Get started and then FINISH

Get started and then FINISH

A classic quote by Buddha reminds us that if  we are willing to take the first step, why not follow through and precede to take next step. The tradegy lies in the 2nd step not being taken. A lot of what we do revolves around taking the “first step” and then shortly after, abandoning whatever thing that might be – Working out, writing that blog post, painting that picture etc. We get these waves of extreme motivation and inspiration and usually act upon these impulses without delay..

A week or two later, we find that we cannot sustain the multiple activities that we are trying to accomplish. What’s the alternative? Start your ‘something’ and take it all the way through to completion. I mean finish what you start. This won’t leave you feeling like you have spread yourself too thin energy-wise. Another important point I’d like to share is that we try to do too many things. All the time. As soon as we humans get any space in our schedule, we ask ourselves: “What can I do to fill up this space?”

They say “Live every day to the fullest.” They don’t say “squeeze the most out of every minute you have.”

I’ll leave you with a quote by Mother Teresa and I think it’s applicable:

“The more you have the more occupied you are. The less you have, the more free you are.”

Productivity is counter-intuitive

Productivity is counter-intuitive

That productive feeling that inspires you to plan plan plan can actually leave you feeling counter productive as the days go on. One thing I’ve noticed is that we attempt to free up space in our life whether that be in our schedule, work, relationships and many more areas. Once we actually have access to the space, our system, urges us to fill up that space with something new or convinces us that we will somehow be able to sustain this new thing or activity. We have the natural tendency that wants to squeeze the most out of the time we have. This can however, come at a cost. An energy cost.

Time is our biggest asset and I agree that we must make the most of it. But, does feeling busy all the time allow you to enjoy the moment-to-moment excitement that life offers us each and every single day?

By comitting to doing less SHIT, we actually create the much needed space for things like reflection, introspection and self-development. It starts by actively cultivating an awareness that one can use to pick up on the times when we have these urges to do as much as we can do at the risk of physical and mental health. We don’t allow LIFE to do what it does and that is allowing IT to show us the way and ‘squeeze’ us with its beauty.

To play with the energy and spirit available to us in our everyday lives is what we were naturally born to do. To adapting and learn from our experiences. But, are we truly ever present enough to witness these subtle details first-hand?

How does this tie in with being productive?

When we try to jam pack our schedules in order to get the most of our available free time, we soon find out whether we can sustain this inspired feeling of wanting to do this and this and that. Instead focus on a handful of things that are really important to you and just plainly let go of other smaller things that do not SERVE YOUR PURPOSE.

This leaves you with a greater sense of space that could potential spill over into all other areas of your life. Ahhhhhh.. What freedom!

A keen sense of focus can be applied to the work/things/activities that you do pursue and leave you feeling a lot more productive. Once again it all boils down to LESS is MORE.

I am personally still extracting and learning so much from these three simple words above. It’s removing the mist, so to speak, that blinds us from witnessing WHAT IS.

And, being okay with that which is happening NOW.

Feeling the mat after my teacher training

Feeling the mat after my teacher training

One year ago I promised myself that I would go to India to do my yoga teacher training. When I decided to book it for the month of July this year, I was surprised to see that it coincided with my 4 year mark of yoga everyday. July was the 48th month. I knew this because I had been keeping a simple excel sheet on my computer since 2012. Nothing fancy. Just outlining what my practice is for that day or month and being accountable and honest by answering a simple YES or NO in the sheet at the end of each day. You will be surprised at how we tell ourselves little lies and the mind can be quite deceptive. To type in NO and then click save is quite difficult. But it brings about a great honesty within and allows you to accept that tomorrow is another day. Just don’t start typing in YES when you actually haven’t done the required work – even though you want to type YES.

The Ganges, Rishikesh

I digress. Stepping onto the mat and being led by my teacher here in Hong Kong, I was intrigued by the level of awareness I had during each asana as well as the connection I felt to my breath. Just BEING on my mat felt different. Maybe this was due to the fact that my own practice had deepened on all levels and I am now exploring and practicing more pranayama and meditation than before.

Found outside an ashram across the river

Now each time I move into any asana, I focus on ‘being’ in the asana rather than simply ‘doing’ the asana. Obviously I am doing it but when I breathe and just BE something else takes place. I feel the meditative state that takes place while still or in motion. This is an on going process and not one that just happens throughout each practice. I witness glimpses here and there when ‘BEING’. When the breath can just BE, the mind can BE and we can let go of past and future – even if it is just for a moment. 

Namaste

Things that might happen to you in Rishikesh, India.

1. You might just make it alive…especially if you’re taking a cab.

I had a smooth flight to Delhi and expected a smooth transition into my cab that would take me to Rishikesh, six hours away. Unfortunately there was a miscommunication between the cab drivers and from what I understood he told me “You’re going to have to wait for 2 hours. The driver is on his way.” Note that this was after I’d already been waiting for one and half hours. This meant that my yoga training had started at Delhi airport. I meditated on the fact that this was something I had to deal with and dealing with the inevitable NOW was all I could do. I could not let this warp my idea of how the trip was going to turn out. As Delhi turned dark and stormy, my stress levels were rising as I was in a new country awaiting the so-called cab driver. The driver arrived and had a warm energy about him. I thanked the universe for this and felt reassured that he would at least get me to Rishikesh in one piece. A meal later and a close shave with another car, we arrived outside the school at 2:15am where I met the assistant manager and was given a key to my room. No more driving. Sleep time. 

The drive there…road was flooded

2. You might get bitten by a spider and not know

During my stay in Rishikesh I encountered my fair share of bugs, insects and things. One I did not encounter. This was the elusive spider that had apparently bit me while I was sleeping. I woke up to what looked like 8 yellow pimples on the back of my left calf. Thinking nothing of it at the time, life went on. On the second day, my Russian friend suggested we go to the clinic and that she would accompany me as the bite seemed to be getting worse. The doctor proceeded to tell me that the spider actually urinated into my leg and did not bite me with his mouth per say. I was taken aback. He used pure alcohol to rub away the bumps while I clenched my jaw. He gave me an ointment and I picked up some antibiotics. He said it’d be gone in 5 days. What became difficult was sitting with my calves on the ground such as in paschimottanasana and virasana. The site of the bite was very bruised. I pushed through and worked around it bandage after bandage.

 

The bite

3. You might become a vegetarian for a month & get food poisoning for a day

Our school served us 3 meals a day. Breakfast at 10:00 after Ashtanga Primary Series. Lunch at 13:00 after teaching practice. Dinner at 19:00 after Hatha yoga. Breakfast consisted of fruit and oats as well as juice. Some mornings there were awesome pancakes and this interesting yellow rice. Lunch was chapati and rice coupled with a curry / veg plus salad. The veg and curry changed in the evening, thank goodness. On one night while speaking to a friend who was just recovering from sickness, I decided to go back for seconds. Fast forward 5 hours and I begun to feel very sick. The toilet became my home for the night until I eventually forced myself to throw up. I then managed to sleep until the morning. I continued to feel sick throughout the next day until I realized I HAD to throw up properly in order to feel better. After the next episode I was able to sleep my way to feeling better. I delayed the throwing up because I wasn’t too keen on forcing myself to throw up again. My advice: don’t delay throwing up. Do it and get it all out. There is 90% chance you will feel instantly better. Stay hydrated and appreciate your health. I was lucky that it only lasted for a day. Just be wary what you eat for the days that follow the food poisoning.

Fresh bowl of mango

4. You might be stopped for a selfie – by men

Coming from Hong Kong,  I was well aware of the selfie thing. Usually a group of girls that are hysterically taking selfies and giggling while they do it, I had no idea that most of the people that are taking selfies in Rishikesh are in fact men/young guys. They are usually in groups ranging from 4 to about 20+ guys. One selfie leads to two leads to twenty. Hilarious. If you’ve got foreign girls walking with you then your chances are even higher. Enjoy the extra attention! 

I am still drawing from my experience in Rishikesh and I will continue to share any insight I come across in future posts. This was just a fun little write up on things I personally experienced that you too MIGHT discover on your travels to India. 


Namaste

 

Interested or Committed

Interested or Committed

“and we wonder how to get everything done in a day.”

Something that I’ve personally been working on has been how to strike a good balance between doing too much and ‘feeling’ like you’re doing too little in fear of falling behind. Work deadlines are a different story.

What I’m referring to are the hours we put into our extra activities such as our hobbies, social lives, interests and passions etc etc. Can doing too much in a day or everyday for that matter negatively affect our quality of life?

The answer = Yes, it can.

When all is said and done we tend wonder where the time went and to what exactly. Bringing home the point that some activities are definitely higher up on the priority list than others and that we find it difficult to let go of the small stuff. We feel that if we let them go – we become less productive or so it seems.

In actual fact we free up energy to focus on our main priorities with a more “concentrated focus.” During the last month of my work contract here in Hong Kong, never had I realized just how important the three words “less is more” were. I swear by them. They keep teaching me more and more and it applies to so many aspects of life it’s ridiculous. I started to let go of the things I was just mildly interested in and continued with life as per usual.

The results as you will see are pretty instantaneous. Doing (X)% less stuff can increase your day to day satiafication and I’m sure it will. You will feel lighter – on all planes. You will have more time for reflection and introspection. Time to really enjoy the only time you have which is NOW.

Ask yourself: “Am I interested or committed to this?”

Namaste

 

 

 

 

Coming into the pose

What goes on in your mind when you’re going into any asana?

I think a lot of people take the route of diving straight into a posture without much awareness. Wanting to get as deep as they can or do it in some perfect way because it must be done in its full expression – no other way. Ego and wanting to match up to other more advanced students plays it part too but that’s another post entirely.

Here’s an analogy:

Think about putting on a pair of really tight shoes and then walking around with them the whole day. At last you finally get to take them off and you feel such relief. Having realized that the shoes are just not the right size and created discomfort instead of comfort.

It’s a similar effect when we try to go too deep into a pose when you’re not ready for it or “there yet.” Your breathing will be unstable and you will not have the quality of breath that you want. Things will be tight and you will be itching to get out of the pose let alone breath through it. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t push yourself. What I’m trying to get at is that yoga is a journey into the self therefore you need to find a place in the posture that allows you to retain your quality of breath while remaining stable in the pose. Work from where you are and not from where other people are. Your own practice will deepen as well as your ability to go deeper into your postures when you’re ready. There is no rush.

Practicing with stability and quality of breath in mind will leave you injury free. Traditionally there is no such thing as injury. Nowadays they happen all too often because new students see someone else do an advanced posture and they want to “try it” themselves.

The less you focus on someone else’s practice and how they are doing, the more energy you will have to be aware of your own practice. It’s your path.

When your breath is stable, mind becomes stable too. Keep practicing. Namaste

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Handstand outside a cave in Rishikesh. Sunday outing on our only day off. Teacher training, India.

 

How to generate & maintain momentum

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To follow up on my previous post about inspiration and motivation, I’d now like to address the question of “How does one generate and maintain momentum?”

ACCOUNTING.

There are probably days where you wonder where all your time has went or the “I cannot believe the day is already over!” line that may run in your mind from time to time. Yes I know that we all work and that this is where the majority of our time goes but the time I talk of here is the one that is supposedly called FREE TIME.

Do we know where our time really goes if we cannot account for what we did with it?

No. We don’t really because things become hazey or foggy as I’d like to say. A few days go by let alone weeks and we cannot recall exactly what we DID. I am not speaking about the day-to-day activities that we need to take care. I’d like to hone in on the time we have to pursue our passion or hobbies or books and whatever it is that might allow us to grow as human beings.

Gaining/maintaining momentum equals

Using our time to day-to-day and actually taking responsibility for OUR TIME. Do “the work” that is necessary. Start to become ACCOUNTABLE for YOUR TIME. Be honest with yourself. If it’s it an hour a day you need to dedicate to something…THEN… start logging in that time and reap the rewards of consistency. Start small and KEEP GOING.

Your effort will quickly come into fruition and you will experience the increase in energy that comes with momentum. Whatever it may be will gradually become more enjoyable to do provided that YOU ENJOY IT IN THE FIRST PLACE.