Tag Archives: Philosophy

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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.

Doing to Let Go

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You know one of those golden moments when someone utters something so profound that it sticks with you throughout the day?

That happened to me today.

An authorized level I Ashtanga teacher is in town until October and I have been dropping in a few times since last week for Mysore practice. It was only yesterday I got to ask her for coffee this morning. I almost didn’t make it to practice this morning though. Woke up with a heavy head and spent a full minute in front of the bathroom mirror wondering why I am up at 5:45am on a public holiday AND on the only day I have successfully cleared out my classes since I first started to teach full time.

Knowing that traffic would be pretty much non-existent, I took my time and made a bowl of oats with cinnamon, apple and a dash of maca just in case I need it for all that jumpbacks later. Need it I did alright. By my 10th chaturanga (four-limbed staff pose) I am flat on the mat, puddles of sweat randomly forming where my chin hits the ground, and more threatening to trickle into my eyes and nose every time I’m turned upside down in a downward dog. The jumpbacks might as well be called crawlbacks.

My head was still swimming in a haze of heaviness. I lost count of the times I stood on my mat for a few full breaths wondering what I am suppose to do next. The haze of confusion eventually ended about 1.5 hours later when I was lying down in the final resting pose and realised I forgot to turn upside down and balance myself on my head before actually calling it a day and silently hoping the teacher won’t notice. Isn’t that sometimes the beauty of what Mysore practice can be on days like these? :p

Wishful thinking indeed. Because she did come up to me after I sat up and sweetly asked “did you do your headstand?” to which I sheepishly smiled and whispered as quietly as I could so the others won’t hear “crap! I forgotttt”

So breakfast happened. To which I could not be more thankful for that cup of steaming long black. It cleared some of the clouds in my head enough for me to have and absorbed some well meaning, intelligent conversations and useful tips for my upcoming Mysore (yes as in the place in India, not the practice) trip.

And we spoke about ageing and scaling back. Because of the intensity of the practice and the physical fitness that it demands, with age one is naturally expected to scale back his/her own practice. And we are talking about around the of 50 and above, when introspection of ones own life takes center stage.

I knew of this topic from some articles I ran into online previously but had never discussed about it extensively especially with someone as learned as this particular teacher. Naturally, the first question that popped in my head was “well what’s the point of ALL that hard work advancing through all that different series, and having to face your own self every single day 6 times a week on that mat only to have to let it go 20-30 years after you start??”

And before I could ask, she said midway through a sentence with another guy on our table “and that is it! Doing it to let go. Like life and death, because eventually we will need to let this, our practice, and eventually life all go anyway. Just like when you are given a sequence, and the minute you master that you let it go so you can focus on the next one, and the next one..”

Which obviously rang so many chimes in my head and the cogs began to kick into place.

How beautiful it is to lead your life with that in mind? In every decision that you make, and in every single moment that you experience, be it a happy, amazing moment, or the total opposite of these, it is so you can learn to let go. It encourages the mind to set itself in a place of non-attachment, to the outcome or to the sensations felt so that your attention is always in the present. Not in the past when things seemed better than the now, or in the future when things “could” be better than now.