Category Archives: Yoga

The Era of Corporate Spirituality: An Introduction

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Here’s an article I wrote over a year ago on mindfulness and the idea of meditation and yoga fitting into the workplace environment. It’s a little different from my other articles, because its reach was meant for a different audience. And by different I simply mean a little more formal. But If you’re working in a busy working environment or feel you don’t have a very potent work-life environment you might find this an interesting read. Enjoy!

The Era of Corporate Spirituality

Corporate Spirituality and mindfulness has recently been making bigger waves in the news. Companies like Google, General Mills, Target Group and First Direct have already embraced the idea and implemented programs in their organisations. Even Steve Jobs and Ex-Singapore Airlines Chairman J.Y.Pillay mentioned it’s influenced in their decision making skills.

But what is Corporate Spirituality or Mindfulness?

Let’s start by visualizing your workday. imagine going to work in the morning at 8 a.m. While, most employees from other companies are drinking coffee and waiting for their computers to fire up, you’re busy getting ready for your morning routine. You’ve got a meeting at 9 a.m but it doesn’t kill your buzz. You sit in comfortable clothes with your colleagues being lead into the soothing morning meditation followed by a few short minutes of asana practice just to get a light stretch in and awaken the mind. While your colleagues are switching between windows on Facebook and checking through their e-mails, you’re starting your day fresh, calm and full of vitality that puts a positive spin on your work-life and relationships.

Corporate spirituality or mindfulness is essentially using techniques of meditation, brain technology and philosophy to allow leaders and employees to create a paradigm shift in the way they think and feel.

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In an article by the Financial Times in August 25/26 2012, “The Mind Business” reported that the world’s largest organizations, are embracing this culture of spirituality as a path to happier more productive employees which have created greater loyalty and bigger profits. The program at General Mills for example has a cross between light Yoga practice, meditation and dialogue to settle the mind. This unique approach has given rise to employees who are calmer, less stressed and more productive.

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But is this critical to organizations?

In an article on Asiaone.com, March 7th 2012 “Singapore the second lowest globally for job satisfaction: Survey” cited Accenture that 76 percent of respondents were dissatisfied with their jobs.

Redeeming the harrowing results slightly was the recent Jobs Central 2012 Work Happiness Indicator Survey which showed a slight improvement in worker happiness to 59.8%. The highest in the history of the 4-year survey.

Are employees really happier? Do their contentment levels lie in the hands of a better working environment, being well-equipped technically for challenges at work, or is there something deeper at stake? Something beyond the sheath of the employee?

Interestingly, the same findings concluded that Work-life balance climbed 7 positions from the previous year to second place just below job salary.

What do these figures mean to employees and employers?

Well for one, we have to come to terms that it’s no longer enough to attract talent, it’s also equally critical to retain and look after talent as well. Work-life balance has become an immensely important subject to many people. The idea of work, not being all about work is captivating, but personally, I feel the idea doesn’t seem to touch the heart of the matter.

 The Conundrum of Work-life balance

Is there really a Work-life balance? Is there even a balance? Most of us spend, at least 8 hours of our day at work. We sleep approximately another 8 hours and we have 8 hours left of the day. Does Work-life balance mean strictly adhering to those time limits? Of course not and don’t think it never has.

Organizations make ways for their employees to better integrate their personal life with their Work- life so that they can squeeze in daily chores during work. But this is a double-edged sword isn’t it? The same methods also have lead to you having to work outside the prescribed working hours to have tasks completed.

Organizations should be complimented on their ability to put in-place schemes and structures for the better living of its employees. But we overlook that no matter how many schemes you place and conveniences you build, people always fall through the cracks. So they keep re-looking, re-surveying and implementing new solutions to meet the surface of the problem.

In the article written by Andrea Ong in The Straits Times on December 22nd 2012,  “Happiness, Singapore Style” reported that Singaporeans had become less materialistic, more family focused but none the happier. The findings were mainly based on a survey of 1500 Singaporeans by two dons of the National University of Singapore (NUS) Business School.

One of the professors, Dr Tambyah brought attention the Easterlin paradox where happiness levels stagnate and wealth continues to rise. The question is, then, what would work better? Maybe the answers to our own happiness at work as in life, lie within?

Mindfulness and Spirituality

Corporate Spirituality is essentially the nurturing of people to grow their mindfulness and to be more resilient even in the face of surmounting challenges from work. It is an understanding that employees well-being accounts for their attitude and quality relationships. The strength of an organization lies in its ability to essentially shift its employees from lower level energies to higher energies like peace, joy, compassion, engagement and connectedness in recognition that it is a family that needs to take care of its own.

The effects have been more than comforting. Mikisha Nation, an employee who helped pioneer the meditation program at Target group had this to say about the benefits of their program, “Happy, healthy, engaged team members create an environment that is a great place to work”. Could this be the answer to lagging Employee Engagement surveys that has long plagued organizations?

Among the superstars of companies, Steve Jobs once himself spoke of how meditation had moulded him and eventually influenced his contributions at Apple.

Closer to home, this Eastern philosophy has influenced other influential leaders. Mr J.Y.Pillay (Then the chairman of Singapore Airlines and Permanent Secretary of the National Development Ministry) in a Straits Times interview dated November 5th, 1994 explained how he uses the Bhagavad Gita the foremost text on Yoga philosophy as a management guide in his making tough decisions.

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One may understand the initial skepticism about applying philosophy and spirituality to corporate situations but on another level, why wouldn’t you? Man has always used storytelling to share values from generation to generation. Why would philosophy and spirituality be any different?

A New Paradigm?

Leaders have to come into alignment with the kind of attitudes they want to project to their organization.  Then the communication will be clearer, then the listening will be heightened and then the inter-personal relationships will blossom. We tend to unconsciously take guidance from those we spend much of time around like parents, friends etc. In this same way, shouldn’t we also be discerning about the kind of attitudes we absorb in our place of work where we spend much of our day?

To conclude, maybe, we have to look beyond the perceived needs of the organization to nurture its people. Corporate Spirituality then, in its dualistic way, addresses the organization and the individual.

Eventually, employees, will look at work as another place they go, to be joyful. Not necessarily because the work has changed, but because they have changed.

 

The Shape-Shifting Life Test

“What you really fear is inside yourself. You fear your own power, you fear your anger, and your drive to do great and terrible things. Now you must journey inwards.”

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I look at my life. The things I’ve done. Things I’ve failed at. Things I’ve feared. Fears I’ve kept. There is no real point, at least not a point I could use as a marker. It’s really been a span that’s constantly evolving.

And the deeper down the rabbit hole I go, the deeper it gets. I get reminded of a quote from a movie I once watched, “And men fear most what they cannot see.” And I realize, I don’t even know what I don’t even know. So I’m guarded, because it feels natural to try and feel safe.

But as I move through the darkness, I’m forced to let more of my guard down. And the more guarded I’ve been, the more violently I protest.

But you can’t face your fears truly if you’re hiding.

Experience of course differs for everybody.

And so this brings me to the idea of life themes.

What are they?

Everyone has dreams. As I said before, the achieving of the dream isn’t really the point of the dream. It’s who you have to become to get there. And the process is never a linear ascent.

Imagine on a soul level, you’ve set this test for yourself. And you throw yourself in the direction of your excitement. And in doing so, you expose yourself to your fears. The things that bog you down, that disturb you and challenge your ability to feel at peace with yourself are really and essentially your life themes. They can be anything from learning or overcoming things like, envy, jealousy, bigotry, attachment, compassion and self-worth just to name a few. (We don’t learn all lessons in one life) They’ve been there a long time and they’ve probably been hidden in your blind spot.  But it’s important to note they’re not blocking you from where you want to go, as much as they’re trying to refine you to get to where you need to be.

That’s about as simple as I can explain it. It is like a map in a game that you’ve chosen to explore and the setting for everybody is different. Whatever your background, rich or poor, educated or illiterate, oppressed or free, it is your starting point. Your back story that poses a set of conditions, beliefs, definitions and fears which you feel compelled to overcome.

We aren’t being tested as humans. We’re being tested as energy, trying to remember, it is energy.

Ask yourself the question. What bothers you the most?

And so I ask myself the question. What have I been failing at repeatedly? What’s holding me back as a person?

This brings me to my main point: Repeated failure.

Don’t get me wrong. There isn’t anything wrong with failing. In fact many of us have failed our own tests a multitude of times. Perhaps even across lives. And that’s okay. But we have to understand that each one firms our understanding and deepens our knowledge in the things we’ve chosen to explore. Isn’t it true that the people who have gone through the toughest ordeals are the most capable of connecting with and leading the rest?

There is probably an infinite number of ways such a test could happen. The thing is you’ll rarely know you’re being tested.

You meet new people, new scenarios, but suddenly it feels all too familiar.

Leave one scenario; enter another completely different one but come out of it feeling a  familiar sense of regret. And you look back and you notice its striking similarities. There was a shape-shift you missed. And  you start to think there’s a pattern.

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And you ask yourself, why do I end up meeting the same kinds of people or the same kinds of situations? And end up feeling hurt or attacked in the same way. Why does this keep happening to me?

Relationships which you’ve left without learning what you needed to learn, whether it be with family, friends, romantic come back again and again in different forms with different faces.

And it makes me think that even if I did travel across the globe, I’d probably meet the same type of people because I hadn’t learnt what I needed to yet. The theme doesn’t change, it is we who have to recognize it and change ourselves.  So yes, we are ‘doomed’ to revisit the same themes over and over again till we fully integrate their meaning within us. Okay that sounds way too negative. Think of it as being given the chance over and over again till you’re able to pass the exam.

But that’s the trick isn’t it? You can mentally prepare all you want on how to approach a given situation. But it wouldn’t be the same, it wouldn’t feel the same. You’d be outright faking it. And that isn’t clearing the level because you’ve forced an expectation on an event to turn out a particular way. And that is more than likely to leave you feeling disappointed than anything else you had hoped for.

It took me sometime to realize that I can’t judge a situation to be the same as the last, but I have made that mistake many a time. And it took me sometime to realize when I was actually doing it.

The same man that knows fire burns flesh and avoids it, needs to learn that it’ll also cook his food doesn’t he? Or should he be forced to eat his food raw all his life? At some point, he must evolve, he must transform.

But we’ve trained ourselves to be robots with specific programs running to specific scenarios. And this is damaging.

So obviously the learning can’t be scenario based. It has to be conceptual.

Through the deepening grooves of repeated failure, we understand a concept more completely. The concept is a state of being. Not a modeled behavior.

We are going to have to become it. It is a shift in perception where you look at things differently. The shift is very much feeling-based. A shifting of attitude. Moving a vibration slowly towards the positive by first seeking out the negatives.

Now I gotta clarify at this juncture. I’m not saying we have to be on guard 24/7 of what’s happening to and around us. I cannot even force myself to learn a lesson faster, because it’s all unfolding in its given time, but I can bring greater awareness and understanding to it.

And that is what existence is: Experience and learning. We all do this from one life to another, no matter who is labeled teacher or student. If you had learnt everything you needed to know, there wouldn’t be a reason for you to be here would there? Or do you still subscribe to the idea that all of creation is nothing more than a random accident?

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Performance Anxiety and 3 Fears to Intrinsic Motivation – Part 1

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 “You heard me tell you the story of the lion and gazelle. You are the gazelle. You need something to motivate you. What happens to the gazelle when the lion ain’t chasing him? He’s nothing. He stops running. Why?

Because he always needs something external to motivate him. That’s why.”

Maybe, I should have waited a year or so before I published this. Especially when the experience feels so raw and fresh that I should give things time to settle before writing something like this. But in internalising this experience for myself and journaling it, I realised that this article was already written. So I guess that meant I had to publish it.

Any task that you take in life is a journey no matter how short, or long. It has a beginning, middle and an end. A dream, a goal, for example and the realising of something you want to create in your life in such a journey.

And the true beauty of any journey to me is never the destination. If it’s your goal in life to make a million dollars then there must be a deeper more elaborate reason behind it. If someone just gave you a million dollars what would you have learnt from it? Absolutely nothing.

You see, it’s not about the dream you achieve in the end. It’s always been about what you learn about yourself on the journey towards it. The roughest seas give you the clearest reflection of who you are. It reveals your ‘why’.

And that is something I have been learning the hard way over the past few weeks. After recovering from an injury in January, I began to work again. But I found myself thoroughly unmotivated, and almost a little depressed. It was difficult to wake early in the morning like I used to or to really go head on into anything I felt was important.

I was lost.

And I couldn’t figure out why. I had blocks in everything I did. It was like I had lost my mojo. If I had a normal job, I’d just do what my boss told me. But this is exactly what I want to do. Isn’t it? Was I wrong?

What else would I be doing? I asked myself.

And the answer always was nothing but this.

Now, I should point out I don’t believe in asking myself what I should be doing 10 years from now because it will never be tomorrow or yesterday. It’s always right now. So the question for me always is, “What do I want do with my life right now and why do I want to do it?”

And if I did what I’m doing and woke up one morning and decided to stop doing it, fine. Fair enough. But it didn’t feel like that time was now.

It was obvious there was a blockage. Something I was holding on to that was not allowing me to move forward and I had to find out what that was.

One thing I’ve learnt about procrastination is that if you’re delaying something, there’s a fear, or a belief or a definition that doesn’t agree with what you’re doing. And the conflicting ideas stop you dead in your tracks.

So I researched feeling blocked/procrastination and found a couple of techniques that seemed to help.

I made time to just sit and breathe and figure things out. If I didn’t feel like doing it, I didn’t beat myself up over it. I accepted it. You can’t pour more water on a plant and hope it grows faster can you? Sometimes you just have to give it time to find itself. Like waiting for the dots to connect.

And in those subtle moments with myself I found the answers I was looking for.

There was a fear. And it had to do with 3 things.

1) Money

When I first left my corporate job, one of my motivations for working was of course passion. But it was also with a knowing that I’d make enough to live a comfortable life.

I told myself that I may have to struggle for a while but it would all be worth it. And I believed that. But what if I was wrong? What if it didn’t turn out that way?

I realised that one of the things that were bothering me was this fear that I’d simply never make a lot of money. And this completely conflicted with the image I had in my head. So my ego was simply not acting on anything I had in front of me because I wasn’t giving it ‘what it was promised’ and if that was the case it just wasn’t going to do them.

2) Facing this Journey Alone

We’ve all seen examples of people who think differently, who follow different schools of thought, who have been branded as “not-normal”, “non-conformist” against the grain, etc..  Like the school kid nobody wants to hang out with.

Yes I know I exaggerate and it’s definitely not true. But that’s a fear you see. And identifying it was big for me because I didn’t even know it was there. What’s the motivation to do anything if you’re feeling like a lone wolf doing it. And it’s a fear because honestly, no one really wants to be alone on our journey. But if you examine the belief you’ll realise that there is nothing wrong with that at all.

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No matter who you’re with, your journey is always personal and the story is always from your perspective, your interpretation of the experience. I’m not saying keep everyone at a distance. No. I’m saying we’re all characters in everyone else’s story and we have to accept that people come and go. And we have to be ok with that. We can’t count on others to carry us through.

In this marathon that we run called life, we’ve already set up our checkpoints. You can make things happen in your life but you can’t force things to happen. You have to be ok with whatever comes and essentially, just trust the experience.

3) Success

They say if you do what you love you’ll succeed in it. But that’s not guaranteed. Anywhere. There are countless musicians, artists, writers around the world who for generations have ploughed in the dirt and never risen to the success or fame they had hoped for.

But these goals which turned into fears were exactly the things that kept me driven when I left my job to pursue training. Without them, I wouldn’t have know myself as well as I did now.

And in realising these fears, in uprooting them from the soil of my mind, I realised something. I don’t  really care.

That was the point!

The idea wasn’t now to go out and get these things (though it would be absolutely lovely to have them). The idea was to be ok with NOT having them.

Fear wasn’t resolved in the gaining of these items but in the resolution that I would be completely fine without them.

In Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, he describes the 8-fold path to Yoga. Under the second limb, Niyama (Suggested Individual Disciplines) he describes Isvara Pranidhaa which roughly translates to surrender to God. But I don’t think it just means surrender to God. Because on another level, we are God and it also must mean to put your trust in yourself and what you’re doing and believe that this is the best course of action. So what if it doesn’t turn out how we expected it to. All that really matters was that we did it to the best of our ability (Once you’ve cleared the roadblocks). We fail to accept that even failure is a necessary aspect of personal evolution.

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And if you dare to fail, you’ll connect with the part of you that dares to succeed. Isn’t that motivation?

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But this brought me to another realisation on the idea of expectation. which I’ll cover in part 2

‘I Ride Therefore I Dream’ – Looking For Meaning in Dream Signals

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Dreams aren’t as random as you think they are. They are an artistic impression of something within you. An expression of your inner artist. And it’s up to you to interpret the paintings you paint with your eyes closed.

This is basically an interpretation of a dream I had back in December. Dreams have always been forms of communication from your spirit guides and higher mind guiding you to look at different aspects of yourself that need your attention. They may come in the form of objects or people that represent something important to you and they almost always have meanings laced behind them no matter how other-worldly they seem. This is because on that level they are not bound by the fields of space or time so rigidly as physical reality. They in a sense reveal your point of attraction and where you’re at on certain issues vibrationally. They may explore your need for action like saying something to someone or tying up loose ends and essentially represent a desire for completion in physical reality. 

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I don’t often have afternoon naps but when I do these days, it seems I get my life threatened.

I’ll explain. As I was taking a really comfortable nap I found myself in this dream. I was seated in this bus with 2 friends of mine. One was an old friend, a girl and another a guy, someone whom I was never even close to.

My turn came to leave the bus and I told them to take care.

I walked across the street, where I had parked my motorbike so I walked over to start it and ride home. As I was about to insert my key I realised the bike was in pieces. Well, not all of it, but it was missing its headlights and parts were all over the floor along with tools.

I bent over to pick them up as if with a sudden realization that I had taken it apart and forgotten to put them back. As I was stooped on the floor, I felt a presence next to me. I looked to my left and I could have sworn the colour left my skin.

I had a pair of stainless steel scissors pointed at my neck. I looked up at a man pointing them at me. It was a large guy with long hair tied into a bun with another pair of scissors holding it in place. (I had seen this guy in a previous dream before though in a slightly different from, a repetitive figure)

I stared at the pointed tip as he asked me, “Are you gonna move your stuff away?”

In my panic I said “Ya of course” fearing I was going to get stabbed in the neck. He then paused for a moment and looked at me as if I misunderstood what he said and tilted the sharp edge down. He then said, “I’m not trying to threaten you.”

I can’t remember if there was much that happened after that but I woke up soon after.

I woke up to a strange feeling before I realised I had the dream. Strangely, there was no confusion as to what most of the dream meant.

The dream was about asking me to be ready. To resolve the things that were holding me back.

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1) You see, I have a strange attachment to my bike. I love riding. Nothing invigorates my spirit the way two wheels do. I always tell my friends how I consider my bike a symbiotic extension of myself and so in this dream the bike was a representation of my physical self. If you look up dream meanings, motorbikes are also representations of freedom, free-spiritedness and the need for adventure.

The Parts on the Floor

2) Like I said before, 2013 has been a difficult year for many. It has been a challenge to exist as the same person without some form of re-evaluation. I am no exception. Everything I have done this year and everyone I have met have somehow revealed the gaps in me.  So I have spent much of my time reflecting on who I am as a person and it has uncovered a lot for me. I told a friend recently, as difficult as this year has been I have seemed to found a kid-like version of myself, free from worry and regret that I seemed to have lost a long time ago. This was only possible through some of the research I had done in uncovering unconscious beliefs that were holding me back (more on that in the future maybe). And these were pivotal in helping me reveal the version of myself who seems closer now to who I truly want to become.

But this process requires self-examination. It requires that you take yourself apart, it requires an examination of the uncomfortable. And it leaves you in pieces and in parts. And you almost get confused as to which point you should let go and say, “This is enough.Time to move on”.

And that I believe represented the pieces that were strewn all over the floor.

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3)This guy with the beard and the hair and the belly… I have no idea who he is, it was probably the second or third time I had seen him, but he’s aggressive. I don’t know if he’s a guide of some sort but as a friend said, I don’t think he’s going to go away till I get certain things done.

The scissors were probably a sign to be alert and I take it his aggressive nature was to shock me into action.

It worked. I woke up and immediately cleaned up my room.

The message was clear though the dream:

‘You’ve found the barriers you need to resolve, you know what’s bothering you. You’ve done as much as you can.

Now put the bike back together. Every part. Fully integrate everything. Get it ready. Switch it on.

It’s time to move. Do it now.

When it is, the road will fall into place and the rest of the things that need to be settled will be.

The curious thing is I’ve had 2 other dreams regarding my bike after this. One involving the handlebars and another involving my bike keys. But I think those were just recurring versions of the same dream.

Essentially, what I’m trying to say is dreams are great tools for revealing things that may be in your blind spot. So if you have a recurring dream or something that you keep avoiding that turns up in your dream it may be a sign for you to stop suppressing it and start dealing with it.

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What Paulo Cohelo’s ‘The Alchemist’ Taught Me

It is a rare thing for answers from the universe to be delivered to you by hand, but sometimes; it really is that simple.

Sometimes, the direction you’ve been looking for comes in the simplest of actions. No grand acts, no thunder or lightning because for all its grandeur, creation at its core, is that simple.

And I’ve discovered that one of those ways is for a book to be so simply handed from one hand to another. A simple act of sharing from sibling to sibling.

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That book was ‘The Alchemist’ and a month ago, as I was sitting on my couch working on my laptop, my sister walked up to me and said, “Hey look what I bought in my school flea market for a dollar-fifty…”

Like the books main theme about following your destiny I looked at it and thought to myself for some reason that I really needed to read it immediately. I had seen it so many places but I just never knew when the right time was to pick it up.

And like its protagonist Santiago, I too was put on a journey that felt symbolically like that of the book. A simple shepherd boy who had sought to find out the meaning of a recurring dream of treasure.

But of course, the destination was never the prize, it was who he had to transform into during the journey that was of true importance.

Therein unveiling the concept of alchemy to the boy. (An ancient mystic art of transforming metals to gold in-case you didn’t wikipedia that already).

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Like Santiago, like me, and like all the people who have chosen to follow the calling from within and for those contemplating these choices I’ve come to a realization of a few things which I narrowed into four quick points

1.  The Goal is never really the Goal

Yes. It isn’t. You aren’t doing what you’re doing because you want to be a doctor, yoga instructor, policeman or lawyer. There is something beyond that drives what you’ve chosen to follow. And a lot of times that meaning will not be unveiled to you till much later.

It’s not the journey of the body but the journey of the soul and what it needs to be put through to help in its realization of the life themes it has chosen to explore.

2.  Following your destiny, inspires others to follow theirs.

On his journey to lost treasure, Santiago meets the owner of a crystal-ware shop who has lose the lustre in his life. As he works for him, cleaning the crystals and making inspired changes, there is a change of energy sparked in the merchant. The thing about energy, is that it’s pretty damn contagious. Speak about something passionately! Because that’s who you are. You can’t force people to care about what you think is important. When you do something you love it shows. And people are drawn to, and inspired by it. I’ve now met so many people who have been so encouraging towards my journey when they ask what is I’m doing.

“They understood that when something evolves, everything around that thing evolves as well.”

And the beautiful thing about that is they’ll tell you and that in turn will inspire you to move through your journey.

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3.  There will be tests

The journey that you may choose to go on is almost never as straight forward as it appears. What could start as a small 3 month project could span years. And you’ll want to quit sometimes because of the challenges faced. You could be beaten down, you could get robbed, and you might even have to leave loved ones. But if it’s really your pot of gold (and everyone has one by the way. For those of you wondering how selfish it is to follow a pot of gold, it comes in all forms and shapes and I think lucky are those who discover it in this lifetime) a part of you compels you to carry on.

The part of you that won’t allow you to give up. It’s the very heart of who you are and it will push you through. In fact, the tests aren’t there to test your worthiness as much as they are there to refine you for what’s ahead.

4.  You look for the deeper meaning in everything

What is the deeper meaning of things? Is it the mystical language of the world? The immerse still beauty? Unconditional love? I’m not going to delve deeply and try to define the feeling. All I know is that you’ll definitely sense it as you do the things you love (Though sometimes when the road gets treacherous these feelings seem like they’ve escaped you) and you’ll feel in that alignment that a veil has parted for you where there is always an air of excitement.

I think everyone comes to the cross roads of their destiny at many a point and are forced to make a decision as the road forms a fork.

And so as the book has taught me, “We are afraid of losing what we have, whether it’s our life or our possessions and property. But this fear evaporates when we understand that our life stories and the history of the world were written by the same hand.” Ain’t that just beautiful?

And so it is written.

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Why 2013 Sucked!

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2013 has been described as the year of transformation. With many of us facing things that we rather not have faced and developing a burning need to resolve and let go. It was in a sense a year of resolve. I’ve written some of my thoughts on what I learnt from the year and how it’s changed me.

It’s tough to write a review on an entire year. But I’ll try because I think 2013 deserves it. This has been a pivotal year in my life for a variety of reasons but they all boil down to one very big theme.

The concept of worthiness.

I’ve always been trying in a sense to figure myself out. Why I do the things I do, why my life has led me down the path it has. And I know everyone asks these questions at some point. But for me, it has in a sense become a sort of an obsession.

I was watching a clip in the Matrix the other day and it brought so much light to the entire process. It’s a scene in which Neo (the protagonist) sits next to the Oracle to talk (His “spiritual guide”) about his choices. And as they speak she offers him a piece of candy.

Neo looks at it and asks, “You already know if I’m going to take it?”

Oracle: “Wouldn’t be much of an Oracle if I didn’t”

Neo: “But if you already know, how can I make a choice?”

Oracle: “Because you didn’t come here to make the choice. You’ve already made it. You’re here to try to understand why you made it. I thought you’d have figured that out by now..”

Umm….no I didn’t.

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I’m incredibly thankful for the opportunities of the past year and beyond. I’ve gotten to know people I’d never thought I would meet, I’ve gotten to find out more about myself by doing the things I love and also a lot by doing the things I hate.

And it all started with me simply making choices to follow the things that excited me. Like following the rabbit down the rabbit hole. Little did I expect to uncover things that I never knew I’d enjoy.

For example, I know I’ve found a true love in teaching. It’s a form of expression and though I may seem serious sometimes when I teach (as told by some friends) it’s only because I’m serious when I teach.

neelam

But seriously… I love talking to people about what I care about 24/7. Either people seem to be listening or all my friends are just really good actors.

And what it is that I care about is personal strength. Not just trying to develop a stronger core or better body through Yoga. I mean really finding the part of you that holds your strength.

Who are you? Are you in acceptance of what is around you? Can you accept your shortcomings and still feel worthy?

Those are questions that move me.

I wouldn’t bring it up unless I thought it was important to me. And it’s been the backdrop of my 2013.

I’ve had so many people reflect to me in various ways their insecurities. And many times they were mine too. Those were the things that were holding me back and the worst thing was I didn’t even know.

And it took a lot out of me to take a look at them and really understand how I defined these things in my life, defined how I lived and defined how I felt about them.

Because I realised I was ignoring them, and I finally had to opportunity to face the things that were bothering me.

And I grew. I felt things I hadn’t felt since I was kid. Like literally feeling like I was a kid! With fresh eyes.. with innocence..even if for a brief moment. But I was there. I had rediscovered a path I thought I had long lost.

Who doesn’t want the joy of feeling like a kid again? The freedom from responsibility, the world of possibilities at your fingertips and just simply feeling good about life.

And it’s priceless.

I hope 2013 no matter how difficult it may have been, helped you to grow to as a person. 🙂

 

Is Singapore Your Food Haven? – 6 Reasons Why You Should Eat Out Less

Is Singapore Your Food Haven? – 6 Reasons Why You Should Eat Out Less

We’re all familiar with how the world sees Singapore as a food haven. We’re a young society balancing 4 main races and that has given rise to a variety of inherited cultures and naturally an interesting variety of food.

No matter what time of the day it is, you’re bound to be able to get something to fill your stomach. I love that about Singapore. The streets are never really closed and we’ve got some really interesting foods like Chicken Rice, Mee Goreng and Laksa. They’re really easy to find and they’re almost always… cheap.

But here’s my gripe, and it’s not bound to the confines of Singapore. We’re expanding fast in all directions. As of now, there are seven billion people on earth and we’re more inter-connected than ever. You can find a McDonalds or a KFC literally anywhere on the planet and yet we’ve somehow moved so far away from proper nutrition it’s unbelievable.

We’ve made food easy, cheap and appealing to taste buds but nutritionally bankrupt to the body.

What now?

It is what is, and we have to realize there can be only so many alternatives imposed on hawkers and it’ll take time to undo the years of bad available food choices.

So really, the power is in your hands to make the right choice for yourself.

And what this means to me is simply, is that we need to start becoming more comfortable with our kitchens again.

Yes, we’re busier than before working longer hours and the idea of cooking for ourselves may seem absurd. But I’m pretty sure how you feel about yourself is way more important than what your co-workers think about you leaving earlier to cook for your family or coming in later because you were busy cooking. To help you on this journey I’ve written 5 reasons why YOU should eat out less and cook your own food.

 Very Briefly:

#1- YOU SAVE MONEY

Food prices seem to be on the up and up but the portions and the quality never seem to differ. When you cook regularly and buy items in bulk the cost per meal will generally even out. A meal at McDonald’s costs about $7.00 now.  Buying some servings of chicken, vegetables, and rice and dividing them into individual meal servings will certainly give you more bang for your buck and way better positive energy than the McD’s.

#2 – COOKING IS THERAPUTIC

food 3I’m not pulling your leg with this one. With all new skills, there is a learning curve, but with time, it’s going to get easier and more fun. And of course  you’ll also learn certain key things in cooking such as not grilling chicken over your hot stove when you’re shirtless. And when you’re in the zone and able to ‘play’ with your ingredients in the kitchen, you’ll be really proud of the meals you cook.

#3 – YOU CHOOSE THE SERVING SIZE YOU WANT

Whatever your fitness goals are, if you’re looking to put on weight or lose it you’ll be able to monitor the way you look and feel simply by adjusting how much you eat. No need to force yourself to finish what’s given to you.

#4 – YOU INFUSE YOUR FOOD WITH YOUR PRANA

Dr Masaru Emoto studied and documented the effects of thoughts on water in his book, ‘Messages from Water’ He noted how prayers and blessings on water affected the water molecules and took on different shapes! This is interesting to consider when you realize that our bodies are roughly 60% water.

Likewise there is a universal life force (energy) known as ‘Prana’ in Yoga, ‘Chi’ in Chinese culture and ‘Mana’ in Hawaiian culture. This energy that moves through you determines the quality of your life and should thus be observed carefully. There are things you do that make reduce the levels and things that you do that can increase it.

Even cooking food with love improves the Prana that is absorbed into the food.

It’s a wonder why people say that when someone cooks for you with love the food just tastes better. J How much care and concern are some of the hawkers you eat from cooking with?

#5 – IT’S SEXY TO COOK YOUR OWN FOOD

Is there really a need to explain?

Sexy Cook Teasing

#6 – IT’S BOUND TO BE HEALTHIER! (DUH!)

Like I mentioned earlier, the more you’re able to control the elements of your cooking, the more you’re able to control your environment, you’ll be a way better advantage in terms of how you feel and act. The sheer fact that you feel good in your body gives a rise in confidence and that shows in the things that you do.

Sure, it’ll take some time for you to get used to the proper cooking portions you need for yourself and the right cutlery, the right packing materials the logistics of moving your food around. Sure it may seem inconvenient in the beginning, you don’t have to start all out with 3 meals a day, start with packing one meal a day and see how it goes.

And you’re probably wondering, Kavin, is this really worth it? And my answer would be yes! You know why? Cos you’re worth it!

Why you should eat out less!

 

Why I Think You Should Do Yoga in 3 Reasons

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Okay first of all, lets face it. There are dozens of reasons why people start Yoga.

I’m giving you the big broad strokes here. As a Yoga instructor I meet lots of people who come into Yoga with the idea of losing weight. And this is true, but I always tell my clients that it’s not the be-all-end-all of the Yoga experience.

Yoga originates from the root word ‘Yug’ which means to join together or to yoke. Yoga in essence is the union of the mind, body and spirit. It seeks to work simultaneously on the body and the mind bring to reveal your best self.

You’re probably thinking, that’s kind of vague Kavin. Can you explain? Yes.

In 3 reasons, here goes:

1) A fitter, healthier You

Yoga asanas (postures) do many things. One of which is help regulate the body’s weigh efficiently. Asana practice makes one’s physique more agile, balanced, filled with vitality and enduring.

Regular practice also reduces fatigue and soothes the nerves. Muscle-building exercises and cardiovascular exercises are great but without introducing flexibility into your training as found in asanas one’s fitness regime may be incomplete in the long run.

2) Keep Calm and Do Yoga

By regular practice of yoga postures, meditation and pranayama you’ll notice a new you emerge more resilient to everyday problems. One of the most profound things I learnt in my personal experience over the past few years was an understanding that we are all consciousness expressing itself in human form and that everything is ACTUALLY going really well for us. There isn’t anything to worry about in the greater scheme of things.

You can’t change your past but you can ruin your future by losing sight of the present. I’ve found that with my practice I’ve started looking at life in a more macro view and that really takes the pressure out of things.

3) Be more YOU

My personal favorite reason for doing Yoga is that it allows me to be more of who I am. I love that you start to conform less to everybody else’s pre-conceived notion of what’s acceptable and what’s not. I’ve also felt more comfortable in my own body, and you accept yourself for who you really are and your ability to be MORE.

In some ways, Yoga is looking at life through the eyes of a child again and realizing that the world (and the universe at large) is pretty awesome and that maybe, we’re just here to enjoy the view.   🙂

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Special Discount for classes on 30th May and 1st June!

Hey Guys!

For the end of May and beginning of June we’ll be special discounts for our students. So here goes. Read and sign-up!

Thursday 30th May 2013

Time: 6.45pm-7.45pm or 8pm-9pm

Location: 80B Arab Street 199777 (Near Zam Zam)

Cost: $15 – The usual price per class is $30 but if you like our FB page and come at the approved slot (By appointment only. Please text/call or e-mail us) you’ll get it at 50% off.

Plus! If you sign for the 10 sessions we’ll give you $60 off the total cost at only $240!

 

Saturday 1st June 2013

Time: 1.30pm-2.30pm

Location: 80B Arab Street 199777 (Near Zam Zam)

Cost: $15 – The usual price per class is $30 but if you like our FB page and come at the approved slot (By appointment only. Please text/call or e-mail us) you’ll get it at 50% off.

Plus! If you sign for the 10 sessions we’ll give you $60 off the total cost at only $240!

 

These discounts are for a limited time only. Call +65 8139 5522 to book or e-mail us at classes@kavinkumar.com

 

 

Yoga Classes for 2013

Hey Guys!

Class schedule for June 2013 till the end of the year is up.

We will be having classes on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

View the table for more details:

Yoga Class schedule

All classes are by appointment only and I look forward to catching you at one of my classes real soon.

Please call or text me at +65 8139 5522 for more details.

Namastae!