Messengers From The Wilderness

January 10, 2012 by

[ From DailyOM ]

A plant is a weed only within a certain context; one person’s weed is another person’s wildflower.

Simply expressed, a weed is any plant that grows where it isn’t wanted. Weeds are defined by their tendency to flourish at the expense of a gardener’s overall vision, and we tend to battle their presence in our yards. It is interesting to consider, though, that a plant is a weed only within a certain context, which is to say that one person’s weed is another person’s wildflower. Most of us have pulled at least one dandelion up by its roots and disposed of it in the interest of preserving the look of a perfect green lawn, yet the dandelion is good medicine, packed with healing properties and vitamin-rich leaves that are a delicious, spicy surprise in a summer salad.

In the wild, there is no such thing as a weed because the overall vision is in the hands of Mother Nature, who accommodates and incorporates all forms of life. In nature, balance is achieved over the long term, without the aid, or interference, of a human supervisor. While one plant may prevail over others for a certain period of time, eventually it will reach an apex and then it will naturally decline, allowing for other forms to be born and survive. This self-regulating realm was the first garden of our ancestors, who learned the art of agriculture from studying the forests and fields of the as yet uncultivated earth. In a sense, weeds are harbingers of this wildness, pushing their way into our well-ordered plots, undermining more delicate flora, and flourishing in spite of us.

The next time you see a weed, you might want to look deeply into its roots, discover its name, its habits, and its possible uses. Instead of seeing an unwanted intruder, you might see a healer offering its leaves for a medicinal tea or its flowers for a colorful salad. At the very least, if you look long enough, you will see a messenger from the wilderness of Mother Earth, reminding you that, even in the most carefully controlled garden, she cannot be completely ruled out.

The Body Is Natural

January 4, 2012 by

[ From DailyOM ]

So much of the human experience is removed from nature that we tend to forget that we are products of the natural world. At the moment of birth, we are perfectly attuned to nature. Our feelings are an authentic response to the stimulus we encounter. We interact with our environment viscerally, desiring only what is necessary for our survival. And, if we are lucky, we take in nourishment in the form of pure mother’s milk. As months and years pass, however, we discover the sights, sounds, and scents of the synthetic world. Though these often momentarily dazzle us, the dim memory of our naturalness remains. When we embrace the notion that human beings are inherently natural, bringing it to the forefront of our day-to-day experiences, we achieve a new level of wellness that boasts nature at its very core.

We innately understand that our bodies are not composed of plastics or man-made chemicals and that there is no legitimate reason to consume or expose ourselves bodily to such substances. This knowledge is reinforced each time we find ourselves energized by sweet, fresh air and warm sunlight or awed by the majesty of Mother Nature’s beauty. We feel the strength of our connection to nature when fresh food that is close to the earth sustains us more effectively than artificial supplements and when the pleasures of exercise outweigh the pains of exertion. The human body has been blessed with the same physical intuitiveness that all nonhuman living beings employ instinctively. But because our lives are no longer bound up in nature’s rhythms, we must actively seek to reconnect with this formerly innate skill. The process of rediscovering our place in the natural world can be exciting and inspiring, since nothing more is required of us than to delight in nature’s wonders, to derive nourishment from natural foods, and to drink deeply of all the wisdom that plants and animals have to share.

Your own naturalness will reveal itself to you when you look beyond your beliefs, your lifestyle choices, and the attitudes you hold. When these constructs are stripped away, you will see a body and mind that never gave up its relationship to the essence of the natural world from which consciousness sprang.

Every Little Thing

January 4, 2012 by

[By a former volunteer of Singapore International Foundation in the SIF Commemorative Book published in 2011]

My helping a group of students came about entirely by chance.

I had just relocated from Botswana to Pretoria, South Africa. At a public swimming pool I used to frequent in my free time, I started chatting with some youths who were keen to learn to swim. They were refugees from neighbouring countries Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda.

I’d decided to visit them at their regular student association meetings and met more of their friends. Over time, a handful of these youths shared with me their family backgrounds and the financial obstacles they faced, especially with regard to their education.

Since then, I’ve been only too happy to help these students purchase basics things like stationery and school uniforms, and to tutor them in maths and science. We even have an arrangement where I sponsor sports equipment in exchange for them achieving better exam grades.

Small acts like attending their football games and giving out photos of them at matches are other forms of encouragement I give in the hope of making their goals in life seem just a bit more attainable.

I don’t plan to change the world – I honestly wouldn’t know how. This is just me, doing my little part to help others. Maybe that’s enough.

Take Action!
Do something nice for someone else. It doesn’t have to take a special occasion to start paying attention to the people around you. See someone looking a little discouraged or isolated? Think about what you can do to help. It can be as simple as buying them lunch or starting a conversation with them. A better world is a happier one.

Eternally Present

January 3, 2012 by

[ From DailyOM ] 

The key to working with past lives is maintaining awareness of the current reality in which the present takes priority

Exploring our past lives is a valuable way to understand ourselves better and often leads to healing and the resolution of issues plaguing us in this life. However, the key to working with past lives is maintaining an awareness of the current reality in which the present always takes priority. Past lives can be fascinating and entertaining, or emotionally seductive, and we can get lost in them, losing touch with the most important thing the life we are living right now.

Of course, there is a deep connection between our past lives and our current life, so it’s sometimes hard to say where one begins and the other one ends. For example, we may be aware that one of our closest friends or partners is someone we knew from a past life, and that connection feels like an unbroken chord reaching into the past, reminding us of the vast nature of the soul. We may have issues with this person that stem from the past, or we may just be blessed with a deep love that we are fortunate to have with us in this life. Either way, the issues must be resolved in this life, in the present moment. The love is our gift to experience in this life, not in the past. In many ways, the gift of dealing with our past lives is the profound revelation of how truly eternal we all are. Once we comprehend this, we can let go of focusing on the details of the past and simply allow our awareness of the eternal to positively influence our ability to be in the present moment.

You will know you have received the full fruits of past-life exploration when you find yourself even more powerfully present in the eternal now. The past becomes less distinct as it resolves itself, merging with the present and the future in the nexus of consciousness that holds all time and space. We realize that this moment holds everything within it, the resolved and the unresolved, the past and the future, and that it is from this moment that we must live our lives.

The Message of Pain

December 28, 2011 by

[ From DailyOM ]

Both emotional and physical pain are messages that we need to stop and pay attention.

When we feel pain, our first impulse is often to eradicate it with medication. This is an understandable response, but sometimes in our hurry to get rid of pain, we forget that it is the body’s way of letting us know that it needs our attention. A headache can inform us that we’re hungry or stressed just as a sore throat might be telling us that we need to rest our voice. If we override these messages instead of respond to them, we risk worsening our condition. In addition, we create a feeling of disconnectedness between our minds and our bodies.

Physical pain is not the only kind of pain that lets us know our attention is needed. Emotional pain provides us with valuable information about the state of our psyche, letting us know that we have been affected by something and that we would do well to focus our awareness inward. Just as we tend to a cut on our arm by cleaning and bandaging it, we treat a broken heart by surrounding ourselves with love and support. In both cases, if we listen to our pain we will know what to do to heal ourselves. It’s natural to want to resist pain, but once we understand that it is here to give us valuable information, we can relax a bit more, and take a moment to listen before we reach for medication. Sometimes this is enough to noticeably reduce the pain, because its message has been heard. Perhaps we seek to medicate pain because we fear that if we don’t, it will never go away. It can be empowering to realize that, at least some of the time, it is just a matter of listening and responding.

The next time you feel pain, either physical or emotional, you might want to try listening to your own intuition about how to relieve your pain. Maybe taking a few deep breaths will put an end to that headache. Perhaps writing in your journal about hurt feelings will ease your heart. Ultimately, the message of pain is all about healing.

Feeling Our Words

December 27, 2011 by

[ From DailyOM ]

The more conscious we become, the more we deepen our relationship to the words we choose to use.

Words carry energy and this gives language its power and its potential to heal or hurt. Most of us can remember a time that someone sent a word our way, and it stuck with us. It may have been the first time we received a truly accurate compliment, or the time a friend or sibling called us a name, but either way it stuck. This experience reminds us that what we say has weight and power and that being conscious means being aware of how we use words.

The more conscious we become, the more we deepen our relationship to the words we use so that we speak from a place of actually feeling what we are saying. We begin to recognize that words are not abstract, disconnected entities used only to convey meaning; they are powerful transmitters of feeling. For the next few days, you might want to practice noticing how the words you say and hear affect your body and your emotional state. Notice how the different communication styles of the people in your life make you feel. Also, watch closely to see how your own words come out and what affect they have on the people around you.

You may notice that when we speak quickly, without thinking, or rush to get our ideas across, our words don’t carry the same power as when we speak slowly and confidently, allowing those receiving our words time and space to take them in. When we carefully listen to others before we speak, our words have more integrity, and when we take time to center ourselves before speaking, we truly begin to harness the power of speech. Then our words can be intelligent messengers of healing and light, transmitting deep and positive feelings to those who receive them.

Our Evolving Language

December 22, 2011 by

[ From DailyOM ]

We can create positive change by choosing not to use these words and phrases as we come across them in our vocabulary.

There are many troubling phrases in our language that we use without considering their full meaning simply because they have been accepted into common knowledge. Even as our ideals progress, our language maintains some phrases from our past that no longer serve us, for example: Boys don’t cry; good child; boys will be boys; problem child; illegitimate child; and many more. While these phrases may be used without harmful intent, they are inherently negative. Children can be especially sensitive to such phrases, which may stay with them their whole lives, adversely affecting their self-image and wounding their self-esteem. We can create positive change by choosing not to use these words and phrases as we come across them in our vocabulary.

It is challenging to examine our habits in terms of the words we use to express ourselves, but it is also exciting. Language is an area where we can exercise our free will, creating positive change in the world around us by simply choosing carefully the words we use. It may seem like a small thing, but our words have a rippling effect, like a stone thrown in a pond. People naturally pick up on the way other people speak, consciously or unconsciously changing the way they speak in response. We don’t need to actively try to influence people; it happens without our even thinking about it. All we have to do is choose to be more conscious ourselves, putting to rest words and phrases that are outmoded, insensitive, or harmful. We can also exercise our creativity by creating new phrases that carry positive and loving energy to replace the old ones.

You may already have some ideas about phrases you’d like to transition out of your language, and now that you’re thinking about it you may come across many more. As you consciously decide not to use these phrases, you may feel lighter and more joyful, knowing that you have chosen to drop baggage that was handed down to you from a less conscious time. As you do so, you elevate the language for future generations who would no doubt thank you if they could.

Open Heart

December 20, 2011 by

Approaching life with an open heart means that we have opened the door to a greater consciousness.

Spiritual teachers have always pointed to the heart as the seat of consciousness, and recently Western science has found evidence to support this realization. It turns out that the heart has its own central nervous system and is not simply under the rule of the brain as formerly believed. Anyone who has taken the time to explore the heart knows this and, more important, has realized that the heart is the source of our connection to a consciousness greater than the ego. Approaching life with an open heart means that we have opened the door to this greater consciousness, taking up residence alongside it in the seat of our soul. Fortunately, at this time there is a lot of support for this shift energetically as well as practically. To some degree, approaching life with an open heart is as simple as shifting your attention onto your heart.

Eventually you will be able do this any time, any place, but at first it may help to try it in a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed. Simply sit with your eyes closed and draw your breath into your heart. As your breath expands your chest cavity, your heart expands and opens. You may feel tenderness or sadness in your heart, and you may also feel relief. Any emotions that arise can be effectively witnessed and healed through the meditation process, which benefits both your physical heart and your energetic heart. The more you practice, the more you will find your heart opening to your own presence and to all the situations your life brings.

When we open our hearts, they may feel tender and vulnerable, which simply means that they need our loving attention as we cleanse and heal them of past hurts and blockages. This process asks us to practice some of the heart’s greatest lessons patience, compassion, and unconditional love. On the other hand, we may take up residence as effortlessly as a bird returns to its nest. Either way, approaching life with an open heart simply means returning to our true home.

Obituary : Teresa Hsu = Respect

December 14, 2011 by

Teresa Hsu’s life philosophy

“The world is my home,
all living beings are my brothers and sisters,
selfless service is my religion.”

[ From newnation ]

Thank you, Teresa Hsu, you will always be the coolest person in Singapore. Because of you, our faith in humanity shall be restored.

Singapore’s oldest woman and super volunteer Teresa Hsu has passed away.

According to an announcement  on the Heart to Heart website, Hsu departed peacefully at her home on Dec. 7 and was cremated on the same day.

Strict instructions were passed down to withhold announcements of her demise from the media.

Even in death, she was caring and considerate, insisting in a notice signed by her close friend and co-worker Sharana Rao, stating she did not want any ceremonies performed that would “cause disturbance and inconvenience to others”.

An avid yoga practitioner and vegetarian, the 113-year-old Hsu was awarded several accolades for her work, such as the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre’s Special Recognition Award (2006) and the Sporting Singapore Inspiration Award for her teaching of yoga (2004).

Her work with the needy was born out of her personal experiences growing up very poor and witnessing the plight of others who were less well-off.

In Heart to Heart with Teresa Hsu, her authorised biography published earlier this year, Hsu remembers being “very poor and very hungry” to the point that she resorted to eating grass when she was seven years old.

That experience left a lasting impression.

Up till the point when she was more than 90 years old, Hsu was at Heart to Heart, an outreach unit in Singapore, where she and her co-worker Sharana Rao, 62, look after the needs of 13 single elderly folks and four needy families in Singapore, giving them basic food and money for rent, utilities, travel and companionship.

Monetary donations are also given to help 47 visually-impaired children and teenagers in Ho Chi Minh.

Hsu was born in 1898 to a poor but caring family in Kak Chioh Swatow, a tiny village in the Guangdong province of China.

Her “wake up call”, as she described it in her recently released biography, came in 1933 in Hong Kong. She was in her mid-thirties.

Hsu came across a beggar asking for food just as she had attended a lavish company dinner.

She described this experience as giving her “great pain in my heart” as she was witnessing the suffering of a fellow human being.

Hsu decided from then on, she would donate her money to the underprivileged rather than spending it on herself.

At that time, she spent an average of only 30 cents a day for food and drink, giving away the remainder of her money.

In the 1940s, Hsu, who was in her 40s by then, joined the Friends Ambulance Unit. Her duty was to look after 20 young men and acted as their translator in China during the Second World War.

After four years, she boarded a cargo ship headed for England to study at the London Royal Free Hospital.

Her determination and desire was so impressive that she was accepted into the three-year course meant only for those aged between 17 to 25.

During the summer breaks, Hsu worked as an exchange volunteer with the International Voluntary Service for Peace in Germany, France, Spain, Switzerland, Norway and Denmark.

She later joined the Society of Brothers in Paraguay where she worked in a hospital giving medication, injections and attending to women’s health problems.

The Society was a haven for Jewish refugees from Hitler’s persecution. There were 2,000 residents on the grounds.

Besides her hospital work, Hsu would also deliver food to lepers living on the outskirts of the town everyday.

She also gave out medicine and food, meant for society members, to the poor and sick. This frequently got her into trouble with the Society.

Subsequently, she returned to China after eight years.

And in 1961, Hsu moved again. This time to Singapore with her mother to live with Ursula Khow, Hsu’s elder sister who was a school principal.

Hsu continued her social work in Singapore, serving first as a nonsalaried matron at Kwong Wai Shiu Hospital for about three years.

Later, she opened an old folks’ home in 1965 on a piece of land in Jalan Payoh Lai.

Khow funded the project as it cost $150,000. Called the “Home for the Aged Sick”, it started with just seven elderly residents but quickly expanded to 250.

At that time, Hsu was also caring for 26 needy families and single elderly folks through her outreach unit, Heart-to-Heart.

After 20 years at the home, Hsu retired. She turned her attention to Heart to Heart, where she spent her final days tending to the welfare service she was at for more than two decades.

Her tireless work and indomitable spirit never made retirement an option.

In the Yahoo!News interview she gave in July, Hsu stressed: “No temptation can come into my house. I have work to do, I am not diverted.”

Her message to young people today: “Go all out to help those who don’t have the basic needs. See that nobody needs to go hungry.”

 

A Magical Mind

December 8, 2011 by

[ From DailyOM ]

When we wish for something our consciousness opens to receiving it like a flower unfolding its petals to receive a bee.

From blowing dandelion seeds into the air to throwing a penny into a fountain, we have all felt inspired to make a wish, to whisper our secret desires into the ears of the universe and wait for signs that we have been heard. Some wishes come true while others remain ethereal visions that either stay with us or fade like a star in the light of morning. Whether they come true or not, wishes are important missives, expressing our heart’s desire as well as our intention to create something new in our lives. When we wish for something, our consciousness opens to receiving it, like a flower unfolding its petals to receive a bee.

There is something innocent and magical about making a wish, something that recalls the energy of childhood. Wishing is not about formulating a plan and following it step by step to attain a goal, which is the realm of adulthood. Wishing is more like a playful volley across the universe, an invitation to play. Waiting for the response is an integral part of the process. Wishing inspires an innocent opening to the possibility of magic as we wait to see if the invisible realm will bring our wish to life. This opening is a beautiful gesture in and of itself, regardless of the outcome. We place ourselves in a magical mind, and this mind is arguably as wonderful as the fulfillment of our wish itself.

In our straightforward, action-oriented society, we may tend to dismiss the power of this seemingly passive process, yet the power of a wish is well known, hence the cautionary phrase, “Be careful what you wish for.” If you have given up wishing in favor of more adult pursuits, you might want to bring its magic back into your life. The next time you see the first star of the evening, or find yourself in front of a birthday cake covered in flaming candles, give yourself the gift of the magical realm that you knew so well as a child—close your eyes, open your mind, and make your wish.

The Wisdom of Surrender

December 7, 2011 by

[ From DailyOM ]

A deep feeling of gratitude can emerge as we open to the experience of being helped.

Most of us pride ourselves on our self-sufficiency. We like to be responsible for taking care of ourselves and pulling our own weight in the world. This is why it can be so challenging when we find ourselves in a situation in which we have to rely on someone else. This can happen as the result of an illness or an injury, or even in the case of a positive change, such as the arrival of a newborn. At times like these, it is essential that we let go of our feeling that we should be able to do it all by ourselves and accept the help of others.

The first step is accepting the situation fully as it is. Too often we make things worse either by trying to do more than we should or by lapsing into feelings of uselessness. In both cases we run the risk of actually prolonging our dependency. In addition, we miss a valuable opportunity to practice acceptance and humility. The ego resists what is, so when we move into acceptance we move into the deeper realm of the soul. In needing others and allowing them to help us, we experience the full realization that we are not on our own in the world. While this may bring up feelings of vulnerability, a deep feeling of gratitude may also emerge as we open to the experience of being helped. This realization can enable us to be wiser in our service of others when we are called upon to help.

It takes wisdom and strength to surrender to our own helplessness and to accept that we, just like every other human being, have limitations. The gifts of surrender are numerous. We discover humility, gratitude, and a deepening understanding of the human experience that enables us to be that much more compassionate and surrendered in the world.

Good Vibrations

December 2, 2011 by

[ From DailyOM ]

When the vibrations of our physical and spiritual bodies are out of harmony it can cause disease.

Everything in the universe is in a constant state of vibration, including our bodies. Sound is vibration that can be translated by the delicate structures of our inner ear, but it moves more than just those tiny receptors. It is part of the spectrum of energy vibrations that affect us on the mental, physical, and spiritual levels. Long ago shamans recognized the power of sound when they first used chants and drumming to heal people. In ancient Egypt, Greece, and India, the use of sound and music for healing was a highly developed sacred science. Sonic vibration has been one way of experiencing the energy of the universe for much of humanity’s history.

When the vibrations of our physical and spiritual bodies are out of harmony it can cause disease. Sound healing gently massages the molecules back into the right places, clearing blockages and restoring harmony. Ancient healing systems such as Chinese medicine and Indian Ayurveda associate specific musical notes with subtle-energy systems of the body, such as in yoga where particular notes of music correspond to each of the seven chakras. In Tibet, priests have long used bells and bowls over and around the body to tune and clear the energy centers.  Chimes and tuning forks are other tools that have been used to heal not only the body but the energy in a room as well.

Knowing that sound has the power to heal, we should also try to remember that sounds from modern life can have a negative affect. Choosing silence over discord may help us maintain a state of equilibrium. As we seek soothing and harmonizing sounds to surround us, we may be doing more than creating a balm for the noise of the world. We may actually be performing an act of self-healing that connects us with one of the most basic vibrations of the universe.

Open and Listening

November 29, 2011 by

[ From DailyOM ]

When in nature we often forget we are moving into another realm, one that asks us to drop our baggage and surrender.

For better or worse, much of the world we experience is dominated and controlled by human beings. We spend our days in houses, cars, and buildings, and inside these structures, we are in control. We assert our wills and manipulate our environment. Within the context of the human world, this is natural. However, we often carry this attitude with us into the world of nature. We forget as we enter the forest, or sit on the edge of a pond, that we are moving into another realm, one that asks us to drop our baggage and surrender to a different sense of order and meaning.

When we move from our everyday world into the world of nature, we may not even notice at first. We might continue talking loudly into our cell phone or to a friend that is with us. We might walk quickly as if we are on a busy city street, our eyes downcast, our thoughts hectic and hurried. In the best case, if we are sensitive to our environment, we will soon notice that it has changed. We may hear ducks calling, or wind moving through the leaves on a tree. If we notice the shift, we will naturally shift as well. If we don’t, we may get all the way through a beautiful park without having lowered our voices. Next time you find yourself in the presence of wildlife even if it’s just a duck pond in the midst of urban hustle try to move into a receptive state of openness and listening, no matter how much or how little time you have. Allow yourself to be captivated and calmed by the energy of the wildlife that covers this earth. Teaching our children to be respectful of nature and to stop and observe is a gift they can always cherish

We preserve pockets of nature in our urban centers and large expanses of nature in our national parks because of the magic we feel in its presence. It reminds us of our smallness and calls us back to a deeper, quieter part of ourselves. When we honor nature by being respectful in its presence, we honor the mystery and wild beauty of our origin.

Lightening the Soul

November 25, 2011 by

[ From DailyOM ]

It is only when we actively seek to work through our issues that we can lighten the load and our souls can evolve.

From the moment we are born, our souls may feel heavy because they are carrying the weight of all we have lived, loved, and learned in our past incarnations. It is only when we actively seek to work through our issues that we can lighten the load and our souls can evolve. Divesting ourselves of what no longer serves us, such as unwarranted fear, the inability to feel empathy, or self-limiting behaviors, are just some of the many challenges we may face in this lifetime. While some issues we face are easier to deal with because they are the final remains of residue from a past life, other issues offer greater challenges because we are meant to work through them throughout this lifetime.

Often, we expect ourselves to recover quickly from difficult or painful circumstances. When we do not or cannot, we may feel emotionally inept or hopeless. The evolution of the soul, however, is an ongoing process that can take many lifetimes. It is a matter of accepting that even when we do our best there are going to be situations, people, and outcomes that we cannot control. It is also important to remember that your experiences now may be setting the groundwork for future healing—whether in this lifetime or the next one. The more you release in each time, the more you grow and the more your soul will evolve.

Although it is not always possible to work through all of our issues in a single lifetime, it is important that we confront what we are called to face in this life and do the work we need to do. It is also important to remember that the most effective way to let your soul grow is to be an active participant in life. Be present in each moment and your soul will do this work for you.

Right in Front of You

November 24, 2011 by

[ From DailyOM ]

Maybe you are using a desire you can’t fulfill to distract you from truly engaging the blessings you already have.

When it comes to the things we want, there always seems to be an endless list. No matter how many times we get something off that list, we add new things to replace it. In life, this drama of wanting and getting and wanting is all part of the dance. The things we want motivate us to get up and get them.

And yet, at the same time, we can torment ourselves with our wanting, especially when we want something we can’t have or can’t find. It is in cases like these that it might be fruitful to entertain the idea that maybe what you really want is right in front of you. Maybe you are using this desire you can’t fulfill to distract you from truly engaging the blessings you already have. It may seem like that doesn’t make sense, yet we do it all the time. It may be easier to see in other people than to see it in ourselves. We have all heard our friends wishing they were more this or less that, and looking at them we see clearly that they are everything they are wishing they were. We know people who have wonderful partners and yet envy you yours. We wish we could give these people a look at their situations from our perspective so that they could see that what they want really is right in front of them.

It’s not too far-fetched to consider that we might be victims of the same folly. It can be scary to have what we want. We get caught up in the chase and forget to enjoy the beauty right in front of us—like a child who never wants the toy she has in her hand but always the one just out of her reach. Take a moment today to consider the many things you are holding in the palm of your hand and how you might best play with them.