True Stories: Gwongaga-go

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Photo taken in NYC, 2014

Disclaimer: Another story that took place in NYC a year ago.

It’s always nice meeting my friend Yunji in the city. She certainly makes a great person to just bounce ideas off of and allow you to speak your mind free of judgements — not many of those in the world if you ask me. However, today we were going to meditate together and I was going to do a chant that I dreamt about a few nights before. Yunji was very excited about doing this because she’s very sensitive to energy, and seems to feel a lot of it coming from me, so I thought — what the heck, lets see what happens.

It took us a while to find a spot, since at that time of day on 12th Avenue and the art district there are many people walking around and enjoying the last few weeks of summer. We eventually found a small patch of grass behind some tall bushes, our backs were towards a group of teenagers throwing powder at each other — only in NYC. The sky looked like it wanted to rain off and on as a very dark cloud decided to come over us, it seemed like some unknown force knew we’d be doing this today. We settled in and finally got started.

As I began my chant, “Gwongaga-go,” “Gwongaga-go,” a rhythm started in me, it felt like I was back in my dream. My shoulders swayed and rocked, I could feel the energy going down my spin and flushing across the grass we were sitting on. After a while, I completely blocked out the fact that people were walking around us, helicopter noises in the background and a few rain drops here and there — I was in the zone. Inside me, the energy felt so great I wanted to scream out my chant — but didn’t out of fear. I eventually slowed down and came to a gentle stop. I could feel my body vibrating and it felt so uplifting and filled me with positive energy. I wonder if I had let myself go, how much more energy there would have been.

Afterwards, Yunji gave her thoughts about the experience, and she felt huge amounts of energy from it. She even talked about some of the visions she had received from it that completely related to the dream I had had. The dream was of me being on a Atlantean row boat as a tsunami wave was about to crush us; she gave some details about the ship that triggered more of my memories of the dream; a great time to share with a good friend.

As we were walking towards the train station, Yunji decided she wanted to eat at a restaurant nearby, as she had become extremely hungry after the meditation. I decided to go on home. As I was walking down the stairs into the subway, I was feeling really good about doing my chant in front of someone else. A woman with a baby carriage was single handedly carrying the carriage up the steps. I quickly offer my assistance, and I heard a young boy in the background commenting about my teenage mutant ninja turtles t-shirt. After reaching the top of the steps I faced the young boy. He had the most beautiful, golden hair, and by far, the most exquisite ocean blue eyes. I said a few jokes and everyone laughed, I said my farewell and proceeded down the steps. In the distance I heard, “I love you, BYE!” I quickly turned around and told him “I love you too!” as we exchanged waves. My day was certainly made.

What is More Effective, Empathy or Sympathy?

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Taken at Mottisfont, UK 

Probably one of the hardest decisions we have to make in our lives is how to be there for people or give people support. Much of the confusion we encounter involves our uncertainty about the use of sympathy and empathy. Naturally, many people lean to one or the other, but; what is more effective in creating a strong connection and giving rise to personal growth? To answer this question, we first have to know what empathy and sympathy are, keeping in mind that both of these traits can be learned —like most things in life.

Empathy:

Being able to be present with another person’s feeling is empathy’s playground. It means to co-exist with another, without allowing your own feelings to interrupt their current expression of their flow of emotions during a conversation. Empathy, you could say, is a non-judgmental state of mind in which all you’re doing is aligning your own feelings to the other person and seeing things from their unique point of view. In the state of empathy, there is a high degree of listening involved and understanding the meaning of words that are not said. For example, if someone tells you, “I hate seeing homeless children,” in a harsh tone of voice, an empathetic response might be: “It sounds like seeing homeless children really makes you upset, why is that?” By responding this way, you’re telling the other person that you acknowledge how they feel and are willing to further hear what they have to say. By doing this, you are creating a support structure and establishing a stable connection with the other person.

Sympathy:

Much more of a comparison of feelings with another person, often times having sympathy means feeling happy for a person or feeling sad. Normally it’s a reaction to how someone else feels and then matching those feeling with a same or different situation. Many would say that sympathy creates more of a disconnect, based on the fact that there is an invisible line of competition when it comes to the level of how someone would feel in a worse or better scenario. On the other hand, having sympathy can allow another person not to feel alone or isolated when it comes to their emotions. For example, if someone said to you, “It makes me happy to be able to watch my son walk for the first time.” A sympathetic response might be, “I know, I feel so happy too when I’m able to hold my daughter in my hands as she sleeps.” By responding this way you’re relating the same type of feeling in different situations, however, this can cause disharmony or create rapport, depending on the individuals.

What is more effective in creating a strong connection and gives rise to personal growth?

In the most popular cases, sympathy would be looked at as being the “natural” way to create a connection with someone; but how solid a connection? If a person is trying to explain how they feel, the consistent interruption of interjecting feelings can make a person more reluctant to open up further. Listening becomes much more rigid as a dialogue with a person who only gives sympathy; it will leave the speaker feeling like they’re not being understood. In a real life situation, if you take a moment to listen to how your friends, or even family, speak you can observe how in many situations feelings are being compared rather than one person actually listening to how the other feels. Responses that consist of giving advice right away or, conversely, trying to look at the brighter side of things, will not help the listener fully establish a strong bond with another person and this approach is most certainly not going to giving rise to personal growth.

However, from looking at the meaning of empathy you can see that making a lasting relationship is always possible. Allowing another person to say what they feel or think, without interjecting your own feelings gains trust on a level that exceeds that of sympathy. To be able to say what’s on your mind without judgment can open a doorway into yourself, allowing the progression of personal growth; for not only does the one doing all the speaking grow, but also the one listening. Listening to someone else’s experience and how they feel creates a union that dissolves the thoughts and feelings of separation — a state we all strive to avoid.

At the same time, empathy and sympathy are not only on a one to one basis, but can also be used on a personal level.

For the majority of my life, I would say, I’ve suppressed my own feelings when it came to many relationships and friendships. I was overly worried about other people’s feelings that my own discomfort was reflected back by those same people. For example, back when I first joined the US military, I did basic training before moving on to job specific training, which took place in Maryland. I met a beautiful girl who I thought was “THE ONE”. We immediately connected, and I knew I liked her and she liked me. After a while, and once I had the freedom to move off base, we spent an evening filled with events like walking in the mall, going to the movies and playing pool. That night we really hit it off. However, the very next day things flipped like a hot pancake. Her usual attentive behavior suddenly changed, where once we had looked at each other with affection from afar, now I became completely nonexistent in her world. I couldn’t quite understand what had happened and I tried everything in my power to regain her attention. I went as far as to march the entire company we were in, roughly 150 people, in a cadence that was purely about her and everyone knew it. Even after my time was over with that training, I drove back down to Maryland from New York City to confess my love to her. From her perspective I was probably a complete weirdo, but from my perspective I thought I was being utterly romantic. I kept telling myself sympathetic reasons why she didn’t like me anymore, such as: “She probably doesn’t want a relationship because she’s going on active duty in Germany and I’m going back home,” or “I have to be more persistent if I am going to have a girl like her.” However, I never gave myself enough empathy and I never acknowledged to myself how I truly felt; which in those times were anguish and grief at being ignored. If I had given myself more empathy and recognised my own feelings, I would have probably accepted her not liking me anymore and simply moved on. The way she ignored me was a reflection of how I was ignoring my own self.

In the end, empathy takes the medal home for creating a much richer connection with others over sympathy any day. Especially when it comes to giving empathy to the self. Focusing on personal growth not only helps the individual, but is a key to helping other people, too. And, doing so with empathy will take you much further than sympathy ever will, even if it comes at the cost of being alone.

The Healing Pond

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Photo taken in Southampton

Laying on my back on the sofa, I allow the muscles in my hips, shoulders and thighs to melt into the surface of the cushions; my legs sway a little as they naturally stop in their place. The tension behind my eyes are released, the feeling of peace reverberates to the centre of my body. Rising and falling, the air in my chest flows instinctively— slowly inhale, slowly exhale. My fingers slide apart into the sofa, the palms of my hands become soft as of a lovers graze. A gentle breeze, from no where, runs up my arm as the conjoined quiver slides down my spine; a large exhale.

As I sink deeper into myself, I begin to visualise a small pond surrounded by firm palm trees; the lines in their trunks are profound and distinct. The water is forming soft ripples, gliding along the surface, as if being combed by the wind. I walk slowly towards the pond and look down into it; blue light emanating from the bottom. My curiosity takes control as I try to get a clearer look at what’s there— diving into the water. Bubbles of all sizes form around my body, a bleak grey steam dissolves off my skin into the water, I’m rotating my arms to propel me into the depths of the pond.

Plunging through the mist, the blue light becomes more refine, revealing a cluster of very large clear quartz crystals— covering the entire floor of the pond, their pointed tips facing up towards me. I float in suspension, bewildered by the amount of crystals before me. The energy they emit sends tingles throughout my body. The vibration leaving me paralysed, my body starts to drift. Losing my poise, my back is pointed towards the crystals. The blue light beginning to enter the pores of my left arm, seeping into my cells, causing them to glow white. Lines of white light extend to my heart as it circulates through my body; the incandescent light encased my entire being.

Starting from my feet going up, my body becomes fragmented. Tiny balls form as they start to vibrate faster and faster and clash into each other vigorously. From where my head used to be, a crystallized head starts to form. My crystal-quartz-transparent-human-body floats in the middle of the pond, glowing yellow aura a few inches away from me, as I attempt to move my finger tips.

I breathe steadily as I move my toes and stretch my arms. I am recreated in higher vibration; my body feeling smooth and silky against the sofa. I slowly open my eyes and bring myself back to my reality, ready to share this new energy with the world.