When I first came here I was all gung-ho. “I got this” was my mantra. It was fun…until it became work. Dr Yang calls this the honeymoon period. It’s easy to be excited for the first few months. The will is there and the spirit is there, and this allows you to endure a lot, but those feelings are superficial and temporary. They will eventually fade.
I feel like the trick to surviving the program is to try to find ways of prolonging your “honey-moon” period. It’s like a fire, constantly needing wood pieces to stay alive. This means finding things that get you excited or interested, because if you are not at least interested then you might as well be a robot just going through the motions. I find comfort in small improvements because they equate to progress. Each improvement whether big or small is an additional piece of wood thrown into the fire. This keeps me focused on myself and engaged in my training, in hopes of snowballing into a cycle that will keep that flame lit.
Many people are curious about what life is like here, especially those applying for the 5 year program. Some guys have been flying out here to stay with us and get a glimpse of the life. I would say that a glimpse IS better than no exposure at all. It helps in starting to paint a picture. Unfortunately you just can’t feel the WEIGHT of this place without living here for years on end. It can become like a pressure cooker. How? Responsibilities of the homestead, work, school, family and friends all pile up on one little mountain. You can’t avoid people or problems because you see the same faces every day and do the same things every day. Every emotion is not only felt but magnified due to the fact that everyone is in close proximity. I can’t stress the importance of people skills along with time-management skills.
I don’t want applicants to think that they are just going to drop their worldly possessions and escape their problems of city-life, move to the mountains to meditate and train Kung fu all day. It doesn’t work like that. Don’t think you are jumping out of the matrix because you will find that the mountain is governed by its own matrix, with its own flaws. There is no perfect system as there is no perfect person. Humans will always be human and problems will always arise at the worst moments.
My message to the candidates: You will need to find ways to keep that flame lit while not burning yourself out. You will need to tolerate others but stay true to yourself. And you will need to stay adaptable to all situations, but remain calm and focused.
That’s my two cents. Hope it helps.