For My Mother with Love and My Highest Respect
How it was…
I used Buddhism as my refuge and Yoga as my protective gear. Days were spent on overcoming the next obstacle, tackling more and more difficult asanas, and surpassing the limits of my body. And time and time again as I kept on injuring myself, I was actually proud of myself and felt triumphant. It got to the point where nothing in life mattered; it was all about practicing. I limited my sleeping, my eating, wanting to remain high and light as if I was walking on a tight rope, and it was all about satisfying my own ego and vanity.
Growing up in a single parent home, my mother shouldered the tough burden of taking care of my aging grandparents. They suffered from chronic disease that lasted over ten years. It slowly chipped away their frail body. When they were entering the late stage of their illness, the thing that I was afraid of the most was the phone calls from the hospital, especially during middle of the night. It was a time that I spent shuffling in between regular hospital room, intensive care unit, and home. I remember standing by the hospital bed, watching the doctor performing emergency procedures on my grandparents, while their bloods were gushing out. As my body was shaking uncontrollably, I tried to get a hold of myself, telling myself not to faint, to calmly listen to the doctor’s instructions, but the next minute, I just went limp on the hallway chair.
This back and forth all of a sudden came to a stop one early morning. It was all over. House suddenly went quiet. I turned to look at my mother. She was still stable like a big tree; only her gaze was often far and lost, revealing reluctance and too many regrets. Days still passed without stopping and one evening, my mother called out: “WaWa, come and help me thread this needle. Mom’s eyes are not so good these days.” Hearing that, my heart sank so deep and I thought have I been a good daughter? How long have I been neglecting the fact that she is aging?
I would get back on the mat and found myself blankly staring at it. It used to be that I could attain almost any pose, and now I couldn’t even do a basic pose without falling. I knew. I was out of sorts. I was lost.
After searching for a long, long time, it was when I was chatting with an elder and he simply asked me directly, “do you think you’ve done enough homework on being a daughter?” Have I completely lost my faith? Have I impulsively believed in Santa Claus? Or the side road flower? It was as if God’s nails kept digging into my heart, until lights shined through. I suddenly was awakened. “Spirituality” to me was to take care of my own body, clearly define my role, extending the Confucian relationships, care for the ones I love and learn to appreciate. It was about getting back to the most basic Chinese idea: cultivate oneself first, before putting family in order.
My mother had fulfilled her role, being calm and patient. It is perhaps the greatest wisdom. Now what I appreciate the most is being able to have a meal with my beloved mother, have a chat, watch a movie and take a walk with her, and even watch her actively participate in yoga classes. That’s how I know that I’m back. Back on the mat, I have let go the desire to challenge my limits. It is only about being steady in the details and encouraging students to awaken to their own sensitivity and awareness to their body.
These experiences have taught me these objectives and attitudes about life:
- Respect: Our basic attitude should be respect. Respect for all things and beings. Respect to others and to ourselves.
- Friendliness: Be kind-hearted and considerate.
- Civility: Mind your manners, be polite, behave well and show restraint.
- Honesty: Keep your words. Be honest. When you make a promise you must keep it.
- Righteousness: Do the right thing
- Loyalty: Be responsible, be real, not fake.
- Compassion: Accept, forgive, be empathetic and give encouragement. Be thoughtful to others.
- Wisdom: It is knowledge with experience, with humor, be tactful, think before you act. Know when is the right time to do something. Constantly seek to enrich yourself intelligently, be more knowledgeable by reading more books or magazines and pass it on.
My deepest gratitude to all the practitioners. Thank you!