Friday, July 15, 2011

No Goodbyes, Just See You Later

I woke up today, completely disoriented, thinking that I would find myself in my room at the Sanctuary, with Eve still fast asleep on the bed next to mine, sounds of the birds chirping out in my balcony and all the other random jungle sounds coming from the forest behind the Sanctuary.  Not to forget what I loved most about my early mornings: seeing the sun just having gone up the horizon, creating beautiful colors of blue, orange, yellow and pink.  All my favorite colors.  

But no.  

I found myself on my own bed in my Manila home, with the A/C blasting to numb the sticky and humid weather, curtains shut, annoying drilling sounds from the building being constructed next door and honking of the cars 11 floors down.  Urban jungle sounds.  You can imagine how disappointed I was at this realization.  If not for my dog's huffing and puffing from under my bedroom door, I would have gone back to bed to sleep my disappointment away.

Morning urban jungle view.  Not quite what I had expected.

It has exactly been two weeks since graduation and the day I had to say goodbye to my TT family and the beautiful Samui island that already felt like home.  I would have written on this post much sooner but I found myself having painful nostalgic feelings every time I try to start the first paragraph.  The few days after I left Koh Samui have been a whirlwind of emotions and I pity those who have had to deal with me.  Leaving the comforts of my new Samui home made me get on this rollercoaster ride of mixed feelings.  My emotions might have put the new Green Lantern at 6 Flags to shame.  For a while there, I thought I was slowly losing my mind.  Really.  One moment I would be laughing, then 5 minutes after I would be in tears.  I could not even meditate for 10 minutes without crying.  I found it hard to explain how I was feeling because people did not seem to understand.  I figured you would have had to be on that island with me to understand the gravity of my situation.  Eventually I gave up on trying to explain myself so I just did things to keep me preoccupied and happy.  Long walks, eat, yoga, massage, eat again, shop a bit, eat, yoga, eat again.  Oh, and sleep.  Sleep was the only time I would forget about all those feelings.  So I slept.  I slept a whole lot and made up for my late evenings and early mornings. 

There was no such thing as a smooth transition for this little yogini.  

I am better now though.  I have leveled out and getting back to the routine of things.  I still catch myself daydreaming of Teacher Training, especially my last days in Samui.  Those days seem like ages ago.  Sometimes, it feels like it never even happened because of the overwhelming empty feeling.  Other times, it feels like it was just a really long dream.


The people from the Love Kitchen prepared a fancy graduation dinner for us by the poolside.  It was only the middle of the afternoon and they were already being busy bee's moving furniture from the Kitchen to the poolside and making sure things were perfect and beautiful.  Everything made by them really is made with love.  One of the servers gave me a flower from the buffet table arrangement.  I kept it in the pages of this fat book I brought with me, which I never got to read.  I will keep it forever.

Our long table.

A party prepared, just for us.

It was so nice to see everyone dressed up.  Literally and figuratively speaking.  People had clothes on for a change and were not dripping in sweat with disheveled hair.  Women came in pretty dresses, mascara and eyeliner.  Our handsome men in trousers and collared shirts.  Amazing.  Everyone was glowing, like they were lit up from the inside by a million fireflies.  It was a blissful occasion, not even the strong rains could dampen our spirits nor stop the party.  And the food was WOW.  My treats were the pizza, chocolate cake and ice cream (the dairy-full and fat-full kind for a change, yay!).

Eve, Julie and I sharing a dessert plate.  The one of plenty from that night.

The next best thing to "dad" at teacher training: Philippe.

Graduation was perfect.  I remember how happy and proud I felt at the realization that we had accomplished so much in just 4 weeks. We surpassed all the rough days and long nights and managed to reach that very day.  Graduation day.  It seemed so surreal.  The first night in the very same Jungle Room that we were in seemed like a lifetime ago.  I looked at each of my friends in our circle and beamed with pride.  I made sure I hugged each of them after our little certificate giving ceremony.  Their hugs had so much love and appreciation in them.  I felt it in my bones and I will never forget how good it felt to be hugged by all of them.

Candles and flowers.

Bree, Vicky, Julie and Eve.



My teacher, Pim. 

My teacher, Jeanne.

Eva from USA, Jessica and Outi.


Now I can tell everyone:  Trust THE process.  Trust THE graph!  Thank you, teachers, for having so much faith in us.

The graph.

The process.

The day I said my goodbyes to everyone was probably one of the saddest and most emotional of days that I can remember.  It was not pretty at all.  There was too much of a connection and too many precious moments shared, that made the thought of being away from everyone else so hard.   I woke up early, half past five, and I already had a bad, empty feeling in my tummy.  Eve was still asleep so I quietly got out of bed and got ready to do my rounds of farewells to the people leaving that day.  I was not scheduled to leave the island until the following day but after saying my goodbyes to Bree and Wendi (I cried all over my scrambled eggs at breakfast in front of Pim), I realized that the thought of staying at the Sanctuary with everyone else gone was just terrible.  I gave Bangkok Airways a call and had them rebook my flight back to the big city to that same night, along with Philippe, Maria, Paula and Matti.

I gave my teachers Pim, Jeanne, Harreson and John my share of big hugs that morning.  I was happy they came down to have breakfast with us.  I promised to visit them in their parts of the world soon, when I could say the dialogue in reverse order, in my sleep.  That is how good I will get!  The thought that they are just around Asia is very comforting.

*Note to future trainees:  Please make sure you book the first flight out of the island after training so you do not have to deal with seeing everyone leave before you.

After breakfast, I headed down to Cheong Mon beach with Maria from Australia and Julie, to spend the rest of the day enjoying the beach and soaking up some sun.  It was a nice and sunny day and the ocean did wonders for my emotions.  The warm ocean was comforting and it has this magical way of absorbing all the nasty heavy feelings in my heart.  My friends Doris, Paulina, Maria from Spain, Unnur and Janine followed a little after we arrived.  I hung out with Doris in the water for a long while.  I made her promise to never forget me when she becomes a famous model and to always have a happy heart. 

Doris Kempter, I miss you and the times you bully me.  I drank the last of your magnesium supplements today.  I hope Samui is treating you well and that you are still living happily in your little bungalow on the island. 

Julie and I went for a pedicure and a foot scrub (they removed all calluses off my feet, leaving me about an inch shorter) and decided it was ample time to celebrate.  We ordered mango daiquiris.  I do not even remember if we walked back to the Sanctuary or took a taxi.  I think we walked. 

I did more of my rounds of goodbyes when we got back to the Sanctuary.  Half of the group had left by that time, making the place seem even more quiet than usual.  I remember I had just gone up to my room and in the shower when I heard Trev’s voice from below my bathroom window.  He was on his way out to the airport and wanted to say goodbye.  I found myself on my doorstep, still with shampoo on my hair, just in a towel, giving him my last big hug, trying to stop the tears from falling.  They fell eventually but he already had gone.  He left his glucosamine gel with me, for my future sprains and strains.  Oh Trev, you know me all too well.  Take care of yourself my sweetie pie, my little boy (yes, he is only 23).  I will see you soon when you come and visit me in Manila.

Trev is an angel.

Julie and I squeezed in a Jungle Brownie date at the Kitchen before she got in the car to take her to the airport.  My heart broke as I watched the car speed out of the driveway.  There are definitely no goodbyes for us. 

Paula and I sending Julie off.

Before leaving, I passed by the Detox Center to wish Sara well.  I hugged her and thanked her one more time.  Last stop was the Love Kitchen.  I still wish I said thank you to all of them but only four of their staff were around that early evening.  I let myself in the kitchen of the Kitchen and gave everyone a big hug.  I miss them very much.  I will always be thankful for the early mornings I bugged them for my coffee, for setting aside extra mangosteens because they know I like them so much, for giving me take away platters of carrots and celery with hummus for those late study nights and for filling up my hot water bag about a million times in a span of two weeks.  Thank you so much for nourishing our bodies with the best tasting healthy food in the world.  I still dream of the Jungle Brownies and Banana Cakes.  I will be back for them soon, I promise.

I checked in my flight with a few people from training but the others were on the flight half an hour before mine so they had to enter pre-departure earlier.  Maria, Paula and I had our last pizza dinner (until the next time I see them at least) in this little Italian restaurant on the strip of small shops at the airport.

I would have taken more photos when we were at Samui Airport but I was too busy being sad that I only have this photo of Philippe and me.  Oh, and I also managed to get this one from Trev’s mobile uploads Facebook folder, of one of the prettiest public toilets I have ever seen.

I miss you so much, Philippe!

Samui Airport's toilets.  Thanks, Trev, for the photo.

Arriving in Bangkok made me realize how far away my friends will be from me.  It was a sad realization.  I shed a few more tears while waiting for my luggage at the carousel.  How embarrassing. 

*I over packed by the way.  AGAIN.  The kind-hearted lady at the check in counter at Samui let me off with 3 extra kilos.

It killed me many times over knowing that Julie and a few others were under the same giant roof.  I just could not get to them as they had moved to international departures to wait for their flights out of Bangkok.  I was not allowed in there anymore as I only had a Samui-Bangkok domestic ticket.  

The next few days in Bangkok were a blur.  I was in a strange mood and did not know how to deal with my post training sickness.  I just wanted it to go away.  I did not though.  It lingered on a little bit longer than I expected.  I was lucky to have supportive friends around, the ones who know me well enough that explanations are not needed anymore.  I was also happy to be able to spend more time with Eve, as she had stayed in the city for another week for a teaching apprenticeship at the Absolute Yoga studios around Bangkok.  

Dessert at Central Chitlom foodcourt.

I miss you everyday, Eve.

Eve and her food baby.

I flew back to Manila early on a Monday morning and went straight to the studio for the 630am class.  Early Monday morning Vinyasa with Teacher Eunice.  Is that not the best way to welcome you back home?  The comforting faces of my yoga family in Manila made coming home so much easier.  Also seeing my dog Basti, getting hugs from Nanay Anamer (my nanny) and hearing the voices of my folks.  

It was a struggle trying to get back into the routine of things.  After the first week though, it significantly got better by the day, with the help of friends and those people very dear to me.  Now, the feelings of nostalgic emptiness have been replaced with happiness at the fond memories of Samui, not to mention the extreme delight when I am able to talk to my friends from training, who are now scattered all over the world, on Skype.

*fun fact: Skype was founded in 2003 by Niklas Zennström from Sweden, Janus Friis from Denmark and Samuel Gray from New Jersey.  Thank you, awesome gentlemen!  You make this world a better place.

The two weeks of being back home gave me the chance to sort out some big life administrative issues.  It gave me the chance to make even bigger life decisions.  And then eventually accept what I would consider one of the biggest changes in my life.

Maybe those changes were also the reasons why I was hesitant to come home, because I did not want to have to face those changes yet.  But change is inevitable, and now, I am learning to embrace it. 

Coincidentally, we had this printed on our TT07 shirts.  It has more meaning now.

As for all of the other things on my list of concerns, I will have to let go for now and let time fix them for me.  I learned that things always have a way of fixing themselves, especially if you do not demand to be in control of the situation.  We let go, we live and we let time do the healing.  I just hope that it will not take too long.

I read this somewhere at the end of my first week back home.  Thank you for giving me a little push.

“That decision is only wishful thinking until you take that first irreversible step.  You can tell yourself that you have already decided, that nothing now can stop you, but if that step backwards is so much safer than a step forwards, what will hold you true to your path when the going gets tough?  Sometimes, the right thing to do is to take that first irreversible step, the one after which you cannot go back.  And now, for you, is one of those times.”

Manduka’s reminder today is even more perfect:

Practice clarity - clearing a path in our minds by moving what stands in between us and a stunning view of what is possible.  

With my heart and mind back in their right places, and both my feet back on the ground and not on the cloud nine of teacher training, I face this world of mine with a much stronger disposition and a brighter, more positive light.

My yoga journey does not end here.  I am far from the end, actually.  I believe I am just in the beginning chapters.  It was by inevitable necessity that Samui has given me the chances of a new beginning by planting seeds of love, light, hope and new opportunities.  I will nurture these seeds and witness them grow.
It is a full moon tonight.  The full moon is a time for healing, a time for recharging the spirit.    Say hello to her from your windows, breathe in the beautiful energy she gives out and allow her to ignite the deepest wisdom in your hearts.  I know I did.  

I also sent over a lot of love, hugs and kisses.  For my TT07 family, please collect them when you look into the same moon tonight.  I am missing all of you, from my fingertips down to my heels.

You will still hear from me, I have much to share.  For now though, I say goodnight as I head back to my bedroom in my Manila home.  I am ready for slumber, ready to face the urban jungle sounds in the morning.  

There are no goodbyes.  It is just goodnight and see you later.


Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Of Hilly Roads and Rocky Pathways

Days 25, 26 and 27.

Good morning, Samui! 5am and time to put on those running shoes.

My back was significantly better so I decided it was the right time to start running again.  There was something about the stresses of having to teach our final class, that I felt any chance to get out of the Sanctuary was a sweet escape. 

Escaping the Sanctuary.  Oh, such irony.  

On my first day back into the running grind, I remember practicing dialogue and sequence in my head that it did not occur to me that it was about a good 15 minutes of downhill after I made that right turn out of the small road from the Sanctuary.  So go figure, the run back to the resort was deadly.  All those uphills killed me.  Halfway through the run back, I was so close to giving hitch hiking a try, in fear that I would not make it back in time for our 7:30am yoga class.  Thank God I made it back at exactly 7:27, with time for a super quick shower before going in class.  Not only was I panting like a dog, I was also as red as a tomato (so perfect as my face is just as round as one).   But we live and we learn, so the following day, I switched to the Cheong Mon route instead.  Beautiful scenery, friendly dogs, some babies here and there taking their morning strolls.  I would pass my 5-kilometer mark and would not even notice that I had been running for a bit.  It was a breath of fresh air.  The beach was beautiful.

Cheong Mon beach at 630am on a cloudy Sunday.  Quite and calm.  Just the way I like it.

The next days were dedicated to practicing for final peer teaching class.  Our room and the poolside became favorite practice spots for Eve and myself.  I still cannot get over how lucky I  was that my peer teacher was also my roommate.  That Sunday night, the night before our final class, Julie came by our room for another one of those pajama parties and I had coffee and jungle brownies brought up from the Kitchen.  I will miss those nights.  And I will also miss falling asleep next to my books and posture card.

This is how one prepares for final teaching. I thank my roommate for the photo.

A cup of coffee too short makes you fall asleep with the teddy bear class.

We taught our final class to Group D.  It was an amazing experience, though I will never forget how nervous I was before I started.  The poop and pee in my pants feeling were back again, just like how it was during our first practice teaching.    Surprisingly, I got into the rhythm of teaching halfway through the standing series.  I had forgotten my teacher was in the corner of the room, being a busy girl, evaluating me.  I made a few mistakes here and there.  Small ones, like mixing up my rights and lefts (still) and big ones, like fast-forwarding to Dandayamana Janusirasana instead of Garudasana.  I swear I saw Eve from the corner of my eye giving me THE stare from the other end of the room, as if to say, “what in the hell ARE you doing?”.  I quickly made a not-so-smooth recovery and got them to twist arms and legs like ropes, the way they really should have. 

Considering all aspects, Eve and I did good.  I think my teacher thought so too, even if she was pretty hard on us and really particular about the little things.  I do not mind.  We need those.  Constructive criticism is much needed for new teachers like us.  Our class was small but there was good energy flowing.  Thank you, Bree, Wendi, Richard, Yulia and Margaret for working so hard at class that day.  I would love teaching a billion times more if all my future students were like you.  Extremely inspiring.  Again, thank you.  You guys rocked our final class!

Happy smiles.

We had our final written exam that day too.  It was a while since the last time I held an examination sheet and I am just thankful I went over our books and lecture notes a couple of times in the previous week.  I would have done better if I was not a nervous wreck about final teaching.

My little friend who would come down to the pool and would go for a swim so early in the morning left to go back home to Bangkok that weekend.  I will miss her.  She was such a joy to have around, my extra sunshine on a gloomy morning.

She had beautiful baby's breath.

Some photos from teaching, lectures and Satsang that week.

One to one teaching = check! Guiding James through his final Savasana.

Listening to James guide me through Prasaritta Padattonasana A.

Thank you, Harreson for the photos!

Pajama teaching.

Yes, Aisa! You can do it!

When NOT to do hands on corrections: when your students is so much taller than you.


These are my important realizations from those 3 days.

1.  When you do yoga, you open up your body, allowing yourself to let go of hurts, irritations, fears, etc.  I do not wonder anymore why I end up in tears after a good class, which has been the case the last few weeks.  

2.  I could have tight hips because I carry all of my burdens there.  I will do more Kapotasanas and Baddha Konasanas to open my hips and hopefully then, I will be able to let go of those little hurts and pains from the past.  On a lighter note, it makes me wonder if my bum would be quadruple the size if all of my burdens would be saturated in that part of my body.  Thank God that it is not.

3.  Teaching smaller classes suck the life out of you.  Bigger classes run on their own energy, especially if you have Bree Veins as one of your students.

4.  We give out so much energy and if we only sit still and try to feel the beautiful and positive energy around us, we can feel so much lighter yet stronger.  I felt Jessica's strong energy at meditation at class one morning.  It creeped into my finger tips from hers and went out my left nostril.  I am not kidding.  That is exactly how it felt like.

5.  A simple but genuine "kob kun mak krab" (thank you in Thai) can go a long, long way.  It can give you the biggest of smiles, not to mention an extra Jungle Brownie.  People at the Love Kitchen, I love you guys so much.  I really do!

6.  Forgiving one another is one of the most precious things in this world.  Let us learn to do more of it.  Again, just live and let go.

7.  My brain feels like it expanded a few millimeters from all the studying that I had done.  

*Fun fact:  The adult human brain is about 2% of total body weight and has about 100 BILLION neurons.

8.  I am so dark, I think my mother will disown me when she sees me.  Julie calls me her little dark chocolate Kiss.  Its shape also has a perfect similitude to my own physiological appearance.

9.  In life, it is those times of tears, hardships and frustrations that will mold us into being stronger, wiser and better persons.  We should embrace them.  And when we finally pick ourselves up from those times, embrace them even more.  Do not forget that the oak grows strong in contrary winds and diamonds are made under pressure.  We NEED those hilly roads and rocky pathways. 

For all my co-trainees and teachers, this one is for you.  

"May all things be happy and free." 

Only a few more days on this island and I am dreading the day that I will have to write about leaving Samui.  Until then, I will treasure all moments in the safest and deepest parts of my heart.

I send out happy, positive energies of love and light from my fingertips, to yours.

Your little yogini,