Happy Chinese New Year

Happy New Year, Good luck and prosperity to you for the Year of the Pig.
Gong Hey Fat Choy!

I am having precious insight into the preparations and traditions around celebrating the Chinese New Year as I am currently staying with two young Chinese women. Decorations, mostly in red and gold have been up for several weeks in the shopping malls and recently also in private houses. Grocery stores are selling the traditional NY food, packeted in red and gold and heaps of cartons of mandarine oranges which people bring to each other’s houses for good luck and prosperity. Last week I visited a Chinese Temple and enjoyed the sight of hundreds of red lanterns leading to the entrance of the temple in preparation for the NY.

Houses are cleaned, depths paid, cars and clothes repaired and at least one new item to wear on the first day of the New Year is bought, ideally this new item is red, but also any of the beneficial colors that goes with the animal of the starting year is ok.

Shopping malls are attracting shoppers with special CNY presentation. On Sunday Don and I went to see an acrobatic lion dance performance. The accompanying loud drumming and the wild and daring dance are believed to send all evil spirits away.

You want to welcome prosperity into your life for the beginning new year.
I have learnt that traditionally the Chinese live and eat simply for the whole year and only for the beginning of the New Year they get out their best plates and do not hold back to buy the best food they can afford, again to attract abundance for the year to come.
My airbnb host invited me to come with her to the family’s reunion dinner on the eve of the NY.
It is very important to come together as a family and enjoy good and specially prepared food on this day. I was the only foreign guest for the evening and really enjoyed the abundance of different dishes, none of them tastes much like anything I normally eat, the most extraordinary was pork prepared in rice vinegar.

There is lots of travelling going on before and over the first days of the NY. Chinese whoses families live in far away towns are expected to travel to meet family and friends. My hosts’ friend took the whole week off work to travel to the South of Malaysia and then from there to two other places to celebrate. All people in Malaysia enjoy a public holiday for the first and second day of the year. Everybody is emanating good vibes as good as they can, the general mood is upbeat. Also roads in KL are much quieter these days as many, particularly Malay and Indian people take the opportunity to go for a holiday.
My time in Malaysia is coming to an end tonight. I will be leaving very early tomorrow morning to go back to Berlin. It has been a colourful and rich time with ups and downs, some unexpected turns and lovely encounters. I am grateful for the two months I spent here.

Botanical Gardens

For my last three weeks in Malaysia I have moved to another neighbourhood in Kuala Lumpur (KL). Living here gives me a new perspective to the whole experience of being which I like. When I browsed the airbnb offerings, this one caught my attention because it is situated in an area that I already knew a little bit from coming here with Don for getting a sim card and the regular shopping trip for groceries. Small streets with lots of little shops and cafes where I like to sit and watch people or read. Also it is not too far away from the Botanical Gardens where Don and I used to go for our morning walks. I knew I wanted to continue this morning ritual. The walk in the park has such an alivening effect on me, and I love to get up when it is still dark and walk into the sunrise. I also enjoy meeting the other people who come to the park almost daily, with some I started to say hello and sometimes exchange a few words. I am amazed how many people get up so early in the morning to walk, run, practice chi gong or do yoga. The park itself feels very alive too, it is KL’s first recreational park right in the heart of the city, it was established in 1888 back during the colonial times, so some of the trees are old and very interesting. There is a bird park nearby and some interesting sounds mix in with the whole experience. The park is set in a hilly area, so depending on how sporty I want the walk to be, it is possible to integrate steps or sloped paths. Starting with an impulse in December to run up a set of stairs, skipping every second step, I integrated the stairs into my morning walk. It adds to me feeling alive and I like to feel the strength in my legs. Also last year during my Ayurveda class and coaching that I received, I was pointed to the fact that this sort of high intensity training is good for my type and since then I find myself wanting more of it and I do not hold myself back anymore when I feel like running fast at the beach, running up a hill, etc, yes, it suits my type. When I do not run up the stairs, my intention is to walk with my walking practice and to connect to the place. Which means I have started to connect to the spirit of the park. I like to float with it, practicing being with it and the trees which feels very relaxing. Much more relaxing than being with other humans which I find often difficult. Maybe the spirit can teach me how to apply a sense of trust that I seem to have when being in nature, to being with humans. Actually a few days ago it felt like the spirit was leading me into a sense of just being with others, a looking at them with interest.

Two weeks ago I had one of those moments, when I desperately needed to be all by myself, which lead to my move into the airbnb. And being all by myself does not really mean always alone, but maybe 80% of the day. Inbetween I enjoy meeting my colleagues from the online class in explorations of consciousness online. Also sometimes when I come back from my morning walk in time before my host and her friend leave for work, we enjoy inspiring chats over breakfast. And I have met Don for a concert in the impressive concert hall in the Petrona Towers which I enjoyed.
My observation is that only when I allow myself to be alone, things can come through me which before were softly knocking, however could not make themselves be heard. The process of allowing myself to be alone is still messy. I think I can feel the knocking, but the first impulse is to suppress it. Then I get moody and I project my unclear feeling of impatience onto my surroundings. When I finally allow myself to be alone, often people have been hurt. I am sorry, I am intending to become clearer in myself with this need to be alone and gentler on the people around me.

This time when I moved into solitude, my book started to talk to me, the book that I already had in mind when I started my walking journey more than two years ago and which now, as I am coming to an end of my travelling (at least for now), wants to be written. In facebook I stumbled over a 5 day writing challenge, which got me excited and inspired to think about my book more seriously. I received great tips, wrote a vision for this year and now committed to a ten month online class that will teach me all sorts of things about writing, how to stay inspired and most of all will get me have my book published by the end of this year. That is my new commitment.
So far it feels great. I am getting more interested in the process of creativity itself. After finding Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Eat Pray Love in a hotel library on Bali (yes, I was on Bali for 10 days in January), I felt like wanting to read all her books and found her ‘Big Magic’ in the library of my current home. If you do anything creative, I can recommend it highly. And another book came to me through the writing challenge ‘The War of Art’ by Steven Pressfield, it is about resistance and all the ways in which it can show up when we want to create. Super interesting read.
When reading those two books, and also before Eat Pray Love and another book that I found on Bali I devoured them. I surprised myself by the intensity I can bring to reading – I thought I was a slow reader. Maybe this is an expression of a longing for intensive living which I somehow do not allow myself when I am spending time with other people? Maybe because I want to control the level of intensity and am still learning to say stop? Well, there are still a few questions and inquiries left for this year.