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6S1D0196-LOne of the greatest quotes that influenced my life was from Steve Young.

He is a MVP Quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers for those that don’t know him. 

Steve says, “The principle is competing against yourself. It’s about self-improvement, about being better than you were the day before.”

When I read that quote, I took it to heart.

Being a very competitive person ever since I was a kid, I was always trying to out do another person.

I remember in 7th grade, I competed with another classmate, Erickson, on every subject, English, Math, History, Science, and even physical education. That year, I received all As from every subject and my parents were really proud of me.

When we moved into 8th grade, Erickson and I had different teachers and we only had one class together. Since I did not have a worth competitor in the other classes, my grades started to drop. I was getting Bs and Cs.

I lacked motivation and I didn’t care much about studying. By mid semester, Erickson said to me, “What the heck happened to you? Why aren’t you doing well in school?”

I learned a life lesson that year. I realized that if I continue to seek others to compete, I am just filling up my insecurity.

When I started to compete against myself, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually, everything changed. I started to gain momentum again.

When I challenged myself, I grew faster.

This is what Tony Robbins talks about – CANI – Constant And Never-ending Improvement.

When you can CANI on a consistent basis, your life would just be that much richer.

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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!

“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.

 

 

I was walking to a local 7 Eleven near my house a few weeks ago with my yellow Labrador, Tiger, to buy my winning lottery ticket. During my journey, I bumped into an interesting mid-twenty years old man. He wore a gray beanie with snowflake print, a black jacket, and a satchel from Symantec. He greeted me with a smile and said, “Hello, I like your doggie. I used to have a golden retriever.”

I smiled back and went on with my mission into 7 Eleven (I’ll talk about my mission of starting a nonprofit company at another day) and handed one dollar to the clerk for a lottery ticket. Before the clerk gave me my lottery ticket, he said to me, “I will only give you the winning lottery ticket if you smile.” I smile and kindly received the ticket and said “Thank you!”

As I walked out of the store, Mr. Beanie approached me for some help with his current monetary situation. He asked for a cup of coffee and I told him that I was happy to buy him one. “Would you like anything else, like a doughnut?”, I asked and he said, “No, I am just happy with coffee.” I can tell from his demeanor that he wanted both, but also he did not want to impose or project that he’s greedy. I knew Mr. Beanie was of a different person so I was determined to help him.

I said, “Instead of coffee and doughnuts, would you like Subway instead?” He gave me the gesture of unsureness with his should up to his ear and he mumbled “I haven’t had Subway for awhile.” I said, “C’mon, let’s get you some food” and the three of us walked into Subway. The clerk said “What would you like to order today?” as I look at Mr. Beanie to see what he would like. “Ham and cheese please,” he said.

While the clerk was making the 12 inches sandwich, I asked Mr. Beanie if he had enough money for a bus ride. He took about .85 cents in change out of his pocket and said, “Probably not.” I reached in my pocket and gave him what was left in my wallet and said “Here, please take this for your bus ride.” He hesitated for a few seconds, dropped his head and started sniffling. I had to admit, he got me teary eyed as well at that moment. Just then, he gave me one of the warmest hugs I have ever felt in my life. I could feel how much he was in pain as I said to him, “Everything will be alright. Everything will be alright.” Afterwards, he thanked me and we parted.

I cried the whole way driving to the office later that day, and I couldn’t figure why. “Was I sad for Mr. Beanie or was I touched by his genuine gratitude from his heart?” I had pondered for answers but none came to me.

The answer came to me a few weeks later during my meditation practice. I realized that he and I are not very different from one another. We both are going through a winter season of our lives as we walk in the path of darkness. When I helped Mr. Beanie that day, I had offered a flame of hope to ignite his own torch so that he knows he is not alone in this world. On the same token, I could not have done this without the help of my yoga teachers, friends and family in lighting my own internal flame.

It takes a huge amount of courage to ask for help. Showing our vulnerability does not mean we are weak. We are all human and we all need help at different times of our lives.

As I continue this journey inward of the human experience, I am seeking for answers to my own question – “What is the meaning of my life?”

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Live.Love.Journey!

 

Before coming to yoga class today, I was in a state of despair and sadness.

My career is not where it’s headed, and my relationship of one year ended before Thanksgiving.

I had multiple questions on my mind, but I wasn’t sure what that main issue was. I just couldn’t narrow it down to what really bothered me.

Upon settling down in class, by unrolling my red thick yoga mat, something jumped out in front of me.

It was a small look-alike apple seed sitting on my mat, just blatantly staring at me.

Curiously, I picked it up to have a closer look and wondered how it could have journeyed on to my mat.

Then, another thought came to mind and I asked myself, “What does this mean?”

I mean I usually find brown lint from wool blankets, or flocks of some blond girl’s hair on my yoga mat. You don’t typically find a seed on a yoga mat every day, at least not on mine anyway.

As I pondered for a deeper meaning in all of this, I came to a certain conclusion.

I remember that not long ago, one of my favorite yoga teachers said “If you are not happy with your life and are not getting the things you want out of life, pay close attention to the things you have been planting.

Be aware of the problem “seeds” and understand why you have been planting those seeds. Once you are aware, you have the option to plant better seeds in life.”

I came to the realization that the act of planting an individual seed carefully requires placing the palms face down, or metaphorically, employing the gesture that represents giving.

Planting great seeds is not a process that entails having your palms face the sky, in anticipation of receiving. “If you want love, GIVE LOVE!

If you want happiness, then help others without any expectation of return,” is what my heart told me in that moment.

The seed reminded me to have the courage to give even during times of despair and sadness. I now have the seed in a make shift petri dish and wonder what will come of it as I patiently wait and observe.

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Live.Love.Journey!

The picture above was the seed on my mat.

I was working from my home on 12/22/11 and at about 3:20 PM my door bell rung.

Every time my door bell rings, Tiger, my yellow Lab, goes bonkers.

Tiger barked and barked as I tried to calm him down.

Mean while I was thinking to my head, it’s probably a solicitor of some type. We normally get donation seekers, selling newspaper sales people of some type from time to time.

I slow opened the door and saw two little boys at my door with a silver Razor scooter laid flat on my front porch.

Two thoughts came to my mind. One thought was if they were lost because they had this confusion look and second was I thought they’re going to sell me some cookies of some sort to fund raise for their Boy Scout event…

Instead, I was greeted by, “Hi, We wanted to sing Christmas Carol to you” in a little kids voice.

I was baffled and dumbfounded.

I was thinking in my head “Okay boys, what’s the catch here?” I mean I’ll support your cause just because you guys look like angels and are very sincere and honest.

The boys counted together “One, two, three” and started singing Jingle Bells. They were adorable. When they were done with Jingle Bells, they counted once again “One, two, three” and start singing We Wish You a Merry Christmas.

When they were done, I asked them their names, age and why did they go from house to house to sing Christmas Carols. The older seven year old said, “Because it’s fun!” while the five year old nodded his head.

I said, “Would you kids like some candy?” thinking this is like “Trick or Treat” except it’s Christmas, and the boys nodded their heads.

I also ask them if I could take a picture of them because they looked like Angels and they agreed. When I gave them the mint chocolates, they were so happy that they ran off forgetting about their the scooter on my front porch. That reminded a lot of me when I was a kid always losing my jackets so I laughed and called, “You forgot your scooter!”

If little kids can brighten our day without asking for anything in return, maybe we as adults can do the same.

Let’s all spread random acts of kindness during this holiday season!

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Live.Love.Journey!

The picture above were the two Angels at my front door…

 

Many people in this world seek things that are external to us – money, power, trophy wives/husbands, social ranking, who’s got the fastest cars, who’s got the biggest diamonds, who’s got the most friends on FB. Many of us also judge one’s success purely based on those possessions and/or status. I am not here to judge their desires as I too have more possessions than I ever really need or deemed as necessity.

While we look for external items to keep our minds occupied, how many of us realize that we will never be able to hold on to any of these material possessions/status when we leave this world? Is it possible to say that we chase after these possessions/status all of our lives just to lose them all when we die? If so, then why do the most of us compromise our health, our heart, our integrity, our family/friends, and our happiness just to secure these possessions/status?

I have been looking for answers for a few years now and I know for a fact that having the possessions/status have made me temporary happy, but I was always perpetually hungry as I always wanted “one up” the last achievement. “Happiness moments” so I thought, were short-lived followed by more desires, and more hunger.

Since I started this yoga journey more than six years ago, I began to look inward and started looking for answers to my questions:

  • Who am I?
  • Why am I here?
  • Why do I see so many successful people so unhappy?
  • What do I want to do with the next chapter of my life?
  • What do I want to get out of my life?
  • What truly makes me happy?

One of my Yogini friends, a true inspiration to me, suggested that I start blogging. I thought to myself, “I’m not a writer. English is my second language. My grammar is not the best. My friends think I tell the worst jokes. I can’t possibly write and so on and so on…” I figure I’m just going to write from my heart.

Now, I’m going to let the next chapter of my life unfold and I would like to invite you to explore with me the journey inward… Nameste

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Live.Love.Journey!