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il_340x270.474198208_pqkdIt was spring of 1985 when a pretty eight years old girl came into my life. I was in 4th grade. She was in 5th. For the first time in my life, I could not keep my eyes from looking at Nicole.

She was taller than me by two inches. She had wavey black hair with fair skin. She wore these cute black frame classes and had the sweetest smile I have ever seen. Somehow her eyes just sparkle when I look at her.

I would look towards her way when she is not paying attending and then quickly turn away pretending not looking at her when she looks my way. I did that for an entire month because I was too shy to talk to her.

It is hard to muster up courage to talk to a girl like Nicole.

“What do I say to her? What happens if she doesn’t want to talk to me? She can’t possibly want to talk to me because I am chubby,” and on and on with the afflictions in my mind.

At the time, I have only immigrated to the U.S. for about a year. I just barely learned how to speak English. I live with my dad while my mom is in Taiwan and I miss her terribly.

I didn’t particularly like school because I couldn’t get along with most kids. I am always in between fights and even my 4th grade teacher thought I was stupid.

Our teacher played trivial pursuit with us when we behave in class. I wasn’t able to participate for the most part because I didn’t understand the questions that the cards were asking and if I did kind of understand the question is, I couldn’t say the answers in English.

I remember specifically one day our teacher pulled out a card that none of the other kids could answer.

“What is the name for the constellation that points to the North Star?” said my teacher.

I raised my hand and said, “Big Bear.”

I learned a little bit about astronomy when I was in Taiwan and even though I did not understand the word “constellation”, I took a wild guess.

My teacher said, ”Allan is right. It’s the Big Dipper and also know as the Big Bear.”

“You see, he is not as stupid as you guys all think he is,” she followed.

When I was in Taiwan, I was getting straight As in every subject. In America, I was getting straight Fs. The only two subjects that I was getting straight As were Arts and Math, the universal language.

I felt alone. I was always in trouble with the teacher and she hated me. Oh, did she dread my presence.

For Nicole to be in my life at that moment was a blessing. She was the only thing that I look forward going to school everyday.

In certain ways, she was my Big Bear that guide me to happiness and through the hard times.

We never say much during the school days because we were both shy and I never got her phone number after she graduated.

From time to time, I wondered how is she doing in life. When I think of her, the song “If You Leave” from OMD always pops into my head.

She was one of my favorite memories from childhood.

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Live.Love.Journey!

I sat at MEPS (Military Entrance Process Exam) feeling nervous, anxious and sick to my stomach because I was about to leave home for Basic Training in Fort Sill Oklahoma. 

It was two weeks after my High School graduation where I packed a small bag of my clothes, a journal, a Walkman and left home. I was eighteen then.

It was two and a half years before where my dad had lost our house due to foreclosure and all of our family life savings went with it. We were forced to move into a garage turned into living quarters or also known as In-law unit in San Francisco.

My room had a big heating pipe hung over the entrance where I had to duck in and out of my room without hitting my forehead against it.

Life was miserable but we were happy that we had a roof over our heads and food on the table. At least we were not on the streets homeless. My dad’s salary was enough to cover rent and food but nothing more.

Discussion about paying for college came up and since we didn’t have money, I volunteered to join the Army and off I went to Oklahoma in July.

For the first few weeks of Basic Training, I felt just like home. Literally. I called my mom up one Sunday morning and she asked me what I thought about the Army life.

I said, “Mom, the Army life is just like home. My Drill Sergeants yell at me like how you yell at me back home. Only difference is I’m getting paid to be yelled at!”

She chuckled and knew that I was doing ok.

Then one day Basic Training changed my mind.

Imagine for a moment that you are walking a 20 kilometers tactical road march (about 12.4 miles) in the 120 degrees, 200% humidity during the summer in Oklahoma wearing full combat gear.

The full combat gear consists of 5 pounds Kevlar helmet, Load Bearing Equipment (Suspenders, canteen, ammo pouch), M16 Rifle and a 60 pounds rucksack on your back.

I could feel the burning heat transfer from the asphalt into my combat boots. It was that hot.

There were roughly about 240 of us in our company and during tactical road marches, we had to be split into 120 soldiers on the right side and another 120 soldiers on the left side.

We also had to maintain a 50-meter radius from the soldier in front us so that if an enemy were to throw a grenade, not a bunch of people will die or get injured.

Because I was in 4th platoon, “Stealth Fighters” our platoon was always stuck behind 1st, 2nd, and 3rd platoon in the back of the tactical road march.

This was a huge problem for us. When the other platoons in front of us slowed down during the march, they had to run and catch up with the leading platoon.

The slowing down and speeding up process created a rubber band effect where we would walk for four minutes and run for one minute just to fill up the gap in between us.

I would get really bad blisters from the rubber band effect where it feels like pins and needles poking my toes every time I took a step. And bad news was that we were only half way done with the march and our Drill Sergeants would say, “Just suck it up and march on!”

After a while, I would get new blisters underneath the old blister and some times even blood blisters. It was really that bad.

I hated those road marches so much I swore if I ever make it back to college, I would study the heck out of college and find a desk job with air conditioning. I never want to do this ever again.

When I did eventually come back to college, I studied night and day. I had almost straight As in my upper division business classes.

I thank my Drill Sergeant Miller and Drill Sergeant Parker for teaching me hard work and discipline.

After Basic Training, I would complain how hard life is sometimes. I would stop myself and reflect back to the hot blistering summer days of Fort Sill Oklahoma. I stop complaining and I smile at what ever problems I have in that moment.

One of the hardest times of my life was also the best times of my life.

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Live.Love.Journey!

Almost exactly a year ago, I was crying my eyes out while my ex-girlfriend drove me to Los Angeles International Airport. 

As a man, I can count the number of times when I broke down and cry uncontrollably with only five fingers.

I said to myself, “Be strong Allan. Things will get better. Just get through today and tomorrow is another day.” I repeated that mantra over and over to help me get through that day.

“Where did our relationship go wrong? Have I done my best and gave her everything,” I asked myself.

My inner voice said, “You have given your all and you have done your best. You gave her everything and done you could have. That is something you should be proud of.”

I was really torn. I was really broken.

My heart was in pieces as I left LAX wearing a pair sunglass at night for the first time. I didn’t want the world to see me like this, weak and fragile.

I was free falling towards depression and I knew I needed to somehow pick myself up fast because I support my mom and dad and I still have a hectic corporate job to do.

I needed to stop the bleeding so the very next day, I went to a power yoga session. I felt physically better after class, but I know my heart was still mangled.

Many times throughout the day, I would feel all sorts of heavy emotions from getting very angry, to missing her, to wondering what went wrong. This perpetual figure eight loop keeps circling over and over in my head.

The worst part was that I still have to work 14 hour days and on weekends to catch up. Heck, I even had to work during Thanksgiving and the day before Christmas writing statement of work.

By January of this year, I was burnt out with my super stressful job. Last year, I had logged in over 75 hotel nights and over 80,000 airline miles for work. Everything about me fell apart.

I asked my Manager to take time off from work. He gracefully supported my decision.

I felt like I had to get away from everything so that I have a better perspective. I took that opportunity and traveled so that I could pick up the pieces of my heart and to get away from ever piling emails.

I booked a one-way ticket from San Francisco to Savusavu Fiji, Sydney Australia, Ubud Bali, and Heifei China. It was a one and half-month trip and I’m not sure where I wanted to go after China.

Even thought I was suffering in deep depression and burn out, I committed myself to help people that came across my path.

I met many amazing people that simply needed someone to listen to and I was there to help support them if they wished. I asked for nothing in return.

I met a dog trainer who lost her dog, her best friend.

I met a man who’s parents looked down on what he loves to do in life.

I met a mother that was extremely depressed.

I met a dad that was overwhelmed with his job and didn’t know what to do.

I met a father who beats his wife because he felt trapped and angry.

I met a yoga teacher that could use a little confidence.

I met a woman that is working on her depression after a divorce.

I met a woman that finally forgive her brother after 20+ years

And I have met many others.

The profound thing was that I saw bits and pieces of myself in everyone that I had helped out.

The best part was that I met a young man who’s passion is to spread love and joy.

I learned that his mission in life is to inspire others to spread love and joy to their family, love ones, friends and even random strangers. Together everyone can make a difference in the world, one person at a time.

I found that young man in my heart. By serving the amazing people that I have met and by giving them my unconditional love, I was able to help heal my heart in return.

This year, I found what I was made of.

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Live.Love.Journey!

 

The good thing about having an older brother who is much older than I am is that he has more life experiences than I do. The bad part is that I feel like I have another person parenting me…

Like most teenagers, I was pretty rebellious when my brother was trying to tell me what to do.

“You must learn to be more considerate with everyone’s needs. You can’t just crank up the TV while I’m sleeping. You need to pay more attention!” as my brother scolded at me.

I did not appreciate his tone of voice and I automatically went into a defending mode.

I would say, “You have your own issues too! Fix your own damn issues first before trying to fix mine.”

It was this constant back and forth bickering about really small things that turned into big problems with shouting matches – he who yelled the loudest wins.

Reflecting back, I realized that I was insecure. I would have taken his feedback as a complement if I was self loving. Yes, he yelled at me. His tone of voice could have been better. However if he didn’t care about me as a brother, he wouldn’t have said anything at all. He could have careless and told me to go take a hike.

He cared so much about me that he is trying to teach me about respecting others. More important, it was about respecting myself.

Instead, I just pointed fingers right back at him trying to point out his faults.

If I respected myself, I would have said to him, ”Thank you for your feedback. I really appreciate it. I don’t’ like your tone, but I know you care about me and that is why you said those things. You wanted me to be a better person.”

The truth is that we all have faults. That makes us human.

I have learned that it is the imperfection that makes us perfect.

It is accepting whom we are, truly accepting ourselves that make us complete.

It is what we perceive as “Self Worth.”

When we are complete, we no longer need to defend ourselves like a porcupine under attack, sting the people who love us.

When we are complete, we can offer our love and joy to others instead of hate and anger.

I want to take a moment to send gratitude and appreciation to my brother for caring about me and teaching me all these years.

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Live.Love.Journey!

“No,” I did not reach enlightenment as the title might indicate. Well, sort of. I have received some insights but it’s not exactly holy. It is more of a hole to be exact.

Recently in the last few months, I have been finally able to do better balancing handstand poses now that I feel a lot stronger. I also feel like I can push myself a little more and learn to teeter around the edge a bit.

When my yoga teacher said to get into tripod headstand, I was a bit hesitant because of the previous neck injury caused by headstand two years ago. The pose caused bad compression on my neck and it took months for my Chiropractor to realign me.

Fast-forward two years later and here I feel like I am stronger now and I want to give headstand another shot. I had setup my arms like dolphin pose and gently rested the top of my head against my mat. Once I found the sturdiness of the pose, I slowly used my core to bring up my legs. I was also very mindful of not compressing my neck again, so I concentrated on the lifting part of the neck and spine. To my surprise, I was able to get up and balance with ease, well for a few seconds anyways.

“So far, so good,” I thought to myself.

Next thing I know, I felt the weight shifting forward and started to tip over to the front of my mat. The problem is that I know exactly what I am going to collide into. It was a large stereo amplifier with a bunch of sharp knobs.

What I heard next was a loud bang against the metal box after drop kicking it with my right knee and the other students’ loud gasps. I recovered from my fall and my yoga teacher immediate comes to me and asked if I was ok.

I felt fine and didn’t feel much pain so I just laughed it off and said, “I’m ok!”

I slowed everything down to assess the fall and I looked around my right knee since I did feel a bit of pain. To my surprise, I saw a dime size hole in my right leg, about ½ inch from my right knee cap.  I also noticed blood all over my mat, and some blood droplets near the stereo as well.

“It looks pretty bad,” my yoga teacher said.

From my Army medical training days, the first thing I did was to stop the bleeding. I grabbed my hand towel and firmly pressed it against the laceration. From there, I walked to the near by medical kit, taped myself up with gauze and medical tape and went back to the class to pack my things up. Then I rode off on my motorcycle and headed from the nearest hospital.

Since I had a few hours to kill at the hospital, I decided to reflect what just happened so here I am at the ER writing this blog on my phone.

I remember one of my favorite trainers, Scott Harris from Tony Robbins, talked about his concept “Feather, Brick, Truck.”

What does feather, brick, and truck have to do with my injury?

I have been experiencing some tenderness in my wrist from doing too many arm balance poses in the last few months and the soreness from my wrists are trying to tell me something. This is known as feather. It also doesn’t help that I am typing away for months now on a non-ergonomic laptop. I have noticed the pain in my wrist but I have been kind of ignoring it. Key word is “ignoring ” it.

“If you don’t pay attention to the feathers in your life, then you’ll get hit by a brick,” Scott says.

Bam, I get a deep laceration on my right kneed or AKA brick.

Since I understand feather, brick, truck, I realized what my body is trying to tell me. If I really don’t pay attention after this incident and continue to do what I’m doing, I will eventually experience truck and that will be some kind of a major injury.

I am fortunate that I did not injure my tendon or I will really be out of commission for a while. Even though I kept a real positive attitude by smiling all the way to the ER, I need to take care of my body. Due to this knee injury, I won’t be able to do yoga or chi gong for a while.  I also limp around my house from one chair to another and I can’t go out for a walk or drive my car or my motorcycle.

It’s the little things that we take for granted that we should always appreciate.

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Live.Love.Journey.

I went to a social gathering recently of the non yogi type with my Om necklace and I had quite a few people asking me “Are you 30 years old because your necklace says 3 – 0.”

“Thank you for asking. I am not 30 years old. I bought this necklace from my recent trip to Bali in early March of this year and it is a sign of Om, the Universal sound,” as I said and smiled warmly.

Then one of the girls said, ”Om, That’s interesting. No pun intended…”

I laughed and we went on talking about life in general, and living life.

After that night, I went home and reflected my journey thus far with “Om.” My thoughts brought me back three years ago when I was going through my 200 hours of yoga teacher training and why “Om” and chanting became an intricate part of my yoga practice.

One of our mentors, who falls under the Iyengar lineage, had us not only chant “Om” but also chant a gazillion invocations and another gazillion Patanjali sutras for twenty minutes before we start our physical asana practice. In the beginning, I dreaded these chants and sometimes I even felt restless as we went through the songs.

“What’s the point of chanting?” as I asked my friend who had previously attended the yoga teacher training.

She said, “For what it’s worth, just explore the sounds and vibrations in your body when you chant.”

For the first month of chanting, I thought it was useless and that we should just skip all of the “Num, num, yum, yum” sounding vowels as none of it made sense to me. I even tried to avoid my mentor’s classes because I just did not like chanting.

For me, chanting Sanskirt was not only hard to enunciate, but I couldn’t understand any of the meanings behind what I was chanting for. There is translation right below each chant, but I was also too lazy to look into the meaning so I never really took the time to understand what I was chanting to.

Worst part was that our mentor highly suggested us chanting as a part of our finals before graduating as a yoga teacher.

“Oh did I dread chanting…” I thought to myself. I kicked and fought chanting, in silence, the whole way through my yoga teacher training.

Something happened during the third month of the teachers training. When we finish chanting The Invocation to Patanjali with “Hari Om – my salutations to Thee,” my mind felt at ease. I felt like a sense of relief, a soothing energy that flowed from the top of my head, down my heart, and permeated to my entire body.

I felt whole and centered – one heart, one soul, one mind, one body, and all together as one. There was nothing to be attached to. The list of what I wanted – new car, new gadgets, new clothes, more money, etc, all went out of the window. I felt lighter, less stressed, blissful, content, and happy just where I am. I don’t need to keep up with “The Jones” and I didn’t need to have million dollars to be happy. I was no longer suffering from perpetual wants and needs of material things.

Instead, I am thankful for what I have in life. My family is in good health. I am in good health. I also have some amazing friends, teachers, and many more amazing people who I will meet along the way.

Was there something in your life that you did not enjoy doing in the beginning but somehow you stuck with it, and now it is a part of your life? I love to hear from you about your story as well.

“Hari Om. Nameste” – my salutation to Thee. I see the divine in you, and you see the divine in me.

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Live.Love.Journey.

As a yoga teacher, I believe I learn just as much as from my students as my students learn from me. Often times these learning experiences are very settle. Before the start of each class, I would always set an intent by sending a wave of healing energy to my students. The strange part is that often times I too feel the reciprocations from my students. What I mean is that I can feel vibrations from my students but I cannot explain to you what I see, hear or feel. I just sense a field of energy, kind of like “The Force” from Star Wars. Before I confuse you here and go down this esoteric path, I would like to cite a quote from one of my yoga teachers when I asked her about this strange energy that I feel.

“How do you know that there is a Force energy within us? I mean I can feel it, but I can’t explain why I feel this Chi,” I asked.

“When you see the leaves floating gracefully in mid air, do you see the wind? And just because you don’t see the wind, does that also mean the wind does not exist?” She asked.

Her question reminded me of a time when I taught yoga in Fiji, where I could feel my students’ energy reflecting off me and bouncing back at them. I didn’t want to say anything because some times this freaks people out. However after class, one of my students approached me and asked me why she feels this crazy energy. The weird part is she has been taking yoga classes routinely back at home for three years and she had never experience this feeling before.

I thought about it for a minute and I asked her, “Have you ever had massages before? Do you remember why there are certain masseuses’ having more healing power than others? What I found out was that my favorite masseuses’ had these amazing attributes – techniques, intuition, love and compassion.”

“Some masseuses have the technique, but they just go through the motion while their minds drifts elsewhere. Other masseuses care about us and offer their healing hands to help you recover. I remember meeting this masseuse at Esalen where I felt so blessed after his massage,” as I continued.

Similar to yoga teachers, some yoga teachers sees teaching as a job to make ends meet. Some even count the number of students in their classes to reflect how popular they think they are.

After spending almost five thousand hours of Yoga / Chigong for the last eight years, I finally realized why I loved certain teachers and why I resonated with them that much. As a yoga teacher, I often take other yoga classes as well because there is a big difference between teaching, taking classes, and also having my own practices.

The difference is where my favorite teachers teach from their hearts. They genuine care about the students’ well being. It was never about themselves and how significant they felt when their classes are packed with students from wall to wall.

I am very grateful to have studied under many warm-hearted teachers and great students to guide me on this path of spirituality.

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Live.Love.Journey.

 

My mom had spoken about an four-year girl who had traveled over 3,000 miles in China to avoid political persecution during the spring of 1948.  At the time, China was still recovering from the previous 10 years Sino-Japanese war that had caused an estimated 6 million lives.

Shortly after the Japanese leaving China, a civil war broke out in which the country had suffered another 5 million lives in approximate. It was the Nationalist, KMT, against the Communist and created havoc within the nation. Many of the KMT fled to Taiwan for safety, including this little girl and her family.

When her family realized that the Communist was overtaking the country, they began to escape starting from the northern part of China, Nanjing province, to the southern part of China, Guangdong province. During the 3,000 miles of treacherous terrain, the family went from having everything – wealth, status, and three generations of family members – to having nothing. Overnight, all of the real estates they own and the acres of land across multiple provinces where all gone. The Communist had torn up all the deeds and occupied the properties with guns. Worst of all, the family of three generations were separated. Some were able to flee to Taiwan. Many stayed in China and were either tortured or starved to death.

The family had no change of clothes by midway of the trip because they had to give up everything to travel light. It was all about survival at that point. They wore the same clothes day after day. They had no change of dry clothing after the many rain. When the rain stopped, they just wore the same cold and sodden clothes until it dried on their bodies.

When they finally reached Guandong, the Communist scouts captured her family and put everyone in a concentration camp. In the camp, the Communist leaders segregated everyone into three groups, men, women, and elders with kids. The men were force into conscription. The women cooked and did laundry. The elders looked after the kids. Even at night, the families were not allowed to stay together as everyone was mandated to sleep in their own designated groups.

Fortunately this family had a very smart uncle. Under the darkness, somehow he found everyone in the camp and quietly sneaked everyone out of the compound by bribing the Communist guards with 5 ounces of gold bullions. They quickly left the camp under the moonless night and ascended a near by mountain. The dad was afraid of losing the little girl in the darkness so he tethered her with a 5-foot rope.

“What happened next is what no four years old girl should ever experience in her life time,” as my mom sighed and continued with the story.

While walking in the darkness, they smelled a horrific stench in the air. As they ascended up the mountain trail, the decaying smell, the sweet flesh scent, became stronger and stronger. In pitch black, the little girl kept tripping over what seemed to be logs everywhere on the ground. She quickly realized that it wasn’t the logs that she was tripping over. They were dead people she was stepping on. The family had walked into an open grave full of dead people that were executed by the Communist soldiers not too long ago.

She would carefully walk over the dead bodies but often times she would step on dead carcasses. The blood from the body would splash all over her hair, her face, her chest, her arms and all over her small body.

The escape seemed forever as they walked all night in the mountain to escape from hell. When the sun came up in the distant horizon, they realized that they had walked in a full circle. The family had walked back to where they had started in the first place. The Communist soldiers saw them through the binoculars and recaptured them back to the concentration camp.

The uncle did not give up. He would gather the family at night again and bribed the Communist guards with gold bullions to get out of the camp. This time however, the guards pocketed the gold, walked them out of the camp just to redirect them back into the camp. They were separated into three groups, men, women, elder with children again.

The uncle finally found a reliable source, his old army friend that was a Nationalist before switching side to become a Communist. He bribed them in gold and the family was able to finally escape. From Guandong, they traveled by boats from Hainan Island, Hong Kong, and finally settled in Taiwan.

My mom said, “They walked into the concentration camp – three times in, and three times out in search of freedom.”

That little girl vividly recalls every detail of that night. That little girl is my mother and she can recall everything even after sixty-four years later.

“Things like that you can never forget,” she said.

Before my uncle passed away fifteen years ago, he asked me to take care of my mom.

“Take care of your mom when you grow up because she has gone through a lot in her life,” my uncle told me.

I have never forgotten about that conversation and I am proudly supporting both my mom and my dad. For me, family comes first.

For this Mother’s day, share with your mom with your heart by telling her how much you appreciate what she has done for you because chances are she too had suffered much in life.

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P.S.The picture above was taken on March 2012 and was my grand father’s land before the Communist took over in 1948.

Let’s pretend for a moment that you are a millionaire. How would you feel? Would you think you might be happier if you had a million dollars? Perhaps some of us are not happy with being a millionaire by today’s monetary standards. Instead, “I want to be a Billionaire so freakin bad…” according to a song from a popular pop artist.

Last night, I felt like a millionaire. I had $1.8 million cash on hand. No joke! “No”, I was not in Vegas, and “No” I was not trafficking drugs. I pulled the money straight from an ATM machine. For a brief moment, I felt like I was on the top of the world. I felt financially secured and happy. I felt like I didn’t have to worry about money for a long time. I was in heaven. “Yes,” that was my ego mind thinking.

I also thought about how I could serve and help people with that money. I started to dream of doing endless philanthropy work, serving those that are in need and reaching out to different parts of the world one person at a time. A wealthy person once told me that, “Money is nothing more than a form of energy. You can always receive and give more energy than one will ever need.”

Some people believe that money is scarce so they hoard money. They believe that they will never have enough money so they keep trying to fill this bottomless pit with their desire and ambition for money. There is term in Chinese called, “The Hungry Ghost.” This Hungry Ghost has a stomach that is enlarged like a huge terracotta drum with a neck as thin as a needle. The ghost has a ferocious appetite, but he can barely swallow anything down his thin needle neck. He suffers much as his life never seems fulfilling and he constantly wants more and more. He is perpetually hungry.

Money is more like oxygen. There isn’t a lack of money as if there is a lack of oxygen. Air will always be there as long as take care of our mother earth. Money will be there as long as we take care of ourselves – mentally, spiritually, physically, and serving others. I choose to live in a world of abundance, not scarcity.

Yes I did have $1.8 million last night, although I’m down to $1.2 million today. How did I spend $600K in one day you ask? I went out with my friends and had a few nice meals through out the day. I had filled up the empty gas tank in my rented Honda scooter. I had bought an Om symbol t-shirt from a yoga boutique shop. I also had a 1.5 hour Esalen massage, the kind without happy endings thank you very much.

By the way, $1.8 million in Bali Rupee is roughly about $200 USD. My point is that we can all feel like millionaires by feeling contempt, and grateful even without the money. Money is important to survive. How we serve with that money I believe is even more important.

Use this energy well, my friends.

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Live.Love.Journey!

 

2011 has been a crazy year for me. I had flown over 80,000 miles and had logged in more than 75+ hotel nights for work. It was also an action packed year full of adrenaline chasing, helicopter flying, rock climbing, white water rafting, racing car driving, visiting Japan and on and on.

To some people, it seemed like I was having the time of my life and that I was “Living it up.” But for me, I was trying to re-spark my passion in life because I knew I was heading towards depression, a dark and lonely place. At the end of the year, I ran empty and felt very hollow inside as if I had almost lost the meaning of my life. I had forgotten all about my passion, to spread love and joy though yoga, when I started teaching yoga part-time two years ago.

Towards the end of 2011, my work at a Silicon Valley company was in limbo, and my serious relationship was broken at best. I had learned a few months ago that one of my favorite Yoga Teachers, Mark Tanaka, started teaching at Breathe. I decide to come over in search of my heart, pick up the remaining broken pieces of it, and to forgive.

I would have easily gone down the route of drinking alcohol until I pass out, and/or do drugs to escape from these excruciating pains. Unfortunately or fortunately, I never had a taste for any of those substances as I always had to face my pain head on. Basically I had to take all the emotional traumas up the chin and I have nowhere to hide or to run away from in this lifetime. During one of the darkest times of my life, I turn to yoga and meditation for prayers and answers.

About a few weeks ago, I decided to crash Marti Foster’s class at 7:00 PM on a Friday night. Typically I would attend my routine martial arts class, but that day I was physically in pain. My lower back was all knotted up and I can feel like I had a pinch nerve in my left lower spinal column. I thought yoga might be a better route of self-healing instead of going to my usual Wing Tsun class that night.

Upon unrolling my thick black mat in the back of the room, Marti greeted me with “Hello” and proceeded to tell everyone the theme to class. During that moment, I felt a strong connection with Marti and that I was in the right place and at the right time even though I don’t know her.

“This is the year of the Water Dragon, so let’s start awakening our inner Dragon by breathing deeply and exhaling fully. Breathe as if something extraordinary is going to happen this year,” as Marti instructed the class.

I could have sworn she was talking to me, but I know I was only one of the 30+ people in class.

As I exhaled louder and louder from my Ujjayi breath from the back of the room, Marti said, “Yes, now that how dragons breathe!”

As the class progressed, I felt like Marti was unfolding new chapters of my journey.

“Let your wings spread and fly, Dragons” while we were in Shalabasana (locust) as she instructed.

During this moment, I felt like I had regained focus in my life and had taken control. When I had taken control, I felt a sense of serendipity in my heart that many great events and opportunities will unfold for me this year.

“Have faith, Allan. Good things will come to you this year. Have faith!!!” My heart tells me.

Next, Marti had us move into Eka Pada Baddha Konasana (single leg cobbler) with our hands on the mat.

“Imagined you are at the edge of the cliff and about to jump off. Look at the end of the cliff and just imagine,” as Marti suggested.

During this moment, I had realized that it took me over two years to take this leap of faith and to jump off this 100 feet corporate ladder that I had been climbing so hard at. As I looked down the edge of the building, I was no longer afraid. I was even waiting for Marti to tell us to “Jump off the cliff” and I would have done it!

During this moment, someone from our class left the room and my mind wandered off unintentionally. The focus that I had been building for the last 45 minutes had suddenly dissipated.

Within a few seconds of mental drift, Marti gently guided us back to the present with ‘“Slowly bring your dragon awareness back into this room.”

“You got to be kidding me. How did she know my mind was drifting off?” I thought to myself.

I swore I’m not the only one who lost focus in the room and surly she can’t be talking to me. Nevertheless, I had a smirk in my heart that she was indeed speaking to me.

As I refocused, I felt the flow, once again in my body, my mind, and my soul. I was surfing this healing energy and loving it.

Just when I thought Marti was done talking to me telepathically, she said, “You guys are like the dragons from the movie Avatar!”

I literally almost fell off my Utkatsasan (chair) pose. No pun intended. I knew I had to talk to Marti after class because I was here that day for a reason.

Afterwards I approached Marti and told her about my journey that came into full circle that night.

I said to Marti, “I went to Fiji about two years ago for a health seminar and I taught yoga to my friends at 5:30 AM every morning. On the fourth day of my yoga practice, asked my friends at the end of the class to help me set an intent for the next chapter of my life. Meanwhile, I played the soundtrack from Avatar, Jake’s First Flight, as a metaphor for a leap of faith. Afterwards, we got into a group hug and I thanked them for their support and I parted them to attend my scheduled Colonics appointment.”

“Here comes the part that baffles me even to this date.” I paused for a second before explaining what happened next.

The Colonics Specialist guided me into room number 3 and said, “I’m going to put on a movie for you to watch. Just relax and enjoy the ride and the movie.”

Guess which movie came on?”

“Avatar was released on December 18, 2009 and it was still showing in IMAX 3D theaters. It has not come out on video yet and somehow Fiji has a copy of Avatar. Hmmm…”

“Avatar is about three hours long and guess which part the DVD played?”

“Jake takes his first flight… It was surreal.”

“First thing I did after coming back to Fiji was to get my 200 hours yoga teacher certification. I was committed to teaching yoga.”

“I had signed up at a studio in Palo Alto and I immediately started my training at the end of Feb. During the second week of yoga teacher training, I’ve noticed something different about this studio. Not all yoga studio carries water but this one did.”

“Guess which brand of water this yoga studio carried?”

“Fiji Water…”

I said to Marti, “I felt like you were talking directly to me this entire class but I wasn’t sure if you were really talking to me.” However when you said, “You guys are like the dragons from the movie Avatar.” “I knew it was a sign that I need to talk to you about something. I don’t know what yet, but I need to talk to you…”

I then proceeded with, “Marti, I don’t know if you remember me, but I had met you about a year ago at another yoga studio in San Jose. I wanted to take your class through a friend’s recommendation but it turned out that I had misread the class schedule. I didn’t realize that you were teaching a pre-natal yoga class that Thursday night. I jocularly said, “I would be happy to crash your class and pretend to be pregnant. You had laughed hysterically at my comment. I was up for that experience that night but I didn’t want to disturb the harmonious feminine energy so I left the studio.”

“About a month ago, I saw your name on the Breathe class schedule, so I thought I would try again. Turns out that you were at a retreat and Joanne took over as a sub. She did an awesome job but I have still yet to take your class.”

Marti and I parted with a big hug and Nameste that night and Allan is ready to takes his first flight.

Had I not been able to let go of the corporate world, I would not have opened up my heart and mind. That is probably why it took Marti and I to cross path a year later.

Everything happens for a reason. In the quote of Dr. Brian Weiss, “Patience and timing . . . everything comes when it must come.”

“Have faith, Allan. Good things will come to you this year. Have faith,” as my heart tells me once again as I left Breathe Studio with a giddy smile.

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Live.Love.Journey!

 

*Picture courtesy of Avatar.