Sunday, January 22, 2012

Reflections & Musings: Thriving in the year of the dragon.


"I will not die an unlived life.
I will not live in fear of falling or catching fire.
I choose to inhabit my days, 
to allow my living to open me,
to make me less afraid, 
more accessible,
to loosen my heart until it becomes a wing, a torch, a promise.
I choose to risk my significance; 
to live so that which came to me as seed
goes to the next as blossom
and that which came to me as blossom,
goes on as fruit."
-Dawna Markova

Happy Lunar New Year, everyone... it's the Year of the Dragon! My familiarity with Chinese astrology lies in the ability to recite the 12 zodiac animals in order, in Mandarin — one of the takeaways from attending Chinese school every Saturday while growing up in Los Angeles. The other thing I'm familiar with, after growing up in a fairly superstitious culture, is that dragons are extremely auspicious!

What does the dragon symbolize for you? Perhaps fire, strength, and noble magnificence? When I think of a dragon, I imagine a majestic creature with an ability to incinerate anything that stands in its way. I also envision it as a mighty source of power that sometimes needs to be reined in through discretion and wise choices. Here's why the dragon is significant to me:

This morning, I woke up early and spent a bit of time in a little gym. Because most of my physical activity takes place outdoors these days (surfing and hiking) or in the company of others (yoga and climbing), I had forgotten how nice it is to read a book or listen to a podcast while getting in the zone. I used to spend endless hours in the gym in a fairly obsessive and unhealthy way, but nowadays, it's different. Instead, I practice moderation in movement and really connect with the joy of the way my body can move. When my physical self is engaged in monotonous motion, I find that my brain is freed to find deeper clarity and connect with a higher wisdom, to expand in a space where creativity flows through ideas that pop up like effervescent inspirations. 

I began to muse on the idea that in the not-too-distant-future, I'd like to be a visiting professor who lectures around the world. I reflected upon the ways in which I'm already a teacher: as a yoga instructor both in the studio and online; leading meditations in those same venues; speaking at info sessions about Reiki; and in the past, leading support meetings for those in eating disorder recovery. 

Most recently, I've been invited to give a guest lecture at Pasadena City College in April! I'll be speaking in a course about Asian American psychology, specifically to cover the themes of "Spirituality & Religion" and "Body Image." When the professor asked me to review the syllabus he had created so that I could pick the most opportune time to visit, those were the two topics he had already combined! These were also the same exact themes I had planned to speak about (once again, the Divine is working Her magic).

So, how does this all tie together to the Year of the Dragon? While bouncing up and down on the elliptical machine, I realized that the blockage I've been feeling about writing my book isn't that I'm afraid to let go of a part of my life (bulimia, compulsive overeating, body dysmorphia) I've attached an identity to for so long. Instead, it's been about the unknowing of what will fill that space once it opens up. If I want to be a teacher, then my book is a means to that goal, and if I think of it that way, the blockage to write eases up. 

Through my memoir, by sharing my experiences growing up as an Asian-American and developing an eating disorder that consumed my existence for upwards of fifteen years of my life, I may be able to share how I was able to move past it towards a life better than I could have imagined. I've already met an editor interested in my manuscript, and she's mentioned it to multiple esteemed agents, including Frank McCourt's. If the Universe believes in me and my project, then it'll reach the right people. And, if not, I move on to the next endeavor.

One of my favorite quotes, which many of you may have already heard before, is by Marianne Williamson: 

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us most. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of the universe. You were born to manifest the glory of the universe that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone."

Ever since I was little, I knew that I had a purpose on this planet. Regardless of what happened around me or how emotionally abusive my immediate and extended family were due to their own limited natures at the time, I believed to my core that there was a reason I came into existence. Over and over again, since I've decided to pursue the path of yoga (which encompasses more than just the asanas we practice on the mat), my life has been filled with wonder. Whatever may happen in the future, my intention is to make a positive impact on a substantial scale. This may not be in ways that are overachieving or readily apparent — I think that when you smile from your heart and it touches someone else's, and they go on to inspire more love in the relationships of their lives, well, I believe that is also action in a significant way.

That being said, it's scary! It's frightening when the rules aren't set for you, when the path that you're blazing is one that no one has tread in the same exact way before. It can be lonely and it can be daunting, but it can also be an amazing sort of contentment that is unlike anything else. For example, I've been asked to write my own job description three times thus far in my professional career, and have been granted all of my requests, not to mention the dream life lists I've created that have all come true.

The life stories I've gathered to date are simply superb and, in many ways, I feel as though my experiences have been brushed by the fingertips of angels. In fact, I'm about to head to Maui tomorrow for a vacation/travel article, where they believe we have four to five spirit guides around us at any time. More than a setting for beauty unparalleled, Hawaii exudes a heartfelt allure defined by its aloha spirit. Alo means "in the presence of" and Ha is "the breath of life/creation," so together, aloha is the spirit of oneness and the love that is the breath of the soul. Hawaiians believe that all was founded on this love — the sea, the sky, the land, and all of its inhabitants.

The other night, when having dinner with my beau, he said, "You are the only person in my life who has such freedom right now to pursue her dreams with no boundaries, except for the ones that you impose on yourself. I know a lot of people, and I know no one who is in a position like yours."

As I quoted Dawna Markova at the start of this blog entry, "I will not die an unlived life. I will not live in fear of falling or catching fire." I ask for the strength to be less afraid, to move forward in pursuit of my dreams with the ferocity of a dragon, and to loosen my heart until it becomes a beacon of guiding light. The last few lines of her words embody what I feel teaching is about, "to live so that which came to me as seed goes to the next as blossom and that which came to me as blossom goes on as fruit."

May we all be dragons in blazing through the obstacles that stand in the way of our greatest potential to love life and thrive! That is my wish to all of us for this year of 2012.


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