A Learning from Easter Sunday

Easter Sunday DHUC

I am a buddhist who loves (Christian) sacred music. And I am a member of the  chancel choir of the Dunbar Heights United Church in Vancouver.

We all know that Good Friday – Easter Sunday is about the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. This Ester I was able to draw learnings from it for better living. It makes me think about my behaviours, doings, ways of thinking that do not support in making this world a better place. I now see crucifixion as a symbol to put an end to all these useless deeds. Resurrection is about bringing forth the compassion and unconditional love to all within me. Wait a minute! Unconditional love. What does that mean? And how am I to love unconditionally? Have I loved unconditionally?

Let’s start to peel the onion, a layer at a time.

Layer 1: So I learned Jesus associated with everyone and anyone. He dined with the rich and poor, the good and the bad, the young and the old, those with health and those with illness. I am sure he dined with members of GBLT of his days. He welcome anyone that came to him.

Layer 2: For him to be able to be with all probably means that he had absolutely no judgement of those that came to him. I bet he had the ability to see the flame of good in everyone (good or evil). In other words, he was able to hold everyone big and able.

Layer 3 : And finally he forgave all those that had trespasses against him. And I also think most likely he was able to love for those who condemned him and nailed him to death.

O my God…. This is getting bigger and bigger and YET, it appears very simple. Love and forgive all! DAUNTING.

I think my first step could be working on forgiving all those that I feel had done me wrong(big or small). I think for now, that could be a precursor to unconditional love? To make this powerfully sticky (like the dog poo you stepped on or the chewing gum you sat on), I need to look that the values behind forgiveness.

I think forgiveness will lead to less negative mind chatting>letting go of grudges>less anger>less judgement>peace> freedom> lightness>happiness>openness> inclusive of all> ……..  It is looking like there is a lot of good values in letting go of grudges!

I will work on forgiving small stuff first. One baby step at a time.

Suggestions and tips welcome.

 

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Rolfing 2

Session 5 

Feb 28/15

I flew back yesterday morning from Brunei. My neck and shoulders were so stiff. I was glad that I had my session 5 scheduled for this morning.

The last sessions focused on the outer edge of the body and today was about the inner core, i.e. the tummy and neck. It was the most painful session to date for me. My core muscles were so tight. My rolfer began on loosening the muscles “cradling” the tummy, i.e. from edges of the rib cage and the front pelvic bone and then the muscles on each side of the centre (above the belly button). The after effects were gorgeous, my tummy was looser and I can breathe freely.

At one point when my rolfer said,”let go of the those that are no longer serving you,” and immediately the stiff area that he was working on just melted away. I gathered that a lot of times, I involved muscles that are not needed for doing certain things. The good example is my shoulders. This afternoon while I was on my bike, I caught my shoulders bunching up while riding.I relaxed and dropped them and I could still stay on the bike.

While I was on the table, I thought of  behaviours that I have that absolutely do not serve me or support a positive daily living. For example : making up stories why people do things (to me) the way they do. What a waste of time and energy. I am not a psychic. How could I possibly know what is going on in other people’s mind! Another good one is convincing others are wrong. Why bother? Why can both sides be equally right? When I was home with my family over the Chinese New Year Holidays, I had seen tears and anger surfaced out of screaming matches because both parties needed to be right. I finally said,”You are right and you are also right. Let’s move on.” That broke the tension immediately. I see that the need to be right does not lead me to happiness.

At the end of the session, my homework is about learning to walk involving the pelvis. It brings a lot of fluidity to the walking motion. The spine undulates slightly as well. “oiling” this engine well means that I will have much “fluid” body in my old age!

NEAT!

Rolfing, a meditative spiritual experience

 

Last December, before the year turned, something inside me pushed me to seek out rolfing. I was purely curious about it. I first heard of the body work from my friend, Ron of Hawaii in the 70’s and the subject surfaced up again among my colleagues in the 80’s. All I remembered was how great it was for the body and how much it HURT.

Through some contact (an osteopath), I met Barry, an advance rofler in Vancouver. Barry said very little about the mechanics of rofling since I had done some extensive research on the subject. When he asked me what I know about rolfing and I stressed,”PAIN”. He just smiled and said it did not need to be. Newer modality is less evasive than those of the older days and the level of pain experience is also directly proportional to past injuries and any scar tissues build up.

Session One:

So I stripped down and laid on the bed and readied myself to battle pain. Barry coached me to breathe while he worked on my body. I was to meet his fingers from inside with my breath. I was so focused on the breathing work that I forgot about everything else. Then I realized that I was meditating! Yes, there were painful moments but the pain was so different from those that I had experienced from massages and was totally bearable. If anything, it was less painful than that that had been inflicted by some of my previous massage therapists. After Barry worked on my right chest and shoulder, I immediately sense a space opened up for my right shoulder had never experienced before. It felt a lot freer and remarkably different than my left shoulder.

At the end of the first session, Barry taught me to let my body aligned itself naturally with gravity. And for a few minutes a day, I was to stop and let gravity adjust my posture.

When I got home, I checked out myself in the mirror and was totally surprised how my posture had changed. As long as I remembered, I always had round shoulder and I hunched forward. And many a times, I had tried to stand “straight”. It just felt totally uncomfortable and not natural. And now, it just feels a lot natural for my shoulders to be pulled back. It actually feels better. I also understand that I have to remember to practice my new posture to teach and train my body to go there naturally.

So I found myself paying more frequent attention to my body.

Session Two:

It was about my feet and legs. I asked about my flattish feet and Barry said that he can help me fix it. He said that no one was born with flat feet or rather, all babies were born with flat feet. Remember what babies’ feet look like? How the arches develop is entirely dependent on how the babies learn to walk. I learned to walk with my feet slightly turned outward. As I walk, my feet roll from the outside edge of my heels to the inside of my big toes. As a result of I have calluses on my inside of my big toes and balls of my feet and heels of all my shoes are worn out on the outside edges.

After the session, I looked down at my feet and was surprised to find my big toes (the one on my right foot particularly) were straighter somewhat. My homework was to focus on walk/taking my stride correctly. I was told to focus on “pushing” off evenly from the balls of my feet rather than the inside edges of the balls of my feet and the big toes.

Session Three:

Barry worked on the outside edge of my body, ie, legs, side of underarms, neck and head.

Session Four:

It was the inside edge of my legs to the inside of my butt.

This session, I was taught to be aware of activating the inside edge of my legs and thighs when I walk or stand.

I also learned that it is a myth that as we age, our body is stiffer and more prone to injuries. We feel that way because a lot of muscles in us are stuck due to injuries, bad postures, work usage etc. When we lost full usages of all our muscle, we feel stiff and get injured easier. Rolfing frees up muscles and our job is to use all of them. The more they are being used, the more they serve us!


 

As the time progresses, I realized that I am more aware or paying attention of my body. I found myself being “home” a lot more (“home’ being my body). I was prepped when growing up to be “out” there, thinking with my head. I became to be disengaged with my body. I remembered during one of my life coaching training workshop, I was introduced to the concept of “thinking” with my body. I had no idea what they were talking about. The idea that the body can give me a lot of information or answer was just WEIRD. I was told that if I stopped thinking or searching for answer with my head, the answer that I sought out would just pop out.

I began to realize that I had started to practice some form of walking meditation. I would walk with being conscious of my body and at the same time, I am engaging with the world outside. The only difference is I am not THINKING.

When I am being rolfed on the table, I am so busy engaging with my breath and being with what ever pain that I actually finding the whole process, pain or without pain, rather quite relaxing.

So, is Rolfing a spiritual practice? I think so. I feel more at peace with myself and my life. I am more in touch with my negative thoughts or more aware of when I go there.

Physical benefits I am experiencing: My knees are stronger and they no longer hurt when I go up and down the stairs. My body is more fluid.


I am looking forward to my fifth session.

 

The Wagon of Choice

I have begun to consciously choose an intention everyday to begin my day. I have been through a few like “choosing not to judge; be with; non-reactive etc”. But, there is one that works specially well with me. It is the choice of self-observant.

When I choose to self-observe, I really try hard to be aware of what is going on within me when I receiving from without. Or how I am  reacting to things that are happening around me and to me. I suppose it is like imagining observing myself as a 3rd person. I remember when I was a younger man, I used to practice a form of self-observant. Back then, it was about being conscious of how I present myself physically to the world. It was all about the external. Now, it is more about what is going on inside my head that prompts my reactions toward what is going on outside. In this space, I get to choose my path of action.

It could be as simple as catching myself judging others or participating on a trail of hot gossip. From here I get to choose if I want to continue on or switch direction. If I decided to continue judging, then I make the conscious decision on doing so but bear in mind that what I think may not be true. There are other truths that I am not accessing yet. Then I realized that this is so damn exhausting that I might as well stop judging and just be with.

A friend of mine wrote me about her daughter’s experience of conscious choosing. Her daughter’s horse was ill and she was very upset about it. Her horse had lumps in its neck, and she called vet, but was fussing about it. Then she said to her daughter, “Well you’ve done everything you can do, so now you have a choice of making yourself miserable or not”. Her daughter thought about it and then smiled.

I am beginning to feel that CHOICES is the mother lode of the cavern of happiness!

Featured

Choices

This morning, I came across an article on Nick Vujicic in the paper. Nick was born without any limbs http://www.lifewithoutlimbs.org/about-nick/bio/). I had seen a YouTube video of him a while back and not taken much note of him. I googled him again and found a YouTube video of him on Oprah. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZPW3EB5U0bo

A minute into watching the video, it hit me that I had unconsciously left out the most powerful mantra on my pursue of happiness! The mantra is “I have a CHOICE.” Perhaps, choice is the main driving force behind everything that I did not even think about it. I don’t know if it is what some people call an unconscious competent action. Any way, choice is more powerful when it is acted from a conscious state because I am consciously choosing. NO one makes me unhappy.

As Nick said that life gave him no arms and legs, there is nothing he can do about that. But he can choose what he is going to do without limbs rather than living with “if only I had limbs” state of mind. WOW! That was powerful.

Things happen every day that cause me to stress and worry and be unhappy. Some of these things are beyond my control. So when these things happened, they happened. They are over and gone. In the past. Nothing I can do to undo them. BUT, I have the choice of  what I am going to do with myself.

Murray graduated from grad school and is looking for work. My mind often wanders into “what if he does not get a job?” land. I begin to worry and I feel unhappy. I am choosing to think that the right job has not show up yet. It will be here when the time is right. What matters most is I am with him. We have each other now.

I am HAPPY now. Thank you Nick for that nudge.

Please share your journey and stories of pursue of happiness here.

I fell out of the wagon.

Yesterday, a friend of mine asked why I have not been blogging my journey. My first reaction was,”I have got nothing to say”. That was pretty well the end of that thread.
Ya, o really. I have nothing to say! What do I mean? I have nothing to say to myself.

This morning I jolted out of bed after only sleeping for only 6 hours. I could not get back to sleep. The wild horse in my mind was on steroid. It was galloping madly. My mind was working over time thinking all over the place. It did not feel very peaceful. (I hate to admit right now as I am writing this blog: I am not at peace.) I suddenly realized, “I am worrying!” which means that I am out of touch with happiness for me. I feel out of balance. The inner scale is yo-yoing. I now notice that lately (may be it has been going on for a while), I have been inpatient, complaining about self and others, bitchy, criticizing others; taking interest in gossips that are going on around me etc. Then I realized that “I fell off the wagon!”

I fell of my happiness wagon! I forgot about me. What I mean by that is “I forgot about caring for myself”. Wow! This just hits me as I am writing this blog. This is probably going to take a while ( a few blogs) to process through what I mean by “I forgot to take care of myself.

There is an inner me that knows what I need but the outer me has been so powerful that it does all sort of things to smother the voice of the inner me. My inner self asks for more nurturing of my body and soul (this alone probably will take up a few blogs to un reel) and the outer self goes round and get life moving. I think what I mean is there has been a lot of doing going that I have ignored the needs of my inner self. This is the balance that has gone helter-skelter!

So I jumped out of bed and I said,”I need to meditate”. God only remembers when I fell out of that wagon! I lit an incense stick at my meditation spot (which has gone dusty), sat down and proceed to meditate. Then out of a sudden, I felt YOUNG again. I started to remember all the things that I needed to do that I had forgotten! My mind was throwing things at me to get me off my meditation pad. I had to start to retrain myself to calm this wild mind horse of mine. Back to one step at a time, today I will sit for a few minutes and tomorrow I will sit for a few more minutes etc. Bingo! I realized that I had forgotten about the practices for my inner self. This is the wagon that I fell off.

State of No-judgment

The idea of operating from the state of no-judgment was introduced to me through a course at New Equations in 2005. We all talked about being judgmental and being judged frequently. But what does operating from the state of no-judgment really means? What does it look like?

I had no idea what this no-judgment nonsense mean at all when I first encountered it. I was thoroughly confused. I have to admit that I still do not know entirely what it means, and never mind about mastering the skill! I feel it is one of those “peeling the onion” experience (like peeling an onion, you learn a bit/layer at a time). My last posting/learning regarding my mom is exactly one of those learning that revealed itself when I peeled away a layer of this onion of life!

Today, I gather that when operating from a state of judgment means you see things as they are without adding any of your idea why or what it is about. Basically, see things as “it is what it is” and STOP there. For example, say a friend who normal gives you a Christmas present every year, suddenly stopped doing so. The truth is this person stops giving you present because this is what you see and it is a fact. But most of us go one step (or a few more) further. We begin to wonder why and then we start making stories about them and ourselves. Stories that can us lead to believe that they are cheap, inconsiderate, broke, snotty and we are unworthy; bad; greedy and  deserve not to receive anything. These negative judgments start to colour how we look at ourselves and them. Their sole purpose is to separate and place s distance between us.

At my very first New Equations  retreat, before the notion of no-judgment was introduced to me, I was paired with a roommate that is sensitive to snoring and I tend to make noise when I sleep. I have learned to wear earplugs when I need to share a room with another person. This person was a well seasoned no-judgment participant at the retreat. The next morning, he mentioned that he could not sleep well because of my snoring and before I began to launch into any justification of my nocturnal action, he immediately said,” No judgment please”. I did not know what it meant. I felt being cut off and on top of that he moved to another room. Guess what happened next? I began to beat up and judge myself. I was so preoccupied with the task that it took me away from being fully present at a good part of  the retreat and I was not able to form any sort of relationship with this participant.

Being judgmental takes me away from experiencing happiness. It causes me to make up a bunch of negative stories which prevent me to enjoy the situation, thing or company of a person. I am NEVER happy when I am in a judgmental mood. When I find myself in the company of judgmental folks, we would immediately begin a hay ride of complaining and bitching about other people and what is worst is we make ourselves to believe that we are having a good time.

Being non-judgmental is not easy. We have been brought up and conditioned to judge. Most if not all of us have no idea how to function daily without judging anyone, anything. It takes you years to become who you are. It is really unrealistic to think that you can change everything around just like that. One baby step at a time. Be aware when you judge and see where you are going to go with it. You have the choice.

Most important of all, be KIND and patient with yourself when you begin your no-judgment training!

I am happy.

Judgment vs happiness

I had a huge epiphany. I added judgment to my list of things that stops me from getting in touch with happiness.

I was made to believe that we are most happy when we do things that are of high value to us and it does not serve our happiness if we do things out of guilt…… and that is, ahem, in the perfect world. In real life, we often face situations or events that we dread or cannot avoid. These  could be family gatherings such as re-unions/Christmases/weddings, visiting parents/in-laws and office functions etc. These are some situations that could be challenging for some of us to be with.

“I cannot stand the weekend lunches with my parents but I have to go because I have to,” you may ask yourself. “What can I do?”

My mom is pushing 90 and lives half way around the world. For the last 10 years, I have been visiting her at least once a year and sometimes, twice. Like most people’s mother, I love my mom but I can only be in her company for so long. My mom pushes all my buttons. The earlier visits were difficult. I had to go because “she is old; she will only live so long; and I only have one mother” – familiar guilt? I used to show up and “disappear”and I did my “duty.” And I was not happy.

As a matter of fact, I have just returned after spending 10 days visiting my mom….and I usually do a one week visit.  Because of my mother’s increasing loss of strength, she was more house bound than ever. She still complained and pushed my buttons. But, these 10 days were some of the best times I have spent with her. What changed? It is very obvious that she is getting old. I decided that I needed to treasure my time with her. In order to treasure her, I need to find some value being with her. And in order for this value thing to happen, I need to change my perspective of her, being with her. How?

I first dropped my judgments of her. One judgment is, “My mom is the world’s biggest victim”. She constantly complained about how and who had done her wrong and how they ruined her life. I just focused on her action without judgment – my mom complains. I stopped trying to fix her and allowed her to complain. I tuned out when I needed to. When it got too much, I distracted her the some way that you would distract a child. I changed the topic. When I got stronger again to be non-judgmental of her, I allowed her to be.

I realized that as long as I stayed out of judgment, I started to get in touch with her spirit. And it was being with her spirit that I found the joy and happiness of being with her. It is not easy to stay in  no-judgment with her as a matter of fact, with anything, any one. I flipped in and out. It is like anything, it takes practice. Toward the end of my visit with my mother, I suddenly found myself reluctant to leave. I did not want to leave her. The last time I felt this way was when I was getting ready home for Canada at the age of 15 and that was before I had any judgment of my mother. She was then just “mom”.

Now, I have only left her for 10 days and I could not wait to see her August for her 90th birthday. As a matter of fact, I want to jump on the plane and fly to her now. My love of my mother grew.

My mom had presented me a huge learning. When I stop judging, the acceptance follows.

Being judgmental prevents me from being in touch with happiness.

My mom

“Age is mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it does not matter” – Mark Twain.
As a matter of fact, I think it can apply with everything that bothers us. If you don’t mind anything, nothing matters to you!
BE HAPPY, nothing else matters.

A great gift

Photographer: PW Lai
Photographer: PW Lai

One of my closest friend’s father passed away last week. I had been a bystander observing how she had been dealing with her father’s declining health over the last few years. The closeness between them reminded me of that I had with my father. My father had pass on for over 30 years. I see now how much my father had loved and cherished me. As a younger man then, I may not be compliant to the ways my dad had showed me his affection, but now as an older man, I really got it – they were his ways. They were the only ways that he knew to show his caring and love toward me. Right now, my heart is completely filled with love from my father. I made my peace.

My friend’s father is a bundle of joy. He ignited the kid in me. I did not know him well. I saw him as a free-spirited bubble bouncing around with laughter. Uncle, thank you for giving me the permission to be that as well. I am happy to have known you in this life time.

I am deep grateful of my friend in sharing with me her journey with her father. Her journey allows me to be prepared and in touch of inevitable passing of those close to me in the future. And perhaps, in dealing with my own eventual journey.

I am happy tonight.