“Respond. Don’t React.”
It has been four days since the election, and most of our jaws have yet to lift off the floor in what has been the most stunning election in the history of this country. Protestors have begun gathering across a nation bleeding from its heart while dragging their disgust across the blood-soaked election floor in order to sling insults, cast blame, and reopen wounds that many thought had already healed. Others are reveling in the power of the masses for which they contributed to miraculously shaking the foundation of the most powerful country in the world. “How did this happen?” and “How did we get here?” are the questions reverberating across the globe.
Perhaps, we should focus on a different question instead.
"What needs to happen in order to heal this country and its people?"
One undeniable fact we need to acknowledge before answering any of these questions is that the people of this nation are suffering and have been for a very long time. Certainly, since the foundations of this country were laid, we have been fighting for the impossible by sacrificing our bodies, exploring our minds, and opening our hearts. Our determination for great change has, for centuries, been driven by our growing civil liberties and our patriotic poise that allows us to stand firmly on the elegant message delivered through our nation’s constitution. But, truth be told, when focus is drawn to the needs of a single group, all others are seemingly forgotten. And now, in this moment in time, an unexpected result has driven us to realize that “the forgotten” will now forever be known as “the remembered”. “The remembered”, who have waited for decades to find a single person, atypical or inexperienced as that person might be, who offers willingly to observe and listen to their collective needs, who sympathetically acknowledges their suffering, and who offers support through the promise of change.
Have the protesters in the streets ceased their shouting long enough to hear these voices as well? Have they listened and understood without blame or judgement for how this formerly-forgotten group of American citizens came to their decision for which they so heavily chant against? The voices of the protesters have been heard. And now, it is time to listen to the voices of the unheard, the voices of “the remembered”. And those left shouting, will be the first ones that everyone will forget about.
The people of this nation are suffering and have been for a very long time.
Perhaps "the remembered" are asking us all to do the following:
WE THE PEOPLE must not react. We must listen, understand, and provide support to each other through compassionate comradery.
WE THE PEOPLE must NO LONGER REACT through the deliverance of actions or words driven by hatred, disgust, or a sense of utter despair.
WE THE PEOPLE must RESPOND with effective action by first curbing our upset so we can listen openly to and fully comprehend the cause of suffering brought upon the citizens who live equally together among us. We must reach across the great divide that separates “Us” from “Them”. For if we do not, then this division will only spread further like a contagious disease we thought had once been cured but had only gone into remission. We must deliver a response that shows respect for the democratic process which defines how and why these States of America remain United.
We must reach across the great divide that separates “Us” from “Them”. For if we do not, then this division will only spread further like a contagious disease we thought had once been cured but had only gone into remission.
Regardless of whether you accept the results of this election or not, we must not give in to violent tendencies; we must not desecrate the relics of our great country of which our forefathers fought so hard to create and our ancestors fought so hard to protect; and we must not gloat for the sake of our own pleasure. For when we are defeated, we must humbly retreat, but not into the shadows. We must stand together, but not with our backs turned. We must listen to one another, but not without understanding. We must combine the “Us” with “Them”.
Have you heard about the historic event that happened during the first World War called the “Christmas Truce”? It is a beautiful story about British, French, and German soldiers declaring ceasefires and emerging from their trenches on Christmas Day in the midst of a devastating war so they could sing carols together, exchange gifts with one another, and join together in friendly and unforgotten soccer matches in the center of the battlefield before returning to their trenches to resume fighting against each other.
Today, we have an opportunity to write a different ending, or coda, to this similar tune. And this coda, when sung together, should remind us that we live together on the land of the free and the home of the brave. And when sung in harmony, we can resist changing the tune of our glorious anthem to sound as though we are living on the land of despair and the home of the suffering. So, let us choose to listen to each other's voices and understand where their power comes from so that our melodies can be joined together to bind the wounds of our nation’s bleeding heart. I for one, will be singing loudly with you, with my hand over mine.
Your fellow citizen,
Recently, I had the honor of participating in a Tai Chi performance at the Washington National Cathedral's event "Seeing Deeper" with my teacher, Master Nick Gracenin, and other masters across the east coast. The event was created to offer learning opportunities to the public designed to enhance one's awareness of the body, mind, and spirit. The magnificent space of the cathedral was cleared entirely of chairs and benches in order to mimic the vastness of medieval cathedrals, served traditionally as places of gathering and community. The "Seeing Deeper" event also served as just this, a place of gathering, with nearly 100 people performing together the relaxing arts of Tai Chi and Qigong for nearly two hours.
During our practice, my teacher inserted elements of these art forms that trace back thousands of years into their philosophy which was used as the foundation of the healing arts of China, including Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine. These elements included the essence of not only health practices and Tai Chi application but also important methods used to enhance one's quality of life.
Traditionally and modernly, we know these elements as Yin and Yang as well as the Five Elements. Unfortunately though, many sources of traditional teachings were lost during the Cultural Revolution that took place in China during the 20th century. Although some of this was safeguarded, many people to this day are constantly excavating and learning through self practice the true essence and meaning of the Yin and Yang, the Five Elements, and simply how to live a life of peacefulness and understanding.
The combination of the five human senses is the foundation of love.
So, what does it mean to be "Seeing Deeper" anyway?
Does the act of "seeing" in fact require the use of the human eye? And does "deeper" refer to the space or ground beneath us?
The human body is known to have (at least) five senses: sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch. When you remove one of these senses, e.g. close your eyes, does it make it easier or more challenging to "see"? The question is only relative to the situation in which you are attempting to "see". If you were walking ten miles across an unknown landscape, this would make the task challenging and perhaps more dangerous, but not entirely impossible. If you were simply trying to experience the texture of a piece of fruit, removing your ability to see might in fact make it easier.
At the same time, would your other four senses be reduced or heightened? If your mind is no longer focusing on the use of your eyes, then your intention required would be sent directly to the senses you are still capable of utilizing allowing for them to be heightened. In the example of the piece of fruit, your sense of smell would be heightened as you would know exactly what piece of fruit it would be without even touching it, you could tap it to determine its density, you could examine its texture by touching it, and lastly, you could experience its deliciousness with your sense of taste.
The art of seeing deeper requires not the skillful ability that is developed over time, but rather the innate ability that reveals itself after years of shedding away the layers of human suffering.
So again, does the act of "seeing" truly require the use of the human eye? It depends on the context in which you are applying the act of "seeing". On a deeper level, when we wish to see within ourselves to understand our purpose as well as the meaning of life, we must first make a connection with our surroundings, both material and immaterial. Then we must use equally and non-judgmentally our five senses in order to experience what life has to offer. The combination of the five human senses is, in fact, the foundation of love.
The art of seeing deeper requires not the skillful ability that is developed over time, but rather the innate ability that reveals itself after years of shedding away the layers of human suffering. This said, we can only discover what is within ourselves by relating it to what is without ourselves (the outside world). Looking within is only possible by looking without.
In the year 2015, practice enhancing your ability to "see deeper" by using your senses in these ways:
Truly experience the textures of the food you eat.
Envelop yourself in the smells of a gorgeous flower garden.
Naturally move your body with the sounds (of music) that surround you.
Take in visually the artistic palette of colors the world has to offer.
Sensually feel the skin of the person you love and adore the most.
The past is a seed that is planted in the present and grows into the future.
Yesterday, I met a group of friends, who also happen to be acupuncturists, over a delicious meal and good conversation. After not meeting with them for four months, I was reminded of the importance of having my own community of friends; to share our life stories, the current day-to-day happenings, and our visions of the world transforming into the ultimate living environment.
As I filled my mouth with extraordinary flavors of a savory Chinese beef dish, I held my cup of hot tea and listened to the friendly and inspiring conversation. My friend Brooks began to describe a moment from a course he teaches about the roots of the medicine our small group sitting at the table practices and shares in common. A student in his course, a native from China, began to declare at one point that his ability to speak English was "not very good". Brooks, drawing on some wisdom from his days in the same program, invited the student to change his declaration to one with more possibility: "My English is better than it was yesterday." This tiny shift in words has the potential to create a huge shift in the person speaking them. This sharing from my friend Brooks reminded me of the reason I recently shared something about my late grandmother (shared below).
When we live with the constant mindset of "I need to improve myself.", "My skills aren't quite where they need to be.", or "I'll NEVER be THAT good!", we bring ourselves to a screeching halt on the road of life's potential. If these kinds of phrases are running through your head or coming from your mouth, you have then exercised your ultimate ability to withhold yourself from experiencing your full potential. In essence, you've tightly tied a tourniquet around the moment in your life that comes just before the moments of tomorrow.
In moments of what we consider failure or areas of our lives where believe we are lacking in something, we must acknowledge all we have done up to that point. We should instead take a moment to reflect on what we've accomplished. It is important to understand that all of our actions we've taken were opportunities to learn from (just like the quote from Thomas Edison above). Repeating an action, like speaking English, gives us a chance to improve upon it each day.
We should be thankful for this seed, plant it with care, nurture it, and watch it grow into something magnificent. Every moment in our lives is important, valuable, and not to be considered wasted. I will leave you with the words I recently shared about a person who had great impact on who I am today; my grandmother.
As we approach the end of August, it is almost time to say our goodbyes to the summer season and open our welcoming arms to the breathtaking landscape of Autumn. You may notice as you walk outdoors that it seems the leaves on the trees are nearing the end of their time as their color shifts to a dark shade of green and they hang heavily from their branches towards the ground. Or you may notice in your garden a plethora of full-hearty produce begging for you to pluck it from its exhausted branches and vines.
This is the wonder of the harvest season. The season of abundance, of nourishment, of being nurtured, and of gratitude. This is a time in nature where we honor the richness of life and say thanks to all that has been offered in support of our growth and experience of life.
In your day to day life, how many times do you actually say THANK YOU to others and to yourself? When someone holds the door for you, do you say THANK YOU? How about when the metro brings you safely to your destination? Do you say, out loud or silently, THANK YOU?
How about the other way around? When was the last time YOU held the door for someone? When was the last time you randomly did something for someone else because you were feeling "in the mood"? Coming back to Mother Nature and the change of the seasons, we must remember that Mother Nature does not take a moment to think before she provides what is necessary for us and the rest of the world to survive, let alone thrive. She just does...and so should we.
What if Random Acts of Kindness were no longer Random? What if we considered them to simply be Natural Acts of Kindness? Moments of unconditional love and nurturing from ourselves to others; a moment of spoken or unspoken gratitude to another for simply being present in our life at this particular point in time, and above all, without judgment. Just as nature provides for us during this time, we should make the decision to act the same by sharing kindness to ourselves and others. No strings attached.
We should willingly bear fruit for the plucking and satisfaction of others.
When others can reap what you sow, you nurture another human and change them in ways you can't possibly imagine.
One final thought I leave you with is an opportunity. One that may change a person's life forever. The opportunity (or challenge, if you choose to view it as such) is to show at least one Natural Act of Kindness towards someone you don't know. But don't stop there. Notice how you feel afterwards, and notice how the other person responds. Cultivate this feeling in yourself and continue to spread it and plant it in other. Because, just as this season provides a harvest for us now, it also holds deep within itself the seeds for the next year's crop. You hold this same power, the "seeds" of kindness to be planted in the next generation.
Yours in peace,
Posted here are...
inspirational ideas on healthy living through eastern medicine, optimism, and possibility through empowerment.