Permission to Start: Taking the First Step

Happy new month! I went on a run yesterday around Golden Gate Park to take advantage of the nice weather. I decided to listen to 4 podcasts to keep my mind going for fresh ideas, concepts, and paradigms. I discovered the podcast Tea Talk and enjoyed their engaging, deep conversations about the stigma between Asian Americans and mental health. I was reminded that mental health is not a big concern in foreign countries, especially Asian countries. The majority of these countries are built on Buddhism dating early back, where their way of living is through ephemeral suffering to reach enlightenment. 

Snippet of the beautiful day

While this may be frowned upon in American society, early generation individuals struggle with the diagnosis of mental health because they are conflicted about accepting it into their lives. At least with East Asian culture, we shine away from showing any signs of vulnerability to not β€œlose face.” Expressing thoughts attaching feelings to concerns show weakness. Their idea about anxiety, or any relative feeling is that there’s no solution to come of it other than finding it within ourselves to move on and perceive all opinions with neutrality. Not only that, but they are conflict adverse because of their historical collectivist society background that pushed for sustaining peace.

That is also why it is common to see backstabbing in Asian families because they cannot communicate their direct concerns with the other person. Confrontation is an enemy with older generations because their ego getting aside from Confucius’s filial piety (孝). The facade of being normal and avoiding the talks of personal issues encapsulates why some of us don’t have a strong relationship with our families. Communication becomes a bare minimum from our repressed feelings as we think, β€œIt’s better if I don’t say much. After all, it’s nothing they can do to change.” 

The Buddhist teachings described the Eightfold Path people go through to understand the four truths. 

This framework has been passed down for centuries and has been ingrained into our lives regardless of our belief(s). Religion is what keeps people grounded, especially for those who made sacrifices coming to this country. It is the only part of them they feel that they can keep. I’ve learned that you cannot change your parents’ mindset, but at least open it enough so they can at least respect yours. I’ve also made the connection where do’ers like my mom is only trying to preserve the idea of being religious partaking in the directional activities from the Buddhist calendar rather than with the intention to reach enlightenment (happiness). We are all a victim of this too – living in autopilot. But through practice, communication and some form of meditation, I believe we can realign ourselves back to our center.

While this topic has many depths to uncover, I will keep this post to a minimum to relay it back to my point of taking the first step. Please visit my Youtube to hear more and talk with me there πŸ™‚

β€œPain is inevitable. Suffering is optional. The root of suffering is attachment”

The Buddha

In other words, build a bridge and get over it. Let’s take a look at the Five W’s: 

  • Who do I need involved? 
  • What resources do I need? 
  • Where will this take place? 
  • When will it be done? 
  • Why is this bothering me? 

This cycles back to yourself in finding your happy place. The only person you need permission to regain your inner peace is within yourself. In some sense, the Buddha is right. Suffering is obsolete. There are always moments in your life where you feel joy whether it’s laughing from a joke, or adoration seeing a dog across the street. 

β€œWhen the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going”  

Billy Ocean

 As I further my journey in life, I’m seeing all the complexities that come with it and feel like I’m given the choice to either take action or avoid it to let it arise again later thinking it isn’t my problem. When in reality, it is because I let it be. I attach feelings to the situation. Taking the first step is always hard, but there is no progress without effort. 

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