Difference I want to make

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Sixth post of the Live Your Legend Blog Challenge, the writing prompt is “What difference do you want to make?”

I had to take a step back and ask myself “Do I want to make a difference? Why?”

Do I? Nothing is permanent and everything is perpetually changing anyway, nothing is static, even if I don’t do anything things change and will be different. And whether the changes are perceived as positive, negative, good, bad, they’re all depend on the experiencers, the situation and condition we’re in, etc.

“Things do not change. WE change.”
~ Henry David Thoreau

If we want to make a change, we can do it only through the thing that we can be in control of, which is ourself. We have only limited control of the outside environment, but we are capable of being in full control of ourself. Until we realize that we are actually in full control of our response to the outside stimuli, we are reactive.

Many problems are caused by humans being reactive to outside stimuli. The common mechanism towards a stimuli is as below:


Stimuli > Perception > Reaction


This mechanism is actually key to survival. Example: there’s a snake (stimuli) > snakes are dangerous (perception) > avoid the snake (reaction).

However in current modern times, where there aren’t too many immediate physical dangers around, if we still rely on this mechanism in interacting with the world, we’re in trouble. Example: someone bumped into me while I’m walking straight ahead (stimuli) > he is breaching my personal space, an attack (perception) > attack back “Dude are you blind or something?” (reaction). From there many things could happen – angry glares, verbal fight, or even physical fight.

Even if nothing ensued, for example that person who bumped into me apologized right away, there was already that adrenaline rush, the fight or flight reaction happened. Adrenaline rush is necessary at times to prepare the body to face a high-stress situation eg: preparing to run away the snake. But the body couldn’t tell the difference between the adrenaline rush generated by a real danger, or the adrenaline rush from someone accidentally bumped into us, or the boss or customer yelling at us, or the traffic, etc. And being constantly on the ready to fight or flight condition is not good for the body.

So, what to do? Remember that we are able to control our response, we are able to take back the driver’s seat. How? By modifying the mechanism, instead of jumping straight into reaction, insert a space, then in that space the buddhi*, the higher mind can think and decide what’s the best thing to do for that situation, and choose the response. Not reacting is also a response.


Stimuli > Perception > [ s p a c e ] > Thinking > Decision > Response


Example: this person bumped into me (stimuli) > he is breaching my personal space, an attack (perception) > [ s p a c e ] > he didn’t mean to bump into me, that wasn’t an attack, he wasn’t breaching my personal space, he may be distracted, he may be rushing to go somewhere, etc (thinking) > I will not let myself get angry over such a small thing (decision) > smile and shrug it off (response).

How do we insert that space? By slowing down the thought process, through awareness and mindfulness. By training the mind itself. Training the mind to sustain a one pointed attention for as long as we could, for example breath awareness. Through meditation, be it meditation in stillness, or meditation in movement eg yoga, walking, running, etc.

So. Coming back to the question. Do I want to make a difference? Yes I do. Why? Because there are many unnecessary and avoidable problems caused by the reactiveness of humans.

What difference do I want to make? I want to help people take back the driver’s seat, to help them empower their buddhi. I want to help people remember that we only have one vehicle (this physical body), no trade ins or upgrade so we better take care of it nicely if we want a nice ride. And since we can’t trade in the vehicle, we better be comfortable in it, feel at home in it, love it. I want to help people remember that we are actually in control of the vehicle and we are actually the driver.

I believe if more people realize that we’re actually in full control of their response to outside stimuli, the more people will take a more compassionate, less violent response, there will be less avoidable & unnecessary problems in the world, and the world will become a much happier place. Instead of spending our energy to solve those unnecessary & avoidable problems, we can focus on other more serious problems eg: taking care of mother earth, using resources sustainably, distributing food to the hungry, etc.

*Buddhi is the determinative faculty of the mind that makes decisions, it is the doorway to wisdom. More info on buddhi at veda.wikidot.com 

Image credit: Welcome new light by Alice Popkorn

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My elevator pitch

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Fifth post of Live Your Legend blog challenge, the prompt is: What’s your elevator pitch?

When meeting new people inevitably this question will come up “What do you do?”

When I used to work in corporate my answer would be something like this “I’m in marketing for XX company, in charge of XX, YY, ZZ.”

I remember how my sense of self-worth was pretty much tied in with my career and the company I work for. If I didn’t have my job I would feel useless. That was the result of years of conditioning by society and education system. We’re always taught to study hard, graduate, get a job, progress our career, save enough money for retirement, and finally… retire and enjoy life. We’re always taught to compare, to check against our friends how are we doing, and the parameters we’re using are all external, for example career, how much money one’s making, what car one’s driving, what bag one’s carrying, etc. With comparison comes judgement, because comparing means giving scores to oneself and to other. So we’ve been trained to make judgements since young.

When I decided to take a break from corporate life, one of my biggest fear was that people would think I’m a useless person because I don’t have a full-time job. I realized now that I have that fear because I have that judgement on other people too, that someone is useless when someone doesn’t have a job. It’s the conditioning. Having the conditioning removed, I know better, that profession and self-worth are two separate things, and making judgements are not beneficial for anyone.


Intermezzo:

Judgement = fear.

Less judgement = less fear.

No judgement = no fear.

Less fear = more free.

No fear = free.

No judgement = no fear = free!


Coming back to the topic, now when the “what do you do” question come up, my answer is “I’m a yoga teacher and freelance marketing consultant.”

And then more often the topic will stay in yoga for example where I teach, where I train, what kind of yoga I’m teaching, how did I become a yoga teacher, etc. The marketing part, turned out, is not that interesting. I should just leave it out next time and only focus on the first part. People are more interested in: (A) the Yoga itself and how they will potentially benefit from it or (B) how did I become a yoga teacher as it is something they may look into one day.

“I teach yoga & meditation. I’m helping people to become at ease in their own body through movement, breath, and stillness.”

That will be my elevator pitch.

Image credit: Chicago Tribune Elevator by Cory Doctorow

What do people thank me for?

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Fourth post for Live Your Legend blog challenge, prompt number 3: What do people thank me for?

On top of my mind is the “Thank you” I got from the participants of my yoga class. It’s rewarding to see them feeling better and more relaxed after one hour of yoga. It is most obvious in my corporate group class – they come to the space still hunching over the phone replying messages and emails. I gently ask them to put away their phones, and just focus on their own body and breath for the next hour. Afterwards they’re more relaxed, their energy is more calm.

When I used to work in a full-time office job, people thanked me for coming up with solutions to problems, create cooperation with partners, generating potential business models, etc. My team members thanked me for being there for them, providing them space to learn and grow. My colleagues thanked me for having a helicopter view, I tried to see the big picture and base the decisions on a bigger point of view, not only for the benefit of certain teams or division.

Friends thank me for being a good listener. When I’m meeting someone I focus on him/her, giving all my attention. Unless there’s something urgent, I don’t look at my phone. And just by being there fully, listening to them, I find that there’s no effort needed to carry on the conversation, without having to think “What to say next?” the questions or answers just come up naturally.

A man behind me in a flight check-in queue thanked me because I invited him to move in front of me. His flight schedule was earlier than mine, he was worried about the prospect of missing his flight, and the queue was long. I let him move in front of me, it was the least I can do.

A beggar thanked me for giving her a packet of biscuits. I try to always have some food in my bag, when I ran into beggars, instead of giving them money, I gave them food. Often these beggars are part of organized beggar and they probably won’t benefit from the money. When I give them food, I hope at least they themselves get to eat it.

A friend thanked me for giving her a jar of cookies. She’s also a yoga teacher and I was participating in one of her workshops. Another teacher whose training I joined last week thanked me for giving him a box of sweets. I’m making this into a habit, when I’m meeting someone I consider a teacher, I bring sweet gifts. It’s an offering of gratitude.

Something I observed while writing this post – it is way easier for me to think of “What do I thank others for” than “What do people thank me for”. I have to learn how to receive thanks. I know I’m quite good in giving thanks, now I realized that I’m not as good in receiving it. Perhaps its a sign of self-deprecating attitude? Am I being excessively modest?

Image credit: thanks by aphotoshooter

Why I blog

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I’m still on the Live Your Legend blog challenge. This is the third post, but I didn’t follow the order of the prompts, the past two prompts I use for my blog posts (what makes you really angry about the world, and what’s the one thing I’m proud of) is actually prompt number 2 & 4. So here’s prompt number 1: Tell us your story, why did you start a blog and what you hope to get out of it.

I used to have a blog since a long time ago (2001), way before the existence of the current social media.  I had my own domain, my own hostings and everything. I was quite capable of building websites and familiar with simple programming. Back then, I hang out online in this visual chat room – habbo.com – and I also maintained a habbo screenshot websites where I post screenshots of unique, funny, stupid things. It was fun. On the blog I posted random things, sometimes also a ‘Dear blog’ kind of stuff, just for the sake of writing something. I found out I enjoyed writing.

Life moved on and I didn’t maintain my online existence anymore, the domain expired, the websites gone.

I finished university, got a job, career progressed, met future husband, get married, and so on. And no blogging. I keep a written journal on and off (more often off than on!). My hand works better in transferring ideas through keyboard than through pen and paper. With handwriting I’m not always able to read what I wrote – my handwriting is that ugly. Sometime in 2009 I felt like I want to have an outlet where I can post things quickly again, with my phone, so I can just dump thoughts & ideas somewhere. And so this sisil.wordpress.com started to be utilized.

Still I rarely posted – not even once a month. When I do post something, it was more often a quote. I’m inspired to write again since I met my guru. I wrote about it before I won’t get into details in this post.

So far I covered the “why did you start a blog part”. Now on to “what do I hope to get out of it”.

I blog because I enjoyed the act of transferring my thoughts into a more concrete form, I like watching the letters, one by one, materializes on the screen, forming words and sentences, on the command of my finger. I find it quite magical. Sometimes I feel like I’m just watching, I’m just watching the brain coordinate with my hands to move along the keyboard. I kinda get a “high” out of blogging. I blog to get this “high”.

I blog because it’s a way of reflection. Typing or writing helps slowing the thoughts down, and when the thoughts are slower there are less thoughts filling the brain space. When there are less thoughts in the brain space, the mind can become quiet. Imagine going into a room full with puppies, and trying to make them all stay quiet. Only Cesar Milan can do it. Now imagine going into a room with just one or two puppies. Probably still hard to control them, but certainly more doable. I blog to quieten the mind, by slowing down the thoughts.

Patanjali Yoga Sutra 1:2
Yogas chitta vritti nirodhah
Yoga is the mastery of fluctuations of the mind.

Blog is a way of sharing. In me there are insights and knowledge that I learned through life experiences, teachers, books, etc. I understand that we are all medium, conduit, channel, in this creation. It is our nature transfer things from one point to another, to share things. I don’t want to keep things to myself. I blog to share.

If there’s no sharing, there’s no learning
~ David Wiley

Having a blog, I can look back and review the past. What were my interests and ideas back then? Are they still the same now? What changed? It’s a way of self exploration. A way to know myself better. A way to explore the perennial question “Who am I? Why am I here? Where am I going?” A way to, as my guru says, “Discover your own truth”.

Image credit: A Pompeiian Beauty, Blogging, after Raffaele Giannetti by Mike Licht

The one thing I feel most blessed with

15203457290_83cd781efa_b Another writing prompt from Live Your Legend blog challenge: “What’s one thing you’re proud of?” I’m kinda stuck thinking of the answer to that question and so I search for the meaning of the word ‘proud’. Definition of proud: feeling deep pleasure or satisfaction as a result of one’s own achievements, qualities, or possessions or those of someone with whom one is closely associated.

I think the prompt will work better for me like this: “What’s the one thing you feel most blessed with?” Why? Because all the achievements, qualities, and possessions, they’re not mine, they are all divine grace. I have nothing to be proud of, I just have everything to be grateful for. Before choosing the one thing I feel I’m most blessed with, I wrote a list, and the list is so long. Here’s a recap from that long list:

  • this lifetime, this incarnation
  • each moment & each breath
  • circumstances (family & friends, means to live, roof on top of my head, enough food, etc)
  • healthy body & sound mind
  • all the experience I’ve been through, the lessons I learned
  • guidance, in many forms (parents, teachers, guru, books, etc)
  • finding out what I’m passionate about and the opportunities to pass it on
  • and many other things

At first I thought that the one thing I’m most blessed with, is the presence of a living guru in my life. I’m fortunate Universe arranged his presence in my life in an ‘easy’ way. I wasn’t particularly looking for a guru, I didn’t have that strong yearning for one. I didn’t go through abusive gurus (surprisingly abusive gurus are quite common!) I did spend sometime in a very guru-centric community but I didn’t felt the connection with that particular guru so I didn’t take initiation or anything. How did I find my guru? I was surfing the internet when Sri Google led me to his blog, and the rest is history.

The presence in one’s life of a living teacher is an immense opportunity and privilege. The Guru accomplishes many things for us, accelerating our progress and shortening the time till our own realisation by many incarnations.
~ Jogyata Dallas.

He lifted my veil of avidya (ignorance), he uncovered my eyes and now I can see. He guided me to navigate through the ocean, so I’m not just floating aimlessly anymore, but making my way to cross the ocean. He helped me to get in touch with the inner Guru. My life has been transformed (and continues to transform) since then.

And with this transformation I can see more clearly, and sometimes in this clarity I can see things as they really are. And with this clarity I know that the one thing I’m most blessed with, is NOW, this moment. This moment is the only time I can experience anything and everything. This moment becomes the past, and the future becomes now, but now is all I have, now is everything I have, so now is the one thing I’m most blessed with. And now encompasses everything.

So I try my best to remember this every moment, remember that everything is divine grace, that this very lifetime itself is a blessing. And live me life fully from this now to another now, moment to moment.

Image credit: “and bless this spot in particular” by peterned