Intimate Journeys

Namaste WordPress friends!

I’ve been silent for almost two years now ( oh my god, time flies!). Since my last post there has been so much change in my life! In fact, it’s a totally new life for me! I’m a mother of a one year three month old toddler now! Going through pregnancy, giving birth and taking care of a baby – all these experiences were life-changing and very very transformative for me.

Me and my babyI’m intended to start blogging again, and since my interests have slightly changed, my topics could be a bit different now, though spirituality will always be at the heart of it all. My writing will be more informal too. I’ll just try to share some thoughts and inspirations.

And I’d like to start by sharing an article which is written not by me, but about me. I was recently interviewed by Cosmopolitan, Taiwan, and you can see the photos and a Chinese translation on this link:
http://www.cosmopolitan.com.tw/?p=8756

Here is the original article:

Cosmopolitan, Taiwan
November, 2013

Intimate Journeys
By Cindy H. Wang (王傳瑄)
Travelers from all over the world make their journeys to Taipei, and many of them choose to stay. Each person’s journey becomes a small piece of consciousness in time, and contributes to collective beauty of our city. Many foreigners learn the local language, adapt, and grow as they settle down. Their stories are all different, but their journeys all come from inside out. No matter where is the destination in their minds, as long as they listen to their hearts, their experience will always bring them closer to home.

Zoya lives in Xindian with her family. Every afternoon she takes a small journey with her one-year old boy to the nearby park for some exercise. She has always been agile, and her post-pregnancy slender figure seems even more fit than before. People who come in contact and interact with her are often in awe that, the beautiful and gentle Belarus woman who looks like a doll happens to speak Mandarin like a local person. Besides of being a full-time wife and mom, she is also an advanced yoga instructor who is fluent in Russian, English, and Mandarin, and has taught yoga around the world.

When she was studying in college, if anyone had told her that she would one day live in Taiwan, married to a Taiwanese artist, and teach yoga professionally, she would had laughed like it was a far-fetched fable. But years later, she is not working at a competitive corporation, she no longer smokes, drinks, or eat meat, and looks like a lively teenager. Her story is not in any form a fictitious tale, but a beautiful woman’s journey. Zoya is from Belarus. She majored in International Relations and minored in English and Chinese languages at the Belarus State University. She always excelled in everything she did, and after graduating, she came to Taiwan to study Political Science, and was recruited to work for the ROST (Russian Center for Cooperation with Taiwan) Group, where she worked as the special assistant of the President of the company. But the stress from school and the demanding job aggravated the lower back pain she had since she was a teenager. She began to practice yoga for her health, then found time from her busy schedule to complete yoga instructor certification training in Taipei.

She then left Taiwan in 2004, and moved to Malta. She lived in Malta of 6 years to be with her loved one. She also continued more advanced yoga training in India and Europe, and established Zoya Yoga center in Malta. Her thoughtfulness and patience make her a very popular teacher. She also created extended courses that last for a few months. The students who enroll in her classes all want to participate on long-term basis, as she also prefers to teach long-term course and cultivate comprehensive teacher-student relationships. She would start with basic postures and breathing exercises, then gradually introduce more advanced components physical and emotional components into the class. Analogous of any journey, it takes a beginning to get to anywhere. She would say, “it’s like no one can learn to read a novel before learning the alphabets and words, right?”

Her kindness and gentle guidance is always reflected in her classroom. After travelling from Eastern Europe to Asia, India, and many different places, her teaching has always come the guidance that encourage her students to take on their own personal journeys. She says that, “I create safe space for my student to increase awareness and allow any needed change. I am not the one to take responsibility and decide what’s right for them. But I can share some yoga tools that will show them the way. However, they must choose the direction, not me. At the same time, I keep working on myself, changing myself with the help of others as they reflect my shortcomings.”

Even thou she has left school and the world of international trading, she is still majoring in “relationships.” Her marriage is the proof of the dedicated relationship with her husband. She mentions that when they were dating, her intuition let her know that he was the one person she wanted to be with. The relationship between her son and her husband is also influenced by the sense of closeness that she brings, and the baby is already very close with his father. She also acknowledges that men and women need each other, just like how the energy of the sun and the moon complement each other.

Regarding on how to build strong relationships with others, her principles are honesty, trust, and openness. Everyone needs shield for protection, and some form of disguise. But when the self-discovering process releases personal bondage, any kind mask will become unnecessary, and even words will become excessive. She is fluent in three languages, but she has never been conformed or controlled by any books, philosophies, or knowledge. She believes that only her own direct experience is true. Whenever she comes across some profound realization herself, then the experience in confirmed in something she reads, she always feel validated, but that does not mean the written words are her guidance in life.

She is also perpetually discovering her inner life. Without any religious beliefs, she believes life is eternal. The interior life is always more important than the exterior, because no matter what, everything starts with the self. She says that, “Everything relationship you build is a reflection of yourself, and it’s always better to change yourself than others.” She also recalls that compare to before, she feels her life in the present moment is better, because she always listened to her heart, and never ceased to change.

Being a Leo, Zoya is analogous of a beautiful and graceful cat. But her life is not at all about sleeping under the sun. She and her husband have moved back to Taiwan for 4 years. Her impressive credential has made her the ideal teacher many yoga studios are seeking. Many of her students are also expecting her to open new sessions again. Her teaching will always allow students of any age to uncover and build better relationships as they learn to relax and let of lies and pretenses, and become more in touch with their own bodies. The journey of happiness and self-discovery is a long path. It is also the ultimate relationship with one’s self. It is never too late, and there is never a wrong time to embark.

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The Mastery of Love

Love…. There has been written so much about it. People try to express love through visual art, music, poetry… And yet it’s something no one can really explain. The reason is simple: it’s coming from the heart, no mind. Or maybe even from the soul as Rumi wrote once:

I love my friends neither with
my heart nor with my mind.
Just in case heart might stop,
Mind can forget.
I love them with my soul.
Soul never stops or forget.

Why do we love someone? Where does love come from? And what is love??? Once I wrote my thoughts on love in relationships and its different levels/stages (kama, prema, bhakti).

Today’s post is about self-love as this is a source for love we can share with others. It has nothing to do with egoism. Only when you nourish yourself you can nourish others. Without self-love we will always look for some «loving» relationship that will make us happy. Coming from the place of lack, it will be always based on negativity of lack. It will be about demanding love from a partner rather than unconditionally sharing our inner love. How can you share if you don’t have enough? What can you squeeze out if you are empty?…

illustration by Jason V Lu

Many years ago, a friend of mine gave me a little book by Don Miguel Ruiz called «The Mastery of Love». He said it helped him tremendously, and it was his everyday reading book for years. My English was quite poor back then, but I found that it was written in very simple words yet the meaning was very profound. Here comes a few pages of what the author said on self-love:

«Everyone has a price, and Life respects that price. But that price is not measured in dollars or in gold; it is measured in love. More than that, it is measured in self-love. How much you love yourself  – that is your price – and Life respects the price. When you love yourself, your price is very high, which means your tolerance for self-abuse is very low. It’s very low because you respect yourself. You like yourself the way you are, and this makes your price higher. If you don’t like things about yourself, the price is a little lower.

Sometimes the self-judgment is so strong that people need to be numb just to be with themselves. If you don’t like a person, you can walk away from that person. If you don’t like a group of people, you can walk away from those people. But if you don’t like yourself, it doesn’t matter where you go, you are right there. To avoid being with yourself, you need to take something to numb you, to take your mind away from yourself. Perhaps some alcohol is going to help. Perhaps some drugs will help. Perhaps eating – just eat, eat, eat. The self-abuse can get much worse. There are people who really feel self-hatred. They are self destructive, killing themselves little by little, because they don’t have the courage to kill themselves fast.

If you observe self-destructive people, you will see they attract people just like them. What do we do if we don’t like ourselves? We try to get numb with alcohol to forget our suffering. That’s the excuse we use. Where are we going to get alcohol? We go to a bar to drink, and guess who’s going to be there? People just like us, who try to avoid themselves also, who also try to get numb. We get numb together, we start talking about our suffering, and we understand each other very well. We even start to enjoy it. We understand each other perfectly because we vibrate in the same frequency. We are both being self-destructive. Then I hurt you, you hurt me – a perfect relationship in hell.

What happens when you change? For whatever reason, you no longer need the alcohol. It’s okay now to be with yourself, and you really enjoy it. You no longer drink, but you have the same friends, and everyone’s drinking. They get numb, they start getting happier, but you can clearly see that their happiness is not real. What they call happiness is a rebellion against their own emotional pain. In that “happiness” they are so hurt that they have fun hurting other people and hurting themselves.

You no longer fit in, and of course they resent you because you are no longer like them. “Hey, you are rejecting me because you no longer drink with me, because you don’t get high with me.” Now you have to make a choice: You can step back, or you can go to another level of frequency and meet people who finally accept themselves like you do. You find there is another realm of reality, a new way of relationship, and you no longer accept certain kinds of abuse».

illustration by Jason V Lu

And a bit more from the same chapter «The Dream Master»: «EVERY RELATIONSHIP IN YOUR LIFE CAN BE HEALED, every relationship can be wonderful, but it’s always going to begin with you. You need to have the courage to use the truth, to talk to yourself with the truth, to be completely honest with yourself. Perhaps you don’t have to be honest with the whole world, but you can be honest with yourself. Perhaps you cannot control what is going to happen around you, but you can control your own reactions. Those reactions are going to guide the dream of your life, your personal dream. It’s your reactions that make you so unhappy or make you so happy.

Your reactions are the key to having a wonderful life. If you can learn to control your own reactions, then you can change your routines, and you can change your life. You are responsible for the consequences of whatever you do, think, say, and feel. Perhaps it’s hard for you to see what actions caused the consequence – what emotions, what thoughts – but you can see the consequence because you are suffering the consequence or enjoying the consequence. You control your personal dream by making choices. You have to see if you like the consequence of your choices or not. If it’s a consequence you enjoy, then keep doing what you are doing. Perfect. But if you don’t like what is happening in your life, if you aren’t enjoying your dream, then try to find out what is causing the consequences you don’t like. This is the way to transform your dream. »

Thank you for reading it with me!

14th of Feb 2012

Zoya

http://www.zoyayoga.com

My Man

I am a lucky lucky girl!!! When I think about my life, gratefulness is just pouring out of my heart. I do what I love doing most and it pays my bills, I have supportive and loving family and friends, and the most important – I am in love with my husband, and it’s mutual! and it’s getting better and better with each day!

I believe, a woman can only experience real spiritual transformation in life when she falls in love and lives in long-term relationship with her loved one. And she can only be truly happy when she’s next to a loving, caring and strong man.

Today I ‘d like to introduce to you my Man, my soul-mate, my spiritual partner, my lover, my best friend, my husband – all in one – Jason V Lu.

J&Z Lu

Jason was born in Taiwan, but he’d lived abroad, both in the States and Europe, for twenty years, and we moved back to Taipei recently. He’s got golden hands – they are not just gorgeous looking, they can do anything that needs to be done – from fixing the bathroom to creating a chef-d’oeuvre. He loves animals, adores all the dogs and cats. He’s in love with his grandma. He’s always feeling hot! When I’m wearing three layers and a coat, he hardly needs any sweater at all. He’s energy is very strong and healing. By simply placing his hands onto an aching part of my body he soothes the pain right away. He is a strong and very tough guy. He always gets the results he wants. He is vegetarian and loves food. He is a great cook with super delicate taste-buds and huge variety of ingredients’ choice. Having absorbed Chinese, American and Italian culture into his very open mind, Jason’s got unique style in his cooking, as well as in his way of living, wearing clothes, and, of course, creating his art.

Jason has got a very solid classical art training, but he didn’t let it rigid him. He’s blessed with an unlimited source of creative power.  Ideas and images keep non-stop generating in his head. Jason’s extremely visual in his perception, and he found early in his life that expressing himself through drawing works better and it’s easier than writing words (he’s a bit dyslexic).  His art has always been very personal, reflecting the essence of his mind and heart. With years, as Jason keeps growing on his spiritual path, his art gets more and more energy oriented, more blessed with divine stroke, and more inspiring to others. Jason’s living motto is to help people. That’s how he sees his purpose of life, and that’s the goal of his creativity too.

Jason Lu

I’ve used and will use some of his artworks to illustrate my posts but please visit  www.jasonlu.com to see how versatile his approach in using art medium and styles to express himself. You’ll find there everything from classical nude oil paintings to most modern fibreglass installations of 5-8 meters height. His vision is grand, and he likes to create bigJ

His other website is www.consciouseed.com. It’s actually to some extend our mutual creation. There you’ll see the cards, posters, sculptures and jewellery that all are somehow connected to yoga and spirituality.

I hope you’ll enjoy picking into Jason’s world.

Zoya

http://www.zoyayoga.com

3d of Jan 2012

The Benefits of Compassion (by Dalai Lama)

Quote

“The first beneficiary of compassion is always oneself. When compassion, or warmheartedness, arises in us and our focus shifts away from our own narrow self-interest, it is as if we open an inner door. It reduces fear, boosts confidence and brings us inner strength. By reducing distrust, it opens us to others and brings us a sense of connection to others, and sense of purpose and meaning in life”.

His Holiness Dalai Lama

Love and the Ego

Love… this word has been used (and misused) for so long, and people define it in so many different ways, including into the definition a wide range of emotions that includes anything from pleasure and bliss to pain and suffering.

I think it’s interesting to look at how the same idea is expressed in different languages. I like referring to Sanskrit as it presents greater depth of meaning and precision. In Sanskrit there are three different words that we can translate as «love»: kama, prema and bhakti. Kama is love that is based on sexual attraction and lust, and associates with physical craving. Prema is conventional love, which is pure enough not to be counted as kama but yet not selfless to get to the next stage, it will involve emotional craving. Bhakti is the highest form of love, unconditional and infinite, and it is commonly linked to devotion and surrender to the Divine.

It’s important to understand on what type/stage of love a relationship is being based. If we talk about kama, then obviously there is no way the ego can be out of the game. It’s all about satisfying one’s desire. In this type of relationship one can’t find peace and contentment, the ego just won’t let it happen.

In case of Prema, there is deep emotional connection, to the degree when one’s heart sings «I can’t live without you». However, it also operates from the ego platform. That «I can’t live without you» usually is followed with «You can never leave me» or «Don’t you dare treat me like this» (read «you must satisfy ME»). Even if one decides to be loving and compassionate, and to do all possible to serve her/his partner, it’s often just a trick of the ego to get pumped up with «I’m so selfless, I’m so good», and it eventually (if not at once) will get followed by «and you… how could you…» (again, «you must satisfy ME»). This type of relationship also brings lots of suffering as the ego can never get enough, and nothing is permanent, all is bound to constant change and the final ending at one point.

Now, Bhakti… What is this unconditional love that can last forever? As the only thing that never dies is our Soul, Bhakti is love at the Soul level. To get THIS high, we must start seeing our partner as the Soul, the Divine Self, the Cosmic Consciousness (put any other name for the Highest Self to suit your cultural background and beliefs). If there was GOD (again, use any other word if this doesn’t appeal) in front of you, would you make that negative remark, would you not find time to help out, wouldn’t you serve him/her well?…   I hope you got the point. Never expecting anything in return, yet giving the whole of your Self. Without holding back. Constantly. With devotion. With joy. Maybe then we can have an experience similar to Mother Teresa’s who said once: « I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love».

I know we are all far from being saints, yet we can bring more Bhakti into the Prema relationship by learning to surrender our ego in devotion and humility (not humiliation), and treating our partner as a Divine Self (which he/she is anyway, as we all are!). A relationship is the best opportunity for self-development and spiritual growth. Take it!

Zoya Lu

http://www.zoyayoga.com

19th of Dec 2011

Eckhart Tolle about the ego and relationship

Quote

I don’t read many books. Somehow I feel that real knowledge can only come through my own experience. Meditation has proved to be the best tool to open the door to the wisdom source for me. In my life, the meditation came first, and then there were some books that helped me to put into the words my inner experiences and realisations. One of those books is The Power of the NOW by Eckhart Tolle – a great book I highly recommend to everyone who wants to be happy (unconditionally:).

Today I’d like to share a few quotes from this author who never fails to inspire me.

“If you cannot be at ease with yourself when alone, you will seek a relationship to cover up your unease.  You can be sure that the unease will then reappear in some other form within the relationship, and you will probably hold your partner responsible for it.”

«When you are enlightened, there is one relationship that you no longer have: the relationship with yourself.  Once you have given that up, all your other relationships will be love relationships. »
«As long as the ego runs your life, most of your thoughts, emotions, and actions arise from desire and fear. In relationships you then either want or fear something from the other person.

What you want from them may be pleasure or material gain, recognition, praise or attention, or a strengthening of your sense of self through comparison and through establishing that you are, have, or know more than they. What you fear is that the opposite may be the case, and they may diminish your sense of self in some way.

When you make the present moment the focal point of your attention — instead of using it as a means to an end — you go beyond the ego and beyond the unconscious compulsion to use people as a means to an end, the end being self-enhancement at the cost of others. When you give your fullest attention to whoever you are interacting with, you take past and future out of the relationship, except for practical matters. When you are fully present with everyone you meet, you relinquish the conceptual identity you made for them — your interpretation of who they are and what they did in the past — and are able to interact without the egoic movements of desire and fear. Attention, which is alert stillness, is the key.

How wonderful to go beyond wanting and fearing in your relationships. Love does not want or fear anything. »

Eckhart Tolle

The Way to a Happy Marriage

Celebration time – it’s been 7 years since I’m married! I am certainly not an expert on a man-woman relationship. After all, it’s only 7 years. But somehow I feel that if we’ve made it through these 7 years of marriage, and came out even more in love and in tune with each other than before we tied the knot, maybe it’s worth sharing a few points with those who are in love and want to keep it up.
I have to admit that for the first years of our life together (which coincided with the first years of our marriage, as we jumped into it barely knowing each other) we constantly argued and fought our way to happiness. Now when I look back, I don’t even understand how we survived through these intense times filled with blame, guilt, anger, grievance and hurt. But look at us now! People often think we are just dating, or have married recently. No one believes we’ve been together for so long. So what’s the secret of keeping it gentle and perky?

Other than loving each other, it’s primarily important to have determination to stay together, no matter what. I am lucky to have an example of my parents who are still together after 40 (!) years of their married life. So from childhood I’ve always thought I’ll be married once and forever. If one enters marriage with the mood of trying it out, «to see if it works», the divorce is guaranteed. Every couple goes through many troubles and hard times, and that’s where determination makes a huge difference.

Not less important than determination is our willingness to change, to constantly work on ourselves. And this starts with learning about yourself through your loved one. That’s why we come together, I believe, a life after life, we use our partner as a mirror that perfectly (and permanently!) reflects all we have to show. And if we might know of our pleasant sides, or love to find more of them at any time, we commonly find it difficult to accept our shortcomings, especially when this awareness comes through someone who is so dear to us. However, the moment we get closed for self-improvement, we jeopardise our marriage. Accept where you are, and do your best to become a better husband/wife.

The rest is just common sense but many of us are far from doing it. (Excuse me writing only about the way you should treat HIM, it works the same way in relation to HER (in case you are a man and reading it))

  1. Try to please you loved one! Don’t you love him? If the answer is yes, the truth is – you can only be happy when he is happy.  So make him happy, it equals to making yourself happy!
  2. Don’t expect him to make you happy. In fact, just don’t expect anything. Period. When there are expectations, there are disappointments. Wouldn’t you rather be surprised with something nice, than expect it and didn’t get it?
  3. Find joy in your family responsibilities. Transform it into your love meditation in action. May everything you do for your partner remind you of your mutual love. Serving him equals making him happy, which equals…? If you didn’t get the answer, look at point 1.
  4. Make him your best friend. Trust is crucial in any relationship, especially in such intimate one as with your life partner. Talk about what matters to you (any thoughts, desires, dreams) and ask your partner advice on all you do. Also listen closely when your partner shares with you his heart, and never betray him by talking about it with others (unless he advised otherwise).
  5. Never complain about your loved one to anyone except those people who can help to see the solution. Judging your loved one behind his back never brought anyone happiness. Instead why not try and see positive things in your relationship? Then talk about those things and make them bloom!
  6. Antoine de Saint-Exupery said: «Loving is not just looking at each other, it’s looking in the same direction». Dream your future together, make time (and mood) to talk about things that make you both thrive so you can choose and agree on direction that you are moving towards.

I didn’t realize I’ve got so many points, and I could have continued:) But that’s all for now.

Well, just one more point – if at any time you’ve got a desire to do something opposite to recommended above, please stop and ask yourself:  Is at this moment the amount of ego in me is overpowering the amount of love?

That’s what love is all about. Loving someone as yourself. Or even more! To be able to truly love (yourself or someone else), you must put aside your ego. (How to? that’s a long topic for another post). But dealing with the ego is absolutely essential to finding your true self and your true love which lasts «happily ever after».