Sometimes what you seek isn't always what you find, or the other way round. A few months ago, triggered by a relationship break-up, as clichéd as it may sound, I quite impulsively signed up for a 200-hours yoga teacher training in Bali. What I hoped to gain from it was discipline, a deeper immersion in yoga, but most importantly, distraction from grief. What I actually got from it was all of that and so much more.
I had joined this training with the intention of achieving better physical and mental wellbeing, the teaching skills came as a bonus, not the main purpose. What came as a surprise was what I accidentally learned - which was that I loved to write, and even more of a bonus, that people wanted to hear what I had to write.
This learning did not come as easy as I made it sound. Despite its "accidental" nature, the process of sharing what to me was always a private activity, was both terrifying and exhilarating at the same time.
One of the assignments in the training included leading a meditation, the content of which I had chosen from an entry in my journal. The topic was Asteya, or "non-stealing", which in the yogic term, can be applied to just about any area of our lives. It is the idea that keeps us conscious of claiming what is not ours.
This was my guided meditation:
"What gives you pleasure? Does it come from acquiring things? Does it come from eating a delicious meal? So delicious, that you've taken more on your plate than you could actually finish?
Visualise your house, your apartment, your room. What is it filled with? Is there anything there that does not belong to you? Something borrowed from long ago that never got returned?
Or that song or movie that you downloaded on the internet for free?
Do you have anything that you don't actually need? Perhaps that pair of yoga pants that you bought because you don't want to wear the same pair twice in a week?
Now recall your relationships. Past ones, current ones.
Have you ever held on to someone that you knew was unhappy, just because you were afraid of being alone?
Have you ever sought for someone's attention, their affection, their sympathy because you were feeling empty?
Have you ever told them off for working too hard or for having too much fun?
Have you ever taken away their joy because you weren't feeling any?
What lessons have you learned that you have kept to yourself from fear of sounding righteous?
What knowledge can you share that you know will bring just a tiny bit of relief to that friend of yours that is suffering?
What beautiful words have you been keeping lumped in your throat that you know will make someone smile, just because you fear sounding silly?
What words of encouragement and integrity can you share with that new student at the back of the class who feels out of place?
Now look within yourself. What have you been stealing from yourself?
What have you been saying to yourself that denies you of your uniqueness?
What thoughts of the future and the past have taken away your present moment?
What barriers have you put around yourself from receiving love?
What limitations have you imposed on yourself that stopped you from reaching your highest self?
Jack Kornfield interpreted this quote from the Buddha, and it says something like this "In the end, these are the things that matter most: How well did you love? How fully did you live? And how gracefully did you let go of things not meant for you?"
That fruit you just ate, was it yours?
The land you live on, is it yours?
That person that you cling to, is he or she yours?
That idea, that dream, this moment, that hope, are they yours?
This experience, this knowledge you received from this teacher training, is it yours to keep?"
Sometimes it takes an accident to recognise and claim what is really meant for us. Or perhaps it never really was an accident at all.
About the author
Novi Sutanto is a newly minted yoga teacher and completing her Masters of Counselling Psychology at Swinburne University. She was The Mind Room's first volunteer and a much appreciated team member. We look forward to watching how she combines her psychology, yoga and writing passions into a meaningful and rewarding career.