A hug for my soul

A journey of grieving and healing after child loss

All Roads Lead to Rome

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A suffocatingly crowded place, Kiyomizudera in Kyoto. After climbing the hills and swimming through the intimidating tourist pool my thighs started to sweat in my rented kimono.

Finally. There we were. The gorgeously grand and graceful Kiyomizudera temple opened her arms and embraced us.

One really has to move mountains to arrive at the top.

I thought to myself.

We took photos, prayed, shopped, and painfully made our way back to the kimono shop at the foot of the mountain, again through the intimidating forest of PEOPLE.

At the corner of the shop, quietly stood the Otani Hombyo. I wanted to take one last look at this one cherry tree in full blossom in there, and this sentence stood right in front of it.

和颜爱语. Gentle in countenance and loving in speech.

The Chinese and Japanese characters capture the essence more accurately than translated into English, in my opinion.

Be gentle with your facial expression and choose loving words while communicating.

The way your face looks shines the light of peace and a balanced soul, while your speech delivers the pure meaning of love and compassion.

Your kindness is reflected on how you look at the world around you. Your words reflect the amount of love you have in your heart.

I like adding different connectives when translating, by playing with various versions of translation, I get to be closer to what the writer really wants to express.

Whichever one you mean, thanks for your kind teaching.

I traveled all the way to get this teaching right at the corner of my eye, yet the whole journey was invincible, expansive and priceless.

Judging and Being judged

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It is our first day back into the surreal and hectic city life of Kyoto from the temple mountain Koyasan. Those countless praying and temple visits which seemed to have been docile and mild, ended up stirring up so much energy which has been pushed deep into the black hole in my emotional jungle.

Judging and being judged. You might think the former is a much more comfortable place to be compared to the latter. However, if you dive deeper, which by the way is always painfully achievable, by peeling the emotional onion, by digging under your layers of faux “I know it all” and “I’m the only person hurt on this planet”, by facing up to the floating headless monsters and haunting black clouds of insecurity, self-doubt, anger, jealousy and expectations for the outside world, you get to meet the tiny shivering body hiding behind – an inner child so denied of compassion and love.

Hurt people hurt. We all judge because somewhere down the road, we all have been judged. Perhaps unconsciously, the world seems to be such a soul-sucking place, the only way for us to maintain the illusion of awake-ness is to push the buttons never meant to be pushed in other realms, or to aid to eliminate confusion of this aimlessness and the longing to belong.

Well we are kinda here to feel different sorts of emotions such as our personal boundary overstepped, it becomes complicated once the energy is formed, because judgement is to my eyes a bit like a careless flame, it ends up lighting up each individual’s fuel, oil, paper, textile and even the most innocent item in the house, depending on his life lessons and imprints. The hurt is real, the pain is real, it is part of what we are here to experience by just feeling it, yet we forget the free will is also real.

Our free will doesn’t allow us to become holier by “doing the right thing”, it is simply here to allow us be.

I often am soaked in tears when I feel wronged, bad mouthed or unfairly judged, my being is denied of its right to just be, and all of a sudden I have to meet some sort of standard which has absolutely nothing to do with me? I get hurt because I mourn for my wholeness which now seems tainted, I am quickly talked into feeling like an outsider because I care about those who did it, or I expect myself to be acceptable, or both. It’s like having ran a marathon later never counted, a well-wrapped present returned, a delicately frosted cake spoiled. Or shit.

I close my eyes and beg for an answer from within: “Hey you! This really is getting annoying! When on EARTH am I done here and when can I come home?”

“A little bit longer. When you have played with all cards and found out that all is a game yet better than a game.”

“That sounds like a smart people game.”

“No, you play as people to realize you ARE smart. Now, can you take the back seat and let me talk to her soul, ego?”

“But I’m not good at playing cards.”

“Nobody is. That’s the fun part.”

Now before you got the urge to decide someone is not up to your standards, before you let that dissatisfaction of somebody’s character determine if he or she deserves your respect and love, before you sit in anger and expect persuasion to not dislike someone or something, turn around and give the child left behind a big hug. Ask him/her if he/she feels not good enough for yourself, if he/she has been exhausted trying to be someone he/she is not, if he/she is horrified by the thought of being ignored even longer for just being him/her, or if he/she has had enough having to take all the blame for judging.

Have compassion and forgiveness for those who seek for security and comforting through judging you, they don’t intentionally long to destroy you, they need help to be reminded what powerful beings they already are, and that their imperfect inner child are part of this perfection. They just have been playing a bit too hard to keep in SOUL that just like a coin and all phenomena, free will comes in two sides too.

If after all they think their one and only path to feel less unwanted and useless is to feed on judging others, well, that deserves a lot of blessings too, wouldn’t that be yet another unique and necessary journey, like all the others we’ve traveled and will soon travel.

Thank you for your teaching.

The Butterfly

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Butterflies. They carry way too many symbols. I used to find them too main-stream: A girl would like a butterfly dress; A woman wants to get a butterfly tramp stamp because when you are 20, that seems important; Butterfly cards, butterfly wings, Butterfly cakes, even Minnie’s ribbons are just butterflies without fluffy legs and spooky eyes.

When Vincent was still in the ICU, I got my daughter a random and varied selection of books on saying goodbye to dying siblings. She took one out of those 7 or 8 books and asked me to read it to her: Ben’s Butterflies. It is about a sister losing her sick brother, with whom she used to paint lots of butterflies. Once he has passed she got depressed and detached from the world. Eventually she finds out she’s surrounded by white butterflies which reminds her of her loving brother, encouraging her to smile again.

My daughter closed the book and looked up to me, mum, Vincent is going to become a white butterfly too.

The day after Vincent passed in the hospital, I went home, melted into a chair and continued to cry. I sobbed and yelled, eventually a white butterfly caught my blurred eyes. He danced around our little garden, looked into our window, and when I got myself up to open the window to go outside, he flew higher and higher, and disappeared into the light.

I could hear my heart being cut into a million pieces, I was completely defeated.

After that, white butterflies were everywhere: On my way to the grocery, appearing from every corner from A to B, in parks we went to, near river bands where I biked to, in our yard playing with my daughter, and in China by my mum’s side. This was the first time I ever experienced a hot summer in Germany, and I trusted it to have just happened at the time needed for our grief.

What about when it becomes cold again? I feared for my imagination of my son’s soul being a white butterfly confirming me that he is always around would be cut short by nature, so I accepted it to just be.

Not long after it started to turn cold we decided to go on this trip. It felt like we were guided by a great force, in whichever country or city, wherever we went, there were white butterflies, tiny little insects I have never ever paid attention to nor remembered seeing much of my whole life, sometimes in mysterious and miraculous colors and forms, fluttering in front of our eyes and vibrating in our hearts.

My daughter has been really caring and careful around them, she worries if one dies her brother’s soul dies too, I tell her butterflies are around because the love in Vincent is always around us, and these mysterious little ones vibrate with pure love.

And today in the very northern tiny island of Okinawa, our daughter looked out the window and saw this scene: hundreds of white butterflies in front of our house.

I don’t feel like crying crying anymore, because this love I feel from Vincent no longer needs validation or confirmation, I was amazed and was in a daze by the scene of so many white butterflies, but I am no longer surprised.

The it suddenly hit me. White butterflies in Japan are symbols of souls of children. Even if he didn’t go through all the way to show us his presence, which was so stunning and beyond any word, I am again honored by his wisdom and compassion, to have witnessed his very own vibration with my physical eyes, when the mind was in doubt and occupied the main stage.

Every flutter of the butterfly wings along our journey, now this hypnotic collective presence and movement of all hundreds of butterflies together, played a whole different vibration. And it felt like, home.

I wonder if all those who have lost their loved ones are lucky to receive and acknowledge messages like this, and just trust what Is. Butterflies don’t bring back my son’s body for me to cuddle, but he so grateful is doing all he can to cuddle my heart through my five senses.

And I feel that. Vincent. With my soul body too.

It is the bravest love and deepest trust I have ever felt. From you to me, and from me to you.

What about those who love us and are still physically around, our children who we think came as blank sheets of paper? If there’s butterflies around them, what about us taking a break and just watch how those wings move? What about for once we allow ourselves to feel their very own vibrations and trust that they are here to unconditionally love us and take care of us, not the other way round?

Just because those butterflies are invisible doesn’t cancel out that vibration around you. The effort may seem absent, the love might be mistaken as your own loneliness, but do remind yourself that your very being, is carried by many many who love you and who vibrate for you in all visible and invisible ways, including your helpless children ‘requiring all those sacrifices you have to make’.

An Important Reminder

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How cute.

It is our 4th day in Okinawa, Japan. And this sign was presented to me on my way home.

Please enjoy yourself.

I was not sure what this hostel intended to say with this sign. Something like, have a good time? Have fun?

That thought did not even get to finish its sentence while the voice came in.

No no, it was specifically intended for the “Self” passing by and looking out for messages, aka at that specific time, me.

Please.

It is a kind reminder, a suggestion, a request, and a must. Do this, because dah, that is the only way, a no brainer.

Enjoy.

For me, enjoying it can be small as being surrounded by the aroma of a certain flower, it can also be as grand as just pure laughter. The laughter from a child, the laughter when something is just really funny, the laughter of non brain-processed nor norm-attached openness to just Be.

Yourself.

Being open to ourselves opens our acceptance of others. The self deserves all the love of the cosmos despite all. It requires no fixing, no doubting, no self-pity, no disciplines nor any makeover. You suffer when the self is told to do better, be better or get better. Your authentic self does not thrive on “I’m just the way I am. Nothing I can do to change it. Gotta live with what I am given.” The self is honored by standing by your birth right, by the grace and power allowed and activated through living the everyday life and practicing integrity with those involved.

I hear you darling. Thank you. Please enjoy yourself.

The Other Kind of Grief

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Today I’m going to share something different, that is any other kind of loss and our grief for what’s gone.

My mother-in-law gave me a book a few month ago and I’m still on it, each time I read a page in a train or on a flight, it got me into deep thinking: The Wild Edge of Sorrow.

Sitting in the train from Taipei to Hualian on Taiwan’s east coast, the stunning scenery outside stings my heart, not because how picture perfect it is, but because how much it reminded me of my childhood, the old green small southern town.

In my memory, where I grew up was always covered by unnamable plantation and trees, even in the winter, the occasional mist and frost mingle with the trees, allowing the mountain range to sit back and just be a mysterious background for the mind to wander. On the highest mountain, there’s the beloved Taoism temple called Baohua. I often looked out of the window and waited for the exact moment when the mist settled and the tip of the temple tower came out into the first sunshine.

The scenes outside of the window now are real yet surreal: banana leaves dancing gracefully among other tropical trees, misty green farmland in between aged and fading semi-high rises, white birds on trees, small shops selling homemade breakfast, wheels, and groceries. Laundry rack, garbage on the road, golden roofs of countless temples, small and big, and running rivers throughout the towns. They are not exactly pretty or artistic, but they are so dear and real that they slowly imprint as my very own impression of Taiwan. My childhood is embraced here on this not so far away yet far far away island.

It makes me miss everything about my home: the way people used to talk to each other, the small but cozy streets filled with rope jumping giggling kids, the neighbors’ food which always tasted better than our own, the Sunday farmers market and its smells, the rituals like picnics and praying, and the quiet nothingness honored with cats, dogs, fish, birds and trees, in the sun.

I wonder if people from my generation often feel this longing to go back or up to somewhere else, I wonder whether people who have witnessed rapid changes of their countries and societies also feel like crying for this hole in their souls, as it is so raw, so alone and so overlooked in such a soul devouring world.

I wonder if it is a sorrow that’s bigger than my individual one, if it is a grief that is deeper than my very own sadness.

It is extremely painful to either actively step away from someone or something we identify ourselves with, be it a country, a culture, a city, a street, a house or a childhood friend; It is extremely painful to be ripped off ones’ surroundings and habitat, like an orangutan all of a sudden having to live in a zoo.

That hole is formed.

That hole is never looked at again, not to mention its desperation to be touched, to be acknowledged and to be loved.

Even it was you who decided to end a relationship, even it was you who decided to stop eating one particular food, that person and emotion from your ‘past’, is still grieving in the present, somewhere not so deep in your shelled heart.

In a world where we are taught to abandon the past and for-love the future, we all need a bit of soul hugging.

That’s my opinion.

The Physical body of a Teacher

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In the Aquarian Teacher’s manual, the Ten Bodies are talked about. It was a fun experience for me to sit in class and wait for the next slide, guessing the key words of the next Body.

When it came to the fifth Body, the physical body, the tutor said: Teacher.

Hmm, isn’t that obvious, I thought. We are here to train our bodies to teach aren’t we? Then we moved to the arch line, the subtle, those which are intangibly much more fun to talk about.

So I thought about living by presenting myself as a teacher, by doing my Sadhana, by being a vegetarian, by regulating my life listening to my body.

Then in China I am often stunned by how people focus on the body, how they appear to others and how easily people are influenced by any comment to satisfy the not-so-gently-fed ego. At first it felt like an awareness of taking care of the body by drinking the right kind of tea, by avoiding particular types of food which represent fire, if you have already too much fire, by retreating to resting when women have their moon; Then comes in the crazed pursuit of a collective decision of what is beautiful and acceptable: endless plastic surgeries to heighten the nose bridge and cheeks, enlarge the eyes, fat reduction, bleach the skin, narrow the face and many more ‘beauty packages’ which sounded like a pleasant spa treatment, being placed in the elevator of residential buildings right next to the other commercials to ‘fix things’.

At dinners or just by sitting around randomly, I hear my family talk about how my body is not as nice as before, how I don’t look thin and fare like they wish me to be. Daily talks usually start with if a person looks nice and slim, and women are praised for starving herself after kids into her old pants.

That is deeply offensive and hurtful. To me and I thought, humans. My heart cried. Nobody cared what my amazing body went through and is still going through by baring a baby, birthing a baby, nursing a baby, caring for an ICU baby and grieving for losing a baby. No one said a word about what my body did and still is doing for me. It was straight on my face, you have put on weight and why don’t you wear something nice.

The more often it happened the more it guided me into my consciousness through the physical body- a teacher’s body.

Teach.

What should I teach?

Teach why you love your body and why it doesn’t need fixing.

Hmm. You might wanna sit down for this.

I love how strong it was for supporting my two kids to grow inside of me; I love how badass it was to go through such traumatic birth with me, never giving up; I love how adaptive it is to support my every passion and hobby like Pilates and yoga; I love how free it makes me feel every time I hop into water or dance like a river; I love how wise it is for silently being there as the temple of my soul and my sorrow, pulling me through all darkness and jumping with me in pure joy. I love every stretch mark on my belly, I love my hurting heaps and hips, I love my love handle, I love my pained heart, I love my ultra strong arms when I carry my kids, I love the sun my skin was able to get for me and I am disappointed when I gradually lose that tan, I love the change in and around my eyes which carry the years lived, I even love the bliss my grieving for losing my old body was able to get me to. It is generously open to my soul so I am honored to feel its pain and sorrow; It is vigorously honest with my ego so I know what doesn’t feel good and when to stop; It loves me unconditionally so when I fell, it always got me, firm and steady.

I share my experience here but this deep imbalance of the physical body and refusal of teaching is not unique in only one culture, gender, age group or ethnicity.

If a human doesn’t love his own body but thinks all needs fixing, I guess the whole Ten Bodies must suffer greatly together with the poor physical body’s grief of not being appreciated, the person himself first feels the unexplainable negativity: jealousy, anger, insecurity. Then the whole projection is spread to others, and all-the archline, the aura, the soul, the positive negative neutral, the subtle bodies..are never given any chance to meet each other’s true essence, nor to grieve hand in hand for all their pains, or celebrate the wholesome and balance of this amazing journey they are on altogether.

I am hurting for my hurt and mourning for the whole society’s obsession to spread the hurt, then I realize perhaps not long ago I was unconsciously one of those judgmental voices of my own body and many others’. And now I am trusted to be given the role as a teacher for the body.

If you are taught to constantly fix your body because it is not good enough, you hurting ego knows best that’s all bull; If you are already a teacher, perhaps, what those who trust you enough to hear what you say need is not fixing their posture or lose some weight, but to embrace and love their bodies, and Bodies like they are always loved by the latter.

Now I kinda get it:

Teach, teacher.

Your body is expansive, strong, to be taken care of, and fearless. Just like the rest of you.

Respect and love others’ bodies too.

Because they are your teachers.

Sat Nam.

Kia tere te kārohirohi i mua i tō huarahi

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Before I did my Sadhana today, there was the news of the Christchurch shooting. After a long day of emotional ups and downs, I could not just sit in my meditation and just wait to see the lovely white light shining though my third eye and let my soul dance like no one’s watching, tears came down even before I made it to sit on my mat.

The hearts of those who were praying to their God. The hearts of their family never getting them back home. The hearts of those who pray to Christianity in Christ Church, where the holy temple of Christ is.

I didn’t chant Sat Nam, instead my mind just needed to make sense of things which seem ridiculous, such as a human streaming mass shooting online. I thought about my role here, as small as my hurt ego, as big as if my prayer would even do anything for those who suddenly left the earth today, and those who are still struggling in the hospital for perhaps unfinished businesses.

Then suddenly spirits came in. It’s the guardian angels spreading their bright wings, taking the fresh spirits to fly back to the Source. It was a glimpse through my not m-so-deep meditation, into a world of I don’t-want-to-admit consciousness and wonder.

Then I cry for those who experience loss. Words that’s not done or said yet. Dinners never attended ever. My son never grown to fall into my arms or call me mama. I cry also for myself.

When there is loss, the loss is not yours only. It is bigger and deeper than just yours. The loss is not ours only, it is bigger than we can imagine with our human minds.

Two months ago when we were still in Christchurch, I took a picture of this Māori saying from the national museum.

Whenever there is loss, there is free will and a cross road given. By grieving the loss of others, we find way up there angels singing and deep down there compassion rising. By letting the fear of death guide the mind, way up there, in the temple of Christ, he loves you unconditionally anyways.

That’s what I think.

May the calm be widespread

May the sea glisten like Pounamu

May the shimmering light guide you on your journey