Heart Opening Moments

BLOG of a Spiritual Stripper

The Place of “NO NEED”

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“What can I support you with?” she asked.

“Nothing. There’s nothing I need.” I answered.

When you rest in the place where all is provided, nothing is lacking, there’s nothing outside of yourself that you need – that’s where you will find me.

It took me a very long time searching outside of myself looking for a place that feels like “home” – that place where I have finally “arrived”. In the past, even though I was brought up to be as independent as possible as the only child, I didn’t have the emotional resilience to truly find the balance within. I’ve always looked elsewhere for a place where I can feel more grounded, where I can find comfort. I’ve placed extreme importance in love relationships secretly hoping a knight in shining armor will save me and take me where I need to be. No man was ever able to be THE ONE for me. Not even possible soulmates. No one can always be available when I am in a crisis.

Then it happened. One crisis after another. I couldn’t stop them from coming. And no one could ease the pain I felt physically and emotionally when I was in the hospital bed unable to speak. Then he came, brought me a single odd looking orange flower that looked like a giant spider. He didn’t speak. He placed the flower vase on a table near me, sat next to me and held my right hand…

This is not a love story. At least not the type of love story you are familiar with. His name is Jonathan, and he was one of the triathlon coaches. I remember distinctively when I transitioned from cycling in a peloton to riding on my own. I disliked the silence I had to endure on my own. He rode up behind me and we started chatting. Also a scientist at the time, we quickly fell into an intellectual friendship. After riding beside me for a while, I thanked him for being there supporting me and how important it was for me to have a sense of kinship. He quickly turned toward me, with an intense look, he said “you have to learn how to be comfortable alone.” I watched him as he rode away in front of me. Shocked, I didn’t know what to say.

It was very fitting when he came to visit me in the hospital, in silence, with a gentle smile. He just sat there with my hand in his hands – completely open, accepting, without a purpose, without a need.

Last night, a dear friend brought me a small bouquet of flowers. In the center of the bouquet is that rare orange flower I saw many years ago. The orange pin-chusion protea, Leucospermum, it had somehow brought me a flood of memories of who I was. Eleven years later, I am in gratitude of Jonathan’s simple gestures that significantly altered the direction of my life.

Sitting in the garden, listening to the wind chimes, watching the birds generously helping themselves to the wild bird food as the pink and purple flowers dance in the wind, I have finally arrived – into the heart of who I am.

 

 

 

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May 17, 2017 Posted by | Emotional Freedom, Enlightenment, Inner Growth, Self Realization | 1 Comment

Finding Beauty In Rare Places

Beauty comes in many different forms in this life – inner peace, wisdom, music, dance, painting, photography, color, aliveness, laughter, smile, touch…

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Yosemite Valley with Yosemite Falls in the backdrop – Nov 2017, FloLiPhotography.com

Often times the propaganda of society makes us feel the need to seek external beauty and external validation in order to find inner peace or true beauty. I can purchase the newest liquid eye liner to achieve deep glowing mysterious eyes when someone gazes into my soul. I can mesmerize someone with my plump kissable lips. I can even have my perfect glossy flowing hair that projects a sense of carefreeness and effortless beauty.  Beauty magazines everywhere are paid to advertise to us to consume more and more products in order to feel adequate. In my teens, I never felt adequate. And I always thought of myself as the ugly duckling growing up and that feeling only intensified into my twenties. I didn’t have the effortless beauty others projected in the magazines and I didn’t have the soft flowing blonde hair and blue eyes I thought as standards of beauty. I too once believed that the girls in the magazines were the true measures of beauty where I always fell short of the norm.

In my late twenties and early thirties I had to endure many hardships. With scars on my face and a fractured body from a cycling crash, with stiffness in my neck after a serious whiplash, being romantically rejected by a man I thought was my soulmate only added to my sense of inadequacy and worthlessness. During my hardest hours no one could understand my pain and eventaully nothing I did externally offered me comfort and relief. I had nowhere to turn but to go within. It was only when I turned inward that I found what I really am and that knowing is now always the true solace nothing external can ever offer me.

Nowadays beyond the place of solace and comfort, I’ve found beauty in some rare places I have forgotten to look – such as a momentary bloom of a flower so vibrant and filled with life, or a gentle smile of a child who is at peace, or the individual notes so artfully formed into an alluring symphony.  We are all filled with so much beauty inside each and everyone of us – some parts are shown and others are waiting to be discovered. As I have discovered the most beautiful thing about the hardships I’ve endured or you are currently enduring is they hold the potential to cut you open so deeply that you are exposed to the very core of what you really are – when there is nothing else left to cover up the true you, naturally more light and more beauty will shine through.

Be thankful my friends. No matter what you are going through. Like a diamond in the making, the heat and pressure is there to make you stronger and brighter. Use the discomfort and hardship to shine even more beautifully. After a while, you too will discover beauty is never something out there, it is inside – sometimes getting expressed externally. The beauty you discover inside has always been there in the most rare places and somehow you will see that beauty has always been with you throughout the entire eternity.

December 3, 2017 Posted by | Self Realization | 2 Comments

I am Not Here to Comfort You

Shocking! Good! I love you – but I am here NOT to comfort you – I am here to awaken you.

You can call me a mean person, you can call me insensitive, you can tell me that I hurt your feelings, but I refuse to give solace to your ego, your persona, and your self-imposed limitations. I stand for the larger you.

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Birth of Veracity – Showed in Generic Gallery San Diego Exhibition Titled “Microscopic Expressions” and Xi’an Academy of Fine Arts China Exhibition Titled “Harmony in Duality”

Several years ago the name for one of my internationally showcased fractal art pieces arose in me, which I called “The Birth of Veracity”. The name came during a philosophy class. We had just studied the time when Jesus developed an inability to express any lies in his life – that’s when I found myself tearing up, knowing that this was the direction my soul was pulling me. That night, I brought the “Birth of Veracity” into the world.

Veracity: (from Old French veracitie; from Medieval Latin vērācitās  – “truthfulness”; from Latin vērāx – “truthful, speaking truth”; from vērus – “true, real”.)

Today, I am just beginning to understand the truth behind “Veracity”.

In the past, I’ve been the nice girl, the sweetheart, the loyal friend. Then after my series of awakening experiences, I became more and more unable to be that “good friend”, the patient listener, the tireless helper. I acted in such a manner that was no longer consistent with my conditioned programmed persona – the old ways my mask lead my life was no longer true. My mask was deteriorating. And neither I, nor my parents and friends, was familiar with the new me. From my earlier blogs, you probably remember that I would  get physically ill when I even told white lies. So I followed the energy of the truth meter.

Needless to say, the new me behaved in ways that created discomfort to those in my presence. I stopped being a life coach, because giving solace to individuals who were clearly on the verge of uncomfortable transformative growth, was clearly a disservice. I knew from personal experience that turmoil and pain were the building blocks that gave fire to my death and arising. Sometimes to truly help someone is to trigger them so they can finally look into the true source of their pain. Of course that does not make me the most popular – I’ve been unfriended on Facebook and in life, I’ve been called all sorts of names, but every once in a while, there are a few who decide to stay around.

A high school friend came to spend the weekend with me. She came from a long Indian tradition of spiritual teachers called gurus. I was not gentle with her. I gave her a warm bed and comforting soups, but the way I spoke to her did not give her comfort. Weeks later, she sent me a payment for our casual weekend together she called guru puja. She included a note – “Guru means the one that dispels your darkness not because one desires to be your spiritual teacher, one dispels the ignorant darkness because one has the necessary light within. Thank you for being that light for me through your extraordinary circumstance and the learning you received, I must follow that light to the truth no matter how uncomfortable it gets for me. I hope you will receive this puja offering as a token of my love.”

If you are looking for a “friend” who will comfort you, agree with you, do what you want, listen to your insecurities, and tell you that you are right, I am not that “friend”. If you are looking for an energy expressed within any person that will challenge you, hurt your feelings, bring up your insecurities, threaten your limitations, and destroy the way you are today – so you can become the way the creator intended you to be – then I am forever tirelessly, selflessly in your service. I am not your “friend”, I am your servant of truth – I will light a candle in you so you can find your own veracity.

About Art by Flo please visit the interview with WebMetropolis.org 

April 25, 2017 Posted by | Self Realization | Leave a comment

Finding Inner Balance

Inner peace comes from inner and outer balance, a state of being natural, open, with no judgement, and without attachment. One of the reasons I study aikido is to be able to spot my own “errors” as well as help others spot the same.

What I call an “error” is when our own perception becomes clouded by the needs of our ego. Events and external happenings are neutral until our ego places a value-judgement on them. We get fearful, we get angry, we get sad, we get aggressive as we tell ourselves a story we made up about what is actually happening – AND we want to get even! The ego becomes obsessed on fixing the external world while completely ignoring the self – hence we give up our own physical/emotional/psychological/spiritual wellbeing by giving up our inner peace. The ego believes we must FIGHT for what we believe in, we must DO something to make a difference, we must STRIVE to be noticed. And that someone else must be “BLAMED” for the circumstances, and we must “PUSH” to make things happen.

The study of aikido along with my Isha Yoga meditation has allowed me to be sensitive enough and honest enough to notice my own “errors” before my ego leads me astray. The words – “FIGHT”, “DO”, “STRIVE”, “BLAME”, “PUSH” can give you a sense of the feelings they illicit in your body. Do they have a balancing effect or unbalancing effect? We can be the scientist and try the different feelings on for effect – do they bring peace in our bodies OR do they make us top heavy so we can be tipped over easily? Now the real question comes next, “can I truly trust my own perception and actions when I’m off balance?” and “can I trust another person and his/her decisions at the time when he/she is off balance?”

Small children are naturally very perceptive. Whenever I am off balance internally while trying hard to keep my body balanced, they know, and they act out. They don’t listen, and they become loud and disruptive. However when I am naturally open, happy, and balanced, they all work together naturally in a loving and caring manner.

The real work begins after a spiritual awakening. This is when we can actually be non-judgementally honest with ourselves. My daily Zen practice is to watch whenever I am unenlightening myself. Enlightenment is not a haphazard deal, it is up to us to notice when we give up our own inner balance hence giving up Enlightenment. Personally, I have to be vigilant to keep an eye on my actions and micro-decisions so my ego doesn’t run the show. I have no control over other people and external events – but I do have a choice of what I align myself with. It is up to each of us to choose to either 1. bring emotional pollution to the world that can create war, or 2. bring a scent of sweetness and love to the world that can heal all wounds. The choice is ours.

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April 11, 2017 Posted by | Self Realization | Leave a comment

Don’t Forget to Charge your Battery

Your laptop needs to be charged. Your phone needs to be plugged in. Even your winter electric blanket needs to be connected to the outlet or else it doesn’t provide heat. Have you thought about charging YOUR batteries?

This has always been a hard lesson for me. I have a tendency to use my newly gifted spiritual power to burn the candle at both ends. During the times I have power, I can accomplish many things for a long period of time, sleep only a few hours and get by with extra energy to spare. Sometimes I can even go on like this for days or even weeks. 

Until – I crash.

I get irritated. I get annoyed. I get agitated. I get sick. I get tired of my own pattern. 

I-Ching #5 is a card I draw often. It always reminds me of the art of waiting – and to shower oneself with the proper nourishment. 

Often times when we think of nourishment we think of nutritious food. I sometimes run to Nekter Juice Bar to nourish myself with a big green smoothie or the superfoods acai bowl. I drink tea when I need to take time and slow down. I make myself a big pot of vegetable soup on these cold windy nights. Yet, that is still not enough. Then we wonder if we are getting enough rest. We think if we just get enough hours of sleep that can be nourishing. Or even better – when we get enough good quality sleep that can be nourishing. Yet, that too can still fail you.

Unfortunately for the individuals walking the spiritual path, nourishment is beyond rest and nutrition. Our batteries must be charged with that extra zest called the spiritual power. Spiritual power comes from several different sources for me.

dsc_6915One, if I become meditative – enter into the quality of meditation, I get charged. If I DO the ACT of meditation without an inner stillness, then this quality of mediation does not occur and I DO NOT get charged. BEING the meditation is more important than DOING the meditation. It doesn’t matter where I am, and what I am doing, if I can get quiet enough and intimate enough within, I come “home” to that inner stillness. The best part is, I can be completely exhausted and hating life, but now with just five minutes of listening to the Heart Sutra in the car, I can completely charge my battery and renew my senses. For this to be effective, I find it best to be alone. 

Two, when my body is exhausted, I cannot push myself into DOING more physical activities. Instead, I must lovingly move the body like a mother rocking her newborn. For me, any pre-determined set of yoga or aikido techniques will become damaging at this point. For my body and where I am, I unroll my yoga mat, light a candle, offer a prayer, and sit with a cross-legged position and allow the body to move itself. Sometimes the body starts to move in a circular motion clockwise and the movement changes direction by itself into counter clockwise circles. Sometimes, the neck releases itself by combining strange primitive movements and leading the body into past memories. Other times, as soon as I sit down, tears start to flow and a new compassionate understanding arises about the self and the collective emerges. I don’t try to control it. The body stretches itself in way I am not able to accomplish on my own. The energy guides the stretches. Whatever goes, goes. All I can do is give time and space to allow this healing to happen to me. I am present, and non-judgmental. I allow the energy to move through my body however it needs to.

Three, when I get into the same routine for too long, I feel a dimming of my own light. With my aikido schedule, I teach at two different schools and offer private spiritual and physical healing support to several students outside of group class. I put on parties and cook large dinners for my friends and students. So when I have given so much consistently I do not need anything in return from them. But I do need to charge my own battery. I find I need inspiration. That is one of my surest ways to charge my battery with that spiritual zest. For me, I can easily find that inspiration by a change in my routine. Recently, the mountains, clouds, and even just the wind can renew my senses and awake my spirit. Many years ago, my fractal arts sustained my spiritual zest. Then it was my painting. In the past year, my photographs of vast spacious flowers gave me energy, and always, the energy of creation guides me into new territories. If I just simply follow the guidance, I gain salvation and fulfilment beyond my wildest dreams.

By no means am I asking you to follow my path. As we embark on our paths together, perhaps we can share some similar points we can all benefit from. This writing is a little reminder for myself to charge my own battery. And I hope my experience can help to remind you to charge your battery at least a few minutes everyday. Be gentle my friends, Be Love, and Be Well. 

January 23, 2017 Posted by | Self Realization | 3 Comments

Aikido – “is uke(受け) the victim?”

Every Wednesday in Encinitas Aikido, I teach a class called “Aikido for Adults – Applied Spiritual Practice.” Nearly every week we have someone new trying out aikido because they heard wonderful things about its philosophy. It has always been in my heart to share aikido not as a way to strengthen the ego, but as a way to strip away our pretence, our fears, and our desires, so we may uncover our most natural, most powerful, most authentic self.

Aikido is not easy. It might look graceful and smooth but the learning process itself involves the complete commitment of all of you – your entire being. Many spiritual seekers practice aikido to occasionally feel the “magic” of a true aiki-moment, some are drawn to the insight into one’s own spiritual development, others come to seek out and break their own barriers to freedom. There are many seekers, but not as many followers. Aikido is not easy, it is especially not easy when one has to give up an untruth she/he has carried for so long.

Yesterday, a new student asked innocently, “is uke the victim?”

She walked in for the first time yesterday 1o minutes before class telling me about all of her injuries and why she will never be able to do an ukemi (aikido falls and rolls). She too had a whiplash like I did from a car accident. She also shares a similar experience of a bike accident. I can feel the tension and the fear she carries all too well. Due to the nature of this particular class, I told her the most important thing is to respect her body and accept where she is as long as she takes away the spiritual practice of aikido to apply in her own life.

During class, we worked on neck and shoulder exercises as a way to find union with the breath as movement and movement as breath. The energy in the dojo was slow, tender and calming. Then we moved into a relatively complicated technique. The energy in the dojo shifted to a playful yet thoughtful nature. Our new student giggled as she found such simple joy in a “back break-fall” as she was able to quickly regain balance on her feet again after falling. Later, towards the end of class, we explored a few rounds of fast paced high intensity hajime training. Suddenly the stress level increased in the dojo and my loud voice caused the new student to retract more into her fear. During the last round of hajime training, the new student asked innocently, “is uke the victim?”

I was surprised to receive such a question. I know the Japanese terminology so well that I never even thought of a different perspective. Uke (受け) literally means the one who receives. To me, receiving is like being given a gift. I hadn’t thought of uke as a victim. Yet I could see the validity of her question.

At the end of class, as we calmed down to a normal breathing pace, I gathered the students around in a circle to address the question. Being guided, I began by telling them a children’s parable called “Little Soul and the Sun” by Neale Donald Walsch. One day, the little soul wanted to go to earth and learn about forgiveness. But he couldn’t do it alone. He had to find a friend who would help him to learn forgiveness. So another brave soul volunteered to share the journey to be born on earth and help the little soul to learn forgiveness. It was such a gift that the brave soul would even consider to share this journey and become so dense and dark in order to help the little soul learn forgiveness. The little soul was overjoyed and felt very thankful to have this opportunity to forget who he really was so he could truly learn about forgiveness.

I never answered her question directly. But I saw the awe in her eyes as she tried to hold back the tears.

December 15, 2016 Posted by | Self Realization | Leave a comment

Why Aikido?

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Jacques Payet Shihan effortlessly unbalanced me yet supported me through his aikido magic during a demonstration in Aikido Del Mar 2016

I have been practicing aikido for more than 8 years. It has been my joy, my frustration, my workout, my meditation, and most importantly – it has been the way I gradually opened my heart to recognize the source of love. Nowadays, it is the source where I can demonstrate my spiritual teaching through the physical experience of aikido. And I hope to share a part of my heart with you as TRUE aikido has always been my love.
Recently I was working with my sensei – Jacques Payet Shihan from Japan to form a Non-profit Organization for the exchange of aikido as a way to share and promote peace. Below is a section about what aikido really is – beyond the superficial and into the tangible, the emotional, and the core of this spiritual practice. I hope you will enjoy it.
          Aikido is a lot of things – it is about focus and concentration of energy; it is about blending and unified non-resistance; it is awareness of self and others feelings; it is intuition, humility, beauty and grace. Aikido is also about developing understanding of the laws of nature, which allows us to perform a movement without unnecessary force, without struggle, instead, we use the strength of our integrity from a strong body center-line to unite the body, mind, and spirit. It is about channeling natural energy through the repetition of basic movements and basic techniques for a lifetime achievement. It is also about personal discipline – taking small steps day after day without giving up. It is about perseverance, courage, and determination.
          But more importantly it is about love. Love in Aikido? Yes, love is the magic that transforms confrontation into harmony, brutality into tenderness, resentment into wonder. With time and proper training you will be able to change painful techniques into mysterious control, change harsh throws into magical balance. Aikido is all of that and more – and it is simple. Not easy, but simple. You have just to train and train and keep training. It is about not looking for results, instead, just have faith and when in doubt train more. Before you realize it you will have come a long way.
          One day you will realize unresolved feelings of negativity turned into a miraculous surrendering, and your internal struggles have somehow melted away. Then one day, your partner will want to experience your magical joint locks and throws again and again because it felt so good. And both of you laugh and laugh because both of you felt the magic of love – as your mind and your heart start to open, you laugh more and feel the lightness of being, the stability of balance, and the joy of appreciation – that’s when you have experienced true love. Aikido is simple but not easy. Don’t give up when things get tough. Just keep working at it. Bon Courage.
                                                                                       – Jacques Payet Shihan, Mugenjuku Aikido Worldwide

September 15, 2016 Posted by | Self Realization | 2 Comments

Resting in the Vibrant Emptiness

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I want to inspire a great vastness and spaciousness within you.

Often times we are completely caught up in filling any open space with loud music and endless chatter, with news and politics, with food and alcohol, with exercise and external activities; we are even obsessed with creative production and intellectual stimulation.

We forget to rest, we forget to return to neutrality, we forget to appreciate stillness, balance and this beautiful vast spaciousness within us.

This place of vast spaciousness is the source of our sanity and the source of true healing.

September 5, 2016 Posted by | Self Realization | 4 Comments

Beyond Awakening – Live Gently

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As we grow more aware of who we are, we naturally notice that we are connected to all of life. We stop feeling separate, we stop feeling better than someone else, we stop our old patterns of “pushing through” life. Life itself becomes a song of love with its tenderness – because we ourselves have become softer, kinder, and more peaceful. This awakened life is naturally more gentle – like a whisper, like a butterfly kiss, like a pleasant cool breeze on a hot summer day.

I’ve never actively chased awakening or enlightenment. I never thought much about it. The first awakening happened by accident through an accident 10 years ago. Thinking back, I guess I’ve always known something BIG would happen in my life and I would die at a young age. I was okay with it. I was forced to have my hand read by old Chinese gypsies and wise monks when I was a child by my mother. Some of them warned my mother that my life line disconnects and there’s a strong chance I would not make it past my 28th year. The number 28 in I-Ching symbolizes a significant test in one’s life where the pressure of karma accumulates into a pinnacle.

Needless to say, the younger me was not at all gentle. I think there were many reasons why. Growing up, I was a “Tom Boy” and I climbed up trees and got mud all over my face. I think my mother guided me into being a “Tom Boy” because I was always afraid. The first time I got a cut on my knee and saw blood, I thought I was going to die. In order to toughen me up, my mother had me play with the boys and be one of the boys. It did help me to have more confidence in my own ability to survive. I was also a slow learner. My father was the orchestra conductor of Xi’an Academy of Music and he was surrounded by over-achieving excellence. And I was not excellent. So I had to be shaped into excellence. I did enjoy music, but I was terrible at following instructions. I found reading music sheets a form of torture. But I had to push through it with two hours of practice per night after school and after homework. I learned early on that life is a constant struggle, and that there’s only work with no joy. Perhaps it is also in the genetics of the Chinese culture that emphasized the survival of the fittest. Since I wasn’t physically strong, then I must become book smart and emotionally strong. Therefore I must adopt the type A personality structure in order to make it in this lifetime.

Yes, a type A over-achieving “Tom Boy” is definitely not a gentle being. But it was the way things were. It got me far in my career but it was exactly the sword that nearly killed me. This type-A-pushing-through-life attitude masked my true emotions and physical exhaustion during a half iron-man race – giving me the perfect opportunity to experience the accumulative pressure of karma.

Karma.

Karma refers to the spiritual principle of cause and effect where intent and actions of an individual influence the future outcome of that individual’s life. Karma means it was my doing that resulted in my own misfortune or it could also mean it was my doing that resulted in the wonderful fruits of my labor.

It was my karma that caused my cycling accident 10 years ago. It was this drive to do more, be better, achieve more in me that pushed me off that bike going fast down a hill. Karma is a bitch. And the person that created the bitch was ME.

Today, a bit over 10 years since my accident that nearly killed me, I am able to revisit some of the painful memories. In a way Life spared me so I can re-do my life. The old wounds of karma still hurt. But looking at the outcome as I was the one who caused my own pain is enlightening.

Today, the day after I trimmed the trees and flowers in my garden, the sunlight seeps through in the morning on my patio to greet the butterflies, hummingbirds, and snails alike. I opened my eyes after meditation to find Love – sitting – right there – within me.

 

 

June 23, 2016 Posted by | Death & Rebirth, Enlightenment, Inner Growth, love, Self Realization | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I AM… Life

Relax.

Life is happening all around us.

Nature knows the fundamental process of creation

That is the source of you and I.

You don’t need to be better, strive more, or work harder in this very moment.

Relax. Enjoy… Life.

You are.

I am.

Life.

March 23, 2016 Posted by | Enlightenment, love, poetry, Self Realization | , , , , , | Leave a comment