Thursday, July 30, 2015

Dead & Un-dead Fish.

We enter this world alone, & we leave alone.

This is a very difficult fact to accept, & boy do I know the difficulty of coming to terms with this!

I guess in some ways it is made even more difficult due to the very nature of being a woman. For the feminine, it's all about nurturing & giving. & we also expect that from others, especially from the opposite sex. I think it's fair to say that a woman would have at least once in her life dreamt of meeting her ideal partner, the one who would 'complete' her.

Sometimes we become so attached to the idea of that perfect someone who is out there just waiting to be discovered, sometimes so much so that we forgo all logic & fool ourselves into thinking that Mr. Wrong is actually Mr. Right. & we let ourselves be put through unnecessary shit all in the name of 'love'. Believe me; I've been there.

Bahahahahah...always have to find out the hard way! :P

But what I've discovered is that it all begins with loving yourself. You have to know what you're about, what you stand for, what your principles in life are; before you can know what you want in another. & only after you have figured out all this, can you set the foundations on how others must treat you. If you have no self-worth, how will you be able to set the bar on how others should treat you?

So you've found The One. What next? Does everything miraculously, magically fall into place & the both of you ride off into the sunset & live happily ever after? Well, yes, I believe this does happen. Not the riding off into the sunset part though. Hahahahah!

I believe that every relationship requires effort. There is no such thing as a relationship that is hunky dory all the time. Even the most lovey dovey couples have their share of disagreements, no matter how small. It's just a matter of how both parties are willing to compromise & cooperate to keep the relationship working (this of course doesn't mean you have to sacrifice your principles).

I think that when you have found The One, the individual's journey still carries on. It is important to still maintain your sense of individuality, so that you can each bring more stuff to the table to be shared & thus to grow together. No matter how vastly differing your journeys are, remember: those differences are what attracted you to each other in the first place!

It is never a matter of differences; what really matters is how we deal with those differences. Do we berate the other for having beliefs dissimilar to ours? Or do we simply accept them for who they are, & respect whatever stage of their journey they are on?

You have to each be strong individuals in order to be a strong couple.

When you are strong as an individual, you remove dependency towards your partner. Because let's face it - nobody is capable of making you happy, all the time. Even your very bestest friend has pissed you off at one point in time. So it would be irrational to place your happiness on the actions & behaviour of another. It is your own responsibility to keep yourself happy. By depending on others to make you happy, you are not only limiting your growth, but the growth of that other person(s) too.

Once again it boils down to what I like to call The Great Irony Of Life. You have to let go to receive. Be soft to be strong. Yadda yadda yadda.

There is no use in clinging on too much in a relationship. It is like holding sand in your hand - the tighter your grip, the more grains of sand escape from your hand. If you hold it fairly loosely, however, the sand stays in place.

If it is meant to be, it will be. I used to get very confused between these two ideas:

Go with the flow.
Only dead fish go with the flow.

Now I understand that situations matter. If you go with the flow too much, you'd probably be pushed head-first into rocks & floating logs etc, resulting in you becoming a dead fish, bahahahahah! To maintain your status as an un-dead fish, you have to be smart enough to decide when to use the flow - if it would work in your favour, when to go with it; & when to go against it if there is a big-assed crocodile behind you.

Another majorly-overused phrase of mine: sthiram sukham asanam. Posture must be steady & comfortable. In Buddhist teachings, this would be 'finding the middle way'.

If you strain & force yourself into a pose, you will not be able to hold the pose for long. If you are too comfortable & not using any effort, you may be able to hold the pose for longer, but you are not reaping any benefits from doing it.

& so it is with relationships.

Not even sure if all my sentences & points are in proper order. My brain can't really function today. :(

Love & gratitude, for everything. <3

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Moo, Bark, Neigh, Oink, Meow, Quack, Mbeeekkk; Hellooo?

Up until last year, I never really understood why, besides the obvious reasons, people chose to become vegans or vegetarians. I honestly saw nothing wrong with claiming to be an animal lover, while still consuming meat.

I was too conditioned to accept the idea that eating meat is perfectly 'normal'. That meat is a staple in a human's diet, & that humans are designed to be omnivores.

Up to last year, about a month before I started my Yoga Teacher Training course, I decided to stop eating beef. It's not because I prefer cows over other farm animals, it's just that I figured it would be a relatively easier one to let go of, because I usually had chicken most of the time & I loooved mutton. & suddenly in every establishment I go to, the best burgers are all beef burgers! Dafuq! Being a Maccas kind of girl, it somewhat disappointed me that I couldn't have my favourite double cheeseburger anymore. But I stuck with my decision. No beef.

During Teacher Training, we were requested to try to stay away from meat as much as we could; at the very least we should refrain from meat from Fridays to Sundays (it was a three month weekend course). No biggie either, since I always loved my greens even from childhood. No fights at the dinner table about unfinished broccoli & carrots, no sirree! Still, I craved meat from time to time.

This went on up until early this year, I came across a link to this documentary entitled Earthlings.

I've always been one who tears up easily both when watching something heart-warming & tragic, so I usually stayed away from media which come with warnings in their captions or descriptions. Somehow, this time, something told me I had to watch this documentary.

& Lord Almighty, I cried when I watched it. I cried because of the unnecessary cruelty, I cried because of the hurt & suffering, I cried because it only then occurred to me I was a part of all this.

I was contributing to this massacre.


A person who grew up around cats & dogs more than humans.

A person who, at most times, felt more comfortable around animals than humans.

& all my life, I'd been indirectly murdering the cousins of my four-legged friends for their meat???

What insanity.

It made me feel so bad, for the first few minutes after I finished watching that video, I lay in bed replaying over & over again this short video that my Favourite Human had sent me - a B&W fifteen second video of him plucking the strings of his guitar. The sound of the guitar soothed me a bit since I did not want to wake him & bawl my eyes out over Skype (we live in different time zones).

I felt sick in my stomach, I went numb, then I finally got out of my state of shock. A few days later.

I cannot say it without sounding clichéd - it was like a veil was lifted over my head.

I understood everything that was happening. Saw the reality of the whole situation. 

It's like my subconscious knew that consuming meat was wrong, yet my conscious did not want to acknowledge that. I was still in the 'herd' mentality - 'the majority of society says it is acceptable, so it must be'! & by avoiding coming face to face with reality, I successfully deluded myself into accepting the consumption of meat as the norm.

From then onwards, I managed to refrain from all meat, for the most part. The craving for meat would surface at least once every few weeks. & most of the time I would succumb, but feel guilty after.

You see, addiction is basically the same, regardless of the substance/object one is addicted to. Even if the addict acknowledges the fact that his/her behaviour is harmful, he/she still finds it very hard to detach from it. & so it is with humans & meat.

We've been so conditioned - mentally & physically - to accept meat; & you see it everywhere, this psychological propaganda, this brainwashing; that meat is good for you, meat makes you strong, meat eaters are so much more awesomer-er than non meat eaters, etc. & it is not easy to go cold turkey (no pun intended!) with something you've been doing all your life!

I'm not giving excuses. I'm stating my experience, no holds barred.

I think it's worth mentioning that people decide to go meatless for different reasons.
First of all you have those who refrain from meat (either just certain types or all types) because their religion does not allow it.
Some people are naturally more connected to their physical bodies. These people feel the profound effects that meat-eating has on their bodies.
Others enjoy eating meat, but cease to do so once they realize that innocent beings are needlessly suffering.
Please let me know if there are any other reasons one would go meatless; I would love to add on to these!

I myself, fall into the third category. My tastebuds truly enjoy meat. But my consciousness started turning me off when I realized that a lot of suffering had to happen just for me to fulfil my desires.

I have a very special feline in my life who goes by the name of Karas (his official name is Crusty Raincat). When I shifted to KL, he came along with me but had to stay at the stables because I live in a rented house. & the thought of him staying there used to terrify me, because there were a few Vietnamese workers around & rumour had it that they would catch & eat cats.

The human imagination is a wonderful thing. Sure enough, once I had images of cows, goats, & other animals being 'harvested' for their meat, images of Karas being hurt would sometimes come to mind. & it breaks my heart to think that someone would intentionally hurt him, what more consume his flesh.

The first time I learnt to question the concept of 'loving cats & dogs, but eating cows & pigs', there was no turning back. A cow & a pig - any animal for that matter - responds to outside stimuli, don't they? They respond to pleasant experiences, & they react to unpleasant experiences, don't they? They all have that in-built intrinsic need & desire to live comfortable, pain-free lives, don't they?

So why should there be a difference between 'pets' & 'other animals'???

Why are some animals deemed 'edible' while others are 'man's best friend'???

Who gets to decide the value of a soul???

Why the fuck am I participating in this senseless killing when there are other options available???

& it's not only the killing of living beings for their meat that pisses me off. We kill animals for their skin, we kill animals for their fur, we kill animals to hang their heads on our walls; tell me...where is the guts & glory in hiding hundreds of metres away from a lion, shooting it dead (or multiple times until it finally dies) with a high-impact device, posing for photographs next to its dead body with its jaw wide open to expose its fangs, then hanging its 'taxidermized' head on your wall for bragging rights???

I'm not saying that killing animals is cool, but if you had wrestled the animal to the ground & killed it with your own bare hands, then I'd say you had balls of steel. Other than that, don't be a pussy (no disrespect intended, Karas) & kill animals from a distance.

Back to the main point though.

Earlier today I was at my wit's end wondering what to have for dinner (first world problems?), & again ended up at the nearest mamak shop. My brain said, 'The food there is always good, right? So it's a sure thing'.

When I was handed the menu, I suddenly became confused & somewhat disoriented. The place had a wide array of dishes to choose from, but somehow I could not decide on one. I blamed it on the shop not being a vegetarian spot, & my Libra indecisiveness. Analysis paralysis sometimes happens to me, but this time it was so bad, I couldn't even process some of the words in front of me. 99% of what was in the menu had meat of some sort. In the end, I just chose fried rice.

As I left the shop, it suddenly occurred to me the stark contrast between a chance encounter with a vegetarian shop I had a few days earlier & the one I had just experienced at the mamak shop. The vegetarian shop was a very small one, the menu was less than a third of what the mamak shop offered. Yet from the moment I stepped into the establishment, there was a sense of peace & ease about it. It was not difficult for me to choose a main dish (the juice, however, was a different many choices! Bahahahahah!), All in all, the whole experience was calming & nurturing.

& I did not feel like crap after my meal. I have started to become more sensitive to foods since cutting down on meat (wouldn't be fair to say 'stopping meat' because I still succumb once in a few weeks, remember?). Even mashed potatoes & coleslaws from fast food outlets would result in me feeling heavy & bogged down, sometimes even before finishing them.

My physical body has not only become sensitive to meat, but to whatever I put into it. & the principle that eating meat is wrong is becoming more & more ingrained in me that my mental & emotional bodies become overwhelmed when presented with more meaty food choices than non-meaty. It really shouldn't though. It has never ever happened before, & so far I have been able to walk through meat sections in supermarkets without any negative emotions surfacing. I may need to test that out again.

This is my interpretation of what is happening so far. I may be wrong. I may just be a whiny whimp looking for comfort from the harsh realities of life.

I am really happy that I am heading in the right direction though.

It's 2am & I've been writing for more than seven hours now - but that's also mostly because in the earlier part of the night I was going back & forth between browsing the Internet & writing, bahahahahahah! So I'm going to be a naughty writer & not read through this post like I would usually do before publishing.

Nitey nite, peoples.

Another film worth watching is La Planète Sauvage (1973), directed by René Laloux. The film explores the idea of speciesism on a milder level than Earthlings.

Later today, I'm watching The Ghosts In Our Machine (2013), directed by Liz Marshell.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

The Third Limb of Patanjali's Yoga Sutras: Asana (Posture).

Dear brothers & sisters, yoga asana may look easy - indeed, a good, seasoned practitioner of *any* activity, be it art, dance, sport, writing etc., would make their chosen activity look uber easy.
& just like any other thing, to train the body in yoga asana requires consistency, patience & time.
It is not a competition. Asana is merely the third limb of yoga, & can never be used as a benchmark as to how spiritually evolved a yogi is.
In reality, the function of asana is to bring the physical body to optimum health, before a yogi can proceed with the other more intricate limbs of yoga.
Please do not harm your body for a fleeting moment of satisfaction. All good things take time.
Keep practising!

After just slightly more than two weeks of constantly uploading asana photos to my Instagram, I am beginning to tire of it.

What am I trying to prove to everyone? What am I trying to prove to myself? By shifting my focus onto advancing in asana, the rest of my yogic practice came to a standstill.

Yoga in its essence is a highly spiritual practice. According to Patanjali (the author of The Yoga Sutras, & who is also regarded as the father of modern day yoga), there are a total of eight limbs that have to be practised in order for one to achieve Samadhi (enlightenment, oneness with everything):

1. Yamas (Moral Restraints): Satya, Asteya, Brahmacarya, Aparigraha.
2. Niyamas (Observances): Sauca, Santosa, Tapas, Svadhyaya, Isvara-Pranidhana.
3. Asana (Postures).
4. Pranayama (Breathing).
5. Pratyahara (Turning Inward).
6. Dharana (Concentration).
7. Dhyana (Meditation).
8. Samadhi (Union).

In today's modern world, the concept of yoga has been skewed to over-emphasize on the third limb, asana. Asana being only the third step to Samadhi, is therefore considered a tiny baby step in the whole journey of yoga.

The first two limbs have to do with behaviour & morality. These are the basic characteristics that Patanjali advocates in order for us to live civilly amongst others.

The true work on the self only begins with asana. Why the physical body?

If you were having a stomach ache, would it be easy to empty your mind? Or if you were having chronic pain, would it be easy to remain still for a long period of time?

Only when the physical body is strong & healthy, can attention be turned towards inwards. Isn't it enough that we have so much mental bullshit to sift through? The absence of problems on the physical level means one less thing to worry about, hahahahahah!

As to why there are so many advanced yoga asana available, I feel that if we look at every person as an individual, no two people are exactly identical. Each person has differing levels of experiences, energy, etc. Another function of yoga asana is to rid the body of excess energy (besides clearing energy blockages), so that one does not feel like he/she is like a toddler on a sugar high, bahahahahah!

Some people are naturally lazy (ahem, when yours truly said she'd like to be an otter, her Other Half suggested she be a sloth instead), but some have all the energy in the world, & then some! So by directing that flow of energy into asana, the hyperactive person would after that find it easier to settle down into the subsequent limbs of yoga. & sometimes it takes a whole lot of physical activity to drain all that energy out!

So yeah, advancement in asana ≠ advancement as a yogi, in the holistic sense. As my 200-hour YTTC teacher put perfectly:

Yogi or Contortionist ? Most of the time I find it's all contortions going on, in the name of Yoga...Difference is vast.Yoga is joy of the body with stability and comfort not a torture with pushing and huffing and puffing and creating competitions . Yoga competitions are the most stupid thing I am coming across in today world. Yoga means to come out from all competitions. We are bringing all the stupidity of mind in to yoga . Yoga means transcendence of mind my friends.

Yoga is not a circus act. Got it?

Your physical body is your vessel in this world. Use it wisely. Like all other worldly things, it will fade away. It is fading away. Your soul, however, is transcendental. Your physical body is one of the many tools you have been provided with to experiment in this world. Choose wisely what you choose to do with it, how you care for it, how you use it.

I'm cutting down on posting asana photos on Instagram for now.

Love & gratitude! <3 <3 <3

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

A Brand New Start.

Greetings, humans (& other beings capable of reading this)!

So! As usual, many, many changes have taken place since I first started blogging, the only thing that remains constant is my constantly evolving self. This time, instead of starting a new blog, I decided to delete all my old posts & start afresh.

Strange, for one who used to be so attached to things. Up to now, I have always been one to be overly-attached to stuff, for example my blog posts. I know I will most probably never ever read them again, but the thought of them not being there used to frighten me somewhat. So illogical, right!

I guess you could say I am only now truly beginning to realize the concept of impermanence, & how we need to let go of the old, to make space for the new. Old blog posts what? How much of a difference would it have made if they did still exist? Would it make me less of the person I am if they were gone?

The biggest change in the past few weeks (or years, even!) is that I have left my job at the horse racing stables to pursue a life as a yoga teacher. Bloody hell, ten years in the industry; it was a rather scary leap! Like I posted in my other social media accounts:

'If you are grateful, it will give you more. & when you are not getting what you want, you are being pushed in the direction that will get you to where you need to be.'

Truly grateful for the people & animals that have helped me along my journey so far. From the beginning of my working life, I thought I would live & die working in some animal industry or another, but obviously not! It feels surreal & scary at the same time. There is quite a bit of sadness as, unlike the previous times, there is a sense of permanence in this farewell. 

Me? In the service industry??? & as a *teacher*??? I would've slapped you back to last Tuesday is you had said that to me three years ago!

I've learned sooo much, especially these past few years. & I now understand the need for struggles & strife. They may not seem to make sense at that time, but eventually, they will. You *will* feel like giving up - many times, in fact. There will be times when it feels like life is the big bully at school who kicked sand in your face & held your head in the toilet bowl. But persevere. Put in the hard work. & enjoy the satisfaction of smiling & looking that bully straight in the eye when you come out tops.

'The meaning of life is to find your purpose. The purpose of life is to give it away.'
- Pablo Picasso -

That thing you do, which fills your heart with joy, regardless of whether you receive compensation or not; that is your calling in this lifetime. Be it the beggar, the lawyer, the doctor, the waitress - each has his/her own role in this world, at any particular moment of time. Each contributes in their own unique way. 

& I can never fully express my gratitude that the pieces of my puzzle are coming together beautifully. For all living beings that have played their part in my journey - those who stayed, & those who had to go.

Namaste. The light in me honours the light in you.

I won't lie, there were times when the thought of losing my permanent job & steady income scared the shit out of me. There were days when it took me almost half an hour to scrape myself out of bed. The fear was literally paralyzing; the panic control team in my mind was convinced that everything would work itself out if I just stayed in bed. Thankfully, that was the biggest hurdle I had to leap over during those days. Once I got up & about, I usually ended the day feeling optimistic & excited about the future.

I don't think I'll ever get over the mind-fuckness of it all. It really is amazing how the direction of your life can change, if you are open enough to what life has in store for you. Sometimes, even you yourself won't know what you want from life!

It's like I always say, sometimes we don't know what we want in life, but, through the process of elimination, we find out what we don't want, thus narrowing down the frame of what we do want. The whole process definitely takes a lot longer, but does it not make sense to sacrifice a bit of your time in order to live a life you want, instead of going through the rest of your life wondering 'what if'?

So yeah, I guess I was never really cut out to live & die working in the animal industry. Who knows, maybe I'm not destined to be a yoga teacher till the day I die either! What I do know is that, this is my purpose in life, for now. & I am more than happy to oblige.

On hindsight, I always knew that my purpose in this lifetime is to be of service to the world. I just didn't know how I would go about doing that. There was even a time when I wanted to take up environmental sciences so that I could save the world, even though I was obviously hopeless in the basic sciences, bahahahahah!

Love & gratitude, peoples! <3>