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I went to a social gathering recently of the non yogi type with my Om necklace and I had quite a few people asking me “Are you 30 years old because your necklace says 3 – 0.”

“Thank you for asking. I am not 30 years old. I bought this necklace from my recent trip to Bali in early March of this year and it is a sign of Om, the Universal sound,” as I said and smiled warmly.

Then one of the girls said, ”Om, That’s interesting. No pun intended…”

I laughed and we went on talking about life in general, and living life.

After that night, I went home and reflected my journey thus far with “Om.” My thoughts brought me back three years ago when I was going through my 200 hours of yoga teacher training and why “Om” and chanting became an intricate part of my yoga practice.

One of our mentors, who falls under the Iyengar lineage, had us not only chant “Om” but also chant a gazillion invocations and another gazillion Patanjali sutras for twenty minutes before we start our physical asana practice. In the beginning, I dreaded these chants and sometimes I even felt restless as we went through the songs.

“What’s the point of chanting?” as I asked my friend who had previously attended the yoga teacher training.

She said, “For what it’s worth, just explore the sounds and vibrations in your body when you chant.”

For the first month of chanting, I thought it was useless and that we should just skip all of the “Num, num, yum, yum” sounding vowels as none of it made sense to me. I even tried to avoid my mentor’s classes because I just did not like chanting.

For me, chanting Sanskirt was not only hard to enunciate, but I couldn’t understand any of the meanings behind what I was chanting for. There is translation right below each chant, but I was also too lazy to look into the meaning so I never really took the time to understand what I was chanting to.

Worst part was that our mentor highly suggested us chanting as a part of our finals before graduating as a yoga teacher.

“Oh did I dread chanting…” I thought to myself. I kicked and fought chanting, in silence, the whole way through my yoga teacher training.

Something happened during the third month of the teachers training. When we finish chanting The Invocation to Patanjali with “Hari Om – my salutations to Thee,” my mind felt at ease. I felt like a sense of relief, a soothing energy that flowed from the top of my head, down my heart, and permeated to my entire body.

I felt whole and centered – one heart, one soul, one mind, one body, and all together as one. There was nothing to be attached to. The list of what I wanted – new car, new gadgets, new clothes, more money, etc, all went out of the window. I felt lighter, less stressed, blissful, content, and happy just where I am. I don’t need to keep up with “The Jones” and I didn’t need to have million dollars to be happy. I was no longer suffering from perpetual wants and needs of material things.

Instead, I am thankful for what I have in life. My family is in good health. I am in good health. I also have some amazing friends, teachers, and many more amazing people who I will meet along the way.

Was there something in your life that you did not enjoy doing in the beginning but somehow you stuck with it, and now it is a part of your life? I love to hear from you about your story as well.

“Hari Om. Nameste” – my salutation to Thee. I see the divine in you, and you see the divine in me.

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My mom had spoken about an four-year girl who had traveled over 3,000 miles in China to avoid political persecution during the spring of 1948.  At the time, China was still recovering from the previous 10 years Sino-Japanese war that had caused an estimated 6 million lives.

Shortly after the Japanese leaving China, a civil war broke out in which the country had suffered another 5 million lives in approximate. It was the Nationalist, KMT, against the Communist and created havoc within the nation. Many of the KMT fled to Taiwan for safety, including this little girl and her family.

When her family realized that the Communist was overtaking the country, they began to escape starting from the northern part of China, Nanjing province, to the southern part of China, Guangdong province. During the 3,000 miles of treacherous terrain, the family went from having everything – wealth, status, and three generations of family members – to having nothing. Overnight, all of the real estates they own and the acres of land across multiple provinces where all gone. The Communist had torn up all the deeds and occupied the properties with guns. Worst of all, the family of three generations were separated. Some were able to flee to Taiwan. Many stayed in China and were either tortured or starved to death.

The family had no change of clothes by midway of the trip because they had to give up everything to travel light. It was all about survival at that point. They wore the same clothes day after day. They had no change of dry clothing after the many rain. When the rain stopped, they just wore the same cold and sodden clothes until it dried on their bodies.

When they finally reached Guandong, the Communist scouts captured her family and put everyone in a concentration camp. In the camp, the Communist leaders segregated everyone into three groups, men, women, and elders with kids. The men were force into conscription. The women cooked and did laundry. The elders looked after the kids. Even at night, the families were not allowed to stay together as everyone was mandated to sleep in their own designated groups.

Fortunately this family had a very smart uncle. Under the darkness, somehow he found everyone in the camp and quietly sneaked everyone out of the compound by bribing the Communist guards with 5 ounces of gold bullions. They quickly left the camp under the moonless night and ascended a near by mountain. The dad was afraid of losing the little girl in the darkness so he tethered her with a 5-foot rope.

“What happened next is what no four years old girl should ever experience in her life time,” as my mom sighed and continued with the story.

While walking in the darkness, they smelled a horrific stench in the air. As they ascended up the mountain trail, the decaying smell, the sweet flesh scent, became stronger and stronger. In pitch black, the little girl kept tripping over what seemed to be logs everywhere on the ground. She quickly realized that it wasn’t the logs that she was tripping over. They were dead people she was stepping on. The family had walked into an open grave full of dead people that were executed by the Communist soldiers not too long ago.

She would carefully walk over the dead bodies but often times she would step on dead carcasses. The blood from the body would splash all over her hair, her face, her chest, her arms and all over her small body.

The escape seemed forever as they walked all night in the mountain to escape from hell. When the sun came up in the distant horizon, they realized that they had walked in a full circle. The family had walked back to where they had started in the first place. The Communist soldiers saw them through the binoculars and recaptured them back to the concentration camp.

The uncle did not give up. He would gather the family at night again and bribed the Communist guards with gold bullions to get out of the camp. This time however, the guards pocketed the gold, walked them out of the camp just to redirect them back into the camp. They were separated into three groups, men, women, elder with children again.

The uncle finally found a reliable source, his old army friend that was a Nationalist before switching side to become a Communist. He bribed them in gold and the family was able to finally escape. From Guandong, they traveled by boats from Hainan Island, Hong Kong, and finally settled in Taiwan.

My mom said, “They walked into the concentration camp – three times in, and three times out in search of freedom.”

That little girl vividly recalls every detail of that night. That little girl is my mother and she can recall everything even after sixty-four years later.

“Things like that you can never forget,” she said.

Before my uncle passed away fifteen years ago, he asked me to take care of my mom.

“Take care of your mom when you grow up because she has gone through a lot in her life,” my uncle told me.

I have never forgotten about that conversation and I am proudly supporting both my mom and my dad. For me, family comes first.

For this Mother’s day, share with your mom with your heart by telling her how much you appreciate what she has done for you because chances are she too had suffered much in life.

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P.S.The picture above was taken on March 2012 and was my grand father’s land before the Communist took over in 1948.

Let’s pretend for a moment that you are a millionaire. How would you feel? Would you think you might be happier if you had a million dollars? Perhaps some of us are not happy with being a millionaire by today’s monetary standards. Instead, “I want to be a Billionaire so freakin bad…” according to a song from a popular pop artist.

Last night, I felt like a millionaire. I had $1.8 million cash on hand. No joke! “No”, I was not in Vegas, and “No” I was not trafficking drugs. I pulled the money straight from an ATM machine. For a brief moment, I felt like I was on the top of the world. I felt financially secured and happy. I felt like I didn’t have to worry about money for a long time. I was in heaven. “Yes,” that was my ego mind thinking.

I also thought about how I could serve and help people with that money. I started to dream of doing endless philanthropy work, serving those that are in need and reaching out to different parts of the world one person at a time. A wealthy person once told me that, “Money is nothing more than a form of energy. You can always receive and give more energy than one will ever need.”

Some people believe that money is scarce so they hoard money. They believe that they will never have enough money so they keep trying to fill this bottomless pit with their desire and ambition for money. There is term in Chinese called, “The Hungry Ghost.” This Hungry Ghost has a stomach that is enlarged like a huge terracotta drum with a neck as thin as a needle. The ghost has a ferocious appetite, but he can barely swallow anything down his thin needle neck. He suffers much as his life never seems fulfilling and he constantly wants more and more. He is perpetually hungry.

Money is more like oxygen. There isn’t a lack of money as if there is a lack of oxygen. Air will always be there as long as take care of our mother earth. Money will be there as long as we take care of ourselves – mentally, spiritually, physically, and serving others. I choose to live in a world of abundance, not scarcity.

Yes I did have $1.8 million last night, although I’m down to $1.2 million today. How did I spend $600K in one day you ask? I went out with my friends and had a few nice meals through out the day. I had filled up the empty gas tank in my rented Honda scooter. I had bought an Om symbol t-shirt from a yoga boutique shop. I also had a 1.5 hour Esalen massage, the kind without happy endings thank you very much.

By the way, $1.8 million in Bali Rupee is roughly about $200 USD. My point is that we can all feel like millionaires by feeling contempt, and grateful even without the money. Money is important to survive. How we serve with that money I believe is even more important.

Use this energy well, my friends.

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I had attended one of Jennifer Prugh’s Foundation of Flow/Meditation class recently and the theme to her class was to dedicate the practice to someone we know who is suffering and to wish them well.

I had asked my heart to whom I should dedicate this session to and he reminded me of a recent road rage incident. Gordo, a nickname whom I have given to the middle age Mexican man, taught me a life lesson about compassion and forgiveness.

A few weeks ago, I was driving my Nissan, “The Un-Prius,” as I called my 15 miles per gallon V8 truck, on the freeway heading going home. I usually have the music blasting to the tunes of my favorite Black Eye Peas songs while driving. However, I wanted some peace and quiet that day because I was really angry. I wanted to calm my mind through silence and breathing and that was when my rage boomerang back at me.

As I exited off the freeway, I looked up my rear view mirror and noticed a dinged up 1975 silver Toyota Celica fast approaching me. When he came close enough for me to see his face, I saw a Hispanic man in his early 40s screaming and waving his arms ecstatically and yelling at me.

My first thought was, “Is he trying to warn me that there is something wrong with my vehicle because I have a flat tire?”

I had ignored him and continue to drive after the light turned green. At the second stop light, I saw the mid age man screaming at me again and now I know for sure he was upset at me.

I thought to myself, “What the heck did I do to you? I was minding my own business. Truly you got the wrong person. So what gives?”

When we both came to a full stop at the red light, Gordo got out of his car, started to run towards me with his large belly giggling up and down. He got right next to my car door and started screaming something in Spanish as he stood in the middle of the street. I told him, “I do not understand what you are saying and if I cut you off, I’m really sorry.”

Gordo did not care what I had to say even if he could understand me. Just then he wound up his left arm getting ready to punch me through the driver window. During that split second, I wanted to punch him first to protect myself. However, for some reason, my heart told me not to extend my arm because he wasn’t angry. He was just really hurt inside.

Something strange happened. He unwound his fist, withdrew his anger, and walked back to his car. When the light turned green, I drove off and continued to send thoughts of compassion and forgiveness to him.

Before Jennifer’s class, I didn’t understand why Gordo was so upset at me other than I might have cut him off on the freeway. After the meditation session, I had another prospective where that Toyota might have been Gordo’s only transportation, and he might not have auto insurance let alone medical insurance. If one does not have auto insurance in California, the driver is at fault and will also lose his driver’s license.

If Gordo had gotten into a car accident, he would have lost his driving privilege by three years, and not have the money to repair his car. If he was hurt from the accident, he won’t be able to cover his medical expenses. More importantly, he may be the only breadwinner in his family supporting his wife and three kids. If he is injured, who will be supporting his family?

I realized that underneath the anger, he was really afraid and hurt. Everyone has his or her own suffering underneath it all. Often times we use anger as a façade to protect ourselves as a form of self-defense mechanism.

When we are in an angry state, we are walking through life as if we have blinds covering the side of our eyes like the horses pulling the carriage in New York’s Central Park. We only see what is wrong with our lives and what is wrong with others and nothing else.

When we’re in that un-resourceful state, we blind ourselves from gratitude, compassion and forgiveness that empower us. The feeling of hate just makes us bitter in life, a life that hurts everyone around us, and even random strangers.

“Choose gratitude, compassion and forgiveness,” my heart says.

Spread Love, Joy, and…Peace.

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