My Journey towards Creativity and Self-Actualization

I am experiencing a rebirth of sorts.

In my 20s and 30s, I was too preoccupied with getting good grades, working on an MBA degree, and balancing a flourishing career with the duties of child-rearing. These activities were not bad in themselves. In fact, if we believe that there is a time and place for everything, then those years were years meant to instill certain values in me like discipline, focus, drive, hard work, teambuilding, passion, and the like.

But midlife brings with it certain realizations about what truly matter in life and my yoga encounters heightened my sensitivity to making the rest of my own life meaningful in a way that takes me on a different path altogether. Many people talk about freeing up the spirit, living in the moment, following one’s heart, and the like. That used to be mumbo-jumbo to me. But now, the achievements of the past are just that — factual achievements. For some reason, these are no longer that important for me. My family and friends are now more important — and I want to appreciate what they are to me and for me to be more to them than I ever was before.

Blogging and internet-based work have also become my daily fare. Nowhere in my formal education have I learned this and the truth is, most bloggers half my age know more than twice as much about these things as I do. But I know that for as long as I still have the willingness to learn, not be afraid to stumble along the way, and simply enjoy the experiences as they happen, I will be OK.

A book that I recently read by John Izzo, “The Five Secrets You Must Discover Before You Die” listed down 5 secrets (they are not really secrets because many of us know this already but do not live it):

1. Be true to your self

2. Leave no regrets

3. Become love

4. Live in the moment

5. Give more than you take

This book is my ongoing inspiration. It makes me more keenly aware of each and every encounter, each day that passes, every person I meet, every event that crosses my path, every place I visit. One of my future plans is to attend a workshop being conducted by none other than Jim Paredes (of APO Hiking Society), Tapping the Creative Universe, in hopes that his creativity in many realms (music, writing, singing, etc) rubs off on me and opens up whatever creativity is still dormant.

I am on an adventure — a journey of sorts — to find everything that I am and everything I am capable of doing.

In Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, the highest level is self-actualization.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Jim Paredes posted the item below on his Facebook and it came in the nick of time. I looked at the list and realized that I’m actually experiencing some of these already. It’s also a good reminder to keep working on the rest.

Here, very briefly, are the 19 Characteristics of Abraham Maslow’s Self-Actualizer:

1. Perception of Reality: These individuals tend to have a “superior relationship with reality” and are “generally unthreatened and unfrightened by the unknown.” In fact, “They accept it, are comfortable with it, and, often are even more attracted by it than by the known. They not only tolerate the ambiguous and unstructured–they like it.”

2. Acceptance: “Even the normal member of our culture feels unnecessarily guilty or ashamed about too many things and has anxiety in too many situations. Our healthy individuals find it possible to accept themselves and their own nature without chagrin or complaint or, for that matter, without even thinking about the matter that much.”

3. Spontaneity: The behavior of the self-actualizing individual is “marked by simplicity and naturalness, and by lack of artificiality or straining for effect.”

4. Problem Centering: Self-actualizers customarily have some “mission in life.”

5. Solitude: Self-actualizing individuals “positively like solitude and privacy to a definitely greater degree than the average person.”

6. Autonomy: “They have become strong enough to be independent of the good opinion of other people, or even of their affection. The honors, the status, the rewards, the popularity, the prestige, and the love they can bestow must have become less important than self-development and inner growth.”

7. Fresh Appreciation: “Self-actualizing people have the wonderful capacity to appreciate again and again, freshly and naively, the basic goods of life, with awe, pleasure, wonder and even ecstasy, however stale these experiences may have become to others.”

8. Peak Experiences: It’s been called “flow” or “being in the zone.” Whatever you want to call it, self-actualizers tend to experience it more often than average.

9. Human Kinship: “Self-actualizing people have a deep feeling of identification, sympathy, and affection for human beings in general. They feel kinship and connection, as if all people were members of a single family.” “Self-actualizing individuals have a genuine desire to help the human race.”

10. Humility and Respect: All of Maslow’s subjects “may be said to be democratic people in the deepest sense…they can be friendly with anyone of suitable character, regardless of class, education, political belief, race or color. As a matter of fact it often seems as if they are not aware of these differences, which are for the average person so obvious and so important.”

11. Interpersonal Relationships: “Self-actualizing people have these especially deep ties with rather few individuals. Their circle of friends is rather small. The ones that they love profoundly are few in number.”

12. Ethics: “They do right and do not do wrong. Needless to say, their notions of right and wrong and of good and evil are often not the conventional ones.”

13. Means and Ends: “They are fixed on ends rather than on means, and means are quite definitely subordinated to these ends.”

14. Humor: “They do not consider funny what the average person considers to be funny. Thus they do not laugh at hostile humor (making people laugh by hurting someone) or superiority humor (laughing at someone else’s inferiority) or authority-rebellion humor (the unfunny, Oedipal, or smutty joke).”

15. Creativity: “This is a universal characteristic of all the people studied or observed. There is no exception.”

16. Resistance to Enculturation: “Of all of them it may be said that in a certain profound and meaningful sense they resist enculturation and maintain a certain inner detachment from the culture in which they are immersed.”

17. Imperfections: Actualizers “show many of the lesser human failings. They too are equipped with silly, wasteful, or thoughtless habits. They can be boring, stubborn, irritating. They are by no means free from a rather superficial vanity, pride, partiality to their own productions, family, friends, and children. Temper outbursts are not rare.”

18. Values: “A firm foundation for a value system is automatically furnished to self-actualizers by their philosophic acceptance of the nature of self, of human nature, of much of social life, and of nature and physical reality.”

19. Resolution of Dichotomies: “The dichotomy between selfishness and unselfishness disappears altogether in healthy people because in principle every act is both selfish and unselfish.”

My corporate friends may never understand why I am choosing to start anew on things that are so different from what I was brought up and trained for. Maybe someday, they will.


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Beautiful Yoga Quotes – updated

This post originally came out in my yoga blog, The Yogini from Manila. But I felt that these also spoke strongly about how we deal with life so I am posting these here, with a few more additions. 

I hope some of these will touch you just as they touch me…..

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Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be endured and endure what cannot be cured. ~B.K.S. Iyengar

You cannot do yoga. Yoga is your natural state. What you can do are yoga exercises, which may reveal to you where you are resisting your natural state. ~Sharon Gannon

Yoga is possible for anybody who really wants it. Yoga is universal…. But don’t approach yoga with a business mind looking for worldly gain. ~Sri Krishna Pattabhi Jois

By embracing your mother wound as your yoga, you transform what has been a hindrance in your life into a teacher of the heart. ~Phillip Moffitt

Yoga is 99% practice and 1% knowledge. ~Sri Krishna Pattabhi Jois

Anyone who practices can obtain success in yoga but not one who is lazy. Constant practice alone is the secret of success. ~Svatmarama, Hatha Yoga Pradipika

Yoga is the practice of quieting the mind. ~Patanjali, translated from Sanskrit

When you inhale, you are taking the strength from God. When you exhale, it represents the service you are giving to the world. ~B.K.S. Iyengar

Inhale, and God approaches you. Hold the inhalation, and God remains with you. Exhale, and you approach God. Hold the exhalation, and surrender to God. ~Krishnamacharya

Yoga is difficult for the one whose mind is not subdued. ~Bhagavad Gita

In karma yoga no effort is ever lost, and there is no harm. Even a little practice of this discipline protects one from greater fear (of birth and death). ~ Bhagavad Gita

When the breath wanders the mind also is unsteady. But when the breath is calmed the mind too will be still, and the yogi achieves long life. Therefore, one should learn to control the breath. ~Svatmarama, Hatha Yoga Pradipika

For breath is life, and if you breathe well you will live long on earth. ~Sanskrit Proverb

When the winds of change blow, some people build walls and others build windmills. ~ Chinese Proverb

Undisturbed calmness of mind is attained by cultivating friendliness toward the happy, compassion for the unhappy, delight in the virtuous, and indifference toward the wicked. ~ The yoga sutras of Patanjali

Yoga exists in the world because everything is linked. ~ Desikashar

Before you’ve practiced, the theory is useless; After you’ve practiced, the theory is obvious. ~ David Williams, Ashtanga teacher

Yoga is the perfect opportunity to be curious about who you are. ~ Jason Crandell

Yoga is invigoration in relaxation. Freedom in routine. Confidence through self control. Energy within and energy without. ~ Ymber Delecto

The most important pieces of equipment you need for doing yoga are your body and your mind. ~ Rodney Yee

Yoga heals, nourishes, and challenges us. The practice infiltrates every corner of our lives. ~ Valerie Jeremijenko

Yoga is difficult for the one whose mind is not subdued. ~ Bhagavad Gita

Yoga is about clearing away whatever is in us that prevents our living in the most full and whole way. With yoga, we become aware of how and where we are restricted — in body, mind, and heart — and how gradually to open and release these blockages. As these blockages are cleared, our energy is freed. We start to feel more harmonious, more at one with ourselves. Our lives begin to flow — or we begin to flow more in our lives. ~ Cybele Tomlinson

Yoga does not remove us from the reality or responsibilities of everyday life but rather places our feet firmly and resolutely in the practical ground of experience. We don’t transcend our lives; we return to the life we left behind in the hopes of something better. ~ Donna Farhi

Namaste.

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Bloggers Do Yoga

It finally happened. An event unlike any other that bloggers have ever done.

Bloggers came together at the Vinyasa Yoga Center (where I practice) and did yoga for an hour and a half, followed by a vegetarian dinner cooked by my own yoga teacher, Pio Baquiran, who is not only a great yogi teacher but a fantastic chef as well.

PREPARATIONS IN FULL SWING

Chona and I were there early. Actually, Chona did yoga at noontime while I had to bring over to the center all the donated items from the sponsors. We ate a leisurely lunch at Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, then went back to the center where we packed the media kits and the other donations together with 3 lovely ladies from the ad agency, Aspac/Law (Ria, Kathy and Mia).

(Mia, Kathy and Ria of Aspac/Law)

Some bloggers came in early so we had a chance to chat and get to know those whose names were familiar to me but who I had never met yet, like Francis, Melanie, Janine, and Carl. I was particularly interested in chatting with Francis, who, it turns out, already practises yoga at Fitness First (my thought bubble: this is the perfect endorser for yoga for men!!!). Melanie, too, it turns out, has been doing yoga for some time now and in fact, took yoga lessons that same morning with Chona’s and my good yogi friend fresh from Riyadh, Jon Cagas! What a small world indeed!

Later, a whole bunch of bloggers came in: Poyt, Fritz, Arpee, Noreen and my mommy bloggers Chats, Cookie and Dine.

Juned of Blog and Soul came by a little later from another “shoot” and became the event’s volunteer photographer.

Yogini mates Minna (also the VYC directress), her sister Therese and Trin Custodio dropped by to support the event and practice together with Chona and I. All in all, the shala was filled and energies were strong!

THE CLASS — ENERGY TO THE MAX

Pio informed us that he had designed a special sequence just for bloggers. Now that caught everyone’s interest. He began with a short meditation, taught the bloggers the proper way to breathe, then followed it up with eye exercises, rotation of the hands, fingers and shoulders, and shorter variations of the sun salutations.

Pio also made us go through simple forward bends, side bends and wide angle bends to stretch the spine (good for sedentary bloggers, right?). We also did leg raises for the abs as well as the Bridge and Fish poses.

Class ended with everyone sweaty but feeling good. We had a class picture and naturally with everyone being bloggers, we had a whole slew of cameras and smiling to get through before we could call it a night!

THE HEALTHY DINNER!

Pio’s dinner consisted of pasta, burgers (using vegetarian patties) and his eggless leche flan. Arpee had the time of his life trying to guess the ingredients of this one!

(vegetarian pasta)

(burger with vegepatties)

***realization*** – I just realized I forgot to take a pic of the eggless leche flan! Chona, help!

Each blogger came away from the event fully worked out, fed with healthy vegetarian food, armed with a bag of items from sponsors like Coke, RFM, Nestle and VYC. And also special thanks to a yogini mate, Lomen, for the iced tea donations (yes, we chilled them and drank them during dinner!!!).

NEXT: THE CONTEST!

Blog and Soul has also announced a contest where bloggers who did yoga could compose a blog, photo gallery, vlog or any other form of post about the event. Prizes up for grabs consist of a 1 liter aluminum bottle from Swiss company, SIGG. In addition, there are 3 yoga outfits (jacket and pants) for girls from Aura Athletica Rockwell. Judging will be done by Blog and Soul together with VYC and the winners will be announced soon. For mechanics of the contest, go to Blog and Soul’s website.

I did a random, ambush interview of some bloggers (including Francis who did a fantastic spiel on yoga for men — yey!).

And as I find blog entries on the event, I will post these below.

1. Juned (photos)

2. Chona: Bloggers @VYC: An Evening of Fitness, Food and Fun!

3. Janine: 10 Things I Know About Yoga

4. Poyt: Yoga at VYC (photos)

5. Melanie: Yoga for Bloggers at Vinyasa Yoga Center

6. Dine: Yoga for Fitness, Good Health and Relaxation

7. Arpee: Yoga goes the foodie

8. Cookie: Bloggers + Yoga = Blogginis?

9. Chats: My First Yoga Class

10. Poyt: Going Back to Yoga

11. Fritz: The Vinyasa Yoga Center Experience

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Yoga for Bloggers Event (June 28, 2008)

I had long been wanting to organize a yoga blogger event. Maybe it began with my love for yoga followed by a desire to get more people interested in their own healthy lifestyle. The idea had been brewing for over a year now but I did not even know where to begin.

Enter The Blog and Soul Movement with Jayvee and Juned, two buddy bloggers I first met at iblog summit two years ago. When I spoke with Juned about it recently, he immediately offered Blog and Soul as a venue for gathering the bloggers. This was followed by a lunch meeting with both Jayvee and Juned to seal the deal. We were off to organizing the first ever Fat Blog series of Blog and Soul (the first of several planned series to get bloggers who often lead sedentary lives off their butts and into a healthier lifestyle). And of course, my yogini mate-cum-blogger herself, Chona, is helping out with the logistics.

I am lucky to have my very own yoga teacher, Pio Baquiran, from Vinyasa Yoga Center (VYC) doing the FREE yoga class.

This is to be followed by a short Q&A on health and yoga and capped by a vegetarian dinner.

We also have some sponsors so as is usual in a blogger event, there will be items to give away.

Some details are as follows:

Date: June 28, 2008

Time: 5pm onwards

Place: Vinyasa Yoga Center, 17/F Strata 100 Bldg., Emerald Ave., Ortigas Complex, Pasig City

Space is limited at the shala so Blog and Soul is only taking in ten (10) bloggers. Several things though to keep in mind. One, you MUST BE A BLOGGER. Two, this is for non-VYC students as this is an event to make more people aware of yoga.

Head on over now to Blog and Soul. Those who make the cut-off will get confirmation emails from Blog and Soul. More details will be provided later. Visit this blog regularly for updates.

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My Life is a Balance Sheet!

It seems like this whole week, all I did was stare at financial statements, reading them word for word, checking the numbers, cross-checking all references, and all other accounting stuff (yes, I am a CPA by profession; a wife and mother by Divine grace; and a yogini at heart).

After reviewing balance sheets and profit and loss statements (to name a few), it got me thinking of how my life would equate to these financial statements.

By stroke of luck, I came across two sites. One is by Joy Fisher-Sykes, a professional speaker, author and success coach in the areas of leadership, motivation, stress management, customer service and team building: “Take Time to Create a Life Balance Sheet for Success”. The other is Marc Accetta who conducts workshops on living a balanced life.

They both speak of life in terms of debits (those choices we make and actions we take that detract in some way from our overall life balance) and credits (the ways you live your life that you truly value because they support and honor your chosen path and move you towards your desires). Marc breaks these down into 6 areas: financial, social, emotional, mental, physical and spiritual. Joy writes:

It’s important from time to time that we sit down and honestly assess our lives. Doing so allows us to make an honest determination about where we are now and where we want to be in the future. When we’re assessing our finances, we prepare a financial balance sheet. On it we list our debits and credits so that we can determine our bottom line. What if you wanted to determine the state of the life you lead? How is it, or is it not, serving you? The answer is simple – prepare a Life Balance Sheet.

First, list down some debits like:

  • Procrastinating on things you know you need to get done.
  • Sitting in front of the TV instead of being productive or doing something of value.
  • Not getting enough exercise.
  • Eating inappropriately and paying the consequences.
  • Being a coach potato when there is so much more you could be doing.
  • Staying involved in a toxic personal relationship.
  • Maintaining relationships that drain you emotionally, mentally, socially, spiritually, physically or financially.
  • Being unwilling or refusing to listen effectively to others.
  • Getting into arguments you know you don’t need to be involved in.
  • Passing judgment on others when you know it is inappropriate to do so.
  • Taking family, friends, coworkers and others around you for granted.
  • Taking too little time to yourself, to just sit and contemplate, meditate and relax.
  • Not enough reading or other mental stimulation.
  • Constantly complaining and being negative.
  • Failing to say NO when NO is the right choice right Now.
  • Expecting the worst instead of expecting the best life has to offer.
  • Expecting the worst from others.
  • Being ungrateful when you have so much to be grateful for.
  • Letting things get you down, then using that as an excuse to eat, drink or smoke for immediate gratification.
  • Staying up too late at night and not getting enough rest.

Next, list your credits. Some of these are:

  1. Call someone you know just to say “hello” and to see how they are doing.
  2. Walking barefoot in the grass or on the beach.
  3. Expressing your Higher Self by telling someone “I love you”.
  4. Helping and giving of yourself to others with no expectation of receiving anything in return.
  5. Doing things that are outside of your comfort zone on a reasonably regular basis.
  6. Driving traffic friendly by allowing others to merge into traffic even if they didn’t wait their turn.
  7. Compliment others as you go about your day, whether they are nice to you or not.
  8. Take time out for exercise and play.
  9. Staying clean, sober and smoke free.
  10. Spending time with a child, even if you don’t have one of your own.
  11. Being honest about what you need in order to feel whole and happy
  12. Taking time to read a book to a child.
  13. Taking time to nourish your soul by reading a few lines from a good book.
  14. Playing your favorite music and dancing around the room and singing to it out loud.
  15. Picking up someone else’s litter instead of stepping over it or walking around.
  16. Learning at least one new skill or hobby each week.
  17. Keeping a morning gratitude journal and giving thanks for the things you value on a daily basis.
  18. Spending that little extra on something you really, really like, even if it isn’t on sale.
  19. Smiling to others, and yourself, as you go about your day, especially people you don’t know.
  20. Looking others straight in the eye and saying thank you.

They both suggest this be done at least once a month. Joy further says, “Take a look at your Life Balance Sheet at least once a day. This will empower you, at a glance, to realize how wonderful life can be and allow you to make lifestyle adjustments as necessary. Remember, a great life is yours to create. Go create a fabulous life!”

I glanced at the list above and can immediately add some of my own:

(-) Debits (what I need to minimize or totally eradicate):

1. Forgetting to take care of my health

2. Becoming a slave to my work

3. Being impatient with others, and more so with myself

4. Letting pet peeves get to me


(+) Credits (what I need to do more of):

1. Balance out my life through a regular yoga practice and a healthy lifestyle

2. Unwind with a book that has positive values, success stories, or humor

3. Have more frequent “dates” with my loved one (need not be expensive!)

4. Walk barefoot on sand (I prefer this to grass, actually), watch a full moon, or sit under a starry night sky

5. Pat someone’s back often. It makes people feel special and recognized

6. Hug my kids (and spouse) A LOT!

7. Laugh with family/friends often and have “let-your-hair-down” moments

8. Pray, pray, pray always!

So here I am taking stock of LIFE in general and trying to put them into some kind of equation. Am I balanced?

To be honest, many times I have to catch myself overextending or indulging in some debit aspect. At the moment, my life sometimes seems imbalanced, with work occupying a great part of my waking hours and my once regular yoga practice suffering. But work is also a blessing in itself if looked at from another perspective and while I cannot see the bigger scheme of things in my life, I know that Someone does, and He knows best. What’s important is that I trust in Him, take things as they come, do the best I can with what comes my way, live in the moment, and leave the rest to Him.

What does your life’s balance sheet look like?

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Sending You Peace and Love for Christmas

I am now taking my Christmas break in the province of my in-laws where the entire side of this island is surrounded by the sea. It is a wonderful place to do yoga. Quiet, countryside home. No sounds of traffic. Just the birds, trees abounding, and the honking of geese, neighing of horses, and other animals that wander freely around the manicured lawns of our family home. It is a great time away from the frenetic pace of Manila. It is becoming my own individual yoga retreat.

Today, I did some yoga in our room which overlooks the greenhouse. No distractions. Just myself and nature. Wonderful!

As the time for Christmas draws near and the New Year is just around the corner, I would like to wish all my yogi and yogini friends as well as all of my blog readers…

a SERENE CHRISTMAS and a PEACEFUL NEW YEAR AHEAD!

Namaste!

(photo courtesy of CardsDirect)

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