Meditation & Health #5 – Sunshine Girl
Tay Shi-Xuan, whose endearing megawatt smile graces the cover of this issue, hails from the tropical and sunny island of Singapore. Like the weather, her bright and chirpy personality never fails to brighten up the ambience and bring joy to those around her.
According to Shi-Xuan’s friend, Yang-Zhou, Shi-Xuan’s sunny personality and ‘cool’ outlook has always brought cheer to her circle of friends and young charges. Her tranquil and warm persona never fails to charm those people around her, and even soothe those with ruffled feathers.
To any outsider, this issue’s cover girl is like any other girl her age: She enjoys playing the piano and partaking in some well-deserved retail therapy; she plays a mean game of squash and loves to dabble in personalised scrapbooking for her loved ones. However, get to know her a little more, and her loving and generous spirit starts to shine through.
Shi-Xuan’s meditation teacher is full of praise for her. “Shi-Xuan is one of a few extraordinary young leaders at Bodhi Meditation, where she assists the teachers in spearheading several youth activities like the Mind Leap Programme for Youths. She’s not only a leader at the Centre, but also serves as the Vice President of the Accounting Society at Singapore Management University despite her heavy academic workload. As someone with heavy responsibilities, she remains an exceptionally optimistic and well-balanced individual. In fact, it is easy to see how deeply Grandmaster JinBodhi’s teachings of compassion and positive outlook have touched her heart when one interacts with her.”
Turning Point in Her Life
Shi-Xuan is not the only one in her family who has benefited from Bodhi Meditation – her involvement can be credited to her parents, who have both been beneficiaries over the last several years. She recalled, “My mother used to suffer from frequent gastric pains and acute headaches, while my father’s health was severely curtailed by the repercussions of high cholesterol. I am glad and relieved that after practising Full Prostration and meditation, both are now in the pink of health.”
Two years ago, Shi-Xuan was an ordinary student in the final year of preparing for her International Baccalaureate examinations, a decisive hurdle that would determine her university eligibility. As she strived to meet the high expectations of both herself and her parents, stress started to take a toll on Shi-Xuan and she began to suffer from severe insomnia which crippled her daytime productivity. Out of concern for her daughter, Shi-Xuan’s mother decided to play Grandmaster JinBodhi’s Medicine Buddha’s Heart Mantra CD one day while Shi-Xuan was taking a short nap. The effect was subtle but significant.
That experience alone prompted Shi-Xuan to play the CD for herself every night, and to her delight her insomnia gradually faded away. “All I could remember was waking up feeling completely refreshed. Even though it was short, I must have been in a deep sleep,” she mused. Since then Shi-Xuan enjoys quality sleep accompanied by Grandmaster JinBodhi’s chanting every night, and also listens to the CD to relax after a hectic day.
Although this incident piqued her interest in Bodhi Meditation, Shi-Xuan’s involvement did not begin immediately. In a two-day Bodhi Meditation Elementary Retreat at the Centre after her examinations, she found herself the only teenager amongst a class of middle-aged men and women. Like a fish out of water, her only thought during the Retreat was “What have I gotten myself into?” and eventually she left before it ended. It was only when she subsequently attended the eight-day Bodhi Meditation and Fitness Retreat in Malaysia that she began to truly enjoy the benefits of practice.
“My hands were often really cold, but after regular practices, my palms would become very warm and sweaty. I could actually feel heat radiating from my body!” she enthused. During the sharing session, Shi-Xuan was sincerely impressed by the testimonies of other participants of their improved health and well-being. One month later, she returned to join another Meditation Retreat in Malaysia, but this time as a volunteer. The heart-warming camaraderie and strong sense of belonging among the volunteers touched her so immensely that she finally made the life-changing decision to become a Bodhi Meditation disciple, and embarked on a new journey in her life.
From ‘Worrier’ to ‘Warrior’
To her friends and family, Shi-Xuan’s transformation into the confident and compassionate girl she is today has been a distinctively perceptible process. She used to be a self-admitted worrier, constantly fretting about, and often hurt by, the negative opinions of others. With Grandmaster JinBodhi’s teachings constantly guiding her, she steadily learnt to let go of distressing concerns and face challenges with a positive mindset. Shi-Xuan has since found the wisdom and strength to view gloomy situations from an optimistic perspective and is thankful to be able to do so. She has realised that obstacles in life are simply layers of fog obstructing one’s view ahead, and once the sun shines through, the fog disperses to reveal a path full of possibilities. Whenever Shi-Xuan encounters obstacles in life, Grandmaster JinBodhi’s words, “I love challenges and I have the courage to bear responsibilities!” serves as counsel and reminder of the optimism we should all embody.
Transformed Family Life
Having been brought up in a sheltered environment, Shi-Xuan unknowingly took her parents for granted, and had a strained relationship with her mother. But one of Grandmaster JinBodhi’s teachings helped her to realise her bond with her parents: “Grandmaster JinBodhi mentioned that every one of us has Buddhas in our lives and they are none other than our parents,” Shi-Xuan shares. “Then I recalled my teenage years and how rude I had been towards my mum when she just meant well for me. Yet, despite everything, her love for me has never wavered. I then reflected on myself: Why couldn’t I love her in the same way too?” Now her parents are a source of comfort when Shi-Xuan faces seemingly insurmountable obstacles. “I share my woes with my parents and have a good cry,” she reveals. “It usually helps to ease the burden in my heart.”
Grandmaster JinBodhi’s teachings have equally im-pacted other members of her family. Shi-Xuan’s parents’ relationships with their children have also changed as they have become more understanding of their children’s frank opinions and accepting of their personal abilities – a noticeable change that has had lasting positive ramifications throughout the family. Seeing her parents gradually becoming more supportive prompted Shi-Xuan’s elder brother to join the Bodhi Meditation and Fitness Retreat, and her younger brother the Mind Leap Programme for Youths Retreat. Her sister has also expressed interest in joining the programme after her Cambridge ‘A’ Level Examinations.
Spreading the Love
Shi-Xuan added, “Grandmaster JinBodhi has inspired me to take a step further and to uphold a new set of values: from not harming others to protecting them, from sharing to giving, from tolerance to love, and from helping others to doing so without expecting anything in return.” Her newfound values motivated her to join a school community service trip to China in June 2012, during which she witnessed abject poverty for the first time.
“Watching families, especially children, living in unpleasant housing conditions and without proper education was simply heart-wrenching,” she said empathically. Indubitably, the poverty she witnessed is merely the tip of the iceberg – millions of people in the world suffer in similar or worse conditions without receiving aid, and the fact that most of them will never receive enough help in order to strive for a better life distressed Shi-Xuan the most.
But as upsetting as this realisation was for her, the teachings of compassion in Bodhi Meditation have allowed her to mature as a person through this experience. “When I was a little girl, I dreamt of making lots of money, buying beautiful clothes and living in luxury houses. Now I realise it was a selfish dream. A wealthy man will never be happy when his neighbours are poor,” she explains. Despite the odds, Shi-Xuan still harbours a burning desire to help and comfort others through her actions and prayers.
And what of her plans now? “I feel like I have landed myself into a world of unlimited opportunities to grow as a better person and to help others in many ways. I believe that Bodhi Meditation is for everyone, regardless of age, gender, race or religion.” Shi-Xuan said effusively. “Given its emphasis on compassionate love, I believe Bodhi Meditation will help us lead a fruitful and engaging life that brings health and happiness, as we help others to achieve that as well. My dream job is to work at Singapore Bodhi Meditation Centre.”
As a life journey that began from being inspired by Grandmaster JinBodhi and his teachings, Shi-Xuan’s story of personal growth will undoubtedly touch and inspire in turn the lives of many others.