The Barefoot Doctor delivers his own distinctive brand of Taoism (pronounced Dow-ism), bringing an ancient Chinese spiritual system bang up to date for the ‘Urban Warrior’. I was lucky enough to take part in the Barefoot Doctor’s ‘Beyond Reality’ workshop in Cardiff, Wales recently. For those who aren’t familiar with the Doc, he’s one of the best known healers in the UK today. I love his ‘down to earth’ sense of spirituality; there is absolutely nothing ‘holier than thou’ about the guy.
Having read his best-selling guide Barefoot Doctor's Handbook for the Urban Warrior I knew I could expect a dynamic, fun workshop & I wasn’t disappointed. Mr Barefoot Doc has plenty of charisma and stage presence- he also had a fabulous tan- I suspect he has been writing and chilling out in the Bahamas! He is rather impish, and those easily offended by the odd bit of colourful language should steer clear!
The workshop was a good balance between simple exercises, amusing but pertinent anecdotes, visualisation and question and answer sessions. I felt it was accessible for those new to spiritual philosophy, as well as affirming for those of us who’ve travelled a little way on our paths already. I didn’t feel that I learned anything new, but there was plenty to confirm my own personal, sometimes idiosyncratic worldview! There was I thinking that my beliefs were New Age & it turns out that the Ancient Chinese Taoists were thinking along the same lines thousands of years ago!
The Tao is absolutely not a religion, rather a way of life that keeps mind, body and spirit in balance. The Tao is referred to as ‘The Way’ or ‘The Great Current’ reflecting one of the central truths- that if you relax into the flow of life and view it as an adventure, events will unfold naturally around you. This is so different from our Western habit of trying hard and pushing at life- a recipe for a heart attack if ever there was one!
A Taoist concept that I’ve found remarkably helpful is to ‘sit back and observe’ as you live your life- developing the art of detachment. The Doc suggests you visualise yourself as seated in a cave on a comfy pile of cushions in the centre of your brain looking out through your eye sockets. From this calm place of detachment everything seems much less overwhelming- you can see life as a play and yourself as a player, rather than becoming too absorbed into the script and losing your perspective. Try it out!
For those that can’t get to see the Barefoot Doctor in person it is possible to get a flavour of his teachings with a free audio CD on the front of the May/June 2007 issue of Kindred Spirit magazine. This has to be one of the best ‘freebies’ I’ve ever had - almost an hour introducing you to the Tao, the concepts of yin and yang, Chinese five element theory and its application to health and Taoist meditation. This is the first of a series of six CDs by the Barefoot Doc called The Urban Warrior’s Way…to health wealth happiness and good looks!
Alternatively the Barefoot Doctor's Handbook for the Urban Warrior : a Spiritual Survival Guide, is a great book to read through and then dip in and out of. Mine is perched irreverently by the toilet for those few minutes of peace we can all guarantee in our day! I think it should be essential reading for teenagers to give them sanity & inner strength and a sense of their own spiritual warrior selves before they venture out street-savvy into the big wide world.