“Right now, can you make an unconditional relationship with yourself? Just at the height you are, the weight you are, the intelligence that you have, and your current burden of pain? Can you enter into an unconditional relationship with that?” – Pema Chodron, Comfortable With Uncertainty
Last December, I experienced Tibet’s heaviest snow in the past decade while en route to Lhasa from Shigatse. Locals expected the temperature to be “-5 degrees” at most, only to be hit by the reality of a bitter -22 drop during one night near Everest’s 5000m altitude base camp. It was so cold that the hotel’s pipes froze and turned our toilet bowl water into a solid cube. “You can do it! Others in Oymyakon, Russia, live with -55!” I screamed internally.
Yet, it was hard to voice my discomfort within four walls when I saw superhuman sherpas and pilgrims walk with bare hands while I had three gloves on. “Mind be strong. Just take off jacket and socks, lie down under blanket. For one minute, don’t move, relax. You will be warm,” advised Namgyal, our guide. But, of course, we still slept with four blankets, gloves and three layers of clothes that night.
In the high mountains, ‘mind over matter’ isn’t a quote in a cursive font to stick on your wallpaper—it’s a matter of survival. Not only do you have to battle the cold, but also the lack of oxygen. At 5000m altitude, oxygen supply is cut by almost half.
Journal Prompts For Self Discovery
2.58am, 4 April 2019
How do I feel at the moment?
My calf is a bit cold, I’m a bit hungry and unsure if my dog Bibi just farted. I also feel like I’m talking to a therapist who reveals I’m actually me talking to myself à la Leonardo DiCaprio in Shutter Island.
What do you care about most in life?
The safety and welfare of people I love, the beauty in everyday moments and a job that allows me to help others in a way I believe in.
What are 3 words that describe you?
Curious. Empathetic. Skeptical.
What’s the biggest problem with the human race?
We are at a war with our own species. We are schizophrenic.
A woman carves a successful career out of her love for tidying rooms. She writes books to help people spark joy and makes a show on Netflix, which reinforces my beliefs in having less and being more.
Clickbait Youtube channels reveal her obsession stemmed from OCD, an acronym for a disorder we loosely use to describe the way we arrange our utensils in a neat row for the first time. But we don’t mind because her positivity is refreshing to watch among modern films of misery porn.
I respect Marie Kondo’s positive influence and effort. It’s easier to get famous with a sex tape these days, than with a book on thanking your clothes. I think friends and family of hoarders should have her face secretly set as a desktop wallpaper.
In a world of fast fashion, food and everything, it’s ironic how we crave the need to slow down. Just like Marie, many content creators reiterate the importance of knowing the true value of life.
Pinterest is flooded with ethical, sustainable lifestyle tips; Nas Daily made a video about how he lives out of a suitcase; 15-year-old Swedish activist, Greta Thunberg, sparked a global protest to stop global warming and climate change.
When I was a kid, I sat at the dining table with my mother and told her I had a vivid thought that often surfaced to mind. It didn’t feel like a dream. I was almost sure it was me, my identity, in a place that felt distant and familiar.
In my memory, I was asleep when I heard an echo of a woman’s voice. When the voice grew louder, I opened my eyes and saw thin red lines illuminating the dark. I told my mother, “I heard a woman’s voice repeat, ‘Would you like the blue marker or the red marker?’ And then I closed my eyes.”
I remember the look on my mother’s face that afternoon. When she was pregnant with me, she said that question was what she asked her class before every lesson she taught as a teacher in 1992.
Maybe my lurid, childhood imagination played tricks on me. It could have been sheer coincidence. But I wondered: why is the idea of rebirth/reincarnation so quickly dismissed by those who believe only humans exist among millions of galaxies, if we can’t even see dark matter that takes up 85% of total mass in the universe?
Here’s the gist: Millennials aren’t lazy; they’re just insecure.
Though I enjoyed most of my career life in publishing and marketing, I never wanted to write professionally in Singapore. It wasn’t because I didn’t love writing; I simply loved it too much to risk hating it by turning leisure into work and reducing my margin for error in exchange for mass appeal.
For four years, I did marketing and PR for a Michelin-starred restaurant group that served (mostly) Crazy Rich Asians. I hosted journalists from Japan to Russia, proofread menus in French, edited company material in English, and made small talks in calculated intervals to SOS out of awkward silences through 7-course media tastings. Life was a carousel of press releases, media interviews and photoshoots.
Two years later, at 24, I kickstarted a publishing company with a leading media group for Gen Ys. Backstory: I applied for their creative role instead.
As an editor, I spent hours weeding words from mental vomit and rehoming ideas in blank pages. Write-edit-pitch-write-edit-reject-approve-interview-hire-train, and repeat. Life was one advertisement after another; analytics on a spreadsheet; a social numbers game. I think I did a decent job, pushing a new team to go from 0 to 1 million views on Youtube and Facebook.
I never knew my mother was a teacher until I turned 10 or 11.
I knew she marked school papers till 1.00am and woke up at 5.30am religiously. But, somehow, I only saw her as ‘mum’; the person who cleaned my potty, braided my hair and sent me to school.
Every morning, I watched her pat on her makeup and tell herself “lipstick is what every girl needs to not look like a ghost.” And every night, I watched her prepare lesson plans with English Breakfast tea with Marks & Spencer ginger biscuits on her antique desk.
I eventually learnt she taught English, Literature, and Social Studies. That she met my dad while studying in Canada, came to Singapore, and never left her first job in teaching.
For 30 years, she carried on the same routine, even when she cried herself to sleep from the workload of raising four kids and over 400 students. I never understood why.
While addressing a group of students in Chennai, India, Sadhguru answered a question on how to maintain joy and happiness regardless of the external circumstances.
Questioner: Good evening, sir. I listened to a lecture of yours that talked about joy and happiness. You said joy depends on oneself, whereas happiness depends on others.
I tried a little while to practice it but what I found was that I was not able to sustain those small moments of joy. I could experience joy when I was completely into it, very passionate about what to do, but somehow when an external person or entity recognizes what I do, the joy is just out of my life.
So how do you sustain those moments of joy and not succumb to pleasures of happiness? If you could… it would be nice if you can share the difference between joy and happiness to this crowd too.
Sadhguru: Let’s say your Dean tells you what kind of clothes you should wear. Immediately, there’ll be protests in the college. If your Dean goes further and tells you, “everybody should get up at five o’clock in the morning.”