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Archive for the ‘Life Lessons’ Category

Values and Acceptance

(Excerpt from my Meditation journal)

This morning’s session was interesting.  Since yesterday, I’ve had a few moments of disconncect and frustration… With others.  With things.  With myself.  I brushed it off as nothing until a friend called me later to ask if I was ok.  It’s interesting the tricks your mind can play on you if you let it.  Speaking of this friend, my friendship with this person has seemed very distant in recent weeks, a fact that definitely worries and saddens me.  Yet, nothing is wrong.  Friendships, I value very highly in my life.  Time, money, consequence, etc. I find are very small consequences to show a friend you care.  My faith and value system is strongly rooted within people (I’m sure my kapha dosha strongly influences this personal trait).  I rarely let “life” get in the way of my friendships/relationships.  However, it can also be a source of frustration for me as not many people hold this value in such esteem as I do.  I am ready, willing, and able to care for people at any hour of the day.  It’s one of my greatest strengths but also one of my greatest lessons.  Things I am willing to do with little hesistation are seen as inconveniences to other people.  Are either of us wrong?  No.  When those moments happen to me, I do my best to remind myself that perhaps we have different values.  A person who chooses an apple over an orange is merely honoring their best interests and what they feel is right.  When talking about values, the process is still the same.  It’s a lesson I remind myself of constantly.  When someone does something I think is wrong  or don’t agree with, I just remind myself that perhaps they just have diffent values than I do.  It allows me to practice acceptance and compassions, two things that are always good to work on.

This is very much what my meditation was focused on today.  There were many distractions this morning, both internal and external.  There have been many (unfounded) moments of dread, loneliness, confusion, and not being in alignment (with others, myself, and the universe).  Much citta vritti to work through.  I even needed a song (Krishna Das- Baba Hanuman) to begin and help me settle into my meditation.  A meditation that required a bit of reflection for me to feel good about it.  A lesson in acceptance for sure.

Just another step along the path.

Namaste.

 

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Can I Be… A Battery?

Had an awesome talk with a great, great friend yesterday.  There are few people I feel like I really vibrate on the same frequency with but this friend is definitely one of them.  No matter the time or distance, the energy is always… off the charts.  Breakfast quickly turned into lunch and if not for prior engagements, would have easily turned into evening and dinner.  So many great topics of conversation I’m sure I’ll be contemplating over the next few days.  However, one thing that came up in conversation that I wanted to share today was the concept of energy and a battery.

I’ve blogged a few times about energy, frequency, vibration, etc.  We are all physical beings but we are also electrical beings.  If we didn’t have ______, how long would we survive?

Food… A few weeks.

Water… A few days.

Oxygen… A few minutes.

Electricity… We don’t.

Need proof? If your heart stops, how would they revive you? *rubs paddles together* CLEAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Now we may not have enough current running through our body to power a light bulb but the little minute electrical pulses continuously surging throughout our body is what keeps us functioning, breathing… Alive.

We ARE energetic beings and that means everything within us vibrates at it’s own frequency.  Our body, organs, brain, thoughts, mood, personality, etc.  Of particular interest to me lately has been our mental/emotional energetic frequencies.  I think most people can relate that when we feel balanced (ie. energized), we are happy, motivated, inspired, loving, friendly, caring, etc.  However, when we are unbalanced (ie. energy deficient), we can be lazy, depressed, cynical, moody, hurtful, angry, etc.

I had an incident the other day that illustrates this example perfectly.  I was at the yoga studio and had just taken 2 back-to-back yoga classes and was feeling so calm, happy, peaceful, balanced, etc.  As class ended and I was putting away my mat, the students for the next class starting filing in and in walked a dear friend to me.  I care for this friend very much but we’ve been going through a bit of a rocky path recently.  Very cordial and respectful but not much recently in terms of substantial conversation.  However, we’ve been doing much better and things seem to be settling back into place.  And so she walked in, right past me, and said hi to the teacher.

“Ok, lights are dimmed, it’s dark, and she probably just didn’t see me. I’ll give her the benefit-of-the-doubt and go say hi to her.”

She then stood right next to me and started setting up her mat right next to where I was cleaning my stuff up so I turned towards her, tapped her on the shoulder, and said hi…

Nothing.

No acknowledgment at all.  Did I just get shunned?!? And IN the yoga studio, no less..?  I was caught so completely off-guard that all my energy dissipated in an instant.  Just 5 minutes after 2 1/2 hours of yoga, quieting the mind, and harnessing prana were gone.  I was so angry… so hurt.  A fellow yogi was trying to have a conversation with me after class but I regret to say that I was barely listening.  My mind was off in it’s own little world.  Sad to say, my bad attitude stayed with me throughout the rest of the night.

Now I share that story only to say this… I had a choice.  I let just a few seconds of pain/anger dissipate 2 1/2 hours of peace/happiness.  So much good, useful, potential energy gone in an instant.  This brings me back to the conversation I had with my friend yesterday.  He shared an interesting concept: Energetically, can we be like batteries?  Can we take our energy and store it till it can serve a useful, noble purpose?  Can we supply a steady stream of energy rather than using (or losing) it all at once?  In other words, can we regulate our energy output?  And last but not least, can we be aware when our energy is running low and take the necessary steps to recharge?

With so much energy available to us (accumulated and/or from within), doesn’t it make sense to harness it so we can use it properly?   Can I learn how to utilize my energy for good instead of wasted foolishly?  Can I learn to be… a battery?  Yes, I think I can.  In fact, I KNOW I can!

Can you?

Namaste.

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Burn Baby Burn

Because of a schedule change, I haven’t been able to take my usual Saturday morning class for the last few weeks.  Knowing I would be able to make it today, I was looking forward to it all week.  That being said, I found myself procrastinating all morning debating if I should go or just skip.  But I knew I was just being lazy so I got out of bed and went to class.  The drive there was filled with a lot of chitta (mind stuff).  Many thoughts and memories filled my mind.  I arrived at class to find a substitute teacher and as much as I enjoy this teacher, I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed.  As I sat on my mat preparing for class, I still felt much chitta.  But rather than look at this in a negative light, I made a decision to use this challenge as an opportunity to generate tapas (fire) in class to burn unneeded samaskaras (past impressions, “scars”).   This was going to be a good class…

Well let me just say that these particular samaskaras didn’t really appreciate my decision.  In fact, they fought me tooth and nail continuously throughout my practice.  In every vinyasa, every asana pose these samaskaras were fighting for their life.  I definitely underestimated their power as this was one of the toughest classes I’ve had in awhile… And that’s BEFORE taking the asana practice into account (and it was a challenging one for sure!).  Even savasana was tough.  I tried keeping my attention on my breath but my mind kept wandering.  I fidgeted and fidgeted, moving my arms and legs around, trying to get comfortable and when I FINALLY felt my body settle, savasana was done.

So did I succeed in burning off my samaskaras?  Maybe not but that’s ok.  There’s a word in sanskrit called adhikara which means “to progress”.  Yoga Sutra 1.2 is “Yogas chitta vritti nirodhah” (To block the patterns of consciousness is yoga).   The point I believe Patanjali is trying to make is that yoga can help stop the fluctuations of the mind (chitta) so that we can be fully present in our lives.

Am I there yet? No.

But it’s ok, it’s fine.  Today I brought some tapas into my life and one day I will eventually burn off this samaskara.  I’m another step closer and that’s really all I can ask for.  So maybe not quite “Burn baby burn,” but nothing wrong with achieving a little adhikara. 😉

Namaste.

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Right Here Waiting

Wow.

I just finished a powerful asana practice and it was… Wow.

Life has been good to me recently and I’m really starting to feel like I’m on the right track again.  My days are filled with more and more purpose and I really feel like i’m atoning and making amends for my mistakes.  My heart is opening more each day and my mind is enjoying more peace.  I am once again BEING the person I’m meant to be.  I feel like my life has meaning and purpose again.  However, there is still one mistake, one loss, that I may never atone for.  One blip on the radar of my life that I will probably never get another chance at.  But I do not say this in sorrow.  Rather, I say it in acceptance.  I say it in peace.  And most importantly, I say it in love.  And while this is a moment in time I will never get back, it is no longer holding me back.  I am moving forward.

Which brings me back to today’s practice…

I usually use YouTube to find new, interesting music to play during my practice.  It is usually an mantra, instrumental, or something similar to help put me in a yoga “state of mind”.  I often turn off the lights as well to minimize the distractions.  As I was clicking through links, Richard Marx’s “Right Here Waiting” started playing.   While it wasn’t the type of song I was looking for, it immediately called out to me.  And so trusting my gut, I started the song and began practicing Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation).

And let me tell you… I felt so connected.  Every movement, every breath, every lyric were so perfectly intertwined with each other, it felt effortless.  Everything I had been feeling (written above) poured onto my mat with every move I made.  I was so in sync and in the present moment, I couldn’t help but smile as I finished.  It was everything I needed to say but words couldn’t express.

“Wherever you go,

Whatever you do,

I will be right here waiting for you.” 

But “Here” is no longer the past.  Here is the present moment.  Here I may wait, but here I’m also moving forward. 

Here, I am.

Namaste.

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Passion

In Life.  In Love.  In Dreams.  In Happiness.  In Goals.

That’s what’s been missing.  Ok maybe not missing but definitely lacking.

What am I talking about, right?  A thought on my mind recently was, “What’s missing from my life?”  For a few days, I didn’t have an answer.  Well I had answers just not one I felt truly fit.  Then the answer finally came to me… Passion! Now THAT’s something I can always use more of.

To love something/someone with every fiber of your being.  To rival the morning sunrise with the light of your smile.  To set the world on fire.  To greet life with neverending bliss.

Yes, that’s the passion I’m striving for.  One day when I am gone, I hope my friends and family remember my light and the love and passion I want to exude every single day of my life.

Lao-Tzu once said, “A journey of  a thousand miles begins with a single step.”  Consider this realization as the first step.

Peace be the journey.  Passion be the light.  Love be the way.

Namaste.

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Meditation 1.0

Preface: As part of my yoga studies, I have begun a meditation home practice which I will also be journaling.  This will be more of a personal journal for me but I thought I’d share the experience from my first session.  I’m just jotting down my initial thoughts but hopefully it will begin to flow better with practice.

—–

This morning I chose to begin my meditation practice amongst much chitta (mind consciousness/thoughts) & vritti (fluctuations of the mind).  Opted to experiment with meditation instead of asana to help cleanse my mind.  Used music (2 instrumentals from LOST) to help my mind focus and relax.  Total meditation time: About 10 minutes.  Amidst all the internal noise and chatter, I was able to clear my mind and enjoy the moment.  Closed my eyes and felt my breathing become slower and deeper, listened to the birds chirping outside, and thought of happy memories.  Although unplanned, the 2nd song has a slow build-up to a climatic end.  I felt my arms raise up my sides, hands in earth mudra.  Brought my hands in front of my chest into anjali mudra and as the song ended, I raised my arms up overhead, shoulder width apart, opened my eyes, looked up, and as one teacher always says in class, “Look up at all you hold in this world.”  Then as my meditation went into “radio silence”, I brought my hands back down together in front of my chest, bowed forward, and whispered a silent, “Namaste”.

Meditation Practice: SUCCESS!

—–

Jai Namaste!

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A breakthrough.

I experienced a turning point in my life recently.  A moment of clarity and excitement for the future, while also reconnecting with my roots.  A “Root To Rise” moment I’ve been searching a long time for.

The catalyst for my breakthrough was a show called Breakthrough with Tony Robbins in which he helps individuals going through personal hardships and helps change their life.  For those who may not be familiar with Anthony “Tony” Robbins, he is a motivational speaker, author, philanthropist, life coach, etc.  He is an amazing, inspirational individual truly making a difference in the world.  So back to my story, I haven’t watched tv much in the last few months so it was a stroke of luck that I happened to catch the first episode.  That first episode got me curious and excited to learn more.  By the third episode, this show absolutely shook me to my core.  I broke down (more on this later), it felt like Tony Robbins was speaking directly to me.  So many things I needed to hear, understand, accept, and/or let go.

Let me start from the beginning.  One of the first steps in creating a breakthrough is to: Confront Your REAL Issues.  Life can be hard, unfair, difficult.. We all face our own unique challenges and failures in life. And sometimes when it feels like we have too much to bear, we lose our faith, we live in denial, and start believing our “story” instead of living our life.

That’s where I have been recently, living a story instead of a life.  As the hardships mounted, I quit.  On life, on dreams, on happiness, on love… The only part of life I believed was my story and the cover on that book was getting harder and harder.  At first, these changes were so difficult to detect because they happened so unconsciously and in such small steps, it wasn’t until much later that I realized how much it changed me.

The paradox I have come to realize is that my strength was my greatest weakness.  I thought I had to be strong for everybody else and handle all of this on my own.  The “stronger” I became, that harder my shell became and the more I lived in my story.. I realize now that I have wonderful friends and family that love me and it’s time I ask for help and tap into THAT strength.  Today I humbly ask for your patience, understanding, and support as I begin to break down all the walls I built up so that I may share, let go, and take full responsibility of my story and begin living my life to it’s fullest again.  It is time I share and let go of the story I’ve been holding onto for much too long. 

In January 2008, I quit my job to pursue my dream of being an entrepreneur, business owner, and investor.  It was the realization of a dream I had been carefully learning and preparing for, for nearly 8 years.  I had amazing goals and aspirations and was ready to do my part to change the world.  I knew there would be challenges and tough times but I definitely wasn’t prepared for what happened next.  In March 2008, my business partner and I were finalizing an investment deal when one day he ran away and left me to figure it all out.  Suddenly in way over my head, it became the biggest financial mistake (and lesson) of my life.  It cost me my entire savings, maxed out every credit card I had, destroyed my credit, and left me on the verge of bankruptcy, foreclosure, and homelessness. At one point, the only money I had was $300 in my wallet. I have gone to court, have collection agencies calling me on a weekly basis, and a “mountain” of unopened bills and letters when the pressure became too much and denial took over. To date, this incident has probably indebted/cost me around $200k-250k and it is not over yet. Just 3 months after quitting my job, I was forced to take my tools back out of “retirement” to try to make some money to pay my mortgage and other bills.  Over the next 2 years, I worked tirelessly on 3 various businesses and while achieving some success, I let a cloud of failure hang over my head.  There were hard times, struggles, and challenges but as I’ve come to realize recently, there was a part of me filled with fear that was sabotaging my success.  While I feel I always did what I felt was right and have no regrets, I see where I could have done things differently.  Suffice to say, I held in a lot of anger for those I felt had abondoned or cheated me as I built my businesses.  While I still don’t condone their actions or methods of business, I realize that I let those circumstances give me permission to quit on my businesses.  No matter what, only I had the CHOICE to quit.

In my personal life, things weren’t much better.  One of the biggest setbacks on my journey was the passing of my grandpa.  When I quit my job and pursued my dream, one of my main goals was to bring my grandparents back home.  Unable to afford the cost of living after retirement, they moved to the Philippines nearly 15 years ago where they were able to live a more comfortable, affordable life, albiet away from their children and grandkids.  While I was able to spend the last 3 weeks of his life with him at his bedside, it was a harsh moment of reality.  Here was a man who spent his entire life, tirelessly working and sacrficing everything he had for his family.  He loved every moment of his life and would literally give you the shirt off his back if you needed it.  It was my goal to bring him and my grandma back home.  I wanted to be the one to take care of them and give back.  It was one of my biggest goals, second only to providing for my parents.  While always proud of me, I couldn’t accomplish my goal in time.  RIP grandpa.  From then, my grandma moved in with me and I’ve been her primary caretaker.  Add to this the personal pressure of wanting to take care of my family after my dad’s health complications, sister’s marriage (and near divorce), parents pending divorce, helping my uncle run his business, my apartment practically becoming a hotel for family in need (grandma, uncle, aunty, sister, mom, 2 cousins, visiting relatives, etc) with at one time 7 people living here, deaths in the family, disownment, health problems, foreclosure, moving, brother-in-law’s deployment, friends unwilling to help and support me, gained 20+ lbs, etc.  After awhile it just become overwhelming.  The pressure, expectations, and responsibilities kept growing and growing and I eventually grew numb.  I stopped trying.

But the most difficult part of my story… Love.  In the middle of all this chaos, I met the most amazing, wonderful woman.  From best friends to a relationship, she was everything I wanted in a woman. Her smile melted my heart and I remember so many times looking into her eyes and wondering how I got so lucky. How did a woman this amazing fall for me? To me, she was perfect. The type of girl you never let go of and that knows every second of every day without a shadow of a doubt, how much you care for her. She was everything I ever wanted and yet I still found a way to mess it up… I let all my pain, fear, denial, story.. get in the way of the best thing in my life. Rather than listen, I talked.  When she was practically tell me what I needed to do, I tried to fix it my way. I screwed it up so bad.  I hurt her. I hurt me. And even when I knew I was starting to lose her, I couldn’t shake myself out of my story. I was too wrapped up in my own self-pity to be the man she needed, the man she deserved. She never knew everything and how much she meant to me. And eventually when she could no longer take the pain of my half-assed attempts at a relationship, she left and my entire world came crumbling down.. How could I not give her everything? Why was I so stubborn, so selfish? How could I not show her how much she meant to me? How could I lose the woman of my dreams?!? My world became a very, very dark place. I’ve never hated myself as much as I did over the next couple months. I was depressed beyond belief and every moment without her hurt. I ruined the best thing in my life and felt like the biggest loser in the world. I hated myself for letting all the pain and denial fester in my life for so long that it ended up costing me a chance at love. Sure, I had experienced heartbreak before but never at this magnitude, never had something felt so right. Nobody understood why I was hurting so much but nobody knew how much I was holding in either. Nobody understood the burden I felt. In a life I measure in love, I lost the biggest, most important piece.. And worst of all, I just let her go, didn’t even fight hard enough to prove my love. I was such a fool. I hated myself with a passion and vengeance I had never felt before. Being so disgusted with myself that I hated waking up every morning and having to live another day, every moment with my pathetic self.  I was in a very dark place overflowing with depression, anger, and confusion.

While all this was happening, yoga came into my life.  Some days it helped, some days it left me frustrated.  I enjoyed it but didn’t know if it was something I would continue doing.  During my darkest days, I stayed away for about a month.  Eventually when I realized that yoga might be able to help me, I poured all my energy into it.  For a long time, it was all I had.  It was the only thing that felt right and honestly, the only thing I felt that wanted me.  That’s not to say it was easy though.  For awhile, I took a tremendous amount of criticism.  It was tough.  So many times I wanted to quit.  There were times I would be so overwhelmed by internal emotion and frustration, that I nearly walked out in the middle of class.  But I preservered.  It was all I had and the only thing that felt right so I was doing my best just to give it a try.  Slowly, yoga began to become a part of me and I began my journey toward healing.  For a while it was a very lonely journey as I mostly just kept to myself, to afraid to open myself back up.  While always friendly, I wasn’t necessarily trying to make any friends.  Honestly, I needed time to become friends with myself again first.  Eventually, through yoga, I’ve been able to begin healing myself from the inside.  I began to understand ahimsa (non-harming) and could wake up with a smile on my face.  I began living my life again.  As I began seeing value in myself again, I made a conscious choice to begin to open back up, get to know my fellow yogi’s, and hopefully start developing new friendships.  From practically that moment of decision, these amazing friends began pouring into my life.  It was quite a humbling experience.  For the first time in a long time I felt appreciated, happy, content… loved. 

And it is because of the foundation that yoga helped develop in my life that I was able to take advantage of the amazing gift that is Breakthrough with Tony Robbins.  I watched as these amazing people who lost all faith in themselves after experiencing tremendous hardships begin to live their life again.  I watched a parapalegic go skydiving, a man hike a mountain to see his kids again, a former NBA player take a job as a trash collecter to provide for his family, a couple live for nearly 2 weeks in a homeless shelter, etc.  I watched Tony Robbins transform these lives.  Watched as he helped these people find the strength within to close the books on their stories and begin living their amazing lives again.

I shared in a previous blog post that there were times I was just so frustrated, confused, and angry that I just felt like crying.  The only problem is that I couldn’t do it, I’m not a person that cries easily.  Life changing experiences such as the death of a loved one, yes.  Challenges in life, no.  There were times I’d be so angry, depressed, and hating myself so much that I would curl up into a ball and wish I could just let it out but other than a tear or two, nothing.  It was inside of me, too stubborn and proud to be let out.

But with every episode, every challenge, every victory, every word of advice that Tony Robbins gave, I felt my walls start to crumble. I didn’t want to live my story anymore.  I was just sick and tired of being sick and tired.  And finally, one night it happened for me.  After finishing an episode of Breakthrough, I was walking to the bathroom to take a shower and began thinking about what it would feel like to let go of all illusions of ego, pride, hardships, grudges and just be 100% completely honest and truthful about life.  First with myself and then to the people who love me.  To let go of my “strength” and ask for help while still holding my head up.  Could I share all the burdens and frustrations I had been holding in for 3 years, things I had never shared with anyone before.  The walk from my bedroom to my bathroom is only about 10 steps but by the time I walked in, I completely broke down.  I just sat there and let everything come out.  I started letting go of the things beyond my control, forgiving the people who hurt me, and apologizing to those I had hurt.  It lasted probably only a few minutes but it felt like I stayed there for hours.  A few hours later, I sat in my bedroom and broke down again.  The next day I was rewatching an episode of Breakthrough and something Tony Robbins said shook me so bad, it broke down another wall and I let it all out.  And the final time came as I was writing this blog post.  In the original draft, I wrote in more detail the hardships and struggles I was facing.  When I got to the point of my grandpa’s passing and being unable to accomplish my goal of bringing them back home in time, I broke down.  I cried for my failure, I cried for my loss, I cried for my selfishness (albiet, out of love) in wanting to accomplish my goal, and finally, I cried for the acceptance that it wasn’t my fault.  I tried my best but it was time for my grandpa to rest and no longer be in pain.  It was time to honor him and no longer mourn me. 

With each breakthrough I experienced, I began taking control of my life again.  Tony Robbins says that it is in your decisions that your destiny is shaped.  That we can see every moment as a challenge or a gift.  To live every day to it fullest.  And in the moments when you can’t, then you MUST.  I’m finally beginning to feel like me again.  My true Self that was hiding for much too long.  The Self that I am and the Self I am becoming. 

I find it ironic that while this is easily the longest blog post I’ve written, I’ve mostly been at a loss for words.  I honestly have no idea how to end this post because the end is also my beginning.  My story is ending so I can return to living.  I am more excited about my future than I have been in a long, long time but just as important, I found the peace and acceptance within that I needed to begin truly letting go and moving on.  Armed with the my breakthrough, the amazing gift of yoga, and the love of friends and family, I am ready to begin living my dreams again.  My eyes are open, my mind is at peace, and my heart is filled with love.  Words will never be able to fully express the grattitude I feel: for live, for love, for me, and for YOU.

I look forward to sharing with you all the beauty and wonderment I know I will find along my journey and into the future.

My breakthrough has only just begun…

Jai Namaste!

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