A hug for my soul

A journey of grieving and healing after child loss

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

Let the Sunshine In

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We are now in China visiting family.

My family has been a showcase of all things beautiful: love, devotion, service and compassion for everyone’s place. My family is also an abyss full of darkness and ugliness: greed, conditional love, dependency and broken self-esteem.

I realize those everyday dramas still shake me emotionally: closed-off father, greedy uncle and aunt, and this thick projection of judgements that has been passed down through the cover of Culture. I also realize they don’t touch me at all, even by the most rejective broken heart, because I am reminded of my role here as a student of planet earth: everyone has free will and mine is to live with compassion.

Almost impossible to act compassionate when it concerns you yourself, the ego that is never told to get a rest and let the soul take charge, especially for egos tailored to suit a life that demands perfection and denies darkness.

However, the darkness is there. It is an essential part of us. It completes us. They are like broken-legged beasts crouching in far far away corners, forgotten yet never forgiven.

They are our aunts who took grandprenrs’ heritage away, they are our fathers who never shown any love, they are our siblings who don’t talk to us again, they are our mothers who prefer the sons.

They are these pieces of our souls that are wrapped up by shame and guilt, and they were suppressed by ourselves and thrown to holes and corners that are far far away. We don’t allow them to voice nor have ever accepted them as parts of us, but they are undeniably there, living in utterly despair. Desperate to be seen, desperate to be accepted, and desperate to be embraced.

It is painful to even just experience those unpleasantness, not to mention to look deeper than the presence of each of them, it is shameful to be associated to them, be it a particular person or a particular behavior, because you feel not loved by them, or you perceive your way of love is better than theirs, though when you really allow your soul to guide your mind to look deeper, there’s someone and something distinctively individual hurting and lurking to be seen.

We are the greedy aunts and unloving fathers, we are the judgmental mothers and ignorant siblings. Or their shadows are the nightmares of what we fear to become.

We are also collectively much much more than that.

Shine the light of love and compassion in. How can you realize your soul’s greatness if the darkness is denied its light? Your darkness awaits you to be truly you, to experience the pain and bliss of true integrity, just as we are here to truly experience the essence of loss and of found.

I don’t know as any one of you, but I guess that is part of our work here to be human in every life we chose to come.

Shine your light to those who have forgotten as well, especially those with whom you are in denial of, but consulate your soul to set your boundaries, we are here to shine through and guide ways, not to be dimmed.

Be the Answer

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Singapore is full on.

I’m back to the confused mode, almost dizzy and hyper all the time, exploiting all conveniences a highly functional society can provide. Plastic bags have been thrown away, hawker food have been wolfed down, and I felt severely under-dressed altering around my only two dresses and spaghetti tops.

Yet some gentle okayness is flowing around the corner. A taxi ride can be my special teaching time. A Hindu driver whose teacher is a Muslim Indian shared his gods, meditation rituals with me and read my palm.

“It is your luck to sit next to me, lady. It is my luck to share my teaching with you.”

“Suffering is not meant to make you ask why. Suffering makes you the Answer. ”