Pausing Between Breaths Calm the Mind

Our breathing consists of four parts – inhale, pause, exhale, pause. There is a space between the inhale and exhale and being fully aware of that space is a convenient way of experiencing the spaces in between our thoughts.

The average person thinks about 50,000 to 70,000 thoughts per day – that’s up to 48.6 thoughts per minute!

The fewer thoughts we have, the more space there is between those thoughts and the more we can experience each moment “as is”, without distractions. The best way to slowly but surely experience those spaces, is to simply sit and watch the spaces between the breathing.

No judgement, no expectations, no need to even try to lengthen the breath or even sit up tall, only to simply take a moment to watch that space.

How to Consistently Stay Inspired

1. Read books

Select books that feed your soul at your current stage in life.

2. Pursue non-work related hobbies or challenges

Learn a new language, pick up a dance class, teach yourself how to knit, rock climb, go wakeboarding, challenge yourself to exercise everyday.

There’s so much that you will open your eyes to during the process.

3. Surround yourself with people who inspire you

Give and receive.

THE DEADLINESS OF FALLING IN LOVE WITH POTENTIAL

“The Universe provides for me,” he said with a grin. My heart blossomed like a flower because… because, what the hell! How rare is it to meet someone who, too, believes in the power of the Universe?!

That day I flipped the pages into life lesson chapter eleven – The Deadliness of Falling in Love with Potential.

It lurked behind me as his left hand held my right that night.  It was the first night we slept in the same bed, first time drinking ourselves silly enough to melt away the awkwardness in the room. With him, there were so many firsts, and every one was beautiful… At first.

On hindsight, I could have left it as it was – a vacation fling. But it was so beautiful, I could use such romance every single day. Eight days later, we proceeded to fall in love. After ten, we parted ways, stayed in touch, met, parted again, had painful fights, fell in love again, finally now we’re no longer friends, no longer lovers, not even strangers.

It was so short and so intense.

What once felt so romantic and beautiful became something I have to forget about, a pain I am learning to wash away and a blog post telling you what went wrong inside of me.

I spent days grieving and reflecting on what went wrong. One big concept that surfaced is the idea of my falling in love with the potential of this relationship. If we were to strip away that head swooning feeling of falling in love, I knew nothing more than the superficial things about him.

I fell in love with the novelty of a long distance relationship, the idea of flying miles and miles just to see someone and indulge in intense love making sessions, the idea of one of us relocating just to be together, the smartness of this broken soul and what all these brains could possibly do.

When we fall in love with what could be, we get attached to making our fantasy happen.

But what could be often involves another complex, fragile, and sometimes dysfunctional human being, who is not yours to control. We get so involved in creating our fantasy that we forget to embrace where we are right now.

If our fantasy is tossed away, could we still love the way we do? If the answer is no, it’s time to re-evaluate what really you’re really in love with.

What is scarier than falling in love with potential is the fog that blurs our vision and judgement as we fall into that rabbit hole of a beautiful new world that was created in our minds. We get so attached to that fantasy that we fail to see all the reasons why this relationship/situation is toxic.

We gloss over how this whole love story is flawed and not ours to repair.

But finally, there will be a day where our hearts break from the realisation that this is all nothing but a fantasy. Only then, the fog in our minds would clear. Next time, I hope there’s no more next time.

LESSONS FROM TEACHING YOGA

I was speaking with the love of my life who’s about 2,000 miles away from me. Let’s call him S.

“Sometimes I wish that I could live my life the way I teach my classes.”

The question went the way I crafted it to – S asked “why?”

I said,

“When I teach, I step into class, most of the time only with a general theme. For example, a peak pose, a particular muscle group, or maybe a particular movement. Sometimes, I simply set an intention for myself. For example, to slow my speech down, or to simply be aware of what the students in this class needs.

I don’t plan my classes in detail. I step into class with that intention/theme, greet my class, prepare them for what I hope is yet another right-on-point-exactly-what-I-need yoga practice. I switch on the music, and there we are, flowing through a mini metaphor of life.

Teaching yoga has taught me that setting an intention for whatever we do in life could be the one thing that makes all the difference.

Sometimes Titibhasana (a pretty advanced arm balance) lingers in my head as I step into class. But as I ask my students about any existing injuries, I find out that three of them are dealing with wrist injuries. Being in a class full of arm balances isn’t exactly the best idea if you have wrist injuries.

I could either

  1. Stick to my plan, or
  2. Throw my Titibhasana plan out and trust that I am still able to teach a right-on-point class safely”

Teaching yoga has taught me that being present is more important than having a plan. Because plans can fail, but being present is just neutral, there’s no failure or success. You are just, you know, present to respond to whatever might come up.”

At this point, I could hear the excitement in S’s voice. An excitement that I missed, an excitement that I have not heard for so long.

I’m a planner. I hate uncertainty and I always have difficulties dealing with uncertainty. Sometimes it gets into my relationships. I could hear it in S’s voice. He was thrilled. I’m not sure over what, but I think he was thrilled to hear the articulation of my desire to translate this mini metaphor of life into actual life.

But I was frustrated with myself. For being able to do it at work, but finding it so challenging to be done outside of the studio.

I continued my monologue.

“During times like this, sometimes I have to deal with a mini panic attack. I wreak my head, thinking ‘what to teach what to teach what to teach?!’ All these while very calmly instructing my class to ‘inhale deeply, exhale completely’

I allow myself to breathe with them.

As I take long deep breaths, I am present, my nerves are calmed and my brain starts to work under less emotional influence. With a few more grounding breaths, I am able to hold space for others and offer myself from a grounded and calm place, rather than a frenzied and anxious place.

People appreciate calmness because how much calmness do we actually experience during the course of our days?

When I lead my class through a series of poses, I don’t have the luxury of hours and days to contemplate the next pose. The best that I can do is to think slightly ahead and make decisions then and there. Sometimes I make bad decisions, sometimes I make a bad move and the transition gets a bit awkward. But it’s not the end of the world. It’s not the end of my career. It’s not the end of the class. It doesn’t turn the class into a bad class. It’s just a mistake I made and I can always turn things around. Sometimes I switch my creativity button up a notch and deal with it beautifully. Sometimes I apologise and then proceed to take a better step instead.

Teaching yoga has taught me that making decisions don’t have to be hard. There is no absolute right or wrong decision. When you make a decision, you and your environment can and will work around it.

Because of the nature of the yoga studio that I teach at, until the moment I step into class, I wouldn’t know the mix of students I’ll be teaching. Sometimes I face a power class full of beginners, sometimes I have advanced practitioners in beginner classes, sometimes I have a mix of beginners and advanced students in a single class.

These ‘unpredictable’ classes forces me to walk in the shoes of my students, not pre-judge them based on what I see. As I practice empathy, I am able to offer better options to cater to the needs of different students and not leave anyone feeling under or over Om-ed out.

Teaching yoga has taught me to empathize. Especially empathizing with people who struggle. It leads me to ask myself, ‘what can I do to make things better for them?’ As I ask, sometimes it’s hard to not follow up with action.

Never underestimate the power of empathy.”

I adjusted my earpiece and took a sip of tea from my oversized mug, smiled through the camera to that beautiful face smiling back at me, wondering when we would meet in person again.

I gathered my thoughts,

“When I first started teaching, I used to give certain cues and expect a certain result in the bodies that I see. Sometimes it’s frustrating because certain people simply don’t respond to certain cues. As I allow myself to approach the issue with curiosity rather than having fixed expectations, my route to the desired result becomes a lot more pleasant.

Expectations of how other people receive information from you will inevitably lead to frustration if the results don’t match your expectations.

Teaching yoga has taught me to let go of expectations, and approach situations with curiosity, and know that there is no one fixed route to where I wish to be.”

S and I continued our conversation late into the night. His voice was what I wanted to hear as I drift off into sleep. As I fell asleep that night, my heart tugged at me, telling me to do something…