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life is fleeting

July 29, 2010

The other night my bike was stolen. It was more than just a method of transportation, it was a form of currency. In particular, a way to connect, to feel something — much the way people look for sensation and happiness from material objects. Yes, I’m aware that my bike is a material item, and that’s exactly why I’m writing this post.

As most of you know, I’ve spent the past eight weeks or so in yoga training, to become a teacher. You could go as far to call it life training, because after all, yoga is the practice of life. The other 12 students and I, along with teachers, have become a family. We challenge each other, laugh, revel in the delight of a simple, happy life, and even cry together. We’re breaking down our walls of complacency and hierarchical-driven notions of the way we should live based on a standardized American ideal. That we’ve been taught (and believe) we need to follow the traditional path of college –> job –> retire when you’re 70 is damaging the collective oneness in which we exist within the Universe. Certainly this path is not wrong, as long as what you do brings happiness and awareness to your life, and you’re affecting those in your company positively.

Back to the origin of this post. One lesson that has become most powerful for me is attachment, and the notion that life is fleeting, and can only be experienced in the present. I rode my bike to a concert, enjoyed the music within the confines of Stubb’s, and came back out to find it gone. My intuition from the evening prepared me, and I’ve overcome the initial-loss hurdle, but I was sad. Sad because I loved that bike and I was proud of it. Sad because I knew I was never going to see it again. But the greater lesson here is that attachment to things, people, etc. causes suffering. We must remember to experience life and love non-conditionally and in the moment. By this, and I’m referring to loving someone here, we enjoy every moment spent with someone and do not place boundaries (“I’ll love you if you do this,” or “you always…”), or expectations on the relationship. A good way to examine this is if you were to lose a loved one today, you would not feel sad or empty, but rather appreciative of the moments you spent with them. That said, live each day as if it were your last. Fill your days with accomplishments and conscious living.

If we choose to see the beauty in everything, life is much more enjoyable. If we lose the labels we’ve used for centuries, we find that each experience is new. Start with the easiest of all awareness: the beauty of nature and it’s intricacy.

peace.

Photo by CiCi Parsons

birthday poem

April 19, 2010

my friend adam turned 25 last week and at the last moment i decided to make him a card. i had rummaged through a friend’s recycling bin the day before and found a magazine with decent stock and glossy images. a few struck my interest and i ripped them out not knowing what i’d create. after piecing, tearing, adding on and stapling together the black-and-white abstract card, i decided it needed the perfect words to match. so i wrote adam a poem about wisdom and age. although it’s meant for him, the message is poignant for all.

.avatar.

a man of seventy
sat on a weathered park bench
for no particular reason other than fulfillment

as he sat the birds sang
perched nearby was a finch
he listened as their melodies became lyrics

their simple tune was sagacious
and reflective of their habitat
a familiarity to the silver-streaked vetran

one that recalled a lifetime
yet the most significant of these remembrances
was the simplest:

to walk with wide eyes
to listen to the backdrop of the time
to share your spirit
is to know all

photo by john hook

within you

September 23, 2009

tonight i went to the late yoga class. it’s the last class of the day and no matter what form of yoga, it’s always guided by candle light. tonight’s practice was vinyasa yoga and it’s characterized by constant flow from one pose to the next and most importantly, it’s led by the breath. as we moved thr0ugh the hour-long class, our teacher would remind us of why we practice and give encouragements to hold a pose longer … (because when your thighs are burning from warrior pose, it’s hard to think of anything but coming out of it). one thing she said tonight, was ‘everything you need is within you.’

instantly, i thought about the power of the mind. will power. the strength to do something that maybe you thought you could never do. the courage to go the extra mile. to give up a bad habit. while some obstructions have physical limitations, with time these can be broken by the mind. our most powerful muscle.

sometimes when writing these posts, it’s hard for me to not be cheesy, or think what i’m writing is something people will roll their eyes at, but these teachings are the most simple of ideas, but the most difficult in practice. we lose focus too often. if you’re able to stop your wandering thoughts, especially those arbitrary to what you’re doing when you’re doing it, you’ve overcome something. that’s one of the goals of yoga/meditation. to be here right now. to focus your mind on what you’re doing at that very moment. to give it your all. and if you start to practice that, then why can’t you give everything else your all?

here’s this week’s quote:

“the only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

yin and yang

September 14, 2009

while i was in hong kong, i had a lot of time to myself especially after i lost my phone halfway through the trip in thailand. the only way friends could get a hold of me was through facebook or by calling my dorm phone and that was never a guarantee. but instead of wallowing in lonely-land, i went on walks by myself, i sat in coffee shops listening to music and watching the locals, i exercised, i shopped, i read. and that leads me to the subject of this post.

one day, i was sitting in my room alone and was bored of being on the computer. there was a mall close to my dorm so i thought i would go for a walk, see what i can find. i ended up going to a bookstore. browsing the books, i picked up a non-fiction book with this short description: “a chinese daughter reflects on happiness, spiritual beliefs and universal wisdom.” i’ve always been interested in eastern thought and i read further, “she (the author) shows us how those in the west can benefit from the teachings of the east.” and i bought the book. $96HKD. i ended up reading the book super fast — unusual for me — because i just couldn’t put it down.

she gives a lesson about the meaning of yin and yang and i think these forces are something that we should all know about … “yin/yang or the ‘dualist theory’ … according to this theory, everything in the universe is divided according to the yin and yang. however, yin and yang are neither competitive nor exclusionist. on the contrary, the two are complementary, interdependent and eventually transform into one another. they are each other’s universal counterparts. this notion may have been derived originally from the experience of ‘day and night’ as well as ‘winter and summer.’

yin means ‘shady side of a hill,’ and is associated with such words as female, moon, darkness, night, spirit of earth, water, absorbant. yang means ‘bright side of a hill,’ and is identified with such words as male, sun, light, day, spirit of heaven, fire, creative power.

yin cannot exist without yang and vice versa. without night there can be no day. without black there can be no white. inside every yin there is a little bit of yang. inside every yang there is a certain degree of yin. yin and yang are everywhere. in front and behind. to our left and to our right. above us and below us. darkness is the same as diminished light. light is the same as diminished darkness. they are complementary.”

i will leave you with that and in case you’re interested in the book, here’s the info: author Adeline Yen Mah, title Watching the Tree.

self-worth

September 13, 2009

from may 21, 2009:

Hello again. Some of you are receiving this for the first time and to brief you, this email is designed to bring awareness to how you live and affect others.

This week’s focus is on self-worth and believing in what you are. Do you find yourself second guessing your decisions, your talents, your offerings to life/friends/work? I know I have. And it’s certainly made me insecure. But why should I be? There’s only one of me, and what I have to offer is not the same as others. It’s not fair to deny others the benefit of your personality/knowledge. We are constantly learning and seeking.

And this is certainly a process; one that begins with loving ourselves. Being happy starts with loving who we are. “To love is first of all to accept yourself as you actually are. ‘Knowing thyself’ is the first practice of love.” Seems obvious, but there’s so many out there that are unhappy, that don’t love who they are, take their insecurities out on others, which in turn makes those people insecure. I’ve been the brunt of it and it made me second-guess a lot of what I’m about. I know now not to.

The best part about this, is that these lessons are the most simple of lessons — it’s all about the application, the practice and the awareness. Just like a sport, you have to practice to be good at it. So practice loving yourself, practice self-awareness and you’ll find yourself a lot happier.

The quote below was the inspiration for this week’s thought and it takes several readings to really soak in, but it’s very powerful. And I must thank Nancy for sharing this with me. My yoga teacher, too.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, or fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to believe? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. You were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within you. It is not just in some of us, it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to be the same. As we were liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberated others.”
– Nelson Mandela upon his release from prison.

Please forward to anyone. Love and peace.
Katy

attitude

September 13, 2009

from april 30, 2009:

I’m beginning a weekly meditation/thought for those I care about in hopes to spark a deeper awareness of our presence on Earth. This week’s focus is on attitude and how it is so intricately woven into our lives.

So often, we dwell on one particular negative idea that stems from an irrelevant source … like a car cutting you off or being late to an appointment. But negativity also unfortunately comes from loved ones. I stand firm that if we spread our greatest attributes and positivity to those around us, we have the power to block negativity in all its forms. You have to think: “What are the benefits of me getting upset over this/that or with that person?” Ultimately, communication becomes our best friend. And it’ll make you uber happy!

So I will let this quotation speak for itself. But I must first thank my mother for it.

“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company … a church … a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past … we cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude … I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you … you are in charge of your Attitude.”
– Charles Swindoll

It’s amazing the freedom our attitude grants us. So this week, become aware of how your attitude, actions and words affect those you surround and even those you first meet.

peace and love,

katy