The Path To Bodhichitta

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

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Location: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Get Over It Already!

So it's been a fortnight. And the symptoms have finally packed their bags. No more headachs, no more exhaustion, no more crankiness. Just occasional cravings that are surprisingly easily stared down.

"I'm really impressed!" The Seer remarked. "Didn't you think you could do this."

"Well, if you were in as much pain as I'm in, you'd subsist on plain water and baked beans if you had to."

"Point taken."

My back still hurts though perhaps not as intensely as before. But it's still too early to tell. I'm staying off coffee for another month or two, so we'll see what happens then. My fingers are so tightly crossed that even an ant would have to suck in its tummy to squeeze through.

The silver lining is that I feel cleaner. Almost the same way I did in when I was vegetarian two years ago. It's good to know that my mind is stronger than my addictions. It's been a good change.

Though I really wanted a cuppa with my cake this morning.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Brahmacharya - Day 3

Lord grant me serenity whilst in the company of coffee drinkers,
The courage to walk past Starbucks,
And the wisdom to choose a damn good cup of coffee when I'm finally allowed to have one!

Brahmacharya - Day 2

The headaches are not letting up. And now a strange cloak of fatigue has blanketed me as well. I arrived home today utterly exhausted and almost dozed off in my plate of pasta. So I googled 'caffeine withdrawal symptoms'.

CBSNews announced that Researchers are saying that caffeine withdrawal should now be classified as a psychiatric disorder. Great. One more bill to pay.

According to Roland Griffiths, professor of psychiatry and neuroscience, there are five clusters of symptoms:
1. Headache (the most common symptom)
2. Fatigue or drowsiness
3. 'Unhappy' mood, depression, or irritability
4. Difficulty concentrating
5. Flu-like symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, muscle pain, and stiffness

I only have Number 1 and 2 for now. But it's nice to know that I have three more symptoms to look forward to. Well, actually I already feel the onslaught of Number 3.
The Seer came home last night and said, "If you're going to be snappy, I'm going out." Oops.

But I'm being a little dramatic here. The sunshiney bit is that this uninvited detox is doing my body some good. I'll find out exactly what as soon as this headache goes away. And it has slapped me awake into confronting the fact that I am dependent on coffee.

A friend just texted 'Flying back from Dubai on Friday. Drinks on Saturday? I have a helluva' story to tell you!'

Wait till he hears my bad news.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Brahmacharya - Day I

Brahmacharya : Control of the senses, abstinence

"Practice of Brahmacharya gives good health, inner strength, peace of mind and long life. It invigorates the mind and nerves. It helps to conserve physical and mental energy. It augments memory, will force and brain power. It bestows tremendous strength, vigour and vitality. Strength and fortitude are obtained... He who is established in Brahmacharya will have lustrous eyes, a sweet voice and a beautiful complexion." - Swami Sivananda

Believe me when I say that I do not have lustrous eyes, a sweet voice and a beautiful complexion. The absence of caffeine in my bloodstream has invoked half-shut eyes, a gruff voice and a dark expression. And this is only the first day.

I recently read in Uncyclopedia (a parody of Wikipedia) that Malaysians are known for their state of denial. Like a true blue Malaysian, I would scoff, "I'm not addicted to caffeine. Don't be ridiculous!"

Exactly 24 hours after the Caffeine Ban was imposed, the withdrawal symptoms hit. And they hit hard. Invisible needles charged at me and began drilling away at my forehead and temples. The headache continued way into the night, no thanks to a friend who had to have a cuppa' before making a long trip home.

But perhaps it's all in my mind. After all, it's only Day 1.

The Seer suggested that I focus on happy things. Like what? The Promise Land of lustrous eyes, sweet voices and beautiful complexions?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

All The Way Back - The Sequel

Dear Other Backs,

If someone told you that the mutiny you so carefully planned had, in fact, nothing to do with you, how would you feel? Robbed, betrayed, livid? Good. Then we're on the same page here.

It all started...or should I say, ended...with the Osteopath. We unloaded so much of our woes on her that she wound up very concerned about our condition. After two sessions, she recommended that The Resident come in for a consultation and treatment with her colleague, a French dude.

Frenchy asked The Resident the usual questions, then prodded us very gently and remarked, "Wow, zat is really hard." Well spotted, my boy.

Then he asked, "Has anyone worked on your diaphragm before?"

If we had eyes, we would have rolled them. Diaphragm? This was a quack for sure. Diaghragm had nothing to do with it. It was all our ingenuity. We waited for him to shame-facedly admit his mistake but instead he said, "Your stomach and kidneys are very traumatised."

Now his involving Kidney as well? Unbelievable.

Then he gently dug his fingers into The Residents stomach and the pain that shot up made her cry out in surprise. A little more pressing and Stomach began pouring its guts out to him. She told him how she had been suffering for so many years (coincidentally it was the same number of years that we were assaulting The Resident) in trying to balance out the pH level within her. She begged Frenchy to tell The Resident to abstain from coffee, alcohol, milk, iced lemon tea and spicy food.

You should have seen The Resident's face when Frenchy told her, "From now on coffee is forbidden ya". She actually sat upright, eyeballed him and said, "You're kidding right?"

So here's the story. The acidic content of coffee, alcohol and milk were wreaking havoc with stomach's pH levels. The resulted in Stomach trying to squeeze itself into a little ball and thus, pulling on Latissimus and gang to curve The Resident's body into a C, in order to protect itself.

We were chaffed! After all those slaps on the back, it turned out that we had nothing to do with The Resident's awakening. Well, we consoled ourselves, at least she's not angry at us anymore.

Frenchy worked on Stomach for a good hour, massaging and pressing down on the muscles. The stimulation even woke Duodenum up. By the time he was done, Diaphragm felt more at ease and Stomach felt like she had just been rolled over by a bulldozer. Latissimus and gang emitted sighs of relief too.

The next morning, The Resident rolled out of bed almost pain-free. Remarkable, but we'll all been through this false alarm before, so let's see.

So my friends, if The Resident is lucky, this could very well be the last post on this matter. I must warn you however, that the next few posts could be very antagonistic. Caffeine withdrawl symptoms.

I bid you adieu now and hopefully, forever!

The Resident's Back

Friday, January 04, 2008

One & Only

The Elder and I had lunch the other day. We oohed and aahed over the Champagne Lunch on the menu, but despite the identical twinkles in our eyes, neither of us dared to return to work in a bubbly mood. Being completely sober didn't stop our conversation from sliding from one topic to another until we couldn't tell where one ended and the other began. Eventually, the subject of having a guru arose.

"Why do you have an attachment to teachers?" she asked.

"I don't know," I mused. "I suppose I've always liked knowing I have a teacher to guide me, to keep me on the right path."

"Why can't you be your own guru?"

"What if I'm wrong?"

"You still don't trust your inner guru 100%. What are you afraid of?"

"Making mistakes."

"So what if you do?"

"I'll feel stupid."

"Who would know?!"

"I would," I sighed. "And I will beat myself up for it and start wondering if I will wind up at the wrong Truth."

"The wrong Truth? My dear, there is only one Truth. So how can you end up at the wrong one? The paths you choose may sometimes be wrong, but the Truth never will."

Duh! See, this is why I like having teachers!

*My definition of a guru is anyone who assists in your spiritual growth and not necessarily a yoga master, a religious leader or those with a formal education in theology/philosophy/and what-have-you.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Hail 2008!

Hard to believe a whole year has slipped by, eh? If your previous year was anything like mine, congratulations! You survived. And now things can only get better. Before you sigh 'Thank God' and accelerate forward, pause a while. 2007 wasn't the enemy. It was the chisel that has shaped you - very painfully, I admit! - into the person you are as you stand at the threshold of a brand new year. And don't worry if you don't feel any stronger, smarter, more will understand why you went through what you went through in time to come.

For those of you who had a wonderful 2007, I'm so happy for you! Remember that joy and try to recreate it in every moment of your life. Never give yourself a chance to forget what it feels like to be completely happy.

To all of you, thank you so much for reading this blog. At times I wonder if I'm muttering to myself but then some anonymous soul will post a comment and I will think, 'Wow. Someone else is actually reading my mental chatter!'. And that makes me more aware of the way I portray yoga. It makes me more conscious of portraying it in the best possible way and not just in my way. That can get scary sometimes.

Which is why I'm dedicating 2008 to a deeper understanding of yoga and its place in my life. This blog will remain a very personal journey, one that I hope you will continue to join me on, so I can also learn from you. Because this year, I will have many questions and I will be looking to you for answers!

Thank you again. Your friendship and support have been so important, and I wish for you a year filled with love and light.

Happy New Year!