There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it’s going to be a butterfly. – Margaret Fuller


11 Lessons I Learned from a Silent Meditation Retreat


I just spent four days on a silent meditation retreat with Here are 11 lessons that I learned from the retreat:

  1. Be a noble friend to yourself. Take good care of yourself. Remember you are the only doorway to the existence for yourself. During the retreat, I realized that I am too critical with myself. I need to let go of things and be my own best friend.
  2. If you find value in something, continue to pursue it. There are many times that I want to give up on something that’s good for me. For example, sometimes I will find excuses not to go to meditation class.
  3. Watch how your thoughts can cause suffering. Do not be mislead by unguided thoughts or false views. Wisdom comes by seeing the whole picture or the whole story (endowed with insight).
  4. Find commonality among other people. Most people want to improve their lives. We are more alike than different.
  5. Decide to lead a spiritual life, even if that means going through it alone. I realized that most of my family members do not accept that I am Buddhist. My family members are Catholic and they do not understand the Buddhist way of living. Sometimes I feel like I am estranged from my family. However, I know that the Buddhist path is right for me, so I will walk alone if I have to.
  6. Renunciate. In Buddhism, the Pali word for “renunciation” is nekkhamma, conveying more specifically “giving up the world and leading a holy life.” My holy life includes daily practice of yoga and meditation, serving humanity through hospice work, attending a weekly meditation group (sangha) with my Buddhist teacher, sharing metta (loving-kindness) with everyone that I meet, and continuing self-study. I want to increase mindfulness.
  7. Spiritual practices like meditation, yoga, prayer, and reading spiritual literature can help keep you on the right path.
  8. It is important to forgive and move on. “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” – Mahatma Gandhi
  9. Gratitude creates a joyful heart. “Constantly apply cheerfulness, if for no other reason than because you are on this spiritual path. Have a sense of gratitude to everything, even difficult emotions, because of their potential to wake you up.” – Pema Chodron
  10. Use your time wisely. We all have 24-hours in a day. You can create a spiritual life with the right choices.
  11. Never do anything that the wise would reprove (reprimand). We are never alone. There are always celestial beings around us.

Namaste, world.

Breath Patterns

ana forrest

One of my old behavior patterns is to not speak up in a large group setting. I am an introvert, so speaking in a large group can be intimidating. Most extroverts can think outload, but as an introvert I take time to think before I speak. However, I decided to change my breath patterns during my hospice team meeting and I noticed that I gained confidence to speak up. I took several deep breaths and then when I was ready to speak I took one more big breath. It worked! Now I know I can use my breath to change my behavior.

Namaste, world.

Nietzsche’s Question

xmas ghost

Friedrich Nietzsche’s question: What if you were to live the identical life again and again throughout eternity – how would that change you?

“The thought of living your identical life again and again for all eternity can be jarring, a sort of petite existential shock therapy. It often serves as a sobering thought experiment, leading you to consider seriously how you are really living. Like the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, it increases your awareness that this life, your only life, should be lived well and fully, accumulating a few regrets as possible. Nietzsche thus serves as a guide leading us away from the preoccupation with trivial concerns to the goal of living vitally.”  – Irvin D. Yalom (from the book, “Staring at the Sun: Overcoming the Dread of Death”)

Letting Go of Fear

Man with lamp walking illuminating his path

Last night, in the middle of the night, fear crept up inside me. For the last couple of months, I’ve had occasional vertigo. As I laid in bed, I said to myself, “What is wrong with me?”

Then the fear spread in my head and my body froze.

I know what fear feels like, but now I use tools to help me let go of the fear. Right after I feel fear, I connect with my mantra: I have a strong mind. I repeat this phrase over and over in my mind. Last night, I actually fell asleep saying this mantra.

Other things to remember about fear:

  • Fear can be learned. In the past, I was afraid of vertigo. Now I know that fear is an experience or energy. It can be transformed – it will not stay. I turn the light on fear, face the fear, and then release it.
  • Identify the specific event that caused the fear and sever the emotional ties.
  • Remember the more you hold onto fear, the more it manifests. Fear is like food – you want more.
  • Give fear “no power.”
  • Increase self-confidence (that is why I say “I have a strong mind”).
  • Reprogram the subconscious mind using mantras, meditation, or hypnosis.

I remember hearing that the antidote to fear is gratitude. Anthony Robbins who is an American author and life coach says, “The antidote to fear is gratitude. The antidote to anger is gratitude. You can’t feel fear or anger while feeling gratitude at the same time.” Sometimes when I feel fear, I say to myself, “I am so thankful for my life. I will be okay.”

I am okay. I am sitting here typing this post. I am so thankful to have the opportunity to share my thoughts. Thank you for reading my words.

Namaste, world.

*Note 12/26/18: I went to the doctor and found out that I have low iron which is why I was feeling dizzy.



I have two selves: one internal and one external. Lately, I am getting to know my external self. The external self is the self that everyone sees and hears. I am looking from the outside in and creating a different perspective. Stephen Levine, an American poet and author, says that when we die, we pass out of a body and “we see that the body which we thought of us, the mind which we thought of as us, is quite a bit different, that life itself is a good deal different then we had ever imagined.”

When I die and look down at my body, will I even recognize that it’s me? When I listen to my voice on a recorder, it doesn’t sound like the voice that I hear. When I see a video of myself, I act and move differently than I thought.

Thich Nhat Hanh says, “Nonself means that your are made of elements which are not you. During the past hour, different elements have entered you and other elements have flown out of you. Your happiness, in fact your existence, comes from things that are not you.” He continues to say in his book, The Heart of Buddha’s Teaching, “The teachings of impermanence and nonself were offered by the Buddha as keys to unlock the door of reality. We have to train ourselves to look in a way that we know that when we touch one thing, we touch everything. We have to see that the one is in all and the all is in one.”

Maybe when I look down at my dead body I will understand how I can be and not be. I will see that I have a self and a nonself. And that I was made to be fluid, like the elements. Also, I will understand how we are all one because we share the same elements.

I cannot be attached to my life, and my body is not mine to keep. It is subject to illness, old age, and death. If I am fluid, then I have the ability to flow and change shape. I am a true shapeshifter.

Sadhguru, an Indian yogi and mystic, says you are the only doorway to the existence for yourself. It is our job to find out everything about ourselves. Exploration will lead us to self-realization. The more you know about yourself, the better you will live . For example, if you want to know how to use a camera, the more you know about it, the better.

So, it is good to look at life through different lenses. It will help us open our minds and lead us to self-realization.

Namaste, world.





True Grace


There is a lot of stigma and fear about death. The fear is that if we talk about death, we might invite it to come closer. However, we do not need to be afraid. Make a decision to have a strong mind and a brave heart. Death will come when it comes.

I like to talk and write about death. As a hospice massage therapist, I work with the dying almost every day. Recently, I had one patient that has shown me true grace in the dying process. Darlene was an 86-year-old woman who died of ovarian cancer. Darlene was quiet and reserved. She told me that she liked to sit in her recliner and be quiet. As a devote Christian woman, she would pray too. She did not watch the television or listen to music.

When I asked Darlene about her upcoming death, she said that it was God’s will. She surrendered with peace and grace. She always had a sweet smile and a calm spirit.

I hope that someday, when I approach my death, I will be like Darlene. I want to have true grace. I imagine grace to be like an eagle soaring. Darlene just let death happen. She spread her wings and let go with bravery and dignity.

And He will raise you up on eagles’ wings
Bear you on the breath of dawn
Make you to shine like the sun
And hold you in the palm of His hand.

When we die, we put a lot of trust into God. I think we have limited minds and do not realize our potential as spiritual beings. We will raise up on eagles’ wings.

We are eternal beings. We will have a new life after this one. I think that the new life will either be in a heaven-like realm or a new life through birth. We must have gratitude for the awesomeness of our lives. It is a gift to be alive and healthy.

Namaste, world.