Saturday, July 31, 2010

Me before & after

Reflection of my profile forming "a vase"
As human beings we are constantly evolving. Why would we be in this life unless it was to transform and be transformed—ideally in ways that are beneficial to ourselves and others.

I had an interesting experience/conversation Friday evening before last, as I waited for a friend in a yoga studio. As I sat on the couch, two people came to speak with me. One had met me more than ten years ago, the other had met me within the last ten years.

The woman who has known me over the course of ten-plus years told me that she found I was more fun "back then" (i.e. when I used to smoke, drink, party, etc) and that now I'm not fun.

The other person, who met me about two years ago, was open-mouth shocked. "Wow! I think she's a lot of fun!" he said. (I think I am too). He was also shocked to know that I used to drink and smoke. People who know me now usually can't put the two together. (I can't even put the two together!) They see me as being very 'clean'. They see my early bedtime, early yoga mornings, lack of interest in loud music and crowds as the way I have always been. And I guess it is who I always was, under the smoke.

The time I automatically wake up now to do yoga (sadhana) is the time I often used to be going to sleep after coming home early in the morning or being up late doing whatever-I-was-doing.

My desire to not be out socializing in loud/crowded pubs, clubs, etc is not because I never did. It's because they feel empty and false to me. How can you really get to know that person you are shouting at over the music, clouded by smoke and numbed by intoxicants? But more importantly, how can you get to know yourself?

When I started practising Kundalini Yoga ten years ago, I changed and so did my life. On the morning of 8 January 2001 (3 months after starting Kundalini) I awoke and, as I sat up in bed, a clear voice said: "You will not smoke again." I can't explain the experience beyond that. It was very simple and it was not my imagination. The thought of questioning the Voice did not even occur. Clearly I was ready and the Voice knew it.

From that day on, I never smoked again (I used to chain smoke), never even had a craving. On that same day, coffee drinking (I used to have a few cups a day) and consumption of alcohol (social beverage) also fell away. I did not have to try to give up anything ... and I have not looked back. I do not miss them for one second. That day was one of the best things that ever happened to me. Probably saved my life.

I'm not being judgmental when I say this, because I understand on many levels why smoking happens ... but now when I see people puffing away, it looks like an illusion, like some mirage behind a veil (literally and figuratively). It hurts to look at it. I see packs of cigarettes in the grocery and feel my stomach churn.
When will they package a few deep breaths in a box?

I remember once driving through Manzanilla with a friend who was visiting and, on one particular inhalation that went very deep, I said: "Wow, I feel like I just smoked myself!" In that moment I realised: maybe that's why people smoke - to inhale so deeply (even though that breath is filled with toxins). We are so subconscious about our breathing. We breathe shallowly, we hold our breath for long periods, we take it for granted. Yet each breath is what keeps us alive.


Tammy-Jade™ said...

I didn't know you "before" but I'm pretty sure if I had to choose I'd go for the "after".

You an inspiration and I truly admire your positivity and your energy for living life to the fullest.

The Trinigourmet said...

I feel you girl, and I get rather bristly when people somehow cite my lack of interest in the things/diversions you listed as somehow impugning my authenticity as a Trinidadian. Wot?!? Someone told me the other day I clearly don't have good enough friends else I would be participating in those activities.. hmm...Anyawy, much love those clear internal voices as well :) I know them well :) *hugs*

Elspeth said...

Yes. Very interesting the assumptions people come up with.


Truly the write-up is inspirational. Most of people don't like a "monotonous" routine but I have experienced that a routine (at least for sadhana) can give you immense peace of mind. I don't know how? I'm still confused and hovering in the midst of confusion about something beyond space, time and cause but surely it heals. though most of the time we have to pass through innumerable tests and sufferings...

Elspeth said...

Hello Subhajit. I feel sadhana strengthening commitment (among other things). Peace of mind maybe because in the midst of any 'tests' there is always the connection and solid point of sureness that we know from the discipline - even if we don't always realise or remember in times of confusion.

Unknown said...

We are the sum total of our experiences. Before you was necessary for the shaping of the now you:-) Unlike you, my road from smoking was not so easy and I still miss it but I don't - hard to explain. Thanks for the kind comments over on my blog:-)

Unknown said...

I read this blog entry when you posted it weeks ago and there was so much I wanted to say, so much I felt when I read this.

I’ve been struggling with discipline for years. I imagine, sense, and know where my life path is supposed to take me and who I am supposed to be. But, discipline has been my downfall. I get so caught up in emotional, spiritual and mind numbing experiences, that I’ve pushed my true self into the background time and time again.

I’ve been following your blog, on and off for a few years, probably since you were blogging on the first Now Is Wow, and I was very surprised to read this particular entry. I never would’ve imagined that you used to ‘party’ and lime the way that I do. Even smoking and drinking. Wow. Maybe I can come back from the edge. Ok, maybe I’m being a bit dramatic. :) But this post has given me strength somewhat. You have always been an inspiration to me, and to learn that you too, ‘lost’ yourself in similar de-vices in the past, gives me hope that I can find a solid footing on the path I know I am destined to follow.

So I guess what I’m trying to say, is, thank you.

Elspeth said...

Hi Luna, you're welcome. Thanks for letting me know. It always gives me a chuckle when people can't imagine me drinking and smoking. Just recently a friend posted a 'Back in Times' photo on his FBook and tagged me. There I was sitting with a beer in front of me. Immediately I knew the photo was about ten years old. So far away that it looks odd even to me. If it's your desire to transform, then you will, when the right moment and the right 'transformer' come along.