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.
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…
Here a yawn, there a snore, some of the fifty over participants used all their willpower to stay awake after an all-nighter. They didn’t party nor did they finish some undone projects from work. Their whole devotion throughout the night was to change something within themselves, so they can have a more fulfilling and joyful life.
Sounds corny? You bet, but this is what they did and there they were dragging their feet and yoga mats to attend the early morning Yoga class, accompanied by the sounds of crickets and chirping birds. The sun was just rising. Some still managed to muster enough energy to do a few extra push-ups (Chaturanga).
It takes determination, focus and willpower to change one’s life. Although the focus is on worldly achievements, it is a phase of becoming freer in other ways. Freer to be who we came here to be, freer to be giving and generous and freer to let it all go, when the time comes. A life fully lived – isn’t that what we all crave for?
The four traditional phases in a Yogis’ life.
This morning I got myself all riled up, rushing for this, rushing for that and increasingly observed myself getting angrier. I did my best to change my thoughts of despise to loving ones. I knew from past experience that the more I get myself into this state, the less I will enjoy the rest of my day.
Did Sage Patanjali (he wrote the Patanjali Yoga Sutras) fathom, that a couple of thousand years later, the eight limbs of Yoga are more relevant than ever? Especially the 5th limb “Pratyahara” (non-fascination of senses) is an invaluable tool to survive hectic times in the 21st Century. Although Yoga A.D. was predominantly practiced by fully renounced Yogis and “Ashtanga Yoga” or the eight limbs of Yoga meant to guide them to absolute truth, Yoga has also been practiced by householders throughout times.
I imagine that Pratyahara is easier to achieve, if you live in a remote cave in the Himalayas than if you are a busy working mum or dad. However the practice can still give me an important tool to not be sucked in by surrounding madness and stay calm amidst chaos. My immediate goal might not be to achieve absolute truth just yet but to live my life more harmoniously and be a beacon of light to the people in my life. Patanjali the eight limbs of Yoga.
Four days of a blissful Yoga-Seminar and teacher training with Desiree Rumbaugh. I am at the top of my energy, although I am seriously sore and aching. Next thing I am back in life, driving to the park and this jerk swerves in front of me without indicating.
There goes my calm and newfound peace and although I am curbing my expletives to as little as I can muster with my temper, I still feel sorry for the people that are in my car and who have to listen to me. The best thing to do is to get out and away from them before they get to know my shadow side a lot deeper. Thank God for Puji, my household helper, so I can run off into the park as soon as I park. I am I upset and irritable.
I am watching myself and thinking why? Running a couple of rounds and doing my EFT calms me down and I begin appreciating the sheer luxury of being able to run off like this into the greenery. Another few hundred metres and I start giving thanks to the fact that I am in a position to train with amazing teachers, have a loving family and supportive friends I can count on. Life is good!
There is no moment that is more precious than now. Moral of the story: Be in the moment, even if it pisses you off, deal with it, get on with it and continue counting your blessings.
Yes, I am still teaching, less though. It has been an intense four months since I started my full-time work. My respects to all those who juggle job, family and perhaps squeeze a little time in for themselves. I am grateful I don’t have to join the rush-hours. My Yoga practice has never been more important than now. I helps me to stay sane, grounded and focused on what’s really important. It is time to re-evaluate goals, re-assess my life. Dreams do come true with the right focus. Nelson Mandelas` speech “I have a dream” still inspires, as its message is time-less:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a Child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
Have a great New Year, Western or Chinese and keep on dreaming…
I just love this little grocery store which incidentally exhibits an astonishing amount of products in the smallest space possible! There is no wastage of time, if you forget a thing. There is no wishing for roller-skates to get to the cereals. All you need to do is to navigate yourself past the staff and other customers in an unspoken code of who will stop, turn sideways and allows others to pass.
Waiting at the counter, entirely satisfied and happy with my shopping experience, I hear the unmistaken squeaking of a rat. Starting to get worried about my Parmesan I watch two men looking intently down at the cupboard behind the counter. The squeaking is getting louder, alternated with little screams of a woman!? My heart sinks, although I am no rat-lover, I know this one had no chance. As the squeaking becomes more intense, so does the shrieking of the (poor) lady teller. The clobbering of the rat that follows is only intensified by imagination since it all happens behind the counter.
Ahimsa or non-violence, one of the yamas outlined by Sage Patanjali, is probably one of the hardest living principles to follow. When it comes to rats, cockroaches and mosquitoes I pretend I have never heard of such a thing. Some of Kuala Lumpur’s population unfortunately contributes substantially to the proliferation of such pests by indiscriminately dumping their rubbish into backlines and other unsuitable places.
For now I practice Ahimsa as Donna Farhi describes it in “Yoga Mind, Body & Spirit”: To learn how to be non-violent toward ourselves. It takes some self-control not to bring our competitive society into the Yoga-room. Practicing Yoga without hurting ourselves requires awareness, attention and slowing-down. A slow practice intensifies our experience of the moment. We become aware of hurts and pleasures alike. We start realizing our tendencies to avoid certain postures and jump into others with enthusiasm. We have time to become aware of our thoughts. Mine are with that rat and who is to blame for its existence. Us, the rubbish-producers or the rat and its innate will to survive?
The world is in turmoil. There are natural disasters aplenty and the world economy is threatening to collapse. What can my tiny little self achieve in the face of such enormity? Plenty. I still have a collective say and will save energy, turn off my car while waiting in the shade, recycle and use my very practical Bangsar Village shopping bags everywhere. Unfortunately when I go the shopping-centre I hardly see anyone else using recyclable shopping bags, not even expatriates.
Hello! In most western countries we have to pay not only for shopping bags but also for the increased rubbish we create. Yet I am stunned to see shopping trolleys full of plastic bags in expatriates as well as locals as if those rules don’t apply in Malaysia! What has this got to do with Yoga? Yoga teaches me to be more aware. By taking care of myself I consequently take care of my environment. The Light show in Annexe Gallery Kuala Lumpur www.annexegallery.com/) shows how wasteful we humans are, despite the fact that the artists created beauty out of rubbish. The exhibition is running till 3/5/09.
Incidentally I cannot control the world-economy, but I can control how much bad news I read and what thoughts I am thinking. After all, I believe in the Law of Attraction www.abraham-hicks.com.
Life is like a stage play. Every morning I am a mother, later I am a Yoga teacher. I am also a wife and partner of my husband. Sometimes I am a counselor, and a friend. Other times I am a stranger in a taxi. The art is to maintain equilibrium in life in many roles I play as a human being. Yoga creates harmony in the endocrine system. It helps the glands to work efficiently. It is challenging to find balance over and over again. Just going out into Kuala Lumpurs traffic can jar your nerves. Being up with a young child all night throws out many good intentions. When I practice the handstand my world turns upside-down. Standing on one leg in tree pose is just a symbolism of how many times I stand on one leg in my life. And yet it is possible to stay calm and unwavering. It is not about getting that great body (although it is a nice side-effect), or bending like an acrobat (which can be fun). Can I take a Yoga pose and transform it into a play with my child? Can I stay calm and unwavering when things don’t turn out the way I expected? Sometimes, and if not I just pick myself up and try again…just like after falling down from the handstand.
Teaching Yoga in Malaysia brings a variety of students with different racial and ethnic backgrounds into my classes. One thing I noticed is that most of my Asian students seem to have more flexibility in their hips and upper backs compared to my Caucasian students. Without turning this into a racially biased observation, it is quite clear why. If you go around Kuala Lumpur on a bus you quite often see Malaysians squatting on the floor to wait for the next bus. Furthermore most public toilets in Malaysia are of the squatting type. Now if you gotta go you better learn to squat… How many Caucasians, me included, grew up with squatting toilets? I still remember the agony I endured to sit cross-legged for just 10 minutes, when I was 23 years old! The good news is it can be learned and I am good example of that as I sit quite comfortably for about half hour. And that’s it. While I am starting to squirm my fellow Malaysian keeps still as social or spiritual gatherings sometimes require. Now the upper-back thingy is another matter. Flexible upper backs require a “soft” and “open heart”, at least that’s what I have learned in the Anusara-Yoga seminars. Excuse me but when I am driving in Kuala Lumpurs’ crazy traffic I simply don’t experience many open-hearted individuals of any race. For all I know some of the red-light and queue-beating individuals might be late for their next gym-Yoga-class, where they then bend like willows into Urdhva Dhanurasana (upward facing bow). So this is my own personal theory: I am not super-flexible in my back, because I don’t like bending backwards, period. But I do it anyway and keep breathing and voila, my heart has “softened” quite a bit already. I can now keep my cool, when that crazy driver just pulled in front of my car WITHOUT indicating. You Malaysians, you know what I am talking about, right?