Friday, November 27, 2009

My Afternoon with a Tibetan Rinpoche

My husband met a Tibetan Rinpoche in the Seattle Public Library. They are friends. Today, the day after Thanksgiving, he drove 30 minutes to Woodinville to pick him up. In the meantime, I went to the supermarket to buy pears, oranges and fragrant lillies. My husband set up the Buddha in front of the fireplace with the soji screen behind. He also placed three bowls in front of the Buddha where I put the oranges, pears, apples and a small rice dish containing almonds. I cut the stems of the lillies and placed them in a large mason jar half-full of water. I set the flowers on a nearby table. The sun coming through the window was so bright. I couldn't believe it was so sunny. It seemed that I had woken up for the past week to a thick layer of gray clouds which would turn in to rain by afternoon. This morning, there wasn't a cloud in the sky. I couldn't help but feel it was because the Rinpoche would be our guest today. I lit a stick of Tibetan incense the Rinpoche had given my husband and waved it all around the house. I was quickly transported to Jokhang Temple in Lhasa. I clearly remember walking into that temple and that exact smell. Dozens of monks, some as young as 10 and as old as 80, sat together on a platform chanting in the temple where candles seemed to be the only light. The children of Tibet were so shiny. Some of them had nothing, but when they smiled I could clearly see they had everything..everything that is important.

The Rinpoche travels throughout Asia and America and gives talks and leads ceremonies. When people donate money to him, he gives it to an orphanage in Tibet which houses 63 children and now has a school. As Seong Yoon and I walked through the woods with him today, he seemed so filled with delight when he talked about that. The Rinpoche will be giving a talk in our house on December 6th. The topic is happiness and compassion. We decided it would be good to invite him into our home to chant. We felt it would help clear the air and provide a good environment for his talk. Here's a video of that beautiful time:

I couldn't video tape for very long because the energy in the room was so strong. My entire body started to feel very light. I felt a sweet energy, like a soft wind, travel through my body. I felt light, uplifted, happy, peaceful, and grateful. I was sitting in this room with two monks. While my husband is no longer a monk, I can't help but feel he is more a monk than ever before. He seems to draw people to him wherever he goes. I'm not surprised that the Rinpoche and my husband are friends. They possess the same light and gentleness.

After the Rinpoche chanted for 30 minutes, we went out for Korean food. It was fun! During lunch, my husband decided to take the Rinpoche on his favorite walk through Llandover woods near our house. We talked about many subjects. The Rinpoche told us of how he had to hike for a month and 9 days through the Himalayas between Tibet and Nepal to escape the Chinese who had taken over Tibet. He could only hike at night when it was dark so he wouldn't be seen. When he arrived in Nepal, he started a new life. His energy is so joyful, like the laughing Buddha in my garden, I was not surprised to find that he is sought after for his teachings and chantings in Tibet, Hong Kong, Malaysia and now North America.

I asked him, "How do we know what we have to do in this life?" He was very quiet for a long time. We walked and I could hear a bird and I smelled the pine trees which had been touched by an earlier rain and were now spreading their fragrance into the air around us. I looked down and watched our feet step in unison...a Korean, a Tibetan, An American...I couldn't feel these distinctions. I felt we were just there, like the trees and birds, and there was nothing else to do or know. I think the Rinpoche did finally answer the question, but I found the answer in his silence.

Friday, November 20, 2009

New Blog: Writers Rising

I'm very excited to share with you the first chapter of the organization Writers Rising. We started out as three co-workers with a passion for writing. For the past 6 months we've been meeting every other week. These meetings have been so inspirational and are part of why I keep writing my book. We don't just meet and read our writing to each other. We encourage each other, we share information, we make plans of action on where we are going to submit our writing, we collaborate, we do collages, we eat, we laugh and we have a very good time!

This group is not just about writing. It's about empowering each other. When we leave at the end of the meeting we all feel so much energy and inspiration. I was so inspired I decided to create this blog so that other people who are interested in creating  Writers Rising chapters in their community can do the same. It is best if these groups are small. We find that having three people in a group is perfect. It's just enough people to give constructive feedback without feeling our time is too divided with too many things to read.

Another reason why I created this blog is so that other people who have formed Writers Rising groups can contribute to the blog: This blog will be for Writers Rising members to share their writing, book samples, short stories, etc. The idea is for each chapter to meet in their community, but to have support for the larger group of Writers Rising members. If you are interested in forming a Writers Rising group, please let me know and I'll send information on what we do. Once you form a Writers Rising group and start having regular meetings, I will add you as contributors to this blog so that we can share our writing here and support each other.

In our last meeting, we decided to do a collage. We didn't have a theme for this collage, but since we did it in the writing group it seemed to depict where we were with our writing and our intentions. This was a stream of consciousness activity where we were using the right side of our brains. In the past, I have done similar collages and put them aside only to discover them later and find that many things I had collaged had actually come true in my life. There was a lot of energy built up while we were in this process. Here are some pictures of our collage activity:

I have to admit that I previewed my stack of magazines before my friends arrived at my house and thought there was nothing interesting for us to create from these. Later when the process started, pictures and images literally jumped out the pages. It was a very interesting process. Here's my collage:

After I completed my collage, I tried not to read too much into it. I hung it in my office and left it alone. I do believe there was something to this and I feel inspiration when I see it. I'm looking forward to sharing more Writers Rising events and happenings with you and we may have some of our groups writing displayed soon. Stay tuned for's only going to get better!!
Check the blog out, become a follower, leave a comment and strart your Writers Rising group today!!

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Things That Go on in My Living Room

Do not take lightly small good deeds, believing they can hardly help; For drops of water, one by one, in time can fill a giant ocean. -Buddha

My living room has become a meeting place for good things. It's hard to believe, given the size of the place, but it's true.

On December 6th, a Tibetan Rinpoche, who is recognized by the Dalai Lama, will come to my living room to give a talk on happiness and compassion. Here's some information about the Rinpoche:

How did this come about, you ask?...
Well, on Fridays, I usually spend time with my husband, but he informed me today that he planned to hang out with the Tibetan Rinpoche he met in the Seattle Public Library a little over a year ago.

They were both reading books in the same section of the library. That's no surprise to me because I'm sure they have similar interests. The Rinpoche knew right away that my husband used to be a monk. Later, they decided to go on a walk around Greenlake and then to Starbucks for a hot cocoa. The Rinpoche even gave my husband a name-'yoga bliss'.

Today, my husband disappeared for hours and came back beaming. In his hand he held a very colorful and large tanka from Tibet of Avalokitesvara, the Bodhisatvva of Compassion. It was given to him by the Rinpoche. As soon as he returned home from his afternoon with the Rinpoche, he hung it on our wall.

My husband and the Rinpoche went to a Chinese resaurant for lunch and spoke for many hours about how to help people develop happiness and compassion in daily life. The Rinpoche usually resides in Asia, so it's difficult for him to connect with many people here in the states. My husband asked him to give a lecture in our living room to his yoga students and anyone else who is interested. The Rinpoche agreed to give a talk in our living room in early December on the subject of compassion and happiness. So, we have a plan to have him come stay in our house for a few days.

Our house is a small two-bedroom bungalow in North Seattle.

When I tell people about all the events we've had here, they seem surprised. But somehow, it always works!

The day before halloween, we hosted a halloween party in our living room. Over 30 people attended and we had a live jazz band. This is the third time we've had live music.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays, my husband teaches yoga classes in our living room. Anywhere from 8-10 people usually join. His classes are popular, so some people call ahead and reserve a space.

Every other Monday, my writing group comes to my house. This Monday we are doing an art collage. I'm excited about that.

We had to move some of our furniture into the garage because of all the happenings taking place, but it's worth it. The energy in my living room is so great thanks to all the people who have shared their writing and art, danced, practiced yoga, and meditated here. Every drop counts and when we all come together, that's alot of drops!

(All the pictures in this post are from my house and garden in Seattle. We still have Dahlias blooming and it's November!)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

New Contributor on Woman's World Magazine and a recent guest post on The Lotus Sutra Chronicles

Hello All!...just wanted to let you all know that I'm a new Woman's World Magazine contributor. You can find the link to this site on the side bar. I was also asked to be a guest blogger on The Lotus Sutra Chronicles (link also on side bar) by a blogger who lives in Korea and writes about her observations living there. Having lived in Korea, it's been such a pleasure reading her blog. The piece I wrote is entitled Thank You Korea. I also posted this piece on Woman's World Magazine. You can check it out on the Lotus Sutra Chronicles here:

I believe this blogger is doing a series of guest bloggers on the topic of gratitude. Great idea, isn't it? Thanks everyone for reading and for all your wonderful comments...I am very grateful for that! And thanks Marilyn for asking me to be a guest blogger!!!!

Forty and Feelin' Sporty

When I was 13, my sister and I gave my dad a t-shirt that said, "Over 40 and Feelin' Sporty". He never wore that shirt, but threatened to give it to me when I turned 40. Now I'm 40, I'm sure I'll receive a t-shirt in the mail soon.... 40 sounds like a big number to me, but I'm so excited about my 40s.

I spent my 20s wandering the globe in search of who I was. I met my husband, the former monk, when I was 26 and he was 23. We traveled to India, Nepal, Thailand and Tibet together that same year and did our first 10 day Vipassana meditation course together. I spent 8 years in Korea and two years in Japan..I did a lot of meditation during that time, but still didn't know where I was headed. I got married at 33 and things started to change a bit. My husband and I opened two yoga schools in Korea and started to share our training and experience with others.

Now, I am 40 and living with my husband in Seattle, Washington. He teaches yoga and I teach English..we haven't changed much from an outside perspective, but I feel very CLEAR about things now. I spent my 20s in a my 30s, I was waiting for the fog to clear and spent a lot of my time in long periods of silence. I joined 3 30-day silent meditation courses and one 45-day silent course. It was a time of introspection, I feel. I am still doing my meditation and yoga practice, but I feel an opening now that I can't explain. It is time to share and open up to all those around me.

In 2004, while sitting a 30-day silent course in Massachusetts...the title for my book appeared. The entire book with all it's pages flipped opened in front of me. This is different than thinking about something. It appeared and disappeared. It came and went, like all thoughts, emotions and feelings. I didn't hold on to it, but it kept reappearing after that. It was so strong, that I started listening to the messages I was receiving to write this book. I started trusting my intuition more and more. Now, I see that my intuition is guiding me.

I have let go. I feel like an empty vessel in which things flow through. I still get hung up sometimes with life's drama, but I see the bigger picture. There's no turning back now, I can only go forward.

I am excited about my 40s..I feel strong, healthy, lucky to have such wonderful friends and family, grateful for my job and wonderful co-workers, happy to have a husband who is my BRIGHT light, grateful for this blog and all the people I have met here. I feel a lot of gratitude these days...I want to share this gratitude with others and hope that everyone can feel like this! I think we all empower each other. When we are happy, healthy, loving, and friendly-others start to live and feel that way, too. Every moment is important. Every moment is like a grain of sand that adds up the desert of your do you want that desert to look? Do you look at the bright side, or do you tend to see the dark clouds around the corner? Are you excited about now? Do you feel excited about the future? As soon as I get that T-shirt "Over 40 and Feelin' Sporty" in the mail, I think I'll put it on...because I'm feeling just that!