Artist Sacred Dancer Author
Mama of Sanctuary Forest Garden
Mama of Sanctuary Forest Garden
The influence of spirituality in the Buddhism environment began when I was already a little girl. The deep impressions of chanting, serving together with my late grandma and the other elderly is etched in my memory. I remember I was full of happiness, joy and contentment, washing the dishes and the temple, feeling happy to be a part and contributing to the community. In fact, the love of the elderly took away my pain, hurts from the traumas I suffered.
When I received and embraced God at 21 years old in 1993, I unconsciously entered into a semi-monastic living. At that point of my life, I was searching what do I truly want to do next in my life. I spent most of my time in the day in prayers, church ministry, learning art, studying drama and working as a freelance tutor. During the 5 years, I was very contented, happy, joyful and at peace. Prayers, quiet time even crying out loud to God gave me tremendous comfort, solace and peace. I remembered a friend and a priest (my spiritual director then) told me that I had such a calm and peaceful disposition and even when there was a conflict, I was as calm as a cucumber. I find solace, healing, comfort and love in God and loved immersing myself in art and in ministry, especially dancing for God. I even dreamt of having my own art studio. I was very contented with life. As I contemplate today, arises the awareness of my path in my early years as a young adult and it suddenly dawns on me I have tasted and lived a semi-monastic life for 5 years and the constant peace and love I always had. It is not something I am unfamiliar with. I lost it after I had to listen to my parents to be like everyone else, to find a stable permanent job. I entered to be trained as a primacy school teacher. Life became very hectic and stressful and I lost that peace. I worked 7 days in a week. I also taught drama and movement in the weekends to save up to further my study overseas. I yearned and yearned to return to the peace but I was not able to. It went on for another 5 years and finally I left the job. During those period of teachings, I took time off to find sanity in silent retreats.
The yearning to come home lingered and my soul kept calling me home. I knew, yet I did not listen though I was in touch with my within, not paying full conscious attention to my inner voice. Though I seek, I was too busy studying, working and fighting. Only in 2015, my body shut down to deliberately wake me up. I am thankful because of the training as a dance therapist, I listen to the wisdom of my body. My body literally shut down like a machine lost its ability to function. Now, that was serious. My body was saying as I processed - I was working way too hard, fighting too hard, to find my place in the society, chasing to be recognised as a dance therapist. When the moment my body shut down, I knew it was a clear sign that I needed to pay close attention to what my body was saying and my soul called me back to continue healing in Authentic Movement and Contemplation (signs through people, books and connection indicated very clearly what steps I need to take). Ever since I come home, home to where I first begin, to my true self again, this time with awareness and consciously. I reconnect with love, peace and contentment again. Much deeper to the core of my being, soul and spirit. During this period of Sabbatical as part of my spiritual formation as a spiritual director, I make choices which are nourishing and loving to myself in a natural organic flow. I also choose to live a semi-monastic life, making time for contemplation, gardening, creativity, back to art...(I find love and joy in) after I witnessed the monks in the Abbey in my 4 days silent retreat. I finally have courage to embrace the journey of semi-monastic living again as I embrace my new calling in my next path.
Insight on Monastic Life
Monastic life is not a life of isolation. It is in fact the conscious mindful living of balancing our interior life, our social life, our work, and our involvement with the external environment. Where in every moment, we are living life to the fullest and giving as well as receiving fully with our presence. It is important to have time for contemplation, quiet time, Me time, time off to be with self to nurture, rest, to simply be and replenish our energy. When we learn the art of living homeostasis in our life, we naturally feel at peace, calm, joyful and full of love. It is in fact an act of loving ourselves unconditionally. It takes discipline and practise into our daily life - it is not an imposed choice but a conscious loving choice. We can therefore go forth to be the change in the world by being love and peace with others.
* This arises from my daily contemplation and my silent retreat in the Abbey where I witness what monastic life is and how we can live semi-monastic life as a normal lay person.
Shalom! Blessings! Love To you!