (yì) means righteousness and justice. It has a 羊on the upper part, too.

美 (měi) means perfection and beauty. There is also a 羊 on the upper part of this character.

鮮 (xiān) means fresh and tasty. You can find 羊 on the right in the character.

The Sign Of The Goat

The Goat is the eighth sign in the Chinese zodiac. If you were born in 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, or 2015, your Chinese zodiac sign is likely the goat. It is important, though, to consider the day of your birth in January or February in regard to the first day of the Chinese New Year.

Since ancient times, the goat became closely linked to Chinese people’s livelihood. Its meat and milk are highly nutritious, and its wool makes fabric that is lightweight, soft, and has other good properties. Chinese people also learned to use its fleece to make writing brushes and its skin to keep warm.

Being mostly quiet and calm, goat are considered peaceful animals. Like their animal counterpart, people born in the Year of the Goat are seen as calm individuals. Their personalities are quiet, reserved, and soothing. They tend to be easygoing and relaxed. Hanging in the background, they watch contentedly away from the limelight as others dazzle company. They enjoy life in their own quiet, individual way.

Read more: Chinese New Year 2015: The Year of the Goat


Treating Body and Mind Through the Spleen

2 December, 2014 at 13:41 | Posted in Body & Mind, Chinese culture, health | Leave a comment
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Obesity, insomnia, and depression can all result from trouble with the spleen

By Christopher Trahan

While Western medicine views disease as being biochemical or mechanical, in Chinese medicine, all disorders can involve both physical and psychological processes.

Therefore, when we talk about an organ in traditional Chinese medicine, it has a different scope than the Western organ with the same name (and for this reason, is capitalized in this article).

So, while Western spleen diseases all affect the “Spleen” of traditional Chinese medicine, the Spleen of Chinese medicine also includes other physiological functions.

In traditional Chinese medicine, the Spleen provides perhaps the most far-ranging array of physiological functions and is the most complex when compared to its Western equivalent organ.

The Spleen of Chinese medicine maintains our daily energy and metabolism. It includes our digestive system, our immune and lymphatic systems, our blood nutrients, and various aspects of our endocrine system.

The Spleen’s mental-emotional states are worry, over-thinking, pensiveness, and rumination. In modern Western psychological terms, the Spleen relates to anxiety and nervousness and some forms of depression and insomnia.

In Chinese medicine terms, the Spleen “Governs Transportation and Transformation” of food and fluids. In Western terms, this includes digestion, assimilation, the distribution of nutrients, and the utilization of lipids, hormones, and electrolytes.

Imbalances in these functions of the Spleen produce most digestive disorders, including diarrhea and constipation, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, excess or lack of appetite, obesity or emaciation, eating disorders, water retention, and skin disorders such as acne and weeping eczema.


In traditional Chinese medicine, wind, heat, cold, dryness, and dampness can unbalance the body and cause illness.

Spleen disorders are particularly affected when a person is exposed to damp environments. Damp weather aggravates conditions like diarrhea, edema, and excess mucous.

On both physical and mental levels, dampness is associated with dullness, slowness, and lack of energy. Dampness can weaken the Spleen energy, causing fatigue and lassitude, and can lead to hypothyroidism. When the Spleen is weak as a result of dampness, a person can develop environmental, seasonal, and food allergies, as well as yeast infections.


The taste associated with the Spleen is sweet. Craving sweets can indicate an imbalance in the Spleen, and over-consumption of sweets, including carbohydrates, can cause the Spleen to lose energy. Taken to the extreme, sweetness and excess dampness can lead to obesity. Deficient Spleen energy can also result in hypoglycemia and diabetes.


Spleen imbalance often occurs in combination with imbalances of other organs. Insomnia of all types relates to the heart, which is said to “house the mind” in Chinese medicine.

When people have trouble falling asleep, this relates to the blood of the Spleen failing to nourish the heart and is often due to over-thinking, anxiety, or worry.

Traditional Chinese medicine recognizes that the Spleen’s digestive function, which produces blood, relates to onset-insomnia. Chinese doctors understood the sleep-stomach connection, thousands of years before modern Western medicine discovered that some 70 percent of serotonin metabolism occurs in the gut.

Treating the Spleen

In my practice, at least 30 percent of my patients experience frequent insomnia, and most of them have trouble falling asleep, which can occur both at the start of the night or when their sleep is interrupted.

In my practice, I always use formulas combining herbs to flesh out the benefits to the Spleen and to address other organs’ imbalances.

Chinese herbal medicine treats all deficient Spleen energy with formulas featuring ginseng and other Spleen tonics such as astragalus and atractylodes.

When we treat Spleen disorders such as excess dampness, we use herbs such as hawthorn to enhance lipid digestion and utilization, and alisma to promote urination.

Global Herbal Medicine and Homeopathy

I also use global herbal medicine and homeopathy to treat spleen issues. In global herbal medicine, I use Ayurvedic and Western herbs to treat spleen syndromes.

In classical homeopathy, I treat these syndromes, including physical and mental-emotional issues, with one or more of homeopathy’s hundreds of plant-based remedies.

The homeopathic remedy Lycopodium treats digestive and mental symptoms associated with Spleen imbalances. I also use the remedy Ceanothus, which dilates the splenic artery, allowing more oxygenated blood to get to the spleen, which enhances the spleen’s function as filtration.

I have found that classical homeopathy often achieves even more impressive results than traditional Chinese medicine and global herbal medicine when it comes to treating more severe psychological pathologies such as depression, anxiety, and insomnia. Homeopathy is also very effective in some cases of hormonal and immune disorders, including infertility and allergies.

Dr. Christopher Trahan, O.M.D., L.Ac., is the medical director of the Olympus Center for Holistic and Integrative Medicine. He is nationally board-certified in Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine (NCCA) and is a classically trained homeopathic physician. He has been in clinical practice for over 30 years. Complimentary consultation:

via Treating Body and Mind Through the Spleen

Shen Yun 2015 World Tour (Trailer)

4 October, 2014 at 10:20 | Posted in Chinese culture, Shen Yun | Leave a comment
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Trailer: 2015 World Tour

The Seven Emotional Factors in Chinese Medicine

29 June, 2014 at 09:04 | Posted in Body & Mind, Chinese culture, health | Leave a comment
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By Jennifer Dubowsky,

Last month, I wrote about “The Six Evils” which is how Traditional Chinese Medicine classifies the external causes of disease. Today I’m going to talk about the internal causes of illness which are called the “Seven Emotions” and are Anger, Fear, Shock, Grief, Joy, Pensiveness and Worry. These emotions are considered the major internal sources of disease in Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Remember how you felt when you fell in love? When you were unjustly accused of wrongdoing? When some jerk took your parking space and smirked at you from the window? Yes? Then I don’t have to convince you that emotions have a huge effect on our bodies. Think about how your chest and stomach tighten when you are upset or how your heart beats faster and adrenaline rushes through your veins when you are angry or afraid.

Emotional responses can cause a cascade of chemical reactions in the body stimulating some organ systems and shutting down others. It is normal and healthy to have emotional responses. However, when the reactions are severe and/or prolonged, they can injure your organs and make you more vulnerable to disease.

In Chinese Medicine, the Seven Emotions are each associated with an organ. Therefore, it follows that if you have a strong negative emotion, the organ associated with that emotion will be affected.

Below, I have listed the Seven Emotions and their associated organs.
1. Anger – Liver
2. Fear – Kidneys
3. Fright/Shock (acute condition) – Kidneys/Heart
4. Joy – Heart
5. Pensiveness (excessive thinking and mental stimulation.) – Spleen
6. Worry – Spleen/Lungs
7. Grief – Lungs

For example, prolonged grief will affect your lungs. The reverse is also true – if you have a long term physical problem, let’s use your lungs again, you will be affected emotionally and you may experience feelings of sadness. It’s a bit of a chicken and egg situation.  Here’s another example: if you carry a lot of anger with you for a long time, it will begin to affect the health of your liver and cause an imbalance. Also, if you have chronic liver disease, you might develop a shorter temper, have trouble tolerating frustration, and even become depressed.

This ancient concept of the Seven Emotions illustrates the importance of holistic treatment of disease because our bodies are not isolated parts. The WHOLE person needs to be treated. A disease or physical problem affects the rest of the body and the mind. Healing includes treating all the psychological, physical and spiritual imbalances.

Jennifer Dubowsky, LAc, is a licensed acupuncturist with a practice in downtown Chicago, Illinois, since 2002. Dubowsky earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Kinesiology from University of Illinois in Chicago and her Master of Science degree in Oriental Medicine from Southwest Acupuncture College in Boulder, Colorado. During her studies, she completed an internship at the Sino-Japanese Friendship Hospital in Beijing, China. Dubowsky has researched and written articles on Chinese medicine and has given talks on the topic. She maintains a popular blog about health and Chinese medicine at Acupuncture Blog Chicago. Adventures in Chinese Medicine is her first book. You can find her at

via The Seven Emotional Factors in Chinese Medicine

See also: Stay Balanced Emotionally, Feel Healthier Instantly—What Ancient Chinese Doctors Say

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Understanding the Yin and Yang of Foods

3 May, 2014 at 07:17 | Posted in Body & Mind, Chinese culture, Food, health | 1 Comment

By Margaret Trey, Ph.D.

The ancient Chinese philosophy of yin and yang may sound obscure and difficult to understand for many of us living in the West. Yet when we understand a few basics about the yin and yang nature of foods, we can put our knowledge to very practical use, such as weight loss and cutting cravings.

Let us begin with the story about Doreen (not her real name), who was one of my regular clients years ago. One time, upon my return from a three-week vacation, she came to see me saying she felt bloated and was experiencing difficulty focusing on her job at a stock exchange.

Her body was indeed very bloated around the abdomen. I asked what she had been doing, and she promptly told me that she was trying to lose weight. She had been going to the gym, attending yoga classes, and had put herself on a weight-loss diet. But despite these efforts, she found her yoga leggings were feeling even tighter in the waist.

I asked Doreen what she had been eating. “Oh, very healthy foods,” she replied.

To get a more precise response, I asked Doreen what she had eaten for dinner, lunch, and breakfast the day before, and she said she had eaten mainly fruits, like watermelons, pineapples, mangoes, apples, and grapes, as well as lots of salad.

According to yin-yang philosophy, raw and cold foods are both yin. The nature of yin energy is relaxing but also expansive, which was evident in her expanded belly. Another symptom of an expanded yin condition is the inability to focus.

I told Doreen that if she really wanted to get rid of her distended feeling and to lose the weight around her waist, she should immediately stop her raw-food diet.

To help normalize her yin condition, I recommended she eat more yang foods such as different types of whole grains, sea vegetables, miso, sea salt, and root vegetables, and that she cook her food. This diet worked. Once she found the right balance of yin and yang foods, her bloating disappeared, and she felt much better.

Yin and Yang Qualities of Foods 

You can use the chart below to help you understand the yin and yang qualities of foods.

Yin Qualities
Farther away from the equator

Texture and Shape
Light and soft
Less dense/Loose structure

Plant Growth
Above ground
Rapid (less time to grow)
Thrive in hot weather

Taste and Nutrients
Higher in potassium
Lower in sodium

Greens and whites

Season and Cooking Style
Raw Foods

Yang Qualities
Compact or small
Nearer to the equator

Texture and Shape
Dark and hard
More dense/Tight structure

Plant Growth
Below ground
Slow (more time to grow)
Thrive in cold weather

Taste and Nutrients
Lower in potassium
Higher in sodium

Reds and oranges

Season and Cooking Style
Cooked Foods
Nishime (stew)/bake/deep-fry/BBQ

When you learn to identify the yin and yang characteristics of foods you, it can help you choose foods that best support your genetic disposition, existing constitution, and lifestyle. This includes the location you live. For example, if you live in a cold temperate region, it is best to go easy on coconut oil, which is more suited for the tropics or warmer climates.

To determine if a food is more yin or more yang, there are four important factors to consider:

• Where it grows: Does it grow near the equator or in a cool temperate climate?
• How it grows: Does it grow fast or slowly? What direction does it grow in?
• Sodium and potassium content: How much sodium does it have compared to the amount of potassium?
• Warming and cooling: What effect does it have on the body? Does it warm or cool the body?

Yin foods have a cooling effect. They are larger, have more potassium, and grow above and away from the ground. Yang foods have a warming effect, are more compact and smaller, have more sodium, and grow beneath the ground.

It is important to remember that the dietary needs and requirements of different people living in different parts of the world will be different based on climate. So wherever you live, consider eating foods that were eaten by the traditional societies and communities who lived there.

Also, whenever possible, choose foods that are wholesome, not irradiated, genetically modified, or contaminated with chemicals or pesticides. Buy organic, locally grown, and in-season foods to maximize your nourishment.

How to Balance 

According to ancient Taoist philosophy, good health is a state in which the opposing and interconnected forces of yin and yang are balanced in the body. So, if you are naturally more yin, you should eat more yang foods, and when you become more yang, you can eat more yin foods.

Most people need to eat both yin and yang foods to achieve balance. When your yin and yang energies are balanced, you will feel calm, and your moods won’t bounce up and down like a yo-yo.

If you, like Doreen, eat a lot of fruits and green leafy salads, which are all foods grown above and away from the ground, you may become yin, cold, unfocussed, and have trouble completing tasks. Simply eating more root vegetables, whole grains, and fish and less cold salads, sugar, and fruits will help you to regain balance.

And if you eat too much yang food, you may feel uptight, stressed, overly focused, and unable to relax. To correct this imbalance, it is better to eat foods toward the center of the Yin and Yang Food-Balance Chart. This includes whole grains, vegetables, and locally grown fruits.

Likewise, it is important to match different cooking methods with different seasons. Do more light cooking in summer and on warmer days, and more baking, pressure-cooking, stewing, and nishime dishes with root vegetables in winter and on colder days.

During summer or if you live near the equator, it is fine to eat tropical fruits, such as watermelons and coconuts, which are more yin. If you live in the tropics, eating too much meat and other yang foods may make you feel contracted and uptight. However, for those living in cold climates, like the Inuit, eating mostly yang foods, such as meats, helps the body to stay warm.

Understanding the yin and yang energies of foods will help you to understand how to use food as natural medicine. You will know that it is better to have warm miso soup (yang) than to have cold tropical juice or fruit if you have an inflamed throat or swollen glands, which generally indicate a yin condition.

A Balanced Diet Cuts Cravings 

Chemicals, alcohol, and sugar are on the extreme yin end of the fulcrum. Salt, eggs, and red meats are on the extreme yang. Whole grains, various kinds of vegetables, nuts, and white-fleshed fish are in the middle of the spectrum. When we crave foods, it’s usually the foods at either ends of the spectrum—be it chocolates or salty snacks.

Cravings are a way your body talks to you. It is the body’s natural way of seeking balance. If you eat more foods on one end of the spectrum, you will crave foods on the other end of the chart. For instance, if you eat a lot of salty yang foods, your body will crave sweets and sugar to balance itself.

Traditional meals often have a good yin-yang balance. For example, meats (yang) are traditionally served with wine (yin), and tempura or fried foods (yang) are served with a dainty dish of grated daikon (yin). So the next time you eat something extremely yang, remember to balance it with something yin.

It is best to eat the foods toward the center of the fulcrum of the balance chart. If possible, avoid or reduce your intake of sugars, and use salt sparingly. The key is moderation and choosing foods that maintain balance.

Taking Care of Ourselves 

Most of us work and study hard and find it is easy to neglect caring for ourselves.

We often do not give ourselves adequate time to relax, eat wholesome meals, and do the things that truly recharge us. The longer we live an unbalanced lifestyle, the more difficult it is to regain our equilibrium.

Fortunately, the human body is resilient and can bounce back from the stresses and challenging life situations. Choosing to eat foods that help to restore our health and vitality can greatly support recovery, improve our lifestyle, and bring balance into all aspects of our lives.

If you are looking for inspiration to start your journey, you can read some of the other articles I wrote about how different foods can be used as natural remedies to restore health and balance. To find these articles, simply type my name into the search field at

Some past article topics were: How apples can alleviate mild food poisoning and remove gallstones, how carrots and daikon can dissolve solidified fat deposits, how lotus root can help get rid of mucus, how adzuki bean tea can revitalize and tonify the kidneys, and how sweet vegetables can help curb sugar cravings.

Dr. Margaret Trey has a doctorate in counseling from The University of South Australia. Also trained in oriental medicine, shiatsu, and macrobiotics, Dr. Trey is a wellness advocate, counselor, and researcher focusing on the positive effects of meditation.

via Understanding the Yin and Yang of Foods

Year of the Horse: What Chinese Say of People Born Year of the Horse

1 February, 2014 at 10:06 | Posted in Chinese culture | Leave a comment


By Ying Wen
Epoch Times

According to the cycle of the five elements in the Chinese Zodiac, 2014 is the Year of the Wooden Horse, which is regarded as a year of quick victories, unexpected adventures, and surprising romances.

Five Elemental Signs Start Dates, End Dates:
Metal horse 30 January 1930, 16 February 1931
Water horse 15 February 1942, 4 February 1943
Wood horse 3 February 1954, 23 January 1955
Fire horse 21 January 1966, 8 February 1967
Earth horse 7 February 1978, 27 January 1979
Metal horse 27 January 1990, 14 February 1991
Water horse 12 February 2002, 31 January 2003
Wood horse 31 January 2014, 18 February 2015
Fire horse 17 February 2026, 5 February 2027

Chinese people believe the horse is one of the most important creatures in the world for mankind to befriend.

The elegant horse symbolizes a strong character with aspiration for straightforward momentum and goals. A horse is known to be one of the quickest animals to learn independence: for example, a foal can stand up less than 10 minutes after birth and begins to walk almost immediately after that.

It is believed that those who are born in the Year of the Horse usually have superior manners, and they pay more attention to their appearance in terms of style and accessories. They tend to be generous and like extravagance.

Generally, they are free-spirited, liberated, and always on the move, yearning for the freedom to roam. Their attitude toward everything is positive and straightforward. As independent as the horse, they don’t like to be suppressed and they don’t easily accept help from others.

Usually open-minded, it is easy for them to make a wide range of friends. Their eloquence and talent of persuasion make them natural leaders. Being cheerful and kind, they can also get along easily with other people. Gifted with insightful comprehension, they often seem to know what others are thinking.

People born in the Year of the Horse have a wide variety of interests, such as drama, music, sports, etc. They are usually very athletic and sports-oriented.

Being highly diligent and creative, they often progress directly towards their goals. They learn new skills easily and quickly. Their personality makes them excellent business people who can take on an amazing volume of tasks and complete them with equally amazing accuracy.

However, once difficulties and frustrations arise, they can be impatient and tend to shift direction easily. They dislike doing things alone and are most satisfied when they are embraced, acclaimed, and admired by others on a team.

Horse people are high-spirited and witty. At critical moments, they have a flair for making the best of a situation, which makes them quite impressive.

Furthermore, they can easily acquire wealth but not necessarily keep it because they are always changing their minds and strategies.

Due to their open and loose nature, they are not, however, good at keeping secrets. Another significant shortcoming is that they are inclined to invade others’ privacy.

As impulsive as a horse can be, they like to try everything without thinking and often fall short. Fortunately, they are optimistic people and never surrender to feelings of failure. Therefore, they are able to eventually achieve their goals.

Generally speaking, they have incredible talents and know how to respond quickly and deal with things effectively. Since they are quite aware of their innate talents, they are often arrogant, selfish, and ambitious, and have blatant disregard for others. Thus, they will likely not feel sorry once they get what they want, even when it’s at others’ expense. This personality trait is their biggest stumbling block.

As for romance, they can express their sentiments directly. Often emotional, their feelings are easily hurt, yet they can sacrifice everything for true love. This characteristic is one of the factors that make their romantic relationships fragile.

Due to the seemingly contradictory nature of the personality traits of this sign, Horse people can be endearing and at the same time infuriating.

The Wood Horse is fortunate, though, in that this “wood” element balances the best and the worst characteristics of Horse people. The element of wood makes them more stable so that they are less capricious and less prone to emotionality than their other Horse counterparts.

That is how the Chinese see those born under the Sign of the Horse.

via Year of the Horse: What Chinese Say of People Born Year of the Horse


Chinese New Year 2014: Year of the Horse

26 January, 2014 at 07:09 | Posted in Chinese culture | Leave a comment

By Lily Choo
Epoch Times

The Chinese New Year in 2014 is celebrated on Friday, Jan. 31, marking the beginning of the Year of the Horse in the Chinese zodiac.

According to the traditional Chinese lunar calendar, the first day of the Chinese lunar year may fall anywhere between late January and the middle of February. It is the most important festival of the Chinese people.

The Chinese lunar calendar incorporates both the lunar cycle and the position of the sun. According to legend, the calendar dates back to 2600 B.C., when the mythical Yellow Emperor started the first cycle of the Chinese zodiac and named an animal to represent each year in the 12-year cycle.

The 12 animal signs are rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig.

The Sign of the Horse

If you were born in 1918, 1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, or 2014, you were born under the sign of the horse.

The horse is one of the Chinese people’s favorite animals and has become closely linked to people’s lives. It provided a quick and useful mode of transportation before the invention of vehicles.

One of the ways the horse serves human beings is to give people a ride to their destination. Therefore, the horse is not only a symbol of travel, but also a sign of speedy success.

The horse ranks seventh among the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac. People born in the Year of the Horse are highly animated, active, and energetic. They are typically very elegant, independent, gentle, and hardworking.

Their most striking characteristic is their strong self-confidence. Thus the Year of the Horse is a time for all people to go forward confidently in the direction of their goals and dreams, just as the horse gallops at top speed toward its destination.

New Year Traditions

Chinese New Year, also called Spring Festival, is the most important of the traditional Chinese festivals. The celebration usually lasts 15 days, from New Year’s Day to the Lantern Festival, which is the 15th day of the first month of the Chinese lunar calendar.

There are many traditions and customs associated with the Chinese New Year. Families thoroughly clean their house in order to sweep away any ill fortune and to make way for good luck. Windows and doors are decorated with delicate red paper cutouts and poetic couplets—pairs of corresponding lines of poetry that express people’s joy and hope for the New Year.

Fireworks, firecrackers, red packages, the lion dance, the dragon dance, and lanterns with riddles are other common customs and traditions observed during the Chinese New Year period.

Very importantly, many families gather for a big family reunion dinner on New Year’s Eve, and the Chinese people also pay visits to their relatives as part of the New Year celebration.

New Year Wishes

The arrival of the Year of Horse is a time to reconcile differences, let go of all grudges, and sincerely wish everyone peace, health, and happiness. Here are some of the most popular New Year wishes:

Lucky/Auspicious Year of the Horse! (馬年吉祥, mǎ nián jí xiáng)
Instant success when the horse arrives! (馬到成功, mǎ dào chéng gong)
Take the lead upon the horse!  (一馬當先, yī mǎ dāng xiān)
Peace and good health in the Year of the Horse! (馬年安康, mǎ nián ān kāng)

via Chinese New Year 2014: Year of the Horse

Chinese Commentator: Shen Yun ‘Makes a Chinese Person Feel Proud’

25 January, 2014 at 10:54 | Posted in China, Chinese culture, Shen Yun, Society | Leave a comment

By Epoch Times Staff

NEW YORK—Wang Beiji said Shen Yun Performing Arts has become part of his life.

Mr. Wang, a Chinese commentator, left China a little over two years ago. Since then, he has attended four Shen Yun performances.

“It’s is something to be waited earnestly for each year,” he said.

The performance at Lincoln Center on the evening of Jan. 17 was the second one he had attended this year.

True Culture

“It hasn’t been long since we left mainland China,” Mr. Wang said. “But I can already sense that a lot of [other] Chinese performing arts are mental garbage.”

Mr. Wang said that modern Chinese cultural performances lack depth, and that such performances are a hodgepodge of arbitrary things such as karaoke.

But, Shen Yun is different.

It was formed in 2006 by leading Chinese artists who founded the company in New York. Their mission is to revive traditional Chinese culture, something that is nearly lost in China today.

“Other Chinese performances contain too much of an aggressive feeling, that stuff has filled and numbed all of mainland Chinese people’s minds,” Mr. Wang said.

“After you leave China, come to the U.S, and watch Shen Yun, you become clear of what is garbage,” he said. “You discover the pure culture of the ethnic groups—which is pure as well as natural.”

Shen Yun performs ethnic and folk dances, celebrating China’s vast and varied ethnic groups such as the Manchurian, Mongolian, and Miao. The Miao women are known for their rich adornment of of silver headdresses, necklaces, and bracelets. Before the Qin Dynasty, the Miao lived near the middle reaches of the Yangtze River.

The distinct lifestyles and subcultures of the ethnic groups are a result from their local topography, climate, and religious traditions.


Mr. Wang recalls the first time he saw a Shen Yun performance. It was January 2012. He had bought a ticket for a seat right in the center of the first row. He distinctly remembers the people next to him feeling the emotion of the performance and crying.

“The audience was very emotional and excited,” he recalled.

Each Shen Yun dance is accompanied by an orchestra that plays original composition.

The Shen Yun Orchestra consists of Eastern and Western instruments, blending instruments such as the violin with the stirring tones of the erhu (two-stringed Chinese violin). A strong brass section captures the grandeur of a western symphonic orchestra, as Chinese instruments such as the pipa (Chinese lute) play distinctly Chinese melodies.

The Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra began touring on its own in 2012, and last year, Mr. Wang attended the concert at Carnegie Hall.

Sharing the Culture

In Shen Yun, classical Chinese dancers share a stage with an advanced, interactive digital backdrop that transports the audience from places such as the snowy cusps of Tibetan mountains to the golden pavilions of the Tang Dynasty.

Mr. Wang noted the benefits of merging Eastern and Western performing arts techniques.

“Sitting here today, the people sitting next to my wife and I, was a white person and an African-American person,” he said. “They were very into the show.”

“Westerners like to hear symphonic concerts, watch ballet,” he said. “Shen Yun will become something that connects Westerners and Chinese.”

“The Chinese people will also one day develop the tradition of seeing Shen Yun,” Mr. Wang said. “Shen Yun is something that Westerners and the Chinese can have in common in spirit.”

“It makes a Chinese person feel proud.”

With reporting by NTD and Amelia Pang

New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has four touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world. For more information, visit Shen Yun Performing Arts.

The Epoch Times considers Shen Yun Performing Arts the significant cultural event of our time. We have proudly covered audience reactions since Shen Yun’s inception in 2006.

via Chinese Commentator: Shen Yun ‘Makes a Chinese Person Feel Proud’ » The Epoch Times

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Actor’s Heart, Soul, and Eyes Opened to Beautiful Chinese Culture Through Shen Yun

Chinese Bamboo Strips Revealed as First Known Times Table

23 January, 2014 at 07:37 | Posted in archaeology, Chinese culture, Science | Leave a comment

By Cassie Ryan
Epoch Times

Scientists in China have aligned fragments of bamboo with Chinese calligraphic writing on it to recreate a mathematical device used 2,300 years ago, making it the world’s oldest known decimal multiplication table.

In 2008, the researchers at Tsinghua University in Beijing received almost 2,500 decrepit bamboo strips from a donor, who had bought them at a market in Hong Kong. They date back to about 305 B.C. from the Warring States period before China was unified in the Qin Dynasty.

Each strip was around 0.3-0.5 inches wide and up to 20 inches long with a vertical line of calligraphy in black ink.

Twenty-one of the strips were marked with only numbers, and formed a matrix structure when arranged correctly. The top row and right-hand column contain the same 19 numbers (from right to left and top to bottom–0.5, the numbers 1 to 9, and multiples of 10 from 10 to 90.

“The strips were all mixed up because the strings that used to tie each manuscript together to form a scroll had long decayed,” said researcher Li Junming, according to the journal Nature, adding that it was “like putting together a jigsaw puzzle” because some parts were broken and others were missing. “It’s effectively an ancient calculator.”

The matrix can be used in several ways, for example the entries where each row and column meet are the results of multiplying those numbers, and any whole or half integer between 0.5 and 99.5 can be calculated.

The team think the system may have been used by officials to calculate land surface area, crop yields, and taxes. “We can even use the matrix to do divisions and square roots,” historian Feng Lisheng told Nature. “But we can’t be sure that such complicated tasks were performed at the time.”

“Such an elaborate multiplication matrix is absolutely unique in Chinese history,” he added. Previously, the earliest known Chinese tables were used during the Qin Dynasty from 221 to 206 B.C.

via Chinese Bamboo Strips Revealed as First Known Times Table: photo 2

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Chinese Character for Buddha: Fó 佛

19 January, 2014 at 15:28 | Posted in Chinese culture | Leave a comment

By Cindy Chan
Epoch Times

The Chinese character 佛 fó stands for Buddha and is a term phonetically translated from Sanskrit, an ancient Indian language.

佛 is a phono-semantic compound, a type of Chinese character consisting of a sound component and a meaning component.

In 佛, the meaning is provided by 亻 (rén) on the left, which is a variant of the character 人 (rén), referring to humankind, people, or a human being. The sound is contributed by 弗 (fú) on the right.

When the term 佛 was first introduced in China, it was phonetically translated into Chinese as 佛陀 (fó tuó), 浮陀 (fú tuó), 佛圖 (fó tú), or 浮圖 (fú tú), among other variations.

Later, the Chinese people contracted the term Buddha to a single character, 佛 (fó).

Buddha means “an enlightened being,” one who has become enlightened through cultivating (improving) one’s character and attained immense wisdom.

Such a sentient being has a complete understanding of the entire universe, including the mysteries of life, humanity, and every dimension of existence, and is truly able to distinguish good from bad, righteous from evil.

Examples of terms that contain 佛 include 佛意 (fó yì), a compassionate intent; 佛像 (fó xiàng), a Buddhist image or statue; and 佛經 (fó jīng), Buddhist scripture or sutra.

The Buddha School of cultivation practice is called 佛家 (fó jiā), or the family (家, jiā) of Buddha. In the Buddha School, to return to one’s innate goodness, one cultivates the Buddha Fa (佛法, fó fǎ), or simply Fa (法, fǎ), the Truth of the universe.

Buddhism is called 佛教 (fó jiào), literally “Buddha teaching,” where 教 (jiào) means teaching/to teach.

佛性一出, 震動十方世界” (fó xìng yī chū, zhèn dòng shí fāng shì jiè) states that “when one’s Buddha nature (佛性, fó xìng) emerges, it will shake ‘the world of ten directions.’”

The “world of ten directions” refers to the Buddha School’s conception of the universe.

佛光普照, 禮義圓明 (fó guāng pǔ zhào, lǐ yì yuán míng) states that the “Buddha light (佛光, fó guāng) illuminates everywhere and rectifies all abnormalities.”

It explains that the energy emitted from the bodies of those who cultivate the Buddha Fa can rectify all abnormal conditions.

via Chinese Character for Buddha: Fó 佛

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Shen Yun ‘Phenomenal,’ Says Former Secretary of State

9 January, 2014 at 17:54 | Posted in Chinese culture, Shen Yun | Leave a comment

By Epoch Times

OTTAWA, Canada—Former cabinet minister David Kilgour has seen Shen Yun Performing Arts seven times, and each time he said he was blown away by the beauty and synchronization of the dance and music in Shen Yun’s portrayal of the traditional Chinese culture.

“I think it’s one of the most uplifting shows that one can see anywhere in the world and I must admit I’ve been in many, many countries in the world,” Mr. Kilgour said after the Friday night show at Ottawa’s National Arts Centre.

“It is phenomenal. The dedication of the dancers, the singers, the choreography, the visuals, the costumes, the music—it’s all there.”

He said he thought last year’s show had reached the peak of excellence—that is, until he saw this year’s show. Shen Yun produces an all-new show each year.

“It’s a show that was better this year than it’s ever been. Last year I thought I wouldn’t be able to say that—how can it get better—but it did. This year’s show is better than last year’s show and I don’t know how it can get any better.”

With a name that roughly translates as “the beauty of divine beings dancing,” the New York-based classical Chinese dance and music company brings together dedicated artists from around the world in order to spur a renaissance of the Middle Kingdom’s 5,000-year-old traditional culture—a culture that was almost destroyed as a result of various destructive communist campaigns, most notably the Cultural Revolution.

As well as story-based dances that depict myths and legends from ancient China, Shen Yun presents a few pieces portraying the peaceful resistance of practitioners of Falun Dafa, also known as Falun Gong, in response to persecution by the communist regime.

Mr. Kilgour is a well-known human rights defender who has worked to end the abuse of Falun Gong practitioners in China. He noted the guiding principles of the spiritual discipline—truthfulness, compassion, forbearance—which are rooted in ancient Chinese culture.

“The values of Falun Dafa, truth, compassion, forbearance for example, are far more consistent with 5,000 years of Chinese history than the Marxism/Leninism of the government there now. The regime in Beijing has imported a terrible man—Karl Marx—and they’ve imposed his philosophy on the people of China and it doesn’t fit at all.”

Using the medium of classical Chinese dance and live orchestral music, Shen Yun captures the very spirit of traditional Chinese culture, bringing ancient stories and historic characters to life on stage.

“It shows the positive side of 5,000 years of Chinese culture, that’s the important thing,” Mr. Kilgour said.

“China’s culture is so rich and so deep, and it’s all in this show, so I hope men and women and young people and children of all ages and all cultures and all backgrounds can see it. I’m so happy that the National Arts Centre here in Ottawa was full tonight, and I gather it’s full for tomorrow and that Canadians are showing an interest.”

Mr. Kilgour held several senior roles while in government including Secretary of State for Asia Pacific. He currently takes up the causes of many disadvantaged groups and travels the world to advocate for human rights.

Reporting by NTD Television and Joan Delaney

New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has four touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world. Shen Yun’s World Company will perform two more shows in Ottawa before continuing on to Montreal. For more information, visit Shen Yun Performing Arts.

The Epoch Times considers Shen Yun Performing Arts the significant cultural event of our time. We have proudly covered audience reactions since Shen Yun’s inception in 2006.


via Shen Yun ‘Phenomenal,’ Says Former Secretary of State » The Epoch Times

The Fundamentals of Chinese Medicine

17 December, 2013 at 07:37 | Posted in Body & Mind, Chinese culture, health | Leave a comment
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By Jingduan Yang, M.D.

Chinese medicine is a complete healing system that first appeared in written form around 100 B.C. Since that time, China, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam have developed their own distinct versions of the original Chinese system.

Qi (also spelled “chi”) is an essential concept in Chinese medicine. Qi is a form of vital energy that exists both inside and outside the human body. At the root of every function of the human body and the universe around us is a form of qi.

Chinese medicine describes human physiology and psychology in terms of qi, correlating qi with specific mental and physical processes and emotional states. Different kinds of qi commonly referred to in Chinese medicine include blood qi, organ qi, nutrition qi, meridian qi, and pathogenic qi. Pathogenic can enter the body from sources such as wind, dampness, heat, cold, and dryness.

The quality of qi is described in terms of yin and yang. Yin and yang are opposite energies but exist interdependently. Yin qi is defined as cold or cooling energy, and yang qi is defined as hot or warming energy.

To be healthy, a person needs to have a balance of yin and yang because yang needs yin’s nourishment in order to function, and yin needs yang in order to be produced and utilized. Human beings are considered healthy when qi is circulating freely and there is a balanced flow of yin and yang.

When yin qi is deficient, then yang qi is in excess, and symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats, anxiety, restlessness, elevated blood pressure, and constipation can manifest.

When yang qi is deficient, yin qi is in excess, and symptoms such as increased sensation of cold, feelings of fatigue, diarrhea, slow metabolism with water retention, low blood pressure, and psychomotor retardation can occur.

In Chinese, the words for the different emotions are followed by the word “qi.” For example, anger is called “anger qi” and joy is called “joyful qi.” Therefore, when an intervention is made with acupuncture or Chinese herbal medicine, it not only aims to affect the physical functions of the body, but also the mental functions and emotions.


Qi circulates through energy channels called meridians. The meridians form a web-like system that connects different parts of the body together and supplies qi to every part of the body. Chinese medicine relates each meridian with specific mental, physical, and emotional functions.

In Chinese medicine, mental functions and emotions are not confined to the brain but are viewed as the interaction between the brain and the meridians. Another way of looking at it is that the brain is part of each individual meridian, and each meridian’s health affects the brain.

The lung meridian is associated with grief, and thus people in the grieving process may be more susceptible to upper respiratory infections. The biomedical model might explain this reaction in terms of diminished immune responsiveness due to chronic stress induced by grief. Chinese medicine would characterize the problem as an emotional stressor causing imbalance in the lung meridian, thus causing it to become deficient in qi.


In the West, one of the most well-known treatment methods of Chinese medicine is acupuncture, which is also one of the oldest treatment methods. Acupuncturists insert extremely thin needles into the body at strategic points in order to rebalance the flow of yin and yang through the meridians

Acupuncture treatments are used alone or integrated with conventional medicine to treat a variety of psychiatric conditions, such as depression, anxiety, insomnia, pain, addiction, and depression.

In Chinese medicine, major depression is seen as the extreme psychiatric manifestation of an excess of yin and a deficiency of yang. Mania is the opposite, being the result of an extreme manifestation of excessive yang and deficient yin.

The abnormal transition between extreme yin and extreme yang is similar to the pattern of cycling in bipolar disorders. Thus, acupuncturists place needles in the body with the goal of rebalancing yin and yang.

Dr. Yang is a board-certified psychiatrist and is a fourth-generation doctor of Chinese medicine. His website is

via The Fundamentals of Chinese Medicine

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Chinese Character for Righteousness: Yì 義

28 October, 2013 at 07:40 | Posted in Body & Mind, Chinese culture, Spirituality | Leave a comment

By Cindy Chan
Epoch Times

義 yì, the Chinese character for righteousness, contains broad inner meaning, encompassing moral values such as justice, honesty, loyalty, and trustworthiness.

When mentioning 義, people might first think of one of the four great classical novels of Chinese literature, “Romance of the Three Kingdoms” (三國演義, pronounced sān guó yǎn yì), literally “three kingdoms demonstrate righteousness.”

The novel dramatizes the events and lives of feudal lords and other historical figures of the turbulent era from the late Han Dynasty to the end of the Three Kingdoms Period (A.D. 169–280).

During this epoch, the profound inner meaning of 義, along with other qualities such as wisdom and resourcefulness, was thoroughly demonstrated through the contest of strength among the three dominant states—the Wei, Shu, and Wu.

Through the tales about Zhuge Liang, who exemplified trustworthiness and loyalty to the nation, and anecdotes of Guan Yu’s sense of justice, among numerous other legends, people came to truly understand the essence of 義, how its surface and inner meanings are related, how it manifests at deeper levels, and how it is exhibited in action.

These stories have exerted tremendous influence on the Chinese people for generations.

via Chinese Character for Righteousness: Yì 義 » The Epoch Times

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Chinese Character for Wisdom: Zhì 智

25 October, 2013 at 07:19 | Posted in Body & Mind, Chinese culture, Spirituality | Leave a comment

By Cindy Chan
Epoch Times

智 zhì is the Chinese character for wisdom, intelligence, and knowledge.

The character consists of three components. On the top left, 矢 shǐ is the radical/character for an arrow or dart, and also refers to an oath or vow. On the top right, 口 kǒu is the radical/character for mouth. Together, they make up the character 知 zhī, to know.

知 (zhī) provides the pronunciation for 智 (zhì). It also conveys the meaning of speaking in an accurate or precise manner, having the knowledge to say what is true.

On the bottom of 智 (zhì) is the radical/character 日 (rì), which means the sun, day, or daytime.

Thus, the combination of 知 and 日 expresses the ability to speak correctly every day, symbolizing a lifetime of wisdom, intelligence, learning, and good judgment.

In Confucian thought, 智 is one of the most fundamental of all virtues and one of the most important qualities of ideal human character, along with 仁 (rén), humaneness or benevolence; 義 (yì), righteousness; 禮 (lǐ), propriety; and 信 (xìn), faithfulness and sincerity.

智仁勇 (zhì rén yǒng), which refers to wisdom, benevolence, and courage, are the three essential attributes of a gentleman as defined by Confucius in an early code of ethics.

Other terms that contain 智 include 智力 (zhì lì), intellect or intellectual power; 智慧 (zhì huì), wisdom, intelligence, or sagacity; 智能 (zhì néng), wisdom and ability; 智謀 (zhì móu), resourcefulness, or intelligence combined with strategy; and 智齒 (zhì chǐ), wisdom tooth.

智勇雙全 (zhì yǒng shuāng quán) describes a person who is both wise and brave.

via Chinese Character for Wisdom: Zhì 智 » The Epoch Times

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The Art of Deep Breathing

28 September, 2013 at 07:32 | Posted in Body & Mind, Chinese culture | Leave a comment
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By Tysan Lerner

Fall is sweeping in fast, and suddenly I find myself feeling a bit sad. The summer is over, my kids are getting older fast, and … Wait, why is that Dove commercial making me cry?

It turns out fall is the season associated with grief, according to Chinese medicine, as well as the season of the lungs.

Everything is interconnected. Even when an organ system is a little out of balance, you will feel it. According to ancient Chinese science, every organ has an associated emotion. For lungs, it’s the emotion of grief, which affects the health of the lungs.

So now that fall winds are sweeping summer away, cleaning up the air with a fresh cool breeze and getting the earth ready for winter, you too can prepare your body. You can clean up your lungs, keeping them healthy and strong by incorporating a deep breathing routine into your life.

When grieving, simply take a few deep breaths, go for a walk, and notice the sun, the trees, and the sky. Soon you’ll find you are no longer choked up.

Deep Breathing

When you breathe deeply, you’ll inevitably bring yourself out of a stress state and into a calm state. To breathe deeply, it is important to use your diaphragm to draw in your breath.

Many people can breathe deeply into their chest, but they are missing out on the calming effects breathing can have when they breathe into their belly and pelvis.

Not only will you be able to strengthen your belly-flattening muscles when you get belly breathing down, but you will also improve hip stability and bring your body into a deep state of calm—deeper than you may have ever experienced.

Belly breathing can be difficult to experience if you haven’t practiced it before. Some people find it while standing, others while lying on their back, and some can’t find it unless they are kneeling on their hands and knees. Choose a position to start exploring your belly breath.

As you inhale, expand your belly out as if it were a balloon puffing up with air. Try to leave your chest muscles out of it. Think of breathing all the way down into the bottom of your pelvis.

As you exhale, squeeze the air out of you as though you were squeezing toothpaste out of a tube. Exhale until all the air is pushed out of your body. At the end of the exhalation, you should feel a tightening of the muscles in your abdomen.

Once you find this breath, try these belly-breathing exercises:

The Elevator. Inhale and expand your navel out. As you exhale, your navel will draw in. Imagine an elevator traveling from your navel to your spine. Draw the navel back six flights, pausing at each flight as you do so. Repeat three sets of 10 repetitions every day.

Belly Breath on All Fours. Kneel on all fours. Keep your hands in line with your shoulders and your knees in line with your hips. Keep your spine in a neutral position.

Inhale and expand your belly toward the floor, activating your diaphragm. Hold your breath and draw your navel to your spine, pushing all your organs out of the way, activating your transverse abdominis.

Lift your pelvic floor by using the muscles that can stop the flow of urine.

Exhale forcefully as you continue to draw your navel in without rounding your back. Repeat 6 to 10 times.

This autumn, keep your lungs healthy and clean by incorporating a deep-breathing routine into your life.

Tysan Lerner is a certified health coach and personal trainer. She helps women attain their body and beauty goals without starving themselves or spending hours at the gym. Her website is

via The Art of Deep Breathing » The Epoch Times

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