All posts by Analyn Revilla

Revisiting the Four Agreements

by Analyn Revilla

I did a couple of things this weekend that reminded me to revisit Don Miguel Ruiz’s “The Four Agreements”.  The first agreement “Be impeccable with your word”.

Here are the Four Agreements, and the most important is the agreement we make with ourselves.


The first situation was a misunderstanding on a specified date for a new yoga class.  The class kicked off on Saturday, June 1st, and there wasn’t an instructor to lead the class.  A phone call with my supervisor starts with his apology for not reminding me about the change in the schedule.  Surprised, I said that the class doesn’t start till June 12th.  He doesn’t know where that date came from.  He’s been swamped with many things and kindly reminded me that going forward, every Saturday, there is a 9:30 am class. 

After getting off the call I rechecked the text… Ooops.  I made the mistake.  It read June 1, 2024.  I misread the numbers by stringing the 1-2 together in my first quick glance at the text.  Funny thing is that he and I had had in person conversations about the class since he originally notified me by text. I said June 12th to which he didn’t react to. 

I called my supervisor quickly, though there was a moment of hesitation, remorse and recoil on my part. I didn’t relish the idea of owning up to the problem. I was being mindless in reading the text in the first place.  Not very yogi-like of a yoga teacher. “It’s on me,” I said to him, “I misread your text.”  He graciously accepted my apology.  We cleared up the air and set the expectations.  That also touches on the 2nd agreement – “Don’t make assumptions”.  I did the opposite by assuming I was correct on the date.   I also stumped on the 4th agreement “Always do your best”.  

My Jenga tower just came crashing down, but still partially standing as I was impeccable with my word on that incident.

The second situation was similar – a scheduling conflict.  I texted someone to request for rescheduling an important meeting.  I was conflicted to give a reason for the request for the change.  I was assuming (again) that the person might think my reason as trivial.  But, to me the reason was not trivial.  I typed the words carefully and explained the situation.  I held my breath (sort of) for half an hour.  The person responded and said, “let me check the calendar, I will get back to you shortly”.

I felt deeply relieved that the person responded quickly for a Sunday afternoon, and that the request was viable.  The best part was I didn’t lie, and that felt extremely good.

I am dedicating this blog in memory of Erica H. Bennett for her original blog post of “The Four Agreements” – . She wrote it on May 29th, 2015.  The date was 9 years ago, last Wednesday.  Nancy Beverly commented to say she has the Four Agreements posted at her desk. Thank you for your Erica blog. RIP.

Let’s Make a Deal

by Analyn Revilla

We’ve all probably experienced times when we haven’t been treated fairly.  

Remember the TV game show “Let’s Make a Deal”? Sometimes the player would choose a door that would reveal a goat, instead of a brand new car.

One of my hardest experience, since Bruno’s accident and dealing with the aftermath of that event, was to face up to someone in power for bullying.  In hindsight, I had no choice.  I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t speak up.  

Even if there are laws to help protect human rights, it still takes one person to speak up to make the law effective  It could be a witness who steps up to bring about transparency to the mistreatment of a human being by another; or the person themselves being victimized who says “Stop.”, “Enough!”.  When I spoke up for myself, I felt an enormous relief. It was the most freeing experience I’ve had in a very long time since I started to shrink under the weight and pressure of the bullying.  

I think it begins with being aware of the situation and accepting the “what is”.  Sometimes, the situation can seem daunting and unbelievable.  Denial of the ‘what is’ perpetuates the ongoing victimization.  Awareness and accepting are key to bringing forth action.

Coming to a resolution is a long and tough road. But step by step, I work on being at peace with what’s at hand.  I remind myself that It’s just this. Then, I can think and see my options and choose what is right for me. 

My Mom texted a story to me today.  A friend of hers went to the doctor with her son.  The doctor said everything was fine.  The mother and son went to the pharmacy at the mall to fill out a prescription.  Afterwards, they walked around the mall and then the mother collapsed and died.  My Mom attended the funeral today.

It makes me think that it does not matter whether I’ve been dealt a good hand, a bad hand, or nothing much at all – I just have to deal.  Accept it and keep on dealing.  I texted back my Mom and told her to keep on loving and that I love her.

I’ll take the goat instead of the car!

Just Right

by Analyn Revilla

I’ve run out of excuses to write something for this week’s blog.  I’ve made too many trips to the kitchen from my writing chair.  I’ve cleaned out my laundry basket and folded everything.  I’ve done all the necessary correspondences and then some.  Animals have been taken care of.  What else? What else?  Oh.  I’ve got to practice guitar.  High E string breaks, so now I have to change the strings.  While I’m at it, I’ll clean the guitar – oiling the neck, brushing the spaces between the frets, wiping the pegs clean.  All set, but now I have to practice yoga.  I have a class to teach.  I need coffee.  Walk the dog first.  I’m practicing everything else except writing.

I started agonizing about writing since that alert email flashed in my inbox last Friday.  Subject line:  Start of Blog Week.  I’m paralyzed with performance anxiety that strikes at my heart.  It’s ironic to me, because being a yoga teacher, I guide class participants to let go, use awareness and breath to get through the asanas.  I’ve already held my breath in my chest during the past 186 words.  

I’ve “figured it out”.  My mind is controlling the outcome even before I’ve started.  Does any of this resonate with anyone out there?  Echo – echo – echo…

Hey it works!  I did use my awareness and breath and the breath is flowing again, and I know it’s going to be ok.  I can write.  One of the metaphors I use in my yoga classes is Goldilocks.  It has to be just right:  Not too hard, not too soft.  Not too hot, not too cold.  Not too big, not too small.  Ok cool.  This gives me permission to just be myself:  Just right.  Just write.

Like other art forms, writing is a practice.  For me, it is the hardest effort compared to meditation, yoga and guitar. There are other practices not always labeled as “artistic”, such as medical and legal practices (though to me any practice is an art form).  A practice means showing up and being present. 

During the first week of  acting classes, the coach asked, what is difference between an amateur and a professional? From the American Heritage Dictionary:

Thirty years ago I lived in Salem, Oregon, working as an Information Technology professional.  I left the bubble of Vancouver, BC and dove deep into a new environment in every sense of the word.  The consulting company provided for a 30 day use of a car and free accommodation.  Coming close to the end of this grace period, I found two cars to choose from, one was a practical Toyota Tercel and a medium luxury Saab (both second hand).  The owner of the Tercel had a dog.  The car was flea ridden to match the roller painted teal blue.  The SAAB was a convertible.  Imagine.  I asked a friend which car I should choose, though I already knew in my heart of hearts which one I would buy.  My friend’s response was “There’s not even a choice.  You’re a professional now.”

Those words still ring in my ears now and then when coming to choices of “fun” versus “serious”.  Should I get a fun car or a serious car?  Sure, a convertible is fun, but fun to me was having cash in my pocket to explore and I didn’t need a convertible to do that.  There were not any regrets with the Toyota.  I drove it everywhere, even trips to Vancouver, BC and back to Salem with the gas pedal to the metal, especially during the uphill stretches through the Cascade mountains.  There was the regularly planned stop at Olympia, Washington to cool down the engine.  One morning, close to the end of my gig, I woke up and found the car crumpled, a victim of a hit and run.  The insurance company paid me $100 less than what I paid for the car.

The Bhagavad Gita, noted as the primary source of yogic philosophy by B.K.S. Iyengar, compares the body to a chariot, the sense to the horses and the mind to the reins.  “The intellect is the charioteer and the soul is the master of the chariot.”

Going back to the 90’s when I lived in Salem, I also discovered “Alice In Chains” (AIC).  The album, “Jar of Flies” was my constant companion.  I’ve been listening to AIC again, and unearthed my beginner’s mind approach to daily living.  I’m listing to the album “Dirt”, an “intense” record as described by Jerry Cantrell (lead guitar, composer and vocals for AIC).

“Dirt” – Wikipedia – Retrospectively, the album has continued to receive acclaim, with Rolling Stone placing the album at No. 26 on its list of the “100 Greatest Metal Albums of All Time”.[11] Dirt was included in the 2005 book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die

There’s a freshness and enthusiasm to see how the day will unfold with my daily practice of yoga, meditation, guitar, reading and writing.  I definitely could strengthen my writing practice, which I said earlier is the hardest of them all.  Writing just demands all of me (flesh, blood, and bones and all the icky gooey stuff when you cut yourself open).  Plus it’s slow and gives me time to second guess my second guesses.  There’s always the opportunity to nullify the output (backspace, delete).

Writing is another form of self-expression.  The other practices (a.k.a  “distractions”) of yoga, guitar and house chores that take time away from writing is energy spent noodling in my head and heart, while keeping my hands busy.  These expressions also inform my writing.  I am able to give myself permission to relax in recognizing that this is my process to get me to the blank page to start pouring it all out:  my doubts, vulnerabilities, found strength in my weaknesses, and allowing and accepting it all.  Everyday is an opportunity for beginner’s mind which is the joy of being an amateur who practices their art for the joy of it.  The seriousness of maintaining a household for survival needs requires a healthy balance of joy through creation in music, writing and yoga & meditation.  Also, I’ve accepted that self-expression is not selfish. How can art be born without soulful expression in form?

Dirt. Unearthed. Beginner’s Mind.

Everything is just right.

Décrocher La Lune

by Analyn Revilla

One of my childhood dreams was to be an astronaut.  I believe children look up in wonder at the night skies, fascinated by the heavenly stars.  I particularly liked staring at the Moon, and seeking shapes in the the shadows and lights of its face. 

Kids are so impressionable. One of the things I now know is the drawback of growing up in a superstitious culture.  An adult told the 6 year-old me that if I stared at the Moon I would go mad.  I believed it, so I stopped staring at the Moon. But I had stolen moments of gazing at the Moon. I continue to be spellbound by its face, though I’ve outgrown the silly superstition.

Tonight, the Moon is at its Waning Gibbous state.  It is shrinking from Full to Half Moon.

If you’re an early riser and it wasn’t overcast in your neighborhood, you may have seen the Full Harvest Moon at 5:58 am this morning, .  I was still tucked between the covers with Molly, my elderly cocker spaniel, spoon shaped at my feet.  I was up and about by 6:10 getting my chickens out of the coop.  It was overcast this morning, and the Moon was clouded over.  

After a full long day at my desk, I got into the van with Goliath, my shepherd-rottweiler mix dog. We walked in the twilight at Edward Vincent Park and the Moon followed us.  It was calming and soothing with the canopy of pine and deciduous trees overhead, while we walked on the carpet of grass.  The stress of the day just melted away. 

I sang Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon” on the short drive home.  This Moon theme hung over me. I remembered that it’s about this time of the year when mooncakes are available, and it is THE ONLY time of the year that they can be found.  Naturally, I searched “Mooncakes Los Angeles” and a list of Asian bakeries popped up.  Only one was open till 9 pm.  I called “Wonder Bakery” on Broadway in Chinatown.  The sweet young man on the phone confirmed that they are open till 9 and there are mooncakes to be bought.  I had less than an hour to drive from South LA to Chinatown. 

In a short period of time I found out tonight, Friday, September 29th is the Mid-Autumn festival of 2023.  It is also known as the Moon Festival, a celebration of the Full Harvest Moon, symbolic of a time of completeness and abundance. 

I am going to this, because it is symbolic of me stepping into the awakening to my resilient self.  I honor and give gratitude to the abundance of the friendships that gathered around me during periods of facing challenges, changes and complexities (the 3 C’s). I harvest the ripeness and crystallization of beginnings and endings.

The practice of Grati-osity is a hybrid word that combines gratitude and generosity. Expressing gratitude, typically some time after The Three C’s have occurred, means seeing the good in the experience, even if you would not have chosen the circumstance.

Generously sharing your resilience stories means that rather than giving advice or telling others what to do, you offer them in the spirit of mentoring, coaching, and advising others. Your stories of perseverance also encourages other to heal and grow.

The 5 Practices of Highly Resilient People” by Dr. Taryn Marie Stejskal

I will also add that I need resilience to make my innermost dreams come true, because dreams give me hope.

Ils ont besoin de pouvoir rêver de décrocher la lune.

They need to be able to dream and to reach for the stars.

I ate a mooncake and sipped tea as I typed this blog.  Molly nudged me for some bites of the cake. Laden with the sweet red-bean paste and its salted duck yolk center, it’s time for some sweet Full Moon dreams.

Are You Listening?

by Analyn Revilla

Words get in the way sometimes, and other times there aren’t enough.  Linguistics is a fundamental aspect of Artificial Intelligence (AI).  Machine learning requires words.  What makes me wonder is how can we teach machines to learn to communicate when basic communication between two people can sometimes be problematic.    

YouTube has volumes of videos (TedTalks, for example) on brain studies.  This one is from Nature. It describes the map of the brain that respond to specific words.

What is language?  It is a tool for communicating as one definition.  When I studied computer science I had to learn programming languages, including machine language. Programming languages look like written English, and is a “higher” form (not better, just human looking) of language. It’s “higher”, because it sits further away from the native machine language which is made up of a series of 1s and 0s (ones and zeroes). Yes, like the background of blinking 1s and 0s in the rolling credits of “The Matrix”.

Imagine a virtual meeting.  The participants are from different time zones, cultural backgrounds and speak varying native tongues. We speak English in the meeting and our purpose is to talk about a project. Twenty minutes into the meeting, the business leader messages me.  “I can’t do this.”  I know what the person is saying.  As we listen to the presenter talk about the status and plans, we’re both trying hard to listen to what’s being said.  But it’s really awful, because the sentences taste like sawdust.  It’s completely dry and without meaning to us. What needs to be said is not being said.

He’s hiding behind words.  It is like being taken for a ride and you want to get off now. I feel sad for him, but he hasn’t been listening and watching for clues and signals.  It started weeks ago.  The meeting prior to this one, the business leader was practically shouting (not literally, but he communicated clearly without raising his voice) what he needed to hear and see.  The project is delayed. Everyone sees the days, hours and minutes marching closer to a deadline, and the budget dwindling down. 

That’s one example, and something I’ve seen and experienced at other times before.  I’ve been in a similar situation when I couldn’t reach the other person.  In hindsight, I now recognize my mistake.  I was stubborn.  I could, at the time, only see the situation through my lenses.  I wonder now why was I being so obstinate.  It was immaturity on my part to butt heads with someone equally stubborn as me. It would’ve been better to compromise and acknowledge our differing views and methods of solving a problem.  The game was a draw, a stalemate. We reset the board and started over. My head hurt harder, but I think I built resilience in the process and I am better for it.

Life is a kind of game.  We play with each other and if we can play well together, we can have fun and create something profound.  But if we can’t play together then we either disengage and go separate ways and find another playmate.  The playmate we seek is someone who can speak our language with or without words – one who just gets you (or doesn’t).  They can even try to “get you”, but sometimes our personal prejudices also block communication. Our “unconscious” behaviors block us from receiving the signals from the other person. Is it a signal that I don’t have my voicemail set up? Only that I have a preferred method of communicating – in person conversation or if it can wait then email or text me. This is a technology choice. There are so many options, and I choose not to use one of them. What I really mean by “unconscious” behavior of blocking could be a level of open mindedness to listen to another point of view. There’s listening and there’s being in agreement to what you hear. How much of what is heard resonates in you? How deeply does it jive with your vibe? How open is your heart?

Why do I want to communicate? What’s my purpose to share? 

I searched for the 80/20 Rule in communication and found this one from a sales perspective. 

The most important principle of active listening is to concentrate all your attention and energy on the task of listening to and understanding what is being said to you. The 80/20 rule of active listening says that in any sales conversation the sales rep should spend 80% of the time listening and only 20% of the time talking. In the vast majority of cases, the customer doesn’t want to know what you think, he wants to tell you what he thinks, how he feels and what he needs.

In a business environment, I communicate to sell an idea, to get a “buy in”, so both parties can agree to move forward or change as needed, but stay in partnership.

I’m daunted in my creative writing project to tell a story in play form.  Mostly it’s the dialogue that stumps me.  How can I make the dialogue authentic and interesting?  Plain, simple and honest communication is truthful. Maybe it’s hard to get to the truth, because of the filters we have that shades the truth from shining through. The filters of protection and guise that cast the shadows and lights – the tragedies and comedies of being human. When I write, I watch for what it is I’m running away from (like, Oooo that one hurts, not ready to touch that one yet).

Can a machine touch someone’s heart? Maybe, one day. Sadly, sometimes, I wonder if talking with a machine is all that a person has to keep them from being lonely.

Music is also a form of language, and one I consider to be truly powerful, because music can move people. It touches the heart. I think this is the purpose of communication, with or without words.

Honor the Yoni

by Analyn Revilla

“Yoniverse” is a collection of stories written and performed by Sharmita Bhattacharya, Sapna Kumar, Chhaya Néné, and Tanya Thomas. [The show premiered at this year’s Hollywood Fringe Festival directed by Marianne Davis, receiving rave reviews, awards and encore performances and also a spot in the Hollywood Independent Theater Festival on Monday, September 18th.]

I appreciate how each woman owned their stories, because it’s not easy to experience a transgression, process and synthesize into an art form. The women describe their unique circumstances of places, names and situations that reveal a loss of innocence – violating their personal physical space – the vagina; breaking trusts in their relationships and understanding of the world; and weaving those pain points towards growth and renewal.

As each story unfolds, the heroine breaks out of the cocoon of blame and shame towards an emerging butterfly with fluttering wings of release like breathing out a breath that’s been held too long.  One wonders, how we survive devastating and creepy actions towards the yoni, which is not just an anatomical part, the “birthing canal”.  The yoni is sacred.  In Sanskrit, it is the “abode”, “source”, “womb” or “vagina”; symbolic of the goddess Shakti, the consort or Shiva.  

The woman's body
is the first world to the newborn.
The child's projections of anima 
will be of her from then on.
- from the "A Joseph Campbell Companion", selected & edited by Diane K. Osbon

Together, the Shakti and Shiva are both the male and female aspect of God.  Shiva, the tranquil, inactive state, while Shakti is the dynamic aspect of God.  – Swami Shraddhandanda.

The concept of God can be mythological as the “higher consciousness” that is “the part of the human mind that is capable of transcending animal instincts”.  – Dawn DeVries

Destiny is “simply the fulfillment  of the potentialities of the energies in your own system” – Joseph Campbell.  When a man (or anybody) either through ignorance or hatred violates the yoni, the transgression is not only against the other, but to themselves also, because it’s the killing of the potential that is innate in their own being.

When a woman realizes  that the power is within her, then the man emerges as an individual, rather than just being an example of what she thinks she needs.  On the male side, when a man looks at a woman and sees only somebody to go to bed with, he is seeing her in relation to a fulfillment of some need of his own and not as a woman at all.  It’s like looking at cows and thinking only of roast beef.

Joseph Campbell from “A Joseph Campbell Companion” Reflections on the Art of Living, selected and edited by Diane K. Osbon

These are the musings I had while watching the story telling of the women bravely owning their stories and laying it out like Tarot cards to be read, interpreted and manifested.  I particularly enjoyed the choreography on the stage and each actor wearing a bright hue of the rainbow: blue, green, yellow and red.

In closing, here is a YouTube link that demonstrate how to form the Yoni Mudra, credit to Sally Miller of

“This Mudra is used to worship Devi Durga. It has many benefits. The Yoni Mudra helps in quieting the mind of the practitioner. Practicing this helps the nervous system to be calmed and stabilized, allowing you to redirect your attention inward.”

Go see the Yoniverse and practice the mudra to honor the Yoni. Namaste.

Life Changes

A recent call from my neurologist started with his description of an article he read in a professional periodical about mindfulness. A recent study found practicing mindfulness doesn’t prolong life.  My neurologist, “Harry” knows I’m a yoga and meditation teacher.  As a practitioner of yoga-meditation, awareness is awakened to the smallest details, especially the breath.  Harry asked for my opinion. I responded, it’s about the quality of life.  Whatever designated length of time I have then I want to live it fully and practicing mindfulness is an attribute of that fulness.  He tended to agree. I enjoy my visits with Harry, because he’s philosophical and has experienced life deeply including living in the Aleutian Islands and also for a period of time in a Japanese internment camp.

I consulted with Harry about a pain I started to feel behind my left eye in March 2023.  In the past two years I developed a problem with this eye, including several visits to a Retina specialist  who diagnosed me with Macular Edema (a blister on the lining of the retina). The blister has since healed, but I cannot take steroids because it blocks the healing process. 

Another visit to the ophthalmologist in March concluded a slight injury to the surface of the eye due to “dry eyes”, and the prescribed treatment is regular eye drops (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and a gel eye drop at night.  All these are documented in my file with my neurologist.  After a series of tests (MRI and blood tests), the conclusion he made is my eyes are getting old. Well that’s a relief.  This is the new norm.  

As we talked further, he shared his discovery from the MRI – I’ve started to develop lesions in my brain.  At my age, this is unusual but not alarming.  I started to worry.  Lesions in the brain usually start anywhere in our 60’s or 70’s.  I’m still in my 50’s (the latter half I confess). Harry wants to run more tests, and impressed upon me that “we’ll get to bottom of this.  It’s treatable.”  I became more alarmed.  I’m getting old really fast, I thought.  I joked, “So being a yoga teacher doesn’t preclude me from old age”.  

April 2022May 2022February 2023March 2023April 2023
Diagnosed with Transient Global Amnesia
Memory loss:
not knowing where I live, what kind of work I do nor if my Mom is dead or alive.  I forgot my plans to visit Mom in Hawaii and I start a new job upon return.
Healed from Macular Edema. ( off unexpectedly.
Started feeling the pain behind my left eye.  Stress is generally attributed to the blister in the retina.  Specialist said that retina issues do not manifest as pain.  Stress and life changes can bring on this condition.
Looked for work and interviewed with some studios – normal stress for multiple panel interviews.
– grateful that my health insurance was extended then COBRA to help pay for medical visits and tests.
Started my new job.
Spring of my life 2023, a renewal.
Here’s my mini-journal as a timeline of the past year.

There are patterns I recognize when I document the changes and step back to reflect:

  1. Change is stressful.  (Stress can be healthy as it promotes change and growth).
  2. Resilience to bounce back
  3. Growth with a new perspective
  4. Consistent yoga and meditation practice through teaching.  (I already have a standing 15-minute guided mediation every Friday morning at my new job just as I had in my previous job).  I remind myself to ‘allow and accept’ for changes.

Then naturally we experience internal changes when we tune in and recognize our changing needs in our relationships.  I’m a big consumer of books and modalities to learn and understand myself better. My intention is to work with my personality and express my true authentic self.  This is also a stress, which I deem necessary for my spiritual growth.  When a relationship changes it turns that inner ground to ‘yin’ (dark and spongy and sometimes icky to be reprocessed), then turns it around to ‘yang’ (light and activity and more experiences).  This is the deeper philosophy attributed to the I Ching that recognizes the flow of energy.

I sense there is pain when a leaf unfurls from it bud to its fulness. Then it dances on the branch, moving with grace to the moods of breezes and wind. Over time it succumbs to the forces of time, weathering and gravity. It returns to its source.

Leaf found, blown on the ground at Vincent Edward Park when it was still green.
Now, in its state of decay, it’s moving towards renewal and rebirth. 
The spirit goes on.

If I may, there are no coincidences, because as I was writing this blog the song “Falling” by Hall & Oates played on YouTube’s auto-play.  

The concepts of synchronicity (a word coined by Carl Jung from his study of the I Ching and what is called yin, or resonance, underlie the I Ching. One of the principle assumptions behind the I Ching is that everything happens is meaningfully related. Events occur not only simultaneously but also in a meaningful interrelationship.

The I Ching Workbook by Roger Green

Daryl Hall & John Oates Falling 1976 Capitol Theatre
“Floating through the clouds, goin’ down
Seems a strange point of calm
No past, and no future, just the wing and the wind
When the wheels touch the ground
A flood of feeling sweeps around
And the wheels of my life start turning again
If I could stay, if I could stay
If I could stay, if I could stay
If I could stay in the sky
Suspended in time”

Just Let Go & Breathe

Art is a living creature.  Art needs space and air.

Like many people, I work a regular job. Then, like yourselves, we carve out time to make art out of necessity to feel alive.

The regular job is just the framework of the house, but the “house is not a home”* without love, aka creativity and art. 

Not to write, for many of us, is to die.

If you did not write every day, the poisons would accumulate and you would begin to die, or act crazy, or both.

The art I create comes in many forms starting with the daily meals that are prepared with imagination and soul.  Recently, I shared a piece of writing with a friend.  He was amazed that I can write something creative despite the heavy demand of my work schedule, maintaining the house, taking care of the dogs and chickens, teaching yoga and meditation, keeping the humming bird feeders full, plus the little surprises that come along (like getting rid of mice that got inside the house from a hole behind the stove.  That was some kind of awful.)

My friend attributed my creativity to the the vitamins I’m taking, to which I replied that I don’t take any.  I am, however, a big believer in making my own food, taking care to eat less processed food as much as possible.  It’s a creative process to prepare a meal. A short diversion – many years ago, I had invited another friend for dinner.  After the meal, which was shared with my dog, Chloe, he said, “That was the best dog food I ever had!”

Living artfully is not easy, because not everyone thinks that way, or can be that way.  It is a way of being.  I love motorcycling. It’s a way of getting around that is deemed “unsafe”, “impractical” and many other things. But it feels alive to ride on two wheels with some speed and wind to fill my lungs, and debris and bad roads and inattentive drivers to navigate around.

Pragmatism, efficiency and processes can be deemed as roadblocks to living creatively.  But it is a necessity. Multi-media artist, June Wayne said “an artist is practical.”  What she meant, as an example, is an artist needs a studio where they can create.  So, it must be that an artist needs to work at a job to support the ‘habit’ of creating art.  As artists we teeter-totter between the pragmatic and the artistic mind-heart set.

I have to watch myself vigilantly, so that I am not consumed by efficiency in trying to get things done.  When I’m not mindful, I notice a dim film of depression coat my skin and seep into my flesh.  My body droops and I drink too much of anything (caffeine and alcohol).  I take short cuts in my self-care.  For example, instead of luxuriating in putting on lotion after a shower, I slap it on fast and rub on the moisturizer over my face and skip the spritz of my favorite perfume.  My body gets tensed, and my thinking is muddied.  I breathe with dis-ease instead of ease. 

A simple practice I’ve re-started is to spend more time outdoors, especially in the morning and around twilight.  I invested in a dedicated hotspot that connects me to the internet securely and I can work on my laptop while I absorb natural light and fresh air and natural sounds:  the breeze rustling the leaves and the chimes, birds singing, the chickens clucking and crowing, the dogs barking, the flutter of wings and sounds of the city hovering in and out of my attention.

By “noticing”, I started to make little adjustments.  I started noticing my doubts and tossing them out and replacing them with my instincts. Doubts are “mind” stuff.  When I follow the doubt then I allow my mind to beat me.  But when I go with my instinct I feel free and I feel good. There’s also an edge akin to risk-taking because there’s the unfamiliar, unexpected and the unknown.  I’m going with choices that are not 100% full proof, hence an opportunity to learn and to grow and to fail and to try again.

For example, instead of asking permission to do something, I recognize it’s better to just do it and make something happen rather than hang back – “paralysis by analysis”.  In the end, something happened, and I can live with it, with more practice.

I’ve made a choice to let go, by just being myself, and do without trying. When I surrender then I come to that space of breath where the mind is at play, or in other words, not ‘figuring it out’.  It’s taken me a while to ‘get it’, not by figuring it out, but allowing for recognition that the mind is powerful and I can’t let it beat me.  I’ve begun to notice with more attentiveness when my mind is running the show (my life) and I get all knotted up inside, I hold my breath, and I am tired most times from mental fatigue and lack of deep restful sleep.

Surrendering also means letting go of stressful relationships.  We form different types of relationships and some can be “political” whereby someone is jockeying for “control”.  I’ve wisened up a little, though I’m still learning, that if it’s not serving me to be the best of me, then I have to drop it.  I have a limited number of breaths in my life and I have to make each one count by being aware as to what purpose I am serving.  I’ve also given up on perfection, because there’s always going to be something or someone better than me.  “I am” is just right for me.

*(lyrics by Hal David from the Burt Bacharach song of the same name)

Intention, Time & Tapas

by Analyn Revilla

This blog was originally posted on the blog site of Fightmaster Yoga (

Sometimes the things we love to do or are passionate about can be our prison also.  I’m talking about my love of reading and writing, playing guitar, and also practicing yoga.  It’s so strange to me, until recently, how I can hit a wall with these activities.  I will be religious about doing these things then I find my passion and interest waning, as though these things become a chore rather than a source of joy.

I get into a rut and it’s a lot of work to dig myself out of it with a new perspective, and sometimes it’s not the one I expected or wanted.  To give an example, I’ll talk about my yoga practice.  I was doing the 90-day Shine Program (available to people who join an app called MyYogaPal, which I came upon from following YouTuber, Lesley Fightmaster. She influenced my personal practice because her teaching philosophy and practice was “You don’t have to be perfect, because it’s not about the pose.”). Around the 70 to 80 day mark of the program I started to get stuck, because I repeated the classes 2 or 3 times, maybe even 4 or 5 times. I did so, because I felt I didn’t do it justice.  What I mean by that is my focus wasn’t there, and my best intentions weren’t present.

I almost wonder if we should give ourselves some kind of a graduation ceremony for accomplishing a feat of doing 90 days of yoga as a recognition of completion and getting ready for the next step.  What could that be after 90 days of the Shine program?

So what perspective did I gain after I had to re-boot myself from the rut?  No pain, no gain.  I am being a bit facetious in thinking and writing those words, but I’m not editing them out.  The reason is there is truth to the cliche (as cliche as it may be).  Here’s my real life experience about this.  I have two stories to share.

I’ll start with my recent project that I started about 2 months ago.  I decided that I want to be able to do at least one pull up before the end of this year.  So, after teaching my twice a week yoga classes at a private club, I go to the weight room and work on my pull ups.  One of my yoga students is dedicated about his weight training.  He started to notice me be a regular in the weight room.  He offered me advice on how to reach my goal.  First, he asked what my goal was and analyzed my workout.  Then he said that I needed to also do some weights to strengthen my pectoral muscles. I followed his advice.

Two weeks ago, one of my other yoga students joined me in the weight room as we continued a conversation after class.  ‘What are you doing here?’, he asked, so I told him.  ‘Well, have you tried doing one without the machines?’  I said no.  ‘Try,’ he said, ‘You might surprise yourself.’  I was doubtful, but I did it anyway and guess what – I almost got to one… I was able to lift my weight higher than I ever expected.  He said, ‘you’re almost there?!’  ‘Really?’ I beamed.  ‘Yeah.’  My coach was there too, working on his usual routine.  He said, “To be successful you have to be ready to endure pain.”  I haven’t forgotten those words since.

The other story is I have been healing an injured rotator cuff or a very tight knot around my right neck and shoulder area.  It’s been rather painful, that I can barely do a chaturanga dandasana (four-limbed staff pose). While I heal, I do a modified chaturanga dandasana.  Here I am, a yoga teacher, and I’ve suffered an injury.  I hope I’m not teaching anyone the wrong way.  I’ve always always been mindful of making sure my shoulders are aligned with my arms, wrists and hands.  It could be a combination of repetitive motion injury and arthritis plus my new pull-ups program.

Lesley Fightmaster in Chaturanga Dandasana

But I recognized there’s something deeper going on here, so I stopped looking externally as to why I’ve suffered this set back. I decided to investigate inwardly.  What is it in my life that’s really bothering me and that I’m avoiding or running away from?  I decided to revisit writing on a daily basis again to help draw out this invisible elephant in the room.  I went back to my roots of spending more time alone which I need on regular basis, because it’s always been my nature. Also, I have had to start being honest with myself and recognize to put myself first.

I was very spoiled when I lived next to a national park that bordered my home in Vancouver, Canada.  I would spend hours in the trails of the forest with my dog running, hiking, jumping and being alone but not lonely in nature.  I was one with the sounds of the forest – the rushing waters of the creek, the call of the birds, the soft wind through the needles of pine trees and leaves of deciduous trees.

That was my meditation.

Now, it’s 20 minutes if I can steal it from the heavy schedule of a regular job, and the pets (chickens and dogs), cleaning, cooking, shopping and teaching yoga.  I got lost in all that and lost a vital part of me – just spending time with myself doing the things I enjoy without the pressure of the walls of time closing in.  Isn’t it funny how we perceive time.  It could be infinite or finite, depending on our state of mind.

I really meandered on this blog.

But it all ties in with the words of intention, time and tapas.  To get to the next level of where I imagine my life to be then I have to be in tune with myself – aligned.  I need to continually evaluate when I’m not tracking to my intention and put in the sweat, effort and time to re-align and stay in-tuned to my inner voice – that calling that cannot be silenced until there is no more.

It’s easy to get thrown off my path and I have to guard my time wisely because I haven’t got a lot of it measured in human years.  I want to be generous with others, but I also need to be mindful to be more generous to myself.  This is my authentic self when I’m taking care of myself.


There are many poems about love, and this one by Kahlil Gibran is among my favorites.

On Love by Kahlil Gibran

Then said Almitra, Speak to us of Love.
     And he raised his head and looked upon the people, and there fell a stillness upon them. And with a great voice he said:
     When love beckons to you, follow him,
     Though his ways are hard and steep.
     And when his wings enfold you yield to him,
     Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you.
     And when he speaks to you believe in him,
     Though his voice may shatter your dreams as the north wind lays waste the garden.
     For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you. Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning.
     Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun,
     So shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth.
     Like sheaves of corn he gathers you unto himself
     He threshes you to make your naked.
     He sifts you to free you from your husks.
     He grinds you to whiteness.
     He kneads you until you are pliant;
     And then he assigns you to his sacred fire, that you may become sacred bread for God’s sacred feast.
     All these things shall love do unto you that you may know the secrets of your heart, and in that knowledge become a fragment of Life’s heart.
     But if in your heart you would seek only love’s peace and love’s pleasure,
     Then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love’s threshing-floor,
     Into the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears.
     Love gives naught but itself and takes naught but from itself.
     Love possesses not nor would it be possessed;
     For love is sufficient unto love.
     When you love you should not say, “God is in my heart,” but rather, “I am in the heart of God.”
     And think not you can direct the course of love, for love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course.
     Love has no other desire but to fulfil itself.
     But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires:
     To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night.
     To know the pain of too much tenderness.
     To be wounded by your own understanding of love;
     And to bleed willingly and joyfully.
     To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving;
     To rest at the noon hour and meditate love’s ecstasy;
     To return home at eventide with gratitude;
     And then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in your heart and a song of praise upon your lips.

After writing about hope I was meditating upon faith, hope and love.  Again, among my favorites… with 4 to 7 often quoted at wedding ceremonies.

1 Corinthians 13

1If I speak in the tongues a of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

8Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

When I think of my impulse to write, the underlying combustion of the engine (my heart) is love.  Love is the catalytic fire that transforms my being from sleep to wakefulness.  Sometimes, I just want to be closed and sleep.  But even in sleep, love breathes in and out.  Life is love.  I believe that I am still breathing because of love.

What is love?

It is beyond this romantic notion of sweet words, roses and chocolates, or anything we traditionally associate with Valentine’s Day.  Those things are symbolic of the impulse of love.  What if I couldn’t afford any of these things, and so I am left with words.  I could say I love you.  But if I couldn’t talk, then I could write I love you.  But if I was illiterate then I could just offer my love with my presence.

Again, I lean upon some teachings from Thich Nhat Hahn.  He speaks of love as being present for someone. 

“The true declaration of love is ‘Dear one, I am here for you,’ because the most precious gift you can give to your loved one is your true presence, with body and mind united in solidity and freedom.”

It can be practiced as a mantra, “Dear one, I am here for you,” while thinking of the other person.  A mantra can be practiced not only in speech but in your mind and your body.  

I pause now.  It’s visceral to recognize that just by being in love and expressing the mantra wholeheartedly in mind and body is enough.  I am love.  You are love.  Again, the love I speak of here is not limited to the idyllic romantic love.  I am talking of love that binds two hearts beyond the real and surreal; seen and unseen; waking and dreaming. 

Here are the four mantras shared by Thich Nhat Hanh to cultivate true love.

Dear one, I am here for you.

Dear one, I know that you are here, alive, and that makes me very happy.

Dear one, I know that you are suffering.  That’s why I am here for you.

Dear one, I am suffering.  I need your help.

Now, after pondering upon those mantras, I turn to another definition of love from the book “The Road Less Travelled” by M. Scott Peck, a psychiatrist. In the second part of the book, he contrasts his views of the nature of love against common notions of romantic love, falling in love and dependency.  He asserts that the nature of true love is an action, consciously undertaken to “extend one’s ego boundaries by including others or humanity” – a spiritual nurturing that can extend to oneself and to others.

Between Kahlil Gibran, Thich Nhat Hanh and M. Scott Peck, there is this common thread of giving of oneself to the other – a surrender that is beautiful like the symbolism and imagery of the Yin Yang.  The yin surrenders without effort to the yang as the yang surrenders effortlessly to yin. So the sun rises and sets so we can observe the moon wax and wane for 29.5 days, then again the wheel rotates.  What causes the motions and rotations of everything in the universe?

As a teacher of meditation, there is this surrender of the ego to enter into the realm of the pure awareness.  Perhaps it is in the moments when the consciousness transcends the thinking mind and feeling body that we enter the bliss.  This bliss could be love, where every boundaries are suspended and we see the one in the whole, and the whole in the one.