Monday, April 25, 2011

At ease with the present state of being

I am very content with my life right now.

I was going through my old journals/diaries and the basic theme that kept occurring over and over again are negativity and complaints. My life isn't actually dramatically better now than before. It was just that I focused my energy on dwelling on the negative aspects of people, events and state of things. My intention was to pick out the bad bits and make improvement or eliminate them completely from my life, as if it's possible to eliminate all annoyance in life.

Yoga's very simple teaching of "impermanence" - good and bad things enter and leave us throughout our lifetime, whether we like it or not - saved me from my habit of focusing on the negative and being stubbornly unhappy for a prolonged period of time with anything that annoys me. It's incredible that such a simple realization of what should be an obvious fact has changed my fundamental way of viewing life. It has made me a lot less anxious, uneasy, and angry in general. I still get mad when people take advantage of me or misunderstand me, but I get over them a lot faster now - by faster I mean within several days rather than weeks/months, This alone has significantly improved my quality of being.

Initially, I mistakenly thought that by immersing myself into yoga teachings, buddhism and meditation, I would be able to get myself together and immediately become an organized, efficient being, able to focus on my work, stop forgetting where I put my keys, be able to inspire others like my yoga teachers have inspired me, hugely improve my relationships with my friends and family, eat healthy and lose all the unwanted weights, basically change myself in the direction towards becoming a perfect human being.

I look around my room right now and it's still a mess. I am still a hopeless procrastinator (was hoping to get some schoolwork done this Easter long weekend and I've accomplished zilch so far). On the surface I still look like I don't have all my marbles together and am struggling to figure out what to do with life.

The big difference is that I am no longer constantly feeling anxious about my current state of being. When I stop obsessing about my own insecurity, I start to recognize restlessness and anxiety on other people's faces. It's like I've had spider webs pulled over my eyes my entire life and only now have they been cleared. Almost everyone around me experience anxiety and uneasiness at least several times a day!  How could I not have seen that before! That's why people crave caffeine, alcohol, cigarettes, junk food, pathologically check email on their iPhones every 5 minutes, stick earphones in their ears whenever they are not talking to someone or watching a screen of some sort, make nervous jokes if there's a silence for more than a few seconds, do crosswords/read on Kindle if they have more than 2 minutes of free time. I'm not saying these activities are good or bad; It's just that for the first time in my life, I am starting to notice the flash of unease on people's faces right before they proceed to do any of the above mentioned things. I used to think that people just get bored easily and need constant external stimulations. Now I see that people are uncomfortable with just "being", so we try to drown out that uneasiness with chemical substances and external stimulations. The thing is most of us don't realize why we do what we do.

No wonder we need yoga and meditation so badly as a society. People are initially attracted to the asanas/work out/physical stretching aspect of yoga, but our neurosis/anxiety are alleviated as a result. I thought meditation was meant to increase concentration and thus be more efficient at work/school, but I now realize it is helping me to be  more at ease with my current state of being, whether I'm zoning out, late for an appointment, being ripped off by my phone company, noticing a guy masturbating in public while staring at me (that happened yesterday, gross!), having shooting pain right after I bang my knee on a coffee table corner, etc etc.

The realization of impermanence, the body tension release from asanas, the nerve calming effects of deep breathing, and the inspiring demonstration of patience and care from yoga teachers have helped me become more peaceful. I wonder what will help other people ease their anxiety. It doesn't seem like the same formula alleviates everyone from their anxious minds. Yes, I'm saying I notice anxiety in many fellow yogis. There are some who seem to have taken on an addictive approach to yoga practice, acting all frazzled if they miss a class, or even taking 3-4 classes a day -- I'm not sure if they're trying to get sufficient work out (in which case they should probably go pick up a more cardio-intensive sport) or if they're trying to triple/quadruple their blissfulness. In any case, I should 1) continue working on my own internal calmness and 2) learn to be more at ease with other people's uneasiness.


  1. I think that's called lucid thinking. Nice.

  2. you're spinning good yarn. i don't know where to comment. but Jesus is coming, so pick up the mess. just do ;)

  3. i just noticed that i'm a pathological (smart)phone user. actually, more like snapping pictures of everything and it goes into my Instagram. But in other things, I've noticed I've become calmer, especially on the road.

    Once I notice I'm tense, I breathe. that always helps :p

  4. @Serene: thanks. I believe some people call it "space between thoughts".

    @Arturo: haha, yah I'm definitely trying to pick up the mess in my life :)

    @Yoginicory: I personally think phone checking is only pathological if you feel you have to do it in the middle of interacting with live human beings in person (even if you're not expecting a particular email/text message). As long as you notice what you do as habits and can take a breath, you're way ahead of most people. I guess that's our mission as yogis - to tell others to remember to breath.