Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Perfection is in the Eye of the Beholder

Reading outside in the sun today!
"An artist's only concern is to shoot for some kind of perfection, and on his own terms, not anyone else's."—J. D. Salinger

I watched a documentary on J.D. Salinger on Amazon Prime, which I get free with my Amazon Prime membership. I've been watching lots of documentaries lately, especially about authors.

J.D. Salinger was a recluse. He lived in his own world and did things his own way. On the outside it might have seemed crazy, but to him perhaps it was perfection.

I had never read The Catcher in the Rye. It was never required reading for me in high school or college, even though I studied literature/writing in college. Suddenly, after seeing this documentary, I had to read it. I immediately ordered myself a copy of The Catcher in the Rye from Amazon.

It was a tiny paperback book with the title in a 50s-looking font. It had an orange cover with a carousel horse on it.

At first, it was hard to read and I couldn't understand for the life of me why this book was a sensation. Every other word in the book was goddam. But then something happened. I let go of my ideas of what this book should be and entered the scene. I went for a ride with this author. I was part of the story.

For the last few days, I could not put the book down. It was a coming of age story of Holden Caulfield. Nothing was going right for him. He got kicked out of school, he got beat up, he didn't fit in, but he could only be and think who he was at that time. He definitely could not pretend to be anyone else. In fact, the entire book was a comment on how people in society, at that time, were just pretending or acting out their parts. The word phony was used dozens of times.

Yesterday I had so much to do, but I didn't do anything I was supposed to do.

I pulled two chairs together and made a makeshift lawn chair. I got myself a drink from the kitchen and I sat in the front yard in the sun for two entire hours reading The Catcher in the Rye. 

I forgot where I was.

I forgot who I was.

I forgot I had things to do.

A good book will do that to you.

Finally, I pulled myself together. I got my wits about me and got to work and taught my classes and it went really well.

But I wouldn't have done it differently. It was perfect. A perfect afternoon in the sun with an excellent book that took me awhile to warm up to.

It made me want to read more and write more. So here I am.

Have you read a book recently that made you feel good, made you think or made you change your mind about something? What was it?

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Prescribing Love

Love just may be the best medicine
I had a profound experience at the doctor's the other day.

I recently stopped going to "regular" doctors. I was just another number at those places. Just a pile of flesh to probe and poke and stab and write up tests for. I was prescribed all kinds of things that were probably deadly. I was told there was nothing that really could be done. Unless, of course, I was dying.

So I sort of gave up hope.

I'm not dying. But I have had serious digestive troubles since traveling to dozens of countries in my youth, some cleanlier than others.

I picked up different bugs here and there along the way and it was all finally taking a toll on my system.

A few friends recommended Seattle Healing Arts.

"Oh, this is not like going to the DOCTOR'S office," a friend assured.

She explained how they had naturopathic doctors, Chinese medical doctors, massage, Ayurvedic doctors and even a few regular MDs sprinkled into the mix. She told me about how "un-clinical" the place was. There were beautiful paintings, buddhas and they played soothing meditation music while you waited.

I started seeing a doctor there and he's changed my entire view about "going to the doctor."

On our first session, he spent TWO entire hours with me. He let me speak and he listened.

He just listened.

Occasionally he'd ask me a few questions, but he was really very present with me.

I felt a very soft, gentle energy flowing from this doctor.

On my last visit, he had dozens of acupuncture needles stuck in me. Now you have to understand that I really dislike needles of any kind and hate to draw blood.

But I felt so at ease with this person and hardly noticed what was happening. We talked about life while he was giving me this treatment. I felt genuinely cared for.

After the acupuncture treatment I received, the pain in my stomach is now gone.

After being with this doctor for about two months, I've had a profound healing experience like none I've ever experience in a doctor's office before.

What was different?

It was love.

Genuine love and care about another human being.

Of course I believe that proper medicine, herbs, treatments and supplements all help, but all of this is nothing if you are just a number.

I finally feel like my body is really healing.

I'm not just a number anymore.

I'm a human who has been the recipient of the best medicine of all: love.

Have you ever been healed by the love of another person? 

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Coming Out Of My Shell

Swimming with enormous sea turtles helped me open up again
"At times you have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you'll discover will be wonderful. What you'll discover is yourself."—Alan Alda

Winter was a long, hard haul. I wasn't here at all. I agreed to teach a split schedule at the college where I teach ESL and that just about did me in. The result: I was sick with the flu for an entire month.

I haven't been sick for an entire month since I don't know when.

Obviously I had taken on too much and was out of balance because of this choice I had made.

Never again.

My body and intuition are strong and always give me clues as to what feels right or wrong for me, yet sometimes I choose not to listen to my gut, intuition, hunches, instincts.

Fear is usually what causes me to go against these.

Fear of not enough money. Fear of what others may think. Fear of losing something. Fear, fear, fear...

Fear of death.

I went to Seattle Healing Arts and met a doctor who changed my whole view of things. He told me I needed rest. He said I was under stress.

Me?  Under stress? Someone who practices yoga and meditation? Someone who knows when too much is too much?

But I listened to him. I listened hard.

My digestive track was also out of whack. He prescribed me herbs and a round of antibiotics to get rid of parasites. He gave me a food allergy test and recommended I take a vacation or get a massage.

So that's what I did.

Actually, my husband led a yoga retreat at a private farm in Kula, Maui for 7 days and I was there leading the writing/collaging part of the retreat. We just came back yesterday.

It was so healing for me and those 10 days (7 for a yoga retreat and 3 for our own retreat) changed my life.

I partly went to this retreat to research my next book which I'll tell you more about later, but I mainly went for the healing aspects of being on this island.

I ate fresh veggies and fruit everyday, I did yoga almost every morning, I hiked in a bamboo forest and near waterfalls, I swam in the warm ocean, dug my toes into the sand, felt the sun on my face and the healing hands of my husband on my body (he now does energy healing massages in addition to yoga).

I swam with enormous sea turtles. I felt the power of their beings. These ancient creatures healed me.

After the retreat, we visited a friend in Kula and stayed at her place for two nights. She made the most delicious food straight from her garden: a salad of kale, spinach, arugula, basil, etc. And she made a seafood pasta dish that was so tasty.

I listened to the wind through the sugarcane fields.

I listened to bird calls.

I heard the ocean.

I saw the new moon.

I saw the sunrise from the top of Haleakala.

I listened.

I really listened.

I know what I need to do. It's deep in my soul, but I am not sure why I sometimes work against myself.

A new quarter starts on Monday. I am a bit scared of losing all that I gained while away. I want to keep myself in check and tune in when I have free time. I want to write here on this blog and I am working on a new book.

I'm back. I'm coming out of my shell. It was a long winter, but I'm ready to swim the gentle waters again.

Did you ever do something that went against your instinct or intuition? What was the result? 

Friday, February 7, 2014

A New Chapter

"Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life."—Omar Khayyam

I've been avoiding writing anything here. After one entire year of writing inspirations (2013) and another of writing lessons (2010), I'm not sure I have much left to share.

But I still want to write.

Write here now.

So here I am on a Friday night. It's 8:02pm and I'm alone.

Yoon went off on a retreat with a Tibetan Rinpoche he met in the Seattle Public Library long ago. His name is Sonam Rinpoche and I really had hoped I could be there too...but....

I came down with a bad cold and felt I needed to rest and to have some time to myself.

So that's what I'm doing.

I just signed up for a free trial of Netflix for one month. Tonight I watched a movie called Life in a Day.

It was recommended to me by a friend.

Human life is so interesting. Somehow, we are here and our basic needs like food, shelter and water need to be met. Then there's a need for love or to have someone care about us, including ourselves. If those are met, life becomes a patchwork quilt of moments and experiences—some good, some bad, some neutral.

Life is not one big event, goal, award, promotion, marathon or expedition.

It's here now.

Now I'm sitting in my office on a futon. Clothes and blankets are strewn around the room. I'm feeling a bit lazy, so I haven't organized. I'm wearing a big, long, wool scarlet sweater with wooden buttons. It feels warm and cozy. I'm also wearing black wool socks and gray pants. It's cold outside and there's been talk of snow, but I haven't looked outside to see if there is any yet. I feel relaxed, calm, contemplative, and a bit hungry...I may grab a bite to eat.

So this is a new chapter...

...of living moments.

How about this moment in your life right now? I'd love to hear from you!

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

365 Inspirations—365: Happy New Year

Well, goodbye year of the SNAKE and hello year of the HORSE....If 2013 was a hard year for you, the snake might have something to do with it. Snakes are deceptive and creep up on you when you least expect it. I know so many people who experienced unexpected setbacks and difficulties this year. But the good news is, the Year of the Horse, a compassionate and loving creature, is here for 2014.

This is a pre-written post. Right this very minute, I'm at a silent meditation course in CA with no contact to the outside world. In other words, no reading, no writing, no electronics, no dancing, no singing.

Just meditation. That's it.

So I'll be ushering in the New Year with eyes closed and legs crossed.

I so need this time. I'll be welcoming the Year of the Horse in silence.

Now is a time when people write down New Year Resolutions.

After writing 365 blog posts for this year, I feel like cutting myself some slack on the resolutions!

I made it to 365 and that's a miracle in and of itself!

But I'll give you the gist of what I see in 2014:

1. More meditation, yoga and inner work.
2. Less computer (except for book writing and a handful of blog posts)
3. More walks in nature
4. More focus on friends and family
5. Exercise and healthy eating

I was thinking I might join a gym too, but I do get lots of exercise with walking and yoga. I plan to continue working on my new book and not blogging every day will free up some of that time. I also really want to cut sugar, grains, and coffee from my diet. I felt so good when I did that before.

I want to say that travel is in my horizon. I see it, but part of me feels the need to save and to just observe where I am. In 2013, I went on so many trips and yoga retreats—Peru, twice to Hawaii, twice to Las Vegas, Sedona, and right now I'm in California for this course. It was exciting, but perhaps I need to see how it feel to stay home for a year? Maybe it will give me an opportunity to travel inward if I stay right where I am instead of always being on the go!

Maybe I will get some clarity about my direction at the end of this meditation course. It ends on January 6th  and I'll be coming out of silence then.

 Thanks for tuning in here for an entire year. I plan to still write posts, just not everyday.

Our next retreat is at The Yoga Lodge on Whidbey Island January 24-26! Hope to see you there. You can find out more about it here.

Did you enjoy these blog posts for one entire year?

Monday, December 30, 2013

365 Inspirations—364: Nothing Looks Interesting

Here are some pictures of where I am right now. I'm at the California Vipassana Center in North Fork near Yosemite. I was here in 2012 in the summer, so it was SUNNY and hot. It is most likely colder now. Who knows? We may even get a little snow? Anyway, I wrote this post after I had finished my 10-day course and I wrote about how I felt. I want to share that with you here. This is a repost and it has been prescheduled. Going on retreat is a great way to rejuvenate and gain insight into yourself. Please click here about a yoga/writing retreat Yoon and I will be offering at The Yoga Lodge in the New Year and share it with others if you can. Here's my repost:

I was at the Fresno/Yosemite airport on Sunday. After 10 days out in the "bush" in silence with very little stimulus, the airport was a rude awakening. There were people with backpacks, roller duffles and suitcases, whining children, fast food and kiosks full of things I really don't need. After a long period of no stimulus, suddenly the magazine display seemed to come alive with stars faces, colors, and words. The jewelry case which displayed mostly bling was overwhelming. Gum, newspapers, bottle openers, tacky fridge magnets and t-shirts seemed to enclose me. I found my way towards the exit next to the display of bestselling books. I thumbed through a few of them. "Nothing looks interesting," I said under my breath.

Nothing looks interesting.

"Nothing" looks "interesting".

Somehow nothing had become interesting. Because nothing, besides meditation, responding to calls of nature, walking, sleeping and eating was all I did for an entire 10 days. This might sound boring to those looking for an exotic vacation at say...a beach cottage in Thailand or a mountain chalet in Switzerland. But for me, this was how I chose to spend my precious time off. And not a minute of it was wasted time. From 4:00am, when the first gong sounded to 9pm lights out, we were working. Hard to imagine how meditation could be work. Let me tell you, it's the hardest yet most rewarding work I've ever done.

Maybe you've traveled all over the world. Maybe you've spent time on that exotic beach or at that mountain chalet. And I know, I have fond memories of those places too. But have you ever thought about taking a trip inside? Do you know what's going on in there?

Give yourself 10 days in silent meditation and I guarantee you you'll find out more than you can imagine. And if you are working properly, you'll uncover quite a bit..and not all of what you see you'll want to face, but when you do decide to face what's in there, things start happening. Good things...positive things...

Nothing looked interesting because I was full. Not full in the sense of "I ate too much" but full in the sense of "I have all I need." I felt light and clear and happy. This happiness wasn't about who I was with or where I was or what I was doing. It was a happiness or a very deep contentment with what was. It came from the inside out. Even the kiosk screaming with "things to buy" had its place. I felt like a scientist observing my new surroundings. Like every moment called for my undivided attention and thorough examination.

During the course, it was hot and dry. As not to make contact with my fellow meditators, my gaze was usually downward. While at the meditation center, we are meant to keep to ourselves. The point is to go inward. We are meant to be working alone, in silence.

Still, I couldn't help but notice the beauty around me. The California wild flowers became my friends. They greeted me every morning on my walk around the pond.

On the last day, we had an opportunity to view a new pagoda building.

This building housed dozens of tiny meditation cells. During the course, we meditated in the hall, but these cells would provide further privacy for the meditator. I'm looking forward to the opportunity to sit in the pagoda when it is finished.

On the last day, we come out of silence and have an opportunity to speak to one another. This is always an interesting experience. After having spent most of our time in silence with our gaze cast downward, we were now communicating and getting to know one another on the very last day.

The course had produced "shiny, happy people"...people full of gratitude and full of gentleness. The smiles were contagious.

Svetlana, didn't even hesitate when I asked for a ride to the airport. She said, "Certainly!" She also planned to volunteer and clean the kitchen before our departure. Everyone who works at the center is a volunteer. There are no fees for these courses, they run on donations and the hard work of volunteers who have all completed at least one course.

I cleaned my cabin and had a chat with my cabin mates, and then Svetlana and I went out for a little brunch before my flight. It was our reintegration into the world. We had a nice chat.

It was a very productive course for me and I received a lot of clarity. As I type this I feel so much gratitude that I have had this practice of meditation in my life for almost 15 years. But most of all, I was grateful for the opportunity to do "nothing" and to realize that stepping away from "doing something" all the time was what I needed. It's easy to get caught up in what we are doing as if the world revolves around what we "do." Sometimes more productivity and clarity can come from stepping away and stopping. What I found is that the world is not going to stop if you decide to and when you come back you'll realize you haven't missed much.

Have you ever gone on a personal retreat? How did you feel when you returned home?

Sunday, December 29, 2013

365 Inspirations—363: Everything Changes

"When you are observing the truth, it is bound to change. It keeps constantly changing, and yet you are aware of it. This is Vipassana."—SN Goenka

It's DAY FOUR of the course. It's Vipassana Day! For three days I've been focusing on the awareness of my breath—for three whole days! But now I will start Vipassana. I will start to move my attention from head to toe and observe my natural sensations. This post is a repost AND it has been prescheduled, but I think it applies to what I will be experiencing today. Change will be in the forecast for sure! 

I feel I'm in a groove now. That doesn't mean it's easy, this observing the self. It's not easy to keep my attention inward on my breath and sensations at all times. The mind still wants to take over. The mind wants to pull me in this direction or that direction. What a monkey mind we carry. It keeps jumping from this branch to that branch. It never settles down. We keep filling it up. If we are bored, we find something to entertain it with.

But I'm in a groove now. I see what is happening. I am witnessing it. That's it. I'm watching. As I simply watch, or simply observe, I see that everything changes. Every moment changes.

There is nothing we can hold on to in this big, wide world....NOTHING. Instead of that being a scary thing, it is actually very freeing. There is a deep peace that comes from this.

Are you scared of change?

Saturday, December 28, 2013

365 Inspirations—362: Meditation

Here's a little information about what I am doing right now. I've reposted this post several times, but thought you might like to read it if you haven't already. The only difference is that I'm not sitting for 45 days this time, just ten days in North Fork, California at the meditation center there. Only a few more days until the New Year. I'll be celebrating the beginning of 2014 in silence. All my posts here since December 25th have been prescheduled since I am completely unplugged while here. I'll be writing more in the New Year, but I won't be posting everyday. Here's my repost:

I'm emerging. I feel like this lotus. My petals are unfolding one by one. If there were an appropriate pop song for this occasion, I think it would be I'm Coming Out by Diana Ross. It's going a bit slow for me my friends. I'm talking again, just fine. I've met three people since I've been home-my husband, my mother and my friend Lena. I find myself wanting to be part of all that I have missed and then wanting to retreat again. I think it's just where I am. For those of you who have just happened upon this blog, you may want to read earlier posts. To catch you up to speed (and the speed is quite slow at the moment), on March 14th, 2009, I returned from a 45-day meditation course at the Vipassana Massachusetts Centre in Shelburne Falls, MA. People have asked, "Did you have a good course?" Well, it's a bit hard to summarize the experience actually, but I feel so much gratitude, peace, happiness, and clarity. It was harder than anything I've ever done, but it was the most rewarding thing I have ever done.

A 45-day course is not something you just jump into. I've been practicing this form of meditation since 1996 when I took my first 10-day course in Nepal with my husband Seong Yoon, who was a Buddhist monk at that time. The 10-day course in Nepal was so hard. I felt so much anger coming out and I wanted to run far away. The moment the course was over, I was on the first bus out of there. I vowed to never take a course again. Later, when I was wandering the streets of Kathmandu with Seong Yoon that day, I realized that something had changed. I felt light and free. There was a deep happiness inside. As soon as I was away from the meditation center, I could clearly see that I had gotten something very positive from the experience. At the Vipassana center in Nepal, I was surprised to learn that there is a center in Washington State. By December, 1996, I was sitting a course in Washington. This is still shocking to me given my state after my first course. What's more surprising is that I've continued taking courses for 13 years and I just completed 45-days of meditation.

The benefits I have received from sitting and serving courses are really indescribable. If you have never tried a course, all I can say is, "try it!" It's very easy to make all kinds of generalizations or have judgments if you've never done it. If you've tried it, you know that it's not easy. Right away you know when you arrive for orientation that this is going to be work. Hard work. For me, it is the most rewarding, beneficial work I've ever done. Already people have asked me, "What did you do for 45-days?" Well, I meditated. Another question was, "How did you spend your days?" I spent approximately 10 hours per day meditating in a 2 by 6 foot meditation cell and two hours meditating in a hall with other meditators. The cells are only for people who have completed at least one 10-day course. If you are attending a course for the first time, you will sit in a meditation hall with other meditators.

Other than talking to the teacher a few times, I was in silence for 43 days. We had two days of speaking at the end to reintegrate. The other times I was either sleeping, eating, walking or taking care of personal matters. The Vipassana Massachusetts Center provided me with a private room and bathroom, a meditation cell, meals and walking trails. Every center is different and what you are offered depends on what is available and how many people attend the course. People came for 45-days to cook. They volunteered to do this because they have received so many benefits from this practice. Forty-five days is a long time to cook and work. There is no charge for the course either. The courses run on donations. People get so much from these courses, that they feel they want to give. If you serve at the center, they call it "selfless service" . Those who have completed at least one 10-day course can serve. You serve, just to serve. You don't expect anything in return.

In the past, I have had an opportunity to serve on courses and live for a year at the center in Washington and serve as the center manager with my husband. It was so wonderful to live and work in an environment where people are meditating. Most people go into a course a little heavy with whatever emotional and physical pain they've been carrying around with them and come out light, happy and shiny! The transformation that I have seen is truly amazing.

If you look at a picture or see someone meditating, it appears that nothing is happening. We live in such an extroverted society. People, especially in Western society, aren't taught to go inside or to experience what is happening inside of us, yet that is where everything originates. Every emotion or action on the physical level starts inside. I don't want to go into details here on the practice of Vipassana. If you are interested, I suggest you go to the website (http://www.dhamma.org/) where you can learn all about it. All I can say is that through this practice, I do not feel as much anger, pain, worry, or irritation as I used to. As I continue to practice Vipassana meditation, I feel more and more content, peaceful, happy, at ease, and free. I am not perfect, so of course negative emotions creep in, but they are not as strong as they used to be. They don't stay for very long.

Right away I am able to notice the people who received positive benefits from this practice. They are shiny! Their eyes are so bright after a course. They make people feel at ease and comfortable. There actions are positive. They really seem to glow like this woman from Serbia!

In my 45-day course, I sat with people from New Zealand, Chile, Japan, Vietnam, India, Israel, Canada, Burma. People from so many different walks of life and religious backgrounds are sitting together. It's amazing. They listen to instructions in their own languages. I've sat with an army general and a rock star (you'll have to ask me personally, if you'd like to know who...^_^). People come and keep coming because they get something. They feel different. This technique of meditation is very practical. Anyone who is not seriously debilitated mentally or physically can practice this. You don't need to change your country, name, religion or background. You will remain as you are, but you will have a technique or tool that can help you in all of life's ups and downs.

You can start with a 10-day course. Look at the website, I am sure there is one near you!

I write this with the sincere wish that everyone can share what I have experienced. May all of you feel peace and happiness. May all of you be free....

Have you ever practiced meditation before? 

Friday, December 27, 2013

365 Inspirations—361: Completely Unplugged

"The more ways we have to connect, the more many of us seem desperate to unplug."—Pico Iyer

Have you ever completely unplugged from all your gadgets for one whole day? How about 10 days?

Today is DAY TWO of my 10-day silent Vipassana meditation course. I've written many posts about Vipassana, but you can read more about it here.

This is a prescheduled post, so I wrote it ahead of time.

I'm out by Yosemite at the Vipassana center near North Fork, CA.

I don't have a phone or computer.

I'm without books and writing materials.

My life here will be rather simple.

I will meditate, sleep, eat and tend to calls of nature. That's about it.

After writing blog posts for almost 365 days straight, I am so looking forward to this time of being completely unplugged.

Have you ever unplugged completely for any length of time? How long?

Thursday, December 26, 2013

365 Inspirations—360: Happy Birthday to my husband, YOON!

I'm in California on a 10-day silent meditation course. I'm on DAY ONE of 10 days and today is my lovely husband's birthday! No, I'm not with you, but I'm sending lots of good vibes to you dear husband...that is my gift. And this letter to you is also my gift:

Dear Yoon,

Happy Birthday! I'm not here today for your special day, but I'm thinking of YOU! Wow, what a journey it has been!

 It's been such an inspirational journey with you that I even wrote a book about it!

I just want to say that I'm very proud of you. You came to the USA with nothing and did not know anyone, except me, my family and a few friends.

Now, you know hundreds of people. With nothing, you believed that you could make something of yourself here. You started teaching yoga in our living room, led workshops locally, then opened Yoon's Yoga Bliss which ran for almost 4 years!

You led yoga retreats to Hawaii, Sedona, and even Peru. You took yoga students trekking over Salkantay Glacier in Peru and to the tip top of Machu Picchu.

How did you make this happen?

You simply believed you could do it...and you did... and lots of eager people joined in on your enthusiasm.

I am also someone who has benefitted by being with you. You gave me so much encouragement and had so much belief in me while I was writing my book.

Anytime I doubt myself, you make me see that I can do it. You are my reflection of all that is possible. Maybe I am your reflection too?

You also had to close your yoga studio because the overhead was just too high, but your students weren't coming to you because you had an awesome place to practice yoga, they were coming to practice with you.

Now you teach in our living room again. Back to beginner's mind.

But this time something is different. I feel an expansiveness I can't describe. I feel that the circumstances—ups, downs, chaos, bliss, loss, gain—are all part of what makes being with you so sweet.

In yoga, we contract muscles and we expand them as we move in and out of asanas. Without one, we would not have the other. In fact, contraction is necessary for another wave of expansion in life.

I feel like I'm riding on a magic carpet with you. Sometimes, I have no idea where we are going or what we are going to see. This is the beauty. We don't have it all figured out. We don't know what will happen next or where we will end up.

But we keep leaning into life, not away from it.

I'm so happy to be riding next to you on this great journey called life! I couldn't ask for a better partner.

Here's to many more adventures.

I love you and enjoy your day!


Wednesday, December 25, 2013

365 Inspirations—359: Silent Night: Heading off to a 10-Day Meditation Course

Northwest Vipassana Center in WA State
“Mindfulness is the aware, balanced acceptance of the present experience. It isn’t more complicated than that. It is opening to or receiving the present moment, pleasant or unpleasant, just as it is, without either clinging to it or rejecting it.”—Sylvia Boorstein

Today I'm leaving the world of mass communication behind. I'm heading off to CA at 11:00AM for a 10-day silent Vipassana meditation course.

I've written many posts about Vipassana and you can find out more about the retreats I participate in here.

I've practiced Vipassana as taught by S.N. Goenka since 1996 and although I've done long, silent meditation courses of 20, 30 and 45 days in the past, theses days I try to maintain a daily meditation practice and do at least one 10-day course a year. Sometimes I'm not always able to do it.

For the past two years, I've only been able to attend three-day courses at the center in Washington State, so this will be my first full course in a long time.

I used to be super ambitious about meditation and then I realized that that sort of defeats the purpose which is to simply be aware no matter where you are or what you are doing.

I used to be on committees, serve on courses a lot and do all that I could do.

Now I realize that my goal is just to feel my breath and be aware anywhere and everywhere. I try to maintain a daily practice too, but it's not always easy.

What I've found is that meditation is happening all the time, all we have to do is drop into it. Meditation courses just help to remind me of what is always there, I just have to make the choice to tune in.

So I'm making that choice.

I'm heading off to 10-days of silence again. No phones, no internet, no writing, no driving, no talking—just me and my breath.

I will let you know how it goes.

Would you ever consider going to a silent meditation course for 10-days?

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

365 Inspirations—358: Christmas Eve Tea

It's Christmas Eve and I spent most of the day packing and doing laundry. I already had a gathering with my family. Yoon and I had a few moments to sit down together and have a bit of apple pie a la mode with a cup of decaf earl grey tea. That was our celebration!

Tomorrow I get up early in the morning and head to the airport and then on to Fresno, CA for a 10-day meditation course.

It's not easy to catch up on paperwork, bills, and emails, but  it will be good to finally cut the cord tomorrow. We are all so plugged in these days and to unplug is not so easy, but so necessary.

I've been writing on this blog for almost 365 days and to suddenly stop writing everyday will be both shocking and amazing. I need this break.

I look forward to going inward and I look forward to the silence and slow pace during this busy holiday time.

Yoon just went out to get some food as it suddenly dawned on him that most of the grocery stores will be closed tomorrow and he doesn't have much to eat here. He'll be home alone for 10-days, teaching yoga classes, etc.

Well, bon voyage and thanks for tuning in here for an entire year! The rest of my posts until the end of 2013 are prescheduled, but I think you will enjoy them.

How did you spend your Christmas Eve?

Monday, December 23, 2013

365 Inspirations—357: Peace

"I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in."—John Muir

Today I felt a lot of peace. I walked around Greenlake with my husband and the lake, sky and SUN all felt like a big, warm hug.

I didn't feel the busyness of the holidays. I felt a letting go........

Maybe my body is already preparing to go inward.

I have so much to do, but perhaps I have to just let some of it go and believe that things will work out for the best.

I'm heading off to a meditation retreat on Wednesday and I won't be able to bring my work with me.

I will let go and sink into the peace.....

Do you feel peace around the holidays or stress?

Sunday, December 22, 2013

365 Inspirations—356: Spending the Holidays with Family

early Christmas dinner at our house
We celebrated early this year. We had our Christmas today at our house. I cooked a delicious pot roast. I woke up at 6AM (very rare for me this time of year) and sprinkled the roast with fresh ground salt and pepper and seared it in olive oil before placing it in a crock pot.

I then went out to our garden in the dark in my polka-dotted pajamas and black boots to pick a fresh sprig of rosemary. I chopped carrots, onions and celery and covered the roast with these and beef broth, along with a little red wine, a can of cream of mushroom soup, and lots of herbs—fresh rosemary, thyme, sage, dried lavender, fennel seeds, marjoram, etc. The result was a bit like beef bourguignon. It was delicious and was done in plenty of time and so easy.

I decided to make mashed potatoes rather than putting the potatoes in the crock pot. My roast created lots of beautiful gravy for the potatoes.

My mom made a fresh green salad. The meal was divine and the beef was so tender, but the best part was the company.

It was so nice to all be at the table together and I felt so warm inside for having prepared a meal for my family. Yoon was a wonderful help with everything and he got me outside, which was really good.

We walked around Greenlake before our family arrived. It was so good to get outdoors and exercise, even though it was drizzling outside. I'm glad he suggested that we go.

After our meal, we all opened some gifts and then had hot apple pie and ice cream.

My mom and step dad went home. My nephews are tucked in bed in our guest bedroom.

 We babysat them tonight while my sister and brother-in-law went to see The Hobbit at a nearby movie theater. They are spending the night tonight because they plan to head to a cabin in the mountains for Christmas and Seattle is a good stopping off point.

I watched a movie with my nephews. I couldn't find The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, so we watched a Japanese animation movie my husband had called The Girl Who Leapt Through Time. It was good!

I feel happy and full from this lovely day.

Do you plan to see your family over the holidays?

Saturday, December 21, 2013

365 Inspirations—355: Holiday Spirit

Our lovely little house in Seattle
“Snowflakes swirl down gently in the deep blue haze beyond the window. The outside world is a dream.

Inside, the fireplace is brightly lit, and the Yule log crackles with orange and crimson sparks.

There’s a steaming mug in your hands, warming your fingers.

There’s a friend seated across from you in the cozy chair, warming your heart.

There is mystery unfolding.” —Vera Nazarian

Family is coming over tomorrow and I'm cooking dinner! It's rare that they come to our house for the holidays, but Seattle is a great meeting point before everyone goes off in different directions.

Somehow I got swept up in the holiday spirit today by decorating my house, picking up a little Christmas tree and buying some food for tomorrow. We just had a Hawaiian party on Friday night, so this will be it for the festivities for me.

Tomorrow I'm cooking a pot roast, mashed potatoes, gravy and my mom's bringing a salad and I think my sister is bringing cookies. It should be nice.

I'm happy and feel warm inside and my house feels warm too. Here are some photos:

I'm also tuckered out and look forward to some rest time for a few days before heading to California for my 10-day meditation course.

It's a busy time of year.

Hope you are s-l-o-w-i-n-g down and enjoying each moment with friends and family.

Do you enjoy having people over during the holidays? Do you like to decorate?