Thursday, 31 July 2014

Faithfully religionless

Sharing this TED talk by Timber Hawkeye, author of Buddhist Boot Camp. 

Unconditional kindness

p.s. ego in this case refers to the need for fulfillment of the self. Unconditional kindness is a demonstration of selflessness.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

The perfect relationship

I was speaking to a dear friend recently about her fear of getting into a new relationship. She said, "I have so much emotional baggage, and I'm not perfect. I am so flawed, how can I expect a man to love me? I don't even add value to the world.."

This is my reply to her proclamation, which I thought of sharing, as it might be useful to someone else too. Coincidentally, I had come across the quote above just that morning. Life does work in funny ways you don't expect. So, R, this post is dedicated to you, dear. 

The perfect relationship is not the coming together of two perfect people. Instead, it is the union of two imperfect people with complementary imperfections, who can help each other grow. 

A true relationship exists for two people to grow together. When we care very much about another person, it brings out both the best and the worst in us. Have you noticed that you sometimes hurt the one you love the most, or respond most irrationally to him/her in ways you would never do so with others? That is because our partner is the mirror that reflects our deepest fears and imperfections. This is not necessarily bad though; in fact, it is the best opportunity for you to realize the existence of those fears and neuroses, so that you can fix them. Therefore, relationships are the catalyst for self-improvement, so that you can pick up your broken pieces and integrate them back within yourself with loving care. This process also paves the way for self-love, which then expands your capacity to love others. In other words, allowing yourself to be authentically yourself (ie. being vulnerable) is a blessing in disguise. You are provided the opportunity to face your inner demons head-on.

"Love in your mind produces love in your life... Fear in your mind produces fear in your life... A shift in how we think about life produces a shift in how we experience it."
~Marianne Williamson

However, this process is not possible if your mind is plagued with fear though. What is needed for this self-healing to happen is love. Not just self-love, where you allow yourself to accept your mistakes, flaws and broken past, but also a love and trust in the journey of learning. When you are able to do that, things will stop being a drag. Life will become wonderful and exciting. It is all a matter of perspective.

"Instead of expanding our ability or willingness to go out and get anything, we expand our ability to receive what is already here for us."
~Marianne Williamson

Furthermore, love is not just about giving, but also learning to receive. A form of love is being graciously willing to receive, and knowing that you are deserving of receiving. Therefore, expand your ability to receive. Know that you are lovable, warts and all. Everyone is deserving of love. Please do not think that you bring no value to the world. We were all brought to this life for a reason, no matter how elusive it may seem. Value should not be measured in material possessions, number of successes, number of smart things you've said, etc. No, dear. Value is being able to touch someone else's life; and if you had made a difference to just one person's life, that is enough.

"Your light is seen, your heart is known, your soul is cherished by more people than you might imagine. If you knew how many others have been touched in wonderful ways by you, you would be astonished. If you knew how many people feel so much for you, you would be shocked. You are far more wonderful than you think you are. Rest easy with that. Breathe again. You are doing fine, more than fine, better than fine. You're doing great and don't let anything or anyone steal your right to feel good about yourself."
~ Neale Donald Walsch

There is also a misconception about relationships, that relationships exist to complete you. There are so many phrases and songs out there along the lines of, "You are my other half, you make me complete. Without you, I am nothing".

"You must water the seeds of love inside you before attempting to harvest the gardens in your world."
~Creig Crippen

The truth is, you will never learn how to truly love another, until you truly learn to love yourself. Although it is true that the masculine and the feminine are complementary parts of a partnership that complete the circle of yin and yang, it is false to think that a partner provides meaning and fulfillment to one's life. Only you can give your own life meaning, and only self-love can do that. Self-love is knowing that you, as a person, are complete and whole. Your purpose in the world is your contribution to it, and no one else can provide you with that answer. No one should be responsible for your happiness (also, how stressful would that be for him/her?). Only you can make yourself happy, and the way to do that is to accept yourself for who you are. Stop judging yourself for your mistakes and flaws. Life is a learning process, every experience is a gift that points the way to improvement. See your beauty for who you are, even if you are not a supermodel (who really is, anyway? =) ). Witness your inner beauty. 
(R, I am going to unbashedly state here that I liked you the first time I met you, and that's really something! And I think you're really pretty.) 

When you stop judging yourself, you also stop judging others. When you see beauty in yourself, you also open your eyes to seeing more beauty in others, and in the world. It's a win-win situation. When you see, and appreciate, beauty, you will shine from within and become more attractive too!  ^_^

Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” 
~Winston Churchill

Finally, hang in there. Even though someone of the opposite (or your preferred) gender has not appeared to appreciate your beauty yet, know that everything happens at the right time. Everything that we face now, and learn from, are little guiding lamps to the person who is truly deserving of you. Until then, keep on growing as a person, learn to love yourself. Live life to the fullest. Be happy with the present moment, life is wonderful as it is, if you can only see it. =) 

Additional note:
When you learn to fully love yourself, and operate from a place of love, you will be able to choose the right relationship that serves you best (ie. the person who complements you best). You will not simply accept any person who comes along, out of a fear that you will not be loved by another (and jump on the first available train). When you truly love yourself, you will be patient and not anxious, until the person who will love you well, and whom you will love well, comes along. =)

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Tim's Place

This is so heart-warming and inspiring. We need more Tim's Place's in our world =). 

Here's a description of Tim's Place from Tinybuddha where I found this video:
"This is so many levels of beautiful and inspiring! Tim Harris has Down Syndrome, but that didn’t stop him from opening his own restaurant, Tim’s Place, which serves breakfast, lunch, and hugs.
Everyone who enters his Albuquerque establishment gets a big serving of his joy and love before they even take a look at the menu. Though the food may be delicious, I have a feeling this is what keeps them coming back: Tim’ infectious passion, gratitude, and kindness."

Find out more about Tim's Place here:

"I won't let my disability stop me... we are a gift to the world." Love him.

Monday, 21 July 2014

[Book] The Four Agreements

Recommending this book by Don Miguel Ruiz, a Toltec spiritualist teacher. Although much of the teachings originate from the Toltec tradition, the concepts are not religious at all, and can be applied to anyone of any (or lack of) religion. Just applying these four simple principles in your life will change how you treat yourself and others. As with new habits, take your time, but be firm with the intention and determination to improve the quality of your life (ie. practice!!). 
Here are the four agreements, for your reference. 

Here's a link to the audiobook, if you would like to listen to it on your walks/drive to work! Nevertheless, I would recommend both reading and listening to the book. Sometimes you can get different insights when being exposed to the material through different senses. 

Additional tip: with books such as these, read with your heart, not with your mind. Don't try to rationalize everything with logic, see if you can identify with his words from a place deeper than your mind, from a place devoid of judgement. If this doesn't make sense, just try out the concepts and see for yourself the differences they may make.
As usual, you know where to find me if you would like to discuss the material~

Sunday, 20 July 2014

A conversation with Chade-Meng Tan

A conversation by Stanford University's Charter for Compassion with Chade-Meng Tan, Google's 107th employee and "Jolly Good Fellow", on compassion and achieving happiness and joy in your life. He and Dr. James Doty discussed many things that I agree with and practise too, thereby providing another example in that true happiness is attainable (with firm intention and practice). =)

Just a taster (quoting some of his words from the first 15 min):
The 3 components of meditative practice that leads to bliss/joy*:
  1. Calmness, serenity, concentration. The ability to calm the mind of the mind**.
  2. Insight. Use the calmness of the mind to gain insight through reflection on the self.
  3. Nourishment of the heart -- kindness, compassion, appreciative joy, equanimity.

*though I use these words as a way of conveying a feeling of happiness, do note that this is a form of ultimate 'good feeling' that is independent of circumstances. It is hard to explain with words (language is limiting); one will have to experience it personally to understand this. 
**not a typo. A calm mind prevents turbulent thoughts/emotions from resulting.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Don't fear change. Change fear.

"It may not be easy,
but it will be worth it.
You are only confined by the walls you build yourself.
Don't fear change, 
Change fear."
~Creig Crippen

When does life begin?

"For a long time it has seemed to me that life was about to begin. Real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be got through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life.
~ Albert D'Souza

All you have is the here and now. To mentally live in the future is to deny the beauty of the current moment. So appreciate the 'right now', that's what your life truly is. Even if you're taking steps toward a brighter future.

To quote Eckhart Tolle from Power of Now:

"It is not uncommon for people to spend their whole life waiting to start living. 
Waiting is a state of mind. Basically, it means that you want the future; you don’t want the present. You don’t want what you’ve got, and you want what you haven’t got. With every kind of waiting, you unconsciously create inner conflict between your here and now, where you don’t want to be, and the projected future, where you want to be. This greatly reduces the quality of your life by making you lose the present. 

There is nothing wrong with striving to improve your life situation. You can improve your life situation, but you cannot improve your life. Life is primary. Life is your deepest inner Being. It is already whole, complete, perfect. Your life situation consists of your circumstances and your experiences. There is nothing wrong with setting goals and striving to achieve things. The mistake lies in using it as a substitute for the feeling of life, for Being. The only point of access for that is the Now. You are then like an architect who pays no attention to the foundation of a building but spends a lot of time working on the superstructure. 

For example, many people are waiting for prosperity. It cannot come in the future. When you honor, acknowledge, and fully accept your present reality — where you are, who you are, what you are doing right now — when you fully accept what you have got, you are grateful for what you have got, grateful for what is, grateful for Being. Gratitude for the present moment and the fullness of life now is true prosperity. It cannot come in the future. Then, in time, that prosperity manifests for you in various ways.

If you are dissatisfied with what you have got, or even frustrated or angry about your present lack, that may motivate you to become rich, but even if you do make millions, you will continue to experience the inner condition of lack, and deep down you will continue to feel unfulfilled. You may have many exciting experiences that money can buy, but they will come and go and always leave you with an empty feeling and the need for further physical or psychological gratification. You won’t abide in Being and so feel the fullness of life now that alone is true prosperity.

So give up waiting as a state of mind."

Thursday, 17 July 2014

What you focus on, you empower

Usually your 'problems' and 'worries' are created by your mind. When you treat them simply as 'challenges' and 'situations', things will look better. 
Be positive =) Cultivate the goodness in your life, and life will get better. What you think about and focus on, you empower.

Life is a choice, yet also a surrender.

Another fabulous new quote from 幾米 Jimmy Liao:


Life is a choice, yet also a kind of surrender. Joy is having freedom of choice; Freedom is surrendering when need be.


Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Break free of your mental prison

"A lot of us know we have what it takes— the looks, the education, the talent, the credentials. But in certain areas, we’re paralyzed. We’re not being stopped by something on the outside, but by something on the inside. Our oppression is internal. The government isn’t holding us back, or hunger or poverty. We’re not afraid we’ll get sent to Siberia. We’re just afraid, period. Our fear is free-floating. We’re afraid this isn’t the right relationship or we’re afraid it is. We’re afraid they won’t like us or we’re afraid they will. We’re afraid of failure or we’re afraid of success. We’re afraid of dying young or we’re afraid of growing old. We’re more afraid of life than we are of death. 
You’d think we’d have some compassion for ourselves, bound up in emotional chains the way we are, but we don’t. We’re just disgusted with ourselves, because we think we should be better by now. Sometimes we make the mistake of thinking other people don’t have as much fear as we do, which only makes us more afraid. Maybe they know something we don’t know."
from A Return to Love, by Marianne Williamson

What is holding you back? What are you afraid of?
Love yourself. Trust in yourself. Break free of your mental prison. Stop judging yourself, stop judging life.  Let go of control, let go of fear, and start truly living.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

The Tutu Project

"It's all about a man, his wife's battle against breast cancer and a pink tutu that brings hope... and helps raise funds for families with breast cancer."

Have you heard of The Tutu Project?

When I first saw the photos of the Tutu Project, I just thought the man had a good sense of humor. But when I read the story behind it, the first thing I thought of was, "This is what true love is. I will support their cause however I can." This was three years ago, and I am still an avid supporter of their cause. I just wanted to share their story so that others can be inspired to help too.

It all started with a woman fighting breast cancer, and her husband doing what he can to make her smile, and to help raise funds for other women too. 

Read about the Carey Foundation here:

Story behind the palm tree photo (featured on their store site): After climbing up the fiberglass tree in South Beach, Bob's limbs tingled for days from all the fiberglass lodged in his skin. 
Stories like these make people like Linda and Bob (founders of the Carey Foundation) so real, it creates a strong bond between us that makes me want to help them all the more.

After all, it's not about the money, but the lives we touch, is it?

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Let all that you do be done with love

"The love and light you see in the world is simply a reflection of the love and light within you. You are love. You are light. You are a mirror. Radiate love, happiness, compassion, and joy. Spread your wings and fly. Generously offer your love to the universe and rejoice as the universe smiles and returns it to you in abundance. You deserve this love. Send love, invite love, receive love."
~Creig Crippen

Everything you perceive from the outer world is a reflection of your inner state. When you radiate love, you see peace and love. When you are at peace with yourself, you will feel the world at peace with you. When you feel pain, you see pain. Which do you choose to perceive today? =)

Friday, 11 July 2014

10 ways to become a happy person

Ego says, ‘Once everything falls into place, I’ll feel peace.’ Spirit says, ‘Find your peace, and then everything will fall into place.’” 
~Marianne Williamson

The following article covers much of what I wanted to write about being happy, hence I will simply refer you to it. ^_^ 

In short, accept and live in the moment, trust your heart, and focus on abundance. =)

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

All that you seek comes from within

"The best way to enjoy your own life is to stop comparing it to others. The more you are willing to love yourself, the less you go searching for happiness in the wrong places. Stop chasing, start choosing. When you are comforted by your own self-love, you no longer need to find comfort through external fixes. All that you seek comes from within.
~Creig Crippen

Isn't this so true? Often we turn to other people and things (possessions, wealth, success/failure) for love and validation. But when you accept yourself for who you truly are, and see your own beauty, you no longer need an external something/someone to prove that you are good enough. And the truth is, you ARE enough. Your life is yours, and yours alone. Not someone else's. So continue living life to the fullest, embrace life in your own way, chase your dreams, do what you know is kind and right. Love yourself! Be happy being perfectly imperfect. =) 

Be the master of your own destiny

Credit: Image from Tiny Buddha

Do you choose to be happy today? =)

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Are you free to love?

Love is simple. Love is kind. Love asks for nothing in return. Love is always around us. We are all worthy of love. It's just whether you are willing to let it in. Would you? 

Sharing a poem I came across about opening your heart to love, by Christine Arylo.


Many of us say that we want love
We spend tons of energy
Sometimes even money
On trying to find it

But then I wonder
Are we really open to receiving it
Once it shows up on our doorstep

Or do we actually shut the door
On the very thing we want most

Does your heart open wide when love knocks on your door?
Expanding and opening to let the love flow in.
Or does your heart contract, recoil and pull back
Peer out the window, want to open the door so badly, but is too afraid
Of what would happen if it let love in again?

Does your heart rush in with open arms to find and embrace connection in this world
Expecting to receive love back
Knowing that love is everywhere when you know where to look
And when your heart is open to receive it?

Or is your heart cautious, having been hurt before,
So it doesn’t let itself open too wide or let too many people in
Instead of skipping through life freely and joyfully
Is your heart walking safely and securely never risking too much?

It’s okay you know,
We’ve all been hurt
We’ve all had our innocent pure loving hearts smacked around
Stepped on
Looked over

And as a result,
You may have built big walls around your heart

So you’d never be hurt again
Or you may have taken all the walls down
Hoping you’d be loved again, if you just gave more of yourself away.

And although you were doing what you needed to do
To protect yourself at the time

The truth is that what actually protects you most is not walls or the giving of yourself away,


But love can only protect you if you let it in.
Love can only serve you if you let it.
All love needs is permission to open the door of your heart again.

Think of all the ways that love comes knocking on your heart’s door today:

When a stranger smiles
Do you smile back and let the love permeate your heart
Or do you give a fake obligatory smile or pretend you didn’t notice?

When someone approaches you with the offer of a hug
Do you let the embrace fully envelope you
Letting all your body parts touch, chest, belly and arms
Or do you politely offer a few pats on the back, never touching hearts
Or do you go for the A frame hug, letting your upper chest touch but the hug stops there.

When someone offers to help you or pays you a compliment
Does your heart open wide to say THANK YOU! YES! I will receive that
Or do you push back their gift
Saying you can handle it on your own
Or “this old thing, I’ve had it for years!”

When someone offers you a chance to connect during your ‘busy’ day
Do you stop and make time for love
Or do you skip by the moments in life in which love is offered
Putting it on hold for when you have time,
But those times come far and few between?

When you wake up in the morning
Do you look around and notice the magic and splendor of the beauty of this world?
Do you fill your heart with all that you are grateful for
Or do you jump out of bed without noticing much of anything
Except thinking of all the things you have to do or all that you haven’t yet done?

When you find yourself in relationship with an intimate partner, a lover, a mate
Do you let down your walls of protection
And show them the truth of your heart and soul
Even in the times, especially in the times, when you are afraid?
Do you lean in with an open heart to create the intimacy that you desire,
Or do you use love as a weapon, or say you want intimacy but then don’t offer it?
Do you settle for less than the deep emotional connection that only two open hearts can create
And tell yourself that what you have is enough.
When your heart knows that it is not?

What if today, you let your heart speak freely.
What would she or he say?
What one daring act of love would you be willing to take
To risk letting love walk in your heart’s door?
To set your heart free
To do what it does best
To love.
And in return allow you to revel and trust in that love forever.

Love makes the world go around. Whose life will you touch with your love today? =)

Saturday, 5 July 2014

[Book] The Power of Now

I would like to recommend this book to anyone who is interested in a journey of seeking greater joy and calmness in peace of mind. Please do not be repelled by the words "spiritual enlightenment"; there is no promotion of any one religion. It holistically encompasses the basic message from all spiritual (for lack of a better word) teachings. The key message, as indicated by the title, is to embrace the "here and now", as there is no past or future that can ever be within your control. All we have power over, is the single current moment. Once you fully accept this fact, you can then embark on a journey toward full surrender to life, and see how small the single human ego is compared to the rest of the world. 
This book has given me so many insights that I have written about in this blog over the past two weeks, so if you like what I have been writing so far, do give this a try =)

Note though, that although Eckhart Tolle's words are simple, the messages behind every line is deep. Please do not just take his words at face value; do ponder over what he says. This is not some textbook that you can memorize and then put aside. Everything covered here takes much practice and understanding. It may be hard to understand or grasp the messages at first (it takes most people several years), but please do not lose heart. Enlightenment does not come easy, and is almost always sudden, spurred by some random event or deep trauma. But once you are enlightened, you will understand what his words truly mean. You will feel such a sense of wonder and amazement, you won't see the world the same way again.
If you would like to discuss some of the concepts, you know where to find me! In the meantime, I will continue to paraphrase his (and others') teachings with my own words and examples. I hope my efforts will be able to help. Don't hurry the process though, it's all about the journey, not the end goal. I myself discover something new every single day! Indeed, there is something to learn in every event in life, if you open your heart to it.

Just to quote a passage from Chapter 9 of the book:
"Do you know the story of Banzan? Before he became a great Zen master, he spent many years in the pursuit of enlightenment, but it eluded him. Then one day, as he was walking in the marketplace, he overheard a conversation between a butcher and his customer. “Give me the best piece of meat you have,” said the customer. And the butcher replied, “Every piece of meat I have is the best. There is no piece of meat here that is not the best.” Upon hearing this, Banzan became enlightened. 

I can see you are waiting for some explanation. When you accept what is, every piece of meat — every moment — is the best. That is enlightenment."

Friday, 4 July 2014

Expectations stop you from reaching your full potential

"I know but one freedom and that is the freedom of the mind.
~Antoine de Saint-Exupery

I was hiking today, and this tree reminded me of how imposed (self or non-self) rules and expectations can hinder you from reaching your full potential.

Like the metal wire cage, imposed rules and expectations limit us to a defined path. These limitations include what we 'think' we can achieve, what other people 'think' we should do, what we 'think' life should be like. And you may think it's fine; after all, you can still develop, are still exposed to the rest of the world, and are not trapped in an opaque metal box, right?
Imagine if there was no cage. Imagine how much more freedom you will have to expand out into the world. Have confidence in your ability to withstand the storms of life. Strength and perseverance can be a formidable thing to behold.
A normal human being's life spans maybe 80 years, perhaps 90 with technological advancements. That's a really long time to experiment with lots of things. Sometimes you may fail; just try again! Or try something else. Eventually you'll find something you like. Although, why limit yourself to one thing? I'm sure we all have many passions, why can't they co-exist? 

This concept also applies to interpersonal relationships. Often, we are bound by our expectations of how someone might act (perhaps from what we experienced during past interactions). But if we let go of our mental image of the other person, and see them for who they truly are, who knows what kind of person we might see? 
This is where awareness and understanding comes in. Understand that everything is impermanent, human character included. If someone has committed a heinous crime, will you assume that they will commit it again? What if they have repented and turned over a new leaf? Why not give them a second chance to prove themselves? Giving them this second chance is also giving yourself a second chance at peace of mind through forgiveness
This also includes relationships that were once good, e.g. best friends. When best friends change and drift apart, will you hold on to the bond, just because? Even though you don't really enjoy each other's company anymore? Why not accept that things have changed, be glad your bond once existed, and wish each other well in your separate journeys? This way, you can part with peace of mind. Who knows, one day your paths may cross again!

Life is never absolute. Positivity and negativity are merely two sides of the same coin, it's just how you choose to look at it. Everything exists in polar opposites -- with happiness there will be unhappiness, with life there will be death. There is no permanence. There is so much uncertainty in the world that your brain will probably explode before it can comprehend all possibilities. So why hold on to the past or the bounds of your mind? Accept and see things as they truly are. There is only what there is. Clarity often invites wonders.

It's OK if you've been living in a wire cage till now, don't feel bad about it. We've all been there. Just break down those mental walls now, release attachments, illusions and limited beliefs. Grow into a majestic tree (just like the tree in the photo, imagine how big it will grow once it surpasses the cage!)!

p.s. A related post: Real lives have curves

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Letting go is not easy, but it can be easier

Lately, I've been writing a bit about letting go and living in the moment. It seems that popular culture has also caught on to the idea; there's even a popular Disney song written around it ('Let it go', from Frozen). I thought that it was time to clarify what letting go really means. 

The idea of letting go seems simple enough. Just let it go, right?? Just throw the thought aside, and forget about it, occupy yourself with something else so that you can block out the thought, right? How difficult can it be? 
Well, if it was that simple, why are so many people still suffering? Why does the same thought and pain haunt you over and over, when you thought you had already 'let it go'? Why do you still dream about the same event or person, over and over?
What I'm trying to say is, letting go isn't easy at all! If it was as easy as breathing or throwing something into the trashcan, there wouldn't be so many articles and books written about it =p So don't beat yourself up if you have trouble letting go of a negative situation, emotion, or loss. These things take time. But I can show you how to make it easier though. (well, *easier*, but it's still going to take a lot of determination and practice on your part).

First, acknowledge what you are feeling. Don't deny it. Denying your feelings, throwing it to the back of the mind, will only make them surface when you least expect it. Remember those dreams where you wake up in cold sweat over a trauma you thought you had forgotten? Or those times you're just going about your day, and suddenly a bad memory hits you, and ruins your day (because you obsessed over it after)? 
So, yes. Don't deny your feelings, please. Be aware of what you are feeling, when the thought arises. BUT awareness is not equal to obsession. Obsessing over the thought, and going down the spiral of thoughts that lead from it, is NOT the way to do it. Just note that you are feeling that emotion, or having that thought, and label it. If you feel sad, label it "ok I am feeling sad". If you feel angry, label it "ok I am feeling angry". Being aware of your emotional state is key here. Be aware of, and note your body's response to the emotion you are currently feeling. Is your heart beating faster? Are you starting to sweat? When you become aware of the emotion, it is more likely to subside by itself. That, and not thinking about or wondering where the thought came from. Just acknowledge that the thought came by, and bring your focus to the present. Focus on your breathing. Notice how your chest rises and falls with each breath. This brings your awareness back to the present, and out of your head. When the thought is done sitting in your brain, it will get bored and leave. You don't have to do anything to entertain it. 
You can even thank the thought for coming by. In fact, you can use the opportunity to do some self-reflection. Why were you triggered by that thought? Are you still angry with the person because of what they did, or what you expected them to do/not do? Why do you have that expectation?

Which leads to my next point about expectations, surrender and acceptance. The process of letting go also involves surrender to the present moment, and accepting the past and the present. Accept that what happened, had happened. All that matters is the here and now. Live in the present moment, because that's all you have, and ever will have. What happens in the future, is out of your control. What other people think and act, is out of your control. Learn to accept that. I'm not saying it's easy, we're all control freaks inside, though not everyone admits it. We all have an ego to feed, a sense of self that we have to defend and protect. But, what are we really protecting? Are we in mortal danger, or are we only protecting our pride? Why do we need to protect our ego and pride? You need to realize that nothing other people do is truly personal or targeted at you. How they act, is a result of their own ego/pride, and derives from their own woundedness. And, as I said, should you try to control that? You are not them. Most likely they aren't even aware of their own behavior, it's all a reflex. Which you will do too, if you choose to be reactive to them on first instinct. You can choose to react, or you can choose to not react. (I wrote about this earlier, please read the linked article about why you have a choice). You can rise above the situation by being aware.
Acceptance and surrender means you acknowledge that a certain event happened. And this simple act of awareness, having that time gap between acknowledgement and reaction/non-reaction, is the second key to letting go. The third key is, managing your expectations. Do you have an expectation of how people should act? Do you expect them to act like how you would? Why do you expect that? More so, why do you have expectations at all? Don't you realize that the act of having expectations alone is causing you suffering? Why not accept things and life as they are? Surrender to the moment.
Surrendering to the moment does not mean you do not attempt to improve the situation you are in though. It simply means you are able to remove any reactivity from the ego from the situation. From the resulting state of clarity (because your mind is not fuzzy from all the messy emotions), you are able to decide objectively the best action for the situation. If it is an unpleasant situation, you can find ways to improve it, or remove yourself from it. Frustration, regret, anger and anxiety does not help anyone, don't you realize? Only calmness and a peaceful mind is able to find the best solution. 
Surrender is not the nemesis of improvement. Negativity is. You accept that you are in an less-than-optimal situation, and you do what is needed to get yourself out of it. But don't harbor expectations of what the outcome from your effort will be. The absence of expectation regarding the outcome makes you more receptive to what really is happening, therefore you respond better to it.

I have also heard some people say that the fastest way to let go, is to hate the situation or the other person. Seriously, do you really think harboring negative thoughts to erase another negative thought will make you feel better? Does hate make you smile, or give you peace of mind? Why not accept people as the wounded and imperfect individuals as we all are, and forgive? Compassion and kindness work better, do they not? If you don't believe it, just try it for yourself. 

In short,
  1. Acknowledge the situation, your emotions, any thought that arises. But don't think more into it. Or even better (when you are calm), use this as a learning opportunity.
  2. Live in the moment, accept things as it is. Stop living in your head. See what is truly happening. Stop taking everything personally. Not everyone is out to get you.
  3. Practice compassion. Be kind, both to yourself and others. Kindness is what makes the world a better place. Life is hard enough as it is, why make it harder?

If you are not plagued by trauma, but have a friend who is, and is trying to let go of something, you can help them by also acknowledging their situation. Please don't tell them to just forget about it. As mentioned, denial only offers temporary relief. It's like putting a Band-Aid over a bleeding wound and thinking it will heal by itself without applying antiseptic. Acknowledgement and eventual acceptance is a permanent healer. Sit by them as they grief, help them through the process. That would be one of the greatest gift you can give them. Though of course, getting them out of the house to have some fun wouldn't hurt. Help them see that there is still a wonderful world out there. But when they need to talk, let them talk. If they need to cry, let them cry. 
Here's an article about this: 

Letting go isn't easy. We all have things we care about, and to feel is only human, but they do not have to imprison us. And feeling down is not stupid or silly. Letting yourself feel down forever is, though. Just give yourself time, don't beat yourself up over it. It's all about the process. One day you will wake up and realize the pain is gone, and wonder why you were even hung up over such a small matter, when the world is such a vast and beautiful place. Nothing is too small to ignore, but nothing is too big to hinder your life. Till that happens, all one can do is try, and try again. Life can only get better. =)
And remember, nothing is permanent. The world is constantly changing, so why not you? Don't live in the past.

I cannot remove your pain, I can only hope to provide a guiding light to help you with my words. But whoever and wherever you are, my heart goes out to you and your pain, and I wish whole-heartedly that you will be whole again. Till then, be strong, my friend. I wish you my love. 

Side note:
Living in the moment not only helps remove suffering, it also gives you a sense of peace and joyful calmness. Do try it, it's good practice =)

p.s. Thanks to E, my loyal reader, for his question that sparked this post, and Kat and Eckhart Tolle for the inspiration for most of the material written above.

Get to where you want, without beating yourself up over it

Sharing four articles on how to get to where you want, without beating yourself up over it =)

Hope you had a good week so far, everyone!

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

You don't have to prove yourself to anyone but yourself

Just be yourself =)
Those who love and support you, will do so anyway. Those who don't, well... should you care?

p.s. I just realized that this quote is probably in reference to spiritual enlightenment. But it can still be used in a personal context.

Have courage

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Nothing is permanent, let a new chapter begin!

A song written in 2010 to commemorate the end of the space shuttle program, sung by one of my favorite singers Hacken Lee. But the key message emphasizes the impermanence of all things (however wonderful they may be), and to be accepting of whatever happens. So many layers of meaning, truly. I love this song.

English translation for non-Cantonese speakers:

(In 1972, the first space shuttle Columbia rose to the sky) 
It rose its head to the sky, waiting for the count-down
Children prayed next to the news broadcast
With the journey to the sky, it carried the dreams of millions
The symbol that we could rise above the sky,
It will now be retired into its grave on the ground
One generation of man, 
In the blink of an eye,
We've all become old.

You, completed your mission and made your mark
Now you will pass the days slowly, taking walks with your beloved children
The pride you had in crossing the skies
Is now spent on coping with life's count-downs
You, don't be angry that with age we deteriorate with time
Bringing up the anger from the past in a self-abusing way
The new age is still awaiting for your contribution
So leave behind your uniform and the space rocket,
The next journey is here~!

(In 1986, the Challenger destructed in its ascent)
He, just like the destroyed Challenger
Completed his mission in history and alighted from the train (of life)
But his blood and sweat, showed the way for millions of new Challengers
He, shed his shadow in the setting sun
Left in his legacy the passion that will continue into eternity
Flying away, 
Into the sky,
That bravery of the explorer~!

You, completed your mission and left your mark
Now you will pass the days slowly, taking walks with your beloved children
The pride you had in crossing the skies
Is now spent on coping with life's count-downs
You, don't be angry that with age we deteriorate with time
Bringing up with regret that you would like to stroll in space again
The new age is awaiting for your contribution
So leave behind your uniform and the space rocket,
The next journey is here~!

Doing what you can is already good enough,
Let a new chapter begin~!