Tuesday, November 30, 2010

365 Lessons-Lesson 334: Forgive Yourself

I found this card on photobucket.com and I tried to make the picture smaller, but it just wants to be BIG, so I think I'm going to let it be. Here are the words that were written with the card. I absolutely needed to hear these words today:

Let go of struggle, anger, unforgiveness, or anything else undesirable. Trust that the Universe is on your side. Let go of an argument, judgments, or a long-term hurt • Have compassion for everyone involved in this situation, including yourself • Be gentle with yourself • Forgive yourself for what you think you've done or not done.

I'm not perfect. I make mistakes and I don't always do what's right. Am I the only one? I used to beat myself up over things I did wrong or mistakes I made, but you know, it's really not the way to go. I try my best in life, but not everyone is going to be happy with what I say or do. I can't please everyone.

When I make a mistake, I try to learn from it and move on. I also try to forgive myself. I think forgiving others for the mistakes they've made or the harm they've done to you is key. But forgiving yourself is even MORE important.

It's very hard to live if you are carrying this heavy burden of things you wish you'd never said or done. If you don't forgive yourself, you remain stuck with this load on your back and then you can never move forward.

I've been feeling very vulnerable lately. Maybe it's just a phase I am going through. I write a blog post every single day and quite a number of people read this blog. I know because I get the statistics. Sometimes that is scary. I write because I feel I have something to share with the world. I know not everyone will like what I write, but I've got to be me.

Sometimes I just want to pull the plug on my blog and go hide under a rock. Sometimes I think it would have been better to remain an anonymous person in this life--someone who could say things but not take any credit for what they say or do because they are "anonymous." Maybe I should have become a ghost writer or written under a pen name or something. But alas, I think it's too late.

I started this blog on January 8th 2009. It was so scary the day I posted my first blog post to the world. I felt so naked. I believe that post was about signs. I guess I had been getting a lot of signs and perhaps the reason I started this blog was from a sign I had received. I don't know if you believe in signs, but I follow them because I believe they come from my heart and it's very hard for me to NOT follow my heart.

But there's a price to pay for following your heart. There's a price to pay for deciding to open up and share yourself with the world. After all, if the world sees you make a mistake, it suddenly feels like the biggest blunder on earth. But if you make a mistake all alone, no one cares.

But I've decided, just now, that if what I write and do can make the world a better place, then I'm willing to put myself out there. It's been really hard writing my book because in the process of writing my story, I've revealed more of my life than most people would be comfortable with. And it wasn't all a bed of roses. "So why exactly are you writing this book, then?" you ask. Because I believe that through sharing my personal story, my trials and tribulations, my ups and downs and not-so-perfect days, months or even years, I can connect with you. Because you and I are not that different. We all make mistakes, we all struggle and we all have something to share with this world. Peace to you my friends...and much love.

Monday, November 8, 2010

365 Lessons-Lesson 312: If you want love in your life, love yourself first

Love yourself first. This may sound egotistical, but it's not. After all, we've been taught in society to love our neighbor, to love our children, to love our partner, to love God, to love all beings, but somehow this person that we feed, exercise and bathe everyday, this person that is YOU got left on the sidelines.

And if YOU can't love YOU, then how can you expect to love anyone else or expect others to love you. Whenever you expect anything from something outside, you are setting yourself up for disappointment.

After all, what if your partner doesn't behave in the way you'd like him/her to behave? OR What if you can't find a perfect partner? OR What if your children don't behave in the way you'd like them to behave? OR What if your family doesn't behave in the way you'd like them to behave? OR What if your co-workers or friends don't behave in the way you'd like them to behave? OR What if government or the media doesn't behave in the way you'd like them to behave? OR What if you decide that even God hasn't behaved in a way you'd like him to behave, that some terrible situation has happened to you and you wonder why, if there is a God, this has happened....and this list could go on and on.....

Trying to rectify things on the outside is futile. You can NEVER change anyone outside you, but you can certainly change yourself. You can certainly LOVE yourself. It all starts with YOU.

People have probably told you this. You've probably heard that it's important to love yourself, but do you? Do you REALLY love yourself. Do you treat yourself like a God? Do you feed yourself properly, give yourself exercise and proper sleep, are you gentle with yourself or do you beat yourself up when things don't go smoothly? Do you believe you are a worthy person, worthy of love and all the best things this world has to offer? Do you care for yourself and tell yourself, "I love you, you are important in this world."

In my husband's yoga class he sometimes tells the students that its good to say, "I am awesome!" The students laugh when he says this. But some of them have decided that they like this. One time I asked a yoga student in class "How are you?" and she responded by saying, "I am awesome, Yoon taught me that!"

Many people like to use this word "sacrifice." They say, "I have to sacrifice myself for my job, my children, my husband or my God." But real sacrifice doesn't come like this. It comes when you sacrifice yourself for YOU. When you decide that you will do everything in your power to love and take care of yourself no matter what happens. When you decide that no matter what happens you are committed to you, then something quite amazing occurs.

When you develop love, peace and happiness within you, it extends outward. It expands from you to all things. You are filled with it. Nothing can take it away, it becomes part of who you are. People might not like it, they might not like what you have become out of fear. You have become so bright and shiny and they don't feel like that so they don't like it, but you keep shining because that's who you are. That's who you've become through taking care of YOU.

The amazing thing that occurs is that this love that comes from you is boundless. It knows no distinctions. It is not selfish or self-seeking. It encompasses all people and all things. You become content and fulfilled within yourself. You are satisfied and grateful for the moment, however it may unfold. With this love for yourself, you are boundless too. There is no limit to what you can do. When you love yourself AS YOU ARE first and take care of this human being that is YOU, the one you carry around day after day, then you will be complete and all the love in the universe will be yours.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

365 Lessons-Lesson 310: Don't Get Entangled in Unnecessary Drama

I have been trying to reserve my energy for my book and other things which are loaded on my plate. But somehow I let drama, which has nothing to do with me, take center stage. I'm letting go of it now. What I've come to realize is that most negativity or hate directed at anyone often has very little to do with the person to whom this negativity is intended for and has everything to do with the person offering the negativity.

Negativity is a disease in my book. It is like a cancer. It can really pull a person down if one is not aware. And I've also come to realize that those who offer negativity are suffering tremendously. This helps me find compassion within for the person who wishes to lash out or attack. It is not easy to offer love to your attacker; it's one of the hardest things in the world to do, but I find that it makes such a difference in life.

If you accept negativity then you have become part of this chain. How does that help anyone? By offering negativity in return for what was offered to you, you are just adding more fuel to the fire. Pretty soon you'll have a bonfire or a forest fire which will destroy so much.

I've learned to look at negativity, which sometimes tries to creep into my world and destroy things, as Mara. In Buddhism, Mara is the demon who assaulted Buddha beneath the bodhi tree, using violence, sensory pleasure and mockery in an attempt to prevent the Buddha from attaining enlightenment.

When negativity or a setback or a problem enters my world I say, "Oh look! Mara has come to pay a visit!" I recognize it as all part of the same thing. It could come in the form of a craving or an aversion. It could come from a person or a situation, but it's all the same. It's all just drama.

By observing the drama, or Mara, I learn from the situation. I try to see if the negativity directed towards me is called for or not. I try not to engage, but this is still a challenge for me at times. The lucky thing is that I often recognize Mara when she comes. This has been such a powerful realization in my life. The ability to recognize the drama and not get entangled in it. And if I do start to get entangled, to recognize that I've let this happen to myself. I am responsible, no one else.

Getting entangled in unnecessary drama or negativity eats away so much precious time. Deciding that you are going to be angry at someone for an indefinite period time only means that you also will be rolling in anger for an indefinite period of time. So now two people are suffering. This is not very effective, is it?

It may take all that's in you to face the negativity and decide to dish out a bit of love for the person who is dishing out the opposite. Realize that no one can make you suffer except yourself. Also realize that when someone offers you negativity, most likely this person is suffering more than you can imagine. Gather up all your strength and offer love if you can. I know it's not easy, but it is so important.