A reflection on my culture

Howdy Folks!

Happy Lunar New Year of the Fire Rooster! Do you feel the fire in the air?! 😀

I was in meditation early this morning and contemplated how the lunar new year is such an odd holiday for me. I always feel like an outsider while the society expect me to be an insider. 

My ancestors might come from the main land. But being the Nth generation Indonesian Chinese and being fully raised as an Indonesian who then left home quite early in her life, I don’t feel much connection to the Chinese culture at all.

I remember feeling weird in my late teens when for the first time my parents decided to join in the celebration by giving us angbow. I mean, I was grateful for the money and its symbolism, but there was a question in my head that went “why are you giving me money all of a sudden?”. It felt, and still feels like I’m borrowing someone else’s culture.

I have to thank Singapore for sharing with me about the Chinese culture and for friends who invited me to my first Lo Hei a couple years ago. I think one of the most beautiful idea in a lunar new year is the Reunion dinner, where family near and far gather and eat together before the day full of festivities and visiting begins. My family doesn’t and had never done a reunion dinner.

But yes, despite my eagerness of learning the culture (i’m generally a lover of understanding other cultures), I’m well aware that this is not my heritage. I remember feeling liberated and ecstatic when in a Singapore application form, I could finally put down “Indonesian” as my race, instead of “Chinese”.

I feel that race is truly a social groupings that helps people (mostly government) define us. And the closest social groupings I can identify with is Indonesian. I can tell you why the Balinese has a teeth-cutting ceremony, why the Javanese shower with flower water before a wedding, and why the Toraja people keep their dead relatives. But unfortunately I had forgotten what ‘Lo Hei’ is for. And again, this is only a tiny indicator of my culture. It hardly scratches the surface of what my real culture is.

So I guess what I’m trying to say here is that culture is such a fluid thing. And in this 21st century, the color of my skin and the shape of my eyes is no longer an identification of my culture. In a world where certain world leaders and certain religious leaders are trying to divide people by their looks, perhaps it’s time for us to cast aside our judgment on who people are based on their looks.

I have a Mexican friend who is a muslim. I had a chinese american boyfriend who had never left America. I know a tall big American who is probably the most Asian person I know. My Japanese teacher-assistant back in California was a tall big American Hispanic who have a Phd in Japanese literature. One of my friends in college is of Chinese-descent but from Panama who speaks English with a Panaman accent and speaks fluent spanish (cause that is her mother tongue).

The world is changing constantly and extremely fluid. Let’s start tearing off these judgments and start seeing a person’s soul.

🙂 A deep topic I’m writing this time. But it’s something that I’d like to continuously passionately share about. The more people want to divide us, the more I’m going to share with others how to open our hearts to differences.

And coming back to my own culture, what I really am is a pure gado-gado, rojak, californian fresh salad, 3rd culture kid who probably is very much a banana (ya know, yellow on the outside and quite white on the inside?). But hey, if I can barely define myself, then I probably shouldn’t try to define others :D.

Have a fabulous Chinese New Year celebrations, friends. I really believe that this year is gonna be awesome. This New Moon feels amazing, feels like the beginning of so many awesome things. May it be the beginning of floods of peaceful waves coming upon this Earth we live in.

With Metta,

A new page.

Hello Beautiful!

Happy New Year! Can’t believe we’re already 11 days into the year 2017! Seriously, time flies and it’s a great reminder to appreciate every second of this life cause it’s so so precious!

I titled this letter One cause this is my first letter in 2017, and I’m sending it on the 11th of the 1st month of the year. And numerologist also believe this is a “One” year: (2+0+1+7=10 —> 1+0=1). Uhm, I can’t remember what is 1 in numerology, so you can google it :D.

To me, number 1 signifies a beginning, a fresh start, a new page. And for us, a beginning starts with a thought or an intention. What do you want to this year to be? What is your intention? It’s always good to spend some time reflecting on this question and I would encourage you to do that to set the intention for the year.

I’m going to reflect on the same questions as I go into my 10-day silent meditation retreat (which is more like 12 days) starting this afternoon. I love going into these silent retreats cause it gives the space to feel my emotions, observe my thoughts, and face my fears without distraction. The elimination of writing, talking, watching, reading combined with the detachment from outside world really “forces” me to not run away but deal with whatever comes to the surface. 

And the result of this interaction with myself is like the clearing of a crystal ball: I’m more clear with what I want out of this life and what brings me joy and it’s like a recalibration of my compass in life :).

Anyway, I thought I was going to be a meditator this time around but turns out I was asked to be a server/ helper. This means I’m going to be meditating less and the rest of the time I’ll be assisting in cleaning up of things and the preparation of things. This is going to be a new experience for me.

I’m having mixed feelings cause despite my excitement to serve, my ego is screaming “nooo, I want to be served!”. And ladies and gents, that resistance is the more reason why I was put to serve this time around :D.

In these last few years of self-awareness/ self-realization work, I experienced that this type of resistance is normally the final hurdle/ gate/ boss before some kind of transformation can happen. So I am taking deep breaths and walking forward, light-saber in hand, facing whatever boss/ monster coming up.

Alright Beautiful, may this year be an absolutely fabulous one for you. If there are monsters and hurdles, may the battle be easy and enjoyable. May your Kyber Crystal be clear and your light-saber shine bright.

And finally, May the force be with you.

My 2016 Lesson

I do this thing at the end of the year where I ask myself a bunch of questions to reflect the year that has passed and create a vision for the year to come. I haven’t quite done that in the kind of details I normally do, but I’d like to start reflecting on the past year with a prompt that a friend of mine asked a few weeks ago:

“What have you learned this year?”

I thought about it and started listing all the amazing lessons I’ve learned, but actually it all comes down to this:

I learned to face my fear and have courage even though it seems like I have none and be okay with whatever flaws I have as I take that step forward.

That’s what this year has been for me.

I began this year by facing my fear of not having a steady income and not having a so-called “plan” for the future. This little one still comes from time to time, but each time it comes I spend time being quiet and realize that I am actually having the best year of my life, living and doing whatever I want and when I want it. The future will shape itself naturally as I follow my heart desires. And the support, somehow someway, is always going to be there. So I learned to trust this life.

And then I learned to face my fear of writing. This one caused me some anxiety attacks – the kind that requires several rounds of deep-breathing. The turning point came when I stopped judging my ability to write and accept that I am learning, and I don’t have to write perfectly. And that if I really want to learn, I gotta stop being embarrassed by what I write and just put it out there. And in the end, here I am, months later, actually doing writing on the side and getting paid for it. So this one turns out okay after all.

And finally, the biggest fear I had to face was myself and that question of “who am I to teach and share?”. I like to share about things that I’ve learned (if it’s not already sooo obvious from all these letters and posts I’ve done), and in the last few months as I took my Yoga Teacher Training, I realized that I do have things that I can share to others that might help them with their lives! As that realization sunk in, the struggles of unworthiness began instantaneously and I started comparing myself against great Masters like Yoda (DUH, good job brain for that totally insane comparison), and all the mentors I had in my life. All that left me shrinking in the corner remembering how to breathe again.

But then I remember again, I am learning this thing. I DON’T have to be perfect. If I make mistakes, then that’s how I will learn. So then I started sharing myself more with people. I’m still scared shitless on teaching others, which is insane, cause normally, as long as I spend time preparing it (which might take days), I’m totally comfortable in class. But yes, I’m still scared (even as I’m writing this my breaths get shorter), but fear is not going to stop me from sharing.

I am committed to making this world a better place by teaching others about love, and no, Sir and Ma’am, I ain’t gonna stop just because I’m scared of myself. 

So there, my beautiful and amazing 2016. And as I look forward towards 2017, I came across these fun GIFs where I gotta take screenprint as the words scroll really really fast and these are what I got!

The Universe knows me so well. She knows I’m all about the Tacos and the Booties. So in 2017, am totally having lots of Tacos and am totally having a cute booty. Plus, if recognition comes my way, I will welcome it with a big heart. (Probably going to freak out about it, but after some deep breaths, I will inhale all the love).

Oh and one more thing, this is my fortune cookie for 2017. Which is again, totally true and accurate cause the same day I got this was right after I came home from hanging out with a neighbor who pointed out that their normally noisy dog totally loves me and sat quietly by my side. Yeeep, puppies totes love me. Cause I am totally adorable and lovable 😀

 

Alright, I really hope the year has been lovely for you. Spend some time reflecting on the year, and share with me what lessons you’ve learned this year. I would absolutely love to hear it 🙂

Heaps and heaps and heaps of love,

My experience with Yoga

My lovely friend Gladys who started Dawn of Gaia featured me in her December 2016 Newsletter. So here’s my little sharing on my experience with Yoga :). Enjoy!


My first yoga class was when I was in high school – 10th grade if I remember it correctly. That was about 17 years ago, before yoga was cool, before trendy leggings and fancy mats. My mom bought some of those puffy exercise mats for her, my sister, and I, and we did Yoga in the studio, or sometimes at home.

As the years passed, I did yoga on and off, never continuously in a long period of time, but somehow, someway, I always came back to the mat. And as how most people’s yoga journey goes, it started off for purely physical reasons and evolved to become a tool to find myself.

I remember going to a boot camp in college that had yoga elements in it and the instructor told us that yoga is great cause we all are going to get a Yoga butt – a.k.a a very nicely heart-shaped toned butt. And I, who was overweight at that point, was like “hell yes, give me a yoga butt!”

And I remember years later, when I was a young professional in LA, finding (by chance) a Summer yoga session at the beautiful Santa Monica pier. And despite the start time of 7 AM on a Saturday morning, and despite my crazy 12 hours work days, I showed up every single Saturday just for that 1.5 hour of being under the sun, surrounded by the ocean, to find some solitude in my life. My greatest memory of that summer was receiving the most beautiful gift of witnessing a school of Dolphins jumping, playing and swimming in the distance as I was balanced in the Tree pose. At that moment I thought, “Life is perfect.”

Now, if you think I’m stretchy and bendy and can fly and do magic with head on the floor and feet up in the air, you’re not quite right. Despite years of getting to know yoga, I’m not quite advanced in the Asanas (postures) yet. I’ve only recently learned arm-balancing poses. All the years I’ve taken yoga, we tend to focus on Sun Salutations. Plus, back then, there was no Instagram, so there was no push and incentives for showing off the ability to do a hand stand while doing funky legs while being inverted. 😀

Actually, that Instagram Yoga culture got me a little frustrated and became the trigger that pushed me to finally take my Yoga Teacher Training this year. (So, thank you, Instagram!)

I love Yoga. I also love meditation – but that combination of moving body and breath just has a certain magic for me. And when suddenly the Western Yoga world exploded in the last 8 years and now everyone seems to be a yogi and there seems to be a huge emphasis on Asanas, I got frustrated. Cause to me Yoga is bigger than all that. I knew that Yoga wasn’t just about Asanas (or the physicality of it) and I was curious to find out what actually is Yoga.

And now that I got a glimpse of it, my oh my, it’s truly such a beautiful Philosophy of Life. Yoga is all about the coming together of opposing energies and about the balancing of the male and female energy. It’s about finding the highest Self and the connection between the highest Self and Divine. It’s about living a contented life without being affected by results. It’s about a centeredness that is not affected by the changes in emotions. And at the core of it all, is still Love and Light.

The goal of Yoga, as the goal of any spiritual journey, is enlightenment, or Samadhi. And to get to Samadhi, one has to do so many other parts of Yoga (which includes meditation, and breathing exercise, and having values and morality and devotion, and many others) and Asana is just one tiny elements of it.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I still love Asanas because I do love moving body as a way to learn. There’s so much wisdom stored in these beautiful bodies of ours. But now that I understand the bigger picture, there’s so much deeper meaning of these Asanas and I will now share Asanas with that in mind.

As many readers in this community, I too discovered Meditation through Gladys at a time when I was in desperate need of help and at a risk of losing my life. And in the last 5 years, I had healed myself through Meditation and Rebirthing Breathwork, as well as through dance, creativity and art, yoga, and a lot of solitude, self-work, and reflections, all with the guidance of the ever loving Divine.

In 2015, I came to a point where I realized that one of my clearest purpose in life is to share about Love and develop a bigger community of Love. Since then, I had left the comfort of a stable job and a life in a modern country, shook it all up, embarked on a journey to get more centered in my Truths so I can contribute to Love. And I am extremely thankful that I have been led to this path where I’m given the tools and opportunities to share, and one of them is through Yoga.