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Posts Tagged ‘health and wellness’

Connecting the Dots

Today a friend asked me how my vacation was and all I could answer was that it was a roller coaster ride of ups and downs. Part of me felt guilty and selfish for not having been able to say “oh it was great”, after all, not every one can afford to put their entire lives on pause and just go on hibernate mode, right? But, well, I guess I couldn’t just say it was all great because it wasn’t. But then today, I realized, as my friend pointed out, vacations aren’t always 100% happy all the time anyway. More so, I realized that the reason why I couldn’t say it was perfect was because by taking pause, removing myself from the daily grind and just being by myself to some degree, it was a period of self-discovery, reinvention and, I guess, moving forward, which, I suppose, is never really easy.

Let me back track a bit…for those who have been reading my blogs, I’m sure you’re familiar with the fact that I had just let go of my preschool teaching job, one that I had done and loved oh so dearly for the past twelve years. In many ways, giving that up (although I was indeed looking forward to it because I was tired already) kind of made me lose a big chunk of who I have become. And so since I finished everything I needed to have done in the preschool on the 30th of April, and it was term break in the university I teach in, I decided to declare the first 15 days of May as my Eat, Pray, Love vacation. I may not be as lucky as Elizabeth Gilbert to have the chance to do it for a year, but heck, 15 straight days of no work should be good enough for the time being, right? And so on the eve of the first, I had posted on my Facebook page that for the next fifteen days, I was only to exist for yoga, for friends who matter and the occasional soup day (errr..which is code for, well, lets just say fun lunches or dinners harhar).

Anyway, I was lucky enough to get my break of started on track with an Eat, Pray, Love overnight adventure in Subic Bay with a fellow yogini friend of mine. We took an overnight trip and met up with another yogini friend who teaches a class at the Subic Yacht club where we joined in on the class and got to meet a whole lot of new people. It was so timely, I must say, that the night we got to join in was a night in which they were bidding farewell to one of their family members (I say family because their group is very much like family…it’s more than a club, more than just friends, but more like family :)). They had a little ceremony that evening that brought tears to my eyes because as my personal friends would know, saying goodbye and having people move away is something very, very difficult for me. But as I watched them and allowed myself to be part of that ceremony, I realized that distance between friends is but physical space, but the heart, though ends up longing oh so dearly for the other, remains connected.

Although the trip was quite short, being under the golden sunshine, walking by the bay and feeling sand on my toes allowed me to touch base with my soul.

When I got back to Manila, I continued on my journey by really shutting myself out from most of the outside world. Very few people, save for my yoga teachers and classmates, got to see me or hear from me much, even through text messages (although FB still remained a constant haha…but a far less frequent one!). I barely spoke to anyone and except for when I was in yoga and the three or four lunches/dinners I had out with friends, I barely moved at all. I had planned to clean my room, paint, draw, and so on and so forth but noooo…nothing happened. My blogs have been mostly silent too, except for those posts of brilliant insights that happened from the mat :)

Being in the quiet for so long, however, started to take a bit of a toll on me because, well, because that’s what silence does. It’s confrontative. You’re left with nothing else but yourself in a place that suddenly becomes so foreign and unfamiliar. As my favorite writer, Thomas Moore put it in his book Dark Nights of the Soul, Imagine you awoke one day to find yourself in a strange land. You remember who you were and what you have done, where you used to live, even your dreams and longings, but now it seems so far away. So out of reach it all seems in this strange land. Here it is as if nothing that once was familiar matters any longer, all that matters is that you find yourself where you are right now. You cannot return to what once was, neither do you know where to go from here. Now there are no distractions. You have to look closely at what has been revealed.

In that silent bubble I lived in for 15 day (granted there were moments of distractions…going to yoga class and the occasional meeting up with the few friends who really matter to me), I realized how different I was from the me I had gotten to know in the past year, year and a half. Without the distractions of work, and even television for that matter (because my TV’s been broken haha!) and even the absence of family and friends, I was left  to just let things unfold. Maybe it’s also the weight loss, plus the career change, and even the discovery of yoga, but all these changes were like  diamonds in the rough, waiting to be found and treasured. But for the longest time I wasn’t seeing what was there because I was too busy and too ignorant of the signs. As I was telling another friend a few days ago, I guess I was making it a point to be too busy because I was afraid to admit to many things: feeling lost and confused about who I was, angry and hurt about what might have been, and yes, even displeased and dissatisfied because of things I want but don’t have. Before I could admit that, however, I had to wrestle with the defeaning silence and the frustration of loneliness and solitude.  Worst of all, I had to go head on with my harshest critic:  the voices of insecurity and doubt in my head.

So there, it was indeed a roller coaster of ups and downs, right? There were moments of brilliant clarity and fulfillment of heart, but there were moments of darkness and feeling lost at sea, with no lifelines to hang on to. But now that I look back, all of those moments, from the loss of the familiar, feeling hurt because of it, opening myself up to new things and people, challenging myself in many, many ways…  were little dots waiting to be connected to form a bigger picture.

Today marks the end of my two week hiatus from life. Tomorrow I must head back to reality and get back on track in all sense of the word. I think it is but fitting that I end it by having cut and colored my hair, gone for a body scrub, deleted messages on my phone and files in my computer, thrown away a lot of stuff I’ve been holding on to for so long. Kinda like a rebirth, yes?

I don’t know if it is just coincidence, but I’d like to believe it is but one of those things I like calling random synchronicity, but just a few days before my break I had said that I have come to learn that many of the most difficult, most painful, most tiring and most excruciatingly frustrating things that come my way always, always pave the way for realizations that are significant, life-changing, and rewarding. Yes, it may not be something extremely drastic or devastating, but all of those moments have led up to something new, as long as I allowed myself to surrender and make some space for it. It’s never fun or easy, mind you, nor pleasurable for that matter, but in the end, I can look back and say, so that’s why it had to happen.

And  so through this roller coaster of a ride I had just found myself in, I take with me, a renewed appreciation for what I have, a more grateful heart, a somewhat darkened self (literally and figuratively haha…As Moore put it, dark luminosity…a black sun at your core…that is less innocent and more interesting than naive sunshine), and perhaps, even a more hopeful spirit for what lies ahead.

As I end today, I found this lying in one of my piles of papers…it was a project I had done for one of my classes before, wherein I gave the students a coloring sheet and asked them to remember that the only road that mattered, no matter where they went, was the one paved with prayer and ended in believing that no matter what, you will find yourself exactly where you’re supposed to be.

‎”Beautiful thoughts build a beautiful soul…There’s always something beautiful to be experienced wherever you are.” — Wayne Dyer

 

 

Playing Out the Wave

To say the past two weeks or so have been like treading on rough waters is an understatement. Perhaps caught in the middle of a summer storm in the middle of an angry ocean would be a better way to describe how it has been for me. Yes, that rough. So much so that almost every night, tears stained my pillows as I stuggled to fall into a restful sleep and even my yin yoga class last Wednesday (which is one of the things that gives me the most pleasure lately) was a great struggle for me. It’s been quite difficult to deal with so many things that have been going on, so many things I feel I messed up with and perhaps, yeah, there was some mistaking there, but it just felt so overwhelmingly difficult that it was like being caught in a riptide with barely enough lifelines to hold on to, or strength and desire for that matter, to do so. In a way I guess I should say I was glad I was on holiday break because save for Monday, the only people I had seen were my yoga teachers and so I didn’t really have to explain my goldfish eyes or have to pretend I was happy and okay and that my heart wasn’t so painfully wounded by words said and unsaid. I could just be sungit and quiet and that would be fine.

Although the storm seems to have tapered down a bit, and the faint glow of the sun was slowly returning, I found myself so very tired from treading the waves that were so big and strong. And so with a very tired heart last night, I did the only thing left to do. I prayed. I heeded to a message I was sent not too long ago, that I should pray more. I should pray for strength, I was told.  And for hope. And for love.

And so as I wrote down my prayer (I like notes, so there :)) I prayed oh so very hard for those. I said, Lord, I am trying to find reason in all of this, but I know the more I search the more I won’t find it but that all I need to do is believe there is reason for it. So please, take it from me and give me an answer to what I ask for. I’m tired, I had said, of having to figure out what to do, how to fix things, how to manage, and of doing everything myself. So I asked for the strength physically and mentally to be able to just keep trying, even if I always feel like I’m falling short, to keep going, despite all the bitter disappointments, and yes, to hold on even if I don’t want to anymore. I asked for the strength to keep on giving and caring, without expecting or asking anything in return and to let go of bitterness when disappointments set in. I asked for hope to be able to quiet my spirit and give my heart some rest. But most of all I asked for love in all sense of the word, from myself, from family, from friends. I asked for a love that I could understand and believe in, and one that wouldn’t go away or get mad or push me away when I am hard to understand (which very often admittedly I am).

Um…demanding much? Haha. Maybe, I guess, but as I dried up my tears I felt a stirring in me that said go to the Chapel on the Hill tomorrow and you’ll find the answer there.

As I did last October when I felt that need to go on a road trip to converse with my soul, I fought and rationalized at first. It’s a waste of time, you have lots of other things to do, it’s a waste of gas and money yadiyadiya. I even went to yoga class this morning and told my teacher I had planned to go to Caleruega but opted not to because I’d rather go to her class instead.

But no…the Universe, nay —God, had better plans for me.

My teacher often has a theme in her yoga classes and today was all about waves and how we everything is like the wave of an ocean, it comes and it goes, like the tides. So you just have to play out the wave, she says, go with it and allow it to take you where it needs to take you. Talk about being toinked while doing your asana, right?

So I was in the snail pose today, one that I struggled with for a long time prior to today, and for the first time, I find comfort in it, feeling the pleasurable surge of energy and chi flowing in my body. And it hit me: ride the current and breathe, Ria. Play out the wave, don’t flail too much and soon you will make it back to still waters. Thus I decided to play out that wave and listen to the voice that told me to go drive to that chapel.

And so after class, I came home to change, threw in my camera, my iPad and a blank craft box with some pencils and coloring materials into my and drove away.

When I got to the chapel, I entered through (as would be expected of me) one of the side doors and as soon as I did, the answer I had asked for last night was right there:

Caleruega Chapel on the Hill

remain in my love that your joy may be complete...

I asked for love, and I got it.

Or should I say, I was reminded that I had it all along.

When Old Wounds Bleed

"It has been said, "time heals all wounds." I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But it is never gone." — Rose Kennedy

I have come to the conclusion (or perhaps I should say to the agreement with what Rose Kennedy said about it)  that many times, old wounds never do heal. Yes, they do get better. Yes, the pain subsides. Yes, you do get over it. But despite these all, the scars of those wound remain and no matter how much time has passed, the damage is always going to be there. The thing is, even as you try to heal it or to fix what had been broken, it never completely is the same anymore.

Let me put it this way: There’s this street corner I pass on my way to work that, despite how many years have passed, still cause me so much fear and anxiety. Read the rest of this entry »

The Missing Core

It dawned on me today that I have been doing yoga for two months now on a regular basis. Regular meaning twice or thrice a week. It has been a truly enriching and spiritual journey for me, especially since I have discovered both the yin and the yang sides of my practice. On the physical level, I have noticed subtle changes too, especially in the way I move.

One thing that still is missing, however, is my core. Harhar. To be fair, I have always been familiar with my core, especially when I started hooping. Also, despite my size, my midsection is pretty flat considering everything else hehe. That was actually true even when I was searching for the best diet pills that work and the exercises that would guarantee immediate weight loss. Even so, I realized as I have been doing yoga that I still have so much to work on when it comes to my core.

Any tips on how to make engaging (well, keeping it engaged, more succinctly) my core easier??? sigh.

Anyway, lemme head off to yoga in a bit and see if I can get it right today haha.

Wishing on A Night Sky

Night, the beloved. Night, when words fade and things come alive. When the destructive analysis of day is done, and all that is truly important becomes whole and sound again. When man reassembles his fragmentary self and grows with the calm of a tree. ~Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

A few months back, when my soul was weary and troubled, I went back to something I knew would quiet the voices in my head and give my heart the rest it sorely needed: my art.

Back then I clung on tightly to the bright sunshine that always brought me comfort, hence the beginnings of my Project Sunshine. Then, I felt the urgent need to create my own sunshine and hold tightly to lifelines thrown my way, sometimes a wee bit too much.

In the past few months, however, I have grown stronger and better, made so by necessary pains and conversations with my soul where I got to know myself better and explore other sides of me that I never once allowed to exist. Coupled with my yoga practice, where I have allowed myself to create spaces in my mind, body and soul, I have begun to learn what balance really means, how to have faith and to trust, and how love really works. I have likewise welcomed the darkness back to my life, knowing full well that in that in the dark, cold silence of night time I can thrive, too, albeit differently than I do under the warm golden sunshine, but that both are essential for the fullness of my soul.

Yes, I have learned to stop chasing rainbows and to let things go and let them be as I am learning to sit and wait in patience, just believing in myself, in people around me and in fate, love and in the certainty that though they may not be in sight, they do indeed exist.

And now I have returned to the heart of my art, no longer in troubled waters, but in still ones, now honoring the polar opposites that exist in my life, the yin and the yang so I’ve been told…and so side by side my Project Sunshine now comes the beginnings of my Night Sky :) And so tonight I whisper a little wish up into the night sky, and think of it with light an love, then dropping it knowing that in time, when it is right, I will be able to connect the dots and see how all the twists and turns, stops and starts and everything else make complete and perfect sense.

The Secret To Weight Loss

For many women, myself included, one of the most difficult things to do is to find ways to suppress appetite in a healthy, all-natural way. Don’t you agree? Losing weight is really such a challenge I tell you…it entails commitment, hard work and determination. There’s really so much more to it than searching for the best weight loss pills that work.

Let me say, though, that I’m not all for the uber skinny, waif like model thin body, but we all would like to be more fit, right?

As I was saying, one thing we struggle with is being able to control our appetites. For one, hormonal changes make us crave all sorts of things. Secondly, the lifestyle we live now, which is very fast paced and demanding, can make us more likely to crave for the not-so-healthy stuff. While appetite suppressants may be readily available, it is important to also try to keep in mind our health’s safety because at times, these supplements may pose certain risks, especially if we don’t read the fine print. Some things that can help curb appetite include acupuncture, aromatherapy and biofeedback (which technically means listening to your bodies needs and signals).

What works for me, really, is being mindful about my eating habits. It can be tiring, I tell ya, and many times, I feel like it’s so frustrating but I still try my very best to keep at it. After all, sayang naman efforts ko diba? (all my efforts will be wasted if I don’t, right?) Oh, I’ve been chronicling my weight loss journey in a separate blog, Fat Girl No More, so do drop by there soon :)

The Gift of Serenity and Just As I Should Be

The other day in yoga class I found myself in a pose that I truly, deeply loved. So much so I could stay in it forever. Okay, that’s an exaggeration, but you know what I mean. For some reason sitting in that pose was just so amazing and wonderful for me. It’s interesting because it’s the exact opposite of the two poses I hate so very, very much, which, when I’m more at peace with, I promise to write about as well :).

Anyway, at the end of the session we talked a bit, the other ladies in my class, the teacher and I, and I began to understand what it meant to really just be at peace with the way things are. No force, no effort, just pure acceptance. It came from what the teacher said about how yin yoga really is such a humbling experience because in it you are forced to face the facts: there are really some things that no matter how hard you try, it can’t be fixed. She went on to say that we have to accept the way we’re built and that maybe, that’s really all your body can do. It’s a matter of structure, after all.

As I sat there listening to her I had to just curl up into a little ball and just be. Then I realized that one reason I keep struggling with many of the things I try to do, be it in yoga or in real life, is because I have yet to find comfort in believing I’m okay, and that things are okay for that matter even if it isn’t as I think it should be, because in fact, it really is as it should. In a way, I keep flailing because I have this image of what things should be like.

Let me put it this way, I used to think that my quest in life was to set off and find the pieces of my heart that God had lovingly dropped off in different places when He created me. In a way, it would be like putting together pieces of a puzzle that fit perfectly. It’s been very frustrating to say the least, to keep seaching for these pieces. What I did’nt realize, however,is that the pieces have been there all along but I can’t get them to fit right because I keep thinking that things HAVE to be in a certain way. It has to fit in like a puzzle, complete with a frame, in the shape it’s supposed to be.

And so I keep forcing myself to twist and turn, contort if I must, to fit the way I think I should. But that’s not how I’m built.

What I have apparently, is a vessel that has no known shape or form but one that flows like the sea, taking on whatever way shape or form each piece comes and brings with it. It’s not always pretty, or perfect, or “right” by many standards, I make myself believe. And because of that, that stubborn idea that my picture has to come together, I fail to recognize that maybe there is something beautiful there already. Like patches of a quilt, that’s what my heart  is….a collection of scraps old and new, some with scars and bits of sorrow, some full of love and bringing joy. It’s not all the same size and shape, the colors may  not match, and some might even have jagged or frayed edges, they may be ugly at times, but it’s okay.

Its not making these pieces fit together that matters, I suppose, but making space for all of these to live togetherand grow, knowing that no matter how large or how small each piece may be, they’re there for a purpose.

And so as I sit in my new favorite pose thus far, with Piper in front of me, Bubba by my side, in the quiet serenity of my lolo’s final resting place (yes, we came to visit today :)) I smile to myself and whisper a little prayer for comfort and serenity, knowing while the next few days are sure to tap into a reservoir of feelings I would rather not go to (as I said in my last post, there are just days I wish I could wipe out of the calendar) I can be at peace knowing that it is as it should be and that much as these days will always have a bit of darkness to it for me, I can be with it.

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.
Amen.

–Reinhold Niebuhr

Creating Spaces in Mind, Body and Soul

“Just as light brightens darkness, discovering inner fulfillment can eliminate any disorder or discomfort. This is truly the key to creating balance and harmony in everything you do.” - Deepak Chopra

I have fallen in love. Yes, I have fallen truly, madly, so deeply in ♥ with Yin Yoga.

I never would have imagined feeling this way, after all, I have loved other exercises and whatnot in the past, such as hula hooping, but this one feels so different. I think it’s more than the movement and process I have fallen for, but the meanings and metaphors that it conjures up for me. Although yes, the breathing, the emptying of thoughts and just being with the moment are equally wonderful, it is perhaps the timing of all this falling into place that means so much to me.

Let me backtrack a little bit before I continue. I have wanted to try out yoga for the longest time, perhaps since way back in 2007 during that dark night of my soul. However, when things started to clear and I felt no more need to be in the quiet to converse with my soul, and because I thought I had found the answers and defined happiness for me, I let it go. After all, I always said, I barely have enough time to juggle my many jobs, right? Why add on something else that will consume my time “unnecessarily”. Also, while people may still laugh at me when I say this, I still struggle with having to extend myself socially, so calling and inquiring about classes, going to these studios or shalas, was gonna be a stretch right? So….there. I didn’t. Read the rest of this entry »

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