Archive for July, 2009

Cleansing Your Power Center

July 30, 2009

[ From DailyOM ]

Gut feelings earn their name from the place in the body where they make themselves known. A pang in your gut when you may be doing the wrong thing, or a vibrant zing when your body approves, can guide you reliably at times when logic fails. Sometimes, when logic prevails, we ignore our gut and live to regret it, understanding later that a rational approach is only one way of determining what is going on in a situation and how we should react.

Our gut resides in the neighborhood of our solar plexus and the third chakra just above your belly button. When it is functioning well, we can trust its guidance and adjust our actions accordingly. Many of us have a tendency to hold in this area of our bodies. We may take shallow breaths that never reach this vital nexus that is the source of our empowerment. It is in this place that we find the courage to act, to reach out into the world and create change. When our power center is out of balance, we are timid and out of sync, wishing we had said something we were only able to phrase later when we were alone; wishing we had acted on an opportunity we didn’t see until it was past.

In order to utilize your power center, you may want to focus your attention on it more regularly and make time to care for it. You can begin right now by taking a deep breath into your belly. On the exhale, pull your navel in toward your spine so as to empty out completely before taking another deep breath into your belly. When you empty completely, you release stagnant energy and create more space to be filled with fresh, nourishing breath. The more you practice this simple, cleansing exercise, the more clear and communicative your gut feelings will be and the more comfortable you will feel acting on them.

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Letting Your Light Shine

July 28, 2009

[ From DailyOM ]

We are each born into this world with unique gifts. Within us is a glimmer of the divine, a light that can potentially make the world a more beautiful place. But in many, that light lies dormant, snuffed out by fears and feelings of inadequacy. To spark it is to attract attention, face the possibility of rejection or the responsibility of success, and risk being labeled immodest. Yet when we undermine the light by hiding our aptitudes and quashing our dreams, we deny ourselves and others a wealth of experiences. Your abilities are a part of who you are and when you take pride in them, you affirm the love, esteem, and trust with which you view yourself. Moreover, as you express the light within, you grant others permission to do the same, freeing them to explore their own talents.

For some, we are taught to hide our light from the world since childhood. Relatives caution us that the professions associated with our aptitudes are unattainable. Our peers may be envious of our skills and thus overly critical of the activities we instinctively enjoy. And authority figures admonish us to be humble and avoid showing off. But there is a vast chasm that separates those who let their light shine and those who seek only to draw attention to themselves. When you dare to share your light with the world, the beauty and perfection of your soul become clearly visible. You become a whole being—the literal embodiment of your vast potential. Whether you are a wonderful dancer, a first-rate cook, quick with numbers, or a natural negotiator, you’ll come to understand that you do the world no favors when you hold yourself back.

If you have hidden your light for so long that it has shrunk to an ember, make a list of everything you do well, however impractical, silly, or seemingly inconsequential. Then ask yourself how you can positively utilize those abilities in your daily life. The gifts you were born with were not granted to you arbitrarily. While you may never discover what impact your light has had on others, you can be certain that when you embrace your talents and share them with others, you will spread illumination in the world.

Lesson from a chili seller

July 27, 2009
賣辣椒的人,恐怕經常會碰到這樣一個問題,那就是不斷會有買主問「你這辣椒辣嗎?」
不好回答。答「辣」吧,也許買辣椒的人是個怕辣的,立馬走人;答「不辣」吧,也許買辣椒的人是個喜吃辣的,生意還是做不成。
解決的辦法也有,就是把辣椒分成兩堆,吃辣與不吃辣的各選所需,這是書上說的。
我一天沒事,就站在一個賣辣椒婦女的三輪車旁,看她是怎樣解決這個二律背反難題的。
趁著眼前沒有買主,我自作聰明地對她說:
「你把辣椒分成兩堆吧,有人要辣的你就跟他說這堆是,要不辣的你就給他說那堆是。」
沒想到賣辣椒的婦女卻只笑了笑,輕聲說:「用不著!」
說著就來了一個買主,問的果然是那句老話「辣椒辣嗎?」
賣辣椒的婦女很肯定地告訴他:「顏色深的辣,顏色淺的不辣!」
買主信以為真,挑好辣椒付過錢,滿意地走了。
也不知今天是怎麼回事,大部分人都是買不辣的,不一會兒,顏色淺的辣椒所剩無幾了。
我於是又說:「把剩下的辣椒分成兩堆吧!不然就不好賣了!」
然而,賣辣椒的婦女仍是笑著搖搖頭,說;「用不著!」
又一個買主來了,問:「辣椒辣嗎?」賣辣椒的婦女看了一眼自己的辣椒,信口答道:
「長的辣,短的不辣!」果然,買主就按照她的分類標準開始挑起來。
這一輪的結果是,長辣椒很快告罄。
看著剩下的都是深顏色的短辣椒,我沒有再說話,心想:這回看你還有什麼說法?
沒想到,當又一個買主問「辣椒辣嗎」的時候,賣辣椒的婦女信心十足地回答:
「硬皮的辣,軟皮的不辣!」
我暗暗佩服,可不是嘛,被太陽曬了半天,確實有很多辣椒因失水變得軟綿綿了。
賣辣椒的婦女賣完辣椒,臨走時對我說:
「你說的那個辦法賣辣椒的人都知道,而我的辦法只有我自己知道!」
我忽然有所頓悟:
生活中的智慧可以被寫成書,但你不能簡單地照著書上寫的智慧去生活, 因為生活只能是鮮活而靈動的。 不要在智慧中夾雜著傲慢,不要使謙虛缺乏智慧。

[from an email]

賣辣椒的人,恐怕經常會碰到這樣一個問題,那就是不斷會有買主問「你這辣椒辣嗎?」

不好回答。答「辣」吧,也許買辣椒的人是個怕辣的,立馬走人;答「不辣」吧,也許買辣椒的人是個喜吃辣的,生意還是做不成。

解決的辦法也有,就是把辣椒分成兩堆,吃辣與不吃辣的各選所需,這是書上說的。

我一天沒事,就站在一個賣辣椒婦女的三輪車旁,看她是怎樣解決這個二律背反難題的。 (more…)

How About a BEcation?

July 25, 2009

Forget Vacations and Staycations: How About a BEcation?
Posted by Isha, an internationally renowned spiritual teacher and author.

The vacation. The high point of the year, the oasis of freedom in a desert of routine. Vacations make the monotony of the mundane more bearable, shining a light on the horizon we can look forward to.

We imagine our perfect week of bliss. The white sand. The transparent ocean. The freedom to do nothing at all.

Often when we go on vacations, we get more stressed than normal, preparing everything, making sure everything and everyone is organized. Taking the children, packing the suitcases, leaving the house and the dog in good hands. Then, after the stress of travel, and checking in to the hotel, we set about sight seeing. In reality, we often do the same thing we do in our normal routine: we fill our days with activities, the pace doesn’t really go down at all. When we return home, we need another vacation just to rest from the vacation!

In times of vacations and staycations, I propose a new concept: a BEcation. What we really need is time to be. Time to listen to ourselves, to disconnect from the constant doing of daily life, and find the time to do nothing at all. We are usually so busy that we have lost touch with our inner voice, we have forgotten what we really want.

How do you have a becation? By taking some time just to be with yourself. To go inwards and listen. To feel whatever might come up, be it peace and joy, or anxiety and insecurity. Being with yourself naturally makes you more conscious. Being present in the moment, silently observing what is happening in your surroundings, brings greater clarity into your life. It helps you dissociate from the chaotic thoughts based in fear and criticism that so often dominate our decisions. It helps you discern between the fears of the mind and the truth of the heart. It helps you get your priorities in order.

Why not make your next vacation a becation? You spend so much time doing, can’t you spare a few days just for yourself?

Working with a Larger Energy

July 24, 2009

[ From DailyOM ]

The expression going with the flow is a metaphor that applies to navigating a river. When we go with the flow, we follow the current of the river rather than push against it. People who go with the flow may be interpreted as lazy or passive, but to truly go with the flow requires awareness, presence, and the ability to blend one’s own energy with the prevailing energy. Going with the flow doesn’t mean we toss our oars into the water and kick back in the boat, hoping for the best. Going with the flow means we let go of our individual agenda and notice the play of energy all around us. We tap into that energy and flow with it, which gets us going where we need to go a whole lot faster than resistance will.

Going with the flow doesn’t mean that we don’t know where we’re going; it means that we are open to multiple ways of getting there. We are also open to changing our destination, clinging more to the essence of our goal than to the particulars. We acknowledge that letting go and modifying our plans is part of the process. Going with the flow means that we are aware of an energy that is larger than our small selves and we are open to working with it, not against it.

Many of us are afraid of going with the flow because we don’t trust that we will get where we want to go if we do. This causes us to cling to plans that aren’t working, stick to routes that are obstructed, and obsess over relationships that aren’t fulfilling. When you find yourself stuck in these kinds of patterns, do yourself a favor and open to the flow of what is rather than resisting it. Trust that the big river of your life has a plan for you and let it carry you onward. Throw overboard those things that are weighing you down. Be open to revising your maps. Take a deep breath and move into the current.

Receiving a Gift with Grace

July 23, 2009

[ From DailyOM]

Many of us find it difficult to accept compliments but easy to believe the slightest criticism. Today, right now, let’s make a choice to fully accept compliments as we would a gift. Sincere compliments are gifts of praise. They are kudos given for wise choices or accomplishments or perhaps for just letting your light shine. There is no reason not to accept the gift of a kind word, but some of us argue against them, even giving reasons why they aren’t true.

If we visualize the energy of a compliment, we would see beautiful, shining, positive energy being sent from the giver. That energy, if accepted graciously, would brighten our personal energy field. Our gratitude then returns to the giver as warm, fuzzy, glowing energy, completing an even circuit of good feelings. But if we reject a compliment, what could have been a beautiful exchange becomes awkward and uncomfortable, making it a negative experience instead. Misplaced modesty can ruin the joy of sharing this connection with another person. But we can accept a compliment and still be modest by simply saying “thank you.” However, if compliments are rejected due to a lack of self-esteem, then the first step would be to start believing good things about yourself. Try giving yourself compliments in the mirror. Beyond the initial feelings of silliness, you will notice how good it feels and can watch the smile it puts on your face. The next step would be to see how it feels to give compliments to others. Notice how great you feel when you’ve made another person’s face brighten and how differently you feel when the gift you’ve offered is rejected. Having experienced all sides, you will be ready to play along fully and willingly.

We are our harshest critics. When we accept compliments, we are reminded that others see us through different eyes. All living beings crave positive attention, and we all deserve to have positive energy shared with us. Perhaps if we happily and gratefully accept compliments, we will give others permission to do so as well.

What Not to Say to Someone With Cancer

July 22, 2009

 Hello,

I saw this article on Care2 and thought you’d like it as well.

— Melanie Haiken

Experts caution that when caring for someone with cancer, there are six things friends or family often say–in an attempt to be sympathetic, supportive, or encouraging — that can have just the opposite consequence: shutting down communication and making the person with cancer feel worse. Psychiatrist Jeffrey Knajdl, director of psycho-oncology services at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, points to these six common sayings to avoid, along with suggestions for what to say instead:

1. “Everything is going to be all right.” You have no way of knowing if it will be or not, says Knajdl, and such a statement ends up sounding like an empty platitude — plus you establish a sense of mistrust. “It doesn’t make the person feel better,” says Knajdl, “because he knows it’s not true and it just makes him feel dismissed and not heard.”

What to say instead: What the person really wants to hear is that you’re going to be there for him through the good times and the bad, and that he’s not going to go through cancer treatment alone. There will be days when it does feel like everything’s going to be all right, and you’ll be there to celebrate that with him, but there will be days when discouraging test results come in or he’s in pain — and you’ll be there for that, too. “When you talk to patients, their two big fears are that they won’t make it through treatment, and that they’ll be alone and in pain,” says Knajdl. “Just keep telling the person that you’ll be there with him and you’ll make it through this together.”

2. “I know how you feel.” This is almost an automatic response for many of us when someone is sad or upset. We say it out of the best of intentions, to demonstrate our compassion, our sympathy, our sense of having been there. The problem is, it has the unintended effect of shutting the other person down, says Knajdl. “When you say, ‘I know how you feel,’ the unspoken second part of the thought is, ‘and therefore you don’t have to go into any detail about it,’” Knajdl says. “It increases the patient’s sense of isolation, because it’s like telling him you don’t want him to talk about it.” Unless you’ve been treated for the same type of cancer and have undergone exactly the same treatment, you really don’t know how the person feels. “We have no idea what it’s like, and it’s upsetting to the patient when we act like we do,” says Knajdl.

What to say instead: A better approach, according to Knajdl, is to ask something like, “How are your mood and spirits holding up through this?” If the person you’re concerned about is anxious or sad, this gives him a chance to tell you how he feels, which can be a big relief to someone who’s trying to pretend he’s doing just fine. And even if he answers that he’s holding up pretty well, he’ll still feel better that you asked.

3. “Try to keep a positive attitude, relax, and avoid stress. It can help you heal.” Cancer patients hear endless variations on this “mind over body” theme. There are going to be days when a patient doesn’t feel positive at all, and you certainly don’t want him worrying that he’s sabotaging his own chances of recovery. And what if he has a stressful job, or is a type A personality who reacts easily to stress — do you want him feeling guilty or worrying that his high-strung personality or tendency toward anxiety either “caused” or will worsen his cancer? Unfortunately, an awful lot of the literature conveys, in one way or another, the underlying message to cancer patients that they may have “caused” cancer through stress, worry, or a negative attitude, and that they could heal the cancer if they’d only develop a mellow outlook or sunny disposition. All that really happens is that they feel even more anxious about trying not to be anxious, or they feel guilty for not feeling happy. Even some visualization techniques can make cancer patients feel a sense of defeat, Knajdl says, if the focus is on healing but healing doesn’t seem to be happening.

What to say instead: Suggest specific solutions. When your loved one is tense or anxious, ask him to identify what’s stressing him out and how you can help him put the worries to rest. In other words, instead of saying “relax,” help him relax by eradicating the stress trigger. For example, try refocusing any visualization he’s doing toward a concrete and reasonably accessible goal, such as comfort or sleep. Instead of trying to visualize eradicating a tumor, suggest that he visualize falling into a deep sleep in a quiet, safe, pleasant place. Sometimes you can help eradicate stress with a concrete act of assistance. Knajdl remembers one patient who was very anxious in the hospital because he felt he hadn’t put his financial house in order. His son brought all the documents to the hospital, and they took care of them one by one.

4. “We can beat this.” In our rush to be supportive, it’s all too easy to fall back on such encouraging and inspirational messages. But they can give cancer patients a deep-seated feeling of failure. “I call this the Lance Armstrong syndrome, this idea that if you have the right fighting spirit you can overcome disease,” says Knajdl. “I admire Armstrong and he’s done great things to publicize cancer, but this idea that people can triumph over cancer with will power and an upbeat attitude is just crazy. There are all sorts of factors that contribute to why some people recover and some don’t. The truth is, some people just get lucky.” This problem tends to come up with cancer survivors in particular, who may believe very deeply that their attitude, philosophy, spiritual focus, or belief in healing helped them survive. And sometimes hearing such stories can make other patients feel hopeful and optimistic. But if things aren’t going well — if a scary test result has just come in, if chemo’s side effects are almost unbearable, if your loved one is facing the fact that his cancer may not be curable — then hearing others’ tales of triumph may not be helpful.

What to say instead: The best way to help your loved one feel positive and hopeful is to just keep reassuring him that you’re in this together, and that you’ll keep caring for him and supporting him and making him as comfortable as possible during his treatment.

5. “Now, now, don’t get yourself all worked up.” Your loved one is scared, angry, or in tears, and you want him to feel better. But unfortunately, a statement like this makes it sound as if you want him to put his feelings, which are natural and unavoidable, under wraps. “In this situation, it’s okay to get worked up, and it’s okay to vent,” says Knajdl. “We have this fear of feelings getting out of control. But sometimes a patient needs opportunities to cry or get angry or get upset, and if you can help him express these feelings and get them out, in the end he’ll feel better.”

What to say instead: If you don’t know what to say, it’s okay not to say anything at all, Knajdl says. Just offer the comfort of your presence, a hug, or an arm around the shoulders. Allowing some silence without rushing to fill it gives the person a chance to say what’s on his mind in his own time. Perhaps he’s afraid of pain, afraid of letting you down, or frustrated by feeling incapacitated by his illness. “One patient surprised his son by saying, ‘I feel frustrated lying here in the hospital because I feel like I’m wasting my time,’” Knajdl says. “It turned out he was actually upset that he didn’t have his legal affairs in order. The son responded by saying, ‘Would you like me to get a lawyer to come in so we can take care of that?’ That made his father feel much better.”

6. “Congratulations, you’re done with chemo [or radiation].” As a friend or family member, you’ll feel thrilled when treatment is finished, but the patient’s feelings are likely to be much more mixed. During treatment, he’s taking action. That can be empowering because the focus is on a solution, either a cure or progress in pushing back the cancer. When treatment is finished, it can feel like there’s nothing more for him to do but wait, and naturally he may feel anxious and uncertain. “Often, people don’t feel like celebrating. Instead they think, ‘Now what do I do? Just wait for the cancer to come back?’” says Knajdl. No matter how relieved you are, try to keep it to yourself. “It’s really common to say something like, ‘Boy, am I glad that’s over,’ but that implies two things: that the treatment has been a burden on you, and that you want your loved one to be happy about it when maybe he’s not feeling happy,” Knajdl says.

 What to say instead: Give the person a chance to express how he’s feeling. Try asking an open-ended question, such as, “How are you feeling now that we’re finishing up the chemo?” This way, you allow him to control the response. He might say, “I know we were talking about throwing a party when I finished chemo, but I really don’t feel like it.” The bottom line is, whatever he’s feeling is okay, and your job is to make it clear you’re ready to listen.

Allowing Others To Walk Their Paths

July 17, 2009

[ From DailyOM ]

Watching a loved one or a peer traverse a path littered with stumbling blocks can be immensely painful. We instinctively want to guide them toward a safer track and share with them the wisdom we have acquired through experience. Yet all human beings have the right to carve their own paths without being unduly influenced by outside interference. To deny them that right is to deny them enlightenment, as true insight cannot be conveyed in lectures. Rather, each individual must earn independence and illumination by making decisions and reflecting upon the consequences of each choice. In allowing others to walk their paths freely, you honor their right to express their humanity in whatever way they see fit. Though you may not agree with or identify with their choices, understand that each person must learn in their own way and at their own pace.

The events and circumstances that shape our lives are unique because each of us is unique. What touches one person deeply may do nothing more than irritate or confound another. Therefore, each of us is drawn to different paths—the paths that will have the most profound effects on our personal evolution. If you feel compelled to intervene when watching another human being make their way slowly and painfully down a difficult path, try to empathize with their need to grow autonomous and make their own way in the world. Should this person ask for your aid, give it freely. You can even tell them about your path or offer advice in a conscious loving way. Otherwise, give them the space they need to make their own mistakes, to enjoy the fruits of their labors, to revel in their triumphs, and to discover their own truths.

The temptation to direct the paths of others is a creature of many origins. Overactive egos can convince us that ours is the one true path or awaken a craving for control within us. But each person is entitled to seek out their path leading from the darkness into the light. When we celebrate those paths and encourage the people navigating them, we not only enjoy the privilege of watching others grow—we also reinforce our dedication to diversity, independence, and individuality.

Alive in Joy

July 17, 2009

[ From DailyOM ]

There are scores of people in the world who seem to be magnets for calamity. They live their lives jumping from one difficult to the next, surrounded by unstable individuals. Some believe themselves victims of fate and decry a universe they regard as malevolent. Others view their chaotic circumstances as just punishments for some failing within. Yet, in truth, neither group has been fated or consigned to suffer. They are likely unconsciously drawing drama into their lives, attracting catastrophe through their choices, attitudes, and patterns of thought. Drama, however disastrous, can be exciting and stimulating. But the thrill of pandemonium eventually begins to frustrate the soul and drain the energy of all who embrace it. To halt this process, we must understand the root of our drama addiction, be aware of our reactions, and be willing to accept that a serene, joyful life need not be a boring one.

Many people, so used to living in the dramatic world they create, feel uncomfortable when confronted with the prospect of a lifetime of peace and contentment. The drama in their lives serves multiple purposes. Upset causes excitement, prompting the body to manufacture adrenaline, which produces a pleasurable surge of energy. For those seeking affection in the form of sympathy, drama forms the basis of their identity as a victim. And when drama is familial, many people believe they can avoid abandonment by continuing to play a key role in the established family dynamic. The addiction to drama is fed by the intensity of the feelings evoked during bouts of conflict, periods of uncertainty, and upheaval.

Understanding where the subconscious need for drama stems from is the key to addressing it effectively. Journaling can help you transfer this need from your mind onto a benign piece of paper. After repeated writing sessions, your feelings regarding the mayhem, hurt feelings, and confusion often associated with drama become clear. When you confront your emotional response to drama and the purpose it serves in your life, you can reject it. Each time you consciously choose not to take part in dramatic situations or associate with dramatic people, you create space in your inner being that is filled with a calm and tranquil stillness and becomes an asset in your quest to lead a more centered life.

Exercising Flexibility

July 11, 2009

[ From DailyOM ]

Flexibility is the capacity to bend without breaking, as well as a continual willingness to change or be changed in order to accommodate new circumstances. People with flexible minds are open to shifting their course when necessary or useful; they are not overly attached to things going the way they had planned. This enables them to take advantage of opportunities that a more rigid person would miss out on. It can also make life a lot more fun. When we are flexible, we allow for situations we could not have planned, and so the world continues to surprise and delight us.

Since reality is in a constant state of flux, it doesn’t make sense to be rigid or to cling to any one idea of what is happening or what is going to happen. We are more in tune with reality when we are flexible. Being in tune enables us to adjust to the external environment and other people as they change and grow. When we are rigid or stuck in our ways, instead of adjusting to the world around us we hunker down, clinging to a concept of reality rather than reality itself. When we do this, we cut ourselves off from life, and we miss out on valuable opportunities, as well as a lot of joy.

Just as we create flexibility in our bodies by stretching physically, we can create limberness in our minds by stretching mentally. Every day we have the opportunity to exercise our flexibility. We can do this in small ways such as taking a different route home from work or changing our exercise routine. On a larger scale, we can rearrange the furniture or redo a room in our house. If these are things we already do regularly, we can stretch our minds by imagining several different possibilities for how the next year will unfold. As we do this, our minds become more supple and open, and when changes come our way, we are able to accommodate and flow with the new reality.

Walking Through

July 10, 2009

[ From DailyOM ]

When a door opens, walk through it. Trust that the door has opened for a reason and you have been guided to it. Sometimes we have a tendency to overanalyze or agonize over the decision, but it is quicker to simply go through the door and discover what’s there as that’s the only way to know. Even if it doesn’t seem right at first, opening this door may lead to another door that will take us where we need to go.

Doors open when the time is right for us to enter a new space, metaphorically speaking, and we can have faith that walking through is the right thing to do. Sometimes we linger in the threshold because we are afraid of leaving our old life for a life we know nothing about. We may have voices inside of our heads that try to hold us back or people in our lives saying discouraging things. These voices, internal and external, are known as threshold spirits, and they express all the fears and doubts that arise at the beginning of a new life. Nevertheless, none of these voices can hold us back, and they will fall silent as soon as we cross the threshold.

There are many doors that open in the course of our lives, leading us into new relationships, jobs, friendships, and creative inspirations. Our lives up to this point are the result of all the doors we have walked through, and our continued growth depends on our willingness to keep moving into new spaces. Every time we walk through an open door, we create a sense memory that encourages us to move into the new fearlessly. When we enter the new space, we almost always feel a thrill and a new feeling of confidence, in ourselves and in the universe. We have stepped across the threshold into a new life.

The Changing Nest

July 9, 2009

[ From DailyOM ]

Once individuals become parents, they are parents forevermore. Their identities change perceptively the moment Mother Nature inaugurates them mom or dad. Yet the role they undertake when they welcome children into their lives is not a fixed one. As children move from one phase of their lives to the next, parental roles change. When these transitions involve a child gaining independence, many parents experience an empty nest feeling. Instead of feeling proud that their children have achieved so much—whether the flight from the nest refers to the first day of kindergarten or the start of college—parents feel they are losing a part of themselves. However, when approached thoughtfully, this new stage of parental life can be an exciting time in which mothers and fathers rediscover themselves and relate to their children in a new way.

As children earn greater levels of independence, their parents often gain unanticipated freedom. Used to being depended upon by and subject to the demands of their children, parents sometimes forget that they are not only mom or dad but also individuals. As the nest empties, parents can alleviate the anxiety and sadness they feel by rediscovering themselves and honoring the immense strides their children have made in life. The simplest way to honor a child undergoing a transition is to allow that child to make decisions and mistakes appropriate to their level of maturity. Freed from the role of disciplinarian, parents of college-age children can befriend their offspring and undertake an advisory position. Those with younger children beginning school or teenagers taking a first job can plan a special day in which they express their pride and explain that they will always be there to offer love and support.

An empty nest can touch other members of the family unit as well. Young people may feel isolated or abandoned when their siblings leave the nest. As this is normal, extra attention can help them feel more secure in their newly less populated home. Spouses with more leisure time on their hands may need to relearn how to be best friends and lovers. Other family members will likely grieve less when they understand the significance of the child’s new phase of life. The more parents both celebrate and honor their children’s life transitions, the less apprehension the children will feel. Parents who embrace their changing nest while still cherishing their offspring can look forward to developing deeper, more mature relationships with them in the future.

Hard Days

July 8, 2009

[ From DailyOM ]

We all have days that seem endlessly difficult and hard. On these days, it is as if the odds are stacked against us and we just can’t get a break as one challenging situation follows another. We may feel like we’re standing in the ocean getting hit by wave after wave, never able to get a full breath. Sometimes it’s necessary or worth it to stay in the fray and work our way through. Other times, the best idea is to go home and take the breath we need in order to carry on.

If the only choice is to get through it, a hard day can be a great teacher. It will eventually end and we can look back on it, taking pride in the stamina, courage, and ingenuity it took to hold our ground. We may also look back and see how we could have done things differently. This knowledge will be valuable when we face hard days in the future. Trust your gut as you’re deciding whether to work through it,  and know that sometimes a timely retreat is the best way to ensure a positive outcome. Getting space can remind us that external circumstances are not the whole picture. Once we catch our breath and re-center ourselves, we will be able to determine our next move. With a little perspective, we may even find the inner resources to change our attitude about what’s happening. We may begin to see that what we saw as hardships are actually opportunities. As our attitude changes for the better, our actions and the circumstances will follow suit. 

Sometimes all that’s needed is a good night’s sleep. No one is immune to having a hard day and these are usually the times we can learn the most.  If we can find it in our hearts to examine the day, and maybe make one small change in perception, we can ease our pain and greet the next day that much wiser.

Conscious Decisions

July 7, 2009

[ From DailyOM ]

Just because an idea or way of doing things is popular doesn’t mean it’s right for everyone. However, part of the way that something becomes popular is that many of us don’t take the time to determine what’s right for us; we simply do what most of the people we know are doing. In this way, our decisions about life are made by default, which means they aren’t what we call conscious decisions. There may be many other options available, but we don’t always take the time to explore them. This may be the result of feeling overwhelmed or pressured by family, peers, and humanity at large, to do things their way, the way things have always been done. Regardless of the cause, it is important that, as often as we can, we decide for ourselves what to do with our lives rather than just drift along on the current of popular opinion.

It is not always easy to make decisions that go against the grain. Many people feel threatened when those close to them make choices divergent from the ones they are making. Parents and grandparents may be confused and defensive when we choose to raise our children differently from the way they raised us. Friends may feel abandoned if we decide to change our habits or behavior. Meanwhile, on our side of the fence, it’s easy to feel frustrated and defensive when we feel unsupported and misunderstood simply because we are thinking for ourselves. It can be exhausting to have to explain and re-explain our points of view and our reasons.

This is where gentleness, openness, and tolerance come into play. It helps if we are calmly persistent, consistent, and clear as we communicate to those around us why we are making the choices we are making. At the same time, we have the right to say that we are tired of talking about it and simply need our choices to be respected. Our lives belong to us and so do our decisions. Those who truly love us will stand by us and support our choices, never mind what’s popular.

父親的心事 – 郭彬郁

July 6, 2009

星洲日報/快樂星期天‧報導:張佩莉 ‧2009.06.21 

 是三個孩子的父親。2001年,我跟太太結婚的第17年,生命有了一些化,那年我被診斷患上腎臟癌。

剛開始發現自己尿出像葡萄汁般的深紫血尿,我一向工作很忙碌,對切身問題都不太注意,也沒甚麼醫學常識,只到驗血中心去做檢驗,沒有積極的去瞭解問題,也沒有即刻去找醫生檢查。

後來血尿的次數變頻密,開始覺得恐慌,不知道身體裡面到底有了甚麼樣的變化,就像進入一個完全黑暗的區域,四週都是目光,但你看不到他們。

所以太太陪我去做超音波檢驗,醫生說左腎上有些陰影,需要再做進一步檢查。留院觀察期間,血尿越來越嚴重,有一次尿液還如紅豆沙般混濁黯紅,醫生說要繼續觀察,我覺得身體好像也沒有異狀,就決定出院。

出院後剛好碰上國慶假期,太太跟小孩說,“爸爸出院了,我們去幫爸爸慶祝一下”。還記得當時小孩還小,我帶著他們到雙峰塔的公園去,心裡頭完全沒有任何憂慮和擔心。

國慶後的某個晚上,血尿情況開始惡化。一般都是早上才出現血尿,當晚小解的時候,竟也發現血尿,我開始意識到問題的嚴重性,但也沒有立即入院,想待隔天再檢查,沒想到隔天早上,尿液完全無法排出,我用力擠,擠出一層薄薄的膜,再擠,是一滴鮮血。

我開始害怕了。

於是打電話給朋友,他說,你趕快到醫院去吧。到了醫院,我開始腿軟,全身無力。我想住院,院方不允許,因為沒有腎臟科醫師的證明,我只好跟院方討價還價,幸好有個醫生來調解,醫生決定要我立即住院,也建議我立即做電腦斷層掃描,當時我已經六神無主了,太太也慌了,朋友趕來看我,我只跟大家說,“你們決定吧”,當下的我,只覺得很疲憊。

因為尿液無法排出,醫生在下體插管通尿,通出來全部是血塊跟血漿,很嚇人。掃描後發現左腎上有兩吋大的腫瘤,醫生不確定是不是癌症,但他說有八成機會是。太太聽了這個消息,差點崩潰。

當時我是一家之主,也是經濟支柱,小孩又還小,這個打擊太大了,我被送進病房的那一刻,情緒全然崩潰。我48歲的人生,從來沒有面對過如此巨大的挫折,無奈、恐懼、焦慮一湧而來,眼淚止不住的一直流。

醫院中有個醫生是同校的校友,他建議我動手術,我沒跟太太商量,就簽字了。手術後留院幾天,這期間小孩都要上學,我雖然希望他們來看我,但不會特別要求他們來探望爸爸。小孩年紀還小,還沒經歷過苦難和波折,人生閱歷還不夠,不知道甚麼是死亡,只有小兒子跟我說,“不希望爸爸老去,也不希望父親死掉”。

手術前後我完全沒想過死亡,那時的恐慌是來自未知,只是反覆在想,究竟未來會如何呢?我能夠過這一關嗎?

現在回想起來,其實自己真的很樂觀,當時也不覺得進去醫院就出不來了,只覺得這是一個比較大的挫折,住院期間還一心惦掛著工作,有人打電話來問我要不要接兩單工程,我還跟他說,你可以等我嗎?待我出院再談。

生命一定會有波折,挫折也難免,我的人生不算一帆風順,所以這次生病也不會一蹶不振。我們一家都是活潑開朗個性,患病初期我把血尿裝在罐子裡,拿給小孩看,他們只是覺得很噁心,也不覺得是甚麼嚴重的事情。手術後我給他們看傷口,他們露出噁心厭惡的表情,笑著走開,我小兒子也只是好奇的問我,“爸爸,你少了一個腎,走路會不會歪一邊啊?”

父親,不是容易的角色

“父親,從來不是一個容易的角色。

三個小孩都有自己的個性,第一個小孩當然比較幸福,父母給得比較多,因為是第一次當父親,所以用很多教育理論來教導她;第二個小孩出世,因為有了經驗,就比較鬆懈,難免忽略了他;到了第3個小孩,因為想彌補之前的不足,所以又比較緊張和關心了。

想當一個一視同仁的父親很不簡單,小孩在成長,父親也在成長,所以,這個三角關係真的不容易處理。

兒個性烈,她的感情事我不插手,因為感情是很主觀的事,我希望給她自由,對此,她也會埋怨,說我沒有給她意見。

患病前,我要老二去參加短期出家,冀望他的成長有不一樣的體驗。有朋友說,這個年紀出家,他以後對物慾對俗世沒有追求,對生活會不會少了動力?現在回想起來,這個決定究竟對不對,還真是一個問號。

老三個性很黏人,所以我跟太太商量後,把他送到獨中,想讓他學習獨立。心裡頭很不捨得,但還是硬著心腸給他去,唸了一年,他華文沒辦法應付,又讓他轉回國中。

親子教育的理論當然很多,但實踐起來不容易。為人父者,當然希望可以把很多訊息傳給小孩,他們可以接收多少,又是一個問題。小時候我讓他們唸三字經,也讓他們唸華校,但大環境是英語和國語為主,所以他們比較洋化一些。我拿通書跟他們講做人的道理,但小孩沒有人生歷練,很難去領悟通書的內涵。

生了這場大病後,我開始注重健康,也企圖灌輸小孩正確的健康觀念,但生病的畢竟是父親,不是他們自己,有時候一些垃圾食物和速食的誘惑也很大,小孩很難把持得住。

患病後我開始練郭林氣功,發生了不少趣事。我在家練功,老二他一大早起身,看到父親走路左右搖擺,他以為我發神經,來拉我,我不能講話,就用手甩開他。我帶小兒子到公園練功,當我閉上眼睛鬆靜站立(預備功)的時候,他就在我面前扮鬼臉,不然就跑到我面前大喊:“SUPER氣功”,讓我又好氣又好笑。

孩子越大越不容易處理,雖然是一家人,但每個人都是一個個體。當孩子還是個嬰兒的時候,任由父母擺佈,你只需滿足他們的生理需求,當他開始移動的時候,你就擔心他會受傷,當他越來越大,問題就越來越難。

他有他新接觸的世界和想法,我有我的人生經驗和過去。他們的時間在醞釀著,我的時間已經走了這麼多,兩個不同的時間碰在一起,他覺得你有權威性,潛意識想要挑戰你,當一個父親意識到這點,你要給他挫折、讓他學會獨立,還是把你的人生經驗給他,讓他走得更順利?

這是很困擾的拿捏,就算再樂觀,也會覺得無奈。

你必須要接受,孩子看的電視節目,你沒有時間看;他接觸的新資訊,你沒有接觸過。

以前我們騎腳車,現在是以車代步;以前我們的玩意是自然的、鄉土的,現在是科技的:PS2、電腦遊戲、線上遊戲、咖;以前我們門戶不關,進出自由,現在治安不好,打搶、拐帶,女兒又怕人家騙,甚麼色情氾濫、性自由等--這麼一大堆,你要如何以個人的力量,去對抗這麼龐大的新環境?

你最多只能叫他看報紙,要他注意和小心,回到他自己,他必須要承擔自己的人生,他要獨立,你就看著他獨立,你只能從旁勸告。

我以前對小孩很約束,後來慢慢放鬆了。人家說養兒防老,其實也未必,你留太多東西給他,又怕他太依賴,面對孩子的各種狀況,做父母的,心靈上要不斷的調適和拿捏。

孩子年紀越大,我的調適就越多。

當他能有自己的主見,又有能力掌握自己想走的路,我的心就會安定下來。

父親給女兒的信

“我的女兒很感性,她目前在國唸書。一個22歲的女生,覺得自己和社會格格不入,開始失去對生活的動力,於是我給她寫了一封信,希望讓她走出低潮。信裡頭我把自己各階段的人生像寫自傳一樣列下來,讓她參考。她還年輕,未來還有很多的路要走,我希望孩子們未來會有家庭、有小孩、有孫子,過一個圓滿的人生。”

親愛的Jolin:

爸爸最近留意到,你有很多負面的想法,我想跟你說--人生不是平順的旅程,人生充滿了高低起伏的挑戰。朋友來來去去,要找一個知己不容易。順應生命的旅程吧,所謂理想只是一個指標,不要太為難自己、也別把自己推到懸崖。如果我們對自己、對別人、對未來,有著太高的期望和預設,我們必須有心理準備,去接受事情不如預期般完美,必須學會承受失敗的衝擊。

想想那些歡樂的日子吧,那些你跟家人、朋友、同學等共渡的歲月、你初抵美國時的日子,想想那時,當同伴們經歷低潮向你求助時,你如何陪伴他們,你因此變得更堅強了。你有很多朋很多朋友,比我們任何一個人都還多。

爸爸把以前經歷過的挑戰和挫折列下來,給你參考,其中有很多歡樂和成就我就不列了,因為我想讓你知道,挑戰和挫折會讓我們的人生更堅強,希望這些參考,讓你的生命有所啟發。

愛你的,
爸爸