600km Walking Pilgrimage through Spain

Written by Denise Chng Lisan & published on September 2 2008

From the moment I discovered an ancient pilgrimage path in Spain in June last year, the attraction of walking hundreds of kilometres towards an assured destination grew on me daily. My eagerness to go on a month-long journey on foot across the steep slopes, lush valleys and forests of the Pyrenees, and through countless small towns and villages, was part of a subconscious quest to find depth and meaning in my life. At the age of 33, I was approaching – prematurely, perhaps – what seemed to be a mid-life crisis.

Straits Times Life! Article,Denise Chng Lisan,Camino de Santiago,Camino Frances

Letter from Quebec: Preserving Heritage

Written by Denise Chng Lisan & published on November 8 2008

'TRAVEL is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living,' wrote Miriam Beard. Life in Quebec is now my teacher, pointing out my knowledge gaps and honing my ideas of living - be it language, culture, life-skills, or the environment.

Denise Chng Lisan

If I could make a difference...

Posted by Denise CHNG Lisan On Thursday, March 24, 2011

A few days ago, I walked into a restaurant and an acquaintance I barely knew waved at me and said, "I dream't of you last night!" She went on to shrug it off saying that I was just a representation, a symbol, in her dream. She was planning to go a meditation session that night to pray for the victims of the Japan quake, she explained. Meditation? I had been wanting to meditate in a group for the last three years, but haven't gotten around to sitting regularly. The thought of inviting people to join me in this humble practice had been twirling around in my head. "You said it's tonight? Can I go?" It didn't occur to me that I was inviting myself uninvited. I wanted to be there.

When the Japan quake happened, I sat in front of the TV numbed in front of the heart-wrenching images of destruction. The feeling of powerlessness gripped me hard, and I unconciously wondered to myself, "what could I do?" 10,000, or even 20,000, lives have been destroyed within a swipe of Nature's hand. What could I, one person, do? Before this sense of helplessness, I did nothing. In the mean time, friends put up PicBadges on facebook, sent links of donation and ways to help. I stayed cynic, refusing to connect.

At the night of meditation, Eva, a reiki teacher and the organizer of the soirée, sat next to me. She explained her reasons for calling a group session with a calm and matter-of-fact conviction. We are not separate, she said. What happened to Japan, happens to us as well. In physics, we are all energy. And so, we sat in a circle. We held our hands and went into meditation, sending energy to the place and victims of the disaster. All the while, I felt energy pulling out of my right hand, and my hair standing and shivers down my spine. I went with the flow, leaving my cynic mind behind.

After the session, my cynic self caught up and I tapped on Eva's shoulder. "So, all that we did just really think it makes a difference?" I didn't know how else to phrase it. Her intent eyes seemed to look through me, and she said "Yes. I do." Her conviction touched me more than anything. She believes strongly that every person can make a difference. That even the words I shared needed to be heard by someone else (I shared my feelings of powerlessness with the group earlier.) That life is short, so what are we waiting for to do what needs to be done. That if we open our hearts to give and receive love, change will happen.

She was right. I didn't need to see scientific evidence of the results of our group meditation session. I knew I was changed already by the experience. I began to believe that I could make a difference too. And then now the question becomes: If each person could make a difference, what would I say next? What would I do next? And what am I waiting for?

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    Ave Maria - Lourdes, France

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