I have seen this image on Facebook and loved it… now I’ve found it again on a blog, so I decided to reblog it and share it with you and use it as a reminder for myself. The message can’t be better illustrated. Just when you’re about to give up, that’s when you need to make the effort to walk—or dig—the last mile!
There has been such a sleuth of Ice Bucket Challenge videos floating around on social media over the past month that I’d like to share with you my own reflections on this phenomenon.
I applaud all the brave souls in the world who have taken upon the challenge, especially those who have done it with style and intelligence.
I also admire the ballet dancers who took the challenge with unusual and amazing moves:
After all that’s said and done, and when the bruhaha has died down, perhaps we can take a step back to look at what really lies behind the challenge.
First, it’s good to get an idea of what ALS is and how a person with ALS lives from day to day. Here is a video of a young man, Anthony Carbajal, who was recently diagnosed with ALS and who took that challenge with a great sense of humor. He explains how three generations in his family have been diagnosed with this debilitating condition and shows how hard everyday life is:
There are environmental-minded people who feel that dumping ice water on one’s head is a waste of precious water resources. So why not just donate the money directly?
Hollywood star Matt Damon has chosen to face the challenge with a twist, while spreading the message about his own water cause at the same time:
Or, if you just simply don’t want the ice cold water on your head, you may choose to donate money with class, like what Patrick Stewart of Star Trek fame did:
In contrast with these thoughtful responses to the challenge, I have seen videos of two Hong Kong parents who dumped a bucket of ice water on their baby… The video has since become private, probably due to shame after being flamed by netizens. There is another case of a Hong Kong mother who took on the challenge as a trendy thing to do. She said that because of her foot injury, she decided to let her toddler pay the mother’s “debt”! Down right stupidity if you ask me!
What I don’t like is how people use this challenge as a way to show off their bravado and not giving the focus on the cause behind it. This is the predominant trend of the movement here in Hong Kong, where the majority of the population loves to follow whatever is trendy and cool at the moment.
If you’d like to know the origin of the challenge, which actually had nothing to do with charity, let alone the ALS cause, read this Slate article.
Lastly, I’d draw attention to the issue behind the ALS “cure.” There is a perception among the mainstream that by donating money to the “cause,” there is hope for a cure. But I have serious doubts about how effectively the money will be spent. Hoping that the pharmaceutical industry will come up with a cure for the condition is a naive thought. Here is why:
If the above link doesn’t work or if you are short of time, watch the video on this page or below instead:
As much as I appreciate the hardship that ALS patients are living with, I’d like to challenge the belief that it is an incurable genetic disease. Ben Johnson, MD, coauthor of “The Healing Code,” has successfully cured himself of the same disease, otherwise known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, without conventional medical intervention. He used the Healing Code discovered by Alex Loyd.
There is something called the biology of belief, which I mentioned in yesterday’s post. Perhaps after seeing the following video by Dr. Bruce Lipton, author of the book “The Biology of Belief,” ALS patients like Anthony Carbajal and others will find hope in knowing that death is not written in their book of life after all:
Well, this seems to be the answer to my quest at the end of my post yesterday. According to Dr. Bruce Lipton’s “biology of belief,” it is always our choice—conscious or subconscious—to hold on to a belief, which in turn manifests itself in the physical form. So, according to him, your ideas about certain health issues are always unfailingly reflected in your body and in your life. In his article and video, which I am reblogging here, you can find out more about how this concept plays out in two contrasting examples—that of Angelina Jolie, who chose to do preventive mastectomy to prevent the breast cancer that she believe would descend upon her one day, and that of Anita Moorjani, whose near-death experience awakened her to the fact that she did have a choice to believe whether she had cancer or not. The story of how she came back to life, and lost her tumor in a stunningly short time, is shocking yet enlightening!
Originally posted on biology of belief:
Having a specific gene that increases the probability of a cancer does NOT mean having the cancer. Only certain “percentages” of patients with identified genes actually get the cancer. The point is that “gene” does not cause cancer, for if it did everyone with the gene would, by definition, end up with the cancer. The most important question is, “How does the large percent of people that have the gene NOT get the cancer?” A question medicine totally ignores. The answer lies in the fact that it takes from 15-20 different genes must be modified to get a cancer off the ground…the other genes (and perhaps the identified so-called “oncogenes” as well) are genes that are activated in regard to our responses to life. Perceptions and the mind are the primary mechanisms that control gene activity, this being the meat and potatoes of Epigenetics. Consequently, the initiation of cancer is now…
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I don’t know about you but the idea of hunger—and food—looms extremely large in my mind. Often times I have conflicts with my husband, who does not seem to be bothered by not eating for a long stretch of time.
Besides the fact that physically we are so different—he having Type A blood and I being a Type O, which means that I have much more stomach acid than him and that I am naturally hungry a lot more frequently than him—our upbringings also play a very important role in our differences.
Growing up in the Chinese culture and after an era when Chinese people suffered from a massive scale of famine, I have inherited an unfortunate collective memory in my subconscious mind. My parents’ generation experienced the “Great Famine” in the 60s in mainland China. They had very little to eat. Food was “allocated” to each family in the form of rations. My parents would use the food stamps they got from the government and had to line up at 3 in the morning to get a piece of meat. If they were lucky to get an apple, they would eat the peel and save the fruit for me and my brother. Whenever hunger stroke, my parents would tighten up their belts—literally, to stop the hollow growls.
Because food was so scarce, it had taken on a venerable position in our society, especially among those who had experienced extreme hunger, like my parents. As a result, the ritual of sharing a complete meal together with the whole family also became something holy. Dinner time must be duly respected. If, for example, you are engrossed in studying or another activity that you delay your arrival at the dinner table, you’d stand the risk of being severely scolded or ridiculed. After each dinner, a few words of appreciation and compliment to the cook—usually the mother—would be expected. Such is the scenario that played out at my home throughout my childhood.
Food is often used as a reward for children in my culture—and it could also be used as a form of punishment in the act of withholding. One often hears the chiding of mothers in a threatening tone: “If you are naughty, you will not get rice!” Rice in this case actually means meal. So kids in my generation were often threatened to go hungry as a result of not obeying the parents. I don’t know if this kind of language is still used in today’s Chinese society, as I am not in touch with the parenting world, being childless myself. But I can imagine this threat does not go along with today’s affluent society anymore.
Anyway, what I’m trying to analyze, is how this threat has been etched in our psyche… so much so that the fear of hunger has become something larger than life! Irrational as it may be, my subconscious mind still holds on to this false belief that if I skip a meal or two I’d be very sick and even die. In the Chinese vocabulary, we have this phrase, “hungry to death” (餓死了), which is an exaggerated way of describing the feeling of extreme hunger. Perhaps this kind of expression shapes the way we think as well.
I guess this is a long-winded explanation of why I turn into a beast when I am confronted with hunger. It’s something really difficult for my husband to relate, as he grew up in affluent Europe and has never inherited this kind of cultural and collectivist burden associated with hunger and famine. Well, his ancestors in Sweden also experienced famine, but the latest one happened in the mid-19th century, so the memory of famine is not in his genes.
By contrast, I have inherited the stress chemicals flowing in my grandmother and mother’s blood—my grandmother having experienced the Japanese occupation and my mother, the Great Famine. Did you know that environmental stress affects unborn babies and goes down through as many as four generations? So, isn’t it not that strange that there is a fear of hunger running through my veins?
Having analyzed this now, I am ready to work on my subconscious mind and erase those genetic memory. Exactly how, I don’t know. But I am confident that I’ll find a creative solution one day.
In my morning prayer today, the thought of my father suddenly entered my mind. It was his soul paying me a visit when I was giving thanks to the feeling of happiness—the exact word written on my chakra candle with a frankincense scent. Then suddenly I remembered how my father, when he was young and I, a child, always exuded a sense of calm joy and optimism. I always used to wonder how he managed to remain calm and find happiness inside of him, no matter how rough and stormy the circumstances in life were. To me, he was like a rock, solid and unmovable. It had remained a mystery throughout my childhood.
Fond memories of him making jokes, making us kids laugh, of his gentle ways, his love for his pot plants and for Nature, and all those walks in the mountains he took me to… they flashed through in my mind’s eye, like snapshots in quick succession.
Fast forward to the last decade of his life, this joy gradually eroded. I believe that his marriage with mom had taken a heavy toll on him. Mother was always nagging and criticizing him, complaining that he did not make enough money for the household and not being truly appreciative of his art. He eventually resorted to having a secret extra-marital relationship to regain that joy. But within the family he was miserable. He probably felt imprisoned—a free and lighthearted spirit being tied to worldly responsibilities. All his life he pursued art and beauty. He just followed his heart to do what he loved to do. Of course it had not been easy on the family in terms of material comfort, but he was nevertheless such a responsible family man, guided by traditional Chinese values, that he did all he could to raise us and keep the family a stable place for us to grow up.
At nearly 75, he got lukemia, which, according to Louise Hay’s book, “Healing Your Body,” could probably be caused by the thought pattern of “What’s the use?” and the process of one’s inspiration being brutally killed. It is not too difficult to see the linkage there from hindsight… but no one in the family noticed back then.
I feel sorry that his sorrow and sense of futility took over his joy toward the end of his life. But my memory of his joy remains to this day and it is this memory of him that stays with me as the most vivid part of him, after his soul has returned to the realm of pure being and pure love. Tears swelled up in my eyes as I ruminated on how I can now feel a strong sense of joy inside of me, sans the mystery. In fact, after I started practicing Transcendental Meditation, I have been able to constantly tap into the bliss that I didn’t realize was always there, inside of me. And recently, with the use of an amazing new technology, the orgone generator, created by Karl Hans Welz, this bliss has been given an extra boost. It is an amazing experience.
7 Days of Garbage, art, disposable containers, environmental, garbage, Gregg Segal, Lap Sap Chung, Lap Sap Chung Campaign, Nature, photography, pollution, recycling, social consciousness, social movement, sustainability, trash, waste, wasteful living
Does lying in one’s own garbage seem shocking to you? At first glance, these images from the ongoing series of photographic project, “7 Days of Garbage” by Gregg Segal, seem really gross. But after staring at them for a few seconds, it dawns on me how close to reality these scenarios are. While the photos show Californians lying amid a week’s worth of their own garbage, I can easily imagine worse scenarios if the photos were taken in Hong Kong!
When it comes to environmental protection, Hong Kong would probably score very low on the international scale. While there is a tiny scale of recycling effort, most people do not make recycling a habit. There is close to zero recycling for glass bottles, except for a small non-profit social enterprise that collects bottles and other recyclable trash from a few selected locations and charge a fee for its service. The fee generally puts the “common people” off from wanting to recycle. Basically, the government doesn’t give a damn about recycling, has no political will to push for the development of a comprehensive recycling industry, and is clueless about what to do next about the ever-rising pile of garbage in our backyards.
There are several large dumping grounds for trash in our small city but those are nearing full capacity. We have hundreds of high-risers built atop land that was “reclaimed”, meaning, land that was originally ocean but built from scratch using garbage. The government is looking to build incinerators but what terrible pollution would that bring to our already polluted air?
Adding to these problems is the lack of awareness among the citizens. It is appalling how people dump whatever they don’t want into Nature. They give absolutely no qualm about polluting Nature with stuff that will not disintegrate for millions of years, let alone care about how ugly it looks. It’s just a “surface nuisance,” as the brilliant comedian George Carlin has said in his famous skid about the environment. “[The earth] wanted plastic for itself!”… The age-old question of “Why are we here?” can be answered simply by: “Plastic!”
Refrigerator and Liquid Gas Petroleum can on the beach!
Nowhere have I seen furniture and big pieces of electrical appliances thrown in Nature as in Hong Kong. The reason why people do that is because one has to pay a fee (roughly US$60) to throw away a piece of furniture in the landfill. To save money, people (usually movers who help people get rid of old furniture) would just drive to a remote area in the New Territories and dump the furniture in Nature. These movers have absolutely no regard for Nature.
In some areas of Hong Kong, the water currents would bring in trash from Mainland China. How do I know? Well, just look at the packages… the words are written in simplified Chinese, which is not used on Hong Kong. I have a lot more photos of such trash but I think I’m grossing myself out at this point.
A country that contrasts greatly from Hong Kong is Sweden, where I lived for five years and observed how the citizens were conscientious about recycling everything possible and doing compost in the countryside. There is a bit of economic incentive for people to recycle plastic bottles and aluminium cans—at supermarkets there are machines that take these and give you a coupon that can be redeemed for cash. But most people would recycle whenever they can—with or without cash rewards—and would walk the extra mile to dump their pre-sorted trash into the proper containers.
Overall, the Swedish people keep their Nature absolutely pristine. You won’t find a single piece of trash when you go hiking or swimming. Other European countries are also equally good at environmental protection, such as Switzerland. You can clearly see how their citizens are properly educated to respect Nature and treat it as an important asset and treasure in their lives. Not only that, there is a general sense of reverence for what is considered sacred. In Hong Kong, I have observed the disrespect people have for Nature—mostly out of ignorance; and also the way they treat Nature as a big kitchen cabinet from which they get resources (like fish and seafood). Perhaps they need to have a look at pictures like the one below to be reminded what keeping Nature clean would mean. But I’m afraid that we would need another campaign like the “Lap Sap Chung Campaign” launched by the former colonial governor, Sir Murray MacLehose in the 70’s (which I witnessed growing up in the city), to raise awareness among citizens and encourage them to put trash where they belong.
Chinese tradition, Chinese traditional values, collective society, Confucianism, Da Yu, freedom, guanxi, Kong Rong, obligations, self, social obligations, spiritual growth, traditional Chinese society, 大禹, 孔融
I had an interesting chat with a professor yesterday at the university where I work. He has published a paper that looks into the true meaning of the word “guanxi” in Chinese society. “Guanxi” literally means interpersonal relationship. But instead of the Western interpretation of networking and friendship, the professor explained that the Chinese concept is based on a very ancient set of rules that guide human relationships.
These rules are rooted in Confucian philosophy and emphasize obligations we have for those who are closely related to us. Whether or not we fancy those people is not important. The important thing is that we have certain obligations toward them. If we do not fulfill those obligations, we would be condemned by society and considered immoral. So, for example, children have certain obligations toward their parents and these are called “filial piety.” It doesn’t matter if we actually like our parents or not. (My note: By extension, let’s say even if they treat us badly or abuse us, we still have the obligation to respect them and take care of them when they are old.)
Although this kind of “guanxi,” which stresses obligations, is restricted to an inner circle—a “circle of trust,” it can be transferred to someone who is not related by blood. So the good friends of your parents would become “aunties” and “uncles” automatically and they would have the obligation to look out for your interests whereas you would also have the obligation to respect and treat them “properly.” These obligations go without saying. They are unspoken rules in Chinese society. As I grew up in the traditional Chinese culture, I know these obligations instinctively.
According to the professor, it is very useful to have these rules as they make interpersonal relationships more stable and predictable. However, moral dilemmas would occur when a person holds obligations to two conflicting parties. For example, if I were the human resources manager of a company and a friend’s son applied for a job at the company, should I favor his application even if he is not as qualified as the others? This scenario illustrates a conflict of interest in modern terms, or a moral dilemma in philosophical terms. Who should I be loyal to? It is a tough call as the traditional Chinese value is clashing with the modern business organization.
In ancient times, there were no companies in the modern sense. The only authoritative organization that existed was the government. It was very clear to whom an official’s loyalty belonged. A very good example is the story of Da Yu （大禹）, who lived 4,000 years ago. He passed by his mother’s doors three times without visiting her as he was obliged to tackle an urgent flooding problem. In this case, the good of the society obviously took precedent over private interests.
While such behavior would still be considered ideal and moral nowadays, we lack stories that tell us the “self” is important too. In fact, when I review all the moral stories I was taught in school, the “I” was always relegated to the back of the queue. One story that really stands out and had governed how I behaved throughout my life until recently was the story of Kong Rong （孔融）, who was the 20th generation grandson of Confucian (around 200 A.D.). When he was 4 years ago, he and his brothers were offered a basket of pears by some guests. He happily let his older brothers and youngest brother pick the largest pears while he took the smallest one. Words spread quickly about this young child’s politeness and was touted as an ideal moral behavior for all tp emulate.
Personally, I believe the self-denigrating tendency or requirement in the Chinese culture as a result of Confucian teaching is responsible for a great deal of misery in people’s lives. Yes, on the surface, the society may very well be operating in an “orderly” manner. However, where does this leave “me”? I have suffered so much and even gone through major periods of depression because the “me” was not given a proper place. Yet its voice was not unheard. It was dying to cry out while social obligations kept on suppressing it. As a result, my life was steeped in a sea of guilt, angst and frustration. Only when I realized that the “self” deserves the top priority in my life that I have been able to leave this negative loop. This doesn’t mean I am selfish. But whatever I do for others, I would choose to do so out of sincerity—it would be something I like or love to do, out of the heart. This makes sure that the “self” is first satisfied and whatever action that is taken afterwards, there would be no grudge involved. Likewise, if no action is taken because the “self” sincerely does not want it, there would be no guilty feelings either. This is so important for the health of our soul. Who in society or in authority would care? They would rather that you follow what they dictate!
I know I am not alone in feeling trapped behind the bars of tradition. Millions or even billions of Chinese are still going through what I have gone through. And not just Chinese people. Confucianism is not the only philosophy that puts people into a guilt trip in the name of obligations and loyalty. Calvinism, puritanism and many other philosophies and religions around the world also have managed to do that. It’s time to transcend the social strictures that no longer serve us and stun our spiritual growth. Have you heard that inner voice crying to be let loose yet?
To be healthy:
And talk to yourself right
This advice is right on the money! ;-)
There are a million different ways to eat and exercise in order to become healthier, but all of these would not suffice if we didn’t practice honest and positive self-talk. I am saying this from my own experience. I consider myself eating in a healthier way than the majority of the population where I live. I also have a pretty healthy lifestyle, although I could exercise a bit more.
But when it comes to “talk right,” I have only started to do so recently. I realized that prior to my surgery, my mind was either in a constant loop of negative self-talk or in a perpetual mode of anxiety and worries. I didn’t even have to look for negative thoughts to fill my mind. They were there automatically. Why was that? I believe these thoughts first came into my subconscious mind through the voice of my mother, which was dominant in my childhood, and I just sponged it all up. This voice permeated my entire consciousness when growing up, and it didn’t leave me until quite recently. I would say most of these thoughts are false beliefs but they stuck and I believed in them anyway, no matter how irrational they were. Some thoughts can’t even be “categorized” as negative, but the consequences were negative on my health and well-being. For example, every time I had a meal, a voice in my head would tell me to hurry up and finish eating as soon as possible so I could “get on with my life”—as if eating was just a chore to get over and done with. No wonder I got digestion and stress issues before.
After my recent surgery, I find myself talking positively in my mind most of the time. I started hearing the voice of optimism combined with a sense of lightness and humor. Whenever something unpleasant is happening to me, I would automatically drift back to the worst ordeal in my life—the surgery and hospitalization—and immediately tell myself to look at the other side of the coin. Let’s say I am having a headache the whole day (which is happening to me most days now when I am still healing), I would tell myself, that’s actually quite mild and I am grateful that I am well enough to still think clearly and work. For each minor inconvenience or irritation, which I would often escalate into a typhoon or hurricane previously, I would now turn into a thought of blessing. This way, I would feel grateful under any circumstances and skip feeling like a victim of bad luck.
At long last, I have found my own voice—a voice that sprang from the dark abyss of suffering, a voice that replaced my mother’s nagging and negative voice in the back of my mind (which might have originated from her birth during the Second World World and a life time of stress). Finding my own true inner voice, I believe, is a mark of maturity.
Wayne Dyer has said the most important and powerful words in the whole universe are “I am.” This phrase defines how you view your life and thus, how you experience it. I think I am consciously putting this into action, without feigning positivity though. With all due respect, positive affirmations—the kind that Louise Hay has been preaching for decades—does work, but with a caveat: It works only if you truly feel it. The universe can feel the vibration of your being without hearing the actual words. My experience has confirmed that if I don’t honestly feel positive and then try to self-talk myself something positive, it wouldn’t work.
But now I have come to a stage in which I truly feel grateful for being alive. Every little detail—even what is commonly perceived as an obstacle—is a joy instead of a drag, a learning opportunity instead of a setback. I have seen how a small, positive and grateful thought always materializes into something positive. There is no other way. A positive vibration will always bring forth more positive vibrations. If you experience otherwise, watch for that minuscule speck of negative vibration at the back of your mind and in the bottom of your heart. Perhaps you have a molecule of fatalistic thought that good things won’t come to you. See if you can flip that around. Try it. You might be pleasantly surprised.
Recently an article about how ballet has helped a young woman, Min, heal from her eating disorder, “Reverse Black Swan Syndrome,” has caught my attention. What she experienced goes against what is more commonly seen in the ballet world, where the pressure to perform and to achieve a perfectly slim body sometimes leads to, instead of heal, eating disorder.
Min is a Singaporean Chinese who went to study law in an Australian university but found the pressure to achieve to be a bit too much to manage. As a result, she fell into anorexic behavior. It is really interesting to read the journey she went through and how she found cure in ballet class and even became the owner of a successful ballet-inspired ethical clothing brand, Cloud & Victory, after she graduated.
In some ways, her story reminds me of my years in a U.S. college where I started to binge eat due to the pressure to achieve and to get my English standard on par with native-English speakers. How would it be possible for a foreigner like me to be admitted to journalism school, when I didn’t even know what was funny when my fellow classmates cracked a joke, or when I made a silly mistake as my school-taught British English turned into something hilarious in the American context? There were so many books to reads, such long papers to write, and so many new cultural impressions and shocks. I didn’t know I had any sort of eating disorder, despite boxes after boxes of chocolate chip cookies and cans after cans of soda pops that accompanied me through those all-nighters.
Come to think of it, ever since I was a kid, I had used snacking to deal with the pressure of studying. It was as if eating could help me to fill a gap in my soul, to fight the loneliness in the struggle to be the best in my environment. It helped me pass the long, long hours buried in the books. But it did not help raise my self-esteem, despite the good grades I eventually got.
I never went as far as becoming bulimic though. Sometimes I would have a tendency to watch everything I ate—such as during my last two years in high school when I tried to lose weight. It was hard on my body and my effort was totally wasted as soon as I entered college. In the first six months, I gained 20 pounds! My parents couldn’t even recognize me when I went home to visit during Christmas holiday.
Back and forth, back and forth… throughout my whole life I struggled with my weight. It was actually my self-esteem that I struggled with. Despite the extrinsic achievements in my academic life—being always able to overcome difficulties and challenges to get to the top echelon—there was this insecurity about my self that had bugged me throughout my youth. I believe that this has to do with the mixed signals I received from my mother when I was a child. Whenever I got a good grade or an award, she would be really proud. Yet at the same time she always “bragged” to her friends in a false sense of humility that it was “nothing,” that I was “not good enough,” and she would make sure that I stayed humble and tried to do better the next time. So I guess I always felt that nothing I ever did was good enough. This feeling had lasted until quite recently, as even throughout my adult life, she has inadvertently transmitted the message that no matter how much and how well I do, it’s never going to be enough (Sounds familiar? Joy Luck Club, anyone?) I am glad that I have finally gotten over this feeling now. I finally understand, that it’s not about what I do, but who I am—and I don’t need her approval to be the unique person that I am. It is alright even if she does not understand.
In addition to my weight swings, I have also been experiencing bouts of deep depression multiple times in my life. The first time around, my parents dismissed it as a something that couldn’t possible happen to me since I did not have a good enough reason to get depressed. Huh? That did not help very much! Reading Min’s story made me envy her for having such supportive and understanding parents. They did not question her through her darkest days; instead, they just gave her unconditional support. I think that is so crucial in her healing process, as they provided her with safe emotional environment to refocus her energy on creating a company based on her new-found passion, a passion that stemmed from what healed her—ballet.
As for me, ballet has healed me and hurt me in a million ways. When I have totally recovered from my surgery, I will ease into class and make sure I turn ballet into a source of joy and not a source of grief and tension. I will free myself from the harsh judgments of the mirror, from the silent comparison with my fellow beautiful and skinny adult students, from the strict demands for a “perfect ballet body,” and just allow myself to enjoy the pure essence of dancing!