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“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.

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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.

 

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!

 

 

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

*If you like this blog, please help support me by forward this to your friends. Feel free also to leave feedback and/or questions I’ll do my best to respond.

Live.Love.Journey!