The Path To Bodhichitta

You start where you are, the practice will meet you there.

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Location: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and right doing, there is a field.
I'll meet you there.
- Rumi

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Archilles: The Reunion

It's been a long time since I met my old friend. But then again, I've never welcomed his presence so it's no small wonder that he stays away. In fact, he had been silent for so long that I wondered if the impossible had just become possible; that Archilles was truly and final gone. Melted out of my life. Exhaled out of my body. Laughed out of my soul.

Then I went to India and he reappeared.

This time, it isn't so bad. I'm stronger, wiser and braver. He's milder. Yet, his presence and his impact still disturbs me. It's as though he's taunting me. Mockingly reminding me that no matter how far I come in life, he will always have a hold over me.

Today, I feel a little out of sorts. Mainly because I've just returned from a long flight, but short trip to India. A business trip that has left me physically and , thanks to Archilles, emotionally tired.

I need some rest, some peace.

But Archilles has decided to stay for a while.

Monday, April 16, 2007

An Unexpected Honour

Each time I wonder why I continue writing this blog, the universe answers. First, an aspiring teacher wrote in asking for advice. Second, two strangers said how much they enjoy reading it. And most recently, one of my favourite bloggers awarded me a Thinking Blogger Award. Jane Sunshine, thank you for this honour. And now, I have fulfill the responsibilities of receving this award by passing on to 5 other bloggers who have stimulated my grey cells. Here they are in no particular order (and I'm in a hurry, so I've just pasted their blog addresses next to their blog names):

1. Serendipity ( - I've known this person all my life and have only begun to understand her a few months ago. Her writing is beautiful, poetic and touches depths you never knew you had in you. One word of warning; she's very funny and VERY cynical. Anti-depressants at hand would be wise. :)

2. Bibliobibuli ( - It's her passion for all things literary that keeps me hooked! And her dedication for posting daily. A very intelligent read, and a treasure trove for avid readers and writers.

3. Jane Sunshine ( - I don't know if there are any rules against returning the honour, but I can't possibly leave her out of this list. Her's is a blog I return to again and again, hoping that it will have a new post (hint, Jane!). Her writing is like the finest champagne - bubbly, delicious and pure luxury.

You will have to excuse me for now, but I have a plane to catch and a job that will lose if I don't start moving this very instant. I will continue when I return from magical INDIA!


Sunday, April 15, 2007

Picture Perfect

I have always admired the models who grace the covers and pages of Yoga Journal, but after today, that admiration has morphed into deep respect.

"Pick your favourite poses," the manager of my yoga studio urged, after convincing me to be among the models for the studio's new brochures. Sounded easy enough.

It was only when I stepped in front of the lens that the truth smacked me squarely in the face. My favourite poses are completely different from poses that I can hold for...well, what feels like forever. So out went kakasana (crow), sirsasana (headstand) and natarajasana (Lord Nataraja). And not only did I have to stay frozen in place, I was also ordered to portray a picture of serenity and bliss. I eventually settled for halasana (plough), padangusthasana (tiptoe), ardha maysendrasana (spinal twist), bhujangasana (cobra) and vibrabdharasana I (warrior I).

I learnt two things from that shoot - my ego is still very much alive and loose clothes makes me look like a sack in sirsasana. Still, the shoot brought a different intrepretation and mood to the asanas. I no longer thought solely about the alignment but also about the grace in which I held the them.

And one day, I would really like to be able to choose vrischikasana (scorpion) as part of my asana lineup for a photoshoot. It is and will always be my favourite pose.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Yoga exists in the world because everything is linked
- Desikashar

Balancing Act

Last year, after I handed in my resignation, one of those I was leaving behind took a final swing at my decision to become a fulltime yoga teacher.

"So all you're going to do is yoga?"

"And writing to pay the bills. But yes, mainly yoga."

"That's a very unbalanced life."

I smiled inwardly at the irony of that statement. This conversation was just one in many, all of which were emotionally draining. This person was one who considered yoga the work of the devil and never missed an opportunity to share that belief with me. My last few weeks in his presence was very very challenging. But it was yoga that helped prevent my sanity scale from tipping right over. It was yoga that helped keep my life in balance - precarious, though it was. And it was yoga I turned to over and over again for strength, wisdom and courage.

The last I heard, this person had lost another of his flock. Before breaking the news, the soon-to-be-ex-employee lamented how much she was dreading the emotional drama that this person was famous for unleashing.
Funny. That too me, seemed more the mark of an unbalanced life than headstands and forward bends.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Build Windmills

Yesterday, I had lunch with a teacher-in-training. She had just begun the program and was brimming with excitement. Eyes sparkling with happiness. Cheeks flushed with pleasure. When she signed up for the program, it was purely out of passion. Not to eke a living out of teaching people to snuggle their foot behind their head. Then she fell even deeper in love with yoga and believes her new path will lead her into a teacher’s role. And therein lay her anxiety.

She was changing, she said. She didn’t know how or why but she felt different. And she felt scared. What effects were the chanting and meditations having on her mind and personality? How were the asanas changing the way she saw the world? How could she control the changes, choose which ones she wanted and discard those she didn’t? What if she didn’t like her new self? Or was it just her imagination?

So here’s what I told her.

There was no way she would go through this course without changing. It’s impossible. Change is inevitable when you walk a different path and that is exactly what she is doing. And she had no reason to be afraid of these changes because as long as she’s travelling a path of light, the changes will also be of light. Good, positive changes that will bring her closer to her dharma or destiny. I suggested she relax and observe the changes, instead of analysing and judging them and herself. Remain detached. Then she can focus on what is happening right now instead of worrying what could happen a year from now.

When I was in the ashram, I panicked a certain point because I thought I was being converted into a full-fledged vegetarian. That was all the encouragement my imagination needed to begin a running commentary on how I would be a social outcast and how Christmas dinner would be so difficult and how I wouldn’t get invited to anyone’s home for a meal and so forth. When I finally forced myself to take a deep breath and step backwards, I saw my fears for what it really was. Just a fear. I was vegetarian for a few months after returning from India and I still have all my friends.

My two-cents worth probably made some sense, because by the time we wiped the last of the sandwich crumbs off our lips, she was smiling with relief.

For those of you who are about to embark on a teachers training course or who are already in the midst of it, I hope this brings comfort to you too.

When the winds of change blow, some people build walls and others build windmills.

Build a windmill, my friend.