Holding Space for Each Other

As a Yoga Teacher, I often hear and use terms like, “being centered,” and “feeling the breath.”  These aren’t just meaningless, fluffy phrases; I understand and experience these game-changing phrases; however, the one phrase that stumped me the first time I heard it was “holding space for each other.”  It wasn’t that I didn’t understand the words in this phrase; I just couldn’t fully grasp what holding space looked like.  After many hours of teaching and living my yoga practice, I have a better understanding of what this phrase means (at least to me).


Creating an Imaginary Safehouse.

I’m very visual and imaginative, so I like to picture creating walls around me and the one I’m holding space for.  Sometimes I like to picture a room with four walls, or a room with one circular wall that wraps around.  I imagine the room to be filled with bright white light.  These visualizations helps me to calm my mind and let go of any distractions so that I can be fully present for the other person.


Letting Go of All Judgement.

When we hold space for someone, it’s important to put ourselves in their shoes completely.  In order to hold space for someone else effectively, we must check biases and opinions outside of the imaginary room.  It’s not easy to let go of all judgment, but by practicing this, we will grow in our empathy toward others.


Listen. 

According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, listening is defined as “to hear something with thoughtful attentiongive consideration,” whereas hearing is defined as the “process, function, or power of perceiving sound.”  When we give thoughtful attention and consideration to what we’re hearing, it’s called listening.  When we listen — really listen — we don’t formulate opinions, solutions or advice while the other person is talking, which leads me to the next one…


Do Not React Negatively.

I have learned the secret to being a parent that guides their teenager without telling him/her what to do.  Not that I have mastered it, but it is a golden nugget that I try to practice as often as I can with my daughter.  When my daughter shares things with me — whether it be random, light-hearted things or deep, vulnerable things in her heart — I don’t react out of emotions.  Sure, there are times when I want to get upset, but I made a choice to always listen, thank her for being open, and ask, “Is there anything else?” (or a similar phrase that’s appropriate for the occasion.)  With adults, I try to practice the same concept.  The minute we give a negative or an opinionated reaction, we’re no longer holding space for others.


Give Advice or Offer Solutions (Unless They Ask). 

This is another “secret” I learned in holding space for others.  When my daughter opens up to me about a problem or a struggle, I ask her questions that will get her talking more so that she can come to a solution on her own.  After doing this for a while, if she can’t seem to figure out a solution, I ask her if she would like my input.  If she says yes, I give her advice but make sure that she doesn’t feel judged by the words that I use or by the tone of my voice.  If she says no — which rarely happens —  I simply thank her for her honesty and tell her that I’ll be praying for her.  There are times though, when she will tell me she would like my advice even before she starts talking, which makes it much easier to navigate.  With adults, I rarely move into an advisor role unless they specifically ask me for advice or input.


Thank Them for Trusting You. 

Whether a child or adult, everybody likes to be thanked.  When someone is willing to enter our space and take the chance of being vulnerable with us, we should always express our gratitude.  It takes a lot of courage for anybody to open up and share their hearts.  By thanking them, it keeps us humble and it allows them to feel safe to be in the space you’re holding for them… and perhaps, they will hold space for you in the future when you may need it.



One of my favorite passages in the Bible about Jesus holding space for others is when He saved the woman caught in adultery in John 8:1-11.  While everyone wanted to stoned her to death, Jesus held space for her so that she can repent and live a life that God has always intended her to live.  There are so many other examples of Jesus holding space for people, such as children in Matthew 19:13-15 and Zacchaeus the Tax Collector in Luke 19:1-10.

Do to others as you would have them do to you.

Luke 6:31

I pray that we all practice holding space for each other so that we can  increase love and light in this world.



With Gratitude,
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His Name is Henry

Last week, my family and I traveled to Washington to visit friends and sightsee.  We started our trip in Bellingham, which is about 88 miles north of Seattle.  In addition to reuniting  with friends that we haven’t seen in 16 years, we got to enjoy this beautiful city which is the last major city along the Washington Coast before you reach the Canadian border.  During our stay there, we took nice morning stroll on the South Bay Trail which partly goes above the water.  The first part of the trail is on land, and to my right was the ocean and to my left were trees, bushes, and beautiful birds… and this is where we met Henry.

Bellingham 2

Henry is a middle-aged white man who is sharp-minded, great personality, and respectful.  His smile could absolutely light up a room, and it was clear that he was grateful for life and enjoyed talking about sports with my husband.  Henry is also homeless.   He sat on a bench and had some trading cards (football and baseball) that he was giving away in exchange for any monetary donation.  My family and I spent about 10 minutes talking to him about sports and some other random things.  One of the first things I did was to ask for his name and introduced myself and my family to him.  I made sure I addressed him by his name a few times and looked him in the eye when speaking to him.  I gave him all the cash I had which was only $3 (I generally don’t carry cash), and my husband gave him $20 and took a few of the trading cards.  My daughter didn’t have any cash, so she gave him her unopened snack.  His gratitude and humility was so evident, and I left that encounter feeling blessed to have spent time with him.

We spent the second half of our trip in Downtown Seattle, and my heart felt so heavy seeing so many homeless people living in tents and some just on the street with no shelter.  I know this pandemic really impacted the economy everywhere, but I couldn’t help but to wonder how many of the homeless people might have had a place to go until COVID hit.  On Saturday, we walked down to Pike Place Market, and we saw a church group giving away free food to the homeless.  This made me grateful for the kindness that still exists in the world.  

Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is generous to the needy honors him.”

Proverbs 14:31

How often do we take the time to connect with people?  How often do we think about the needs of others before we think about fulfilling our desires?  Whether it’s someone dealing with homelessness, someone who is hurting, or someone who’s struggling to find a reason to live another day, are we willing to take time to show them the love that was shown to us by others and by God?

Here are a few things that you can do to help make a difference in a person’s life:

  1. Take Time to Ask Questions.
    I have made it a habit to introduce myself and ask for their names when I try to connect with a homeless person.  If they seem receptive, I ask questions about their lives.  They’re used to feeling unseen, so along with giving them money, I want them to feel seen. 
  2. Ask Them What They Need and Want,
    Sometimes we think we know what people need, and in case of the homeless, what they probably will tell you they need are money, food, and shelter.  But they also desire to be respected, cared for and validated.  They want human interaction.  They want hope.  And a lot of them want prayers.  Instead of just meeting their needs, maybe we can take the time to meet their wants too.  Before COVID, I offered handshakes and hugs.  Unfortunately, this is not an option right now, and I hope that one day soon, I will be able to offer them some human contact.
  3. Grow in Empathy by Practicing Empathy
    I wouldn’t consider myself an empathetic person by nature.  As much as I would like to, connection and community is not something that comes natural to me; however, I’ve always admired those with genuine hearts to serve, like my husband.  If there’s a need, he’s always the first one to sign up to serve.  He has taken time off of work to volunteer at food pantries, soup kitchens, and even in a prison ministry.  He imitates the heart of Jesus, and I am constantly inspired by my husband’s empathy.  What I’ve come to realize is that the more I imitated his heart to serve and meet needs, the more I was given the opportunities to know the people behind the needs… and the more I knew the people behind the needs, the more I felt their pain and wanted to do something about it.

As we said our goodbyes to Henry last Thursday, I wanted to do more for him.  I wished for him to have shelter, food, and a job.  I wished for him to fall in love, get married and have a family.  I wanted him to live a life of hope and joy in Christ.  I don’t know how much of a difference I made in his life, but he has made a huge difference in mine.  The last thing he said to us as we parted ways was, “God bless you.”  Because we have been blessed with so much, I pray that we will bless all the Henry’s we cross paths with.

God bless you, Henry.

With Gratitude,
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Dreams and Desires

I’ve known that I wanted to be a dancer since I was four years old.  Not the traditional Korean fan dancing that was so part of my culture in South Korea.  I wanted to be a one of those professional dancers that would dance behind pop singers.  I had rhythm, but I wasn’t by any means a natural-born dancer.  I took dance classes offered at my kindergarten, and I participated in dance performances in elementary school while I was living in Seoul.  When we moved to the United States (Los Angeles), I started taking ballet at a local dance studio.  I was a decent ballerina, but I was told by the director of the dance studio that I was not built for ballet (meaning, I wasn’t thin enough).  I was discouraged, but my stubborn streak kept me from giving up. 

After two years of ballet, I switched over to jazz dance.  This is also around the time when MTV actually stood for Music Television.  My bestfriend and I watched dance music videos for hours, trying to learn intricate choreographies performed by Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, and Paula Abdul.  MTV and the T.V. Show Fame shaped my dreams to greater heights.  In high school and college, I took a lot of hip-hop and jazz dance classes at the renowned Millennium Dance Complex  in North Hollywood (formerly Moro Landis Dance Studio of Studio City).  Being surrounded by top choreographers and dancers of Hollywood influenced me to pursue the same life that they were leading: Auditions for gigs, acting classes, more dance classes, manager, agent… the whole nine yards.  By the time I was 19, I  felt like I was living my dreams; but there was still a part of me that felt void of true fulfillment… And that’s when I found Jesus.

When I became a baptized disciple of Christ on 3/15/94, I knew my true purpose in life for the very first time in my life.  My purpose was to share with others the Good News of Jesus and God’s amazing plan through His love, grace and mercy,  Although I still loved dancing, I found myself being led to have a different focus.  Since then, I have had several shifts in my dreams and passions, but none compares to the new dream He put on my heart a few years ago.  In 2019, I wrote my first book titled, “BE STILL: The Power of Biblical Meditation.”  Becoming an author is something I hoped would happen, but my insecurities and fear of being vulnerable stopped me in the past from writing past just a couple of pages.  But the reason I decided and was able to finish writing a book was because one day during my meditative communion with God, He told me that if I did not write the book, I would be disobeying Him.  So, I decided to obey Him and make the completion of my book 100% about obedience and 0% about me.  Ever since the publication of my book, He has been stirring in my heart in such an intense way that I’m driven to do only the things He desires for me to do.  In saying this, I must tell you that I’m no way near perfect at obeying Him and listening to Him all the time, but this is my deepest wish and dream. 

“Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart,”
Psalm 37:4 

So often, we read the above scripture and think, if I delight in Him, He will give me whatever I want.”  Through living the past 27 years walking in the Lord, the Holy Spirit has revealed to me that what this really means is that if I delight in Him (if I’m in love with Him and find joy in everything about Him), my desires will transform into the desires He has for my life.

Everyday, I tell God that I only want to pursue the dreams that are His dreams for me.  This may seem limiting to some people, but for me, I know that I would be settling and selling myself short if I pursued my dreams instead of His because my imagination and dreams are limited by my humanity; His imagination and dreams and totally unlimited!  He dreams for me things that scare me because I sometimes doubt myself.  But I take comfort and confidence in knowing that, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)

With Gratitude,
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Writing an E-Book

imageWhen I wrote and published my book, BE STILL: The Power of Biblical Meditation, I felt a huge sense of accomplishment not only because I finally had the courage to write what God put on my heart to write three years prior, but also because writing a book is no easy feat. It’s one thing to write, but to write about the same topic and include quality content in all the pages is something to be celebrated. 

Since then, I’ve been wanting to write another book, but it doesn’t seem to be the right time to do that at this time.  There are a few reasons why I chose to hold off on writing more books: I’m in the middle of doing all the prep work to launch my podcast (6/1/21), teaching virtual yoga and fitness classes (click here to see my teaching schedule), homeschooling my daughter, co-leading a small group at church with my husband, and we’re helping out with the teen ministry at church.  Although I love what I do, I knew I needed to continue expressing myself through written words in the form of a book somehow…  And this is where my decision to write an e-book came about. 

E-books can be as long as the author desires, or they can be as short as just 8 pages (which are called “e-booklets”).  I talk to people about the importance of proper breathing pretty much on a regular basis.  If you spend a week with me, you’ll hear me talk about “the benefits of diaphragmatic breathing” and “activating the parasympathetic nervous system” at least a handful of times.  I heard someone say that whenever he gets asked the same question over and over again, he writes a book about it.  I’m sure I can write a whole book about the importance of breathing, but for now, I’m writing an e-booklet about 12-15 pages long with information, illustrations and instructions.  I’m sure there are many ways to go about writing an e-book start to finish, but I wanted to share the way I go about it with you:

  1. Pick a topic – This seems like a no-brainer, but it’s important to pick one topic to write about because you’d be surprised at how easy it is to go off on tangents and lose sight of the main point you’re trying to make.
  2. Write out all the content on a Word doc (or any word processing programs) before you start editing and formatting.
  3. Once you’re done writing the content, have someone edit the content.  As a writer and editor, I generally edit my own work but still ask a couple colleagues to proof-read my work.  They may find a typo or misplaced punctuation that my eyes might have missed.
  4. Lay-out and Format:  If you have graphic design experience, you can always do this on your own; if you don’t, consider contracting this task to a professional.  You can find some great professionals on Fiverr.com.
  5. Decide on whether you want to offer it as a free product to promote your brand or if you want to publish it for purchase.  The easiest site to publish for purchase is Amazon, through KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing).  If you’re offering it as a free product (like me), you can keep it as simple as creating a pdf file for distribution or create a flipbook using one of the many flipbook sites.

Remember, if you can write a sentence, you can write a paragraph; If you can write a paragraph, you can write a page; And if you could write a page, you can write a book!

Happy Writing!


With Gratitude,
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Becoming You

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve pondered over philosophical questions such as, “What is the meaning of life,” “What is my purpose,” “Who am I,” or “Am I the sum of my experiences?” Okay, so I didn’t ponder that last question until I was going through my initial 200-hour yoga teacher training program… but I have always thought about deeper matters of life (which kind of made me look weird in the eyes of my fellow classmates in preschool). I’ve been on a spiritual journey of Svadhyahya (Sanskrit for “self-study”) on a deeper level ever since I became a Christian in 1994, and I’ve come to realize that the more I learn, the more I realize that I don’t know anything to its deepest level. One of the ways I progress in my journey is through Bible sermons.

Yesterday at church, we had the privilege of hearing a sermon from a guest speaker, Daren Overstreet, who is the Lead Evangelist of Seattle Church or Christ in Washington State. The title of his message was, “Eight Words for 2021” and the eight words were, “For we live by faith, not by sight.” (II Corinthians 5:7). One of the points he made from his sermon — that grabbed my attention — was that, “what you fix your eyes on becomes you.”

My iPhone gives me a report of my phone usage, and yesterday, the breakdown was as follows:

  • Health & Fitness: 3h 9m
  • Social: 1h 28m
  • Productivity & Finance: 54m
  • Information & Reading: 38m
  • Travel: 26m
  • Utilities: 24m
  • Creativity: 15m
  • Shopping & Food: 1m
  • Entertainment: 2s

According to my report, the apps that I spent the most time using was Health & Fitness, and Information & Reading was only 38m; and just 20 minutes of that was reading my Bible. Not that spending time in Health & Fitness apps is wrong, but I really had to ask myself what my eyes are fixed on. What is becoming me?

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses,
let us throw off everything that hinders…”
Hebrews 12:1a

What is hindering you from becoming the Authentic You?

Several years back, my husband and I went to a festival in Grapevine, TX. I wanted to dress up a bit that day, so I decided to wear a pair of heels with my outfit. Everything was going well until we arrived at the event and realized that the nearby parking lots were full. I wasn’t too worried, since I was used to wearing heels for an extended period of time. But what I didn’t count on was the uphill walking we had to do after we parked the car. By the time we were done at the festival, we started heading back to the car… going downhill, with my heels on! I’m not sure if you’ve seen anyone walk downhill with heels on, but it’s not a pretty sight. Halfway into our walk back, I decided to take my shoes off and walk barefoot. So that day, the hinderance to walking comfortably was my choice in footwear. The smarter thing would have been to wear different shoes, but I did the next smart thing and eventually took my shoes off.

So often, we continue to hold onto things that hinder us from being the best version of ourselves even though throwing those hinderances off would lighten our burdens — all because we don’t want to put in the effort to let them go. It could be our attitudes about politics/current events, obsession to be right on social media, critical attitudes toward others… the list goes on and on.

At the end of the day, we all want to love and be loved. We all want to feel connected. We all want to live a life of freedom from addictions, bitterness, arrogance, and tension. So what will you do in order to become the most authentic YOU that you can be?


With Gratitude,
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Behind Procrastination

I can’t believe it. The first quarter of 2021 is already behind us. As I begin the second quarter of this year, I feel tempted to just coast through it because frankly, I’m tired. I feel like I was on hyper-fast mode from January to March, mainly because of a homeschool co-op that my daughter and I were a part of. When the co-op ended two weeks ago, I felt like running through an aisle dancing and singing! It’s been nice to actually get decent amount of sleep and not grade papers, edit articles (I was teaching a Journalism class to middle school and high school students), and drive almost 2 hours roundtrip weekly. I gave myself a week to relax and recover, but I found myself filling up my schedule, which made the goal of getting replenished a bit challenging. I think deep down inside, I knew all along that the reason why I was staying busy is because I didn’t want to get back to preparing for my podcast launch on May 4th. To put it bluntly, I was procrastinating.

“One of these days, is none of these days.”
H.G. Bohn

There are so many reasons behind why people procrastinate, such as fear of failure, fear of success, misplaced priorities, or just plain apathy. For me, it’s definitely fear of failure in regards to my podcasting. All the steps necessary to make a good podcast feels overwhelming. It’s not just about recording a segment or interviewing someone. It’s the fact that you’re committing to doing this on a regular basis. It’s also the fact that I have to put in the time to create good content that generates interest. As overwhelming as it is, I’m willing to commit and put in the work because this is all for God. Podcasting — just like writing and publishing a book — is not something that I desire to do for my own glory. I’m perfectly fine just teaching fitness, yoga and meditation classes, but God continues to put big dreams on my heart that I can’t shake off of my soul.

He has a way of giving us dreams that burn in our hearts until we accomplish them for His glory.

So now, I must continue to pray. I must continue to listen to His voice through His Word (The Bible), and messages (from nature, people, anything and everything). Lastly, I must put one foot in front of the other and do the next right thing… all for God’s glory!

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Colossians 3:17

I pray that your week is productive and pleasing to God!

With Gratitude,
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Know Thyself

Have you ever met a person who just seems to have no self-awareness?  Of course, there are the obvious indications of behaviors that lack self-awareness, such as arrogance, obnoxiousness, and hypocrisy; but today, we’re going to look at three subtle forms of lacking self-awareness and how they may apply to anyone (including myself):


1. TALKING ABOUT YOURSELF TOO MUCH

I grew up as a performer.  I’ve been acting, singing, dancing and playing the piano since I was in Kindergarten.  Not that I was ever famous, but I’ve had my share of strangers coming up to me after performances to chat. I remember this one time where two ladies came up to me after I performed a song I wrote for a women’s event.  They were very generous with their compliments and asked me questions about my musical training and some general questions about my life.  I walked away from that conversation feeling great… until that evening.  I thought to myself, “I don’t know anything about those two wonderful ladies that I talked to today.”  I realized that I missed a great opportunity to know about their lives and a chance to learn from them (we can learn something from everyone we meet).  So, now I have a rule that I follow: When people ask me questions about myself (especially people that I meet for the first time), I make it a point to ask them questions as well.  I also make sure that I end my responses within 3 minutes.  Lastly, if I notice that the only voice I’ve been hearing for the past 5 minutes is my own, it’s time to wrap it up and ask others some questions about them.

“Proud fools talk too much…”
Proverbs 14:3a

2. NOT KNOWING THE RIGHT TIME OR THE PLACE

Oh boy.  This sums up my adolescent years.  I used to throw out my opinions to anyone and everyone, whether or not they asked for it.  I once talked about a cute boy at a memorial.  I wanted to hang out with my crush during lunch at school instead of being there for my friend whose dad was hospitalized. (My excuse was that she said she wanted to be alone, even though I knew she didn’t really want to be alone.)  I would bring up an inside joke to my friend, knowing well that the girl standing right by her was already feeling left out.  I was very immature as a young teen.  As I became a young adult (age 19 or 20), I was confronted (in a very loving way) by some great friends about my behavior and how it affected people.  When I stepped back and imagined watching myself acting this way, I was mortified!  I realized that what I did and said — good or bad — had a lasting affect on people.  From that point on, I decided that I was going to err on the side of consideration and not assume that “it’s no big deal.”

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.”
Proverbs 18:21
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control…”
Galatians 5:22-23a

3. ENGAGING IN NEGATIVE SELF-TALK

This one may seem odd to be considered not having self-awareness; but when we engage in negative self-talk, we’re no longer aware of the truth about who we are.

The other day, I was struggling with feeling like I’m worth anybody’s friendship.  Having had  a Birthday recently, I’ve received countless birthday wishes on social media, numerous text messages, a few Birthday voice messages (including an annual birthday song by one of my dear friends, musician Marcus A. Johnson), and even friends who insisted on taking me out to lunch.  As the day approached for my lunch dates with my friends, I started to wonder why they’re friends with me.  I thought to myself, “What do I really bring to the friendship?  They are such loving people who care about everyone. That’s probably why they consider me their friend.”  This thought began a downward spiral, down a rabbit hole of negative self-talk.  About 5 minutes into it (a lot of thoughts can occur in 5 minutes), I took a step back and assessed myself.  I became aware of who I am in Christ once again.  According to John 1:12, I am a child of God.  According to Romans 8:1, I am not condemned (therefore, I should not condemn myself).  According to Ephesians 2:10, I am God’s handiwork, created in Jesus to do good.  And according to1 Thessalonians 1:4, I am loved by God and have been chosen by Him.


Self-awareness isn’t just nurturing to our souls; it’s essential for our spiritual survival.  Without being aware of who we are in Christ, we can not be aware of our true selves as children of God. 

May we all walk in self-awareness on the road to our individual authenticity.

 

With Gratitude,
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My Day is Ruined!

It was just like other Sunday mornings where I’m trying to grab all my stuff to get into the car quickly so that my family and I can make it to church on time. The very last thing I do is to fill up my tumbler with hot water for my roasted dandelion tea (I stopped drinking caffeinated drinks, so dandelion tea has become my go-to drink in the mornings). After getting settled in the car, I took a sip of my drink and realized that IT WAS LUKEWARM!!! Actually, it was more on the cooler side than lukewarm. I immediately thought to myself, “Ugh! Now my day is ruined! Why wasn’t the water in the electric kettle hot?” But two seconds after my initial thought, I laughed at myself. I mean, how weak of a person am I that I’m going to let a lukewarm drink ruin my entire day? I visualized comparing the size of the cup next to the size of my day. 16 oz. to 24 hours. 16. oz. to 1,440 minutes. 16. oz. to 86,400 seconds! Is my life so insignificant that I’m going to let a 16 oz. beverage dictate an entire day?  How about you?  Do you allow one thing/person/situation “ruin” the rest of your day?

“The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.”
1 Corinthians 10:4 

Sometimes the “strongholds” we feel seem so much greater in significance or power.  Maybe you took a sip of your coffee/tea and noticed that it was the wrong temperature.  Maybe you received a text from a friend that left you feeling upset, annoyed or angry.  Or maybe you got cut off on the road and the other driver had the audacity to honk at you, yell at you or even give you a “hand gesture of disapproval.”  Maybe you felt wronged or disrespected.  Whatever the thing, person, or situation it may be, I invite you to ask yourself why you’re willing to give away your time, energy, and even your power over to something or someone.

One time, I was driving to an appointment and I started slowing down so that I can make sure I would not miss the driveway to the house.  Because it was a single lane road (going one way and another lane going the other way), the convertible behind me had to slow down… and he did NOT like that.  He decided to speed up and quickly drive around me.  As he cut me off, he gave me that famous three-finger salute and then peeled off.  At first, I got annoyed, but shortly afterwards, I prayed for him to make it home safely and that if he’s having a bad day, God would bring about a sense of peace in his heart.  I was amazed at how quickly I was able to let go of letting that ruin the rest of my day. 

But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you…”
Matthew 5:44
“A man’s insight gives him patience, and his virtue is to overlook an offense.”
Proverbs 19:11 

So as we go into a new week, I encourage you to live a life of great significance… and a life that’s bigger than a 16 oz. hot beverage.


With Gratitude,
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Who Am I?

My Birthday is approaching.  In 3 days, I will be taking another step toward turning half a century.  If you’re wondering, I will be 47 years-old!  I’ve always looked forward to my birthday every year because there’s a certain wisdom that can only come from living life year after year; but 47 is hitting me in a different way because this is going to be a year of transition in my life as a mother.  My daughter is now driving her own car, making her own money, and she’s getting ready to do some traveling this summer without me or my husband.  The reality of her not needing me as much has hit me hard.  I feel as if I’m grieving the end of my daughter’s childhood.  I’m grateful for the fact that she is responsible, mature and has good sense of judgment; but — just like any good parent — there’s a part of me that wants to protect her from all harm.  So as I live this year of transition, the one question that keeps repeating in my mind is this: Who am I?

If you asked me who I was in the first 27 years of my life, I would’ve said, “I’m a dancer.”  After I got married, my identity became “Shawn’s wife.”  Two years later, I became “Jade’s mom.”  It seems like whatever/whoever took up most of my time became my identity.  I’m pretty sure that when I was in the corporate world, my identity was “Business Analyst,” “Project Manager,” or “Corporate Policies and Procedures Writer.”  But are any of these identifiers who I really was (or am)?

You may be surprised that I didn’t say, “I am a disciple of Jesus Christ.”  I’ve always believed that me being a Christian/Disciple was a given and that I wouldn’t even have to say that, kind of like how I don’t need to say I’m Asian because I think that’s pretty obvious (see my photo on the left 😆).  If I said, “Hi, I’m Asian,” when meeting someone, they would probably be confused since that’s obvious, or they may just wait for a punchline.  So what is the correct way to identify myself?  How about my name?  Am I Jheni?  Not quite.  

The names we go by serve as identifiers to establish individuality and uniqueness; but our names are not who we are.  I may also be a wife, a mom, a daughter, a sister, a cousin, a friend, a student, a teacher… but none of these are who I am either.  These roles that we play here on earth are all temporary.  As I peel off the layers of temporary earthly roles and tangible titles, I am reminded that who I am is not the body that I reside in; the body that I get to live in is a vessel for who I really am, which is a spirit; and that spirit — which is the core of my truest form — belongs to God because I was created by God.  A song that comes to mind is Hillsong’s “Who You Say I am” (here’s part of the song):

Who the Son sets free, oh is free indeed. I’m a child of God, yes, I am.
In my Father’s house, there’s a place for me. I’m a child of God, yes, I am
I am chosen, not forsaken. I am who You say I am.
You are for me, not against me. I am who You say I am.

When I get tempted to focus on things that bring me immediate — but temporary — security and identity (such as trying to hold on to a youthful appearance, exercising to get back to the size that I was during my physical best, etc.), I remind myself that, “though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” (2 Corinthians 10:16) 

So who am I?
I’m a Child of God, yes, I am.

 

With Gratitude,
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Deactivating an Emotional Bomb

Enneagram is a personality typing that  dives deep into one’s core motivations, fears, passions (tendencies that get you farther away from your authenticity), etc.  I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts about enneagrams (my favorites are Typology, Your Enneagram Coach, and The Enneagram Journey), but the other day, I decided to watch a YouTube video by a personality typing coach who I haven’t heard of before… and half way into it, I regretted my decision.

She started out with some great information (which I had already learned from my personal enneagram studies), but then she started to make harsh comments about a certain enneagram type.  Her tone was very condescending and downright mean.  She even went on to say that she knows she’s harder on Type 4s because of some character things that she sees in herself that are Type 4 characters and that it makes her mad and frustrated.  I kept on watching, hoping that she would turn it around… but it just kept getting more and more offensive to me, so I stopped watching it.  I was so upset that I could feel a knot forming at the center of my chest.  I had to stop everything I was doing and become still to do some inner work:

1.  BREATHING PATTERNS DON’T LIE

I closed my eyes and focused on becoming present:  I allowed myself to become aware of the ground underneath my feet that supports my entire body up to stand.  I then moved on to the awareness of my breath.  I felt the cool air going in to my nostrils and then going out of my nostrils.  I created an evenness in my breathing (inhales become the same length as the exhales), and then focused on the rise and fall of my belly while I consciously stopped my shoulders and chest rising each time I inhaled. (When we’re under any type of stress, our sympathetic nervous system gets activated and increases the cortisol level; these factors cause our bodies to become tense and start taking shallow breaths in the chest and not the diaphragm.)  Next, I placed my hands over my heart to send it energy of healing.  (The power of visualization is quite amazing.)  Lastly, I breathed in God’s Words in Philippians 4:6, as I chanted silently: (Inhale) “Peace that surpasses all understanding…”  (Exhale) “Guide my mind and heart in Christ Jesus, our Lord…”  After several minutes of this practice, I felt balanced, at peace and empathetic.

2.  DO THE INNER WORK FOR OUTER RESULTS

Once I was back to homeostasis, I was able to begin the the practice of svadhyahya (“self study”).  I realized that the reason why I reacted so intensely to a comment made by a complete stranger was because I felt threatened and attacked for the negative tendencies of my enneagram type.  I allowed her biases to cause within me a growing desire to defend myself and retaliate against what I saw to be an expression of her own perceived superiority.  I also realized that because I hold myself to a standard of inclusivity as a Yoga Teacher and Meditation Coach, I expect others in the field of therapy and wellness to live by the same standard.  In a perfect world, all Yoga Teachers, Meditation Coaches, Life Coaches, Typology Coaches, Counselors, etc. would leave their biases out of their professional platforms; but I know that we’re all in this process of growing and getting closer to our authentic selves.

The more I thought about the challenges and hurdles she might have had to overcome in her life, the more compassionate I felt towards her.  With a peaceful heart, I was able to pray for her journey to bring her closer to who God has created her to be and for her to be blessed in her life.

Next time you’re in a situation where you feel offended or angry, I encourage you to go against your desire to fix them; Instead, choose to fix yourself so that you can enjoy the rest of your day.  🙏


 

With Gratitude,
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