by Dr. Wong Kai Ming

It’s important to have an inquisitive mind and always ask questions for an active, healthy brain! 

Our reality is only our perception bound by the limits held in our thoughts. As Tsung-Mi explains, “One does not realize that the objective world appears out of the delusion of one’s own mind.”

Meditation focused on higher resonance can allow one to elevate one’s spirit to higher dimensions. Easier said than done. “How to do…” is really the point. 

To go beyond, we can ask “What is Mind?” and “What is possible?” Cultivating an inquisitive mind – always seeking beyond all the limitations of our present state – spurs us to find that higher resonance.

By Sarah Hodges

Have you ever struggled to accept help, even when you really needed it? We all face this situation, and sometimes have to overcome our own pride to accept acts of generosity. It’s not greedy to accept help. The truth is, nothing happens by one person alone. We all rely on the assistance of many others to accomplish our own life’s work. Right now, more than ever, we get to experience the importance of each other’s help. Putting ego aside, we find that great things come from accepting what is offered. Here, blessings can abound! 

Only in accepting can we give, and thus the natural flow of giving and receiving continues to thrive. In the natural cycle, the plants release oxygen and need carbon dioxide to live; on the other side, animals breathe out carbon dioxide and breathe in the oxygen that the plants produce. A miraculous life flow happens in this dance of giving and receiving. We exist in a beautifully interdependent universe, where nothing operates isolated from another. 

We still need discernment in navigating offers of help. Pay attention to any internal warning signs that are telling you that a gift may be dangerous or come with ill intention. Anything that risks our physical, mental, or emotional well being is not actually “help” – it’s harm. When we are true to ourselves, we don’t betray ourselves. When we are centered, we more easily see when to accept and when to graciously decline an offer.

We can also move beyond any fears of not being deserving, or not being able to repay. We can consider accepting a hand reached out in assistance, just as naturally as we may offer help spontaneously with a loving heart. In walking our path in a pure-hearted way, honoring all that is sentient and insentient, we mindfully take our place in the great, interactive flow, which the trees and animal kingdom naturally move to in their own way.

If giving is a blessing, we might well be magnifying any blessing offered to us tenfold, just by our willingness to receive.

Seldan Edwards, the headmaster of the private school I taught at after graduating from college, passed this advice on to me early in my career.  I had all kinds of new ideas for the drama classes I was teaching, things the school had never done before, things that might have seemed a bit risky to an institution whose reputation for classic, quality education went back nearly a century. Yet Selden did his best to accommodate my requests, seeing my enthusiasm and best intentions. He taught me a lot with his response.

Saying yes to something new allows us to change and grow, keeping pace with shifting circumstances, evolving ideas, and different life perspectives. That very willingness to go with life’s flow is healthy. It cultivates our resilience, braves us to face the unknown, to take risks, to potentially fail, then to learn, and try again.

When someone asks something of us that challenges the way things have always been done, or the way we were planning to do that thing, we may feel tempted to put up resistance. Even considering the possibility of saying yes renders us mentally and emotionally more flexible. On the physical plane, we’re less inclined to go into a stress response to change. And spiritually we’re more porous to light flooding through – perhaps from unexpected sources. This open stance can only make us healthier as whole human beings.

by Sarah Hodges

Today, ‘ohana includes all who are brought into the family group. Your ‘ohana nourishes you. There are even hānai (adopt, nourish) relationships which feed a person both physically and spiritually.” – Leilani S. Hino

In times when I’ve felt any kind of struggle, I’ve sought both inward and outward. I’ve discovered that drawing close to loved ones brings me a sense of well being and fulfillment. Sometimes I gravitate to my grandparents and parents for this sense of comfort, and sometimes to members of my global community.   

The universe gives us our blood family. I have also chosen a global family with whom I share some of my most meaningful relationships. This is my extended ‘ohana. In our blood family we have many kinds of relationships – close, distant, and those who we need to stay away from. My global family consists of people who show a willingness to listen to my perspective and who express kindness to others, both unalike and similar. They live with open-mindedness and with respect for the land, the spaces we inhabit, for other people, and for self. These are my people. I cultivate my ‘ohana with both of these groups. 

The people we put ourselves around impact our physical health. We tend to focus inwardly on our busy lives and forget about the importance of close relationships for holistic health.  As children, our comfort comes from our family: those we hold close, those who hold us close.  Their embrace settles our nervous system.

My friend studies so intently in her PhD program that she often isolates herself, then feels lonely and sometimes down. I can relate to her experience.   

I spent several years rigorously studying art abroad, disconnected from ‘ohana. I felt terrible, REALLY terrible. Spirit knew that I needed healing. When I returned to Hawaii I spent six months painting, meditating and praying for healing in a little cottage on the North Shore. I hardly spoke to anyone, isolating myself as the only way I knew how to deal with the world. I didn’t know what protective coat to wear – no longer wanting to wear the identity of an “artist”. 

My longing for ‘ohana led me to Still & Moving Center for a West African dance class where I encountered joyful community through song and dance. Here I got wind of an amazing lomilomi healer named Uncle Alva. Several months later I was driving through Waimanalo past a house with a gathering of people out front, and felt deeply drawn to that space. Come to find out, it was Uncle Alva’s place, where he practiced and taught healing through. lomilomi massage. After my first session with Uncle Alva, he said, “Come as my guest to a class I am giving tomorrow night. You will meet your brothers and sisters there.” 

Uncle Alva led me into a community of healers that transformed my state of being. I finally felt support with a sense of belonging and joy. We learned together, shared meals, talked story and laughed. Uncle showed me how being in community heals. He saw that as a people, we need togetherness in this life-journey to do our individual work in the world. We’re each stronger when we feel part of a larger whole.

When you feel off-balance, remember what a precious resource friends and family are and remember to reach out. Wanting to protect ourselves and be safe, wanting to be perceived as “OK” or wanting to be respected – all of these fears may cause us to shrink away from our ‘ohana.

Find the courage to come close. Take the risk, because it’s worth it!

by Marta Czajkowska

The more you schedule and practice discomfort deliberately, the less unplanned discomfort will throw you off center and control your life.” – Seneca

Seneca, a Roman Stoic philosopher, statesman and writer, suggested that anyone wealthy – like himself – benefits from practicing poverty. He walked his talk. Each month he set aside a few days to get away from the luxury of his comfortable bed, ate very little food and wore his shabbiest clothes.

The reason for this uncomfortable task? Completing it, he realized it wasn’t as bad as he had dreaded, and he felt much readier to face anything that life might have in store for him.

We can summarize the logic of voluntary poverty this way: Having comfort means having something we can lose. Fear of losing comfort enslaves us. However, when we deliberately practice discomfort, we diminish our fear of losing it. Merely thinking about misfortune won’t do the trick – for those of us who live comfortable lives most of the time, Seneca recommends that we create a situation of deprivation to prove to ourselves that we can do without, that neither comfort nor discomfort can master us.

We commonly fret and worry about the unknown. Our fears often have no basis in reality. Once we face an empirical experience of poverty, we know it, we’ve lived it. By consciously creating a worst-case scenario that frightens us, then going through it, we free ourselves of fearing it.

Seneca wisely taught: “Poverty is good for at least one thing: It’s an opportunity to practice forbearance and discipline, a chance to see that you would not be crushed by fate.”

How to practice poverty?

Deprive yourself of something that feels scary to lose. You can start small, giving up something comfortable to your body, your image of yourself, or your style of living. If you love your hot showers, how about trying a cold shower? Letting your hair go gray? Skipping dinner? Cleaning the toilet at work? Going a full day without spending any money? Taking a bus? Putting on no makeup? Sleeping outside on the ground?

Dig a little deeper. How about stepping down from a role that gives you status? Apologizing publicly for a misdeed? Spending a night on the street? The more threatening a poverty practice sounds to your ego, the more it may loosen your attachment to comfort and free you from fears of losing it.

“Poverty is that heavenly virtue by which all earthy and transitory things are trodden under foot, and by which every obstacle is removed from the soul.” – Saint Francis of Assisi

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