Category: breathe

 

Prayer requires consistency. We pray when we’re sad. We pray when we’re happy. Take things slow for now. Begin with the rosary. If you can’t do the whole thing, you can start by saying the Our Father, 10 Hail Mary’s, Our Father again and close with your intentions and give thanks. That’s how I started. Then as days progress I added another set of Hail Mary and Our Fathers. Some days I could repeat the rosary 5x in one sitting. Those days were the tough days. Those days I say pray as much as you need.

Eventually you come to a point where the words will roll out automatically and you begin to consciously think about each word and what those words means to you. Eventually the words from each prayer makes a vibrant sounds only you can hear. And eventually you come to a stillness and that’s when you listen.

In the beginning you’ll be distracted by your thoughts. Welcome them but don’t entertain them. Remember this is just the beginning so it’s okay to drift away at times. Forgive then focus back to your Hail Mary’s.

I think in the beginning it’s just learning focus.

The most calming thought – whether our time of prayer (meditation, solitude, …) went well or not – is relying on the fact alone that Someone is/was listening to you. I think many of us feel unworthy, unimportant and unloved, or that our voice and words mean nothing so we belittle ourselves to a point where we become unknowingly destructive to ourselves and the things around us. So when we pray and really feel the presence of Someone listening, it gives a boost to our self esteem and our worth. Ultimately you are giving yourself permission to be loved. It is you that is giving and receiving your love. In the end, you are the love that you deserve. That’s prayer.

with you always,

Silence

It was just a regular weekday. After a day at work, I head to the daycare to pick the little one up and bus straight home. Typically we would have Netflix or some random playlist on Spotify as our background noise to fill our home. But once we arrived home I heard a whisper ..”quiet”. So I listened; I kept the house – quote, unquote – quiet.

No Netflix.

No music.

Nothing whatsoever.

I started to hear the pitter-pattering of Olivia’s feet running back and forth. The running sink water as I soak the dirty dishes that I have no intentions of cleaning. The whooshing and honking of cars passing by twenty two levels below us. The air conditioning rumbling on and off letting us know how cool he is. (Pun intended)

What is happening? This isn’t “quiet”.

As I set Olivia’s after-school snack on the table, you can hear the silver fork tap against the plastic plate as she struggles to get the rice. The legs of Olivia’s chair squeaking as she sways left and right out of joy from every bite. And then, there’s me. The me with the mind on blast. Thoughts that started off as a To-Do list began growing as I watered it with my attention. Boy, did it grow. Better get my pencil and notebook. Click, click. There goes my led pencil. A broken, yet continuous shushing of led as it paints on paper during my writing rampage. I know this feeling. It’s anxiety. It’s fear. It’s scattered puzzle pieces of my peace. It’s less and less of …me.

Is this silence?

My body started closing in leaning closer to the dining table with my left hand massaging my forehead. My body was screaming anxiety.

I wrote, “I know this feeling. I just need to get out more. I need to pray more. I need to eat better. I need to see my family more. I need to express my feelings more. I need …”

“Jesus!”

I look up and see Olivia smiling with rice in between her teeth, pointing at my left wrist where I’ve tattooed a Cross. What? How? I wasn’t even talking out loud yet she was able to say the exact word that I needed to hear at the perfect moment.

“I need Jesus”

I was in awe. It was beyond words, really.

Then finally, quiet.

I know I won’t have true peace and quiet all the time and the search will never end or get any easier. We’re human. Anything that feels uncomfortable, we mask with reruns of the same shows on Netflix or intoxicating our mind and body or just about anything that keeps the noise to stay.  We numb. But when we see pass silence as a monster; one that exposes you to the hidden fear of emptiness or whatever it may be, silence is actually the You that wants to be heard but was buried deep underneath worldly weight. Regardless of what you think silence is or isn’t, silence is there. Always. It’s there for you to embrace. It’s there for you to feel.

Through the silence, I sincerely hope you find more of you.

Just listen.

With you always,

Let me begin by saying, I am not a professional. I am, however, speaking (or should I say writing) through experience. One thing I’ve learned is to write what I know and I’ve come to know mindfulness to an extent that my mind will allow for now.

So what is mindfulness?


Mind [maynd]

noun

: the collection of intelligent consciousness and unconsciousness


Ful [foo l]

noun, plural

: full of


Ness [nes]

suffix

: to indicate state, condition, or quality


It’s main focus is on the mind as it is right now. Not the mind of the past nor the mind of the future. With that said, practising mindfulness doesn’t require an empty room with incense and a statue of Buddha. It can be practised anywhere you are in that particular moment: in the office, at the park, or lining up at Starbucks. Practising mindfulness is a practice; there is no finish line, only kindness and patience with yourself and being in the moment.

These are what has personally helped me to be more mindful and more present and I truly hope it will help you too. Life is busy but you shouldn’t have to be!

Exercise 1: Breathing

Begin by calming the heart and the mind. This requires attention to your breath’s inhalation and exhalation. For example: inhaling in 8 counts, exhaling in 6 counts and holding in 2 counts allows you to calm the heart and focus on just the breath, away from all or most of the external distractions.

Exercise 2: Hearing

Breathing is the basic, but crucial, component to mindfulness. Once you have developed that solid foundation of breathing, move forward with your sense of hearing. With eyes closed, a calm mind and breathing controlled, start to notice the first sound that vibrates on your eardrum. Really focus on the pitch, volume and/or any changes that may occur. Next, shift your hearing to another sound. Going deeper into whats around you and noticing the subtleties that it brings inside your space.

You may find that you’ll begin to start hearing your thoughts:


“This is boring”
“This is weird”

“I feel uncomfortable”
“What is that smell?”
“My back is itchy”, etc.

Acknowledge these thoughts and see it for what it is –thoughts. Once you acknowledge your thoughts, let it drift away as calmly as it entered and focus your attention back to a sound.

Exercise 3: Sight

In any mindfulness exercise, it’s best to begin with Exercise 1. Now consciously focusing on sight, browse around the room or where ever you are and target an object. Like the thoughts in Exercise 2, look at the object and see it for what it is. Notice the colour, the texture, patterns, anything and everything you can come up with just by using your sense of sight.

This exercise is to work your objective muscles. As humans we are embedded with memories  from past experiences; whether good or bad, and these memories unconsciously creates a filter and/or an attachment to an object or moment. By using the sense of sight to focus your attention on what is right in front of you, removing feelings and memories, it shifts your mind to objectively see what is right in front of you as what it is and not what you think it is.

Exercise 4: Touch

Lastly, this exercise is also known as Body Scan Meditation. Beginning with Exercise 1 shift your mind towards the sense of touch. You don’t need to physically touch anything. Where you are is enough. Where you are, there is infinite energy around you. The cool air breezing through your arms or fingers. The softness of your clothing gently laying on top of your skin. Breathe through all the energy. This embodies the physical and tangible compartment of mindfulness.

Eventually, there will be a lightness in your moment. Embrace it!

The goal is not blissful, enlightenment. The goal is not to feel frustration, anxiety, or fear anymore. The goal is not the goal. Entering into mindfulness with a goal is counterproductive mainly because there is absence of acceptance; acceptance of what is and will be. Lean in towards acceptance as it is the core of presence and where there is presence, there is mindfulness.

With you always,

1.15 “The consciousness of self-mastery in one who is free from craving from objects seen or heard about is non-attachment.” – Yoga Sutra of Patanjali

I have always grown up as an observer of life but the more passive side of an observer. Listening and seeing; letting life just pass by me rather than pass through me. Looking back now, I can pin point back to the moments that lead me to a life filled with attachments. In my teens, the pressure of trying to fit in or needing to belong somewhere took a great hold of my being. This instilled a habit of people pleasing, unknowingly knowing that pleasing the world would cause destruction within. I had this urge to make sure the ones I cared deeply for were taken care of by avoiding expressing my true self in fear that I may irritate or discomfort them. By having this mindset, I was easily attracted to anything and everything that gave me false or temporary purpose. I was swayed from one side to another, thinking I was just “going with the flow” but truthfully, I was “going with the desire”.

This sutra speaks of Self-Mastery and Self-Mastery begins with a conscious mind which I naively thought I’ve been living and doing. It was only until the “perfect” life I’ve planned and played over and over in my head was taken away from me, leaving me confused and uncertain of my future. It was at that point in my life I woke up to the reality and truth of life. And, like many others it was the emptiness and longing for what’s beyond this earth that began my journey to healing.

When you think of healing, you think of relaxation and bliss but it wasn’t like that for me, at least not in the beginning. In the process of rewriting my life, depression became a longtime companion of mine and at some point was the only thing in my life that comforted me. It was a vicious cycle I was and still trying to overcome and navigate through. I knew I needed to detach myself from it. But how could you when it was the only thing in your life that felt certain. I have become attached to the feeling of depression and the fear of the unknown that I was willing to suffer silently with anxiety than to be strong and choose faith. I knew this was a huge hurdle and an uphill battle that I needed to fight and what better way to fight a battle than to fight with love. Love began showing a different colour in my world. Love lead me to new creative outlets which were meditation and journaling.

One important lesson I’ve learned from meditation and journaling is the non-attachment to thoughts. I’ve realized that the thoughts in my mind are just that, thoughts, and they carry tremendous power. It is said many times that your words can either lift you or weigh you down and it’s with you every second of each moment so it’s best to take care of them and use its power to affirm you, not destroy you. Through journaling, I was able to come face to face with my thoughts and words, and as I stared at them in black and white, handwritten in my own writing they began looking dull and repetitive. It came to a point where I didn’t want to hear what I had to say anymore because it’s already been said countless of times before. There was no way out of it but to accept my thoughts as they are and practice the art of letting go and doing better. Moving forward, I chose to be conscious of my thoughts. My thoughts lead to ideas and ideas lead to purpose. I wanted to help others who have walked a similar path as I have and build a community of hope, love and faith.

My efforts lead me to the ever infinite world of yoga and I truly believe that to lead others I must first master how to lead myself. Through breathing I have found a spark of peace and detachment to the false truths my mind clings onto. Through breathing I have found the beauty in the practice of gratitude and mindfulness. Through breathing I have found a sense of freedom and groundedness. And, through breathing I have found forgiveness in my past and acceptance in the present now.

There are just so many benefits my mind and body received and continues to receive on and off the mat that it left a growing impression inside to bravely step forward into the path of sharing it with others. I hope to use my personal journey and experiences not as a limitation but as opportunities to expand even further mentally, physically and spiritually and spread good to all. I hope to use the skills and knowledge I gain through this new chapter of my life to volunteer in a rehabilitation center and assist those suffering from depression and anxiety through the power of yoga. Pursuing this dream is very important to me because of having to personally experience the darkness depression and anxiety brings and an issue that touches the very core of my being.

Taking a step back and looking deeper into this sutra, if we compare it to,

“When the mind loses desire even for objects seen or described in a tradition or in scriptures, it acquires a state of utter (vashikara) desirelessness that is called non-attachment (vairagya)” (1)

I find that this translation refers to how society can conform many people to believe in whatever the general masses believes in. It teaches a lesson to not follow but instead find the discipline and strength within yourself to lead a life that was meant for your individual purpose. Desire is very much highlighted in this translation and it can be linked to our needs and wants from this world. Our desire may be a selfish act whereas letting it go will bring us back to realizing our true purpose thus guiding us to a life of non-attachment.

Similarly, the following translation:

“As for non-reaction, one can recognize that it has been fully achieved when no attachment arises in regard to anything at all, whether perceived directly or learned.” (2)

speaks of the congruency of non-reaction to desirelessness stated in the previous sutra translation. It shows that non-reaction is the absence of personal wants and needs as a result achieves non-attachment.

All in all, what I took away from studying this sutra is mastering of the self. Referencing back to Patanjali’s translation, I can’t help but notice that he chose to use the word “self-mastery” whereas the other two translations do not. Patanjali describes his translation as a journey to your purpose rather than a process of elimination of habits or actions; desire, attachment, reaction. By allowing purpose into a sutra, there’s more inspiration than motivation, which I truly believe has more power, within a person that is encouraged to push through. It shows that he seeks growth, knowledge of self and sheds light onto truth. Nonetheless, these translations leave different flavours on our palettes but ultimately leave the same satiable feel and understanding. Self-mastery is a constant reminder of our capacity to be humble beings, persevere through even the darkest of days and forgive all, and with consistent practice of yoga, we are all on our way.