So much has happened over the last few months I cannot decide where to begin writing. I have missed the sound of the keyboard typing. This is how long I have been away from a computer. At times, my life seems so full because I have a home, family, and children, yet somehow I still feel an empty space in my life. I have devoted so much time to caring for my family, that I wonder is there anymore space in my heart to care for others too?
I have been practicing Ashtanga yoga for the past four months now, and I am glad to see the results. In the past, yoga was something foreign yet interesting to me. I am very inquisitive by nature, especially when it comes to sports or physical activities. Ten years ago, I attended my first yoga class in Red Deer, Alberta. I had jumped straight into Bikram Hot Yoga, thinking it was just an exercise but boy, was I wrong. It was so hot, I couldn’t breathe, and my body froze. It went numb and I started hyperventilating. I had to be helped out of the room to calm down. However, that experience did not stop me from doing yoga. Of course, I never went back to that Bikram class because I was too embarassed to show up again. Along the way, I tried various types of yoga irregularly. From my move to Houston, then Malaysia, and back to Canada, I was always on the lookout for a good yoga class. When I was pregnant, I did yoga because I had so much free time. Then when I became a mother, I kept yearning to go to a yoga studio to get away from home and the kids (I still do now that I am a mom of two, haha).
However, I did not realize I was actually unhappy with my life until we moved back to Canada. It was tough even though Canada did not seem so foreign to me anymore compared to when I was 17 years old. Things are different now. I am much older, more responsibilities, more sacrifices, more worries. It wasn’t until I mustered up the courage to slip away from my baby for bit just to attend a yoga class that I realized I was depressed. At the end of that class, I remember crying while in Savasana. I was the last one to leave the room, still in my tears, trying to sob quietly lest someone noticed. But I had so, so much to pour out. That’s when I realized I have been so hard on myself. So hard on my husband, my children, and everyone else around me. Something inside of me awoken after that day. Even though I am still working towards a better me, I believe that was the day I realized everything happened for a reason. My encounter with Ashtanga yoga may have been a coincidence, but I am grateful. For without it, I do not think I am able to pull myself through all that has happened in the past two years here.
My most recent transformation occured a month ago where I woke up one morning and decided to stop eating meat. My mother-in-law thinks it is hormonal and tells me I’m not a true vegetarian yet. My mother too did not accept this well. She even told me how she does not believe one is born into this world to not eat meat. It was too mind-blowing to retaliate so I just listened to her opinion and observed those words float away on an imaginary river. This is how I meditate as well. In my Buddhist practice, it is the exact same meditation technique taught by our Guru. Often, we think everything will be still and silent as we meditate. It is not true. In fact, all our thoughts and subconscious fears, worry, feelings arise during this time. It is easy to be distracted by them, which is why meditation is very challenging to master. So the technique I used is simply to be an observer. Let the thought rise, observe it, observe how I’m feeling, and then watch it float away in the gentle river stream in front of me. I could not fathom how my mother, as a staunch Buddhist, could come up with a reasoning like this. At the end of the day, religion teaches us to practice kindness to sentient beings. By eating meat, we are condoning the death of another living being just to satisfy man’s desire for the taste of meat.
Yes, I may not be a vegan yet, but in all respect I am proud for taking the first step towards a more fulfilled life. It has been tremendously rewarding, I am eating more consciously by snacking less on junk food, drinking less alcohol or sugary stuff, and I actually crave for vegetables and fruits more. Besides, I thought I wouldn’t be able to do it, but I just kept going strong, not even desiring to eat meat anymore. I owe this to my yoga practice. I have been focusing a lot on my breath work and gaze points to stay focus. I have been lengthening my rest during Savasana. All of this, I believe has contributed to my desire to eat no meat and practice a healthier lifestyle. Yet everyone else around me thinks I am crazy. They think I am going to be a tree-hugger, hippie yogi. Such is the weakness of human nature. If you’re different than everyone else, than you are an outcast. Hence people gravitate to try and be like one another. But why? Why force yourself to be like someone else when you are scientifically proven, genetically, and spiritually unique?
I am torn, because recent events have slowed down my home practice. My in laws are currently living with me because my dad-in-law had a heart attack, and went through a triple bypass surgery. He is now recovering in our home. With all this and still having to care for the kids, I have not been practicing like I used to 3-4 times a week on the kitchen floor (the only hard surface in the home). I miss it badly. I ache for it yet I have to be careful not to get addicted to it. It is so hard once you experience the real benefit of yoga. Yes, it is a workout in hindsight, but that is not the true essence of yoga. For me, yoga practice has really helped me be in tune with my mind and body. It is a place where I can go to quietly observe the sensations in my body, and experience a rebirth of my soul. Sounds like crazy talk yes, but guess what it took me 10 years to finally realize how to work towards the true Self in a yoga practice. So if you have been trying yoga our for a while now, I wish you well on your journey and may you never give up on your intention to practice. Believe it or not, there is an underlying reason for you to show up to class and is important to explore why you are there. Who are you? What stops you from going further?