Tag Archives: Life

The root of your Dharma

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Lately, I have been thinking a lot about what life would be like for me in 10 years time. Not so much in the essence of a 10-year plan but if I was to visualise what life would be like at that point of time, what will I be doing? who do I have in my life? 

Obviously, all of this is sparked from that one conversation I had sometime towards the end of 2012 which I had written of in one of my previous posts. 

The big mother question of “what is my Dharma? what could be the thing that I am meant to contribute to mankind during my lifetime on earth?”

Coincidentally, one of the women who turned up on my Saturday classes that I had been teaching consistently since January told me about an ashram in Nashik, India. Upon further Googling (don’t we all love technology) that night I found out that they offer a 1 month yoga therapy teacher’s training which will place emphasis on healing through yoga.

I thought to myself, perfect! This will be my next adventure!

Just before heading to bed, thoughts filled with excitement, possibilities and imagination it occurred to me that by going through with this plan, I could eventually combine all of the things that nourishes me, and finally come face to face with the desires that I have rooted since young. 

Fascination with dance, movement of the body and desire to express through movement

I have always loved the idea of being a dancer. The grace that all dancers posses and bring to the stage, be it a ballet, or a hip hop performance and the ability to manipulate their bodies in order to express and communicate their emotions to the audience leaves me in awe and pure admiration. Yes, this is where I admit my favorite reality tv show is So You Think You Can Dance. Everytime there is a stellar performance, where the dancer, the choreography and the music culminates to perfection, I get goosebumps.

Someone once commented that I have the body of a ballerina. And I silently added to that sentence, “only that I can’t move as one”. Through yoga though, I eventually found a medium in which I can move according to how I feel, and it is now one of the channels I use to ‘unload’ some of my residual emotions which alone, I could not have worked through. 

The desire to help people be their best self, the desire to heal

As a young girl, my favourite TV shows were Chicago Hope and ER. Not much has changed since then. These days I catch Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice whenever I have the time to do so. I always thought I would be a medical doctor someday. In high school. biology was one of my favorite subjects and I would be one of those annoying ones that gets overly excited on days that we are due to dissect some sort of animal parts. One of my best memories of Biology was seeing a pair of cow’s lungs and watching another classmate blowing through a tube to inflate it. Gross to many, completely fascinating to me.

Through the years, I find the things that leaves me feeling strong are when I can positively add value by helping another person to feel better, be it about themselves or about a specific challenging situation. I realised I liked helping people. And I realise to a certain extent that has been the one common thread that has been guiding me through the all the critical life decisions I’ve had to make concerning my education and my career. It explains why I was obsessed with the kind of work that United Nations Development Program are involved in, why I spent 2 summer breaks interning with them, why I got a Masters in Social Development. It is what that has guided me into a job as a public health consultant, and now, a change management consultant. 

People fascinate me, helping them and seeing positive changes in them, enlivens me. So the thought of being able to combine my love of movement on the mat together with the possibility of helping to influence people to make healthier, better choices towards a more empowering life felt like I had just discovered the solution to a very complicated algebra question.

Which then brings me to my next realisation, your dharma should not necessarily be something that you have to search for, sometimes it is already there, always have been a part of you, just waiting for you to piece it all together and come to a realisation that this perhaps could be what your life’s purpose is. 

 

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“Everything that shines ain’t always going to be gold”

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Growing up, the thought of making money and becoming exorbitantly rich never really crossed my mind. And then those teenage years came and when I entered high school I was inducted to a world where my friends were being dropped off at school by their chauffeurs , where their parents were members of coveted golf clubs so we got to dine there at a great discounted price and where every girl I knew wanted to look like the girls that appear in the Seventeen magazine.

Sometime in Uni, determined not to bend to this delusional demands of the crazy society, I remembered telling myself that I will always do what I love, and the money will come. Do what I love, and the money will come. And so came my first job with a reputable bank, the money then to a young 21 year old seemed plenty, the bonus, jaw-dropping. Then again looking back, I’m convinced it was due to the novelty of going from a student who earns zero income to a 4 figure sum that suddenly appeared in my account one day.

But I came home crying to my parents, I remembered sitting in the living room and just balling my eyes out telling them how unhappy I was whilst the both of them look on with the most bemused expression on their faces. A year shy of employment, a partial scholarship offer from the University of Queensland and after a fateful meeting with R, then the Resident Representative for United Nations Development Program, I handed in my resignation letter.

Then came my second career path as public health consultant. The people were great, and I got paid what I had asked for. The job were various, and meaningful. I was even given free reign to construct and conduct my own social research. But I could never shake off the tinge of worry that perpetuated every time my mum brings up the fact that the employees I chose to work for is NOT a large, world renown MNC,  hence how can I be possibly building a promising career track that will bring in recognition and status? On occasions relatives or family friends asked her where I work, I would always detect a tinge of embarrassment in her answer and quick diversion to a different topic .

2 years into it, and at a time when I began to questioned every single thing that forms my system of beliefs, I wrote my second resignation letter. This time to join a global consulting firm, at a 15% paycut and a slight demotion. Why? These days I believe it was mostly driven by the need to make my parents proud, so that they can answer with pride and a beam in their faces when someone asks them about their first born daughter. At that time though, I was driven by the need to learn, to achieve, to be someone. I was drawn by the 2 months bonus (which ended up having me tied down to the company for 2 years, a move that in hindsight always gets me shaking my head wondering why I was so gullible). I endured 2 years of long, gruelling hours that sometimes stretches beyond midnight, zooming down the Federal Highway because everyone else is already home and probably sound asleep in bed, being screamed at for a whole 2 hours in a glass room that obviously was NOT sound proof, and eventually finding refuge from a lookout point in a women’s toilet at a client’s site.

I am still here though. Enduring still, long hours and perpetual feeling of having completely no idea what I’m doing and why I’m doing it for. Just recently I had gotten the promotion that I felt I had sacrificed many mealtimes, shed many tears, and swallowed many antibiotics for. Never in the history of my career had I fallen sick so often. I have made the responsible, young adult decision that this is stability. This is safe. This will lead me to a house ownership and financial freedom. But will it? And at what expense?

Yesterday I wrote to my friend on BBM – “I always thought more money will mean a little bit more happiness. But I am SO unhappy right now. Why is this so??”

Last week our annual bonus was credited into our accounts. I took a look at the sum, and though for the first time I saw a 5 figure sum that actually wholly belonged to me, I felt nothing. Except perhaps a deep sense of dissatisfaction. Not because I am ungrateful for what I got and what I have, but because I felt what I had given up, is not being compensated as equally. My health, my sense of wellbeing and the confidence of being sure in what I am doing, how do you compensate any of that with a figure in your savings account?

And yet again I confided to my dad, that even with all this supposedly “good” things that are happening to my career,  heading to work in the morning feels like a march towards my grave. I know what I want, and it is what I had felt while I was away in Koh Samui. It is what I feel now when I lead a yoga class with clarity and peace. It is true, that everything that shines will not always be gold. Sometimes it resides in the simplicity of just being in the moment.

I did. I’ve done. I was here.

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Beyonce performed “I was here” at the United Nations World Humanitarian Day, and let me tell you, this is one of those rare songs that gave me the chills AND made me tear at the same time. Click on the play button and you’ll see what I mean.

The song has since received 4 million hits, and it was put on Youtube a mere 10 days ago. It reminded me of the very simple fact that every one of us has the ability to create change, be the change and contribute towards a better world. Even in the smallest gesture.

But more importantly, and oddly enough, this song brought forth all the things that I forgotten from my early 20s. The desperate wanting of achieving something important, doing something remarkable and meaningful, and the yearning to have a direct association with the United Nations as my employer. Yes, almost everybody who is involved in the international development and non-profit work knows the breadth of influence United Nations has these days is questionable. Gone were the days when Kofi Annan would deliver a convincing speech, and developed nations would willingly join forces towards peace. Heck, even Kofi Annan can’t seem to stop the Syrian conflict these days. Ask the general bystander if they know who Ban Ki Moon might be, and a blank look will follow suit.

Still, you cannot deny the awesome feeling that entails (or maybe it’s just me, nevermind, let’s just pretend you know that awesome feeling I’m talking about) when you answer that all too familiar small talk question – “Where do you work?” or “What do you do for a living?” with “I’m a programme officer for [insert any one of the UN bodies here]”

I remembered a time when my attempts to get one foot into the UN door kept failing. And a heart-to-heart conversation with one of my mentors made me realise that getting into the UN was the ultimate for me. Sure it was a goal, but it should never be viewed as a Point B, the be all and end all of everything else. So what if you are not in United Nations, or you don’t work in the office that manage Global Fund and Bono is on your speed dial? That does not mean you can’t make the life of a single mother in your town happy by dropping in for a chat, or the child esteem a little better by helping him/her with their homework.

S, my lovely boss and mentor who cried and sobbed through her farewell speech for me when I left 2 years ago once told me “It is how you feel about yourself on your deathbed that matters. Before you leave this world, you want to feel like you have given your everything to have a life that you are proud of leaving behind”

I was here,
I lived, I loved
I was here,
I did, I’ve done everything that I wanted

Nevermind that you have had heart breaks, disappointment, and a lot of people saying “No” to you. You might not be helping to provide clean sanitary drinking water to the children in India today, but that does not mean that you will not ever do so in this lifetime.  Nevermind the tears and the frustration that sometimes follow a burning ambition that is not quite met. It does not mean that it will never be met. The very fact that you are here today, right here, right now, allows you the power to do something about it. To do everything that you have ever wanted, and to do it with all your heart.