sunset walk

The Best Present – Presence

Wrapped present

Perhaps the best present you can give anyone is your presence. Just showing up is at least half of what it takes. The other half is fully being there with them in that moment. NO cell phones (or at least put it on airplane mode), no side conversations. Give full attention to those that you are gifting your presence.silouette You don’t have to be perfect and say just the right thing, just pay full attention to what the other person is saying. Smile or frown when appropriate or nod if you can’t think of exactly the right words.

It may be disarming to them at first. It is a rare thing and always has been. We would like to, but can’t blame technology. People have always been distracted and giving someone this gift of your presence does put a bit of you on the line for approval or not. You will probably find, if you persist, that this is really what is wanted. Perhaps even more than that big screen TV.

If you don’t quite have the bravery required for this (it does take a bit), try at least putting the cell phone away and pay better attention to the moment. For those people that always seem to get you irritated but you really want to try, go to a movie or participate in an activity they like. Maybe bowling, hiking, snorkeling or even sitting together and reading would be good. You could try reading out loud to each other.

sunset walk

If even this is tough give them a gift of your time by doing something for them, paint a door, pull some weeds, cook something or fix that drippy faucet.

The surprise is that when you give this gift of presence you receive a whole lot more than you give.




Angry face sculpture

Love and Anger

Angry face sculpture

Until I am the Buddha herself I will occasionally feel anger. And that’s OK.

The practice of opening the heart with Sheng Zhen Gong will overcome that anger every time.

I was at an event where the theme was love, unconditional love.  After a day or so there was a question/answer session with the main speaker during which a woman expressed that she didn’t feel loved or loving.  I had a hard time imagining how that could be at this point in the event. I was feeling all the love at that moment.  Later on in an informal conversation with a small group of participants I noted that when I heard her say this I didn’t  know whether to feel sad or angry.  Someone replied with some force “Oh! Never angry!”  I was a little taken aback. She seemed to be angry at my anger or at least judgmental about my being judgmental.  There didn’t seem to be any recognition about the inconsistency of this.  I was aware that, at an event about unconditional love, anger was an inappropriate response.  I was acknowledging this.  I was confused at my own feelings. There was no further discussion and the subject quickly changed.

There is a difference between feeling anger, expressing anger and acting on anger.  We need to acknowledge when we feel anger.  We should probably even examine from where that anger comes.  That is how we change and grow.  My short lived feeling of anger at the unloving/unloved woman came from a feeling that she was being manipulative in order to receive more attention.  Since I know I can’t be manipulated like that against my will, it makes it easier to let go of the anger. Holding onto anger doesn’t hurt the person we are angry at, it only hurts ourselves.  But denying or repressing feelings of anger is not the answer. Forgiveness liberates us.

I did get to know the woman who expressed her feelings about love and I realized she was as conflicted as I was about her statement.  She just felt safe to express her feelings and isn’t that what unconditional love is supposed to do – make us feel safe? She was feeling the love but maybe she just didn’t recognize it.

The picture is of a Buddha Guardian head that I took at the Buddhist Temple in Nara Japan in 2010.

Waihe'e in Moonlight

Waihe’e Coastal Dunes & Wetlands Refuge by Moonlight

Waihe'e in Moonlight
Waihe’e in Moonlight

A full moon at Waihe’e Coastal Dunes & Wetlands Refuge is magical. Maybe it’s because the spirit world becomes seamless with the temporal world. Maybe it is always special because of everything that has happened there. Or maybe it’s just me and the times I’ve been there. The moonlight is bright, so everything seems more alive, more real.  Scott Fisher of the Hawaiian Islands Land Trust is an extraordinary storyteller. On a recent visit there with my family he told “chicken skin” stories about the spirits that are attached to this place. My nephew really felt the stories.

I’ve been to this place a few times, once as a volunteer with Scott when he was doing a walk with ecology students from the University of Hawaii, once for a Kupu dinner and again for this Full Moon Hike.

The early Hawaiians believed that during a full moon the membrane between the spirit world and ours was thinned or more permeable. Movement from world to world was easier, so spirits could pass into our world.  Night marchers with lights in the distance were seen more frequently on nights with a full moon.  This site has many Heiau,  sacred sites or places for worship. The Ali’i or royalty lived here and the people produced food in managed fish ponds and kalo or taro fields.  This place was full of life and apparently is still full of spirits.

I have spent a lot of my life protecting places like this on the mainland with nonprofits and local governments. Our hike in Waihe’e refuge reminds me why.

I am grateful for organizations like the Hawaiian Islands Land Trust for protecting lands like this so that we can get out in nature, get close to historic and sacred sites to feel that connection that sustains us. The connections that fill our hearts.

Sheng Zhen Gong Teacher Training

Teacher Training in Wimberly Texas
Teacher Training in Wimberly Texas






Isn’t this picture calming?  I spent 10 days in this room learning more Sheng Zhen Gong from Master Li Junfeng.  It was a spectacular experience of qi gathering and movement, but more importantly heart opening. I will write more about this but I may take some time to absorb the experience.  For now, I will just say it was great!!

Wooded pathe in Kyoto

“To Know the Way”

Wooded pathe in Kyoto
We Go the way

Pooh knows what he’s talking about.  I guess you could say Benjamin Hoff knows what he’s talking about, but I prefer to hear a tiny little Pooh voice saying this to Piglet or Eeyore or, more likely, Christopher Robin.

“To know the Way,

We go the way,

We do the way.

The way we do,

The things we do,

It’s all there in front of you.

But if you try too hard to see it,

You’ll only become Confused.

I am me and you are you.

As you can see;

But when you do

The things that you can do.

You will find the Way.

And the Way will follow you.”

~ Benjamin Hoff

The Tao of Pooh

The picture is of a path in a temple in Kyoto Japan taken by me in June 2010.

Happiness, Anger and Metaphor

Passengers in back of pick up truck
Along for the ride

I have this wonderful, wise qigong friend, Francie. She says the greatest things. She wrote a few days ago on Facebook –

“I choose happiness every time. Once upon a time I wouldn’t or couldn’t. How am I able to choose happiness in the midst of all that happens to me and others? For me, a steady Sheng Zhen practice has helped. Meditation has helped. My mind is stiller and can see more clearly the transitory and the permanent, which is change. It’s impossible really to say how this happened, and it doesn’t mean that I don’t have feelings of sadness, anger, fear . . . these feelings just don’t rule me anymore. They are more like companions along for the ride.”

I’m not quite there yet but I’m on my way and frequently those bad feelings are just along for the ride.

She has a way with words.

As I have noted on this blog before, I am a fan of metaphor.

Lehua Blossom on Ohi’a Tree

Lehua Blossom on Ohi'a Tree
Lehua Blossom on Ohi’a Tree

The Ohi’a tree is a twisted and not overly attractive tree except for the blossoms.  The Lehua blossom on the Ohi’a tree has a legend to go with it.  The goddess Pele was attracted to the man Ohi’a.  He told Pele he was in love with Lehua, so she turned him into a tree.  The other gods feeling sad for Lehua because she loved Ohi’a turned her into a beautiful blossom and placed this blossom on the Ohi’a tree.  Now the two lovers would always be together.  Legend continues that if you pick a Lehua blossom it will rain the tears of the separated lovers.

It is such a beautiful blossom.

Related post Fire Makes Earth on Hawai’i

Wikipedia on Metrosideros polymorpha, Ohia tree.


Caldera at Kilauea

Fire Makes Earth on Hawai’i

Caldera at Kilauea
Caldera at Kilauea

In the Chinese Five Element System fire makes earth.  There is nowhere that this is more evident than on the island of Hawai’i (Big Island) in Hawai’i  Volcanoes National Park.   The power of the fire in the earth is very apparent.

Steam Vents at Kilauea
Steam Vents at Kilauea

Steam is visible everywhere.  At night the glow of fire from the caldera at Kilauea is visible from many points around the crater and frequently lava is visible flowing down the mountain to the sea.

As we drove towards the water in the daylight the stark landscape of  lava spread out before us as far as the eye could see. This is where fire creates earth.


Regrowth is visible in the crevices.  Tiny plants grab whatever nutrients they can along with the abundant water, and grow.

Plant in Lava Crevice
Plant in Lava Crevice

Some places that were missed  by the lava flow are verdant with plants.  It rains a lot so the recovery is quick – in geologic time.  The earth begins to return to what we might think of as normal.  Almost.  Steam appears as the rain seeps into the hot ground and the fire in the earth is evident again.

Related post Lehua Blossom on Ohi’a Tree