The Fear of Not Being “good enough”

23a_pigeon pose with straps 27_simple pigeonhow many times have I had to take a deep breath because I felt I missed out or was too late for an opportunity or felt that I did not have the skills to compete. At such a moment I need to remind myself of the abundance in the Universe. Really there is enough for all of us. I also need to remind myself that everything I need to know is already within me.

Instead of feeling intimidated by the perfect yoga pose picture of the other teacher, I remember the many positive feed-backs and happy faces of my students when they, despite having health issues or not being the “flexy-bendy” type achieve a pose previously thought of as “unattainable”. They (and I) might not be able to touch the big toe to the back of the head in the full pigeon pose, but wow do they look graceful holding the strap and breathing fully as they mobilize the right muscle support in perfect alignment and balance!

With media depicting all these “perfect” people we tend to forget that 90% of us are as we are. Now the beauty is, that being normal, a bit older, having a pound or two more then that model in the magazine is no reason at all to prevent us of doing what we love and is certainly no reason to hold us back in any way. In case you are not convinced, watch this TED presentation with Diana Nyad, it will blow your mind!

The reason I practise Yoga

24_Desiree RumbaughI am googling the 10 best yoga websites http://www.elephantjournal.com and come across the as number 7 listed online yoga class http://www.yogatoday.com/ and I am thinking, gosh how can these teachers have such an amazing teaching practice? How can they afford the leisure to practice some awesome postures in the middle of nowhere in a pristine, mountainous prairie with nothing but the wind blowing around their ears? Or be part of a beautiful serene studio somewhere in America.

My assumptions go further in surely these people don’t have any kids, which is one of the reasons we live in Kuala Lumpur as it has a good choice of international schools.  Then I continue thinking of the “soundtrack” of cars passing by and the occasional honk and false car alarm which doesn’t seem to disturb any of the munching patrons of the restaurant downstairs; and the intermingled smell of typical Asian foods with my just dispersed essential oils as the smell of food wafts into the window while we move from pose to pose in the studio I teach.  The lifeline of our focus is the gigantic tree outside of the only window. That is if it doesn’t brutally get trimmed naked every couple of years. Boy do we need to practice Pratyahara or non-fascination of the senses how Donna Farhi describes it in her book Yoga, Mind, Body & Spirit: A Return to Wholeness (http://www.amazon.com/Donna-Farhi).

And it is because I practice and teach Yoga that I can put up with not-so-perfect circumstances in life. It has carried me for 29 years through many countries and places. All I needed was the exact space of my Yoga mat, whether it was in a hotel room in noisy New Dehli, on top of a mountain somewhere in the Himalayas, facing the ocean in New Zealand or in our house in Kuala Lumpur. Yoga gives me: joy and equanimity no matter where or how.

And by the way, my poses are not always as perfect as Desiree Rumbaughs (the pic), who happens to be one of my most inspiring and beloved teachers I was fortunate enough to have learnt from http://www.desireerumbaugh.com/.

Positive versus Negative

23_yingyang pos negHow do you stay positive and believing that all will be well? We are living in turbulent times. Having witnessed a good part of the world moving through a crippling recession it is at times hard to stay positive. During the night subconscious fears arise and it is then I must draw heavily on skills learnt to stay focused on a bright future. I believe the biggest challenge is not to get sucked into a mass-consciousness which gets constantly manipulated through negative news in the media. Another advise comes from Scott Dinsmore  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jpe-LKn-4gM who teaches to follow your passion and to surround yourself with positive people, if you want to stay in an upbeat state of mind. Although I do agree, simultaneously I am aware of the fact that I have learnt important lessons about myself from “negative” people. And what if the “negative” person is your family member or a good friend who happens to move through a bad phase in their live? Am I to cut off all ties to that person, even if they stay in a depressed state? Or can I become a beacon of hope for that person, because I might be the positive company they need to move out of their doom state? When I sometimes wake up at night and am in a state of worry and fear I remind myself that one it is a temporary state and two, fear changes nothing in a possible outcome in the future. I have also learnt that being in a truly “positive state of mind” incorporates the knowledge that even if there is reason to fear something, I will have all the tools and skills to deal with it, when the time comes.

I believe in magic

Most of us would have grown up with the story of Peter Pan, who never wanted to grow up and who was saved from certain death by the little fairy Tinker Bell who drank the poison meant for him. Tinker Bell in turn was then saved by 22_peter panchildren stating “I believe in fairies”, for every time a child says “I don’t believe in fairies” a fairy will drop dead. Yet at that crucial moment the united power of a belief not only saved Tinker Bell but also brought back her strength and power.

I still get mesmerized by that story. Although it is a beautiful tale written by J.M. Barrie, it strikes me as a perfect allegory of how powerful believes are.  In times of ill-health, despair or sheer bad luck a belief can make all the difference.  When I watched a video from the aftermath of the devastating typhoon in the Philippines last month I couldn’t but marvel at some of the people who were interviewed, who showed defiance and managed to smile despite having lost everything.

I believe that we hold an incredible power within us, to heal, to change and to make a difference in this world and to accomplish anything we set our minds to. And each person can decide for themselves where they think that power comes from.  Just remember, every time we state we don’t believe in ourselves, a little spark of trust and power of creation die in us.

The secret lies in how you say something

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It has been an intense last two months. A major decision has been made and I am moving on with my life focusing once again on my teachings of Yoga and most of all on my studies. I came face to face with my shortcomings and realised how powerful communication is. I was not able to bear the way I was addressed or reacted to and it cumulated in a situation that I did not anticipate but have come to accept and be at peace with. This made me realise how important it is to practise mindfulness in my speech. I have accused another party of being rude and reactive in her speech towards me. I agree that at times our interpretation of how someone speaks to us is coloured by our sentiments, frustration and past experiences. And I realised that I sometimes speak with the same unconsciousness to my children or people that happen to be in my path when I am stressed, impatient or busy.

However the moment I utter those words in that particular tone I know it is not right. Buddhists teach us to be mindful about everything we do and that includes being mindful of how we speak to others. Whether we say “wow he has a really good appetite” or “what a glutton” can make a huge difference. Of course in some situations it is even best to opt not to say anything as for instance with my example above. My own experience of feeling bullied has made me more aware of how I address my fellow human beings. To blurb out any impatient reactive uttering is most definitely not talking from your heart. I am as guilty as that person I accused of doing just that. The only difference is that I have become aware of it and will do my best to talk mindfully from now on.

Time – wasted?

Time cannot be created. It can only be used or wasted. Is doing “nothing” a waste of time? Is doing the “wrong” activity a waste of time? Is working in a job, that doesn’t fulfill us a waste of time?

There is no formula describing “waste of time” as a specific thing we do or don’t do. It is what we perceive as a “waste of time”. Everyone has their own standard. I feel content when I am studying, playing or talking with my children and would classify waiting for someone who is late for an appointment as a waste of time.

What we perceive as a waste of time is probably strongly influenced by the culture we grew up in. Before I finally got my PR-status in Malaysia I had to go to my yearly visits to the immigration. My time spent there became progressively shorter over the years, as the immigration became more efficient. In the early years I and my fellow applicants had to wait hours to have our visas processed. I spent my time feeling “useful” by bringing my study21_clock materials or books to read, while the majority of other applicants were happy to stare at the counter. Mind you I do not want to be judgmental and I’d say I was the only one thinking “what a waste of time”.

So what happens, if I am “caught unprepared”? After the initial fidgeting and attacks of (not very positive) thoughts I cease the opportunity and start watching my breath and thoughts. In other words I meditate or “clean up the mind” how Swami Rama from the Himalayan Yoga Meditation mentioned in one of his books. And perhaps that is what all these people in the immigration did as well….?

Spiralling up, not down

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Yoga is all about raising your energy. Kundalini Yoga’s aim is to spark the inherent life force in the lowest chakra and guide it up into the higher ones. Feeling down is another aphorism of having “low energy”.

A great way to turn around the downward spiral is to ask a “what does it take” question (incidentally this type of posing a question I have learnt from my counselor Monika Wyss). What does it take to feel healthy, happy and full of vitality?

It really works! The moment I tune into the question, which opens me to a child-like expectation, I feel better already. It feels a little like standing in front of a gift I was given and wondering what is inside, being joyful just for the fact that I was given a gift…

By the way, a few times when I was somewhere in my life, where I needed advice, counseling or an objective view to make some important decisions in my life, Monika Wyss was an invaluable source that has propelled me to improve on so many areas that I can only warmly recommend her to anyone in need.

Life and its twists and turns and how dreams come true

Every day is different; everything is constantly changing. I might feel great today, look radiant and be full of energy. The next day I am fighting off a nasty virus and all my inner resources are mobilized to maintain equilibrium in my body, all of which is accompanied with tiredness, eye bags and a general feeling of being “off” somewhat.19_cinderella

However the one constant that pulls me through the day, no matter what, is my capacity to dream. Cinderella who never gave up despite enduring unbearable circumstances continued to believe there were better times ahead. Moreover she absolutely appreciated the little reprieves she got, such as feeding her animal friends.

Now what they don’t tell in the fairy tale is that the prince to rescue us is already within us. The realization that we are beautiful and all is well is symbolized through Cinderella’s magic transformation into a beautiful maiden, although it only lasts until 12 o’clock midnight. She is able to maintain her equanimity thereafter, because she already experienced happiness.

Having read Cinderella for the “umphtiest” time to my daughter, I trust that this is the message she is getting too.  Know that the power to change is already within you, never give up hope, keep on dreaming and appreciate the little things in life…

10 Minutes on the Yoga mat

We are living a fast pace of life. A common sentence that is used on an almost daily basis is: “I don’t have time” or “I am running out of time”.

17_doing-yogaWhen I was a small child, my mother used to wash clothes by hand, dishwashers were a thing of the future. There were four of us. She took care of the whole family, preparing meals, washing dishes and clothes and clean up after us. Of course, as we grew older, we had to help, albeit grumbling…

Today we have machines for everything and yet there seems to be less and less time available. I am busy myself, although compared to my mother I live in luxurious times. I work, spend time with my children, teach, study and practice Yoga daily.

A long time ago my good friend gave me an advice that I have never forgotten. “No matter how little time you think you have, there is always time to be on the Yoga mat for at least 10 minutes a day”. Trust me; it makes a huge difference to my day.

About forgiveness

I did something that I am not very proud about. I went back on my word on someone and this resulted in repercussions for that person. Despite being initially defensive, the feeling of guilt slowly eroded any argument that I had for making that decision.15_forgive

My pride and that persons pride kept us apart for quite some time. When I finally decided to ask for forgiveness, that person wasn’t able to give it to me for some time. Every time I saw her, I felt bitterness in her heart. I so regretted my action.

Much has been written about forgiveness. True forgiveness helps everyone to move on. Studies that have been done on “forgiveness” show a strong correlation of improved health and well-being and forgiveness. http://stress.about.com/od/relationships/a/forgiveness.htm

Personally I can only tell of my experience, that when finally that person turned to me with a smile and said, it is ok and that she is sorry too for holding on so long, it brought a load of healing and relieve to me as well as to her.