Archives

Decluttering and rediscovering old notes

Discard everything that does not spark joy”, says Marie Kondo the Japanese organizing consultant and author who promotes decluttering to – what I believe – keep our sanity.

I read about Kondo’s art of decluttering in January 6, which was a perfect time to start 2015 afresh. I particularly like the inspiration behind her tidying obsession. It started after her years of work at the Shinto Shrine which taught her that a place without unnecessary things provides clarity in the mind.

The weekend after I read her article, I started cleaning up my room. I didn’t realize how much I have accumulated until I threw three trash bags! I threw even items that I hold with sentimental value but which I think I would not carry when I move out of Thailand. I also found many items that I bought but didn’t use even once. And indeed it felt great, really great afterwards. It was a therapeutic process, a sort of environment and mind detox.

But now that I am definitely moving out of Thailand and will have to carry only 30 kilos of stuff with me, I appreciated even more the lifestyle of living with less stuff. This reminds me of the book Wild by Cheryl Strayed which says, “I was amazed that what I needed to survive could be carried on my back. And, most surprisingly of all, that I can carry it.

I shipped my most important stuff home, especially my books which occupied half of the package. What remained are stuff I need to bring to Australia, some to be given and some more to be thrown. As I rummaged through, I found my favorite organizer, a gift from my cousin Carmela in 2009. I also found my old notebooks. I realized I spent so much time scribbling on my first 3 years in Thailand. Reading what I wrote made me smile. Sometimes I even forgot why I wrote them. Some reminded me of special moments.

The remaining 3 years brisked before my eyes and I don’t have notes to remind me of them. I cursed myself for not documenting random thoughts or memorable moments. I now vow to write everyday even just snippets.

It’s funny to read my new year’s resolution 6 years ago. All of them I failed to do. And all of them still hold true at present. I will try to fulfill them this time around even though it’s already mid-year. I also found Bible verses I wrote on 2 January:

Laziness plunges a man into deep sleep, and the sluggard must go hungry.” Proverbs 19:15

Four things are among the smallest on the earth, and yet are exceedingly wise.
Ants, a species not strong yet they stove up their food in the summer;
Rock-budgers, a species not mighty, yet they make their homes in the crags;
Locusts, they have no king, yet they migrate all in array;
Lizards, you can catch them with your hands, yet they find their way into king’s palaces.” Proverbs 30:24-28


Let some battles go

1Letting go… ahhhh two words with equal opposing intensity of pain and happiness.

If you put meditators in one room, you can expect a different kind of conversation; not only is it full of insights but also a kind where there is intent listening.

I had the chance to have a delicious Indian dinner with a diverse group of meditators, one of them was a former monk. At first our topics were mostly related to meditation and experiences from meditation retreats. It then gradually deepened into sharing life experiences including letting go.

Letting go of the monster in the mind

The former monk shared that he grew up fearing darkness. His fear of the dark was so severe he carried it with him until he became a grown up man. Perhaps through the practice of meditation he realized that the monsters exist not in the dark but inside his head. He made the brave decision to face it head on. One evening, he went to the forest and allowed all the scary things to surface in his imagination while mindfully observing his thoughts. It was a battle within that not many of us are willing to take. He emerged from the forest unharmed and victorious of freeing his mind from the monsters.

Letting go of the pain from being misunderstood or unheard

Through meditation we can learn to handle difficult circumstances better. Someone then asked the former monk on what for him is the most challenging situation. He found some people to be hard to communicate with. He mentioned instances when a difficult conversation with someone made him feel bad about himself. However wisdom from practicing meditation guided him in assessing when he is the one at fault or it is the other person who is not opening his/her mind or does not want to listen.

Being misunderstood causes us pain. I shared my personal experience of caring for someone so much only to be misunderstood and thought of as controlling. But I realized that what matters is we genuinely cared. If the person does not appreciate what we do, we should learn to let them be, respect their choices and not take it as a rejection of our love.


Talking to someone is at times very difficult. Some people would burst out in anger right away even before you are able to get your message across. When this happens, the chance for the other person to truly listen and understand is very slim. Although through patience and loving kindness, we can attempt to calm that person down and try to talk in a nice way, some people are just too closed they would shatter all the will to hear you out. If they’d let you talk, sometimes they end up misunderstanding what you said. This can be very painful.

A lot of relationships nowadays suffer from lack of heartfelt communication. We can be both the victim and the perpetrator. Sometimes it is our ego that hinders deep communication, sometimes it is our individual differences or biases. Whenever we encounter challenging discussions, it is important to check our own mindset on whether we are willing to listen and understand or whether we are subdued by biases or close-mindedness. If we have done our part and it is the other person who does not want to listen, then there is no reason for us to feel hurt if the conversation failed to reach an understanding. Let the pain go.

Some battles are not worth the fight

It is harder to let go when the people involved are the ones we love. They are important to us that is why it hurts when they misunderstand us and take us negatively. We always feel the need to keep the conversation going until we are able to clear things out. But our persistence can sometimes worsen the situation and I realized that we can also show our love by letting go and give that person time. Some things are better understood when that person process them on their own rather than us telling them.

Change your life: five principles of Reiki

Photo from bubblews.com

Photo from bubblews.com

A colleague told me they were going for a Reiki healing. The unfamiliar, foreign sound of the name got me curious. I then learned that Reiki originated in Japan. It came from two Japanese words “rei” and “ki” which means universal life energy. A reiki healer or master whose energy is attuned to the universal life energy could heal mental, emotional and physical imbalances through laying their hands on the person’s body.

Last weekend, I accompanied someone who suffers from claustrophobia. He also finds it hard to breathe sometimes. His spirit is so low and he had been unhappy for quite some time now.  After an hour session, he noticed that his breathing became even and smooth. He also noticed that he no longer struggles inside a train. He became happier and more relaxed.

I got very fascinated with Reiki that the following day I went to the bookstore to learn more about it. I read about the five principles of Reiki and realized that we don’t really have to go for a Reiki healing often to change our lives. We could make a significant positive change in our life if we live each day with these five principles.

1. Just for today, I will not be angry

Anger is not just a waste of time but energy. Harboring anger will eventually take its toll on our health and wellbeing. It will destroy relationships and only worsen an unfavorable situation. Like the cliché, “holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else but you are the one who gets burned instead.” Let go of that coal. Hold a rose instead and let its fragrance reach other’s soul.

2.  Just for today, I will not worry

Worry is just like anger. It can affect our health and makes us unhappy. Worrying doesn’t change anything. It will only prolong our agony. Instead of worrying, it’s better to follow principle 3 and trust that everything happens for a good reason. Eventually, negative circumstances no matter how painful or hard, will makes sense someday.


3.  Just for today, I will be grateful

Instead of being negative, learn to be grateful. If we start to appreciate the little things – the aroma of coffee, the cool breeze, the smile of a stranger, the assistance from a classmate or co-worker, anything that we don’t normally notice – we will know how many good things life has gifted us. Instead of complaining about a slow internet connection when all you do online is waste your time with superficial conversation on social network, be grateful of the time you were given to have a good quality conversation with someone over the phone or all the better, face to face.

4. Just for today, I will do my work honestly

And if I may add, industriously. We spend a considerable amount of our time at work. I believe that our work must be in line with our passion and advocacy. When it’s not, we cannot find meaning and sense of fulfillment from it. If it does, then we should give our all to deliver for and make the most from it. Being honest must also manifest in everything that we do, not just in our work.

5.  Just for today, I will be kind to every living thing

Being kind doesn’t have to be giving a million dollar donation to a cause. It can be as simple as giving your seat in a train to an elderly or a pregnant woman, or feeding a stray cat. Simple act of kindness creates a ripple effect. The little things we do can go a long way in helping others. Here’s a video that could hopefully inspire your day 🙂