I AM AS I AM

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I AM AS I AM.

Six years ago, I was gifted the name “Lotus” 🌸by a past love . He was my reason for going to Burning Man 🔥 and in that magical desert I found Lotus for myself. 

Lotus is a Heroine, an Adventuress, a symbol of rebirth and transformation I had never seen before. Living into her name and spirit helped me expand, deepen and open a wild world of magic, wonder, and possibility I hadn’t seen before 🌈🔮📿. I felt the unlimited love flowing through her veins. She set my soul on fire. We joined forces. We became one.🌛🦋🌜

But in becoming her, I began to deny me. I didn’t like the name “Kelsey”, I didn’t appreciate who I was, where I came from, nothing was good enough, I wanted and expected more. I feared being ordinary and became greedy thinking I had to be better. Traveling across the world searching for more.

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Today, through working with my coach, I revealed the truth. I saw the delusion I’ve been living in. The mind’s projection, a duality and unacceptance of self. My coach said, “I understand you want to grow but I don’t understand what was so wrong with who you were?”

And while everything in my path has been meaningful, beautiful, and I have no regrets. I see that in my urgent quest for reinvention and rebirth, I lost who I am.

So rather than striving for perfection I am choosing acceptance and realness. To accept myself for who I am as I am in this moment now. Who am I? I am that I am. I am free flowing universal love. What I wear, where I live, what I do, that will all change but love, love is eternal. Love is totality. Love has no bounds. Love is the present moment. Love is being happy, healthy, and fully alive. Love is all embracing, all encompassing, all loving no matter what.

So today, I ask the Divine for forgiveness for denying the perfection of its creation. I forgive myself for expecting more and loving less. And I accept my ordinary extraordinary ness as it is. I am as I am. And I’m happy with that. 😊🙃

May you be at peace and ENJOY🐛YOUR 🦋SELF exactly as you are. Perfectly imperfect, it’s all okay.

With light, love, and liberation,

Kelsey 🌸 Wong

Photography skills: Jamen Percy

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ONE-WAY STREET TO WHOLENESS

Insight on why "releasing feelings" doesn’t work and how to accept what comes no matter what.

Written by Daniel Mullerworth with love and support from Kelsey 'Lotus' Wong.

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Sometimes we get triggered. We feel hurt, or angry, or sad. And maybe many other things too. Understanding what’s going on can be like trying to pick up soup with chopsticks. Confusing and frustrating.  

Moreover, very often it’s the same pattern playing out, the same old trigger. Just dressed up in a different set of circumstances and pretending to be a completely different problem.

Often people talk about how we should “release” such feelings. As a result we may feel we have to act, to do something special to get rid unwanted of feelings so they never come up again.

This language of releasing is such a distraction. We tie ourselves in knots searching for some way to “do releasing”.

How does it play out? We go to a therapist, or a workshop, or give ourselves some special experience in the hope of shedding whatever feelings we don’t like. Afterwards, if we feel better we may say to a friend “Oh my God, it was so powerful, I had such a release!”

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Such experiences can be cathartic, and that feels great. But at some point that pattern reasserts itself and those feelings reappear.

Or if we don’t feel better, we may tell a different story about failing to release. About  being impossible. About being a failure.

The truth is that the idea of releasing is all back-to-front. There’s no option to remove aspects that we don’t like. There’s no garbage heap for unwanted feelings.

We’re on a one-way street to wholeness. There is no separating our self from our self; we can’t go the other way.

We have just two options:

  1. We can try to get on with life and leave those feelings for another time.

  2. Or we can make space to integrate them into our being.

 This is the whole menu that we get to choose from.

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The first is like hitting the pause button. There are times when we really need a rest. We need a breather and some space to get our shit together and come back to ourselves. In those times taking a break is the healthy thing to do.  

Pauses are good and pauses can be really important and helpful, but pauses are temporary.  

Unfortunately, taking a break can become a strategy for hiding from the feeling. Then it becomes a subtle - or not so subtle - form of self-rejection. We tell a story that makes it easier to get by. Yet it includes pushing away the aspect of self that is having a problem. Essentially we are saying to that part, “Shut up, your feelings are not important”. So, we hear that our feelings are not important. That hurts.

The second option is the only clear direction we can take, which is to integrate what we have inside. This means coming to peace with the plain fact that these feelings exist. It means accepting them as part of ourselves and treating our whole self with kindness.

It’s the inner recognition that, “OK, so there’s no releasing. And my choice is Wholeness Now (integrate), or Wholeness Later (pause). How do I integrate?”

We must show ourselves that we are willing to sit with the feelings even if they last forever.

 San Mateo Mountains, Oaxaca, Mexico

San Mateo Mountains, Oaxaca, Mexico

Imagine a little girl who has no friends in school. She just doesn’t believe that anyone could ever like her - so much so she won’t try to make friends. She may even sabotage relationships just to prove she’s right. She believes she needs to protect herself from rejection, and it’s going to take quite some convincing for her to change her mind. 

In the same way, we may need quite some convincing. Especially if we already have years of experiencing self-rejection.

The convincing happens only if we become big enough to always offer space to ourselves. Over and over again. Your feelings are always invited; you’re always invited.

That’s it. There’s no lightning bolt of release. Just gently applied love.

If you practice this, maybe the feelings will dissolve this time, or maybe they won’t. Maybe they never will.

This is a practice of self-love. And the thing about love is that it is its own reason for being. Love doesn’t need a result, ever.

  "Love says I am everything. Wisdom says I am nothing. Between the two my life flows.”   ~ Nisagaratha Maharaj

"Love says I am everything. Wisdom says I am nothing. Between the two my life flows.” ~ Nisagaratha Maharaj

Sitting with the feelings just as they are in this present moment. Inviting ourselves in with a feeling of patience and kindness and welcoming.

Then, and only then, is that little person free to let go of their fear and come to the party.

"Love says I am everything. Wisdom says I am nothing. Between the two my life flows.” ~ Nisagaratha Maharaj 

If you can’t practice self-love in this moment, practice self-acceptance.   

Ask yourself, “Can I accept this feeling?”

If your honest answer is “No", ask instead, “Can I accept that I can’t accept this feeling?”

If again you get a “No", ask, “Can I accept that I can’t accept that I can’t accept this feeling?”

Eventually, you’ll receive a “Yes”

This is the real release. Through acknowledgment and acceptance, we allow our feelings to be present but not to run the show. You ride the wave instead of letting the wave ride you.

There is always an opportunity to accept. And as you exercise your acceptance muscle it will become so strong that you eventually you will be able to accept anything that comes.

What could be more powerful and liberating than that?

 San Mateo Mountains, Oaxaca, Mexico

San Mateo Mountains, Oaxaca, Mexico

Daniel Mullerworth is a transpersonal hypnotherapist and former Buddhist monk. Daniel's passionate curiosity is helping people come into greater resonance with dharma - finding alignment with self, in relationships and the natural world.      

HEAVY RAIN & ROSE WATER: ADVENTURES & SELF-CARE IN TAIPEI

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Today it rained in Taipei. Hard.

I got swept up in the rain, soaked after getting lost on the train and having a fight with my partner.

It has been a long week and an intense month living in Taipei for the first time. We came here on nearly blind faith, offering ourselves to the Universe. Six months ago we had hatched an idea with another client friend who wanted to introduce us to their friends and potential partners in Taiwan.

After three and a half months of attending a yoga, meditation, and spirituality in Oaxaca, Mexico our hearts and calendars were so open we decided, why not?

 Mazunte, Oaxaca, Mexico | Photography: Sabina Mac

Mazunte, Oaxaca, Mexico | Photography: Sabina Mac

Arriving in Taipei, the culture shock was real. Going from living in a tiny coastal town in Oaxaca where the farthest we traveled was 1km to and from the yoga school to living in a bustling city in Taipei was startling. We had spent three and half months getting grounded, increasing our awareness and sensitivities and then BOOM! Another country, another language, another culture, and way of doing things.

Welcome to Taiwan.

You could say we were naïve and a little unprepared. We had no idea what was in store.

 Songshan District, Taipei, Taiwan 

Songshan District, Taipei, Taiwan 

And yet for all the challenges of city life and the identity confusion for me of being Chinese yet still a foreigner, Taiwan has been amazing. I love the people who for the most part have been so kind, generous and willing to help. The city is incredibly clean and well-designed. The train stations are spotless. I love the food, lots of traditional dumplings, scallion pancakes, and steaming hot pot. The island is full of lush green mountains and tea gardens just outside the city center. And more than anything there’s this air of peacefulness and this love for family and a good, simple life I appreciate so much. 

 Wisteria Tea House, Taipei, Taiwan 

Wisteria Tea House, Taipei, Taiwan 

Taiwan has never been on my radar and I knew very little about the country before I came but the explosion of creativity and richness of culture here is astounding. The cultural history dates back to the prehistoric Stone Age when many aboriginal tribes lived here. During war times in China, much of the art and culture was destroyed. However, what was preserved still exists in Taiwan and to add to the mix, Taiwan has a true melting pot with Taiwanese, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, American, Portuguese, and Spanish influences.

 Jiufen, Taipei, Taiwan 🇹🇼 

Jiufen, Taipei, Taiwan 🇹🇼 

But even with all this cultural wealth, the metropolitan area of New Taipei City is not immune to the struggles of city life. The air quality isn’t great with lots of noisy cars and pollution. Like most modern-day cities, many people you see are glued to their screens. This is the power of technology; it holds within it both the seeds of creation/innovation and destruction. When we lock our attention on it, our minds fall under a collective hypnosis. We lose ourselves.

 Taipei, Taiwan 

Taipei, Taiwan 

That includes me. It’s been a mental, emotional, physical rollercoaster. Trying to work fulltime again and navigate my way in a busy new city. I thought I’d moved beyond “living for the weekend” but wow, I’m thankful it’s Saturday and I have a night to myself. A night to go IN.

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I’ve drawn a bath for myself, a salt bath of rose water. I’ve lit candles and diffused some essential oils. I’m drinking creamy honey in my rose tea. Listening to the soul-caressing sacred songs of Peia's album "Four Great Winds" and the heart-moving mighty ballads of the new album "High As Hope" by Florence + The Machine.

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There’s something so feminine about being in the water. A beautiful bathtub that makes even a busy city feel like home. Back to the mother, back to the womb. It’s so comforting, I feel so held. Slowly but surely I begin to relax, the suit of armor that I unconsciously wear to protect myself comes off. I peel back the layers and reveal my still beating heart. I breathe in deeply, filling my lungs with the scent of rose.

In this moment I wash away the rains from the day, the month, the year and I let myself be my own inner mother. Held closely and intimately by my self.

Wherever you are, I wish you some nourishing “you time” soon. It’s a wild world out there. Take care of yourself.

With love and gratitude,

Lotus

 Da’an Park, Taipei, Taiwan 

Da’an Park, Taipei, Taiwan 

PROGRESS ON MY PH.D. (PURE HEART DEGREE)

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BACKSTORY:

Over the last several years, I’ve been seeking.

I’ve been looking inside, outside, everywhere, on a journey of self-exploration trying with determination (and sometimes desperation) to find myself.

About two years ago in late 2016, I recognized that while on paper, I had “made it” achieving my dream in the material world, something was missing...

ALIVENESS

To quote the wise words of poet Mary Oliver, I was, “breathing just a little and calling it a life”.

I projected this feeling of dissatisfaction externally. Even though I was living in my dream city with a meaningful job, a loving partner, and freedom to travel, I still felt stuck. It seemed mad. I didn’t understand.

I wondered:

  • Who am I?
  • Why am I here?
  • What is my purpose in life?
  • How can I contribute to the world in a meaningful way?
  • Where will I go next?
 My colorful messy process of self-inquiry...

My colorful messy process of self-inquiry...

This self-inquiry hit an existential tipping point and I decided I needed a change. Without a clear idea of where to start, I took a more traditional approach and began looking at higher education somehow thinking this strategy could solve all my problems. I began a lengthy research process and over the course of a few months, I looked into about 45 schools and graduate programs mostly in the U.S. and some abroad.

After all that research, I couldn't find a single program that fit my variety of interests and budget. The average cost was $60,000 USD for two years!! Which was all of my savings and I couldn’t justify that when I didn’t even feel the programs fit all my needs. I felt frustrated and deflated.

Finally I said, “Fuck it”.

I decided to design my own customized self-funded curriculum that combines traveling, working, and learning. My friend Ann also decided to pursue the path less traveled with an alternative education all her own. We both yearned to go deeper and awaken our hearts to love in every form, so we made a spreadsheet full of everything from yoga retreats, meditation, Ayurveda, thai massage, divine feminine gatherings, social innovation institutes design thinking workshops, global leadership programs etc. and we began calling this process, "Getting our Ph.D.'s = Pure Heart Degrees". (See her blog post on her journey.)

One and half years later, I’m in the thick of my Pure Heart Degree (I wrote another post at the start here: "Pursuing my Ph.D. Pure Heart Degree" ).  With all of this travel, learning, and growing many friends and family have asked, "how do you do it?" While that question involves far more than I can put into one post, I decided to document the journey and share my progress so far.

May this serve as an inspiration for anyone who is ready to take a leap of faith and is interested in designing their own life curriculum. If you’d like any support on envisioning the next step in your journey, I am happy to provide some visioning coaching and guidance for you. Reach out to me directly – hi@kelseykwong.com.

 Hridaya Yoga School | Mazunte, Oaxaca, Mexico

Hridaya Yoga School | Mazunte, Oaxaca, Mexico

PROGRESS ON MY PH.D. (Pure Heart Degree)

START WITH WHY:

The first step when starting anything is to ask, why? what is your intention? For me it was:

  • To purify the heart.
  • To expand my capacity to lead, love, and create in the world
  • To return to my true nature
  • To become an instrument of generosity and love

Next, what do you value? What is important to you in your learning journey? Make a list of those important elements. For example, for me it was important this experience include:

  1. Variety of Interests - psychology, spirituality, nature, culture, art. social innovation, conscious leadership, creativity etc.
  2. Experiential Learning Environment – on the ground in person learning as well as flexible online learning for digital nomads
  3. Cost – for the costs to be manageable and allow me the freedom to work minimally and travel as much as I want
  4. Process – to be playful, dynamic, and flexible, an ability to move with what’s present in the moment and not to be rigid or take oneself so seriously
  5. Love - the most important ingredient for anything. Self-love and self-care seems to be my ongoing lesson and something I struggle with often. It was important that I design the right conditions to care for, nurture and love myself through the journey. Being able to take breaks and slow down when I needed to.
 Words of wisdom at Hridaya Yoga School | Mazunte, Oaxaca, Mexico

Words of wisdom at Hridaya Yoga School | Mazunte, Oaxaca, Mexico

While many people separate work, education, and travel, I chose to integrate all three by funding my travels and education through my consulting work. What makes this more achievable is that 70% of my work is remote and 30% is in-person, on-site. Plus I worked for American based companies but lived in mostly Southeast Asian countries so my dollars stretched much farther and I could work far less than if I lived in the America.

While this all makes perfect sense in retrospect, I will say it didn’t when I started. But something in me told me I had to do this so in December 2016, I said farewell, put my stuff in storage and took off!

And sowly but surely the path has formed.

WHAT I’VE BEEN UP TO SO FAR:

COUNTRIES TRAVELED:

  1. Thailand
  2. Vietnam
  3. Indonesia
  4. Australia
  5. Cambodia
  6. USA
  7. Mexico
  8. Taiwan
 DSIL Global Course | Bangkok, Thailand

DSIL Global Course | Bangkok, Thailand

EXPERIENTIAL EDUCATION:

1.) LEADERSHIP : Designing for Social Innovation & Leadership Course – The DSIL Global course is a 5 month Vertical Leadership course on developing one’s skillset in design thinking, conscious leadership, entrepreneurial mindset, sustainable development, and social innovation (Bangkok, Thailand; Phnom Phen, Cambodia, and Virtual Classrooms)

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2.) TANTRA HEART YOGA:·

Tantra Heart Kriya Yoga is a profound and playful way for learning to live in bliss. What distinguishes Tantra Heart is the focus on realizing your true Self, attention to emotional flow, and the skillfully designed sets of yogic techniques for safely activating your kundalini (most powerful and creative) energy.

 Hridaya Yoga Module I Graduation | February 2018

Hridaya Yoga Module I Graduation | February 2018

3.) HRIDAYA YOGA & MEDITATION:

Hridaya Yoga & Meditation School - Hridaya is a school dedicated to teaching students to live with an open heart and discover their life's potential.  Through meditation sessions, Hatha Yoga classes, silent meditation retreats, and daily life awareness practices, Hridaya shares a path for the revelation of the Self and a way to live a life of joy, compassion, and gratitude. This is the path of the Spiritual Heart.

 Social Enterprise Fellowship Program with  Unbound  | Sydney, Australia

Social Enterprise Fellowship Program with Unbound | Sydney, Australia

4.) COACHING & CONSULTING WORK:

Delivering Happiness started as a book written by Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.com, on his business philosophy and lessons learned in focusing and prioritizing company culture and employee happiness. Today, DH is a coachsultancy [hybrid coaching + consulting], working with individuals and organizations around the world to create successful companies and meaningful lives.

  • Organizational Development and Culture Transformation consulting projects for three companies ranging from 75 to 10,000 employees on behalf of Delivering Happiness (USA and Hanoi, Vietnam)
  • Internal culture development and special projects for Delivering Happiness, 6 months part-time (online, remote)

DSIL Global Consulting - DSIL is a Bangkok-based design company that is dedicated to building creative capacity in people so that they can build innovation, together. DSIL Consulting serves teams in progressive companies working to learn design thinking as a process for development and as a path for innovation. 

  • Social Enterprise Fellowship Program & Changemaker Summit – facilitating experiential workshops for 14 Fellows and 30 Changemakers from 17 countries (Sydney, Australia)
  • Branding & Marketing Strategy for 2 months full-time (Lubao, Philippines)

NUTS & BOLTS: HOW

How much did it cost?

  • $13,400 Education
  • $18,400 for travel, lodging and expenses to 8 countries and staying in approx ~60 places 
  • $11,800 other misc expenses
  • TOTAL: $43,600

How much did I work?

  • 40 hrs/week for 4 months
  • 15 hrs/week for 8 months
  • 0 hrs/week for 6 months

How much did I make? ~$52,000

How much fun did I have? WOW – I can’t even begin to describe this. More than I could have ever imagined and worth every penny.

 Practicing my life-juggling | Nogales, Mexico

Practicing my life-juggling | Nogales, Mexico

LESSONS LEARNED:

I don’t think I can compile these in bullet points. While so much of it has been practical, I can’t say it’s concrete. Who I am is what I’ve learned. I’m living, practicing, and breathing it day by day, moment by moment, breath by breath.

The learning journey continues. But somehow I’ve found a resting place in my heart. I’ve discovered that though life will take many forms, there is something unmovable and unchanging, a background of stillness, of peace in my heart. And a really simple but profound truth, that my essential nature is love. I don’t need to do anything to become this love, only to let go of everything preventing me from being what I naturally am.

What's next?

My intention for the year is to SURRENDER.

To be as open and available as possible. To live in alignment with the divine, continue deepening my spiritual practice and to engage in 2-3 meaningful consulting projects along the way. That said, who knows what’s in store, many wise people have reminded me to listen to my heart, it knows the way.

"The only spiritual authority is the sacred heart."

With gratitude and grace,

Kelsey 'Lotus' Wong

 A visual expression of the life I want to create with an inner feeling of WHOLENESS and a spirit of ALIVENESS.

A visual expression of the life I want to create with an inner feeling of WHOLENESS and a spirit of ALIVENESS.

RETURNING FROM STILLNESS | 17 DIAS EN SILENCIO

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"The self is like a pearl. To find it you must dive deep down into silence, deeper and ever-deeper until it is reached." ~ Ramana Maharshi

Returning from 17 days at Hridaya Yoga Silent Meditation retreat and 31 days offline and in a state of so much grace. Somehow I thought grace was this rare, once-in-a-lifetime thing but now I can see that grace is everywhere, grace exists in everything. It's just a matter of one’s inner attention. A combination of conscious awareness and complete contentment with the present moment exactly as it is. Because it is.

While I don't have the words to fully express this experience and 17 days is only a blink of an eye, I did reveal one vital truth I'd love to share. Upon hearing it, I repeated it over and over until it rang like a singing bowl vibrating into every particle of my being.

It's simple: my essential nature is Love.

Love is the starting point, the ending point and the bridge inbetween. Love is the totality. Love cannot be understood by the mind. It starts as duality, object and subject but in depth it becomes one. From personal love to universal love to love being what we are.

Beyond our individual stories, egotistical tendencies, and limited personalities we are THIS VASTNESS. Because there is no word to describe the ineffable, we give it names like Love, Life, Truth, Grace, Spirit, God, the Universe.

Call it what you wish. Just this willingness to see beyond everyday reality allows you to see life in a renewed, unlimited way. It is this inner attitude that begins to open the gateways to eternity. And even when the mind wanders and the ego takes the wheel, still there's this constant remembrance, a return to stillness, to oneSelf, to the heart.

If you're seeking nourishment and peace. If your mind and body are exhausted and your soul is longing to go deeper. I highly recommend sitting in silence, maybe just an hour, a meal, or try a whole day, take time away from externalizing your experience and go inside, just be with yourself. If you're seeking guidance and support, the Hridaya Yoga 3 or 10 day silent meditation retreats in Oaxaca, Mexico happen once a month and are a true gift to self!

http://hridaya-yoga.com/

Muchas Gracias HRIDAYA community and spiritual guides Ramana Maharshi and Sahjananda for your generosity of love and support these last 3 months and especially 17 days.

May the fruits of our collective awakening be for the benefit of all sentient beings!

In peace,
Lotus

STEPPING INTO STILLNESS | 17 DIAS EN SILENCIO

“Be quiet in your mind, quiet in your senses, and also quiet in your body. Then, when all these are quiet, don’t do anything. In that state, truth will reveal itself to you.” — Kabir

Tomorrow, I begin 17 days of silence as a part of a silent meditation retreat at Hridaya Yoga in Oaxaca, Mexico.

While I mostly feel open, willing and ready to step into stillness, I also feel scared.

It’s amazing to paint yourself up to be this strong, capable, trail-blazing woman who of all things, is scared of silence and sitting still.

In the yogic tradition, realized beings transcended themselves and surrendered to something much greater. They sat in silence and meditated in caves for days, months, even years, reaching states of Samadhi (ecstasy, absorption in the essence of reality) and Nirvana (ultimate bliss) that most of us could never imagine.

While I won’t be sitting in a cave, I will be journeying inside into my innermost chambers, where I hope to come into deep resonance and intimacy with self (and Self). It is there that I also hope to engage in a process of discernment.

You see, while I know I have the gift of “a voice”, I also recognize I’ve accumulated many perspectives over the years, countless stories, media, messages, and loads of social and cultural conditioning. And while I accept and embrace all of this as a part of my karma, I also understand that the mind, even a beautiful mind, can be a prison.

Yogic sage and mystic, Ramana Maharashi says, “Your own self-realization is the greatest service you can render the world.”

I dedicate this time in silence and this lifetime as a whole in service of That.

100 blessings to you and see you on the other side.

xx,
Lotus

#heroinesjourney #yearofsurrender