The Strange Man with a Mask – seeing through illusions and letting go of the past

Few nights ago, I dreamt of a friend who recently passed away. In the dream, I visited him at the hospital and found him standing to the left of the door, his face covered with a mask but I could still see his mouth – with a wry smile on his face. A shocking appearance, but strangely familiar also. Where have I seen this smile? Was it from him, or was it from some other human I’ve met in this planet?

Anyhow, I walked into the unit, and saw the doctors and nurses next to his hospital bed. And I discovered that, he was there, but missing. What does that mean? I was told that he was there, but he wasn’t really there anymore. “Since he had been gone for 10 days, we would have to destroy his body”. The doctor announced. I was devastated, crushed. “No… “, I exclaimed. But the decision had already been made. And I woke up, my body still vibrating with the visceral feeling in the dream state – the spooky appearance of him standing next me, and the uncanny occurrence of him being there, but missing.

What is this all about? As I reminisced the content, the feeling tone,  and the energies of this dream, I realized that – what is gone, is forever gone. This dream holds an important lesson for me. How many times have I held on to the past, the sweet memories of someone I loved, and dwell in the realm of imagination? The imaginative world is powerful, yet, it will not become our grounded reality until we pour our creative energies into manifesting it.

Too often, we allow the sweet memories of the past in clouding our perception – to discern reality from illusions. For the sweet nectar of the past is seductive, and it can be heartbreaking to see and acknowledge the naked truth. Letting go is not easy. It feel as if we are reaching into our heart, pulling out a piece of the tissue we shared with the beloved. It hurts, and we may even bleed a little. For this is a conscious choosing of an ending, of a clear cut of the emotional cords that once connected us. Yet, we shall live through this , as we endure this heartache. As our cells will regenerate, when we allow ourselves to feel the difficult emotions, while we continue to nurture and nourish our soul with love and kindness. 

And we will continue to evolve, to grow into a more conscious being, as we learn and thrive through new love, and new mistakes we make. And even if we forget, and we let go, the impact of these past, present, and future connections are forever engraved upon our soul. We need not worry for the impending loss, or indulge in obsession –  to hold on tight or dwell in the pool. For what we have lost, will always come around in a different form. Perhaps, we could let the flow of water guide us, and lean backward on the dolphins. Our heart shining with the reflective light, as our hands open to receive – the magic of the rainbow.

With love and blessings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moving through life during difficult times – insights and reflections

This journey of life isn’t always smooth and easy.  This physical world that we move through each day isn’t always butterflies, rainbows, and sunshines. Sometimes, it can be really, really hard. Life’s lessons are no joke. They can bring us to our knees, in tears, in despair. All of a sudden, our whole world change. We are in shock, in disbelief. We wonder what is going on? Nothing, nothing makes any sense at all. And we are, once again, reminded of the impermanence, cruelty of life. We are rendered speechless, desperately catching our breath, trying not to suffocate in the pool of helplessness. 

No joke, indeed. The hardest part of being a human is coming to terms with this human nature. The law of this physical world. What happens to us, to our friends, to our family, or to our pets, are ultimately, never truly under our control. We might have been living in a way where we frantically trying to control everything, to manipulate situations, and/or to make sure others are cooperating with our ideas of how things should go.  Until one day, this illusive veil lifted and we are suddenly exposed – to life’s bluntness and cruelty. We are naked in the jungle, at the mercy of the tigress. We can fight, protest, howl to the moon, or scream at the theatre of irony.  But ultimately, we can only let go and surrender. Perhaps our knees bent, perhaps the grasses tingle our skin, and we humbly listening to the wind, to the orchestras of nature, while vulnerably opening our pores to all that is. We let go of control, and pray. The irony is that while it takes tremendous strength to surrender, once we do, our whole perspective shifts. Surrendering does not mean giving up, to surrender is to accept whatever it is, at the present moment, and to be with the experiences as they show up. 

A strong, sensitive heart loves deeply, unconditionally. This is love without expectation, giving without negotiation, forgiveness without condition. I love this quote from Mother Teresa, “Work as though every thing depended on it, and leave the rest to God.” To me, this is a simple, yet poignant mantra. Pouring our love, faith, and creative energies into life’s endeavors, we are doing our part of the work. While at the same time, there is an unseen part bubbling in the background, in the space of emptiness. There is this hidden energy that we are always co-creating with. This is the omnipresent energy of source, of eternity. 

In retrospect, these excruciating stages of life are often meaningful and essential, it might have served an important purpose in our journey. Though at the time we do not understand a tiny bit of it. For these dark, difficult periods force us to grow, to mingle with our shadow in the moist, shady womb. We are encapsulated in the cocoon and have no choice but to interact with the uncomfortable, disturbing parts of life, of ourselves, which we usually avoid in waking consciousness. This is the stage of metamorphosis, this is a necessary vessel for growth and transformation.

Yet even in the womb of darkness, we can still remember to breathe. To move through the daily necessities of life, to care for oneself and others, and to connect with friends and loved one. Personally, I find it crucial to engage in some form of practice in keeping energy moving through my body during these trying times. Taking a walk, getting a massage, acupuncture, or reiki, doing yoga, or just getting up and stretch our body are some of the things we can do to move our energy. It doesn’t have to be fancy or sophisticated. We just have to get moving, and keep going at the pace that we can.

Being a human is a vulnerable endeavor, so be gentle, with yourself, and with others.

Blessings to all.

 

 

The Power of Faith in times of Transition – a reflection on love, passion, and life’s journey.

It was about seventeen years ago when I left my birthplace – Hong Kong, and arrived at this country – the United States of America. I didn’t know a soul on this land, except my then boyfriend, whom I dated for a year when we met in Hong Kong. I didn’t have much money, no relatives, no connection, and I didn’t even know how to differentiate nickels and dimes. But I was brave, and I had no fear. 

I still remember moments during that long flight from Hong Kong to San Francisco. The flight was unusually empty because of the strike of the airline, and I had the entire aisle to myself. As if the universe was making space for me. It was perfect, for a long and emotional flight. Sitting on my lap was a box of sweet memories – the tokens of love from friends and family. The bittersweet parting gifts. As I looked out the window and glimpsed at the night view of this gorgeous city where I was born, I felt a sense of calm and serenity. A moment of grace and solitude came over me. Deep inside my soul, I knew this is the right path. Reading the words of my childhood friends, looking at the pictures, the gifts, reminiscing the moments of the last goodbye at the security gate; I slowly realized that I’ve made a significant and possibly life changing decision.

It all originated from this simple but strong desire in my heart – to cure my mom. As long as I could remember, my mother had always been in and out of hospitals, and her condition was only getting worse throughout the years. And as I got older, I was determined to help, to find out what was going on, or to at least alleviate her suffering.

The sight, smells, and sounds of the hospital came back to my senses as I recall this memory. I was sixteen years old then, sitting across from my mother’s psychiatrist in her office, attending a meeting about my mother’s condition. “How are you supposed to be able to help her when you only see her every two weeks for 10 minutes? ” I confronted the psychiatrist. I’ve been visiting the hospital every week and I tried to understand what kind of treatment they were providing. And the only “treatment”, it seemed to me, was prescribing and dispensing the meds.  “Well, that’s the way we do things here.” She got defensive, and probably feeling angry that me – a teenage girl was challenging her about her profession. “How about other countries, are there other ways?” I didn’t give up, I genuinely wanted to find out if there are alternative, better ways in treating these kinds of illness. “I don’t know anything about other countries.” She said and her body language told me that she wasn’t going to discuss treatment with me any further. Our conversation ended.

That was the moment, when the idea of studying “overseas” germinated in me. I was determined to find the answer, to search for the cure, for my mother, and for all who suffered from this daunting curse of mental illness. And as if by magic, things unfolded over the years. There were times that were challenging, difficult, confusing. But there were always help along the way – be it angels, friends, guides, or teachers. Life is strange, indeed. And I often found it such a blessings to be on this path, to live, love and work as a healer and a therapist. I just have to remember, to channel my younger self more often – the fierce, determined, passionate soul who seems to have such unwavering faith in life, who lives without fear.

Sometimes a seemingly hopeless situation aren’t in fact hopeless. Sometimes sorrow and tears can be transformed, to hope, healing, and a beautiful path. All we need is to have faith, and trust that there will always be a way. The passion in our heart will keep us warm ,the lights of hope will illuminate our path as we walked through the winding, shadowy road. And as we keep following our heart, keep listening to the little voice that speak to us in quiet moments, we will never truly be lost in the enormous jungle, even if at times, it feels like we are all alone. We will be fine, we will be safe, wherever we are.

I’ll leave you with a poem I love. 

 

The Journey 

by Mary Oliver

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice – – –
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
‘Mend my life!’
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.

You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations – – –
though their melancholy
was terrible.

It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.

But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice,
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,

determined to do
the only thing you could do 

determined to save
the only life you could save.

 

 

 

Stars of the Universe – Poem & Reflection

Stars of the Universe

 

We are the stars of the universe

Lost and scattered in random parts of the world

 

Broken in the process of becoming

Burning our edges in unbearable pain.

 

“Where are we?”

“I don’t know.”

 

Perhaps it doesn’t matter.

For in the process of self explosion.

We illuminate the darkest cloud

 

And we will find each other

Again and again

In the divine light.

Poem written by Christy Choy in 2015.

Ever since I was a child, when I was supposedly still in the stage of play and innocence, I questioned about the meaning of our existence. What are we doing here on earth? Why do we live the way we do? Why are bad things happening to human being, to our society, to the world? While some may argue that it is too early for a six years old to have these thoughts, they served me pretty well in coping with difficult life circumstances. I remembered comforting myself, in my little mind, that these crazy, bizarre, weird life circumstances must have a bigger reason to it. A reason that I could not possibly understand at that moment. I remembered reminding myself that a lot of extraordinary, famous, great people in the world had had a difficult childhood, too. I remembered staring at the starry sky with my mom, believing that my lost toy bunny was somehow living on the moon and if I squint my eyes I can possibly see it. Faith and imagination were my secret weapon.

Somehow, the existence of the stars, the moon, and the galaxy always comforted me. I feel less alone in my existence. Many years have gone by, and I am now living on the other side of planet earth. Perhaps many things have change since then, but that little soul of mine, that was holding me through all the adversities is still here. She is still the same, trusting and fierce. She is living in my core, in the middle of my heart center. I still hold the same thought, the faith that a bigger picture is in play, while living my beautiful and sometimes weird life. It serves me well in living and growing as a human being, and it certainly helps when I am working with the little children who experienced trauma, loss, and abandonment early in life. Still breaks my heart a little each time I feel them, but it helps to have a bigger perspective. I still stare at the sky at night, in awe with the magnificent beauty of it all and trust that all is well. Things will be all right. 

I believe that in our purest core, we are in fact, stars of the universe. We all have this innate soul center, inner compass that knows the deeper meaning of life, of existence. And life is a journey into the center of the self. Carl Jung wrote in his work Memories, Dreams, Reflection, “I began to understand the goal of psychic development is the self. There is no linear evolution; there is only a circumabulation of the self.” As if walking the labyrinth in the dark, we might stumble on the path, got lost in our egos, and coming back again and again to the core of our self, to our soul purpose. And perhaps, what is important in life is not the destination, not the egoistic distinction between what is right and what is wrong,  but the journey and the experience itself. 

Blessings to all.

 

 

Reference

Jung, C. G.  (1963). Memoriesdreamsreflections. New York: Pantheon Books.

 

The Dharma Wheel -poem & reflection

The Dharma Wheel

 

In the heart of longing

In this life of being

What is really important?

In the darkest of hours

I prayed to God

God, grant me your mercy

Please, show me if this is the path

_

And here comes

The Dharma Wheel

Golden, magnificent

Spinning in my dream

_

As if holding by a spirit

The wheel keeps turning

_

Tears flow down my cheek

As I receive this gift

Stepping into uncertainties

It still feels scary

_

Yet I realize

This is but another turn around the wheel

There is nothing to worry about

_

Spinning through the dark forest

Takes me on a wild ride

To the past

Through the future

Allow me to embrace each moment

of pain and ignorance

_

Wheeling to the unknown

To the mystery

A life fulfilled with love and rain.

  • Poem written By Christy Choy, MA. MFT  in 2017

In the winter of 2017, I made a decision to leave my stable, well-paid job at UCSF. It was a risky decision, and a difficult one. For even though the work with the severely mentally ill, psychotic population was very challenging and draining, it was my life’s work for over seven years. It was, and still is, my passion. Ever since I graduated from college with my psychology degree, I’ve always worked in the field of community mental health, serving the severely mentally ill, psychotic population. I loved the early years of crisis work at Progress Foundation. I felt strangely at home among clients who are suffering from mental illness, heartbreaks, terminal illness, who are often using substances to numb their pain. And I often felt a sense of comradery with my colleagues as we managed to pull through days after days of the gruelling 12 hour shift, supporting the healing and recovery of clients who endured deep suffering, and managing the crisis situations which always manage to spike up our adrenaline and connect us deeper in a human, soul level. 

Yet, change is inherent in the process of growth. And though I left and came back to the field of community mental health, I knew that it was time for a change, again. It was scary. Being employed by an agency such as UCSF gives me a sense of safety, a feeling of security. It was as if my being was enveloped by this huge saturnian energy that is indestructible. All I needed to do was to swim in this field of muddy water in my day to day life, and survive. Even though the work was challenging and at times, dangerous; I was also safe, in terms of earthly, financial concerns. But I knew, I wasn’t thriving. 

Over the years, as I grew in my work and studies, and practice in spirituality, my senses had become more and more refined. Or perhaps, I have finally woken up and come to terms with the nature of my sensitivity. The constant bombardment of chaotic energy, without my having any control of, was too much for my soul. Even though my work was relatively well paid, I spent all my resources and time off recovering from the intensity of the work. My body spoke to me in various symptoms, getting sick often, having allergic skin reaction/eczema, stomachache. These are all signs of stress and overwhelm which I could not ignore any more. At that time, I was also deep in the studies of Archetypal Psychology while working full time. And I finally realized, and decided, that I needed a change. What I’ve been doing, for years, was an unconscious pattern stemming from childhood, family conditioning. As a child, I have had to overextend myself to care for others’ need to the point of exhaustion, often putting myself last or even neglecting my own needs. I was constantly swinging from high to low, from full of joy and energy to feeling depleted.  Its time to wake up, its time for a change.

So, I finally decided to leave the job. And I wrote the resignation letter. The night before I resign, before sleep, I prayed to God, ” God, please please let me know if this is the right decision, please let me know if this is the right thing to do.” I was terrified. Change is scary. And I felt I was walking on a suspended bridge, about to step forward mid-air, anticipating a free fall. That night, or, to be more precise, the next morning before dawn, I received a sign. I was in the dream state, just before waking up, when I suddenly saw a golden dharma wheel appeared from the left side right above my head. The magnificent, golden dharma wheel was turning, slowly but powerfully; as if it was held by some unseen being. I woke up in tears, my heart expanded and grateful. I realized that this job that I was so afraid to leave, was but a small part of my life’s work. And the dharma wheel will keep turning, as change is inherent in every moment of our life. It is safe to follow the soul’s calling, it is okay to take care of one self and leave a work environment that is too harsh for my sensitivity.

All is well, and life is sacred. 

 

 

 

 

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