Yadu’s helpful hip stretches for students
It was a summer day after my first year at UBC. One of my best friends and I were supposed to meet at the cliffs for sunset, but he was running late and wasn’t going to make it. I had almost reached the viewpoint when he sent the text and it got me very angry. He always got mad at me for not being on time, and I always felt guilty about it, but I also felt punctuality was something beyond me. “You don’t understand until you live in Africa,” I kept repeating as my excuse. I was even more frustrated because I never pointed out his lack of punctuality or other flaws, so it went unnoticed, and I felt targeted.
As I walked towards the viewpoint, the voices in my head were playing out an imaginary argument with my friend where I told him everything I contained from the beginning of the year—an argument he would probably never find out about, and that I would again brush under the carpet; but until then it seemed justified. Plus, it was an argument I was sure to win.
Of course, writing and reading this now, it seems so futile. But at the time, it only felt too real. Eventually I arrived, took my bag off and settled down. But when I looked up, suddenly, everything fell silent.
My thoughts were distracted by the view, and my mind became still. I heard the silence and my heart dropped as I starred at the infinite space ahead of me.
Who or what was it that was speaking in my head? And why did it speak with so much anger, hatred, and judgment?
I immediately felt as though I had entered a new world. There I was, sitting beneath the tree for who knows how long, watching the sun sink far beneath the horizon, and thinking—there is so much more to life than what I was experiencing; how can I change my experience to make the most out of my life?
I didn’t realize it then, but something profoundly beautiful happened to on that day that would change the course of my life. Unknowingly, I began practicing meditation.
Whenever I would have the opportunity, I would turn my attention inward, and observe the thoughts, feelings, and emotions as they arose within me. I began noticing patterns and connections between these three things, and in doing so, I started uncovering layers and layers of conditioning to what I considered as “me.”
This type of micro-management of my inner-space led me to peel more and more layers, and I began experiencing more and more freedom and happiness. It was almost like slowly rediscovering myself, or making my way home after a long trip.
With time, I would start letting go of patterns, ideologies, and belief-systems that no longer served me, and carefully weigh new ones before allowing them in my system. I realized that there were thought currents that would shrink me, while others that would free me.
I’ll give you an example: someone tells me I’m attractive, and it makes my day.
Allowing my day to be made by someone’s choice of words, puts that person in a position of power to determine the outcome of my day’s utility. Now if that same person instead told me I was unattractive instead, would that not ruin my day? Would it not be in my best interest to take responsibility for my own joy and sorrow rather than allow it to rest in the hands of another individual?
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t dislike compliments—I love speaking and hearing authentic opinions in general—but I believe that we are something more fundamental than other peoples’ choice of words.
Then I’d start asking myself such as: when did I start allowing my sense of being to be determined by others?
I learned that a powerless reaction like this is usually a hangover from the past—a pattern or conditioning that we adopt from society, a peer, or from our own repeated thoughts and actions. However, by becoming a non-judgmental observer to the way we think, feel, and react, we have the opportunity to reprogram ourselves in a way that maximizes our utility.
To this day, I feel a deep sense of gratitude for the Vanier Cliffs. It was there that a liberating process began in me, which has lead me onto a journey to learn more about myself. Eventually, I would investigate practices such as yoga and meditation which would not only benefit me, but that I would (and still do) recommend to each and every individual. Particularly to university students like myself.
At this point you may ask—you talk about some journey and all this “inner-space,” but where the hell are you? What has any of this done for you in real terms?
Honestly, I don’t know, and I’m not sure if I can give you a direct answer. But I know that I am a bit wiser and a lot happier.
I learned that the world I perceive is a reflection of how I think and feel, and I try to take full responsibility for this. I learned that I just cannot get enough of myself, and I’ve seen this to be true for others, as well. Once you start micro-managing your inner-space (observing how you think and feel) and peeling off layers of conditioning and experiences that for so long gave you your sense of identity, you come face-to-face with an infinite potential to recreate yourself in a way that serves you best.
This inward path is what is called “seeking,” and from my experience this is the most fulfilling, empowering, and intoxicating journey one can travel.
In real terms, I’m only a couple years older than I was at the cliffs. But along the way, I think I’ve found “the key to more success” (Khaled, DJ 2016). At least in my life.
I’d like to leave you with a potentially life changing mantra I learned from my Guru to repeat whenever you feel powerless or overwhelmed:
“I am not my psychological, neurological, or physiological ups & downs. I am simply my intention to be. And any fluctuation I experience another opportunity for me to seek me” (Paramahamsa Nithyananda).
The infinite potential in me bows to the infinite potential in you. Namaste.