Tag Archives: Life

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I look back at the last decade of my life in retrospection as I cross over to my next decade today. Of the many things that has taken place, beyond the detailed 1,3, 5 & 10 years plan I had written under that tree in Flagstaff Gardens when I was 20. I did not get many of the things that I wanted and had planned for. Instead, I was given many more things that was bigger, better and beyond my own 20 year old capacity to ever imagine and let alone dream of.

I wanted to work for United Nations and my pursuit for this was relentless in the first quarter of my twenties. I could only talk about League of Nations, Dag Hammarskjold, Kofi Annan and UN until I was known by a lot of my friends then as “Ms. UN”. 2 internships, an unforgettable business trip to Colombo and a Masters degree in Development Practice later, I can safely say I have moved beyond that desire, though noble it remains to be to “save the world”.
I wanted to work to fight for the cause of the disadvantaged and marginalized. I  interviewed sex workers, transvestites, mingled with prison wardens and taught high risk adolescents safe sex using bananas and lubes donated by the PT foundation not too far away from the youth center where I was based once a week. I was lucky to have been in that job. My lady boss told me once “life shouldn’t only be about getting somewhere. Imagine you are on your death bed, how would you want to feel at that moment just before you die? Then work yourself backwards to how you should live and make decisions for now”. It has stayed with me since and dare I say, it has been the foundational approach to all the major decisions I have made since then.
Halfway through, life from the outside was changing. Though minimal and barely noticeable in the grand scheme of things, my internal landscape broke down and I had to begin again. I rejoined the rat race and decided to give myself a few years to become a “heartless corporate bitch”.
At 25, I wanted to follow every single prescribed steps so that I could deserve the loving God that wraps me in His embrace safely everyday to shield me from all the trials and tribulations of a daily life. I wanted a rose tinted glass that was perpetually stuck to my face.
I never got any of those, and in perspective I was glad I was never given any of it at that age. I dived myself into a job that I wasn’t quite sure of, learned to love, hate and eventually made peace with before moving on from it. I can say now that I love every moment of it even in those moments spent sobbing quietly in my car or behind the locked doors of a bathroom stall. It taught me perseverance. It taught me the beauty of human connection and the honesty of a real rapport. It taught me the meaning of family, of real hard work, of perhaps hitting that point of finally “growing up” and accepting that every job, every career no matter how passionate you are about it, comes with its own set of ups and downs and challenges. Ultimately, it prepared me.
Everything that took place. Every conversation. Every heart break. Every tears and laughter. Every person I had met, as colleagues, friends or lovers was to prepare me for the next step of my life.
So I have learned, that perhaps there is nowhere to go and nothing to become. Accepting every moment of happiness or sadness as just another part of the deal we agreed on with God when we accepted this life as ours. That one event is just like another footstep forward on the road. A road to somewhere or nowhere, right now it doesn’t seem too big of a deal to me.
What matters more these days is the ability to stay present, to allow emotions and feelings to move me yet at the same time to move through me without ever really becoming a part of who I am. And to experience beauty without ever really trying to find it, because beauty resides in every moment and every experience. That there are no good nor bad experience, and beauty pervades in every single moment we have.

..and this is the wonder that is keeping the stars apart

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Time is rather fascinating, from hours, to months and years – one can’t help but wonder what life would be like without any concept of time? Without any regard of time there will be no such thing as New Years no? But the concept of time, amongst its many other function serves as a tool of reflection, consolidation and integration of experiences into something meaningful. Because man is always out to find and attach meaning to everything that happens to them, Viktor E. Frankl certainly got famous from it, and I am not far behind in agreement.

This year has been nothing short of magical. Cliche I know, but it is one word that I can use with all honesty and still feel that it falls short of encapsulating the essence of 2014. Since it is also the end of my twenties, that “defining decade”, it feels really good to be exactly where I am today, to look back on all the big life decisions I have made to bring me here, and to feel a sense of excitement entering into my thirties.

If there was a word I could use to sum up my entire year it would be blessings. I am infinitely blessed and for this I am endlessly grateful to the Universe and the Higher power that governs it. From the opportunities that came in a steady stream and watching Mind Body Breath grow from strength to strength (with the 2 coolest thing to happen to it was the appearance on TV3 Berita Utama and coverage in Her World magazine), the kindness of strangers, the meeting of beautiful souls and mind blowing connections that transcends all my understanding of what it means to really and truly connect with another person, and ultimately the expansion of a group of people I hold close and dear in my heart.

Delivering a report and having a Vietnamese translator by my side (and discovering that having your presentation translated actually gives you plenty of time to calm that public speaking nerves – woohoo!), appearing on their national news, embarking on this teaching thing full time, sharing my written thoughts with others and seeing on it print, sharing what I love and what I know to others and watching them experience similar benefits and positivity, that maiden trip to India, falling in love with Saraswathi and her energy, discovering the value of parampara, falling head over heels with the entire practice and discovering an entirely new world around it, kick starting a business partnership with a person who is so similar to me in values yet so utterly different in certain worldviews and looking forward to the kind of boundless beauty that will result from this communion.

There were a couple of lessons that became really clear to me which affirms some of my understanding of the world or whatever it was that I may have read from before. I understood the concept of making space by first releasing the things that doesn’t serve you anymore. Magic happens in those spaces. They really do 🙂 I understood every quality that which we love, admire, hate or detest in other people are merely the reflection of the exact same qualities within ourselves, shedding an entirely different light and meaning on my understanding of ‘one-ness’ and the self. And I have also come to understand that the Universe awards you with many, many gifts in different forms and that you would only have to be present and aware when it happens to fully appreciate it. Of the biggest lesson in this though, I have learned that sometimes this gifts are not meant to be kept, sometimes to be let go as immediately as they came, sometimes to not be owned but appreciated as they are, and on other times, to be experienced and then to allow distance from it and to admire it from afar. The challenge that remains for me at least is to learn not to grow attached to any of these wonderful gifts.

Equally as the affirmation occurs, so too did the disintegration of certain beliefs that was accompanied with a lot of questions that was really uncomfortable leading to days of unease and sleeps underlined with meaningless nightmares. I am still questioning a lot of things but I have managed to find comfort in this very uncomfortable process, to make peace with certain things that remains unknown and to embrace fully my ability to question the very foundation of my faith and trusting this entire process in and of itself. Certainly these questions arise from within for the mere purpose of drawing one closer to the self.

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
E.E Cummings

“Teach what is inside you..”

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I have been struggling with defining MY own version of success for a little while now. If you had been following my writings in the past 4-5 months, you will see this has been the main theme running throughout the past entries. Truth be told, I had been so fixated with the idea of success which I had formed in my early 20s that letting go of this rigid definition of success became a starting point to which I began to question what truly, and absolutely matters to me.

My TTC last September-Oct was not the starting point to reconstructing my own idea of success, but it was definitely an enabler which opens up a floodgate from which passion, interest, and the desire to serve others were rekindled. Since the conclusion of the TTC last Oct, I had been teaching beginners-intermediate Hatha Yoga to a handful number of mostly women. Women who are my close friends, my colleagues, and also strangers that faithfully walked through the door of the multipurpose hall every Saturday to attend the sessions that I lead.

The more I teach, the more humbled I am. I know for sure, joy for me resides in the light that shines through the eyes of these women as they slowly open their eyes from their final Savasana pose. One weekend ago, a woman who had been practicing her shoulder stand with the support of a wall eventually pushed off and held her pose on her own. As I was assisting another person from across the room, she let out a tiny squeak and soft “wheee” as I am sure the exhilaration of mastering something new washes through her.

When she eventually got out of the pose, and 5 breath of Matsyasana later, she rolled back up and told me “I did my first shoulder stand at home this week, and I was so excited I nearly wanted to call you straight away”

I smiled to what seemed like a HUGE grin, as a big ‘WOW!’ moment reverberated through my mind. In that moment, I know everything thing that has brought me to this very moment, was absolutely, and totally worth it.

Maya Angelou once said – Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.

I have not reached that point in which I can crystalize my own idea of success so coherently into one sentence as that. But I know it comes pretty close. And I have this suspicion that it has something to do with sharing what I know of yoga to the masses so that they too can journey through their own lives in the most peaceful & rewarding way possible.

All the same, the more I teach the more I feel that I am learning of the essence of humanity, what drives people? what is important? where are they now and where do they wish to go with their own lives?

I came across a powerful advice from the words of Sri T Krishnamacharya who is also the man responsible for the sparking the birth of Ashtanga Yoga and Iyengar Yoga (both Sri Patabhi Jois & Iyengar were his students). He said “Teach what is inside you, not as it applies to you, to yourself, but as it applies to the other”

Thus serving as a constant reminder that to teach is not always to dump all your knowledge onto the next willing passerby, but to consciously form the understanding of where the other is at that very moment and structuring the next 75-90 minutes of your time together as it applies to them. And if I can do this, and have the same desired effects from every single person that attends my classes, that to some degree, is success to me.