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Thoughts on aging and living well

I’m the kind of person who likes to see all sides of an argument. I always believe there’s more than 1 side of things and this makes me believe that there’s no such thing as real absolutes, especially when it comes to dogmas, doctrines, and advices. I’m the worst at debates cause I like to equally weigh both sides.

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying Mind over Matter before. While it’s true to a huge extend, and despite believing the saying, I still feel like I hadn’t gotten the whole picture of that simple saying.

Earlier today, I spent a few hours at my 96 year-old grandma’s place to help out cause she’s been having trouble walking. Her legs are already quite weak and it takes a lot of effort to move one foot for even an inch.

But my grandma is the most strong-willed person I know. Despite all her difficulties, she refused to use the wheelchair. Unfortunately, this made it difficult for the rest of the family, especially in those moments where her legs gave up and she had to be supported by more than 2 people in mid-fall cause she exerts all her force as she refuse to sit down and continue trying with all her might to stand and continue walking.

Today, in one of those moments where her legs gave up, as I was doing my best gentle persuasion to get her to sit down on the wheelchair and rest, she shouted “I was given strength! I was given strength!” Even in the most difficult situation, nothing can shake her believe.

But her body was already halfway down, and even with 3 people by her side, she could still easily fall and hurt something. So I said to her “let’s use that strength to sit down.” And somehow, we managed to guide her to the chair behind her.

It was hard to be there and I carried what happened in my mind until hours later. I was half looking for a solution and half was just wondering if there’s a lesson here.

Slowly, throughout the day, stories come my way.

My dad watched a television talk show program where there’s a pole vaulter/ high jumper that is about the same age as my parents but still competing professionally. Then I received the following video of this fabulous 98-year-old lady who can still do amazing things with her body.

I searched her and listened to her Ted talk and her mantra was that anything is possible. She believes that she CAN, so she DOES. 

To me, my grandma is a perfect example of “Mind over Matter”. I always admire her determination and her will. But unfortunately her body can’t keep up with her mind anymore. The other 2 ladies are example of “Mind along Matter. The Mind believes that she can. The body, which has been taken care of, is able to support the mind. And to go even deeper, Tao, the 98 year-old-lady, is the perfect example of “Soul guided Mind along Matter”. 

And that’s the key to living well.

We are made up of Mind, Body, and Soul. For a healthy life, the 3 of them have to be developed together. A centered soul influences a healthy body, which can support a strong mind.

My grandma looked defeated when she sat on her wheelchair and my heart feels for her. I hope I can still show her that just by using a little help, that doesn’t mean she’s not strong. I hope I can share that there’s also power in gentleness, softness and rest.

But let this be a reminder for us to not just take care of one part, but to pay attention to what our souls/ hearts want, to the clarity and strength of our minds, and to the health of our bodies.

With heart,

Eid Mubarak wishes from me

‘Tis the season for Forgiveness

Eid Mubarak! Blessed Idul Fitri to all who celebrates!

Growing up in Indonesia, this holiday is on the top 5 of important holidays in my life. It’s kinda like the Golden Week in China or Japan and Thanksgiving in the States. Everyone gathers with their family, the road is quiet, and it’s all about togetherness. To get a better picture of Eid in Indonesia, check out my post from last year.

In Indonesia (and Malaysia and Singapore), after wishing someone Eid Mubarak, we normally continue by saying “Mohon Maaf Lahir dan Batin”, which literally means “[I/ We] ask forgiveness on the physical and soul level.” I think this is a great tradition cause it reminds all of us of Forgiveness.

To me, Forgiveness is something that happens continuously. There’s always someone that we can learn to forgive, and that someone includes ourselves. Especially ourselves.

It’s really easy to pass out forgiveness as a lip service, but doing it completely and fully is not always easy, especially when we’ve been hurt badly. Sometimes, it feels impossible to forgive others. And often we think there’s no reason why we should forgive the other person cause he/she/they have hurt us. Right?

 

So how do we get into forgiveness?

Firstly, let’s shift our perspectives. We don’t forgive for others’ sake. We forgive for ourselves. Forgiveness is not done to negate what has happened. It doesn’t take away the hurt and it does not mean that what has happened wasn’t bad. But we forgive so that we can move on and live free of all these attachments.

By forgiving, we accept the situation, we come back to the present and to ourselves and claim our power. We say “enough of this hurt” and “what you did, said, and thought no longer has power over me. I claim my power and I’m coming back to being whole.”

 

And the second very important component of forgiveness is Compassion.

Compassion is like the yummy soothing balm that wraps our heart with the glow of its honey-like spread. It softens and warms and reminds us of self-love.

Compassion goes hand in hand with Forgiveness cause it reminds us that it’s not about being perfect, but it’s about the progress.

 

Here’s an Example

I grew up in a way that I feel the pressure of always excelling at things and getting things right and well. Originally, they were external pressures. But eventually, they become an internal pressure.

I started self-judging and talking to myself harshly when I didn’t get something fast or when I didn’t do something well. I started realizing this in the last decade and really noticing how tiring it was.

So I started learning self-forgiveness. I started softening the heart and the mind and said to myself that the harsh words I said to myself and the pressures I gave myself no longer have power over me. I am loved and whole the way I am.

But old habits die hard, right? I started noticing that I gave myself pressure to get self forgiveness right. Hah! It’s really funny. Why did I judge myself for not being able to forgive myself? ^_^ Well, I’m just human. ….And that was when compassion kicked in.

I started seeing myself as a toddler who is learning things. How do we help a toddler learn? By encouraging the toddler and celebrating every little milestone.

He/ she managed to put one foot in the shoe by him/ herself!! Hoorah! He/ she managed to hold the spoon! Hoorah!

And so I said to myself, I noticed what my mind is doing to myself! Hoorah!! I forgive myself for not getting things right and I started celebrating every little milestones towards self-forgiveness.

 

There you go, folks!

Remember that forgiveness has always been for yourself, not others. And that failing is part of the process and always always be compassionate with yourself.

So on this lovely season, I wish you all blessings. Mohon Maaf Lahir dan Batin. I ask forgiveness for things I may have said or done wrongly.

Blessings be upon you,

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.

On Sadness

Greetings, folks 🙂

I haven’t been writing much cause I was traveling for a little bit and I’ve been needing a lot of alone time.

I’m not alright. Well, actually, I’m alright, I’ve just been sad. And that’s alright.
In this life, often, we work too hard on being happy, that we make sadness not okay. And because we make sadness not okay, we don’t know how to handle sadness.

Sadness is uncomfortable and it doesn’t feel good. It particularly turns me into a beautiful fountain of salt water. (Maybe that’s why I love going to the ocean when I’m tender – so that my salt water merges with the ocean salt water and I become a part of something bigger, no longer feeling so alone.) But that’s the more reason to make friends with sadness.

I’ve been through a lot of sadness – many different kinds and each one is never the same as the other. I’ve been through a very deep sadness that made me so afraid of sadness. But that didn’t work cause the more I was afraid of it, the more it sneaked up on me and took me by surprise and engulfed me in it until I no longer knew who I was.

So after experiencing that, I said no thank you and I started getting to know sadness and being a friend to sadness.

These days, sadness is like that friend that I rarely talk to, but once in a while would come and visit and demands a lot of attention from me. Since sitting around with sadness is uncomfortable, naturally, I try to avoid it – I would surround myself with other people, get myself busy, avoid certain songs. But guess what, unless I attend to sadness, it will never go away.

Like tonight, I was on my way back to my room after hanging out with my family and I got a little voice in my head that goes, “you sure you want to go back to your room? cause you’re just gonna be sad.” And there was a part of me that wanted to do a 180 and say “you’re right! let me just go back and entertain myself some more.” but instead, the wiser part of me replied “yeah, I’ll be alright :).  it’ll be good.” And I went and spent more time with it.

I never knew how long sadness will stay or how much I need to attend to it. I wish I could put a specific date to it – “okay, you can only stay for 2 days and after that you gotta go, cause happiness is gonna come and I need to spend time with happiness.” – but that’s not how it works. It will come when it comes and it will go when it goes.

And to be honest, I’m blessed to have reached a point in my life where joy is always around (even though sometimes it’s playing hide and seek with me). Joy makes dealing with sadnessmuch easier. And sometimes joy occupy sadness and takes sadness for a walk so I don’t have to attend to it, and that was really nice of joy to do that.

This time around, when sadness arrived, I was actually reminded of another friend that I can bring along to make spending time with sadness much easier. So I called up compassion and ask compassion to be around whenever it can while I play host to sadness. And what a great companion compassion is – its presence softens things and made me embrace sadness with an open heart.

So there you go, folks, I’m playing house with sadness, who drives me crazy sometimes, and makes me cry in a puddle on the floor whining “i’m miserable and in pain, help me! just take it away from me! why do I have to go through this? where is that magical band-aid when I need it? I got a boo-boo and can someone kiss it now so I feel better?”

But other times, I’m alright. We sit here together, playing my uke and singing and crying, and drawing, and reading and it’s all quite enjoyable. And oh my lordy lord, the insights we have come up with just from sitting here together have just been beautiful. These insights shines a beautiful light on areas that I can grow to be a better, more loving and more compassionate person, and these insights have always shown that there has always been love and that there is only love.

Yeah, sitting around with sadness ain’t bad at all.

And when things get a little crazy again, I remind myself of what Glennon Doyle Melton said:

“What happens when we transport ourselves out of the pain is we missed all of our transformations. Because everything that we need to know to become the people we were meant to be is actually inside of our heart loneliness. So when we jump out of it, when we jump out of our mat, we are like caterpillars who jumped out of our cocoons right before we were to become butterflies.”

See that, folks? Imma be a butterfly.

“It’s morphin’ time”
– Power Rangers

Love always,

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