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  • Writer's pictureDawn Oei

Late night/early morning thoughts from a nearby place

Updated: Jan 31, 2021

Covid times have brought family and friends across the world closer. It has made me realise what my priorities are. Living each day in several time zones (Singapore, USA, Canada, France, Bahrain and Stockholm) in order to communicate through WhatsApp, Zoom and phone calls is worth it. It keeps our connections alive.

It was strange watching my auntie's funeral take place in Vancouver via a YouTube link at 11pm (their time 3pm) on Wednesday this week. What does one do afterwards? Have a cup of tea. Contemplate her life. End of an era? What was my mother and her three other sisters feeling as they watched their oldest sister, Nellie, 89 being remembered? I check in with them to see how they are. Life feels very precious. Being present to conversation where every word, utterance, expression and silence counts more than ever.

Something struck me about forgiveness which I try to work with when I meditate: meeting our lives and those of our ancestors. Honouring them and acknowledging their life: whatever they have been through, they probably did their best in the midst of difficulties (eg war, grief, strife). Without them, one wouldn't be here.


Does it sometimes feel like we are living in a strange bubble? Yes. One can get really used to it, bubble wrap oneself in the space and not know how to proceed.

Almost a year ago, I wrote: "Actually feel quite free, like the pressure is off from the usual rushing around and trying to get things done and achieve. A moment of respite. An opportunity for the earth to rest and for us to take a breath. There is grief but we will come out stronger." I still feel this but sometimes I don't.


Plans to travel and be with family and friends in Singapore and London are on hold for the forseeable future. I have had to find a way to accept this reality and ease into it.


I think about food constantly. There is an absolute need to feel nourished and be fed and an insecurity about not having enough to eat. I have stopped worrying about how to make the food in my cupboard last an eternity in this era of rising food prices and almost zero income. This week, I made a huge pot of stew with green lentils, red onions, beetroot and carrots. It was very red and was exactly what my heart and blood needed. I don't get macaroni cheese. It is over-exposed just like The Crown. Linguine cooked with garlic, courgettes, chili flakes and a dash of white wine makes me happy. By the way, chanterelle mushrooms are wasted on udon.

Time for Southern food in Edinburgh. Venturing into Leith tomorrow to collect half a fried chicken, country gravy, hot sauce and slaw. I actually want to move to Mississippi and eat catfish cooked by a guy named Dan.

I am still in love with the Octopus in "My Octopus Teacher" on Netflix and will never ever eat grilled octopus or squid again.

If my quarantine name was the last thing that I felt together with the last thing I ate, you might find "Bewildered Doritos".

By the way, are people still posting videos of beavers munching broccoli and hamsters crunching lettuce?


Life carries on.

Spammers continue to spam. They have no moral decency. They have nothing better to do with their time than send thousands of emails panicking you ("there are problems with your account...") until you notice the poor spelling and grammar.


Zoom has been a lifesaver and a gateway to new friendships and genuine connections in my professional life but there ought to be a Zoom protocol. A few months ago, I listened to an anatomist talking about fascia and the art of dissection with 52 other people as one person on screen ate a two-course dinner and walked around a lot. On another Zoom call, and this time about trauma, someone knitted what looked like a whole sheep for the whole hour.


I love the smell of Melaleuca/Tea Tree essential oil. Did you know that Melaleuca has antiseptic, anti-viral and anti-microbial properties? Another great oil is Oregano: it is an antioxidant, has anti-viral and anti-microbial properties and supports the immune system, healthy digestion and respiratory function.


This past year, I have felt a pull to deep dive into my Shiatsu Shin Tai practice: looking at notes from previous classes and following Do-In (Shiatsu exercises), Qi Gong/Chi Kung and Shin Tai proprioceptive exercises each week. They bring me back to my body, help me find alignment (body, mind and spirit), less taken by external events and more discerning about what feels true or untrue.

"Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind" by Shunryu Suzuki is a gem of a book. If you haven't read it, do so: "In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert's there are few." This quote and three more quotes have helped me in my Shiatsu learning, from my early student days to now as a practitioner and lifelong student: • At the British School of Shiatsu-Do when we were asked to present case studies and DDPs (Diagnostic Development Programmes), my teacher, Adam Hellinger suggested I work with the Ki (energy) of the room to avoid becoming depleted. For me, this immediately created a sense of spaciousness and a letting go: a sense of working with rather than doing/giving Shiatsu. • Saul Goodman (Shin Tai International) in class said: "Work with intention and connect with attention." This made me think about the energetic levels I was working with and helped me to be present.

• Nicholas Pole and Margot Rossi who have a deep understanding of Oriental medicine describe Shiatsu as a meeting of two sovereigns (practitioner and client): "Sovereign Meets Sovereign" with a "Spirit of respect and honouring." All these strands are connected. They immediately raise one's vibrational frequency and expand one's consciousness. It also reminds us to always check in on our humility and ego: qualities that I feel are embodied by all these teachers.


Take good care everyone.

Yes, there are moments that might feel endless or tougher than others but remember, you are not alone experiencing this. There is so much more that each of us is capable of overcoming. We are bigger than our thoughts.

If you are able to do so, go outdoors for a few moments. Smell the air. Feel the wind on your face. Sense your feet touching the ground. If you are not able to go out, find a few minutes each day to sit quietly. Take a deep breathe in. Breathe gently to the back of your nose. Feel the air filling your lungs and your whole body. Find your alignment by sensing your spine. Accept whatever you are feeling without comment or judgment.

Smile for at least 15 seconds each day and swear as much as you like. We are all doing our best.

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