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Teacher of August 2015 - Paula

The blow of my first boyfriend’s death made it a rough process in growing up. It caused many negative emotions, and I was often immersed in grief. At that tender age, I didn’t know how to deal with this kind of feelings and I ended up hurting myself and others who cared about me, time and time again. The emptiness and darkness inside made me constantly seek out externally for positive feelings. However, it was like a person trapped in a swamp, struggling to get out by grapping on to the slippery mud on the side, thinking that will help lessen the pain, but it actually only made her sink into the swamp faster and deeper.

So I became obsessed with travel. The exotic locations and cultures made me temporarily forget the pain, but as soon as I returned back to Taiwan, the pain like a haunting ghost, came right back. Later I became fixated with diving and the sense of peace it brought was like being back into mother’s womb. There was also the fire dancing that I used for the cathartic release of the overflowing emotions. And for a time, I was attached to the momentary quietness from the completely concentration required for rock climbing. I kept being active, but the calmness kept disappearing when I ceased my activities.

Fortunately, one time when I was traveling in India, I encountered yoga. Initially, I was trying it out because my doctor had suggested it would benefit my scoliosis and made traveling easier. Many of the yoga courses in India were long and most would cover asana, pranayama and meditation practices. Course after course, yoga quietly changed me. Asana led me to piece together the lost map of my body part by part. Pranayama allowed me to feel the inner peace and groundedness in between each inhalation and exhalation. And meditation helped me looked within and see all that I have been neglecting, avoiding and rejecting.

Being still new to the practice at that time, I further explored and tried a 10-day vipassana meditation course. In these ten silent days, my mind was like a roller coaster; up and down it went, at times happy and at times sad. The past would appear in my mind frame by frame like a movie. It was then, with tears streaming down I suddenly discovered that actually all these years of feeling pain and drifting around were all self-directed and self-inflicted. Not being able to accept and forgive was all due to my own self. It made me realized that if I can’t accept and love myself, how could I have the empathy and compassion to accept and love others.

Despite of gaining this understanding, we are still only human after all, easy to forget and get lost. I hope through persistent practice and bringing the spirit of yoga into daily lives, I can continue to see my self clearly and find the secret to be free of shackles of pain, and from that inner contentment feel the true fortune of life. I’m grateful for my family for being by my side along the way, and the teachers, students, and friends I have met for helping me learn and grow.

OM~ Love & Smile~

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