Breast Cancer for Family & Friends, Opportunities for Surviving the Journey

With October here, I’ve been thinking about my sister more and more. I’ve been thinking about the last few years of her life and her breast cancer. Even now, I remember how much effort it took for me to be present and supportive. 

In life, all your insecurities, fears, hopes, and dreams tend to get caught up in the insecurities, fears, hopes, and dreams of people around you. It makes life messy. But, somewhere in between the messy can be beautiful mornings and stunning views.

Here are some opportunities to be more present for the person you love so the two of you can have more beautiful mornings and stunning views.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE PRESENT

“The world is ruled by letting things take their course.

It cannot be ruled by interfering.”

                                                       -Chapter 48 Dao De Jing

I have been practicing Taoism for the last decade, and I still don’t know what it means and am confused when asked to explain it. Yet, it was this practice that helped me be present with my sister. My target was to work at removing my insecurities, fears, hopes, and dreams from our interactions so that we were walking only her insecurities, fears, hopes, and dreams. Here are some of my learnings.

Fear Becomes Your Companion

“When nothing is done, nothing is left undone.”

                           -Chapter 48 Dao De Jing

The pursuit of the Dao is the constant practice of letting go of desires. Buddhism calls it letting go of attachments. Mindfulness calls it being present in the now. 

The Heshang Gong Commentary on the Dao De Jing finds inside this line desire. 

“When desires are completely removed, Virtue and Dao join together. Then there is nothing which is not taken care of, nothing which is not managed.”

Susan Jeffers, Ph.D., wrote a beautiful little book, “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway.” Any caregiving journey always has this little niggling thought buried deep down inside of fear. Even dwelling on the fear for an instant can threaten to consume you. Yet, not acknowledging fear means all your fixed ways of thinking, beliefs, and expectations will seep into your interactions with others, sometimes as advice and sometimes consuming them.

The most important lesson I learned from Susan Jeffers’s book was the root of fear is believing you will not be able to handle it. But you can handle it. Turn around and look at your life. You’ve handled everything up until now with 100% success.  

So, lean into this 100%, and remember the Dao De Jing, “When nothing is done, nothing is left undone.” Use it as a guiding principle to help explore your loved one’s desires and do nothing when you want to pitch your advice.

It’s not going to be easy because, throughout the journey, you will have thoughts that will conflict with theirs. I would tell myself, “This is their life, not mine.” My sister was already overwhelmed by her diagnosis. If I could lay down my desires, I would not become one more thing to flood her. 

My sister had stage 4 breast cancer metastasized to the bone, brain, lung, and liver. She had been in a drug trial and receiving Neupogen shots three times a week. The shot helps push the bone marrow to create more white blood cells. One shot a month is a lot. Three a week is stunning. Yet, her body refused to respond.

She was removed from the study and completely cut off from the Neupogen shots. These shots had stripped the resources in her bone marrow to make blood cells, she had nothing. Usually, getting a person off a drug has a tapering down period like prednisone and Zoloft, but not Neupogen. 

Her body quit working, and the cancer was unopposed. She was exhausted. Breathing was a chore. Yet, she wasn’t willing to give up. Probably out of love and respect for my sister, her doctor pulled one last type of chemotherapy out of the vault of chemos that could impact liver cancer. 

I couldn’t help myself and shared my unsolicited advice, “Please don’t do this.” 

I knew there was no survival, but I also knew she wanted to make her daughter’s graduation three months away, and I was 100% sure this treatment would be fatal, quickly. 

But, my sister wanted to do this. She felt it was her only hope, and maybe she was right. Still, this was a bitter pill to swallow as I accepted her decision. I never mentioned the treatment again, and two weeks later, she crashed. And “crashed” means precisely what it sounds like. In another two weeks, my sister would be gone.

I wasn’t able to refrain from sharing my advice 100% of the time. But, I was strong enough to put down my advice whenever my sister expressed her desire to go in a different direction. 

Fear, the hidden emotion that can make you rigid and unsupportive. You can handle it. They can handle it. There is no correct answer. Find a way to support theirs, and maybe the answer is within the Tao and doing nothing, “…there is nothing which is not taken care of, nothing which is not managed.”

Honesty & Breast Cancer

“Following Dao…requires that we shed acquired habits and presumptions. In doing so we remove our fixed ways of seeing things and allow for open perception – for circumstances to arrive and leave without emotion or intellect automatically labeling experience.”

                          -The Heshang Gong Commentary on Lao Zi’s Dao De Jing

Honesty shows respect for another person. It shows that you acknowledge their life and respect their independence. You realize they can make informed decisions on their life and health, and they deserve to be able to make those decisions.

And then there is breast cancer, an overwhelming personal experience. 

Withholding information or only sharing information that fits your desires is not honest. They have breast cancer. Why would you think they couldn’t handle the truth?

There are only one of two outcomes with sharing half-truths or no truth at all. Either they will know you are sharing half-truths and feel betrayed. Or, they believe you and find out later you were not being honest and feel betrayed.

In the Tao, betrayal is the emotion that closes off the heart, breaks down trust, and destroys your relationship, sometimes in subtle ways that you’ll never know.

You are not responsible for other people’s half-truths, only your own. So, if you hear someone’s half-truth, it isn’t your responsibility to correct them. But, if your loved one asks you, you are responsible for answering without bias.

In the last two weeks of my sister’s life, her systems were failing. I was moving her around in a wheelchair because her body would no longer follow her desires. I was feeling frustrated with the lack of information shared with my sister. 

We were driving around the world. You probably know what I mean. We were driving around the world we had shared, places we had been, events we had shared. 

The afternoon sun beat through the windshield. My sister had flipped down the visor and was looking at her eyes. The whites had turned bright yellow over the last day or so. 

“Kimmy, why are my eyes so yellow?” There was an innocence to the question that could have come from a young child wondering why the sky was so blue. 

The question hit me like a hammer. I felt my body go rigid behind the steering wheel as my eyes suddenly locked on the road ahead of me. I knew I had to tell her what it was, but I also knew this would be the first time my sister heard she was dying. 

“It’s jaundice.”

I couldn’t say anything else. Trying to explain it away or say anything to diminish the significance of jaundice at this point in her diagnosis would have been a half-truth. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw her body go rigid as she finally understood what was happening.

Without bias thing gets difficult. What is better, to know or not know? Is it your responsibility to make that decision for the person? Fear…you can handle it. They can handle it. Your relationship can’t handle a betrayal. 

Being Present and Aware

“…this is because things sometimes diminish themselves and then benefit.”

                                                                     -Chapter 42 Tao De Jing

I knew I was walking the last of our days together, and it felt like I was trying to drink a glass of water and couldn’t get enough. I was trying to drink enough water to get me through the rest of my life without her.  

We had spent three years working things out, remembering, trying to make sense of everything. My sister left me with a lot to think about. Even today, I sit and wonder about some of the twists and turns our lives took. 

It’s Fall outside. It reminds me of the Fall afternoons in San Diego when we would be up in the foothills riding horses. The smell of the ocean still permeating the air even that far away. I can feel the riding boots, the jodhpurs, the reins in my hand, and my sister nearby. There was peace in those moments.

Throughout this journey, I reserved myself for myself and my sister. This was part of the path of the Tao to cultivate yourself through behavior. I abstained from getting too involved with those close to my sister to avoid their desires.  

I worked at abstaining from my desires and wants to open my mind to her desires and wants. 

Nothing is ever perfect. Yet, in the end, I gained great benefit. I had many more beautiful mornings and stunning views. I was able to avoid the regret that comes with a life unfinished. My sister and I were able to finish our life together. 

Today, I miss her, but I am not in the world of regret and missed opportunities. The memories I remember the most and the memories that are the most beautiful were when I was there for her, pushing her wheelchair, hearing her hurts, understanding her needs.

5 Steps for Emotional Health

Well, it’s gotten a little overwhelming again, and your stress may be trying to consume you. Here are five steps to help you keep your emotional health and balance.

Walk-in nature

Why nature? Nature is one of the great healers, and spiritual leaders of this time. Everything you need to know can be found in nature. And everything you need to put down, the stress, the anxiety, can be released in nature.

Five Element theory can help increase your interaction with nature to calm your soul. According to Five Element theory, every aspect of nature has unique qualities which will make it more effective at one thing over another. Grieving? Spend time looking up into the sky. Need your own nurturing? Take a walk in the woods. Anxiety has you running in circles? Take a walk through a grass field. 

And why a walk instead of your quad? Because when you visit a friend, you don’t bring your bike and ride around their living room. You bring yourself and sit down with your friend giving them your undivided attention. It’s even more so in nature. You can’t hear your guru when you’re racing your quad.

So, take the time to hear nature echo into your soul.

You can learn more about using nature in my blog, “Discover How to Double the Impact of Your Meditation with Nature.” or in my book “Caregivers Survival Guide, How to overcome stress in 30 minutes or less with Chinese Medicine.”

Exercise

 Stress, uncertainty, confusion all create energy in your body. You’re older now and didn’t think you would be going back to your youth when your mother would send you outside to get rid of that excess energy, but you are. Without an outlet, the emotional energy builds up and overwhelms you making it impossible to sleep, or turn off your thoughts.

What’s different from your youth…you’re older. And if you’ve been suffering from stress or anxiety, you’re probably exhausted. Take it slow. Check out the episode, “Consciously Helping Your Heart Stay Healthy.” and “Why Walking is a Good Thing.” Exercise is a release valve, and release valves don’t have to be huge like a marathon. They just have to let a little bit escape.

Breathing

Mindfulness practices have brought breathing exercises for stress to mainstream America. Thank-goodness, because when you’re someplace like at work or in a grocery store, talking a walk or exercising may not be an option. 

The most uncomplicated breathing technique is taking a slow, deep breath followed by a slow exhale. Now, suppose you’ve been staying engaged with my Youtube channel or my blog. In that case, you’re already aware that I like bringing back the ancient “why’s” like what is the significance of the trilogy in my episode, “The Power of Yin & Yang, Pt. 1 – the Creation of Life.”

So, if you’re curious about why breath is so universal and the mechanics of breathing in/out, check out my episode, “3 Steps to Improve Your Meditation: Part 1 Breath.”

And if you’re up for more specialized breathing techniques, check out the episode, “Six Healing Breaths, HE for Anxiety.”

Eat Whole Foods

When I’m stressed, the first thing I want to do is eat ice cream or chips. I think they are quick and easy and address my desire to eat even though I’m not hungry. 

What I found out is these foods have a lot of calories with no nutritional value. I could sit down in front of the t.v. and consume 1,000 calories in a half-hour. An hour later, I would be starving because the food didn’t provide the nutrition I needed. 

Missing the nutrition I needed to keep my body healthy, I became more exhausted, gained more weight, and experienced more stress. And eating foods that had calories, but no nutrition had longer term impacts on the body and aging. If you’re curious about what happened and why you can’t lose weight, check out my episodes, “What is Phlegm in Chinese Medicine” and “Lose the Impossible Weight in 5 Minutes a Day – Breaking up Phlegm.”

The moral of this story? Eat whole foods, especially if you are experiencing stress and anxiety. 

Meditate

Sometimes meditation is easier said than done, right? Especially when you’re feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, and anxious, trying to quiet your mind feels impossible. 

Well, you’re right. It’s less easy to quiet your mind under stress and anxiety. If you need some ideas on how you can overcome the noise in your head, check out my episode, “Simple Meditation Techniques to Find the Rhythm of Meditation in 4K.”

Judgment says more about the person

And practice makes perfect. But, sometimes you can get in your own way with things like judgement. Need some thoughts on judgment, check out my blog, “Judgment says more the person than the situation.”

It might be hard to remember, but you came into this world with compassion. 

You know how to do compassion. So, when you’re trying to pull your head out of the fire, take a breath and remember it’s o.k. to have self-compassion.

And if you want some thoughts on how to find positivity, check out my blog, “It’s Time to Double Down on Positivity.”

Well, there it is, five steps you can take to help you get back into balance or stay in balance.

How I Found Spirituality Inside my Gallbladder

Life had gotten away from me, and I was on the wrong side of a healthy lifestyle. I knew how I got there. I had spent three years as a caregiver for two of the most influential and loved people in my family; my mother and sister. In between, I ran the gauntlet of running a small holistic medical practice, trying to save my show horse, and dealing with a plague of legal issues from a psycho estate executor.

Podcast: How I Found Spirituality Inside My Gallbladder

I don’t know how I stayed married. But, I did, and when I finally woke up, my mother, sister, and show horse were gone. I was a mess.

I was severely overweight. Funny how stress can bring out the eating bandits in some people – always sneaking another snack, another cookie, or a whole quart of ice cream. I was so out of shape that even walking was a chore. I had no flexibility and, I swear I had a nervous tic from all the stress.

ENDING UP IN THE EMERGENCY ROOM

Late one night, I ended up in the emergency room.

It was my gallbladder. I laid on the hospital bed with my husband at my side, grateful there was an end to the pain. Twenty minutes later, the doctor came back, uncomfortable and evasive. He tried to tell me he couldn’t do the surgery.

I’ve got a challenge for you. Describe a shade of blue without actually saying blue.

After the doctor left, my husband and I were able to translate his words into, “My gallbladder wasn’t life-threatening, so I had to talk with my gastroenterologist.” I wasn’t sure I was up for the wait. If you’ve had gallbladder pain, you know it’s a ten on the pain scale.

Not being ready to give up on the surgery, I wanted to negotiate for the surgery when the doctor came back.

CROSSROADS – WHO DO YOU MEET?

My doctor did come back, but he wasn’t alone. He introduced me to the Chief of Surgery. She stood behind him and didn’t say anything as she watched me.

crossroads

The first thing I noticed was she was Asian. I’m Asian. I grew up with a whole bunch of Asian women. I had already learned that when we said, “No,” that was pretty much a hard stop. I could feel the slippery hold I had on surgery slowly slipping away.

I half-listened to my doctor while silently sizing up the Chief of Surgery. My doctor was still trying to tell me he couldn’t do the surgery without using those words while the Chief of Surgery stood by the door saying nothing but using all those words. It was a hard no.

I sighed. Acknowledged defeat and nodded my head, “Fine,” I said.

With that one word, the Chief of Surgery was ready to leave the room comfortable knowing everything was right in the world. Everyone followed the rules, and the patient was going to do what was best for the patient. It didn’t feel like that.

LIFE CHANGING CONVERSATION

Only a week later and I was speaking with my gastroenterologist. I didn’t know it was going to be a life-changing conversation. We talked through the options. He mentioned one option multiple times. It was the option of doing nothing and trying to manage this with diet. Immediately after slipping that option in front of me, it was almost like he would take it back, stating he was willing to do the surgery, and my case justified surgery.

I thought “Doing nothing” must not be a well-received or popular option. But, he kept slipping it out there. So, why?

I asked him about that. That question permitted him to tell all he knew and had experienced with this surgery. And even with permission, he was cautious. He couldn’t guarantee the surgery would get rid of the pain. But it felt like he wanted to say the surgery wouldn’t get rid of the pain.

The thing is, I already knew gall bladder surgery seemed to create more problems for people later in life. I had seen it at my clinic. I’ll call it gall bladder surgeries gone bad, but they hadn’t really gone bad.

What the surgery seemed to do was allow the patient to continue eating whatever they wanted. All that food that had caused the inflammation they kept eating because the gallbladder which was like a nervous system had been removed. The nerves were no longer telling you that you had a problem. Then one day, the pain would show up again because the inflammation had gotten so severe it had finally expanded to another nervous system. The patient would start using Omeprazole or Prilosec and continue to eat everything their body was begging them to stop eating. The pain would break through again.

By this time, the damage was severe. I had never heard of this before. Gastroparesis, paralysis of the intestines, was common. Every bite promised excruciating pain. I was thinking about one of my clients who was a senior citizen and showed signs of dementia. The pain was brutal, but she had hit a place in life where she mentally could no longer change how she ate, and the medication wasn’t working. She never had a Chief of Surgery standing at the door to the crossroads of her life, warning her she had to make a conscious decision on how she would live the rest of her life.

DECISIONS & ADDICTIONS

I probably would have made a different decision if I didn’t have personal experience about the pain returning. But I knew it would. Maybe not right away. Perhaps late in life when my mental faculties could not make changes. Just that thought had me thinking it was kind of like creating you’re own private prison.

In clinic, I had started to discover the gallbladder was the canary in the coal mine. It was the early warning system that everything was not o.k. Without the early warning system, I wouldn’t feel the pain of inflammation creating damage in my digestive tract until it was too late.

Keeping my gallbladder was a big commitment. I was a little frightened by the decision. I mean, could I stop eating these foods. If I couldn’t change, what would that mean? I’m a holistic healthcare provider. If I couldn’t change my eating habits, it seemed to suggest that I’m a bit of a fraud, and I was destined for a life of being overweight, uncomfortable, and exhausted. So, for me, the decision was a little bit terrifying.

Sometimes, all the positives can’t outweigh the benefits of addiction, and I am addicted to food. Like every addiction out there, food comforted me when I was down, lonely, depressed, anxious. Food helped me avoid myself.

That three years of stress as a caregiver ended with a huge loss. I wanted to avoid what I was feeling. I wanted to crawl in a hole away from myself.

It was weird to me that these thoughts were going through my head. I don’t know about you, but when life takes me to a crossroads, I always think it’s God, it’s my higher power, it’s whoever is guiding my light through life, telling me I have to make a decision.

LIGHTING YOUR PATH

I’ve been lucky to have found my way to Chinese Medicine and from Chinese Medicine to find my way to Daoism.

You know how you can’t hear a message until you find the person who says it in just the right way?

That is what the philosophy of Daoism did for me. It talked to me in just the right way so I could understand self-compassion. Any addict can tell you, the person they berate the most is themself.

This journey to keep my gallbladder was going to have far reaching consequences on my life. In order to make it, I was going to need self-compassion. It wasn’t just my eating habits that were going to change. I was going to remove the one thing I was using to avoid my emotions which meant I would have to face the grief and the loss.

I think about some of the individuals I’ve had the honor of knowing. Addiction is what you use to avoid facing yourself, whether that addiction is work, exercise, alcohol, drugs, or money. Addictions help individuals avoid the really tough questions in life like, “Am I really a bad person?” “Is it always my fault?” “Why does it hurt so bad?” “Can I face the grief and loss?” “Why am I unhappy?”

Addictions are the wall built to avoid living. Addictions take a short-term behavior and change it into a chronic, life-long compulsion.

So, yeah, changing your addiction is not going to be easy.

In medical school, I had done my internship in an addiction recovery center. I learned it took an average of eight times for an individual to get over their addiction. Each effort to get over their addiction meant they were still standing. They hadn’t given up. Each time brought them a little closer with the pain and darkness they were trying to avoid. Like learning to swim, it’s easier to learn in steps instead of being thrown in the deep end without a life preserver. There is a high probability of failure in option two.

YOUR BODY/YOUR GUIDE

So, back to the gallbladder. The gallbladder was this canary in the coalmine. The early warning system told me I was at a crossroads and had to make a decision.

There are all sorts of guides and healers in this world. Yet, the one that is most relevant to you is your own body. It is your cathedral to the world. Every health issue is an opportunity to address part of your spirituality, and you don’t even have to know what part of your spirituality is addressed.

Yet, sometimes you may decide not to change some behavior to improve your life. In those situations, maybe spend some time meditating to allow yourself to make a conscious decision. Become your own Chief of Surgery and help yourself acknowledge the crossroads.

Your body might not be here just to make your life more convenient. Your body may be here to help you become the most amazing person you can be. That would make your body your number one fan and your most important spiritual guru.

When You Become Part of the Social Dilemma, How to Clear Your Mind

I was going to write about when Daoism became a religion, but then I got mired down in all the actions and desires of every individual that moved forward to add a religious bent to what had been a life philosophy, and I started realizing, they too, were facing a social dilemma. 

When You Become Part of the Social Dilemma, How to Clear Your Mind

And here is the thing, Daoism could not have developed a religious bent at any other time. One of the basic tenets of Daoism is time and place. And the time and place that enabled individuals to create a religion didn’t exist in an earlier period. 

Today feels like another time and place is happening, creating change. That change is pushing unpredictability into your life at an alarming rate. 

Why the Social Dilemma?

Take a minute to think about all the change that is happening at this minute. The Boomer Generation that has held power for the last 30-40 years is moving past retirement and slipping away. The rise of the delta variant and the abnormal heat waves crossing the United States place stressors worldwide. The incredible consolidation of wealth into the 1%.

And what this means, no one knows.

This unpredictability creates fear – a surprisingly unlikeable emotion, especially when you feel powerless. 

With the heat rolling across the United States, it was like the last straw. People’s pressure valves had hit maximum capacity, and they were lashing out. Social media took a sudden turn for the worse, and the social dilemma exploded again into people’s lives. Friends turned into disrupters, and hostility shattered into virtual communities. Friends were turning on friends again. 

I was scrolling past the hostility when I stumbled across one post from an old friend who was now an old acquaintance who had turned into a disrupter as a part-time hobby. I was getting ready to unfriend her when I paused.

The Most Predictable Path Isn’t the Path of Least Resistance

There is beauty in the Five Element Theory from ancient China. If you need a high level outline of Five Element theory, check out, “101 On Five Element Theory.” The theory can outline the most predictable paths of actions taken by individuals when under stress. 

When fear creates feelings of powerlessness and lack of safety, the most immediate response is to protect yourself. Even though there are many different ways to protect yourself, the United States tends to be highly individualistic, and the loud ones on social media tend to use the wood or liver element.

The liver channel/wood element is considered the General in Chinese Medicine. And you’ve watched The History Channel. The General has the responsibility to lead troops in and through battle. When you read the posts, you can hear the call to action to create mob pressure. What is a little bit different from your friends posting disruptive posts and the true disrupters, your friends usually don’t want to be a leader. They just want to be heard and supported. 

Now, two things about the liver/wood element. Out of balance, it is filled with anger, rage, frustration, confusion. In balance, this channel shows kindness and fairness. You don’t get to be in harmony all the time because this is life. Right now, life is messy. To get some ideas on how to get back in balance, check out, “Simple Meditation Techniques to Find the Rhythm of Meditation.”

So, with a messy life, you get to be out of balance more than you want. The anger, fear, frustration is easily expressed through tearing down the world around you. That is usually not your primary goal. But, it does happen. Then people turn against you, and that aggravation you’ve been feeling inside now exists outside too!

Not everybody likes feeling crappy and hostile all the time. So, what can you do to not firebomb the community around you?

When Social Distancing is Good Thing

Well, first off, people are practicing social distancing. Even though that feels like a bad thing. It can also be a good thing. 

My husband and I went to Home Depot to get some things for maintenance around the house. The Covid vaccinations allowed everything to open up, and people had been pouring onto the streets and into stores. 

Home Depot was crowded. 

People were racing around the store, bumping into one another, grabbing things. There was this frenzy going on to consume. I was overwhelmed by the energy of the place, and started picking up on the need to consume and purchase right now. The longer I stayed in the store, the greater the pressure. I started zooming around, searching for unmet wants.

I didn’t like how I was feeling. I didn’t like the pressure. Suddenly I stopped and told my husband I would meet him outside. Stepping outside the store was like someone pulling a blanket off of me. The pressure, the frenzy to consume lifted, and I felt my relaxed peace returning.

We are human. We react and respond to others knowingly or unknowingly. When you feel the pressure building inside of you, disengage. Pull away and find space between you and others. Give yourself a timeout and time to think. 

Baby Boomers Need Exercise!

All this energy needs an outlet. So, exercise. And if you’re a boomer or Gen X’er, you know you need to exercise. You’re doctor has probably been telling you to go for a walk for the last few years. Get up and go for a walk or wander over to all that home exercise equipment turning into a dust jungle in your house and turn it on. 

People live highly sedentary lives today. And that ignores the fact that you are human and are constantly creating energy inside your body. Watch the energy of a two-year-old. Who in their right mind would tell a two-year-old to sit still and don’t move. You want them running around and blowing off all that excess energy because if you don’t, you’re in for the screaming tantrum.

Even though your boomer or Generation X’er energy has reduced from when you were two years old, your social intellect has dramatically increased. A two-year-old with a tantrum is damaging to a few. A boomer with a tantrum is destructive to themselves and many around them. And even though it might not seem like it, you’re bringing that destruction into your home life, too.

So, get up and find another outlet for all the stress, fear, frustration, and unpredictability that is weighing on you.

Good Vibes are Free – Overcome Your Social Dilemma

After you work out, find a quiet space for yourself and repeat the prayer of St. Francis to yourself. Each time you say this prayer, concentrate more on each word you are saying. Say the prayer more than once. Each time you repeat the prayer, your focus on the prayer will get sharper. 

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.

O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Amen.

Try saying this prayer daily. If you want more thoughts on how to meditate, check out my Youtube channel at BestAcupuncturellc and the Playlist, “Meditation, Nature and the Esoteric side of Chinese Medicine.

Principles of Non-Action in the Social Dilemma

And lastly, for those of you who are on the receiving end of a General gone bad, don’t react, don’t respond, find you’re way through water. Water has the unique ability not to react. Watch water run downhill. Instead of taking on the rock, it splits and goes around the rock, continuing on its journey. Want more information on the dynamics of the water element expressed in people? Check out, “Five Great Reasons Why Water Should Be the Most Popular Person Right Now.”

I have grown a bee-friendly garden. The excess heat has reduced the flower crops and put stress on water. The bees are under so much pressure that my presence near their flowers was agitating them. Usually, I can walk all around bees and wasps, almost touching them, with no problems. 

I heard the warning hum as they lifted off the flowers, and I stopped. I got really quiet and didn’t move. When they calmed down, I backed away. 

One way to not react is to become quiet and back away. But there are many ways to not react. Let’s be honest, most of the hostility is political and consumed in personal attacks with no solutions. They want a fight. Instead of taking that excess energy out on a treadmill, for some reason, they think taking it out on friends is a more effective solution.

I have a friend who sits opposite of me on some political issues. Not all political issues, just a very few. But those very few were enough for this friend to identify a division. And they started picking up their rhetoric, getting more pointed. One day she made a statement that was purely inflammatory to bait me. Here’s the thing, in general, I agreed with her statement just not the personalization of it. So, I agreed with her.

The General likes a fight. They come prepared for war. You can almost feel their energetics as they push up against this imaginary wall between the two of you. By agreeing, there was no imaginary wall, and she tumbled into space to find the void. The confusion radiated off her, and without a reaction, she no longer had a war. She just stopped.

And I get it. You’re saying, “Well, who needs that friend?” That is why I was reaching to unfriend my post-baiting friend on social media. Then I stopped. As a nation, we had just spent the last two years unfriending friends who had different views from ours, and it hasn’t changed the conversation. 

Try something three times, and if it doesn’t work, try something else.

This is a Time and Place

This is a time and place that is going to create something new. It’s messy and you won’t get to be in balance all the time. From a Daoist perspective, how we work through this overwhelming upheaval of society will lay the groundwork for the future. 

I am going to try to find my future through balance. 

This time, when I see my friends hurting and posting their fears on social media in an attempt to be heard, I’m going to try and give them room to do that. Compassion…the prayer of St. Francis. Maybe, when I’m knee-deep in my sh#!, they will be able to find the heart to give me room.

If you think you might want to find your way through your balance, subscribe and follow, and maybe we can find a way through this together. 

Daoist Thoughts on If the Big Bang Theory Is Wrong

You know, it’s always bothered me…the big bang theory. Because I practice Chinese Medicine and Daoism, it has been my Daoist thoughts on Big Bang Theory that have bothered me. Suddenly, out of nothingness, there was this massive explosion, and everything came to be.

The explosion was not the first part that bothered me. The part that was bugging me is the ever-expanding Universe. The Universe isn’t retracting or receding, ever. It has always been expanding. From its inception, it has only grown. That is what has bothered me.

Why would this bother me? Well, because of the rules of Yin/Yang theory. The founding principle of Yin/Yang theory is you have to have both yin and yang for life to exist. The theory has yin as expanding and yang as contracting. Yin tends to soften and become more pliable. Yang tends to harden and become more material.

Some real-life examples of how both yin and yang are needed would be breathing. Breathing is a yin and yang exercise where the exhale is more yin, and the inhale is more yang. In order to survive, you need both. The minute you have one without the other, you’re dead. So, without both inhalation and exhalation, life does not exist.

Another one is the sun and the moon. The daylight is more yang allowing plants to gain nutrition and grow. The moonlight is more yin allowing plants to rest and release the excess heat of the day. Without the two, the earth would either heat up and burn up or cool down and turn into a frozen rock. You need the two for life to exist.

That is the part of the big bang theory that has been bothering me. Right now, it appears there aren’t two: expanding and contracting. Instead, there is only one: expanding.

That has had me burning out some brain cells thinking and meditating about this. A couple of things finally came to me. Let’s talk a little more about Daoism and the theory.

Everything comes from the Dao. And Dao is perfect nothingness. I can’t even fathom that because I can’t fathom the concept of nothingness. Even in my limited ability to think, when I think of nothingness, nothingness has boundaries. I can’t fathom stepping into the absolute vacuum-sealed solitude of nothingness and that it is boundless. At a minimum, my tiny brain always has boundaries around nothingness.

The Dao is one, and out of the one, two is created. And with the two, you have life. The two are yin and yang, the polar opposites that allow life to flourish like your breath and like day and night. I have an episode on Yin on Yang theory on my Youtube channel called: The Power of Yin & Yang, Pt. 1 – the Creation of Life. It goes into this in more detail.

Both the expansion of yin and the contraction of yang are necessary to have life according to Yin/Yang theory. That is what has bothered me about the Universe. It has only been expanding. Since the Big Bang, the Universe has only been expanding.

Everything I’ve learned about the Big Bang theory is that it was a great explosion. It was this huge explosion that came from nothingness. Everything was created from that explosion. It’s the terminology, explosion. An explosion is a violent tearing apart or blowing something apart. An explosion is a yin event. It is an expansion.

That would mean, from the start, the Universe has only been a Yin event. If everything has been a yin event, then life could not exist. Yet, in Yin/Yang theory, each expansion must be paired with a contraction if you want life.

That made me think about the Dao, nothingness, and space.

The Big Bang had to be the contraction. Instead of an explosion outward, it was a huge, enormous, massive contraction inwards. It wasn’t created in violence. It was created in silence. Like a colossal breath inwards, all of the nothingness was pulled inwards with intention, and that contraction made nothingness so small, it suddenly appeared. It was almost like a blip on the radar. One minute it isn’t there, and the next minute it is.

If the Big Bang was a contraction, that made the expanding nature of the Universe more plausible.

If everything is about balance in Daoism, maybe nothingness is balance. Or maybe nothingness is like the absolute farthest reach of yin, like a day hitting its darkest point at midnight, and after midnight yang begins to grow. Or maybe, the Big Bang is like yang reaching its farthest point during the day, at noon, and begins to release its hold on the earth, and yin begins to grow inside the daylight.

But for now, the Universe is moving with Yin energetics. The more something expands, the more space comes between particles. From chemistry, you can start to fathom how small things can be. At some point and time, can things expand enough to become nothingness once again? That seems like the only logical ending of constant expansion…nothingness.

At the end of that expansion, will there be another massive contraction as the Universe recreates itself in a never-ending cycle of yin and yang?