Positive thinking is not freedom

Just as drugs or medicines are useless to those who are free from physical or mental illness, positive thinking is irrelevant to the mind that is free from ignorance and egoism.

Positive thinking is one of the yoga practice to counter negative thinking, but it’s not the goal of the yoga practice, as if the mind needs to be thinking in the positive way, to be positive and stay positive, it means that the mind is still not free from being determined by the mind perception of duality under the influence of ignorance.

The mind that is free, perceives all the names and forms as they are, or sees things as they are. Everything is just what it is, neither good nor bad, neither positive nor negative. This mind doesn’t need to think positively. It doesn’t need to practice positive thinking to counter negative thinking as there is no negative thinking. All forms of yoga practice exist as different tools for the ignorant egoistic mind to be free from ignorance and egoism. Any form of yoga practice is useless to the mind that is free from ignorance.

The mind is not free, is due to it is still perceiving all the names and forms under the influence of ignorance and egoism perceiving duality of good and bad, positive and negative, and the mind is being determined by duality, where there’s craving/clinging towards the mind perception of the quality of good and positive, and aversion towards the mind perception of the quality of bad and negative, then this mind can practice positive thinking to counter so called negative thinking, or more precisely, ignorant egoistic thinking in the mind.

It’s like drugs or medicines to counter certain physical or mental illness, positive thinking is just a tool to counter negative/ignorant thinking. It’s not freedom if one needs to depend on drugs or medicines all the time, similarly it’s not freedom if the mind needs to rely on positive thinking as the mind is still not free from the influence of ignorance and egoism.

Be free.

Freeing the mind from being conditioned by worldly thinking and belief

The minds that are under the influence of ignorance, that are ignorant towards itself is being conditioned by worldly egoistic social/cultural/religious thinking and belief, are being limited to be in certain ways and not to be in certain ways to feel good, happy and meaningful, or not. There will be judgment or identification of “If I’m like this, I’ll be okay, good and happy. And if I’m not like this, I’ll be not okay, not good and not happy.” or “If life is like this, it’s good and meaningful. And if life is not like this, it’s not good and meaningless.” or “Things/people should be like this or shouldn’t be like that, then it’s right and good, or else it’s bad and wrong.”

Such as many ‘yoga teachers’ would think and believe that they need to attend Internationally recognized ‘yoga teachers training courses’ and be ‘qualified’ and ‘certified’ to be ‘yoga teachers’, to be ‘authorized’ and ‘allowed’ to teach yoga to other people, and need to be attending ongoing ‘yoga courses’ to be upgrading one’s knowledge and teaching skills, and also believing that ‘possessing all these names and forms’ would also make them responsible ‘good’, ‘well-trained’ and ‘well-informed’ yoga teachers. Or, many ‘yoga students’ who think and believe that ‘yoga teachers’ who attended Internationally recognized ‘yoga teachers training courses’ to be ‘qualified’ and ‘certified’ to be ‘Internationally recognized yoga teachers affiliated with such and such yoga alliance/association/organization’ as well as attending ongoing ‘yoga courses’ to be upgrading their knowledge and teaching skills or those who have been ‘teaching yoga’ for such and such years, that they must be ‘good and responsible yoga teachers’, or else, they are not good or responsible yoga teachers. But yoga and teaching yoga to others are not determined by all these names and forms at all.

Such as many people including many yoga enthusiasts and physical/mental health professionals, who think and believe that ‘the practice of silence’, ‘seclusion’, ‘solitude’, ‘dispassion’, ‘renunciation from worldly affairs/ties/connections/relationships/activities/interactions/communications’, ‘refraining the mind from going out chasing after the objects of the senses that stimulate the mind and to gratify the desire of craving and aversion which empower the ego/egoism that feed the ignorance’, or ‘reducing/limiting mind imprints of ceaseless inputs and outputs to silent the restless modification of the mind’ are something ‘sad’, ‘bad’, ‘wrong’, ‘unhealthy’, ‘insane’, ‘mad’, or ‘meaningless’, as all these observances appeared to be contradicted with the ‘normal’ and ‘healthy’ worldly thinking/belief/values/behavior/practice/way of living. But, these are the observances that would free the mind from ignorance and suffering.

The egoistic minds that are under the influence of ignorance and egoism need the presence of someone else or something to be constantly acknowledging/validating one’s existence or purpose, or to feel ‘needed/wanted’ by other people, to be acknowledged and identified by oneself and others as “I am a lovable, knowledgeable, intelligent, generous, friendly, helpful, good, kind and caring person who is needed/wanted by other people to be there in their life.”

Meanwhile, the minds that are free from ignorance, that are not being conditioned by worldly egoistic thinking and belief, are free being anyway, being undetermined by the quality of names and forms, impermanent changes, time, space and causation (actions and the consequences of actions), without judgment or identification of “If I’m like this, I’ll be okay, good and happy. And if I’m like that, I’ll be not okay, not good and not happy.” or “If life is like this, it’s good and meaningful. And if life is not like this, it’s not good and meaningless.” or “Things/people should be like this or shouldn’t be like that, then it’s right and good, or else it’s bad and wrong.”

The selfless minds that are void of ignorance and egoism don’t need the presence of anyone or anything to be constantly acknowledging/validating one’s existence or purpose, or to feel ‘needed/wanted’ by other people, to be acknowledged and identified by oneself and others as “I am a lovable, knowledgeable, intelligent, generous, friendly, helpful, good, kind and caring person who is needed/wanted by other people to be there in their life.” even though they might be performing actions that are ‘helping’/’supporting’/’benefiting’ other people, without attachment, identification or association.

The minds that are void of ignorance and egoism have no ‘problems/troubles/disturbs/hurts/disappointment/dissatisfaction’ that need to be ‘shared with’ or ‘heard by’ other people, and don’t need other people keep asking oneself “How are you/Are you okay?”, to feel being noticed, acknowledged, heard, understood, sympathized, empathized, cared, liked, loved, helped, supported or touched by ‘other people’.

It’s everyone’s freedom for what and how they think/believe/behave/desire/don’t desire. Only those who have sufficient awareness to be aware of and acknowledge the ignorance in one’s mind would have initiative to free the mind from ignorance.

Being alone doesn’t induce the sense of ‘loneliness’. Being alone is not something sad, bad, or unhealthy. It’s the thinking that is under the influence of worldly social/cultural/religious thinking and belief about “Loneliness is deriving from being alone, and being alone is something sad, bad and unhealthy.” that causing the mind thinks and feels lonely, sad, bad and unhealthy for being alone. As there are many people who are not alone also would suffer from ‘loneliness’, while there are people who often being alone by oneself don’t suffer from ‘loneliness’, neither will they feel disturbed when surrounded by other people, just that they don’t associate/involve with other people’s actions and reactions, and they do not interfere with other people’s different ways of thinking/belief/behavior/practice/living.

Most mental health professionals would suggest and encourage people who suffer from ‘loneliness’ to be with other people, to talk to other people, to interact with other people, or to engage in some form of physical/mental/emotional activities with other people so that they will feel less lonely, and it might make people feel less lonely when their minds are being busy with the engagement with physical/mental/emotional activities with some other people, but it doesn’t really free the mind from the suffering of ‘loneliness’. Because ‘loneliness’ is not caused by being alone, or isolation from other people, or not engaging in any activities with other people.

It’s the egoism of attachment/clinging towards the presence of other people being around and the desire of craving for receiving acknowledgement, attention, empathy, sympathy, love, care, liking, understanding, or support from other people and the attachment/craving towards the mind stimulation of inputs and outputs derived from engaging in social physical/mental/emotional interactions/activities with other people, that the mind feels lonely/miserable/sad/wrong/unhealthy for being alone without any physical/mental/emotional contact with ‘someone’ or ‘something’ for an extended period of time. It’s like the addiction towards certain substances and the mind will feel great/satisfied/happy/relieved momentarily within the effectiveness of the substances, but once the effect of the substances is gone, the mind will crave for getting the effect of the substances again, and again, and it will feel uneasy/unhappy/dissatisfied/irritated/agitated/anxious/aggressive/sad/miserable/sicked if it’s craving for the effect of the substances is not being gratified over an extended period of time.

Just like low self-esteem, dissatisfaction, disappointment, hurts, anger, fear, worry, guilt, regret, pride, arrogance, unhappiness, meaninglessness and etc, ‘loneliness’ is the by-products of ignorance and egoism and being conditioned by worldly egoistic thinking and belief to think/feel/analyze/judge/behave/desire/act and react towards all the mind perception of names and forms or life experiences in certain ways, it’s not coming from particular environment, condition, situation, people, things or happening being sad, bad, wrong, negative, depressing, disappointing, disturbing, hurtful or unhealthy. Such as by giving the mind what it likes and wants and not giving the mind what it doesn’t like and doesn’t want would give momentary satisfaction to the mind, but it doesn’t free the mind from ‘dissatisfaction’. By doing what the mind likes to do and achieving what the mind wants to achieve might give the mind the momentary sense of confidence, happiness and meaningfulness, but it doesn’t free the mind from the sense of ‘low self-esteem’, ‘unhappiness’ and ‘meaninglessness’.

‘Loneliness’ doesn’t exist in the selfless/’I’less/egoless and silent mind. In silence and selflessness, who is there to perceive/experience/feel/identify with loneliness, low self-esteem, dissatisfaction, disappointment, unhappiness, meaninglessness, hurts, anger, fear, worry, guilt, regret, pride, arrogance and etc?

Be free.

Go beyond the mind perception of an impermanent and selfless worldly life existence

The life existence of the mind perception of a worldly life of names and forms is only existing in this present moment, where the past and the future doesn’t exist in this present moment, and it is impermanent and selfless.

‘The past’ is just some scattered fading memories of pleasant and unpleasant, desirable and undesirable, agreeable and disagreeable past experiences. It exists only as a form of memory.

‘The future’ is just some wild imagination, anticipation, speculation, projection and expectation. It only exists as a form of thought activity.

When the mind is under the influence of ignorance and egoism, it attached onto the past memories of pleasant/unpleasant, desirable/undesirable, agreeable/disagreeable experiences and the anticipation/projection into the future, and be affected, disturbed and determined by ‘the past’ and ‘the future’ that doesn’t exist in this present moment, which is unnecessary if the mind is free from ignorance and egoism.

The past and the future doesn’t exist in this present moment, but there is a connection between the past actions/reactions and the present moment now, and between the actions/reactions in this present moment now and the ceaseless impermanent changes, which is the consequences of actions (cause and effect.)

The entire life existence of this impermanent and selfless existence and function of a physical body with the restless egoistic thinking mind is being what it is due to the law of cause and effect. This ‘life’ doesn’t exist if the parents didn’t plant the ‘seed’. The present moment is nothing but the consequences of the past actions, which is the only element that relates the past actions with the present moment, and yet, the past doesn’t exist in this present moment. All the consequences are just what they are, in the present moment, as they are.

The only existence is this present moment now, as it is, not necessarily the way that the egoistic thinking minds would like it to be, as the result of the ripened consequences of actions plus all the egoistic actions and reactions in this present moment that give rise to further consequences of actions, ceaselessly and restlessly, and even so, the consequences of actions are not necessarily exactly the way that the minds think and believe what it should be. The consequences of actions are just what they are, as they are, and not being the way according to any wishful thinking and belief, that anyone would like it to be.

For example, whether intentionally or unintentionally, we planted an apple tree (the past actions) that gives the fruit of apples (the consequences of actions.) Even though after some time we realize that we don’t really like apples, we cannot change the apple tree to be orange tree or banana tree. We have to accept that this is an apple tree that gives the fruit of apples. Even though we don’t like apples, but the apple tree will still give the fruit of apples. We might prefer the fruit of oranges or bananas, and we can try to plant orange and banana trees, but we can’t make the apple tree to give the fruit of oranges or bananas. Sometimes the apples from this apple tree are more sweet, and sometimes are less sweet, while some other times are sour and bitter. Although we might not like the taste of apple as it is especially when they are sour and bitter, but since these are what available to us, we can make use of the sour/bitter apples to cook them into something that is more palatable, or give them to other people who would enjoy the apples as they are, or feed them to the animals. More importantly, we don’t turn the apples into a weapon to hurt other people. Sometimes, for some reasons, the trees don’t give any fruit at all, or the trees die before giving any fruit.

If the future exists, we can bring the future into this present moment and we would be able to control the future to be exactly the way that we would like it to be. There won’t be any uncertainty/anxiety/fear/worry/dissatisfaction/disappointment/regret/guilt/unhappiness/suffering, everything will turn out to be exactly the way that we desire it to be. We want forever youth, pleasant sensations, happy feelings, good health, good relationships, good and easy life condition free from difficulties and hardships, desirable life span with only pleasurable enjoyments and happy experiences, without any painful sickness/injury, suffering or unhappy experiences, without coming in contact with happenings, objects or beings that we don’t like and don’t agree with, without separation from the beings and things that we like and love. But we can’t, as the future doesn’t exist. Without intention to be controlling ‘the future’ to be the way that we like it to be, the consequences of actions derived from the actions and reactions in this present moment now, will be what they are, as they are.

If the past exists in this present moment, then we can bring the past into this present moment and undo any past actions/experiences that we don’t like and don’t want, to alter the consequences of actions to be something different. But, we can’t undo any past actions/experiences that we don’t like and don’t want. Without intention to be changing the consequences of past actions that channeling life in this present moment being what it is, but the realization of selflessness allows the mind to be undetermined by life being what it is, transcending all the pleasant and unpleasant, desirable and undesirable consequences of actions.

Those (the minds) who are not aware of this, they always hope or try to control life in this present moment and in the future to be in certain ways that they desire and not to be in certain ways that they don’t desire.

Those (the minds) who are aware of this, they deal with the consequences of actions of all kinds of pleasant or unpleasant, desirable or undesirable experiences, or what we identify as ‘life’, as it is, without craving or aversion, allowing life to be what it is, and make use of the present moment to silent the modification of the mind to transcend the mind perception of an impermanent and selfless life existence carved by cause and effect.

Life might not always being the way that we would like it to be, but we can accept life as it is, without clinging/craving/aversion towards something that is here (pleasantness and unpleasantness), without craving for something that the mind likes and desires but is not here, without aversion towards something that the mind dislikes and doesn’t desire that is here or not here. In the meantime we can make use of life as it is (regardless of easy or difficult condition/situation that exists in this present moment) to be doing something beneficial to ourselves and others in certain ways depending on how we look at it. Such as growing up without proper emotional, educational and financial support. Some people would see it as a harsh condition and use it as an excuse to do things that hurt themselves and others. While some others would turn it into great strength to overcome any difficulty or challenging condition and situation to be doing something great for themselves and others.

In the end when the mind realizes selflessness, life is undetermined by the separateness of ‘I’ and ‘my life’, or the quality of good and bad/meaningful and meaningless/positive and negative, and it doesn’t belong to ‘I’ or ‘God’. It’s just life as it is, as a product of cause and effect. There’s no ‘I’ and ‘my life’. There’s no ‘good, meaningful and positive life’ and ‘bad, meaningless and negative life’, or “I or ‘God’ want my life to be or not to be in certain ways.”

It’s okay even when the mind is not free from ignorance

Although there are not many yoga practitioners can completely be free from ignorance and egoism even after long time of practicing yoga, but it’s okay, as long as the mind is aware of it is ignorant towards certain things or many things and be able to accept the reality as it is, that in this present moment now, the mind is not free from ignorance and disturb, and it’s okay, because even this ignorance and disturb is impermanent, and it’s not ‘I’, it’s just the mind. And that is already a great liberation.

For those who have doubt towards the truth of many things, but somehow don’t know how to purify and quiet the mind to inquire the truth of things, then just keep this in mind, “Everything is impermanent and selfless, including happiness and unhappiness or pleasure and suffering. Regardless of good people or bad people, good things or bad things, meaningfulness or meaninglessness, excitement or painful sorrow, selfishness or unselfishness, togetherness or separateness, all will change and disappear.” One will be okay in life dealing with many things that are not necessary the way that the mind would like it to be.

Yoga retreat?

‘Retreat’ is a period of special time and space of solitude for us to be with ourselves, to retreat from worldly social interactive activities, to allow the mind to have the opportunity to move away from restlessness and its usual habits, to turn the outgoing mind inwards for introspection, for self-inquiry, to know our-Self, even if there are other people being in the same retreat.

Real (spiritual) retreats are not designed for socializing or mingling. It’s an opportunity for us to practice solitude. As solitude is an important element in conquest of mind or fear. Some people’s mind are fear of being with people, they want to be alone to feel safe. While some people’s mind are fear of being alone, they want to be surrounded by some other people all the time. But both of them also is about fear. Fear derives from ignorance and attachment. There’s no peace in ourselves, always thinking that something bad is going to happen on us, or somebody is going to hurt us, either when we are alone, or when we are being with some other people. We generate so much tension into the environment.

If we are afraid of being with ourselves even just for a few days, and ‘have to’ cling onto other people in the retreat all the time, please be considerate that we still have to respect other people in the retreat centre who purposely coming here to have their own time and space for themselves for some personal spiritual practice. As we are disturbing other people’s precious time and space to be with themselves being in the retreat centre.

But, we cannot expect everyone to be understanding this simple and basic principle about ‘retreat’. As there are many other yoga retreats in the world that are not really about silence the mind for self-inquiry, but more like commercialized luxury pleasurable enjoyment and socializing kind of yoga holidays.

In the end, it’s about compassion. Being compassionate towards those who are influenced by ignorance and whose mind is out of their own control, being over-powered by fear. Spiritual practice are here for beings who have fear, to learn to deal with fear, and to let go of fear. But, most of us refuse to confront with the fear in us, and choose to avoid what we are fear of.

Most important is being compassionate towards ourselves by letting go of fear.

Om shanti.

My life stories – Part 8

My life stories – Part 8 
Stories from my past memories – childhood, family, friends, growing up, poverty, integrity, dreams come true, finding peace and happiness, Buddhism, Yoga, and now…

Usually when people come together, people expect to have a social interactive conversation by either telling stories about themselves, or asking questions about other people, and talking about this and that, exchanging information and opinions, and getting to know one another. It’s part of the social ethics.

Some people enjoy being sarcastic or hypocrite. Some have the habits of story telling, boasting, moaning, lying, flirting, gossiping, criticizing, teasing and mocking. Some don’t really mean what they say. While some others enjoy playing psychological mind games. Some people prefer not to be straightforward or direct, thinking that it’s rude or impolite to be straightforward and direct, but then, things might become confusing and cause misunderstanding. While some others prefer to be straightforward and direct, it doesn’t matter if other people would feel offended or intimidated, but then, they are able to get things straight and clear. Some people take social conversation seriously, or even too seriously, while most of the time, we can’t take seriously of what people say, as people might not mean what they say. That’s the freedom of everyone for what people want to say, how they say it and why they say it.

Some people expect other people to show interest in listening to their stories, and they are also interested in knowing or listening to other people’s stories. It is part of the characteristic of the impure mind that keeps looking for stimulation, inputs and outputs, to get rid of boredom or knowledge deficiency coming from the ego. While some people would feel awkward or unease when other people aren’t interested to get involved in a social conversation with them, or if other people don’t response to the conversation as how they expect it to be. Those who are proud and arrogant will feel offended by other people who don’t response the way that they think it should be, thinking that other people are being rude. Meanwhile those who are low self-esteem will think and feel bad about themselves, thinking that maybe other people might be somehow being offended by them, or other people don’t like them.

All these thinking and behavior seems to be normal for the worldly minded people. If people don’t think and behave in such way, it would be seen as abnormal or inappropriate. But, yoga practice is indeed to breakaway from all these conditioned thinking and behavior.

Many people like to ask about our past, whether to learn something from other people’s experience or just want to have a conversation going on, breaking the silence. Most people would feel very uneasy if there is a long silence without any talking. For those who are truly interested to know about our stories of the past, and if they have the patience, they can read my blog about my life stories after the retreat finished. If they aren’t really interested, then I don’t exert time and energy in talking about the past as a social conversation. During the retreat, people are supposed to retreat from worldly social conversations and activities, but to observe certain degrees of silence of thoughts, actions and speech. But for many people, they expect to be socializing with other people when they join a yoga retreat. People expect to be talking and interacting most of the time. They thought that is what yoga is about. They thought that is what sharing is about. Being in silence without talking and interaction seems weird or wrong for some people.

Some people, including many of the yoga enthusiasts, would think that sharing yoga means getting involve in a yoga community, interact with each other and do things together. Real sharing is nothing to do with social interactions, or mingling in a particular community. Real sharing is there naturally, without any intention to be sharing anything, when one’s mind is free from ignorance, egoism, attachment and identification, realizing unconditional love and peace, be free from impurities of desires, craving, clinging, longing, anger, hatred, ill-will, jealousy, greed, dissatisfaction, disappointment, fear, worry, pride and arrogance.

We observe silence of thoughts, actions and speech when we immerse into yoga and meditation practice. We observe limitation of talking and social activities to conserve energy as well as to quiet the mind. We observe truthfulness and straightforwardness in everyday life. If we talk, may the conversation brings peace and harmony into oneself and others. If the conversation will bring unrest and disharmony into oneself and others, then it’s better don’t talk. And yoga retreat is a time and space for people to be retreating or moving away from the common worldly behavior and activities of the mind over a period of time, to allow the mind to have a few moments of quietness by reducing inputs and outputs of the mind, to turn the outgoing mind inward to perform self-inquiry and focus on our own yoga and meditation practice.

People also like to know about our own personal practice. But, yoga and meditation practice is a very personal self-evolution journey. It has nothing to do with how other people perform their own practice, as everyone has different temperament and characteristic. What type of yoga and meditation practice, and the amount and frequency of the practice that are designed for some people might not be suitable for some others. Everyone must find their own path and own practice. It also has nothing to do with the worldly thinking and belief, or the good and bad condition and situation of the world. But most important, it’s to have determination, perseverance and discipline, until the restless mind is subdued, and the ego and ignorance is completely annihilated.

By asking questions and getting answers from other people might let us know what we want to know, but it doesn’t take away the ignorance and egoism and impurities from our mind. Hearing about other people’s life experiences and their personal yoga practice might can inspire us to practice yoga, but it doesn’t give us liberation from ignorance and egoism, unless we perform our own practice and attain self-realization. That’s why in meditation practice, it’s about observing silence and be aware of the reality as it is, to perform self-inquiry or contemplation upon the truth. It is not expecting an answer from someone else, as even though someone is telling us the truth of things, we will always have doubt about the truthfulness of the answers given by others for all our questions, as all these knowledge are not realized by ourselves, but it’s other people’s realization. We will still need to attain our own self-realization of the truth or the answers to all our doubts, to be free from doubts and ignorance. Knowing and accumulating a lot of knowledge and information about this and that, is completely different from knowing the truth of things, as knowing many things doesn’t necessarily mean that we know the truth of things.

Coming in contact with different types of people coming from different cultural and educational backgrounds, who possess different qualities of names and forms with different thinking and beliefs, where some are gentle and some are aggressive, while some are being gentle in certain things and aggressive in some other things, but none of these qualities, or specific personality, characteristic, thinking and belief can guarantee that one is free from ignorance and egoism, that one is peaceful as one is, if there is attachment and identification with certain qualities of names and forms to be who ‘I’ am. There’s so much tension exist in those who have strong attachment and identification with certain qualities of names and forms coming from disagreement and resentment towards other qualities that one doesn’t like and doesn’t agree with, or doesn’t want to possess. Disregard what type of qualities that they possess and don’t possess, there are people who couldn’t allow other people to be different, as they couldn’t understand why other people who are different from them would behave in certain ways that they don’t agree with, that are unacceptable for them based on their own thinking and belief about how people should behave. And there’s nothing wrong when people couldn’t accept other people’s thinking and behavior that are different from their own thinking and behavior.

Yoga practice is here for those who are willingly to let go of attachment and identification towards all kinds of conditional worldly thinking and beliefs.

x x x x x x x x x x x x x


“How come we moved to Langkawi and teach yoga here?”

This was the most common question that everyone asked us. I am thankful for all the questions asked, as it inspired me to write about my life stories of From where I came from and how I came here.

We didn’t choose Langkawi.

It was either Langkawi had chosen us, or the universe had brought us here.

We had no intention at all to be living in Langkawi one day, and teach yoga here.

We went to Koh Lipe with our friends from Austria for holidays in January 2009.

The easiest way to get to Koh Lipe from Kuala Lumpur was to take the flight from KL to Langkawi and then take the speed boat from Langkawi to Koh Lipe. We didn’t plan to stay in Langkawi at all. We didn’t even think of to take a look at Langkawi. We had no interest to know about it either.

We wanted to stay in Koh Lipe for seventeen nights and spend our entire holidays there. So we booked our return flight tickets to go back to KL seventeen days later. Marc, my husband, went to Bangkok before and he could get a 30 days tourist visa stamp. We thought we would get a one month tourist visa upon arrival in Thailand.

As soon as we stepped out the Langkawi Airport, we took a taxi to bring us to the Langkawi-Koh Lipe speed boat jetty at Telaga Habour. One and a half hours later we arrived in Koh Lipe, a very beautiful island with clear water and white sandy beach.

When we got to the immigration booth in Koh Lipe to get back our passports, the immigration officer gave my Malaysian’s passport a thirty days visa stamp and gave my husband’s Irish passport a fourteen days visa stamp. We didn’t know that they had made a new regulation that tourists coming into Thailand by land and by sea could only get a fourteen days visa for other foreigners, but Malaysians could still get a thirty days visa.

We asked the immigration officer on how we could extend his visa for another 3 days. They told us that the only way was to come back to Malaysia and go back to Thailand again. And this would cost us a lot more than if we just stayed in Langkawi for the last three days of our holiday before our flight back to KL. So we decided to shorten our holidays in Koh Lipe and stayed three days in Langkawi instead, unplanned.

After spending 2 weeks in the beautiful clear water island of Koh Lipe doing yoga asana practice on the beach everyday, snorkeling and collecting beautiful sea shells, and enjoying delicious Thai food on the island, we left Koh Lipe and came to Langkawi island. We didn’t really know where to head to.

We met some other tourists in Koh Lipe who told us that Pantai Cenang was the most popular place in Langkawi and there were some budget guesthouses to choose from. We took a shared van taxi with some other tourists and they were heading to Pantai Cenang as well. Each of us paid ten Ringgit for the taxi.

Half an hour later, we arrived at AB Motel. But they had no room for us. We walked along the Pantai Cenang street carrying our backpack and looked at several places to stay, but they were either fully booked or too expensive for us.

At last, we found Amzar Motel for fifty Ringgit a night. It’s a simple accommodation, so we didn’t expect too much. But we had some noisy neighbours quarreling in the middle of the night. We didn’t sleep very well.

On the next day, we spent our day walking along the street of Pantai Cenang and strolled on the beach. The beach was nice, but fulled of jet-skies, motorbikes, cars and four wheeled drives on the beach, and lots of tourists. The sea water was not as clear as in Koh Lipe. But the sea was very calm. We went for a swim in the sea. We didn’t find the place interesting at all.

On the second day, we took a taxi to the town of Kuah. The taxi fare wasn’t cheap. It was twenty Ringgit one way at that time in 2009. The taxi brought us to a duty free shop. We weren’t really interested in shopping. So we walked around the shop lots and we came to Trimula. There was a vegetarian restaurant and we went to take a look at their menu, but it wasn’t appealing to us as the dishes were pre-cooked and already sitting there for some time. They had other dishes that can be cooked fresh when you place order, but most of them were deep fried mock meat stuffs that we didn’t really want to eat.

The restaurant owner was a very friendly man. He had a tours company and car rental business next to the restaurant. We asked him what were the interesting things to do and places to visit in Langkawi. He said that the best way to get around Langkawi was to rent a car. He was right about that. Because of the expensive taxi fare in Langkawi and there was no public transport like buses, it was be a lot cheaper to rent a car to explore the entire island.

He gave us some discount for a small car at eighty Ringgit a day. It was a Suzuki Swift. So, we explored the island with a guided map. We drove towards the highway. It was a very good highway on the island from Kuah town straight to the airport. We turned into a side road that led us to the centre of the island. We drove up to Gunung Raya with a nearly empty fuel tank. We forgot to fill up the petrol tank before we went. It was very nice to be up there because of the cooler temperature and the nice view of the island from the top. Anyway, we were lucky to come back down to a petrol station to feed the car.

We continued our journey and came to a waterfall – the Durian Perangin waterfall near the Air Hangat Village Hot Spring. We hiked up the path that led us to the waterfall. The path was surrounded by rain forests. The air was so fresh and cooling. It was a small waterfall, but powerful. It had a big enough pool for dipping in. The energy there was really great. It had been a long time since the last time we visited a waterfall and rain forest. We liked this waterfall very much, especially my husband. He’s a man of nature. He finds peace in nature. This waterfall gave us a different impression about Langkawi.

After that, we continued to explore the island and came to the hot spring. there was nothing much to see or do. It wasn’t renovated at that time and lack of maintenance. But now it is renovated and looks brand new with some hot spring Jacuzzi rooms. From there we drove by some villages with rain forests and rubber plantations along the way. This experience of driving on roads with trees and mountains that we can see, but not high rise concrete buildings, gave us a great impression about Langkawi Island. We stopped by at the Black Sand Beach and the Craft Complex. That was very nice too.

That evening we went back to Pantai Cenang with complete different point of view about Langkawi. Langkawi wasn’t just Pantai Cenang as what we thought that was all it was. It has some other beautiful features – nature, waterfalls, rain forests, mountains, mangroves, rivers, nice beaches and slow paced lifestyle. It’s economy depends mostly on tourism. It is a touristic place, but it’s also very good for living.

The following day, we went back to the big city of Kuala Lumpur. Both my husband and I had a strong feeling about Langkawi, and that led us to booked another return flight tickets to Langkawi because just happened that AirAsia had great promotional air fare at that time. So, we took three days off from teaching yoga classes at home, and came back to Langkawi again in less than two months. On this trip, it was mainly to come here to see if there would be a suitable house for us to live and to teach yoga.

We had been thinking of moving away from Kuala Lumpur where we can be closer to nature. I didn’t mind living in Kuala Lumpur. I was contented living there for many years. But, if there was a choice I would prefer to live in a village near by nature just like when I was growing up. A year ago before we moved to Langkawi, I painted a painting with a wooden house near the beach with mountains and coconut trees around it. I always dreamt of living in a house by the sea. And the house that I painted looked almost the same as the house that we found in Langkawi later. But we didn’t think of Langkawi before.

So we were in Langkawi again, looking for a house to rent that wasn’t too close to the busy street of Pantai Cenang, but yet close enough for people to walk from Pantai Cenang. We wanted to look for a house that is surrounded by nature and not too close to other houses or the noisy and dusty road. We also looked for a house that has a big space that we can have four to six people in a yoga class, and the rent had to be within our budget. It wasn’t easy for us to find a suitable house.

We told each other that if we could find a suitable house within that three days, we would move here. It wasn’t so easy to find a house to rent in Pantai Cenang area and the rent was much higher than other areas. It was a popular location for foreigners to rent a house for long stay.

Many of the houses in good condition were already occupied by foreigners. There were some half-built abandoned houses available, but they needed a lot of renovation before anyone can move in.

We found a budget place to stay for forty five Ringgit a night at the Shirin Guest House. We didn’t expect much from this room. The lady owner was a very nice Japanese lady named Hiroko. She married to an Iranian man and had been living in Langkawi for many years. She also had been to India studying Yoga for two years. She was a very strong woman in the heart.

We thought that the best way to look for a house, was to go around this area by feet. We walked around the villages behind the Pantai Cenang street. It was a hot and sunny day, but we were determined. We asked a few villagers about vacant houses and told them that we were looking for a house to rent. One of the villagers told us that we should buy a house instead of renting it. First of all, we don’t have money. Then, even if we have some money, we couldn’t afford to buy anything here as the price of properties here is ridiculously high. Lastly, Majority of the lands and houses here are Malay Reserved properties. Only Malays can own the properties here. Though I am a Malaysian citizen, I couldn’t buy or own any properties here on the island.

We looked and looked, and asked many people along the way. Some people showed us some houses that were available. Some of them were near to the noisy main road. Some were very close to neighbouring houses. Some were too far to walk from Pantai Cenang. Some ticked all the other boxes, but they didn’t have a big hall for yoga classes and the rentals were beyond our budget. We talked to a couple in a tackles shop and gave them our contact numbers.

We were exhausted from walking a few hours under the hot sun in the last two days, and decided to relax on the beach on the last evening. We changed into our swimming attires and was about going to the beach, and the phone rang. A Malay man asked me over the phone if we were still interested to look for a house to rent, that he knew there’s a house was available for rent. We wanted to give ourselves the last chance.

So we meet up with this man and his friends in front of our guesthouse, and they brought us to see the house in their car. We came to a road with a sign said ‘Wrong Place’. We saw that sign earlier when we walked pass it, and thought it was strange. And we came to a little Malay wooden house at the end of the road. It was a very beautiful wooden house near the paddy fields and there’s a swamp in front of it. It’s away from the main road and other houses and close to Pantai Cenang. It ticked many boxes. But we still needed to see the inside of the house and we didn’t know how much was the rental.

This house aged around one hundred and fifty years old. The owner bought it from somewhere else in Langkawi. They took down the woods piece by piece with numbers written on them, and then brought it here and resembled the woods back into a house. It had a small balcony to sit out looking over the garden and the paddy fields.

They opened the door for us to get in. The living room was big enough to accommodate six people. The sunlight and the breeze rushed in when they opened the windows on three sides of the living room. There was a small kitchen that could only fit one person at a time and a small bathroom that we couldn’t stretch out our arms. There was a medium size bedroom and another small room which we could use as an office and store room. It was almost perfect, except that the kitchen was really small as my husband loves cooking and we planned to do all the cooking for the yoga retreats besides teaching daily yoga classes. The rental was within our budget too. We both agreed that it was what we were looking for. So, immediately we paid them one month deposit to reserve the house. We told them that we could only move in two months later because we needed to settle all our classes in Kuala Lumpur. They said they didn’t mind. In the end we could only come three months later because we need more time to stop all our classes. And they didn’t charge us extra money to hold the house for us.

We came back to Kuala Lumpur the next day, and were very excited about our spontaneous decision to move to Langkawi. We informed all our students about the move, and had a farewell dinner at home to say goodbye to our friends and students.

Two weeks before we moved, my husband went for a ten days Vipassana silent meditation retreat in Malaysia. He would come back on the day before we moved. Meanwhile I was busy with packing our things into boxes while he was gone, so that we would be ready to go when he came back.

Because my husband loves cycling, we thought that he could do some cycling when we moved to Langkawi living in a village without heavy traffic and air pollution. So we went to PJ Old Town and bought him a new bicycle on our last day in Kuala Lumpur. Somehow one of the tyres punctured when he cycled back to our condominium in Taman Sri Manja. And so, we had to take off the wheel from the bicycle and brought it back to the shop to repair it. We were really busy that day. But we enjoyed every moment of it.

On the morning of the 10th of July, we loaded all our furnitures and things onto a six wheeled lorry, and we drove our little Kelisa to Langkawi. We spent one night in Ipoh. On the next day, we arrived at Kuala Kedah and sent our car to the car ferry, and we took the passenger ferry to Langkawi. We stayed a night in a motel in Kuah town near the Jetty Points where the passenger ferries come in.

On the next morning, we took a taxi to the car ferry port at Dermaga Tanjung Lembung to collect our car and drove to our new home in Pantai Cenang. It was monsoon season and it had been raining heavily all day all the way from Ipoh to Langkawi. But it stopped raining at the time we arrived at our new home and our lorry arrived not long after us. We managed to move all our furnitures and things into the house just before it started to rain again. It’s like a miracle.

After that, we found out that this wooden house had been empty for six months when we saw it the first time. One of our neighbours told us that there had been many different people looking at the house before, and though they were interested to rent the house, the owner didn’t want to rent to them. And then, when the owner wanted to rent the house to a very rich couple, they didn’t take it as they said the kitchen was too small for them. And so, the house was sitting empty for six months until we saw it. It meant it had been empty for nine months before we moved in.

The house was there waiting for us to come, all that time.

And now, we had rented another simple but spacious house about two minutes walk from our yoga studio with bigger kitchen and dining hall to prepare the meals for our yoga retreats. A few months later, we had moved out from the wooden house and started to live in this house. The wooden house would be used as the yoga studio for doing the yoga classes.

This was the story of why we live in Langkawi and teach yoga here.

We didn’t choose Langkawi, but Langkawi chose us.

We didn’t have much money. We spent a lot of money for moving house and for getting the business license. We didn’t see teaching yoga as a business. We didn’t really need a business license to teach yoga to anyone. But when we went to the city hall to ask about it, the head officer told us that we had to apply for a business license. We wanted to do it the proper way legally to avoid any problems with the local community, as it was quite a sensitive issue here about running yoga classes in a Muslims predominant village area.

The business license took more than a year for it to come through. Before we applied for the business license we needed to apply for a temporary permit for the house. That took about three months to come through. When we applied for the business license, the business license department people weren’t very sure about what was going on with the yoga fatwa thing. They didn’t know whether they could give us the permission to teach yoga here. After holding our application for more than six months, they decided to send our application to the mosque to get the advice of the head of the mosque whether we could teach yoga here. And after another few more months, the mosques finally gave us the permission to teach yoga in Langkawi, but with a special condition that we cannot accept any Muslims of any origins for attending any of our yoga classes and retreats activities. Or else our business license would be terminated, and we wouldn’t be allowed to teach yoga here on Langkawi anymore. We still want to teach yoga to so many other people who come here to learn and practice yoga. And so, we respected the rules and regulations of the business license.

For understanding more about the terms and conditions of our business license that forbids us from teaching yoga to Muslims, please click on this link to read about it. And for understanding more about yoga is unconditional and unlimited by any names and forms, please click on this link to read about it…

We had to spent lots of money for moving house and applying for the business license. We were living on my husband’s savings for many months before the classes and retreats started to take off one year later. Though I knew we couldn’t live on my husband’s savings for too long, I didn’t worry. I told my husband that if things became too difficult for us to make a living in Langkawi, I would go back to Kuala Lumpur to work to support our living. I believed the universe would take care of everything. And it did.

We will continue to teach yoga here, unless the universe wants us to be at somewhere else.

Om shanti.

This video below was taken when we were in Koh Lipe

my yoga asana practice part 1

This is a sample of my daily yoga asana practice to share with those who want to know what I usually do for my personal asana practice.

Asana practice is an important practice in the path of Yoga to help us in purifying and controlling the mind, to render the mind calm and being at the present, as well as rendering the body strong and flexible preparing for meditation and to perform selfless service.

During the asana practice we learn to let go of judgment, comparison and expectation towards ourselves and other people. We learn to accept the present moment now as it is. We learn to accept ourselves as we are. We learn to accept the reality of the present moment now as it is, not necessary the way that we want it to be or the way that we think it should be.

It will not be the same in every session of asana practice (even if we perform the same asana routine). We learn about impermanence and allow impermanence to happen and accept the impermanence as it is. We learn to accept the ever-changing condition of the body as it is. We learn to let go of craving and aversion. We learn to let go of the ego.

When the body needs rest from the asana practice, I don’t do any asana practice for that time being. But yoga practice is always there continuously, in every moment, never ceased.

Here the asana poses were being held for a shorter period of time during the video recording and the resting time in between the asana poses was being edited for suitable viewing.

In my daily personal practice, it takes about 2 and a half hours to 3 hours to complete one session of asana practice. The asana poses are being held as long as my body feels like holding comfortably. The sun salutation is repeated minimum 10-20 rounds up to as many rounds as my body feels like doing. The resting time or relaxation in between the exercises or the asana poses is at least 15-30 seconds up to a few minutes depending on what type of exercises or poses and also depending on how my body feels after the exercise or the asana pose. The final relaxation is as long as my body wants to be completely at rest.

Om shanti.