Success is Only a Label.
Every single day people get out of bed and go on with their lives and their routines. What sets some people apart from others is their point of focus. They focus on their purpose, their WHY in life. They find drivers for success and always move towards them.
Sometimes, however, people get caught up in the idea of success. They have the thought flowing through their head that success is the only option. They are constantly bombarding their brains with success this, success that, no failure this, no failure that. They shield themselves from the rest of the world by opening an umbrella of success. In most cases, this works in the long run. As long as you don't focus on the label and, instead, focus on the contents of the success jar in connection with your vision of what success looks and feels like..
It doesn't matter what label you put on the jar because it will be meaningless if you don't focus on filling it up with the necessary contents or ingredients for your success! Yes, you can have an image or vision of what your success ultimately looks like, but if you only focus on the outcome, you never get a chance to observe the environment and the landscape you are traveling on. You will never appreciate the journey and what you learn along the way because of your unbeknownst ignorance.
So, if you are working your tail off to achieve the success you envision for yourself, then label the jar and be done with it. Then focus on filling it with as many awesome things in your life as you possibly can. It doesn't matter the experience, the size, the weight, or any other method you use to measure with to see if they will fit in your jar. Because the moment it is filled is the moment it's time to get a new jar and pour the contents of the old one into it. All the while using the same label.
Labels are things that keep us confined and comfortable within a specific set of boundaries we or other people have created for ourselves. The label does not matter. NOT AT ALL! The contents of the jar are the most important and require the most attention. In order for you to be fulfilled, your jar of success must also be Full Filled.
My question to you then is...
What are you going to put in YOUR jar today?
You may have seen recently that I have decided to start a kid’s martial arts class starting on September 10. I want to share with you a few reasons why I chose to restart this old journey. First though, let me share with you a story about how I began working with children.
Nearly 15 years ago, in a small western Pennsylvania town, I was offered my first opportunity to teach my very own children’s martial arts class. When I received the news, I was both excited and fearful. I knew it was something I was prepared to do, but I had zero experience doing it on my own. I thought for days about what material I should focus on when teaching these rambunctious 4 and 5 year olds. Dare I teach them to how to make a proper fist, how to kick, how to eventually wield a long wooden staff or metal sword? Was I qualified to do so? I mean, what was it my teacher saw in me that said “teacher” written on it? So many thoughts ran through my head, I had trouble standing on my own two feet from the weight of it all.
Then, all of a sudden, one single image entered my mind.
I imagined myself being a child. I wasn’t sure why, but I was immediately moved to tears. I began imagining myself standing there with these precious children having no other responsibility than simply trusting and following the instructions of the teacher in front of them. Then I began imagining myself being a child standing at the front of the room, as the teacher. Sounds silly, but let me share with you why this image completely changed my entire perspective on teaching to this day.
In order to be a fearless leader, you have to be a fearless follower.
I believe that in order to guide others, you must be able to imagine yourself walking with them, speaking their words, carrying out their actions as well as their ways of being. You have to become one of them for as long as it takes so that you understand how they best learn and absorb the in knowledge you are teaching them. And in order to be a fearless leader, you have to be a fearless follower. I had to make the decision to not be afraid to be a child again. I had to build trust through finding a way to connect, and in the moment of imagining myself as a child again I found exactly what I needed. I had no obligation to meet another adult's wishes or expectations, nor did I have any obligation to teach these children to do perfect punches, kicks, tumbling techniques, or prepare them to win a national championship like I would do several years later. I was simply there to teach. To teach like a child, to build a sense of trust, to be their friend, and to be their leader. I finally realized my ultimate goal when it came to working with children 15 years ago, and even to this day, was to help sculpt the future of every child by leaving a lasting positive impression in their minds and perhaps even a few words of wisdom all by seeing myself as a child.
Our potential should never be clouded by the thoughts of another but rather lifted up by them.
Our roles in life are so often clouded by our own expectations of what we think other people want us to do that we forget what it is we actually CAN do. Our potential should never be clouded by the thoughts of another but rather lifted up by them. The responsibility I see myself having as an instructor is to walk side by side with those I teach. My skillset and experience are the guiding instincts leading us together on the journey inwards to self-understanding and then again outwards to understanding the people in our lives.
So, if you think I am starting this new class to expand my business and add a little revenue to my balance sheet, you’ve only focused on the portion that matters to your typical business owner. I, however, am not your typical business owner. Yes, these factors are certainly important, but I believe focusing on people like you is a much more valuable approach, and it is the driving reason for what I do. My purpose, whether it be while I teach classes, treat patients, or speak at events, is to help as many people as possible, children and adults, experience what it truly means to live life at their fullest potential and help them understand how they can do it every day of their lives.
In the end, my contribution to society is to enhance the future of our world by starting at the very beginning, with the pure and uninhibited minds and bodies of children. If I can help even one single child explore the amazing world around them through gentle guidance and endless encouragement, my purpose in life will have been fulfilled.
With that said, I hope to see you at our first class on September 10.
(More info on the class and registration can be found here.)
Peacefully and Passionately,
Released July 27, 2017 (Now available on SoundCloud)
A Message from an Acupuncturist
It is 9 o’clock in the morning, and you are searching the internet for a doctor who can take a look at your ankle you rolled during an evening soccer match yesterday. The pain is bearable yet still throbbing, not to mention your ankle is now the size of a tennis ball. While searching, you come across several acupuncturists not far from where you live. This reminds you of your close friend's sports injury who told you was helped with acupuncture. Recalling this, you look further and notice some of these acupuncturists appear to have Asian names and some do not. Assuming your thoughts are correct, you choose to contact an Asian practitioner because, of course, they MUST know more about what they are doing since they are Asian. Plus, their methods are probably more authentic. Right?
This common assumption is incorrect and is damaging to the profession of Oriental Medicine. It spreads even further into the many fields of medicine serving the public today leading to further discrimination of minorities, ethnicities, and genders. Since when has it become so acceptable to discriminate against a trained, licensed, and well-qualified health professional whose only interest is helping you live your life with as little suffering as possible? Dare I insert the word “racism” into this message and invoke a conversation laced with hate? This is not my intention, but it seems the injection of such is nearly unavoidable. Sadness ensues me when I hear that simply because my race is different from others, I must “learn to accept the truth” that was etched by others into the foundation of medical history. A foundation seemingly built upon “should-bes” rather than “could-bes”.
Yes, I am not Asian. What’s your point?
Times change. Shouldn’t people do just the same? Sure, I am not fortunate enough to be a descendant of an ancient lineage of Asian doctors famous for serving the masses, developing world-renowned healing techniques, or safeguarding the health of a royal family. What I am, however, is inspired, motivated, and interested. Inspired by the history, literature, and origins of the medicine I practice; motivated by my mentors, teachers, students, and patients; and interested in the unique life stories of people like yourself. Healers are not formed or defined by their ethnic roots let alone by similar patterns repeated in society. They are also not defined by what they see in their patients (e.g. health conditions), but rather by what they help their patients to see in themselves and how they empower them to change and make wise choices for the sake of their own health. More personally, when I search for someone to provide me with care, I refrain from making assumptions about their abilities I have yet to experience firsthand. For these abilities may be exactly what I need on my road to recovery. Of course, one's experience is an acceptable form of measure when making the choice to have someone evaluate your health. Experience, though, is achieved no differently than the height and strength of an oak tree. The seed must be planted and nurtured well enough for it to sprout and begin its journey out into the world.
If only we could learn to listen to someone’s story without writing the end before it was told.
Sadly, during my years of exploring the Asian medicinal and martial arts, I have been a victim of subliminal discrimination, false assumptions, and impossible expectations. I have been viewed as an outcast, thought of as “the unique one in the family”, and doubted repeatedly to the point where others give up and change their career altogether. I have been called in Chinese a "waiguoren", or literally "outside country person", which is ironic because I'm fairly sure I was born in this country where I am also licensed to practice this medicine. Wouldn't that technically make you, the name-caller, the outsider? This is beside the point of this message though, and while I endured this constant bombardment of negativity and bullying, I studied rigorously, forged my mind, and trained my body. Not so that I could defend myself, but rather so that I could learn to open my eyes and heart for the sake of every patient that enters my treatment room. And to this day, I still repeat these previously painful words in my mind so that I may remind myself they are not definitions of who I am or who I have become. For the people who have uttered them do not have permission to define my existence or evaluate my abilities with false pretense. If only we could learn to listen to someone’s story without writing the end before it was told.
Your healing has nothing to do with who I am, only who you will become.
So again, yes, I am not Asian. Who am I then, you ask? I am someone who cares. I am someone with hope. I am someone worth reaching out to who will care for your well-being, no matter your race, gender, appearance, or societal status. I am someone whose hope is for you to create memories laughing and playing with your children while they are still young and innocent; to remember what it was like to open your heart to your beloved mother and father before they took their last breath; to never forget the feeling of the soft breeze grazing across your skin as you stand in your hometown hundreds or thousands of miles away. True healing comes from within ourselves and will take you anywhere you wish to go. Besides, your healing has nothing to do with who I am, only who you will become.
So, I ask you. The next time you search for a care provider, will you choose based on their name, their ethnicity, their gender, or their ivy-league education, or lack thereof? Will you close the fable-filled storybook modern society has been reading to you over the years and begin writing your own story of how you see the world of healthcare and how you wish to be cared for? Have you even asked yourself HOW you wished to be cared for? It is certainly a conversation worth having with yourself.
After all, you may not be Asian either. But there is certainly no one else like you. Never forget that.
Five Ways to See Deeper in 2015
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.
As I am making my way home on the sometimes dreaded and unpredictable metro bus last week, the idea for this blog came into my mind. Before I go any further though, let's trace back 45 minutes prior to getting off the bus...
I am standing at Farragut West station waiting anxiously for the next metro train that will carry my tired and aching body deep underground at 60 mph towards my stop 7 stations away. Finally, the train arrives. It is packed full of passengers eagerly searching for a seat or the prime standing location where they can lean against a pole or a wall. All of them look just as tired as I do.
Thoughts begin to race through my mind leading me to question my reason for riding on this very train, in this moment of time, and what my purpose is and if I will ever achieve it. Am I happy in this moment? My answer depends on what I relate the question to. I would say though in relation to the situation in this moment where I stand on a sardine-packed train with hundreds of other people, I would not describe this as a moment of extreme joy or bliss of any kind. My thoughts begin to race faster as I stare around the train at the other passengers. Not one person is smiling...except for the guy two seats away watching something on YouTube it seems. (How does he get a signal and not me?!) I come back to my question of purpose and importance again. Am I really living the life I was truly gifted with, or for? And, am I able to inject my own passion into it without hesitation?
Then I had a moment of realization. Even if I am NOT living the life I believe I was meant to live, there is always tomorrow! This realization immediately reminded me of my martial arts competition days when we would train the entire summer covered in our own (and our classmates') blood, sweat, and tears preparing for the US National Competition. The final days before the training, particularly the last day, we didn't train nearly as hard. Why? We needed to save our energy, calm our minds, and relax our bodies to allow our confidence to soar and our camaraderie to intensify so strongly that we would resemble (and almost feel like) a clan of warriors more so than a team of competitors. The most important day for us was tomorrow; the beginning of the US National Competition. The day our team of "warriors" had prepared for all year, and perhaps some had even lived for.
Take this for example. I'm sure at some point in your life, you have studied for a test, correct? Did you ever try to cram for a test the night before, even if you felt prepared? How much actually sank in? Did it make you feel more confident or more anxious on the day of the test? What would have happened if you reviewed only the material you felt was most important and left the rest of the day to relax and honor yourself for the time and effort you put into studying for this test? After all, TOMORROW is the most important day! The day of the test!
So, what is the message I am passing along in both of these examples, you might ask?
Tomorrow is the most important day of your life!
Everything you have done today, everything you are doing right now, and everything you will do during the rest of this day before you wake up tomorrow morning is all for the sake of tomorrow. We never know what experiences we will have, what moments will change our life, or what acquaintances will become (or begone) in the day to come. What we DO know is that tomorrow is waiting for us and is depending on us. The night of sleep you are about to embark on before you awake tomorrow morning is your reset button. From the moment your eyes close, your body, your mind, and your spirit recharge until soft beams of light slowly grab hold of your eyelids and gently help them open reminding you that tomorrow has arrived; the day you have lived all of yesterday for (and everyday prior).
Tomorrow has become today. The spotlight is on YOU and your performance of today determines the applause you will receive from life. And here's a little secret...life is ALWAYS cheering for you! So remember, tomorrow is and will always be the most important day of your life. It does not mean that today is less important. What is does mean is that tomorrow gives you a reason to live for...again and again and again.
There is only one today, but there are endless tomorrows.
Remember this phrase and erase every regret you have from today because tomorrow...you get another chance.
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inspirational ideas on healthy living through eastern medicine, optimism, and possibility through empowerment.