Heart Opening Moments

BLOG of a Spiritual Stripper

Stages of Self Realization

Are you living your Best Life?
Free of anxiety?
Free of comparison?
Free of the need to be liked?

Are you living Your Life?
Uncompromising Serenity,
Unexpected Adventures,
Transcending All Challenges?

Are you living Life?
Flowing without Resistance,
Loving without Reservation,
Letting all Spontaneous Experiences happen Naturally?

Are you Life?
All happenings play and subside in You…
As you are the watcher, the non-doer, the stability of all movements.
You are the Light of Awareness that sees All.

You are LIFE

January 12, 2023 Posted by | Aikido Wisdom, Inner Growth, poetry, Self Realization | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

See the Blessing in All Things

“When the world pushes you to your knees, you’re in the perfect position to pray.” – Rumi

During my teenage years, I struggled internally. Didn’t know where I fit in and who to model against, I had taken on some cool friendships that seemed exciting at the time but somehow led my inner world into a darker place. Feeling lost, I sat in a corner bookstore just to hide. And a tiny book fell on my lap being pushed from the other side. I picked up the tiny book and flipped through the pages.

That tiny book was called “Positive Charges : 544 Ways to Stay Upbeat During Downbeat Times.”

Contemplating through the pages, I started to feel a sense of hope as each simple phrase re-focused my mind to see things in a different perspective – a renewed light. There was a feeling of sparks of hope that perhaps I am able to overcome tough times.

Years later, as I became an aikido instructor, I repurchased this book so I could offer some positive charges for the kids and teens that felt lost like I did. What was the secret ingredient in this book? To help you see life’s challenges are not a curse, but opportunities to grow.

I’ve also noticed people who have trained in martial ways tend to be thankful for physical, emotional, and spiritual challenges while others tend to curse these blessings in disguise. In aikido, we use each experience (such as any oncoming attack) to train and strengthen ourselves. It has been incredible to watch the teenage black belts sincerely thanking an honest attack even when one fails to counter.

During my second degree black belt test, I was told to attack my partner with full force with a wooden knife when clearly he was exhausted and had no strength to move. I stabbed him repeatedly and whenever I was holding back, sensei yelled to charge fully. I watched myself “hurting” him and yet his attitude welcomed each attack as an opportunity to readjust his position. Until one full thrust where I thought I had gotten him in the solar plexus but only to discover myself had stabbed the air and fell completely into the void.

My repeated attacks allowed him to find a deeper stillness within himself, and he later described from that quiet place within, things somehow slowed down, and a pathway appeared in front of him and that was his salvation. From the bystanders perspective, he had shifted two inches to his left as I aimed slightly to the right (which didn’t require much strength on his part) and such tiny movement created a void for him to disappear from my attack.

Later as we shared a well-deserved Quebec celebration with beer and poutine, my partner quoted a famous Rumi saying, “Lorsque le monde vous met à genoux, vous êtes dans la position idéale pour prier.” We all laughed, and needless to say, sensei laughed the loudest.

Life happens for you – not against you.

January 8, 2023 Posted by | Self Realization | Leave a comment

Noise Reduction – Find Stability in Peace

The first book I picked up on meditation was a mistake. During my second year in college, I worked in a microcopy lab that needed a faint signal to be expressed when it was deeply polluted by electronic noise. In utter desperation, I went to UCSD book store and searched through the technical section on noise reduction. Most books I encountered were too thick to be useful quickly so I decided to reach for the thinnest book on the shelf.

As I flipped through the pages I noticed the book wasn’t about lock-in amplifiers, image processing, or high/low pass filters. The book’s illustrations were about the body/mind, how when sitting still one can reduce internal chatters and bring about peace and stability of wellbeing. And within that peace, life’s compass – the signal – can be revealed. Clearly the book was placed in the technical section by mistake. It probably belonged in the new age section. Somehow there was a deep urge to know more about this type of noise reduction and I made the purchase.

In the recent years, meditation has become the cornerstone for many schools, medical professionals, and spiritual seekers alike. Because of that particular technical book mistake, I was introduced to a different type of noise reduction than my limited outlook could’ve ever imagined.

Since college, I’ve noticed the noise in my mind from chatters, distracting music, repeating patterns, and even conversations with itself. The more I entertained the noise, the more pompous it became – until somehow I realized it had hijacked my attention and made a mess of my life.

This white noise we tend to take with us everywhere we go is seemingly non-threatening. Until one day it dawns on us that it has taken control of our whole inner world and we have diverged from reality. During a conversation with another, we don’t just share our words but we share our state of being. When our mind is filled with noise, we cannot truly hear another and be purely present. In daily activities, this background noise can sometimes get loud and distract our focus and tasks on hand. Sometimes when we find ourselves in the most pristine and beautiful places on earth, we can allow our mental noise to pollute the environment adding chaos no matter where we go. Even when we make love, when a certain amount of mental noise is present, we cannot be in true affection as the signal of love is covered up by layers of white noise.

The goal of all spiritual and martial practices is to have mastery over ourselves and one way is via noise reduction. In Aikido, we speak of mushin (無心), which often translated to as “no-mind” in Zen or Tao. In higher level practitioners, any mental noise can reduce one’s ability for pure perception, slow down reaction, and in turn be killed in a battle. The goal of this higher level practice is to find a place or inner stability – an equanimity that never leaves us no matter what external situations we face. Only in this inner stability, we are able to move through life without fear, without judgement, and always filled with a sense of grace and true contentment.

Just something to ponder on. Have you encountered the mental noise within yourself? Did this noise have an impact on your mental wellbeing? And did this noise have an impact on your overall life? My daily practice is the purification of the mind so real life can be revealed. I hope you too can join me on this path.

November 10, 2022 Posted by | Aikido Wisdom, Books, Self Realization | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Where you go, There you are

In an attempt to run away from our miseries, we seek various ways to distract ourselves from deeper feelings. We submerge in endless music; stuff ourselves with food and alcohol; seek thrilling adventures; use games, drugs, sex; fill our minds with opinions after opinions; etc… The list goes on.

When the consciousness have had enough distracting experience, or when the emotions are in unbearable pain, then we start to seek something different, hope for something stable. We want happiness that is lasting, we yearn for the contentment that does not fade.

Have you noticed – no matter where you go, what you do, THERE YOU ARE!

I’m hang gliding over the pacific ocean. Photo by @flytpg

What does it mean?

Most of us are a bag of likes and dislikes, pain triggers governed by memories. Our memories reside in our heads, and emotions can be triggered at anytime by someone or something. We move in life as a ticking bomb waiting to go off. And this we carry with us no matter where we are, and no matter what we do. It is always the background noise trying to direct our conscious and unconscious decisions. In a way, we move as slaves to our past.

No matter where you go, no matter what you do, you carry this bag of burden with you. The load of karma.

I’ve seen some people jump into new relationships and end up repeating the same toxic patterns after the honeymoon phase wore off. I’ve seen others move to paradise thinking that is the way to their salvation but only to find themselves unhappy again. I’ve chatted with top photographers and best flying instructors only to find out their seeming achievements do not produce lasting happiness either.

Our karma holds us hostage. Only when carrying this bag of burden becomes too painful, do we ask ourselves the question, “how do we shed this burden, gain stability and find unfading contentment?”

Where you go, There you are.

Maybe the equation starts with the variable called “you”.

All the worlds religions and spirituality are pointing in the same direction – a place of stability where we can enter everlasting “heaven”. Then why only about one out of 15 million succeed? Perhaps the secret is we waste our energy looking outwardly instead of turning the attention within. Who is this “I”?

“Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.”

– Carl Jung




“Find ecstasy within yourself. It is not out there. It is in your innermost flowering. The one you are looking for is you.”

– Osho

May 17, 2022 Posted by | Self Realization | Leave a comment

Divorce the Mind, Marry the Heart

Don’t be a storehouse of memories.

Leave past, future and even present thoughts aside.

Be a witness to the life unfolding by itself.

– Mooji

Words are melting aways in recent times.

Where keeping track of time, dates; analyzing what is happening become too daunting.

This life transforms into one homogenous soup of Love unfolding.

Too beautiful for words.

Too transcendental for understanding.

Life Unfolding is ALWAYS unassisted by your personal self.

Be free of all attachments, fears and concerns by keeping your mind inside your own heart.

Rest in being.

Like this, life is always fresh and imbued with pure joy and timeless presence.

– Mooji

The mind fixates and grabs on to what did happen and tries to predict what will happen as if life depends on attachments, reactions, and projections.

It is always looking for an answer, asking questions of the past, future; and tossing rocks into the perfectly harmonious unfolding river of life.

It is old, wrinkled, and stale.


The heart floats in emptiness – absent of chattering – as the fulfilled emptiness.

It is never in the wrong place.

It is beyond time and space.

It doesn’t ask questions, but flows with the moment with every breath.

It is forever young, fresh, and timeless.


I’ve divorced the mind and married the heart.

Now the mind is tamed, inside the heart, melting into Eternal Love…

July 14, 2021 Posted by | Self Realization | 2 Comments

Your Light

Don’t Cover Your Light

Dear Beloved, don’t be shy to share your light. For you are made of stardust – the very essence of God.

Dear Beloved, don’t cover up your scars. In them live the shimmering beauty carved in every soul.


Dear Beloved, don’t be concerned with stature. For that devoid of genuine substance only illusory in nature.


For I, can only love you for you. Not your covering, not your wage, not your dwelling, nor your pretense.


A charade of the strayed path is no concern of mine.


For I can only love you for you. For your inner beauty, for your kind heart, for your pure spirit, for your loving light.

October 10, 2020 Posted by | Self Realization | Leave a comment

My Childhood Friend

My best friend was the boy next door. He was two years older than the three year old me when we first met. He taught me to draw on white walls, climb up trees, and read tiny little philosophy books. We lived in our own world and had our own language just through our glances. His family introduced me to black coffee, steak tartare and sushi while my parents could barely afford enough rice.

I’ve always loved him.

Years later when I moved to the United States I had forgotten about him. In my 30s I went to visit my hometown and ran into his dad. With deteriorating eyes, the old professor was still able to spot me at a distance. He put his arm around me as we walked and told me that I was the daughter-in-law he wished he had. He then waved to his new wife to greet us. I remember her well, and I remember wondering how at 20 years younger she became his third wife. She was well known in the community as the loud-mouth, and whenever she was speaking, I felt as if she were screaming angrily yet with joyful excitement. Such contradictions, that creature.   

They invited me for tea in their home. She then showed me photos of her soon to be daughter-in-law and protested the upcoming union.

“She is just pretty, white skin and long black hair. But there’s nothing inside!” The third wife screamed at me, waving the photos. “When she comes over to stay with us her long black hair sheds everywhere – on the floor, clogging up my shower, and it even lands in our sacred art studio!”

I looked down, into my teacup, and noticed the floating leaves. Fresh, light, and fragrant. I didn’t say anything.

“We saw your art exhibition! It’s interesting how your style is completely unrelated to your exposure at this Art Institute you grew up in! Forgetting your roots. Must be all that Western influence you received. Still, we wish you were our daughter-in-law!” She noticed my quietness against her own intensity, “I see your Chinese communication is subpar. Anyway, I know the press is coming tomorrow with TV stations and newspaper reporters so I’ve asked my son to prepare you for the interviews. He’s coming to pick you up.”

NO!

My heart was pounding…

I haven’t seen him since I was 12 and I have scars he has never seen. I would rather go on – never having him see me – for the rest of my life.

I’ve aged. I’ve gotten damaged. I’ve never found a deep personal love who was willing to marry me. I’m what the Chinese people call a disappointing “Leftover Woman”.

But now it has just become too late, the door opened and there he was…

“Ba, Ma, Maple.” He called out to my childhood name like no time had passed since we were together. He walked toward me and sat beside me, “sorry I was late, I went by your art exhibition first before coming here. Very unique, like you.”

I smiled. He smiled. That gaze, the lingering glance, our separate worlds reunited.

We walked in the misty rain along the cobblestone road lined with green, yellow, and orange leafed maple trees. “I love when the cold breeze and the rain combine forces, I can feel it in my bones,” he smiled. He’s always so calming, gentle, and mysterious. We walked and walked like time never existed. I felt myself floating yet miraculously grounded. I too felt the rain and the breeze as an invitation to feel the forces of pure existence. Most people never open that invitation and just toss the gift aside. Likewise, I’ve lived closed off from existence for way too long… 

We walked up 6 flights of stairs as the rain began to darken. His apartment was well-lit but small – kitchen, dinning room, bedroom, and another room used as an art studio. I stood in the doorway of his art studio as he pulled down the dusty white coversheet to unveil his new work. I can smell the oil painting still fresh in the air.

Nude, pure rosy white skin, long black hair flowing in the wind. Expressionless. A bit cold, yet mysteriously alluring.

“This is my wife, we marry next month.” He stared off into the corner of the room, “my dad couldn’t comprehend why I fell in love. I guess I’ve always chased the inexplicable.”

I didn’t say anything and walked back to the dinning room and sat down. “So what type of work do you do now?” I was curious why he didn’t live on campus at the Art Institute as most of the children of the elite professors such as his dad also pursued professorships within the institution.

“I teach oil painting and philosophy at City College.” He sat across the small table, “of course my dad does not approve. He has always chased fame, money, and status. For me, I just want freedom.” 

I nodded. Remembering that steak tartare and fancy sushi were never my choice of lunch as a child.

We went on to discuss fractals and how it became became a profound expression of art for me. The chaos, the order, the intricacies, the universal patterns, the self resemblance. I’ve told him each of the pieces came to me as a divine gift – not of my own creation – each distinctively poignantly dictated by a higher intelligence. I’ve used it as a guidance system for my personal evolution.

“Yes, you are beginning to tap into the big ME and letting go of the little ME.” He lowered his voice and sounded so much like his dad lecturing. “Most people live their entire life or lives in the little ME and never expect or let alone imagine a way out. That’s the chaos in the fractal. Order only emerges when you zoom out into the big ME space. Fractals are a mirror into the infinite boundless zoomed-out space where only the big ME exists and the little ME is only a tiny approximation of the whole.”

Without the need to understand his wistful philosophy, I saw the excitement in his eyes, and from there I was momentarily transported into that unlimited existence.

“Just like you and me. We grew up together as little MEs. You believed you were you and I was me. When you moved away I was mourning and later realized you still remain a part of me. Like I was always a part of you. No time or distance can ever erase the you in me, and the me in you. Now that’s the expansion into the big ME.” I was lost in his words and instead reached into the feelings, “In all of the world’s philosophy and religion there’s a unified goal of explaining the obscure, the thing you may call Love, God, or big ME that’s always there, somewhat felt but unseen. Your fractal art is a doorway leading us into the big ME by zapping you instantaneously with the shapes and colors and beauty so you have no choice but to forget the little ME – even if just for an instant.”

Four hours passed like a single eternity. Just for an instant, I realized that he had given me more than just interview preparation, he had given me himself, that self which has always been a part of me…

September 13, 2020 Posted by | Self Realization | Leave a comment

I Took the Road Less Traveled

Most of you are probably familiar with Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken” and this is a poem I wrote to capture what I felt with his words during my hike last weekend in Kings Canyon National Park. Hope you will enjoy.

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I Took the Road Less Traveled
Flo Li
(hiking with the spirit of Robert Frost)

crisp cold air, frozen earth, green grass covered in frost,
my finger tips are numb underneath the worn gloves;
seeking slivers of warm sunshine between dense branches above.

last night, curling in the homely blanket,
scent of grandma’s rich chocolate chip cookies still in my pocket,
sharing toasty hot cocoa next to that bright dancing sizzling fire…
the old cabin often creaked in the winter wind,
but we never cared,
inside
we always feel safe snuggled next to one another
charmed the joyful air between our laughters.

alone,
hiking through hard, rocky, uneven terrain,
growing cold, weak, tired, and wanting to give up…
l patiently took each step knowing I shall never return;
yellow leafed trees reached out their arms toward the road,
I smile knowing I shall never return as the same.

the road less traveled I have chosen,
“bon courage” they said, nodded, and walked away;
“not for the faint of heart” they said, applauded, and traveled another way;
gallantry is not found in rehearsing my pompous acts
but my abidance in the inmost tip of one simple fact.
I shall choose this road over and over again,
how this way leads on to ways
to sights no imagination ventured
as the masses only care to pretend.

I have no luxurious garnish to show when the masses are clothed in twinkling aurora,
even my shoes are covered in dust.
yet, with each step, I have found something robust.
A solid allegiance,
timeless, formless, priceless verdict to trust.

indebted to these arduous steps,
my pilgrimage guided me here;
hidden in the crack of old wounds and deserted sorrows,
lies my durable spirit – shinning so brightly
only momentarily covered in rust.

October 27, 2019 Posted by | Self Realization | 1 Comment

Waking Up in LovE

Soaking in LovE – no explanations, no judgement, no fixes needed, no alteration necessary, nothing to add, nothing to change, nothing to involve, nothing to worry, nothing to grab hold, nothing to let go, nothing needed, yet ALL is vibrant and alive.

Flowers-1-2
Feels like I’m SEEing for the first time… In awe with all forms yet there are no parts only expressions within the all encompassing. The trees are no different than my arms, the leaves and twigs are no different than my toes and toe nails, all is alive inside me as a part of ME. How can I describe this sweetness? How do I put this undifferentiated LovE into words? How do I hold back tears of joy? How do I even call this me?

This is bigger than Aikido, bigger than Yoga, bigger than Zen, bigger than anything form tries to illustrate. An illustration can never fulfill the completeness of the whole. Yet all illustrations and all forms are contained within the all encompassing. This vastness I feel that is all of ME has no edges, has no end, has no limit, has no parts, has no names. I AM limitless beyond freedom, beyond planet, beyond time, beyond ordinary senses… How could this be missed – it was here all along.

It takes so much effort to differentiate the things I see. It takes too much work keeping up with what I’ve learned. I cannot keep up the pretense – it is too heavy of a load to carry. Truthfully I AM the effortless BEING. I have no needs, I have no desires, I have no name, I have no preferences, I have no form, I have nothing at all. ALL of this is ME – from pieces of nuts and bolts to blades of grass, from the waves in an ocean to the not so distant moon, from the heart of a child to the lingering love of the deceased. All of this is ME. How can I differentiate the 5 elements when I see no difference in the sea and the sky? I see no difference in the soil and air. I see no difference in me and you. How could I even call you YOU when I KNOW this is all just ME – manifesting in forms.

Oh GOD how clever are you? The I AM before all of creation was forgotten in order to live this dream life. To believe in the details of manmade stories wholeheartedly. To not suspect that I AM the author to all of creation. That I AM that before all of creation. To humbly say that I am the I AM and You GOD has never been apart from the me as I believed to be. If fact, I AM only dreaming to be not of You. Yet how silly it all was when all of creation and pre-creation only exist in You. How do I not burst from this LOVE that tumbles within, waiting to be released! How do I not burst into pieces knowing I’ve lived here all along…

Oh God, how the mind is relentlessly trying to draw my awareness away from You and into the fairy tale make believe of the day. How I ran off into the wild illusory world to fight dragons and search for love. How long I have doubted if you ever loved me. The fear, the anger, the sadness, the pain, the self-improvement, the need to be better, the desire to be loved were all just a dream. Such drama lifetime after lifetime, form after form, breath after breath… All the battles lost because I have forgotten I am You. So humbly You.

The efforts I conjured to keep up my individual persona. The tears I cried to work hard to be someone. The sweat I exerted to push myself beyond my make belief limits. Oh all that was just the working of Maya. All that was just a forgotten Self. All that was never needed yet epically played. But today I am too tired… Too tired to keep up the false beliefs of millions of past lives. Too tired to be someone when indeed I am no one, I am no thing, and most improtantly I have never been separate from You.

How did I live in delusion for so long and how have I even encouraged others in their delusions to be a better individual when in fact there is no separation and there has never been! Oh how the conditioned mind insists on boundaries to perpetuate “you and me”. But I am too tired to keep up the charade. I can no longer say what is not. I am so tired. Too tired of being the individual me when all along I am the I AM. I am so tired. So tired to try any longer… Slowly the world was let go, all judgements melt away, and all forms are no longer substantial.  I am too tired to add meaning into emptiness. I am too tired to make up more beliefs.

Today, Now, I Rest in Peace. As the only, undifferentiated I AM.

This is the space of the PURE, the space of the uncreated, the space of emptiness, the space of nothing, the space of complete peace. I am too tired to come to any individual you, but if you like, come and find me here – in the I AM.

September 19, 2019 Posted by | Self Realization | Leave a comment

Be A Living Shrine

March-1-16

“The Divine does not like to be shut up in a building. The Divine likes to be out in the open. It is right here in this very body. Each one of us is a miniature universe, a living shrine.” – Morihei Ueshiba

When I started learning aikido, I read extensively about the founder of aikido and his philosophy. At that time I did not understand the true spiritual essence of aikido but I did feel the profound truth in his teachings that surpassed my intellect.  During that time, I would often experience a vivid reoccurring dream.

In my dream, O sensei would appear, floating in front of me, his white beard flowing freely in the wind; he would then smile, point to me, and tell me to build a shrine.

For many years I took the dream literally. When I inherited a dojo with exquisite traditional Japanese design, I worked tirelessly to keep our training space serene and pristine. We had a bamboo garden outside the dojo space, and a shrine inside. I would spend a whole day almost every week vacuuming all reachable corners and repainting walls. I would always light an incense everyday before class and send a prayer to O-sensei to thank him for his guidance. We eventually got a Torii (red gate shrine) installed at the entrance of the dojo.

Yet the reoccurring dream never stopped. Sometimes O-Sensei would laugh while touching his flowing white beard and tell me to build a shrine. And he never stopped pointing to me each time.

About a year ago that dojo closed and the desire to search for a new space for a dojo or build a shrine kept occurring in my thoughts. Yet something deeper inside me advised against it. I couldn’t logically understand what was happening but the dream just got more and more urgent. Something in O-Sensei was pointing toward me, not a space or a location but deeply inside ME.

Every morning I take a walk with my dog on the trails. During my walks I developed the tendency to listen to Mooji’s spiritual teaching pointing to the “I AM.” During this daily redirected awareness, the “I AM” prevails and the world drops away. The external world is no longer the source of my focus, and this body is no longer who I am, instead, I AM. I am “ALL” – a homogenous existence of undivided awareness, everything is me being experienced as a part of “ME”, things and events appear spontaneously as I – the watcher is observing all the happenings – untouched, untainted, and pure. When this is the state of “I”, all things are harmonious, it is the nature of all things, as no assistance from the little personal “I” is needed. When this is the state of “I”, no matter where my body takes me, peace is experienced, and peace is extended beyond this body.

Last night in my dream O -Sensei smiled and nodded his head.

Today, I’m sitting under the trees next to a fountain working in an outdoor coffee shop. I am witnessing the natural harmony that is occurring in my surroundings. This body is the shrine, not a thing out there. And to share this Art of Peace is by BEING the Art of Peace.

March 12, 2019 Posted by | Self Realization | Leave a comment