Those who know me, know I love to question things. To the point where its annoying! However, curiosity never really did kill the cat. Or if it did – he was able to push out the meeting his maker with those 9 lives he has.
I consider myself lucky to come from a family that fosters curiosity and a hunger for learning. Topics up for debate on any given day range from archeology, anthropology, Irish culture, music, art to history. My uncles and cousins can hold a conversation on just about anything. Even if we don’t have the foggiest idea about the subject then we are pretty good at faking it too.
My personal awakening began when I was about 14 years old. Back then I started to get really into music and heavily influenced by Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, Pearl Jam and Sonic Youth. Grunge revealed a lot of suffering and melancholy related to the human condition. I was also listening to classic rock and reading interviews of bands in Hot Press magazine. Every now and then, I would read an interview with one of my idols that dropped names like Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus, Nietzche…so I started to read some pretty profound works from those authors along with classic literature.
An Inquisitive Creative Spirit
When I had to choose what to study at Boston University, by that time all I knew was that I loved to read – so why not study English Literature? How cool would that be? Having an excuse to pour over loads of poetry, novels and plays. To analyse the writing, the way it moves the reader, how that is achieved through different styles and prose, whether it is intentional or not, and how the subjects of the writing were created and developed. After 2 years of studying literature though, I was done, I felt totally unsatisfied. My questions weren’t being answered in the books I was reading. I wanted to know more, I wanted to know ‘why’? What motivated someone to write that story? Why that particular story? Bigger questions began to surface. Questions like what defines that which we take for granted? What is right and wrong? Real and not? Morally correct and not? Do universal truths exist or are these often defined by cultures, beliefs and society? What or who defines a universal truth? Do humans get to choose? Is there a greater force?
So I moved on to studying philosophy. Thinking in slow motion. It began to get interesting. In our study groups we were grappling with topics such as reality, existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. We were reading Hume, Descartes, Kant, Homer, Socrates, , the Koran, the Bible – I took classes like Symbolicism and Mysticism in Persian Poetry and a whole semester to dissect Heidegger’s Sein und Seit. I becamse fiercely interested in the interface between literature and philosophy and theology, they are so intertwined; messages and their mediums. In the end I graduated with a degree in English Lit and a Minor in Philosophy.
Physical Suffering and Competition – Creative Energy Killers
Once I graduated from university, rowing took over and that part of me that was exploring, reading and enquiring was supressed in favor of chasing the dream to the best in the world in the sport rowing. Years of robotic training and racing ensued. Of course it was great but if anything can kill ones creative energy it is competitive endurance sports! Even though I stepped away from sports for a few year it has always been too easy fall back into that trap over and over again. Chasing that instant gratification from winning a race and being faster than others consumes so much energy.
A few years ago I made a conscious decision to pull back from endurance sports to open up the space in my life to focus on other things. Around the same time I began to feel very uneasy with who I am, where I am in life, and where I am heading. Its as though I have been supressing dealing with these questions by focusing on sports. Until I began to include meditation and yoga to my life.
Since January I have been attending a Mysore Ashtanga yoga practice in Solothurn with Marisol from Oufi Yoga, 3-5 times a week. On the days I don’t make it to the 6:30 Mysore-style practice, I do my own at home. I call it my little experiment and I am so happy with the progress I have been making both mentally, spiritually and physically. I feel a little like I am becoming my true self again and doors have been opening. I am no longer hiding away in sports. I’m not fighting with myself and struggling through life as much as before either. The morning practice is like a sanctuary, and regular meditation has been doing wonders.
Here are some photos of this journey. I’ll continue to share little discoveries and insights into this transformation and journey in this blog. Of course there will still be plenty of other types of blog posts, on cycling, skiing, whatever but this is my journey right now.
Hope you decide to stay with me.
Ashtanga is a very strict, physical form of yoga. The practice of Asana is only one limb of the eight limbs of Ashtanga yoga so there is a lot to learn but I can already feel the rewards. If you would like to learn more about Ashtanga I recommend going here to begin with – I’ll keep sharing.
There is also a very well-written description of Ashtanga yoga here: www.sadhanainthecity.com/blog/what-is-ashtanga