Saturday, March 29, 2008

The week that was...

Phew! I'm so glad to be able to reach home before 9pm today! The whole of this week had been terribly exhausting for me with Che Che Boutique (will elaborate on this in the next blog) rushing to open for business at Mid Valley. Long and hectic working hours...but that's always been in the retail scene which I'm so familiar with. However, this time, I'm trying my level best not to push myself too hard and too far. But then, I've been bleeding every morning since Monday and simply can't figure out what's wrong with me. Besides feeling tired, I think I feel well.
Last week I went for a 3 days Liquid Fasting Retreat at Villa Indah, Bukit Tinggi. I was informed that it was held on the Spring equinox which is an auspicious time of the year. Spring arrived as the zodical clock moves out of Pisces into Aeries and the invincible sun crosses directly over the celestial equator giving us approximately 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness, bringing the world of form unifying energies of harmony and balance. They suggested that this is the best time energically to participate in a liquid fast held in sacred silence.
I still don't know why I signed up for this retreat cos' I hardly knew anyone, let alone the way to Villa Indah! But I guess different phase in life, we do different things and where I am now, I believe I'm still searching...
I was grateful to Carina for connecting me to her friend Julie so that we could travel together.

Day 1 : Friday 21st March
We are supposed to start fasting on liquids the morning we woke up.
We braved through quite a heavy traffic (as it was a Friday) and arrived at Villa Indah at about six something. After checking in to our respective villas, we gathered at the hall and the session kicked off at exactly 8pm.
Dehyana our facilitator greeted us with her usual hospitality and warmness. She explained to us the reason why she had chosen this day for liquid fasting. It was the Spring equinox and full moon and it coincided with Good Friday and Easter Sunday. As today is Good Friday, a day when Jesus was crucified - we were to dedicate the day by looking at our own crucifix and asked ourselves, "where am I not in alignment with the universe?"
The session proceeded with meditation guided by Dehyana. I felt ashamed, awkward and uneasy as I'm not not sure how exactly a person meditate. Like the rest, I just closed my eyes and allowed my mind to wander away! Sincerely speaking, my mind was not paying attention to Dehyana at all.
After this, people shared their experiences on their fasting and meditation. One guy mentioned he saw an image of Jesus and Buddha entering his stomach during meditation. Personally, I find it so hard to believe and accept! Some had so dramatic episodes that I thought they could've faked them! Keeping very silent, I sat at the corner, I just listened and I observed.
For a moment I felt I came to the wrong retreat!! Everyone else here is walking the so-called 'spiritual path' while I am still searching for the path of righteousness. Hey, I felt so out!

Day 2 : Saturday 22nd March
While many fought hard to sleep last night, I slept through (even with my usual dreams)the night.
This morning while we were heading to the hall, my room-mate Yen Lu suddenly turned pale and almost fainted. She felt weak and couldn't walk, I advised her to sit down while I went to seek help. I managed to get Chee Wah and Muniandy to the rescue. It was the 1st time I witnessed a healing performed by prayer and ho'oponopono (an ancient Hawaiian system of cleaning and taking full responsibility on oneself by repeatedly saying I'M SORRY - PLS FORGIVE ME - I LOVE YOU - THANK YOU). Coincidently, I also came to learn of this from the book Zero Limits which I'm still reading. Anyway, what happened was after 10mins or so, Yen Lu began throwing out and after that, she was able to walk again. I could see some colour returning to her pale face. I accompanied her to join the class and obviously, we were late.
I walked to the room heading towards Dehyana and quietly acknowledged her. She sat there like a goddess and has the aura of a calm sea in a storm of reality. I took my seat and closed my eyes like the rest did and instantly, tears just clouded my eyes. It just kept flowing for no apparent reason at all. Later, I understood that Dehyana sent me her love vibration. I don't understand how it works but I'm truly fascinated.
The rest of the morning were held in quiet comtemplation and sharing. On fasting, some people felt hungry, some tired, some energetic. I didn't feel anything and was not hungry yet, therefore I kept quiet. Later, when we took a break I contacted John and exchanged updates on our programmes. When I mentioned to him that I was bored, he teased me. He was surprised to find that I was still hanging on...staying in the midst of strangers, going through boring stuffs and without food! But I came with an open mind to explore and to experience just how it feels to be away from friends, living quietly and not eating. It was not that bad after all.
The afternoon was spent on sharing and more sharing. Dehyana explained to us the reason why she doesn't preach. Her sessions were mainly taken from the participant life's experiences so that we all were able to learn from them. I noticed that too. Dehyana speaks her heart, accepting whatever comes and whatever said. She never challenges, instead her wise words always made us ponder at our problems and ourselves instead of being a Miss Know It All giving a solution or having an answer on everything. Perhaps that's why I was drawn to her. We sang bharjans every now and then and I took 40 winks in between times too.
At night, we had breathworks and as expected, these people were all so 'dying' to share and contribute. So the drama began and ended at 10pm, we called it a day. It was certainly a long day.

Day 3 : Sunday 23rd March
I was awake early - a part of me had wanted so badly to get up for a jog while the other part of me just wanted to stay in bed. In the end, I succumbed to laziness and decided to lie down and laze in the bed. And this is so unlike Wai Mun!
After awhile, I got up. The air at Bukit Tinggi was crisp and cool. However, after my morning shower, I began to perspire profusely. Until now I still wonder why. I quickly wipe the sweat before I catch another cold again. I proceeded to do some breathing and stretching exercises at the balcony and soon felt better. Not long I met Gopalan and the rest and related my 'sweaty' experience at the shower with them. They assured me that it was due to the body releasing out toxins. I accepted it eventhough I wasn't sure. Again, I reminded myself my purpose of being here.
As it was Easter Sunday, Dehyana dedicated this day to remembering the resurrection of Jesus. Today, I found her teachings too difficult for me to digest. She talked about the 12 apostles and the 12 powers of man relating it to the 12 chakras of our bodies and the conscious mind. Each department heads has control of a certain function in soul and body; working through an aggregation of cells.
I was confused but forced myself to go with the flow...
We wrapped up that evening at 4pm breaking fast with fruits, snacks and beverages before leaving home.

I remembered Ms. Moey inviting John and I to the chapel for Easter that night but concluded that I could not take in anymore sermons after today's session. I knew she will be disappointed with our absence esp. mine but I honestly needed to take a break and consolidate all that I had learnt from the last 3 days first before going any deeper.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Joie de vivre

While many are still catching up on news of the post election, I can only sit back and watch in anticipation the events unfolding in the aftermath of the elections. I decided to read some other interesting stuff instead. I found this article from Prevention, a health magazine. I had summarized and would like to share it here.
It reveals the feeling of exuberant enjoyment of life or 'joie de vivre' that often happened to some people. Fittingly, nature rewards these happy-go-lucky types. They minimize the destructive effects of stress and know how to automatically turn negative response off much more quickly and return to a positive mental and physical state.
Basically, there are 4 habits that longevity experts said are at the heart of a sunny disposition and that we can adopt it too.

1. They make connection with friends
Teresa Seeman, a professor of medicine and epidemiology at UCLA said, "Just by talking on the phone to a friend has immediate effect of lowering blood pressure and cortisol levels. Research shows that having good long-term relationships provides as many physical benefits as being active or a non smoker." Therefore, make an effort to connect with the friends we already have. Call now and before we hang up the phone, schedule a lunch date - personal contact is always better.

2. They express gratitude
Buoy our spirits by recording happy events on paper or computer. People who write about all the things they are thankful for, are optimistic and more satisfied overall with their lives. Those who keep a gratitude journal once a week normally get a bigger boost in happiness than those asked to record their good fortune three times a week. We just need to find the frequency that works for us - giving thanks shouldn't feel like a chore.

3. They are randomly kind
Do we perform 5 acts of kindness in any given day? That's the number of good deeds that boost our sense of well-being and happiness. Our karmic acts can be minor and unplanned eg. giving up our seat on the bus; buying an extra latte to give to a co-worker. We'll soon realize that the payback greatly exceeds the effort. Being spontaneously kind delivers rewards.

4. They appraise their lives
We can rewrite history and feel better about ourselves in the bargain. Set aside a little time each week to write or just mentally revisit an important event in our past. Reflecting on the experience can reshape our perception of it, as well as our expectations for the future. When creating this "life review" we get to hit all our accomplishments - an instant self-esteem booster.

It's helpful to look at the bad times as well as the good. Perhaps now that a few years have passed, we'll be able to realize how that breakup or failed job opportunity opened other doors. Finally, forgive ourselves. If only we can come to terms with past events, we'll be better able to handle tough times down the road.
Lastly, remember : We are the heroine in this tale!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

In Memory Of My Sister, Jennifer

Today I woke up, my nose was still very much blocked but the fever had subsided. I did not feel unwell. There's a very heavy nostalgic feeling within me and I know I still miss my sister, Jennifer. She passed away on this day, 2 years ago.

"Don't grieve for me, for now I'm free;
I took His Hand when I heard Him call;
I turned my back and left it all.
If my parting has left a void;
Then fill it with remembered joy.
My life's been full, I savoured much;
Good friends, good times,
a loved one's touch.
A friendship shared, a laugh, a kiss;
Ah yes, these things, I too, will miss.
Perhaps my time seemed all too brief;
Don't lengthen it now with undue grief.
Lift up your hearts and share with me;
God wanted me now, He set me free."

These were the last message that Jennifer left us before she went Home. Then in my eulogy to her, I remembered making up something like this :

Although her time with us was a brief one..
Jennifer had indeed lived well, laughed often and loved much.
She filled her niche and accomplished her task.
A tougher sister I've yet to find,
May God grant her His Rest and Peace divine.

So, we shall not grieve for you, Jennifer.
For now you walk freely in the Land of Day.
United with friends of yesterday.
Freed from earth's bonds -
All pains and sufferings over..
Safe in God's Keeping, on that heavenly shore.

There's no death! The stars go down..
To rise upon some other shore.
And bright in Heaven's jeweled crown,
They shine for Jennifer, for ever more.

At that time when I spoke, I must confess that I actually did not know what I was talking about. It was merely a wish or my imagination that I wish would happen for my sister in her afterlife. Moreover, I just wanted to make a poem out of it (my sisters and I are good at such things).
Today, as I seek and read more, I discovered that there are some truths in what I said and I was not just making poem. While I still miss her, there's no death..we will meet again, in another dimension, in another life.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Yesterday and today...

It's been 2 weeks since I resumed work and I've already had 3 migraine attacks and a BP of 140/96...I'm not sure what went wrong but I have tried my level best to take things easy and stay calm. Right now, I'm down with flu. It started yesterday. Took Aerius which didn't help, so I changed to Zyrtec instead. Guess what? My right eyes became swollen. I didn't know that one can even get allergy to anti-histamines. Now I know.

This morning, rain or shine, sick or not, I told myself I need to run Hartamas cos' I've not been running or training as much as I'm supposed to for KLIM. This will be my last practise run before KLIM as I will be going for a retreat next week. My god, took me almost two and half hours to reach Hartamas and back! I was so slow and obviously the body was telling me that she was not really up to it but I was obstinate enough to just push it through. Now I'm paying the price...ha, I'm having fever, running nose, headache and an allergy showing on the eye.

Makes me wonder if it's a good time to get back to work?? Well, I shall observe.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Now What?

The last whole week was certainly very happening for almost every Malaysian especially over the weekend. The election fever could be felt the coffee shops, wedding dinners, market place, Lake Gardens and even the corridors of our apartment. Everyone I know seemed to be blabbering, discussing political matters and trying to convince one another the parties they choose to vote!
I'm not into politics and therefore, I'd like to reserve my comments on political issues. Yet very often, I must confess that I found myself eavesdropping with great interest all conversations relating to politics nowadays. Aha, I do not wish to be left out! And for the first time, I visited the many blogs of our politicians and read about their views, comments, debates, oaths etc.etc. so that I'll be kept in the loop! This is what the hokkiens called "kehpo" (Busybody)!
At last and finally, the 12th election has been carried through with a gust of the winds of change. The defeat of some big guns was too overwhelming to believe. Anxiously on that Saturday night, we saw a tsunami of shock defeats and a wave of change that swept across the nation. The heavy casualities amongst the top politicians, handling over coalition its worst performance since ages ago!
Surely, this has marked the dawn of a new era. I was convinced to see some new blood (youths today) rising stand up and fight for what they believe in their hearts to be right. These are the new breed of lesser experienced, young but enthusiastic parlimentarians in the opposition party, whose consensus needs to be agreed to change the constitution.
But again the question - "Will new people do the same old thing?" Sun columnist Nadeswaran brought us to mind scenarios of other government in other countries that came to power and then it got from bad to worse. Voices of dissent were silent; promises were never kept; "they" became more important than the people; business took precedence over govermenance; and "don't question me" attitude prevailed. We do not wish this to happen to us.
As an observer, I strongly feel that after all the campaigning and victories won, it's now time for the "winners" to fulfil their obligations and promises for a safer, cleaner and more peaceful country. It is not about just lip service. It is about walking the talk...correcting what doesn't work and finding new ways to make politics relevant to the young and disenchanted.
To quote a former Bar Council president who wrote; "They must never forget, not even in their sleep, that their much-improved victory is not their victory, but the victory of the people. Thus, they must serve the people with humility and dedication. They should be proud not of their success but of the people who have enabled them to succeed."
Above all, I hope too that, they will serve with good intent of the heart. With this in mind, how wrong can one go?

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Keeping my spirit positive...

So, my freedom only lasted for exactly 2 months. But the two months break was surprisingly enriching for me. Although I did not travel this time (as I usually would), I've stretched myself to the utmost and am pleased about it.

I have more free time for myself. Time to do things I enjoy doing without having to rush for datelines eg. going for my morning jog without having to rush to work later. Taking time to read all the books and magazines that are long overdue. Time to catch up with some friends. Time to think.

I have time to think - think deeply. Thus, my mind became clearer and more conscious. I'm more conscious on the food I eat, the words that I use and the things that I buy. I'm more positive and in control of myself, my emotions and my train of thoughts. Therefore, am able to view life differently. I don't act impulsively so often.

I've learnt to slow down and discovered for myself that I do have the capability to be more patient!

I have time to attend workshops or go for short but meaningful retreats which has helped me tremendously in my growth and my search for self-enrichment. I've benefitted much and feel a better person, at least for now.

Yesterday as I was driving to work, I still questioned myself whether I've made the right move to get back to the retail industry (as I have yet to receive my appointment letter), and an encouragement came from the daily contemplation which speaks:

Keep your thoughts positive because your thoughts become your words,
Keep your words positive because your words become your behaviour,
Keep your behaviour positive because your behaviour become your habits,
Keep your habits positive because your habits become your values,
Keep your values positive because your values become your destiny.

As the election fever draws near, I hope that our leaders / politicians out there soon / have realized the value of a good track record because it is the value of a good track record that will determine their destiny this Saturday and not the things that they performed over just these few months!!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The holidays are over!

Yes, holidays are over! I can't believe that I'm going back to work again. However, unlike previous times, the excitement of going to work has somewhat faded this time.
John still insists that I should give it (working) another thought. "Are you sure you wanna go back to work?" he asked me a few times over. Well, perhaps it's because he is pleased with my progress so far. My progress as in personal development? Maybe.
He complimented me; that I am calmer and more in control of my own self now. Indeed I am so well-behaved that my BP seemed to have stabilized too. I have learned to slow down and to be more patient with myself and others. Obviously, there were less 'work-related' phone calls to disturb or stress me. I could breathe better and laugh out loud more often. Ha!Ha!
So here are some the pros and cons of working and not working:

Working is good for me because...
- It keeps me occupy and my brain won't get rotten easily.
- It keeps me on my toes. I always feel I am in touch with the world and therefore, I won't feel left behind.
- I'm in touch with people all the time. Getting to meet new friends and knowing that I will never be lonely.
- Projects to look forward to, goals to achieve and a sense of achievement whenever a challenge is being overcome.
- The security of receiving a monthly income. I don't have to worry about the price of petrol increase, parking at KLCC or dinning at Dome.
- Being exposed to lot more opportunities to learn and grow.

Working is no good for me because...
- It upsets my hormones and increases my blood pressure especially when I'm under tremendous stress.
- I'm always in a rush and being bogged down with heavy workload almost all the time.
- Having numerous phone calls anytime of the day.
- Migraine attacks several times a month.
- Not having enough rest or time to think properly.

I'm already very tired now - to be continued...yawn!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

The day my mom got baptized..

Two months passed so swiftly. Looks like March gonna be a month filled with some events for John and I.
It begins with my mom baptism today - Siew Cheng's open house tomorrow - I will be reporting to work on Mon - the election heat next Sat - Ah Heng son's Wedding on Sun - my 3days Fasting Retreat at Bentong which will clash with Pacestters AGM and F1 - a memorial do for my late sister - Che Che New York boutique opening - and we'll end March with KL Marathon.
Since my mom is getting baptized today, my intention was to dedicate this morning's run to her. As I was getting ready, the skies gates opened up and began to pour! John had already set his mind on cycling no matter what, so he went ahead. So, I decided to run anyway, rain or no rain.
Since baptism is related to dipping oneself into the water, the morning showers added meaning to an otherwise dry run. Well, I hoped the rain will stop soon but it didn't. Ha! as if it was meant for me to get baptized too?! Yup, I could feel the rain pouring into my clothes and sinking deep into my skin. It lasted the entire morning run...heavy drizzle but the feeling was good and refreshing! I completed about 8km.
In the afternoon, I witnessed my mom's baptism. It's amazing to believe that my mom who has been worshipping idols all her life has accepted the Lord Jesus Christ last year. But I always believe that things happened for a reason. It is good to see her happier now and that's what life is all about. To be happy.
I'm not a religious person and sad to say, I do not have a religion. But I do believe that as long as one has faith in something or someone who can give oneself comfort and peace of mind - then, one should believe. Quote Hebrews 11:1 "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen."Hey, I do read the Scriptures sometimes but I also listen to the teachings of Buddha and at ACIM, I learn about love. Only love. As a seeker, I guess I'm still I search, I'll be able to discover, to learn and to experience.