Shake it off

One of the most striking things I have seen from the former US president Obama did, was this:

Being arguable the most important person, and the most scrutinised person probably in the whole world, I can only imagine the amount of comments, feedbacks, opinions, both sound and unfounded, both constructive and misguided, were thrown at him on a day to day basis.

We are a social animal, and oh are we social. We live in a society of fairy intelligent people that constantly monitor, observe, interact, and at times interfere each other. And that is a very good thing, we grow and learn and evolve as a species as such; if not for the peer monitoring mechanism, the court of law, and the sense of justice as we know it, wouldn’t really stick together.

But we are also living in an age where we are literally drowning in opinions, of all sorts, both the relevant, and the irrelevant kinds.

 

If you follow me anywhere else on social media you would recognise I am currently rocking a baby bump. This little work in progress has been an amazing journey so far. The amazing people, the encouragements and help, the feeling of oneness with the rest of society, or to a certain extend, history is enormous. That though, doesn’t come without some kind of drawback.

Oh the amount of advices one gets.

 

Look, I have seen this joke before. New parents emerges, people from your family, neighbour, the guy at Netto, old woman on the train, your hair dresser’s, your mum’s neighbour’s aunt’s physiotherapist all come out from the woodworks to give you very well intentioned, if at times, misinformed advices.

Just this morning I saw this mum to be captioning her baby belly picture with a list of what looks to be self empowerment captions. And to me, I know, that is it a pre-emptive (or post-emptive) warning to advice givers.

We have all been there in our lives right? You did a thing, seemingly harmless and logical to you, and then your neighbour comes out of his house, commenting how you should have put that box you wanted to put horizontally as suppose to vertically, something totally and utterly insignificant, but there you go, a piece of advice to get you through the day.

I get it, you want to help. You think you are trying to help.

Do you though? Are you really though?

 

I am from a culture that is filled with what I called “the elder’s advice”. From my family, my relatives, my mum’s neighbour, the guard who works in the building, my mum’s gym acquaintance to the lady who takes my order at breakfast. Everybody has a piece of advice to give.

And between “you should wash the seat before sitting down in a sauna”, to the “best combo you should order at breakfast to make the most bank for your buck”, to the “you shouldn’t lift heavy things such as your arms because this old lady’s neighbour’s daughter’s aunt had a miscarriage once 20 years ago because she lift her arms over head”. It is me, a cultureless, untamed, rebellious, or as they call, a “too westernised” monkey woman who refuses to listen. 

It is my middle finger to this the absurd you must listen to whatever advice culture, it is my gigantic ego who in general tries its best to refuse to follow any slight hints of directions. I am not very good at taking these advices. 

And the funny thing is, after time and time again of being the westernised monkey woman who doesn’t listen, these people often go to my mum to tell on me. 

Let me paint you this picture: 

Me, this 32 old woman, being told on, by elders to my parents, because I wouldn’t listen to their unsolicited advice.

With this happened time after time, I suddenly realise, ultimately they don’t care if the advice helps me. 

Ultimately, it is not about wether or not this advice is helping, but the act of giving and receiving the advice itself. 

How dare I to not respect their elder’s right to giving their society’s young a slither of their wisdom? How dare I disrespecting their experience of that one time that they didn’t do such and such and end up with such and such.

 

The funny thing is, this is not just in my culture, and it is not restricted to just people who have loads of experiences and wisdoms.

I have gotten the elder’s advice from over here, even from mum’s to be who is only 2 months, 3 months ahead of me. 

What is up with this smirkness of “you are going to be know when you are at my stage”?

What is up with this I know better attitude even though we are literally going through this, equally new and for the first time together?

What is up with this firmness of “you shouldn’t do this, this is bad for your baby” when you have had one baby, 20 years ago, and no study of any relevant field at all?

What is up with our drive of having to know it all, having to have the simple, snappy answer to a perhaps much more complex problem?

What is up with our drive to give advices, even when we don’t know jack?

 

Maybe it is the same fear of being a teacher, having to admit I don’t know why this is happening to your body.

Maybe it is our fear or admitting ” I don’t know”. The fear of having to admit going through something, perhaps once, perhaps twice, perhaps even 20 times, or doing something for years, we still know very little.

 

I don’t know jack, and neither do you.

Perhaps it is time that we pat the dust off our shoulders, admit that we don’t know everything, and be content to carry on our merry lives.

 

 

You are unyogic, no you are unyogic

The yoga world in the 21 st century is a funny place. With a practice that’s filled with dialogue of everybody is on their own yoga journey, there seems to be, at times, an unspoken definition of what is being yogic and what is being unyogic.

I’ve seen people being deemed unyogic, or less yogic for having a certain diet. I’ve observed the look and overheard the talk, a meat eating, wine drinking yoga practitioners somehow is being considered the lesser yogi.

So how should a yogi place his/herself? In this lululemon wearing, kale eating, fresh juice drinking yoga world, we look to the yogiest yogi of them all, to show us the way? Oh but wait, we are all but on the way to a journey, so how does one measure, or know that he/she is just in that final form yogic and can guide other people?

Maybe it’s my enlightenment that’s not arrived yet, maybe it’s the meat that I still allow myself to eat sometimes. I am genuinely dumbfounded at the very idea of a super guru, whose words on your living ethics, on your life journey, are to be lived by.

Maybe it is more that I’m a sold out sort of yogi, a faux sort of yoga teacher, with my 250 hours behind me, I honestly have not met a single discipline, a single person, a single case that I feel compelled to follow in a hundred percent.

Yoga to me seems to be a very clever, very healthy system, that gives you a set of good goal and guidelines to follow, instead of a hard sets of rules. Yoga seems to me is about discovering oneself, and taking ownership of that oneself.

I’m very aware that this is not how the “real yoga” is. Or more accurately, how yoga came about as a practice. But let’s face it. Since the very beginning of this practice having been brought to America, it has been bastardised. And I don’t mean it in a bad way. But in the most beautiful, you know nothing Jon Snow kind of way. Yoga has evolved, it has changed, and it has been moulded into modern western lives and helped the many. But yoga is not the same as the original yoga anymore. Just like when asana practice first became a thing amongst ancient yogis, the practice has changed. So what is with this whole yogic, unyogic stuff? Whose terms are this yogic super guideline are you speaking under? Because as far as history goes, this practice didn’t even involved physical criteria.

With attending Jordan Bloom’s workshop last time, his description of the workshop started with, “Enough with the grand theories of spiritual liberation and enlightenment. It’s time to put this stuff into practice in a grounded, authentic and practical way that will allow you to steer and guide your day and life.” In the real life version, he spoke about spiritualism more along the lines of “spiritual bullshit”. And as much as it could sound harsh, he is also very correct. And no, I’m not discrediting hinduism, I’m not discrediting buddhism, I’m not discrediting taoism. And I’m not saying yoga is but spiritual either, yoga for me, in fact, is a spiritual practice.

But for the millions of modern humans practicing yoga in this day and age, how many of them are practicing for the spiritualism? How many of them are reciting the chants, going with the OMs, and following the “rules of a yogi” for the fact that it resonates with and makes sense to them? How many of you felt 100% comfortable and compelled to that 3 OMs the first time you were in a yoga class?

One thing Jordan has said that sit so well and deep with me was, that he never understood why the modern Westerners are following this ancient Asian rituals. Rituals make sense for the specific group of people, in that specific time frame. It makes no sense for 19 year old American to follow shamanism rituals, it equally makes no sense for an Asian to follow South African tribal rituals.

If you are a person who resonates with the taoism and follow the tao way and follow a certain rituals, that make sense. If you are a person who resonates with buddhism and follow the buddhism rituals, that make sense. But if you are merely a yoga practitioner, and note, here I proclaim the term yoga practitioner as the modern, 21st century, studio going, moderately spiritish yoga practitioner, why would you follow a strict vegan diet, which is very much from the buddhism guidelines, if not for health/ethical reasons; Why would you chant in sanskrit, which is very much from hinduism, if not for the ultimate, total understanding of the language. And why would you eat vegan, chant sanskrit, and all the while sipping your African special roasted coffee, wearing your aloyoga goddess leggings, and sitting in your nordic designer sofa?

Sorry for this very long, possibly offensive, and slightly sporadic rant. Yogic, unyogic, vegan, non vegan, spiritual, non spiritual. On my wishlist, higher than world peace, higher than being not broke, is for all to drop the fucking labels already. Stand your damn ground and as my unyogic self always says, get a hold of your balls. And just be yourself. Be mad, be free, be crazy, be naughty, be rude, be loud, be whatever the hell it is that your heart desires. And the only thing to not be, is apologetic. Be that gangster yogi you truly are, practice what you want, eat what you think is right, follow the rituals that resonates with you. And above all, be very, very, very happy.

– Sandy