(A self proclaimed growth junkie’s view on how TY works as well if not better than any self development program available out there.)
At the age of 10, I told myself that I would live an extraordinary life; a life based on my own terms and conditions, and what I want out of life. I made up my mind to create an awesome life, and never settle for mediocrity.
Since then, I constantly strive to be better. While other kids my age were thinking about where to go for movies after school, or where to go for the next school holiday, I worked to earn money for my education. Before I realized it, I was all grown up – a successful young working adult who overcame adversity to get to where I was. There were several successful achievements of which I was proud of – being a straight ‘A’s student in college, earning an NUS degree all by myself, getting my dream job in a financial industry, and a paycheck I never imagined was possible.
The best thing that ever happened to me however, was not the material success. It was the early-life crisis that led me to question “Who am I?”, and eventually the wisest choice of my life to leave corporate and pursue my passion in Yoga. My life now is much more satisfying and fulfilling and I will never want to exchange this for anything else.
The thirst for knowing myself has somewhat compounded in the last decade. A self proclaimed ‘Growth Junkie’, I attended more development programs than I could count with my 20 fingers and toes. From loud ‘ra-ra’ adrenalin pumping seminars, to language based forums, intensive retreats and camps which included lots of crying and screaming, to energy-based healing therapies like Reiki, esoteric dance, hypnotherapy and eventually Yoga, I spent a whopping 6-figure sum on developing myself just in the last decade alone.
All these programs were mostly great; they worked at that specific space time of my life. While I used to enthusiastically enroll close friends and loved ones to do the programs that I did, I stopped doing that when I discovered two things:
- At some level, every tool employed in these programs is a Yogic tool. There is nothing I can find in them that I can’t find in Yoga. However, there are plenty in Yoga that are not found in them.
- The results gained varied with different people, and some seemed to fade off with time.
- There are flaws in every modality, none of them are complete on their own; just like there are imperfections in every human. Some teachers and program facilitators are aware of that (which is very respectable); some are not.
Regardless, when friends and yoga students asked me of an opinion of these programs, my first response is always that of delight. Anyone striving for betterment deserves nothing less than a delightful response. Then I would give a summary of my experience, followed by a hi-five “Give it all you have, enjoy the whole process and have a bunch of fun!”.
The only one Science that caught my heart, and continued to captivate me even more as I delve deeper into it however, is only Yoga. The word Yoga means union, as taught by the sacred texts that existed long before anyone invented any conceivable self development modality. It has been there way before the well known masters and trend setters like Socrates, Karl Marx, Pyhatogarus, Freud, Jung and Einstein. We don’t yet know for certain how and where the scriptures, the Upanishads originated from – some sources traced it to ancient holy men called Rishis who meditated and compiled it, others said it seemed to be there before human beings even existed. But unmistakably the study and practice of Yoga itself is a journey towards completion. Anyone who is passionate and consistent about Yoga knows this – It always feels like we have reached home.
Science is only now beginning to discover all the laws of reality that has already been recorded in the Vedas and Upanishads dating back up to 6,000 years ago. Does that tell us something about the integrity of Yoga?
In our modern world today there are too many scattered ideas and methodologies about Yoga, and I consider it our good karma to have a chance to know Yoga in the ancient forms, particularly the Transformational tradition. This tradition is unlike most other traditions in that it unifies and integrates the key ancient principles as taught in the major Upanishads.
(The Yoga we are talking about here is not the diluted forms practiced in gyms and commercial centers. We are referring to traditional Yoga, the non adulterated forms of teaching as handed down in the Upanishads, practiced consistently and applied proactively, in a targeted and self inquiring manner.)
In and of itself, Yoga, when practiced the ancient way as taught by the sages, is a tool for self realization. Here’s where it gets interesting. What has self realization got to do with winning in life? Realize what?
Upanishadic wisdom teaches that our ultimate aim is to realize the Self, the unlimited, infinite, vast Source from which came all these experiences of reality we think we are experiencing. In this Self, lies our infinite potential. In other words, the Upanishads teach that our ultimate aim as a human being includes winning (ourselves) and succeeding in life. We are meant to thrive, not survive.
To win in life can be generally accepted to mean getting what we want, and reaching new heights in life. It includes being successful in career, money, love, social circles and all areas of our life. So, I had always been curious – what determines the actions that lead to success? What determines how much conscious choice we have over actions that create a destiny that is successful?
The answer to that is Awareness and State.
For any lasting transformation to occur, you first must have self awareness. If you can’t see it, you can’t solve it. If you can’t see why you are creating the same situation over and again, you can’t change a thing. Only when you see how you allow yourself to play small, why you always sabotage yourself, that you begin to command higher situations into your life.
This refers to the energetic state of beingness with which we think, speak and act. Is it an expansive, empowering state; or is it a reducing, limiting state. Is it highly, positively charged, or flaccid. How often do you live in the former, and how often in the latter. This is so important, and so simple that most of us don’t notice.
Besides having a body that someone 20 years younger than you would envy, there are some pretty good reasons why Yoga is the coolest tool you can ever learn and use to live an extraordinary life. As for Transformational Yoga, well, it is simply kick-butt powerful! I’m not even going into the details of how TY gives you at least double the effects of any regular Yoga class you get outside. Perhaps I will just mention that the very moment you add in the breathing and sound projections into an Asana, you amp up the heat and difficulty. If you could do an Asana with TY, you can do it in any way you want – Hatha, Vinyasa or Bikram.
So, here’s why Yoga is cool:
Would you go shop for apples in the markets when you can have the entire apple plantation, with every possible breed and colors of apples, in your backyard? Why not go straight to Source.
Isolated Yoga modalities can be found in every, and I literally mean every, self development program out there. But as I mentioned earlier, we can’t say the same for the vice versa. Many famous, ‘ra-ra’ kind of motivational programs uses intensity, movement and loud music to alter state. They showcase life examples of other participants as a huge mirror so that we can see ourselves – awareness.
In TY, we use Mantras to work with the mind. Instead of using Mantras, these programs use language. The difference is that Mantras invoke an energetic effect – it bypasses our thinking mind; while language stills carries a layer of individual meaning, which is subjective. The results depends on how much gunk a person has on their filters. For some, the effects are impressive immediately after the program; however they sometimes disappear quickly too. Shifts are hardly permanent unless new structures are established – usually involving new routines, daily rituals and joining a community.
These are all good, and of course every institution has their own agenda. Many of their programs are structured around these agendas. As in, your progress after the program hinges on serving their agendas. Which are not wrong or bad; but it certainly helps for us to see clearly what these are. It is OK to serve their agenda as long as it serves you equally well too.
Language based forums are great in creating shift, I myself benefited substantially from some of them. But then again, I had Yoga as my base; and sustainability of results for different people vary greatly, as I’ve noticed. The compromise comes from the fact that human beings are multi layered integral beings with states of consciousness beyond the mental body. There are more powerful states beyond the mind that affect our habits and behavior. These states are not detectable in our waking state ie. they are not accessible while we are engaged with the mind using words. Because words and language are still created within the boundaries of mind.
The most effective method to access, understand and alter these deeper, subtle states of consciousness is via the ancient practice of Yoga Nidra (which is NOT hypnosis by the way; its a different game altogether).
“The Cosmic Person (Purusha) is all this, what has been and what will be.
From his mind, the Moon was born, from his eye came the Sun. From his mouth arose the powers of fire and lightning. From the wind his breath was born.
From his navel came the atmosphere, from his head Heaven, from his feet the Earth and from his ears, the directions of space. Thus all the worlds were formed.”
Rig Veda X.90, 2, 12, 14.
The Vedas taught that the ultimate aim of humans is to realize the Purusha, the light of the Cosmic Being and Cosmic Universe. This Purusha both exist in our hearts and pervades throughout the entire Universe.
Before we begin to ascend the path, we have to possess clear vision.
Many of these retreats and programs are great as ‘spring cleaners’. They wipe off the dirt from our windscreen, and suddenly, we see clearer. At least for a few days (or weeks depending how dirty our car is). And then you see new roads, new options. But before long, dirt starts to accumulate again.
Transformational Yoga practice gives us crystal clear vision. After every session, we sense mental clarity, become calmer, more balanced, and more self assured. We are ready to start on a clean slate. Compared to peering through a murky windscreen, we can now drive with more confidence. It doesn’t end here; even if we allow for just a simple 5 minute breath meditation or silent self inquiry, we could actually begin to see how the dirt flies onto our screen, and prevent it from flying onto our screen again.
Here’s a really simple tip. Before you begin your practice, start by centering yourself through the breath. Then set an intention. It could be – ‘I want to solve this problem right now and I want to see more options for solutions at the end of this practice.’ or ‘What is it in me that is creating this repeating behavior in this situation/person.’ or ‘What is it that I’m not seeing that is preventing me from getting XXX.’ or ‘What is the immediate thing I have to do to achieve this XXX result.’ At the end of your practice, center yourself again, and then revisit the question. Then simply allow the answers to surface. The truth is that you already know and have all the answers, resources to everything you ever needed. Your answers are found in your own Truth, this Truth is all you ever need, and it resides in your Self. TY shortens the distance between you and Self.
There is only one Truth in you, and that’s the only Truth you ever need to know; everything else is just what other people says to you.
I was one of those people who are always going for different healing retreats, meditation camps and programs. While it is good to explore different modalities at various intervals of your life, there could come a time where you overdo it and get pulled in several different directions. Yes, maybe there is some trauma to release or some blind spots to realize, but it could be easy to lose sight of what was important in the first place, plus an average understanding of each modality, hardly a mastery. You must know that all of these things you learn are only as useful as they help you to realize your inner Teacher, they must help you look within, and eventually your inner Teacher becomes strong enough that you don’t need external teachers. Make sense? There has to be a time where you actually start doing life.
“Whatever is here is found elsewhere. But whatever is not here is nowhere else.” Mahabharata
As long as any teacher has a physical body, there is a possibility of limitations. Whether it is a highly respected facilitator or a swami wearing robes, he/she is still human. The greatest teacher is the one that lives in you. All external teachers (including yours truly, if I’m fortunate to be one of yours) are meant to lead you to your own Truth, your own Teacher. Therefore, there is no hard and fast rules to follow for prolonged periods of time. What worked before may not work now or in future. What I say to you now could be completely obsolete in another 5-10 years. But they will work in this moment to bring you closer to your own Truth.
This is where Yoga, especially Transformational Yoga beats all the other programs hands down. The more you practice, the more you recognize your own Truth, and you become your own Teacher. You have at your disposal the tools to clear your windscreen any time you wish; and alter your state at will. Life unfolds before you like a huge forum everyday, people and things show up as your biggest mirror for learning. All you need to do is just set aside alone time and go hang out on your mat.
If you could win a million bucks now without moving an inch, would you choose to wait and have it in 3 years and only after traveling a hundred miles?
In fact, TY helps you realize in astonishing short periods of time, the things in your life that are unnecessary, people and situations that are not helpful, and how you can avoid them amicably. There was a point in my life that I was doing a few programs simultaneously. Friends called me a ‘seminar junkie’. Not that there was anything bad with that, but I was completely wiped out on most days. Plus I had no life. Growth was phenomenal yes. Was that the only way to get the same growth? No. Was there a shorter simpler way with more time to enjoy the other parts of my life? Heck, yes. When I reflected back, I realized I could have that same growth, maybe even more, had I allocated a fraction of time to my Practice; if I had taken time to look inwards instead of outwards. But its all good, because that was what I needed to realize I don’t have to go that way again, and take other better alternatives.
Shifts are not permanent unless you eradicate the underlying beliefs.
Beliefs are caused by Samskaras, or simply, the loop of our Karma. These Samskaras, flavored and colored in a certain pattern to cause us to believe, behave and become in a corresponding pattern, are only visible when we get conscious of our unconscious natures.
Samskaras live in the unconscious parts of our mind and continue to control our behavior from there. The bad news is that we will never be free of these Samskaras as long as they stay hidden in the unconscious. We can keep attending seminar after seminar, program after program; retreat after retreat; we keep sending the car for a wash, change a new car, use a new car washer, and still, the Samskaras will cause the same kind of dirt to accumulate in the same speed at the same spots on our windscreen eventually.
The good news is that, we can ‘discolor’ the Samskaras, bit by bit, via Yoga Nidra. We fade them out so they have a less push/pull over our behavior. Yoga Nidra is extremely powerful, but also one of the hardest modalities to master because its effectiveness lies not only with the cleanliness of our physical, emotional and mental bodies, but also with the strength of concentration, and intensity of Kundalini that has been awakened. The beauty of TY is that it prepares the practioner to be ready for a deep NIdra in the shortest amount of time.
As Samskaras loses their color, the drivers of actions become paler, less dirt flies onto our screen. Eventually, we see new roads that are smoother, shorter, less dirty and more enjoyable than others, and we choose to drive down those roads.
You are everything that you experience as Reality and more.
You are the Universe.
Have you ever wondered – What is this reality that we are experiencing? We already know that matter is not solid. If everything is energy in the universe, then Einstein’s famous equation of E = MC Sq offers some comfort. But this formula has too many flaws in that the assumptions are doubt-able. For one, this formula works only when there is gravity i.e. a point of reference. And two, that the speed of light is constant and time is linear. But is time really linear? Any one who practices meditation or studies Quantum Mechanics will tell you that linearity is questionable.
It is not inaccurate to say that space and time only makes sense with the force of gravity. And our planet is but a speck of something which we don’t quite know yet, in a continuously expanding Universe.
Hawkins came up with a brilliant conclusion on Reality “There is no observer-independent observation of reality.” Physicists have now discovered Quantum Mechanics, theories which are in total conflict with Classical Particle Physics. In short, Quantum Mechanics suggest that matter, or simply stuff as we know, is not fixed; atoms behave like a particle when nobody is watching, and a wave when someone is observing.
Here’s where it gets exciting. Under the study of Quantum Chromodynamics (how atoms bind together to give us stuff), the formulas work backwards into a value of zero. The Universe is nothing in terms of quantity.
Quantum Mechanics and its modifications have been widely argued and debated. From the perspective of Science, our human brain could not comprehend why matter is nothing, and how can something be derived from nothing. But from the perspective of a Yogic brain, armed with knowledge from the major Upanishads, we know we have been asking the wrong question. The right question to ask instead is – Why does nothing seem like something? The answers to this question alone will lead us into our Truths.
Are you becoming as excited as me? There is something about Quantum Mechanics that reinforces everything we read and practiced in TY. It keeps me awake at night, and makes me so enthusiastic that I want to do cartwheels around my neighborhood.
ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE. Your life is as awesome or as awful as you want it to be. You choose it, and then you create it, whether you know it or not.
You are already creating destiny every moment; why not make it conscious, make it awesome and live like a champ?
(C) Copyright Linda Loo 2016
To start your awesome life today, join us for a trial class. More details can be found here. To register, email to email@example.com with your name and contact number.
You can also get a copy of the book to begin your practice at home.