My journey of self-discovery and reflection – Hong Kong

My recent trip to Hong Kong was amazing and powerful, to say the least. The day before I arrived at Hong Kong, typhoon signal number 10 was hoisted. The morning I was due to fly out from Hong Kong, typhoon signal number 8 was hoisted! It all happened over a 5-day period. I thought I would have problems getting back to Singapore that morning with typhoon signal number 8 being hoisted. I was wrong.

Hong Kong Airport was functioning as if nothing had happened when I got out from the taxi. There were many people checking in and business was as usual. My flight back to Singapore was only delayed by an hour and a half due to the strong wind and heavy downpour when it was close to the boarding time. What was proven difficult was getting a taxi from town to the airport that morning. I am thankful to the 2 wonderful security guards who made the phone calls at 5.30am to get me a taxi even though they were shaking their heads whilst making the calls.

When I was planning the workshop “Living an Authentic Life” in Hong Kong, my focus was on what would help the audience most, how to share my experience and how best I could facilitate their journey. Little did I know the journey was as much about them as about me.

Right from the start, I just assumed I would do the workshop in English. English isn’t my mother-tongue but it has become my first language over the years. However, when my friend Clara asked me over FaceTime which language I would use for the workshop given it would mean very different audience, the assumption of speaking in English didn’t speak up at all. A voice within me quietly said “Cantonese” when my mind was saying, “Are you serious??!!”

My Cantonese, due to the lack of use over the years, is rather rusty. In fact, during the workshop, one lady used a term to describe herself and I had no idea what that meant. They were words I could understand individually but not when they were put together! Cantonese is a very robust and forever evolving language.

Whilst Clara was waiting for my reply about which language to use during FaceTime, my mind was having an endless monologue and firing all sorts of questions.

“Are you sure? You can’t really speak Cantonese. It is now an important subject you are talking about. It is not a chit-chat.”

“English and Cantonese are very different. Some words just can’t be translated. You will lose the essence of it all.”

“The energy and the vibration of Cantonese is very different. Can you handle it?”

My mind asked questions which I didn’t have the answers for. But I knew my mind was asking those questions out of fear: Can I do it? Will I mess up?

Whilst my mind was having that monologue at the background, I continued my conversation with Clara. We talked about how very few Cantonese speaking people are working in the life arena. Over the last 20 years, if not longer, there have been many native English speakers working in Hong Kong, both as residents and visitors. Their audience has been largely of English speaking people. However, this is changing. We both feel that there are many Hong Kong Chinese who are now looking for tools, resources, information to help them better understand themselves and their lives. Right at that moment in our conversation, I knew it was my time to go back to re-connect and serve my root. Also in that very moment, the chatter in my mind stopped. There was no more question even though there was still fear.

I spent hours working on my Cantonese as some words simply don’t translate well from English to Cantonese. It was a tall order indeed as I didn’t want to lose the essence of my sharing. It was a challenging but not entirely impossible task.

In the workshop, we talked about how common and often we come across the situation whereby what makes sense in our minds isn’t always what we sense in our hearts; and what we sense in our heart doesn’t always make sense in our minds. When this happens, we feel torn. What do we do? Who should we listen to?

What most people don’t realize is that the mind and the heart are meant to work together, not against one another. We have a mind and a heart for good reasons and purposes. We are not here to choose one or another. It is only when we make ourselves choose one or another, we feel trapped in life.

Being your true and authentic self is about finding the dynamic yet delicate balance between your mind and your heart.

The mind is here to help us navigate and solve problems along our path, not to stop us from walking our path. Whenever your mind is giving you reasons if not excuses not to do something you feel drawn to, challenge your mind and your reasons.

Using Cantonese to deliver the workshop was what I sensed was the right thing for me to do in my heart even though it didn’t make much sense in my mind. In fact, it made everything twice as hard and a lot more complicated. However, having gone through this “mind versus heart” journey so many times, I know that the mind is here to help. I ignored the chatter in my mind knowing it stemmed out from nothing other than fear. Fear on something that had yet to happen. Fear on something that had the same chance of going either way depending on how big and strong a desire I had and how committed I was to the task.

I am pleased to say “Living an Authentic Life” workshop was highly joyful and successfully. I was glad to be of service to those who could benefit from my learning and experiences in the city where my life and journey started. The workshop was as much a journey for them as for me.

One of the keys to living an authentic life is to know and differentiate the true purpose of our hearts and minds. The heart is always here to guide us. It has a lot of the answers we look for if only we would listen to it. The mind is here to help us overcome obstacles, not to give us the million reasons why we can’t do and be what we truly desire. The challenge we have is that we are too accustomed to “what makes sense”, not so much of “what we sense”. Because we don’t trust ourselves and our senses enough, when the mind can’t comprehend, we put ourselves in the position of not knowing what to do even when the answer can be right in front of our eyes.

Our minds and hearts are here to serve us. When we understand, acknowledge and master the differentiation of their purposes, we open ourselves up to an amazing journey of being our true selves and the possibilities and opportunities that may come with it.

Our feeling is as real as our thinking. When we connect what makes sense in our minds with what we sense in our hearts, our life can then truly begin.