Tag Archives: Relationship

A love affair

Standard

I woke up this morning with a clear thought, it felt like someone was actually narrating to me in my head out loud. “Do not force anything to happen, you will injure or hurt yourself in the process”. And of course that incredible feeling of me getting into a supta kurmasana on my own during yesterday’s self practice washes through followed by a dull discomfort on my right hip rotators. Achievement not to be seen as one, pain not to be understood simply, and practicing through all of these as it rises and fall is something that I am beginning to relish more and more.

I had been sitting with this topic for a little while, to allow it to simmer and gain further depth before attempting to put it down into words. Reflecting on this growing love affair that constantly surprises me with delightful insights, like little candies found in the most unexpected places, my relationship and journey into Ashtanga yoga has been to a certain extent predictable given the company that I have grown close to in the second half of this year, but the intensity of which was completely unplanned. Sometimes I catch myself thinking how different my classes would be, my views of teaching, my commitment to a daily practice – how different my entire daily structure of life – my world would be without my current practice.

And that sounds really drastic doesn’t it?

Last night’s dinner with some good friends from high school, the ones that I have walked with through the better and worst part our twenties, made me realise that I am currently inhabiting an entirely different world. A world that seems both removed yet a part of reality. As soon as I sat down on the table of 4, I knew I had stepped into a different world where conversations would be different, not any better nor worse, but just different. Like the different perspectives of 2 different person looking at one single painting. Same subject, different ways of interpretation and understanding. I love these 3 people equally, when they hurt I feel their pain, like that time when A cried while relating a personal story to us right in the middle of Rasta while having dinner. But I also realised, the capacity of understanding each of our unique experiences are limited to the extent of what they know and have experienced themselves. And hence, trying to relate the story of that deepest backbend I got into last Friday (which is a BIG deal for me) felt at best a feeble attempt of trying to describe to them the taste of an exotic food that neither of them has ever tasted.

It got me thinking, what is it about Ashtanga and the practice that feels like I am walking through a ring of fire in which at the opposite end is an entirely different view and understanding of the world around me. Why do I do the same sequences over and over 6 times a week but never once has it felt the same as yesterday? Why do I keep diving into it further and further without a clear sight of an end nearby? I don’t know if this time next year, I would even be saying the same things about the practice. I don’t know what to expect or even if there is a need to have any expectations at all from the practice. Going into this, I remembered thinking – cool now I have a set of tried-tested and proven sequence I can memorise,  and do this over again instead of feeling like I’m plucking random yoga asanas out of thin air and do it when I feel like it, or do it because that famous practitioner on IG does it and it looks beautiful. There are 840,000 yoga asanas known to man, like come on – certainly there has to be some logic and reasoning to performing these asanas. The Type A in me is tickled and pacified currently with the Primary series.

And perhaps, this love affair is fuelled by a sheer feeling of wonder, curiosity, novelty and awe. Much like how most other relationships begin. But there is an additional dynamic to this. It goes both ways. Just as the practice and commitment of others floors me, so too the transformation that I am observing within myself. The physical changes are obvious, but these I believe are only the secondary benefits. J. Krishnamurthi’s explanation on relationship seems to have shed an entirely different, better and brighter light to my own understanding of it. His articulate thoughts have put into words everything I knew and understood of this thing called ‘relationship’, in all perspectives, romantic, platonic, with a person, an idea, a system or whatever else that allows one to ‘relate’ to the other. The idea of communion. Of falling into the one-ness, when the observer and the observed disappears, and all that remains is the present moment. The moment that is neither being experienced nor being process into an experience, a memory.

It is exactly this that I feel has been the construction of my world lately. When I step onto my mat, heels and toes together, palms in front of my heart just before uttering the opening mantra. The moment I close my eyes and bow down, the physical world around me slips away. And then it is just the breath, the movement and the occasional awareness of others around me. Of course on days when focus seems non-existent, there are conversations going on with the Self, or wandering drishtis. Similarly outside of practice, it is when I enter into an engaging conversation, a topic that I genuinely identify with or passionate about, the moment when there is an indefinite locking of hearts and mind, when thoughts arise not only from logic, but understanding that comes from the heart. That, I believe are one of those beautiful, rare but entirely possible moments of communion. It is a world that I am much happy to be pulled into deeper and deeper, though it is also a world which has left me wondering if I am able to reintegrate back into ‘the other world’ where the majority idea of ‘drop back’ is literally being physically dropped back to ones house from another location. And if I can’t, what would it mean to my existing friendships and social circle?

It feels painfully familiar, like discovering the similarities and amazing connection with a person of the opposite sex and being so incredibly enchanted by it that you want to allow all parts of your life to be entirely drawn into this world, to be lost in its wonder, and at the same time to have the parts of yourself be revealed like turning over the stones from the bottom of a river one by one. It is not so much the experience of ‘falling’ in love, but rather ‘drifting’ into this strong pull of love and allowing all previous understanding of yourself to be unearthed, burned, and renewed. And perhaps this is one of of its valuable lessons, to allow myself to be moved by the pull, without resistance, without force, without wanting something to be a certain way at a certain time, but rather to allow more moments of being absorbed into the present, engaged, aware and at ease. With ease there is openness, and when one is open, magical things happen like moving into that one asana that you once thought was completely impossible. And that I believe is the essence of all romantic, poetic love affairs, on and off the mat.

Advertisement

The language of the world

Standard

A week in Italy made me realize there are certain things about the human life that is common across the world, irrespective of culture, skin colour, religion or where you come from. It’s like the world speaks to you in its own universal language through human behavior.

M. Scott Peck in A Road Less Travelled began the first chapter of his book admitting that “Life is hard”. True that our life’s struggles come in many form and shape but in Rome, I learnt that these challenges are more often the same no matter where you live.

On the third day of our trip, I caught up with a colleague whom I met at training in Chicago last year. We were brought to a trendy, recently-launched lounge which operates a health spa during the day where I met his tall gorgeous redhead of a girlfriend and a handful of his other friends. We got down to talking about everything that makes Italy home to them. A group of twenty-something commiserating over getting life into momentum in a mix of English, Italian and a lot of expressive hand gestures. For a while, they were bantering in Italian to what seemed like a heated debate. I got another one of the girls to help translate for me and it appeared they were discussing about ‘love’ issues. I guessed it must have been one of the girls complaining that her other half had forgotten to take out the trash that weekend.

Once the conversation turned to English, we eventually gathered that one of the girls hated her job but the money from it affords her to pay her half of the mortgage of their recently bought apartment. The infamous question of “should I stay in this mundane job and keep earning the bucks or should I risk it and pursue my passion?” was raised.

Doesn’t that sound absolutely familiar?

I don’t know about you, but it definitely does to me. As the conversation developed, I got the impression that a majority of the working class young adults in Rome do not have it easy in their initial years setting up a nest of their own. And by that I mean moving out, starting a career, long-term relationships, marriage and kids. At one point, their wide-eyed look felt more like eyes that were about to pop and roll on the floor towards the DJ and his turntable when we told them the price of petrol per litre that we, normal working class Malaysian citizens pay.

For a while now, my itchy feet has been longing for me to move out of the country and earn a living elsewhere. That night I realized, there are a LOT of things to be thankful for by remaining in my home country – government petrol subsidy being on those things.

Reading poetry into the sunset

And then there is love. Whether you are down South in Australia, or the on the China Silk Road, or up north in an unfamiliar European country, the language of love is immediately understood. The photo above was taken in Piazza del Campidoglio, where an Italian couple were sitting together at dusk reading each other poetry.

Massimo, who were one of the friends we made in that lounge that night told us the story of how he met his current wife, this beautiful lithe blonde next to him. A quick private snicker was shared between the two when asked how they had met, before he turned to me and asked “Are you sure you really want to know how we met?”.

I always enjoy listening to stories of how two people met. Theirs by far, is one of the most hilarious and wonderful ones I have heard thus far. For the next 1 hour, we learnt that they had met years ago on a movie set (how surreal!) and shared their first kiss on the screen because they were directed to do so. A few years of break between the two as each went their separate ways, they met again but each were now engaged to different people. It made me realize that life, really has a way of leading you through it with some crazy twists and turns. Today, they have been happily married for a year and a half and they speak of each other with that comical sense of fondness that kept us laughing throughout the night.

I saw a lot of things, tasted many delicious food and drink, felt a range of emotions from intrigued to complete exhaustion (which could only happen if you have been on your feet for a full 12 hours, walking, climbing up and down many hills, getting on and off trains and buses over a number of days) while in Italy. Many more entries (and photos!) to follow on my perspective of this trip soon 🙂