Thursday, October 17, 2013

Revisiting spirituality

Based on my blog posts, I've been progressively becoming less and less spiritual the past year, to the point that I declared life is meaningless in my most recent post.

I came to this conclusion because I realized that whether it's social science, hard core biological or physical science, spirituality studies, religious studies, health-freaks obsessed about either raw vegan diet or paleolithic diets, political fanatics, whatever you are passionate about, if you keep looking for evidence to support your beliefs, you will find them everywhere. The moderates will be able to find evidence that support either sides of a controversial; the extremists will completely ignore the evidences that contradicts their beliefs and blow up the ones that do support their claims, "See? Just as I told you, this research entirely supports my point of view, and therefore I'm right; you're wrong!"

More rigorous scientists will try harder to avoid these biases, but researchers are humans too. It is still human nature to be a bit blind to counter-evidence and over-emphasize the evidence that supports one's theories. In addition, we are pattern hunting machines. We will see patterns even when there are only random stuff going on.

It was a blessing to go back to Michael Stone's teachings to learn more about psychology and how it related with spirituality. Stone talks about four different kinds of personalities: schizoid, borderline, narcissistic, and depressed, in a way that made me understand these four types of personalities much better. We all possess some fraction of these four qualities. It's just that someone who is more heavy-leaning on one of these traits would display certain obvious behaviors during meditation and silent retreats.

When I started yoga I was depressed. I ruminated on and on about how I was wasting my life away doing my graduate degree which wasn't going anywhere, but I also couldn't quit because I had no idea what else to do with my life. Yoga provided me with a distraction. It made me more aware of how I felt in the body when I was anxious and how a yoga practice would calm that frazzled nervous system. My teachers were charismatic, charming, compassionate, beautiful people. My classmates were like me, open-minded, curious, and slightly lost in life, all thirstily drinking up all the teachings. Tension in my body were released and I was hanging out with like-minded people who are mentally in the similar space. My yoga studio was my paradise, my safe haven. I embraced yoga and its community like my own family.

Here in Europe, my job contains more "stuff" for me to work on. It's more challenging, fulfilling, meaningful, and my bosses act like supportive cheerleaders, rather than my enemy who acted like she regretted hiring me, but couldn't fire me because it would look bad for her among her peers, and it's impossible to find anyone who would do the same job for less salary than PhD students. So career satisfaction went up, but community support went way, way down. I live in an apathetic society now. Also, I've been acting like a vessel, absorbing whatever negative emotions people around me expressed. They complain not about me, but about aspects of their lives in which they deeply dislike. For whatever reason, I empathize too much and feel just as stressed and neurotic as they are, and I don't know how to block off their negative energies.  I tried to offer suggestions to alleviate their stress or hint at them to take up yoga, but yoga is not a big enough fad here so they have not taken up my suggestions. I wasn't very aware until now that allowing friends to vent their negative feelings to me for prolonged periods of time can be as energetically draining as having them complaining about me.

I guess subconsciously I have been trying to fend off all the negativity by setting up a psychological wall, ie. becoming more apathetic (socially withdrawn, wanting to disconnect from people). I don't really like it, and wish I could be more attuned to the positivity in people. I will keep looking for them I guess. Maybe I'll have to eventually move back to Canada.

According to Michael Stone, meditation will help with grounding, so I feel more connected with my inner self and the stronger buddha so I can deal with life's challenges. I will try because I don't know what alternative options I have.


  1. You have just described my past month!

    1. Hi Suzanne, this post was super incoherent but I'm glad parts of it resonated with you :P