Friday, 31 May 2013

Move Forward

I have been busy lately. Last weekend, I attended a Family Constellation workshop. It was very good. I learned alot about family order and family systems.  I found it enlightening and interesting.

If we keep an open mind, we open ourselves to so many learning opportunities.  There are many new courses and experiences which come our way.  If we resonate with them, make the time and effort to  learn. The limits we face in life are limits which we place on ourselves. We give ourselves many reasons not to do what we know, would be good for our growth. Louise Hay, the famous motivational author took up ballroom dancing at 75 years of age and the piano, at 86.

I realised during the course that the obstacles which we face in healing our relationships and in forgiveness can be attributed so much to being judgmental and "wanting to be right"  In our need to be right, we forget that others, whoever they maybe, our parents, siblings or friends are just doing the best they can.   As Louise Hay said, we live in a prison of self righteous resentment.

In many instances, people  are just doing the best they can, with the understanding and awareness that they had. They were unable to give more because they did not have more to give. It is not something we like to hear nor accept. Not when we have unmet needs which look to be fulfilled by others. We have to learn how to meet those needs ourselves. Take that responsibility rather than stay stuck, holding on to expectations which may never be met. We are also just doing the best we can. That is the reality and reality is always sobering.
 Have a great weekend!

Friday, 24 May 2013

Happy Wesak!

Photo: Don't forget to register friends for this Fridays workshop:

What makes a person a  Buddhist? Does knowing the sutras by heart, participating in Buddhist activities at your local Buddhist centre such as attending Sunday School or volunteering there make you a Buddhist? What is enlightenment? It sounds so unattainable. Today, I shall share with you Thich Nhat Hanh's words.

 "A person may not be called a Buddhist, but he can be more Buddhist than a person who is. Buddhism is made of mindfulness, concentration, and insight. If you have these things, you are a Buddhist. If you don’t, you aren’t a Buddhist. When you look at a person and you see that she is mindful, she is compassionate, she is understanding, and she has insight, then you know that she is a Buddhist. But even if she’s a nun and she does not have these energies and qualities, she has only the appearance of a Buddhist, not the content of a Buddhist".

Happiness and enlightenment are living things and they can grow. It is possible to feed them every day. If you don't feed your enlightenment, your enlightenment will die. If you don't feed your happiness, your happiness will die. If you don't feed your love, your love will die. If you continue to feed your anger, your hatred, your fear, they will grow. The Buddha said that nothing can survive without food. That applies to enlightenment, to happiness, to sorrow, to suffering.

First of all, enlightenment is enlightenment about something. Suppose you are drinking some tea and you are aware that you are drinking some tea. That kind of mindfulness of drinking is a form of enlightenment. There have been many times that you've been drinking but you didn't know it, because you are absorbed in worries. So mindfulness of drinking is already one kind of enlightenment.

Small enlightenments have to succeed each other. And they have to be fed all the time, in order for a great enlightenment to be possible. So a moment of living in mindfulness is already a moment of enlightenment. If you train yourself to live in such a way, happiness and enlightenment will continue to grow.

Insight is also enlightenment. To be aware that you are still alive, that you are walking on this beautiful planet—that is a form of enlightenment. That does not come just by itself. You have to be mindful in order to enjoy every step. And again, you have to preserve that enlightenment in order for happiness to continue. If you walk like someone who is running, happiness will stop."

As with everything else we learn, knowing intellectually is easy but commitment to practise is not. Living out the heart of the Buddha's teachings and using it to transform our thoughts and minds. Changing our lives for the better is what it is all about.  And today, I have to remind myself once again to practise. practise, practise.  Happy Wesak!

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Family Constellations


Have you tried Family Constellaton therapy? Bert Hellinger, a German psychotherapist and former priest developed Family Constellation work in the 80s. During his work with groups he noticed that unconscious Trans-Generational family bonds have a major impact on the current family system. Certain ancestral patterns are carried through many generations.
Many of us unconsciously identify with the emotions and traumas of other family members especially our parents as a way of belonging. Examples of such destructive familial patterns are anxiety, depression, anger, guilt, solitude, alcoholism and even illnesses. Such entanglements can lead to anger, frustration, depression and therefore to an unfulfilled life.

Family Constellations is very often called Trans-Generational Healing because it has a positive influence on many generations of the family system. It is said to have the power to shift generations of suffering and unhappiness. It is most effective in issues that appear to be systemic in nature. If one has already tried therapy but is unable to resolve the issue it could be that the issue is systemic, a pattern or entanglement coming from the family of origin,
The Family Constellation view, is that each person has soul or life force energy and is also part of the collective soul or life force energy of the family group. This means that each member within a family group has an effect on the other members in the group, via the genetic trail or soul energy by which they are linked. Newer members of the family can be greatly affected by what has gone before them in previous generations. Some event or situation may have taken place several generations before one's birth, that was perhaps not accepted or acknowledged by the family in general. This will usually manifest as guilt or shame by the “greater soul” or life force of the family group. The guilt or shame is taken on by individuals in later generations. This is done in an unconscious attempt to relieve the burden from the rest of the family and may result in such things as a range of mental and, physical illnesses, suicide, or addiction or disturbed relationships patterns.

The purpose of Family Constellations is to uncover the hidden dynamics of the family or relationship in an experiential way. Family Constellations can be enlightening when it comes to the search for the real root cause and may remove blockages in the family system which are causing disharmony.

It allows us to break these patterns so that we can live healthier, happier, more fulfilled lives. In a moment of insight, a new life course can be set in motion. The results can be life-changing!

Friday, 17 May 2013

My Sweet Oreo

"I believe that animals are on the planet so that we can know love and compassion. We are profoundly connected to our pets more than we are usually aware of " - Louise Hay

Dear Sze,

I decided to reply to your question about Oreo here instead of the Mothers Day post because it is a long story. I still find it hard to talk about Oreo's death, partly because of the way she died and partly because I felt responsible. She died in an accident when she tried to jump over the fence again when we were out during Chinese New Year. Previously when she jumped over the fence, she was injured. This time, it was fatal.

She had developed a phobia for rain and thunder, right after being neutered. The vet thought it was a coincidence, but I feel there is a link. We have had her for one and half years and never had this problem. It seems that neutering does result in behavioural changes in some dogs but in Oreo's case, it was extreme.

I constantly worried about her whenever I was at work or out with the family. Everytime the sky turned dark, the worries would start. When it rained at night, we would hear her howling. My husband would get up and soothe her. I consulted friends and vets but I could not find a solution. 

In order to protect her, I had to resort to keeping her in her cage when we were out. However, I knew she was miserable being caged. I felt really bad and stressed out during this period. I did not like to cage her. On the day she died, I wanted her to have some freedom to run around, not knowing it would have tragic consequences. I hurried home but it was too late. It hadn't even started raining yet but she had already started freaking out. She died on the fence.

I have gone over this episode many times, again and again, feeling responsible.  Could I have prevented it? If I had allowed her into the house, maybe she wouldn't have died...I don't have the answers. My Buddhist friends attribute it to karma. 

Whatever it is, one thing is for certain, with the benefit of hindsight, it is easy to think of the "what ifs" and what might have beens" If I had the benefit of hindsight, I  never would have wanted her to suffer, not for a minute. It was  painful to think of her difficult death. Thus, it made it all the harder to get over it. I  am after all her fur mama. And she was my fur baby. I will always love her.

It is hard to watch others suffer, especially loved ones and those we seek to protect. However, Oreo's death has been an awakening. Her presence in my life has been a gift.  It is a lesson that I am still learning.
 It is, to not blame myself for things which I cannot control.
 It is, to be kinder to myself.
 It is, to accept that I make mistakes and that I am not perfect.

We conducted a Buddhist funeral for her and chanted prayers for her. May she be in a better place free from suffering and fear. May she know that she is much loved.


Tuesday, 14 May 2013

CA Care - Herbal Cancer Therapy

"The standard recipe of present day cancer treatments comes in  different combinations of surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and oral drugs of some sort. This is sometimes referred to as slash, poison and burn method of treatment. Many people say the treatment is worse than the disease and many patients died because of the treatment rather than their cancer. Some authors even went to the extent of saying that present day cancer treatment with highly toxic drugs is crude and is probably the most barbaric in modern medicine. 
Those who have undergone these treatments may understand what I am saying. Those who have not undergone them yet may not but the observant ones may have heard or learnt about it from the
experiences of others. These patients now want to know if there is another option for them. My answer is: Yes, there is another option."  (from the flyer of "Cancer. What now? Is there another option?'')
Last Saturday, I joined my friend, Khadijah for a talk by CA Care founder, Dr Chris Teo. The 2 hour talk titled "Cancer, What now? Is there another option?" was aimed at giving people diagnosed with cancer an alternative to mainstream medicine.  With us, was a friend who was diagnosed with breast cancer 10 years ago. After her surgery (but no chemotherapy) she went to see Dr Teo and took his herbs. She is looking good today.
Khadijah and her husband, Yeong have been taking care of CA Care Central Region for many years. As Dr Teo is based in Penang, cancer patients can get their supply of herbs from Khadijah and Yeong. They are a lovely couple, who provide consultations from their home in Subang Jaya. I first met them through my Qigong center many years ago. Later, I learned that my late friend, Chang went to them when he was trying out the herbs from CA Care.

Dr Teo was formerly a professor of botany in Universiti Sains Malaysia. He has written many research papers and more than a dozen books. He started CA Care with his wife, Ch'ng Beng Im in 1995, after helping a patient, Benedict Yeoh with liver cancer, A week later, Ben brought Vijay who had lung cancer, From that humble beginning, CA Care was born as word spread.

Dr Teo prescribes a variety of capsules and teas for the different cancers. Even people without cancer can benefit from consuming his herbs as there are teas that help with stomach discomfort, pain teas and ascites tea to help with fluid retention. 

Apart from consuming his herbs, it is also mandatory to change one's lifestyle and eating habits. Foods to avoid are all kinds of meat, dairy products, white sugar, table salt and oil (except coconut or olive oil). Mrs Teo has also written a book on healthy recipes.
His prescription to healing is as follows:-
1. Give total commitment to healing
2. Seek proper medical help
3. Take herbs
4. Eat rightly
5. Lead a happy, stress free life

I find Dr Teo to be straight talking and hard hitting.   This remains a controversial topic and not many may agree with him. To find out more about Dr Chris Teo's healing therapy and his success stories, you may visit his website at

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Happy Mother's Day

It is Mother's Day today. I would like to wish all mothers a happy and relaxing day.  I hope you take time off  to show some love to yourselves today!

A fellow mother said. "It is always me last." I think what some mothers want most is to have some time off for themselves and  to be feted and pampered. As a mother myself, I feel that because of society's expectations as well as from our family upbringing, women have been taught from young to put others first.

The modern mother has multiple roles to play, a mother, a career woman, a wife, a home manager, transporter and cook. There is little time at the end of the day for themselves. Even on occasions when they do take time off, it is not without the tinge of guilt. There are regular checks and smses to make sure everything is alright at the home front.  Women are sometimes also their own worst enemies. Mothers-in-law criticising their daughters-in-law. Instead of supporting each other, they judge another woman harshly for not meeting their own expectations.

Is this a case of  the mother not being able to let go or is it her husband and children's dependency? Only the individual woman herself would know the answer. The phrase "Don't sweat the small stuff" is so true. Our families will not starve in our absence. They have to learn to take care of themselves eventually. And it is important that they understand this so that mothers can get time off to re-charge their batteries and stay healthy. If one family member is down, the entire family is affected.

The mother’s worth as a role model and guardian is indisputable. Good mothers are like gardeners that grow the beautiful fragrant flowers and most luscious fruits. Great men and women in all fields of society are created, molded and inspired by their mothers.

All too often, mothers forget their contribution and worth in this increasingly materialistic society. Due to increasing pressures, mothers have had to hand over the physical care of their children to maids and babysitters. Because the mother plays a crucial role in nurturing the character of the child as well being the main source of emotional nourishment, it would be too simplistic to say that the mother's role can be substituted. A friend who does not bring her baby home from the babysitter's said that her child would not know the difference. I beg to differ.

Friday, 10 May 2013

Towards a Better Tomorrow

(picture by popular Malaysian cartoonist, Lat)

The recent elections and its aftermath has affected our lives so much that it is hard not to write about it.  The information shared on the social media, videos, pictures and stories are powerful. Though the election results have not resulted in a change in the governance of this country, it has left a deep and significant impact on many. It is believed that  human beings have a sense of fairness, a characteristic that research increasingly shows is an innate part of human morality. In these elections, people feel their rights have been violated, thus the outpouring of emotion.

Someone shared that "There is no need for revenge, sit back and wait, karma or God will be just." Indeed, life works itself out. It is part of a political game.There is no need to get personal. Why not use our energy positively rather than plot vengeance?  We  just care for this country and want it to be what it can be,  harmonious and fair with  minimal corruption 

We have to recognise politics for what it is.  Politics are the strategies employed to accomplish certain goals. It is the venue by which laws are created that effect so many lives. Being politically aware will protect us from being mindless sheep herded by their masters. We can learn to question, and see through the personal agendas of politicians. 

The race card is just another old political ploy, rehashed time and again. Because race and religion are such deeply personal issues, human beings get emotional and as a result, fail to see beyond their emotions.  Deep resentment and even wars have been started because of this. But have we asked ourselves this question before we react? What is the political agenda here? What does it serve them?  

Does a father who truly loves his children strive to breed harmony or does he divide them for his sake? Like a growing child, we have to find our own identity as a people and not what has been told to us. Who are we? Are we Malays, Chinese, Indians or are we Malaysians? Are we willing to walk the talk?

As a country, there are parts which are ready and hankering for change in the urban areas. There are also other parts in the rural areas which are lagging behind. Are the events in the past week part and parcel of the teething pains on the road to a more matured nation? Is it the political awakening of this country? Who will do the hard work of reaching out to the parts which are lagging behind? Will we eventually all come together as a whole to change for the better? I certainly hope we find the answers.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

GE 13 Blackout Sunday

              (picture  courtesy of a friend's friend from Hong Kong shared on Facebook)

Today is the day many Malaysians have been waiting for. The day is finally here. We cannot wait to  speak our minds. And our vote can do just that, or so we thought.. My family were up early as we were anticipating a long queue. And indeed, there was already a long one when I arrived at the polling station. 

As opposed to previous elections, I can sense a difference in the air this time around. People were enthusiastic and eager to do their bit.  The urban voting crowd is today more aware than a few years ago. They were armed with the latest information and a number had printed out their voting details prior to coming. 

In the queue with me was a lady who had flown in from Shanghai  just to cast her vote. She said she is back to vote, for change. My parents, too, though both frail went to vote. My father, in a wheelchair and my mother, walked with support. I am proud of my parents, especially my father because he went in good spirits when he could easily have given excuses. I wish that more and more people will realise the importance of their vote and what it means. It is not just a cross on a sheet of paper. A single vote could actually change the political landscape of the entire country.

I stayed up to wait for the elections results. All I can say is that I am very disturbed, angry and  saddened by the stories I hear. Alleged stories of tension in certain areas because extra ballot boxes were brought in after unofficial victory for the opposition. Extra ballot boxes suddenly appearing after a sudden blackout which changed the results.What is the truth?

We are a country of many races, wanting to live together in harmony. We all just want to live happily in a safe environment. What use is it to have a nation achieve "developed" status, Vision 2020 etc? All the infrastructure and technology is nothing if we lose our integrity as a nation.

The world has been watching us. The day started out with promise but ended with great sadness and anger for many. Many expressed that they have lost faith in the system and lost their true voices. I hope that as a nation we can learn and heal from this. That we can move on without blaming one another. Let not race nor religion be used as a distraction to divide us, for the sake of this beautiful nation.

Watch this magical blackout video that has gone viral

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Our Precious Health

I used to be a purist,  having much faith in alternative medicine. The stories of Louise Hay, Professor Lai Chiu-Nan, Ann Wigmore, to name a few, are almost miraculous. These are people with success stories to tell, using purely the holistic approach. However, after following the experiences of my terminally ill friends, I must admit that alternative therapies have lost their lustre somewhat. How many ordinary people out there have met such success?  How many can successfully shrink a growth or tumour? I am not putting a damper on those following the holistic approach. Neither am I advocating only Western medicine.

I don't believe healing from chronic diseases is as straightforward as changing one's diet alone. Nor is it about going through the list of alternative therapies available and trying them out one after another. Healing is more complex than that. One has to find the root cause of one's disease in order to have a good success rate in healing. One also has to have alot of patience as well as diligence. A great deal of effort is needed. And many a time, it demands change. Change in eating habits, lifestyle, mental  and emotional patterns. At a time when a person is down with a sickness, how much willpower and stamina does one have to do so much?

It makes sense, then, to learn healthy living habits and to teach our children to do the same. Healthy living includes not only eating correctly but being able to connect with what is going on within us, in our minds. Knowing how to manage life and our expectations. Knowing how to manage our emotions.

As human beings, there is a tendency to take things for granted. It sometimes take many knocks for us to realise this. We neglect our precious health in our youth and treat our bodies like machines, for a variety of reasons like earning money, etc. In our later years, we spend the same hard earned money trying to heal. Where does that get us? It may not seem seem very wise but that is what it takes for us to learn sometimes, through pain. But is it really necessary to walk that path?