food display at Brunswick Heads Health Food. The raw vegan mousse was amaaaaazing!

When I first became vegetarian cold turkey (pardon the pun), people asked me two questions: 1. How’d you do it and 2. Why??

Let me make some disclaimers first before going on with this post: I never truly went “fully” vegetarian as I still had eggs and dairy. While there are arguements about being ovo-lacto vegetarian and all, that’s what I chose to be for a long time. Secondly, after about 2 years of being vegetarian, I had some medical concerns (which, again, can be arued against) and so I decided to add in some fish and seafood to my diet.
Going back to the point of this article, when I first transitioned many asked how I did it, and how I managed to do it so suddenly.  I did not really have much of an answer then, except that it just felt right for my body. I used to actually describe myself as an Accidental Vegetarian! I had just come from a weekend at The Farm at San Benito with my friend and the raw vegan food they served was just so amazing. From there, things just fell into place. I went home and had pork barbeque served for dinner and I couldn’t eat it. The next day was the same and so I took that as my body’s wisdom informing me meat was no longer something it wanted.

Eventually some issues came up, given my PCOS and some concerns with neuropathy, and so my friend suggested I try adding more protein in my diet. And she suggested that maybe plant based protein wasn’t cutting it and that the tofu and beans I was eating were not good for my hormonal imbalance and all, and so I slowly would have seafood from time to time. I did feel better, and my symptoms such as the severe menstrual cramps that returned from being absent during my early yoga days and the tingling in my fingers and toes, dissipated. Again, my body knew what it needed.

In my recent trip to Australia, my first two weeks was mostly white rice free, gluten free and super healthy. Save for the occasional iced coffees I had, I was pretty clean. The first two days were tough, and the coffee withdrawals gave me a severe migraine but from day 4 onward, I felt amazing.

During teacher training at the Byron Yoga Centre, we were served delicious vegetarian food as well. A little carby, but the Filipino in me enjoyed having rice again. I did feel the difference of the first two weeks of my trip to those next 12 days.

Eventually I found myself beginning to have too much sugar again and now that I’m back in Manila, my food habits have declined notoriously. I have still, however, been eating breakfast!

Yesterday I went to a buffet at the Hyatt Hotel at the City of Dreams and on a whim, I decided to see what it would be like to eat some meat again. I had had a small lamb rib in Tasmania and while it was delicious, it didn’t give me the same pleasure I had when I was still eating meat. So I tried it again yesterday.

BIG MISTAKE.

It was delicious, admittedly. But about an hour later, up to know which has been over 24 hours, I feel heavy and queasy. I can still feel the slab of meat undigested in my belly (I suppose that’s metaphorically, but I won’t be surprised if its kinda true). 

The body really does know what it needs. And after yesterday, I know for sure that roast beef is not one of them. 

Since last weeks therapeutics training I have been keenly aware of the imbalances in my body, both subtle and not so subtle.  I have gotten to notice how much my left hip collapses or drops in comparison to my right, how one foot is a whole shoe size bigger than the other, and though I do not have scoliosis, it is significantly noticable how uneven my body is.  And as I always say in class, the practice gives us an opportunity to be aware of our bodies and from this awareness can come a means for changing habits if need be, so that’s what I’ve been working on.

In class today, however, I saw how quickly the body compensates to move away from discomfort and to find a place of ease. This came to me in dragon today, as I tried to lunge myself forward to the pose. Since my achilles tendon has been inflamed and acting out, any thing that flexes the foot and stretches that space is such a challenge. As I tried my best to relax into it and find a space where I can settle without pushing too much, I felt my knee and my hips resisting the pose with all its might. I was close to the mirror and I couldn’t help but smile when I saw how the knee refused to budge even if I willed it. I felt my weight continually shift to the outer heel instead of evenly pressing my feet and anchoring the inner heel as well, as that felt less uncomfortable than the latter. Indeed, the body finds ways to compensate all on its own.

Off of the mat, I am catching myself falling into old compensatory patterns (a.k.a. emotional overeating).  I’ve been so stressed out at work (not yoga work, but my “real life” work. I should really stop calling it that but for today I will) and so I’ve been eating too much and in such unhealthy ways. And yes, even soda has made it’s way to my refrigerator these past few days.  While these things offer me temporary “comfort”, I know that it is just that: temporary. Then before long I know that this will become a habit that’s hard to break.

Granted that these means of compensation serve a purpose, I know it doesn’t do me any good. After all, isn’t that what compensatory patterns do? It gives us an out when we need it, but before long, we find ourself sinking in quicksand.

I need to get out of that soonest. Wish me luck.

IMG_3693

One of my mentors always used to say I was ungrounded and that I needed to take pause and be still in order to grow my roots and find my foundation. For the most part, I often agreed with her, but at times, I couldn’t understand where that was coming from. On my end, it felt to me like I knew exactly where I wanted to be and I was really grounding myself into what it was I wanted and so it frustrated me when I couldn’t get what she meant. Eventually we had what I like to now call “speaking out” (rather than falling out or an argument, which, arguably I called it in the beginning) and then I began to understand where all that was coming from. It was because I was not coming from a heart of intention. Rather, I was allowing myself to be driven solely by ambition and the need to be something and to be affirmed, even when it didn’t speak of my intention. It was very much like my first attempt to do an adjustment in trikonasna: while I had an intention in mind, I did not know how to get there and so I tried to “fix” everything that seemed needed to be fixed, thus not allowing the student to really find the intention of the pose because I was moving her around so much.

Today on the mat, and through the xercises we did throughout the day, I came to reconnect with that idea of coming from a heart of intention. I realized that while I do come from that space, more often than not I catch myself still bailing when that happens and in place, I let myself find an easy way out or a compromise, even when it doesn’t serve a purpose nor contribute to the intention of the pose or my end goal. Instead, I just go with what feels comfortable and easy, even when it enhances a bad habit.

I think what shifted for me then was finding the courage to stand up for my intention and to not doubt myself as I do so, even if it means going against the proverbial grain. It took a long time for me to do that, and to be honest, it still often feels so foreign to me, but I know it is but growing pains that make it feel that way. What I do know now, however, is that coming from a heart and space of clear and pure intention, knowing exactly what it is I need to do even when I do not yet know how to do it, and finding the wisdom and discernment to make the appropriate choices without losing focus is bound to serve me well, once I let it. Today, it dawned on me that if I have found the courage to speak up to someone I looked up to and to be honest with her, I owe myself just as much. So today I acknowledge my habits and the shortcuts and patterns I have created to make it to where I think I want to be without working for it, and commit to holding on to my intention of living my yoga, even when it is hard, even when if it hurts to actually work on it, at least temporarily. And as my mentor had wished me for my birthday, I will have the courage to stand up to what has heart and meaning to me.

 

As is customary when I find myself with several days at home (and despite the fact that I have a million billion better things to do), I found myself unintentionally sorting through some of the clutter in my room. I say unintentionally because all I was really trying to do was find a nice spot to hang a prayer flag someone had recently given me from her trip to Nepal. I thought hanging it close to a little corner in my room would be nice, and so I took out the step stool, climbed up and tried tying it by the windowsill, which was where I noticed the clumps of dust that had gathered at the top bookshelf and so I decided to sweep through it. There I found an old journal, one that I had turned to in one of my deepest and darkest nights of the soul.  Tucked underneath it was a small notebook, one that I had filled up with unsent notes I had written to someone after the dissipation of a relationship I once valued truly.  A sharp pang of familiar pain ran through me and I found myself breathless thinking of what to do with that notebook. I flipped through it, pausing from time to time to read the words I had once written then stepped away, overwhelmed with the task on hand.

It has been many years since that notebook was born and many things had happened since then. The bridge that I thought had been burned during that time has slowly been rebuilt, perhaps not as grand as it used to be, but there nonetheless.

I continued on to clean and declutter that area and there, stuck by the side of my computer, was a magnet with a quote from one of my teachers (whose candor and wit I adore to bits) that said “get out of your story and in to your life”

And with that I knew exactly what to do with the notebook. I sat down, sent some light, love, gratitude and compassion, to myself and the one it was written for, and one by one, tore the pages to little bits and set it free.

Perhaps this is what it means to truly move forward.

So this is me. Getting out of that part of my story and in to my life.

Untitled

I have come to believe is great power in silence. In depth. In stillness. In yin.

And perhaps, unconsciously, this is why my blog has gone silent for so long. Because I needed to reclaim that power to be found when I sit and converse with my soul, free from the distractions of the world. I needed the time to consolidate and maybe even fester in this space so as to allow to flesh out what I need and burn away what I don’t.

In my absence, I found my voice not in the words that once flowed so eloquently, either in this blog, or in my other blogs where I wrote about anything and everything, but in the depths that lie within me, in the quiet cocoon of my bedroom, and the distance from the outside world that social media presented.

In the past few weeks, however, the tides began to shift, and I found myself coming out of hibernation. I began to not just find my voice, but to trust it and not be afraid of its consequences.

At times, however, that need to emerge seemed to come with a vengeance and with so much impulsivity that I wanted to jump into the unknown, throwing everything to the wind (to be fair, I have learned, too, that there are amazing things that can happen in the freefall).But I willed myself to remain still and wait, allow the feeling to settle, much like how you stay by the edge of the water at the end of a summer storm and wait for the murkiness in the water that got stirred up to settle so you can see clearly to the bottom.

Then today, serendipitously, I ran into my sage, and we got to talking and in our conversation, she said, and I paraphrase, before you make a choice, ask yourself, is this soul-enriching or soul-deadening? Look beyond the seeming benefits, the “logical reason”, and the apparent outcome of what it is you want to do, because what good would all that do if your soul (and your passion) is gone? They will all be meaningless if your soul is crushed.

So today I saw the bottom of the sea where everything is clear. It may not make sense, but I know what to do.

And tonight, like that proverbial phoenix rising from the ashes, I allow myself to rise up, reclaim my voice, and find my rebirth out of the depths of yin.