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The wisdom of balancing rocks

Rocks on top of each other only grow taller because its foundation gets stronger as heavier the rocks pile up above one another. Don’t just sit one rock on top of the other, find its perfect orientation and make it stand with a good foundation. Like in friendship or a relationship, don’t be in one just because you have to, see the best in people, guide them to be their best, and give them a strong foundation to stand strong amidst trials that will come along the way.

Patience is a better virtue than control. You can never fully control everything. You cant stop the wind from blowing, or the earth from moving. What you can do is breathe in life and all its glory, have a peaceful mind and fulfill your purpose. With patience and serenity, no hurdle is too big.

Focus is being aware most of the surrounding and not disregarding what is around you; it is acknowledging that there are factors like wind, moisture, and movement; and you need to carefully lay the rocks slowly and with great accuracy to overcome these factors.

The rock’s imperfection makes it suitable to stand tall and strong together with others;  like rocks, we humans need other people most specially when we are flawed. Let shortcomings fill others and let others compliment our incompleteness. No rock is naturally shaped perfectly, just like all of us: nobody is perfect. But together we can achieve so much and stand tall.

The rocks will stand for minutes, hours, even days or years, but like everything in this world, like human, societies, and civilizations, it soon will fall and be destroyed, it will crumble. This in return, allows transformation, this gives way to beautiful change.

Piling big rocks test not only your will to balance but also your physical strength. it strengthens your arm, trains your hand and makes your heart beat faster. It’s a good breathing exercise, it tests your muscles and stamina, and it teaches your mind about gravity and resistance. It is a physical activity that cleanses the body, the mind and more importantly the soul.

The greatest distraction in this discipline is being conscious about the spectators. The anxiety brought about by others judgement will be the defeat of the aspiring. Create without expecting a masterpiece that will be appreciated. What matters most is the joy and peace it has brought from within you. True happiness will illuminate from within if its purely genuine.

Let the rocks crumble and fall. Even if it took you hours, sweat and sore muscles, know that in one wrong placement, everything can be destroyed. Learn to accept failure and decide to restart or move on. You are the master of your life. Always choose what your heart desires.  Fail and fail miserably, but get up, brush up the dust from the fall, and begin again. You will not be bummed and frustrated by the process no matter how tedious it may get because if you are doing it with all your heart and soul, you will be happy all throughout.

Expect that when you come back tomorrow, everything’ s gone and fallen. Build again. Though the rocks might have crumbled, your discipline, your focus, your determination has already been strongly founded within your heart and in your soul. Nothing can easily destroy it.

In balancing rocks, you have to let go of all the pressure so you can have a calm touch. Though the rocks may be heavy or rough, let your calmness guide its way to the center of its gravity in order for it to stand strong at the top. Relieve all the tension and the stress that you carry from your day to day life; you don’t need them. These pressures will struck you down and will wound you, break you, hurt you. Release them and find your calm. Pray for serenity, peace of mind and calmness.

Lastly, do not be too hasty. Do not be so easy to let go. To balance difficult rocks of amorphous shape, you need to hold it closely and let go very slowly to minimize drag and resistance. It will stand when it’s centered and will fall when its not. Always feel the need to hold on and to let go.

 

 

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Dear Death

I wanted to write something about death but realized that I have no substantial experience and much knowledge about it, and I don’t think I have enough wisdom to talk about such phenomena or philosophy whatever it may be. So to get these things off my chest, I decided to write death a letter.

Dear Death,

In the past few months, I have been thinking so much about you, and how you have managed to have taken away so many people I know in just a matter of 6 months. I know it’s nothing for you, like it’s the usual; it’s what you do. But please know that my heart bleeds every single time you take away someone from me and from the people close to me.

May it had been my close friend’s Dad, or my highschool classmate, or my friend’s grandmother or my bestfriend’s father, also my close friend, a new friend and my mentor, my distant cousin, my mother’s sister-in-law, I can’t help but cry deep inside not because you have taken them to eternal life where they can rest in peace, but because they all have left behind people that loved them dearly. I know all I have is sympathy for bereaved, which I do not, by any means, have the right to feel so much affected because I’m not directly related. But seeing someone being left behind, for good, and feeling their longing for their dearly departed, breaks my heart into so many pieces. I shed tears from the heart because I feel the pain from within my soul.

It’s just funny how by at any random circumstances you find us and take us away. Whether we are in our deathbed, lying sick, or in our prime, trying to live to the fullest, or recovering from a disease, or from life’s terrible twist of fate, or finally finding our purpose, you can take us away, just like that. I cannot question what you do because you are meant to do it for reasons only you and God knows (are you God?).

I don’t fully understand you, but I don’t think I have to. What I can take away from all these sad moments are the enlightenment and values you have partaken upon us; your ways of teaching us may have been very painful, yet it is our foundation and substantiation for this existence. I have learned that death is all about acceptance; that no matter how hard the circumstances are, how unacceptable it may become, we have no choice but to accept it: accept it fully and move on. Death is accepting that nothing is permanent. Only at your mercy that we appreciate life and the small things that it is all about; to love and care for people around us, and to spend time with them because it might be the last chance. You have taught us in the hardest way, that no matter how small we think of our life and our relationships, it matters, that our small existence matter, to God and to others.

I know for sometime now, that you are always just around the corner. I have never feared you; I am only afraid of the pain and sadness you can cause me and my loved ones, the pain death can create in my family’s heart and mine. I am scared that you might take away my loved ones, I am not scared of being taken away. If only it is possible to transfer all my love for them into a special kind of joy when I come face to face with you, I will be willing to go.  But the fear of putting in so much pain into them, makes me want to continue living to put even more joy into their lives. I know I have no right to demand anything from you, that my death has already been written. What I want to tell you is, please let us all live a good life while we can.

When my time comes, I want it to be a peaceful and pleasant one, or maybe my peace will come after, whatever. I want to be cremated 24 hours after my heart and brain shuts down, no embalming or no public viewing. I want a simple memorial, a small altar at home with my urn and a really good picture of me. It should have many flowers and candles that it would look very lively. I don’t want to hassle my family, so it’s only gonna be one day, and then my ashes would then be spread in the ocean where I believe I truly belonged. I want it simple, fast and easy. I don’t want people to mourn, I don’t deserve such. When I die, I’d be in a so much better place, and there is no reason for sadness and tears. I will only ask for continued prayers for me and especially my family. I want my death to strengthen people’s faith in God and His love.

 

 

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inspiration, Uncategorized

He decides to downgrade

Finally found the courage to speak my truth….

It’s 7:37 pm and I’m listening to the raindrops falling from the rooftop (like the song from Tamiya) the small pad I’m renting near my University. I’m tucked in my bed feeling the cold chilly breeze the monsoon brings, waiting for the hot water to boil for my evening tea (green tea chamomile). I just had my dinner and a good bath; it feels like such a lovely evening (eventhough I was not able to have my sunset meditation), something I have been enjoying for almost 2 weeks now.

Yes, eversince (June 2nd week) I went back to my Uni to finish my masters, I’ve been taking my time and have lived on very simple and basic things. A major downgrade. To describe my current living situation: I only brought one medium size suitcase that has 2 long pants, 1 slacks, 3 casual shorts, 2 shorts, 3 boxer shorts, 5 briefs, 8 T-shirts, a polo shirt, casual 5 long sleeved top, a suit, and tie. I also brought a gym bag with 3 shoes: 1 black shoes, 1 sneaker and 1 training shoes, 4 pairs of socks, 2 towels and a jacket. I also brought my mini-ref, osterizer and heater for my food and tea/coffee. It might seem that I will be here for only a week or two, but these things I have right now, will be the only things I will live within the next 6 months; that’s a total of less than a hundred item including my toothbrush, computer, phone and 2 mugs (1 for cold and 1 for hot drink). I have no idea how this is all going to work out for me, but I’ve been having really goodnight’s sleep, and surprisingly, I’m doing okay. Did I mention I don’t have internet connection or wifi in my room?

What could have been the worst in all situation, turned out to be the best thing for me. Having no internet connectivity inside my room (though I have mobile data on my phone, but I have to go outside for the signal) has actually given me so much time doing things I really love: reading and writing. In a span of 2 weeks, I have finished reading 7 books and have done so much writing (thesis and blog). For 4 months I was wondering and doubting myself because I could not finish reading my books, or be inspired enough to write. I was too distracted, especially with social media and the internet. Now: Major downgrade on the lifestyle but a major upgrade on the personal goals. Albert Einstein once said “I must be willing to give up what I am in order to become what I will be”, and it finally made sense to me now.

A year ago, I was in Metro Davao, probably eating dinner and having drinks with some colleagues in our corporate attire, taking snapchat videos and posting pictures on Facebook. I was once a person who would never miss out on anything. Honestly, I was earning much( but not as much as my counterparts), I  had a great social circle, yet still I feel very left out,  and I was living sinfully because I can afford, and I was not okay being lonely then. I was in Kuantan, east coast of Malaysia, November of last year, when I was confronted to make a choice to continue that life or change it; to continue the chase until something happens, or to stop and begin again. I chose the latter.

Fast-forward, I decided to downgrade.  I now live in a very small and basic room with a fan, a 1x1m bath and toilet, a bed, a table and my less than 100 stuff. I didn’t know I could do so much with so little. With all honesty, I can say I’m happier now, even happiest. My fear of missing out(FOMO) has been turned into appreciating simple joys of life; like a long conversation on the phone with a good friend, a funny text message, videocall from home, catching up with old mentors, and even sunset meditations by the beach.

Life indeed gave me something beautiful after I let go of the things that I thought were best for me. Sometimes, our fear of losing control and unguaranteed future keeps us from enjoying the present, having fun in the now. We always chase after perfection and a good life, and we forget to appreciate the small things in it, we ignore the present because we are too preoccupied with the uncertain future.

What this downgrade has taught me is that vanity is different from pride (actually from pride and prejudice), and that I can keep my pride, but I should give up on my vanity (narcissism, ego, self-centeredness); that I should always be humble and never forget to help others in any small way that you can; that we should always be kind to everyone no matter what or how difficult the situation is; and always be patient because God has His purpose for our existence. We are exactly where God wants us to be.

I am so much thankful for this second chance, and I know this is just the honeymoon phase, easy, slow and joyful. I am expecting bigger challenges and even bigger test of faith, patience, and wisdom, but I know that with God’s grace, I can and I will overcome them. It won’t be easy but it’s not impossible.

 

 

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How I achieved Instantaneous Meditation

For the first time in many many months, I was able to clear my mind even for the shortest period of 5 minutes. It was a blissful feeling, something I did not expect.

Just had a fun and worthwhile 3 days at home. Because of a long weekend, I was able to spend time with my family and felt a little sad because I will be away for a long while. I had a long but smooth bus ride and arrived at the University early in the morning. I was listening to an audiobook “Bossypants” by Tina Fey, which was published in 2011, and did not actually find it funny. I love Tina Fey and her stints on SNL and her movies with BFF Amy Poehler ( listened to her audiobook “Yes Please” and enjoyed it very much), but the 2011 Tina, was not the Tina I was expecting. Anyhow, I did not finish listening to it as I was starting to take interest in listening to Pride and Prejudice narration which I happened to have stumbled upon on Spotify. It just goes to show that I easily get distracted; I tend to lose focus and jump from one thing to another. This is the reason why I had to badly needed meditation.

I’ve been trying so many techniques on how to meditate and focus. Clearing one’s mind from even the smallest thing is not as easy as it may seem. For someone as easily distracted as me, it’s nearly impossible. But just this afternoon, I might have found the answer to instantaneous meditation; the levels of which you could lose consciousness in less than 5 minutes.

I was just doing my usual afternoon dip/swimming exercise/sunset meditation. The water was quite warm and calm. The current was a bit strong but there were no waves. I swam my way to the deep part of the beach for approximately 5 minutes, to get as far away from the shore as possible (there were any people). I was hyperventilating from the swim (my stamina is not as good as it was when I was younger), I felt almost passing out and my arms and legs can no longer paddle me further. I rested on my back for a while, staring at the beautiful indigo sky, where darkness was starting to overcome the light of the day (it was around 6pm). I was just drifting with the current, and was taken to the other part of the beach without me barely noticing.

For the first time in many many months, I was able to clear my mind even for the shortest period of 5 minutes. It was a blissful feeling, something I did not expect. My body was floating in the water, I was staring blankly at the beautiful canvass that the sun and clouds were painting, and I could hear my breathing: I felt life force coming in and going out of my body. That single moment, I cannot recall what I have had in mind. My mind was cleared from anything and everything, even including nothing. I was in a state of suspended animation possibly crossing dimensions of consciousness.

Probably it was my brain almost shutting down due to the lack of oxygen because of swimming. In a book by Eben  Alexander, a renowned neurosurgeon, through meditation, one can cross over to higher consciousness. Dr. Alexander had a Near Death Experience (NDE). He was comatose for 7 days because of a massive brain infection that affected the reasoning and logical side of his brain. Being a brilliant brain doctor and hearing those NDE experiences from patients and his research, he was at skeptical at first but eventually transformed, when he himself was subjected to it. He mentioned that our consciousness is just a small part of the multiple levels of spiritual consciousness which near death can bring us. Almost drowning and feeling my muscles almost giving up, brought to a euphoric state of nothingness; a feeling of certain freedom even for just a little while.

Those few minutes felt like forever. I was taken to a new dimension of happiness; it might have been a temporary high, but it was beautiful. 

PS I cannot recommend the procedure to anyone else because it is dangerous. But somewhere at the back of my mind, I know this is not a new thing. As much as  I want to research about it online, my internet is very limited. Please comment your thoughts regarding the matter below. 

 

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inspiration, Uncategorized

Requirement: Experience Needed

EverWing: Life Lessons, and Experience

I’ve been hooked on EverWing in the past few days. It’s a game in Facebook Messenger that lets you and your group chat members, compete and work together for victory. I have been playing it religiously because it’s quite addicting, especially when most of your friends are playing it very seriously as well.

At first, it was just a distraction for me, to spend less time on Facebook and other social media platforms. I wanted to detox and detach myself from the internet because I obviously was very dependent on it: and EverWing was the answer (though it still needs to connect to the internet). After a few days, I had been so hooked that I can sit for long hours and just play the game; earn gold coins, trophies, buy dragons and level up with experience.

In the game, you need to level up your experience (or they call it XP) by playing the game constantly; putting your character on the battlefield to earn gold and gain experience. In the game, the longer you play it, the more difficult the challenges (enemies) become. I exceeded the maximum allowed gold coins (999,999) and have 10,000 trophies amongst my 6-pages of dragons. I felt invincible yet I still find it difficult to defeat the enemy boss at times. Why? Experience and the lack thereof. I have had to play more to gain more experience, for me and for my dragons. 😦

I remembered the time in Singapore when I was in one of my interviews. Being a really good English speaker (and sensible), I would often impress my interviewers with my wits and confidence. I research beforehand the company, its core values, goals, etc., for me to have an edge. By the end of the interviews, I come home disappointed because my personality cannot compensate for my lack of experience (Singapore is very strict with their foreign applicants). I look at my Curriculum Vitae and realized that my professional game is still at entry level.

All my life it had always been a chase for learning new things, for being the jack of all trades: there is nothing wrong with it since it also accounts as experience, as personal growth. But to be able to fulfill one’s true purpose, I believe one must have a single destination of which he can cultivate and be an expert of.

Experience is gaining new strengths by overcoming challenges along the way to your goal. Much like in EverWing, first, you have to set your goals. When you know what you want to do, achieve them one by one, and make sure they complement each other. Meet new people, be in a circle with people of the same endeavors; learn and gain more experience. Lastly, share and be an instrument and an inspiration to others.

It’s funny how life lessons come from such silly game. I am no wiseman but I know that someday, all my efforts will be read, will be heard and will be appreciated. Experience is such a big word for me. I have always said to myself that I wanted to be a writer, I dreamed of being a writer, but I never had the necessary experience to be one. I have written short stories and essays, and looking back, I really have so much more to learn, so much more to improve on, so much more to write about. To fulfill that dream, I must start as soon as possible. I know it’s not too late for me.

PS I will try to write my daily reflections as often (everyday) as possible. So help me God.

 

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not-busy

Everybody is busy, I am not. Everybody is productive, I think I’m not. Everybody is doing something. Everybody except me. 

 

In the past few days, I felt really frustrated about not being busy. After the summer break, most of the friends and family I hang out with, are now back to either school or their work. I, on the other hand, even though I already enrolled for my master’s degree, still feel like a bum. I worry because I think I’m supposed to be pre-occupied, or should be juggling things about my masters and all its complications, or should too busy that I won’t even have time for writing or reading. The opposite is happening; I feel guilty because I think I’m unproductive.

Everybody is busy, I am not. Everybody is productive, I think I’m not. Everybody is doing something. Everybody except me.

The truth is I am enjoying what I am not doing; what haunts me is the thought that people think I have it easy because of what I am doing or not doing. I actually feel frustrated whenever I think about this, so I try to create something precious of my time just to satisfy the thought of being busy.

I attended a mass earlier with my 2 nieces, and the sermon was about precious time and what really matters. The priest mentioned something about being busy as a blessing,  and that one can never be too busy because time is all we really have. We have 24 hours a day, and it adds up every single day as we wake up and continue living.  We have all the time in the world, and it’s just up to us on how we spend it with purpose and value. On the other hand, he also said that being “not-busy” is also a blessing which is for everybody but only few can enjoy.

Being “not-busy” may seem to sound like the opposite of being busy, it’s not. When I googled for the antonym of the word busy, there was no specific word for it. Apparently, I did find one word that perfectly interprets it: FREE. Being “not-busy” is being free to do what you want to do without considering limitations, limitations that are set by the people around us, the regulations we have to go through, the image we have to project, and the pressure normality can become.

I was watching a Ted Talk episode (yes, I have the luxury of time) with speaker Jon Jandai, a Thai farmer, about Living an easy life. In a year he only works for 2 months: 1 month for planting crops, and another month for harvesting. The rest of the year, he does what he wants: he builds beautiful handmade houses (from wood and mud), he created Punpun Center, an organic farm and meditation center, and he tends to his family’s welfare. He was living at basic; he was “not-busy”; he had the time.  Of course, his was a different story from most of us, even for myself. I get the concept and the simplicity (or so) that it wants to imply. Although it’s difficult, it was not impossible to do.

Being not busy is not being unproductive, or being lazy, or being idle, like what I used to believe it was. For me, it is more about self-control, time management, prioritizing activities and actually seeing through what is essentials and doing only what is important. Being “not-busy” is basically enjoying freedom, it is an opportunity to do what you love to do; for my case, I love to read books, take long naps and cook for my family whenever I have time, and right now, I have all the time in the world.

There is no reason to feel frustrated or defeated or embarrassed. Instead of thinking about the stress of being busy, it’s a lot better to enjoy being “not-busy” and do worthwhile things that will make your soul happy.

 

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inspiration, Uncategorized

5 important values for those who travel

It had been 7 months since I decided to quit my job, took off and traveled Southeast Asia. It all started with a friendly conversation with my friend and mentor Darrel who works and lives in Singapore for a time now. He invited me over to see if I can get a job there, or just probably try to get some sense into me since at that time, I was really confused and I had no direction at all.

From Singapore, I journeyed to the neighboring countries, Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Indonesia, for a total of 100 days. It was not all easy, but being able to experience such adventure is totally life changing.

Over those months, I have done so much more that what I have had done in the past few years of my twenties. I have learned so much about culture, food, relationships, careers, life in general but from a different perspective. I have also gained the confidence and the courage to get things done. Basic things that I wish I knew before, but I guess was timely to know now. I learned values which I believe is important when you travel, values that could also be useful in our day to day life.

Kindness is universal

It doesn’t cost anything, but it is the best thing you can give others; friends, strangers, even people you don’t like. Kindness is the universal language for compassion and respect for individuality regardless of race, culture, preference, age, gender, etc.

When you travel to unfamiliar territories on your own, you just have to trust your instinct and pray for people’s kindness. I have heard so much about other travelers being swindled and robbed in the places that I’ve been to (Phnom Penh, Jakarta, Ho Chi Minh, etc. ), creating a stigma of fear for both travelers and locals. Kindness includes respect and compromise. If you want to go further, last longer and stay safe altogether, be kind no matter what. As they say in Karmic Law: What goes around, comes around.

Be patient: wait and see

The world sometimes unfolds great things in front of you when you least expect it. In a budget backpacking trip, you don’t get to have so much money to spend, you only have time.

In Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, locals take time (at least 4 times) everyday to sit down and drink their iced coffee or tea. Lazy? maybe. But when you are in a place with so many people, so many tourists around, noisy, crowded, busy, and humid and warm, a break every now and then keeps you away from fatigue and stress. The essence of travel is to appreciate where you are, experience the life in front of you and learn from it. You cannot do so if you are in a constant hurry and irritated.

Wait. And see that there is so much wisdom in waiting for the right time. Appreciate the beauty of waiting and the great lessons it unfolds.

Trust people.

It was in Batam, Indonesia where I was at my lowest point. It was my first destination after Singapore and I was held in the immigration for some 30 minutes or so. What was even worst was only few can understand and speak English, and I was so scared of getting ripped off by the taxi drivers because I judged them as if they were hoodlums with bad intentions.

After an hour, I finally let my guard down, gave up my so-called “rational thinking”, and just go with my instinct and asked for their help. These people were not so bad after all. They even gave me the directions to my hotel, hailed me a public transportation and reminded me of how much to pay, where to get off and how to get to my hotel.

Building trust is not easy even if you know the person, it’s even harder if you don’t. But trusting others and their kindness is a gift from God that may be broken a lot of times but can still be whole over and over again.

Let others be

Along the way, you will meet diverse people: take that opportunity to know them, hear them and relate. It won’t be easy as there are many radical minds out there. Your patience and understanding will be tested. But it’s up to you and how you react to them, that matters.

All throughout my journey, I have been discriminated a lot of times for my color, race, and preference. May it had been said in a normal conversation, or as a joke during a drinking session, I honestly get offended every time. I just keep quiet and pray for the peace of mind and understanding. I do not need to carry the burden of imperfections based on other people’s guidelines. I let them be because my peace is more precious than their judgment.

In everyday life, you have a choice over the battles you want to fight. People will be what they believe to be. You can only do so much for and about others. It is up to them to accept or reject you. Let others be because that is their way of life. Do not be so easy to judge and backbite. Hear them out and act upon your judgment with wisdom and understanding.

Respect

Lastly, to stay alive and unscathed whenever or wherever you travel, always learn to pay respect to religion, culture, gender, traditions and to people. We bring our culture and upbringing with us when we travel to different countries, make your country proud by always being respectful.

In Bali, Indonesia, you only get respected and treated right if you know well how to respect others. Some tourists think that if you have the money, you’ll get the best service. In Bali, it’s different. Money can’t buy you a good relationship and special treatment. People in Bali are very kind and honest, they have a culture that is respectful to others; humans, animals, beliefs, traditions, etc. Respect, together with their other values, make Bali a successful example of good tourism.

I know you don’t need to travel far or travel wide to learn all these things. Sometimes, it just comes difficult for others like me, because maybe we were always used to the easy life and compromising life. I pray for another chance to travel abroad again, hopefully soon. For now, I will stick to these values and make sure I learn to 

I pray for another chance to travel abroad again, hopefully soon. For now, I will stick to these values and make sure I get to share them with my fellowmen. These are small things that make huge differences.

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