Heart Opening Moments

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A Forgive-ful Christmas


Peace rests within Forgiveness

In Aikido, we always say Arigato Gozaimashita (ありがとうございました) when bowing at the end of class. The meaning roughly translates to “thank you for what we just did together”. In a way by bowing to one another we thank our partners for training with us, for the lessons brought to our attention, and forgive any physical pain we might have inflicted on one another. It is a ceremonial gesture to conclude the lesson.

During our tanto practice a few weeks ago, a senior student accidentally stabbed me on the leg during a throw. I tried to walk it off but the pain lingered as we continued our lesson. At the end of class I found myself wondering why he didn’t pay more attention when holding a blade. Thin wisps of resentment clung over me as I bowed to him at the end of class. I knew he did not mean to hurt me. It was an accident. Just a meaningless accident. I took a deep breath and told myself it was good learning for us both. If he was able to control the blade better he would have. I forgave him quickly. Within minutes we ended up laughing at ourselves for each of our unique clumsiness.

Other times I was unable to forgive quickly. Clinging onto the past can certainly make one heavy load. Especially when I carry it with me day in and day out. In Buddhism Upādāna describes such clinging results in suffering. This is exactly how I’ve suffered this year. Last December someone’s careless remark wounded me deeply. For most of December and January I cried in secret wondering why he wanted to hurt me. I realized that perhaps I have wounded him deeply once upon a time. It was easy for me to forgive him no matter how many times thereafter he cuts into me knowing the pain he must go through. I had tremendous compassion for him and my love grew stronger. On the other hand, it was not so easy to forgive myself. I thought since I played a part in his suffering therefore it was rightful for me to suffer. In a way I secretly wished that my suffering could take away his pain. This self-loathing went on for nearly a year as it took on different forms. Unconsciously I found ways to torture myself and felt it was needed for me to learn my lesson. My self-punishment got worse and worse and forgiving myself was never part of my agenda. While bleeding on the surgical table one early October morning, I knew I can no longer go on this way.

Only if I could let go the past and start anew… Only if I can forgive and be forgiven.

In Luke 23:34 – Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.” When we did not know how our dishonesty, our careless remarks or our insensitivity can deeply wound another, we go on repeating our old behaviors again and again. Only by truly experiencing and understanding our own pain and hence someone else’s pain, we then learn the suffering we all share. This is when compassion arise and we humbly ask God to forgive us and release us from the past.

Only if I could let go the past and start anew… Only if I can forgive and be forgiven…

In the night before Christmas, a star was born to guide us from darkness into light. As we gaze into the sky finding our own guiding star, a miracle is released for each of us – gently flowing toward our hearts and expanding throughout our bodies and flowing towards others around us… We shall let go the past and keep the learning forward. We shall keep our lantern lit to guide the path of those who follow… As we travel forth, I pray for love to return to our hearts, I pray for peace to dwell our minds, and I pray for a forgive-ful Christmas for all.

December 24, 2010 Posted by | Aikido Wisdom, Choices, Tears | , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Hidden Heartbreak

Hidden Heartbreak

Hold On or Let Go? The consequence of a hidden heartbreak can dramatically alter the course of your life.

Have you ever gotten hurt on the road of love? Have you ever looked back and still feel yourself being captured by past emotions? Have you thought that you healed yet still feel tied down by your past experiences? Often times on the road of love, there were many hidden heartbreaks we had to endure from as early as our childhood. Most of times we don’t always fully recover instead we find ways to build thick walls around ourselves to keep love away so we no longer have to get hurt. Imagine if a wound so deep has not been fully disinfected while we keep on slapping bandaids to cover it up, eventually the wound will be deeper and cause even more difficulties in our lives.

Recently I encountered a story that profoundly demonstrated the consequences of life in hell due to an unhealed heartbreak. The type of life one could have lived versus the life one chooses to live can definitely become life in heaven or hell.

Dave and Alice moved in together after dating each other for more than 4 years. Dave purchased a car that would accommodate two kids and a puppy. Dave disliked his job. Secretly he disliked himself and thought love could fix everything. He wanted to marry Alice to live a normal American life. Perhaps once he’s settled down, he would be happy. But for now, no matter what he did, he could not find fulfillment in anything. Only moments at a time, he can immerse himself in snowboarding but most of times he struggles with his memory, his finances, and his orderliness. He lives a very strict life with rules and regulations of how things should be. He did not like the people who refused to follow his rules, including Alice. He made sure that she knew her place and the right and wrong ways of doing things.

Alice entertained the idea of becoming a wife and a mom. She felt as if she was settling for less and she told herself that perhaps this is how marriage is supposed to feel like. Alice loved Dave deeply yet she felt as if she was compromising too much of herself to stay in this relationship. She didn’t want this big investment of more than 4 years to fail so she worked very hard to make him happy and did everything to make things work. She cooked like the way his mother cooked. She went to the gym with him to help him bench press. She didn’t see her friends much so she can be with him. She cleaned their apartment and did their laundry. Sex became boring and submissive yet she never complained. She faked smiles to the outside world and told her family and his family that everything was fine. No matter what she did, she realized that she could not make Dave happy and for some reason she will never be good enough for him. She tried even harder. But somewhere in Alice’s subconscious mind she thought, “if this is the ultimate fate of a marriage, I never want to be a part of it.”

Finally after 5 years Alice and Dave broke up. They both cried as Dave moved out of their apartment while Alice helped him pack with tears. He couldn’t love anyone else if he couldn’t love himself he says… She did the best she could yet she still failed she says…

Alice moved on to a new town and lived a new life. She did everything she could to forget about Dave. She worked on healing her emotional wounds and did not date for several years. There were much psychological wounds to be healed on her own. She discovered that incidences from her childhood have contributed to the fact she never set boundaries to maintain who she is when she was with Dave. As she dug deeper, many aspects of herself surfaced that she never knew existed. Those are the aspects that she suppressed in the past. She realized just because Dave thinks something is wrong such as being joyfully expressive it does not mean it is wrong for her. As she began to discover what makes her tick, she found more and more about herself she never knew existed. Now with a new sense of freedom, Alice had consciously chosen a life filled with authenticity – no matter what others might think. She enjoys her new career as a pole dance instructor and the life that seemed so unbearable a few years ago slowly unfolded into such beautiful patterns of miraculous serendipity.

Dave started dating many different women and looked for ways to fulfill the emptiness he felt inside. He did not enjoy the failure of his relationship. And he just wasn’t happy. The pills doctors prescribed for depression took the edge off but he always felt gloomy no matter where he is.  He got a new job hoping not having to be around with difficult people any more but only found himself stuck with a new group of difficult people. They just don’t get him and they are too dumb to understand his logic. The only times he felt good about himself is when women fell in love with him. Dave’s tall muscular physique and his charming personality can get to any women he wanted. He took them home to his beach-front apartment and made them feel special. Within weeks he would always find that they are all flawed just like Alice. Even this new successful stunning model working on her science PhD who he is currently dating is too dump to understand his logic. She did not put the cereal box back the way he liked just like Alice. She let the water splash around the sink like Alice did. She certainly disrespected his property by putting her finger prints on the wall just like Alice had always done. There seems to be a conspiracy around him to attack and destroy him. Dave made a decision that he must breakup with his new arm-candy and move on again.

What happened? Somehow Alice moved on into a beautiful life she truly enjoys while Dave seemed to move around in circles to endure heartbreak after heartbreak.

This is the consequences of unhealed wounds. As you can see, Alice started to work on her inner transformation to create a truly extraordinary life. Whereas Dave tried to do everything he can possibly think of on the outside in hope to feel better within. We have all been on both sides. Sooner or later another Botox injection or a gorgeous new dress just won’t do the job anymore. In order to move forward in life, we must let go of the past. I hope this story will inspire you to look deeper into your own life and see which part of you needs attentive healing. Have the courage to find help and move on to live an extraordinary life. Isn’t it worth to you?

If you are interested to learn more about the tools to let go and move forward in your love life, come to our workshop Saturday Feb 27th, 2010 in San Diego. More support can be found here with free eBook and webinars.

February 19, 2010 Posted by | Emotional Freedom, Inner Growth, Tears | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Driven by fear?

Harness the power of fear

Harness the Power of Fear and Choose Courage

Life is not easy – it takes tremendous amount of courage to wake up each day, it takes tremendous amount of willingness to be in the moment, and it takes tremendous amount of intelligence to move through fear.  It is a constant choice to live life awaken or asleep.

This morning I woke up not wanting to get out of bed.  The struggles in my mind began before I opened my eyes.  “What if I find more pain on my journey?”  “What if I disappoint those who support me?”  “What if I am not good enough?”  “What if I don’t deserve love?”  Questions as such might seem silly or non-sensible yet the feeling associated with such fear is real.  Initially I did what I always do – ignored the fear and blindly believe it would go away.  As I quieted my mind for a split second, I noticed no amount of ignoring will make any problem (real or imagined) go away.  I can either deal with it or hide in my safe zone again.

Recently my journey has been tough – much tougher than I expected.  When I embarked upon the spiritual journey, I had originally thought that God was going to make everything peachy again.  Much to my surprise, my world has been turned upside down, inside out, and I can no longer tell the difference between what is real and what is imagined.  Everyday I find myself unsure what is going to happen and everyday I have to reaffirm myself and make the choice to move forward no matter what happens.

Today was one of those days I wished I could just hide out or quit.  I wished perhaps I can just take a little break and be asleep for a bit longer.  I even tucked my head underneath the warm blanket and wished the demand of the day would go away and my sense of awareness would disappear.  I secretly hoped that I could once again live an unconscious life instead of having to face the pain of my choices.  I wasn’t sure if I can bear the heaviness of the load I felt within me.  I did not even want to try.  At this very moment I knew I could either play it safe or play to breakthrough and that choice was entirely mine.  I jumped out of bed and stood in front of the mirror.  I can not let myself down.  I had to make the promise to myself to keep healing no matter how painful the process might become.  As I dove into my morning meditation not knowing if I will find bliss or pain, I stayed intimately against my breath and near my thoughts anyway.  I noticed my subconscious wounds have created my thoughts, my thoughts have lead to my emotions, my emotions have lead to my behaviors and my actions, while my actions have given rise to my current circumstances.  It was me – I was responsible for making the choices I made and the actions I took that lead to where I am today.  It was me –  I contributed to my painful reality.  It was me – I shied away from golden opportunities and kept myself frozen with fear.  I can blame no one but my own ignorance.  Now I know better so I can make a different choice.

This is my choice – Feel the fear and have the courage to live deeply anyway.  My journey has become turbulent, unpredictable, and damn right scary.  But it is up to me to continue a hero’s journey.  A hero is the symbol for courage and I shall harness the power of fear and choose to live with courage.

December 21, 2009 Posted by | Emotional Freedom, Inner Growth, Tears | , , , | 7 Comments

My Choice

A teacher's comment changed the direction of my passion

A teacher's comment changed the direction of my childhood passion - now it's time to find that passion again...

It was nearly 24 years ago…  Yet it still hurts like a fresh wound from yesterday…

The day was hot and humid, I gazed out the window and hoped for a breeze of cool air.  I fantasized enjoying a good novel in my favorite tree top instead of having to sit through the painfully slow second grade language class.  I never cared for my teacher.  She seemed like a bitter woman who probably has never allowed herself to experience love.  She was old, stiff, and never been married.

I knew she didn’t like me much.  But somehow, on this hot and humid day, her gaze was fixated on me.  I was a bird trapped in her prey.  Finally after a long struggle of discomfort, she called me to stand up.  Suddenly I felt the first silky breeze of cool air that day…  The entire class stared up, did not know what to expect.  The breeze didn’t last…

She picked up my essay from the pile, held it chest high, and read it out loud, laughed after each line.  My classmates looked at one another, puzzled, but soon caught on and laughed with her – not knowing exactly what the humor was.  After what  seemed like a century of hot and humid days, she finally stopped, cutting into me deeply with her intense blazing gaze – crap, I knew I was toast.

“How can an inanimate object such as a washing machine sing, dance, and have feelings?”  She waved my essay over her left shoulder and demanded an answer.

“I don’t know madam.”  I was certain all objects in the world have sensations and feelings but I couldn’t prove it.  My excitement to befriend and personify my new washing machine clearly caused a short circuit in her head.  This short circuit has somehow sparked pain to  both of us.  She picked up her red marker, wrote a large “59/100” on the top of my essay and firmly handed back to me.  I felt the volcano of anger boiling up inside of me as I swallowed my pride and sat down quietly.

“Class, don’t let you imagination run wild.  Stay within your pre-defined assignment to get 90s in your essays.”  She passed out the rest of the essays one by one while lecturing how an honor student like me could instantly turn bad when instructions are not followed.  Mostly everyone in the class got 95s on their assignment while I sat in shame with my 59.

“Don’t grief something you ain’t got.  Know that you will never be successful as a writer.  Come to the math club meeting tomorrow afternoon since that is the only thing you can manage.”  Her words of semi encouragement did not seem sincere.

Today, I’m 31 years old and have walked the life of a scientist and engineer.  I did find safety in math.  Within the numbers, there are no subjective observations or room to make an excitement of a personified mistake.  Pre-defined perimeters will always make scientific choices for me.  And no one questions my judgment as long as the computer says “yes”.

Somehow, my heart has always yearned to sing its own song and my soul cries out to live its own passion…  No matter how risky it all seems.  I now desire for greater risks and even greater rewards!  I wish to step outside of my safety and live for me and no one else.  Isn’t it time a bird learns to sing its own song?

July 23, 2009 Posted by | Choices, Tears | , , , , | 2 Comments

At the Core of Everything…

We fight, we misunderstand each other, but at the end of the day, at the core of everything, there is only love.

We fight, we misunderstand each other, but at the end of the day, at the core of everything, there is only love.

I was in tears.  I couldn’t understand why my simple expression had such an impact.  I’ve never seen him so angry with me.  Why did he react?  Why did he nearly yell at me when minutes ago things were so nice and peaceful?

It all started when I knocked on the door and called out grandma.  But instead of calling grandma, I used the endearing term she and I have always used with one another – “gotata”.  That’s when dad appeared out of nowhere and stared me in the face and told me to NEVER EVER use that word again.  I was taken back, trembling in shock, I did not know what to do.  He was so emotional.  I could tell somehow this word had hit a major nerve.

But why?  What is the lesson in this?  Did I trigger something in his unconscious mind?

At night, I still couldn’t fully forgive him without a better understanding.  Knowing my dad, he rarely talks about anything beyond the boundaries of the intellect, being emotionally intimate with anyone is impossible for his psyche.  Nevertheless, I HAD to know.

During our night walk with mom, I couldn’t help myself and brought up the incident that had happened earlier during the day.  He told me the word “gotata” is not in the dictionary.  “So what?” I replied.  He was getting more heated, “do not use words outside of the dictionary!  I’ve held back for 30 years and every-time I hear that word it feels like a cat scratching my chest open!”  Now we are getting somewhere.  Somehow this word does touch a sore spot in him.  “So what if I use a newly created word that is not in the dictionary?  Shakespeare does it all the time!” I noticed myself getting even more emotional and I might actually explode.  He couldn’t explain.  He just stood there in anger.  I had to push more, maybe the explosion will be more productive than the 4th of July fireworks surrounding us…

It back fired.

I ended up walking alone for miles when mom and dad went their separate ways.  Cried my silent tears, I sat on the curb side wondering what just happened.  I wanted to laugh at how silly this whole thing was.  We were fighting with such intense emotional explosives  over a word.  Not religion or politics, but A WORD!  As I quietly walked home in the dark, I hoped for a revelation.  There has to be a lesson in this vivid experience…

This morning after my meditation, grandma finally told me the true history behind of the word – “gotata”.  When I was an infant, I did not smile much.  Grandma did everything to make me smile.  She would make funny faces, give me toys, even sing and dance.  Finally she noticed that certain sounds made me laugh.  And after experimenting for a while, she found “gotata” contained the perfect magical ingredients that made me laugh in a consistent manner.  This was the birth of our endearing term.  She and I have called each other “gotata” as long as I could remember.  This word contains so much love for my soul that I refuse to ever let it go.  This is the love that grandma and I shared, it is special and eternal…

A few hours later, after an intense internal forgiveness process thanking the potential gift from dad, I went on to see if he was still angry.  As soon as I walked up, he apologized.  I knew he loves me but he did not know what he was apologizing for.  Me neither.  Somehow I had a sense that being the ivory tower intellect that he is, he wanted his daughter to look, act, and speak the part as well.  I asked him if he would feel small if we spoke in native tongue, he said yes.  “I love you too dad,” I told him tenderly as I gave him a hug.  “I want you to have more vision and communicate at a higher level.”  He gazed into my eyes with such sweetness.  Dad had to fight the Chinese government and corrupt officials to even get a fair chance to begin his ivory tower education.  And the intellect means the world to him.  Naturally he would project his beliefs onto me.

I understand it all perfectly now.  At the core of everything, there is only LOVE.  Grandma found “gotata” to make me smile, dad refused the term to keep me at an ivory tower status.  Both were all out of love – in their own unique way.  For grandma, my smile is worth a million kisses; for dad, the intellectual status is personal power and all that is.  Both of them wanted to give me what they value the most – from the love within the depth of their hearts.

Wow!  How beautiful LOVE is…

I can judge the place where love came from, I can choose to misunderstand their true intentions, and I can value one form of love higher than another…  Somehow in my mind and my heart, I know that love is love, and below the surface of emotional explosives, behind the masks of our shells, and at the core of everything, there is only LOVE.  We love in different ways, we interpret love and we accept love in different ways.  By recognizing that our ether is made of molecules of love, we can fly higher to another plane of enlightenment, to view life’s tears with understanding, with joy, and with celebration.

At the core of everything, there is only LOVE.

July 5, 2009 Posted by | Emotional Freedom, Inner Growth, Tears | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Tipping Point

Waves of Sadness

Waves of Sadness

While sipping a cup of warm industrial coffee, staring into the barely ticking clock, I felt lazy in my layers of thick clothing.  Suddenly out of nowhere, my best friend announced that he was leaving San Diego.

Shocked, I started to feel my hands shake as my voice became the size of a dime.  Hiding in the corner under layers of protection, I faked a momentary smile and said that I was happy for him.  But all I could focus on was he won’t be around anymore.  I have grown severally attached to him.  Now I feel as if my heart was breaking into pieces.  It all came so fast that I did not know how to react.  All of a sudden the rock I stood on crumbled and nothing else in the world mattered to me.  He is the foundation that my life has built on.  The person I am today is built on that foundation.  Now my whole belief system and my whole being have been shaken.

He told me the only thing that’s holding him back is me.  I knew.  I had no better teacher than he, I had no greater motivator than he, and I had no closer friend than he.  I also knew that I have been very well trained in hiding my feelings and no matter what he said, it will not change the way I react.  I acted cold.  Perhaps this is the only way I knew how to stay strong.  I remained calm as I watched the tears forming in the corner of his eyes.  He gazed into me, grabbed onto that thread of vulnerability and gently touched me as he placed his right hand over his heart and said, “You are too good for me, and much more than what I deserve.”

I held my breath and wished he could not see the infinite weakness with overwhelming potential to take control of me.

I quickly stood up and started to walk away.  I could no longer control my emotions.  As I turned back, our long lingering glances met.  They were more than just glances – we were trying to hold on to each other.

Oh, there’s no love in my life, the moment that you go away.  There’s no night, there is no day.  The world stops turning, the clock stops ticking…”  Fitting isn’t it?  The DJ on the radio somehow knew exactly which song to use in order to push me over the edge.

I had to get out – fast.  I had to get away from him.  With the rain drops slamming into my face, I ran as fast as I could across the crowded parking lot.  As soon as I got inside my car, a wave of sadness rushed over me.  I felt the pearl sized tears streaming from the corners of my eyes gathering in my lap – turning into an endless sea.

October 28, 2005 Posted by | Tears | , , , | Leave a comment