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Posts Tagged ‘self-awareness’

Silent, Still and Steady

In the attitude of silence the soul finds the path in a clearer light, and what is elusive and deceptive resolves itself into crystal clearness. ~Mahatma Gandhi

I was once asked to describe a place where I felt most safe and happy and whole. The image that came to mind, and still very often does, is sitting by a beach, with the quiet movement of waves coming in and out to meet the shore and the warm golden sunshine warming me inside out. For a long time, whenever things would get too rocky or difficult, a quick trip to the beach puts everything back into place and when I return to my regular life after a quick side trip to the beach, I’d be okay. Even when I’m in my shavasana after a yoga practice, it is the sound of the waves that comes to calm me and lull me to a restful state where I find release and freedom from all that ails me. It is sitting by the ocean where things suddenly become so clear to  me, where everything just falls into place and makes sense. Yes, that’s how connected I was to the beach, and how much it has been a place of solace and comfort for me. It is where I can take a step back from the things that are happening, drop my guard, stop thinking and just be me.

A few days ago I told a friend of mine that I was surprised that I managed an entire summer (now that I think of it, six whole months!) without going to the beach (well, save for that one day I went to Subic and stayed by the waterfront, but that wasn’t a REAL beach, right? teeheeheee). She said something like perhaps I have really learned to breathe through whatever challenges I face (and believe me, these past six months have been SOOOO very challenging, at times so difficult I’d feel like I’d be at my wits end) and that I no longer need to run away or escape to the beach to feel safe.

Perhaps she was a bit right….that maybe I have learned really how to be still and steady in the midst of a storm, no longer needing to run to a safe haven because I have found some strength in me somewhere. And that perhaps, I have that in me to begin with. As my yoga teachers always put it, it’s finding that “back body” to fall into and retreat to to find more space to just breathe (while yes, they may mean that in a more physical realm but as I have learned to appreciate in this whole yoga practice, it’s more than just the physical).

Today it dawned on me even further that I really have slowly began to really understand and appreciate the value of silence. In the quiet solitude filled with nothing but the sound of my own breathing, I have found comfort and stillness. No, I haven’t decided to live a life of seclusion or have I opted to withdraw to a quiet little bubble where only I exist. All I mean is that now I have learned to speak when necessary and shut up when it’s more appropriate to do so. I will admit that I’m still working on the whole “just trusting in things even when they’re not said or seen or felt” as I still find myself questioning my place and purpose from time to time, but in a small way, I can feel more sure about where I stand more often than not. I do still crave affirmation and reassurance, mind you, but I’m beginning to know how to settle myself and just remember that sometimes the best things are said with no words at all.

I guess in essence I can say I have begun to grow up :)

And so while I still love the beach, and that will always be my shelter and home, I have learned what it means to be silent, still and steady, even right smack in the eye of a storm. I can take a step back, so it seems, even without moving and it’s so safe in there, but by stepping back, it doesn’t mean I run away.

Most importantly, in this silence, I have found clarity.

 

 

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  everlon 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

 

 

On My Mat…

when i’m on my mat, the whole world fades away
all the fears and doubts, and my insecurities and hurts disappear
all that’s left is just me, my breath and the Divine,
shining a light in me, reminding me of endless possibilities
and strength beyond my imagination

in it i learned grace and gratitude
and what it means to really be at peace
with it i learned to give and to take
because of it i learned to trust and love even more
while releasing myself of fear and attachment

when i’m on my mat, i find my way to being me
and the freedom to just be
with not a care except to breathe and be in the present moment
when i pick myself of my mat, i take with me a bit of that
piece by piece each and every time

one day i hope, nay, i pray,
the world around will be my mat
a place in which i own my space
where my heart will know just that
and my soul will feel exactly that.

Letting Go, Trusting the Freefall, and Believing I’ll Be Okay

When I started doing yoga, I came across two poses that I disliked oh so very, very much: the saddle and the snail.

 

I hated those poses, not simply because of the challenge they brought and not just because of the weight thing (although, yeah, having all that extra flesh that kinda gets squashed along the way sorta makes it a little bit harder for me haha. At that point it may have helped to go get liposuction or to try out a diet supplement like OxyElite Pro haha. Joke!), but more of the mind games it would play on me as it required one thing that was quite difficult for me to do: to trust a freefall.

For the most part, I have never been the type to readily be comfortable in the unfamiliar, to let go of control and to just trust that things will be okay. That mindset dominated the way I moved, breathed and even did things. To some degree, this also dictated the way I would allow people in and out of my life. Much as many do not believe it, I am a painfully shy person who is sooooo insecure about many things, especially about whether or not I am liked or accepted by people around. Chalk it up to always having been overweight all throughout my life, or perhaps also because I had to grow up so quickly in life, or the simple fact that the dynamics of most my relationships have often been that way. Whatever it is, I always, always operated in that way. And so because I get sooo caught up with those thoughts and ideas, I cannot allow myself to just open myself up and allow people to see me for who I am. The fear of whether or not I will be “caught” (which I realize is what I perhaps mean when I say that there are just a few people who ‘get me’ or understand me for my quirks and all) does not allow me to just welcome possibilities. Also, part of the not wanting to welcome new things, I guess, has always been the fear of losing them in the end anyways, so what was the point, right?

However as my yoga practice has progressed, I have seen myself slowly learning to trust in the unknown, embracing change even though they bring anxiety, letting go of all attachments while still giving a hundred percent, completely, freely and with passion but believing that even if all these happen, I will be okay.

To live in this world, you must be able to do three things: to love what is mortal; to hold it against your bones knowing your own life depends on it; and, when the time comes to let it go, to let it go. Mary Oliver

Suffice it to say, this does not only go with the yoga side of me, but in life off the mat as well. As things that have been familiar to me and comforting to me slowly change, from the job that I just left behind, to the movement of people and things around me, and even my decision to finally face up to the one thing I have hidden from the most professionally (aka my danged masteral thesis haha), I am learning to just open up my hands, bend over backwards and just let go, trusting that as I fall, I will be okay. Yes, there’s still a little fear there, but this time, the fear is just a reminder that I am, after all, just human.

 

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.

That’s Just the Way it Is

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. -- Marianne Williamson

It’s funny how in just in a span of like, what, four days, I heard “that’s just the way it is” said to me so many times and by different people. I guess it’s the Universe’s way of telling me to listen and just let it be, right?

Today as I sat in the hammock in the garden, soaking up the sun and pretending I was in the beach instead of where I am right now, it became more clear to me that the sooner I let myself be okay with things being just the way it is, the less hurt, pained, stressed or upset I’d be.

Okay, that may seem like such a random thought but earlier in the day my yoga teacher told me my down dogs had gotten so much better and she told me that what made the difference, she thinks, is the fact that I stopped pressuring myself to force my heels to touch the ground (errr…that’s what it’s supposed to look like e!) and just allowed myself to go with the feel of it, allowing the lines of energy to direct me and focusing on how it felt rather than looked. She went on to remind me to shift the weight on my feet in order to accommodate the way my body is built (ergo adjusting my feet inward a bit to square my knees and lifting my toes a wee bit to create arches in my superdidooper flat feet), and when I did, I had to just let out happy sigh and say, it doesn’t hurt :) Well, not that the other way I was doing it “hurt” but with the adjustments to accommodate MY NEEDS, it was definitely more comfortable. That’s the way it is, Ria, she told me. Read the rest of this entry »

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 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 :)

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