Life is an agile cycle, or is it vice versa? :exploding-head:

call me a nerd. or don’t. guess i am just awkwardly in the middle. so, i dont claim to be an expert in either life or scrum hahaha.

well, for those of you who are not familiar, an agile cycle is a software development life cycle methodology, ideally based on collaborative decision-making between requirements and solutions teams, whereby a working software iteratively developed, typically every week/ other week. and scrum is basically a type of agile cycle. specifically, the scrum methodology is made up of ceremonies (with my very simplistic understanding on purpose of each one):

  • sprint review. to clarify the scope and effort of work (in jira terms, tasks, stories, bugs).
  • sprint planning. to raise all concerns and allocate resources as realistically as possible.
  • sprint execution. the actual work!
  • daily stand-ups. to raise any blockers that others could possibly help eradicate.
  • backlogging. usually mid-sprint, to rearrange commitment in accordance with current assessment of under/ overcommitment.
  • retrospective. to reflect on how the team could have done better/ should continue doing, and become more effective!

it is believed that by practicing all these ceremonies (of course with some tailoring to the needs of your team), would you be able to cyclically deliver a software that is gonna only get better with every iteration.

i have only in part of/ had the chance to work with, not for super long but enough to make observations, 4 product teams so far. my observations:

  • everyone’s super brilliant in their domain, IQ prolly + 100000000 of mine (fine, i exaggerate – maybe just * 1000).
    • this means everyone understands concepts (duh, cuz they be smart), and the theories (specifically w.r.t. the benefits of each ceremony) very well.
    • when operating at max, could have super high productivity.
  • some teams would have dysfunctions/ not be as efficient as it could be is usually because:
    • teams which are not willing to slow down to properly execute specific ceremonies because the “short term gains” are low. e.g. clarifying scope and effort of specific tasks. eventually, they would feel the effects – remember the “karmic patterns”? how about tech debt?
    • people not voicing potential issues due to various ego/ need-to-upkeep-image issues – remember “satya”? how about that premature code refactoring required?
    • teams not cutting out sufficient amounts of time for reflection and consciously acting upon the possible follow-up, whether for past/ current task/ project, for various reasons – not wanting to recognize there is an issue/ not accepting of criticism/ not wanting to dedicate the time for reflection – remember the sound of pagerduty right after a release?

the asana sutra says stability -> effort/effortlessness -> duality;

in parallel,

the “product nirvana”: product team function stability (finding out which ceremonies/ artifacts work for you) -> put in effort to practise them until they become habits -> have no fear that app is always gonna be more stable and better than the previous one.

as a yogi, i am taught to practice what i learn on the mat AND off the mat – break the bad habits, form the good ones, and make incremental growth.

as an employee, people may tell me work is not life, hence we shouldnt take it (team dysfunctions/ product failures) so seriously ^.

NEWS FLASH: work is not life, but work is part of your life. however you choose to execute it, you are forming a habit that you are going to bring somewhere else. and whoever you are working with is gonna contribute to that effort you are in forming that good/ bad habit. there is not a switch whereby you can simply toggle on and off, like oh let me build a habit of procrastination here at work!, ok now i am going for lunch, let me switch it off.

one day, everything will catch up.

“I’m breaking the habit tonight!”

The more i am conscious about all my intentions, and try to set them straight, break bad habits, form good ones, the more vulnerable i realize my mental self would get. is this all part of the process?

this is the question i would love to answer today – have not thought about this beforehand, but have noticed it as part of the practice to grow (or relating to yoga, to try and lead a yogic life).

examples.

  1. on the mat. the more i try to stay focused, the more faults of my movements/ poses/ breath/ thinking i identify, and the more unfocused i become.
  2. off the mat. the more i try to stop feeling angry when i recognize that it’s starting to control me, because i remember how it feels, and understand that it serves me no purpose, the more painful the struggle becomes.

why?

it could be that because i have passed the stage of awareness/ acknowledgement, my expectations to improve have risen more. in general, i guess i am impatient (yet another negative characteristic of mine i have recognized and been trying to break). could this impatience be the underlying reason of all the progress i have yet to make? how did this lack of patience come about? easy. from that first time i decide not to be.

i was introduced to the deeper concept of karma recently (than that of “what goes around comes around)”. specifically, we generate karma thru our (let being = ) intention/ motive, action, outcome/ consequence, emotional content, reaction.

according to buddhism, there are 3 types:

  1. Sanchitta. accumulated from the beginning of your existence (whatever you believe in, whether past lives or from the moment you were born), to the current point in your life
  2. Prarabdha. as per my understanding, fructification of just a portion of the accumulation (sanchitta)
  3. Agami. created at the current moment

i think i always subconsciously knew about these concepts (how everything you do impacts something else later on) and i guess such intentional learnings really help raise my awareness of my being at every moment.

for one, why i say i “always knew about these concepts” is because i see that habits are essentially an extension of your karmic patterns. good or bad. if you had a bad one, you will one day be paying it back.

where { being = action, emotional content, reaction }, it’s pretty straightforward, ceteris paribus for each case, that is – if i eat a binge on junk food every day, visually fats will accumulate, and physically i will encounter health issues; if i am impatient in my work, my productivity will be pretty low as i rush thru stuff; if i get upset at a small trigger, i would one day just be overwhelmed by every little thing and get triggered at everything.

and for every being that i have, i know a habit will form because each being is due to my self-justification. “it’s ok for me to have that intent, action, outcome, emotion, reaction”, and more often than not, we have a small voice in our heads that would continue on to say.. “just this once”/ “for now”/ “because xxx”.

if it’s a bad habit, it’s never okay, because that is what adulting means. it means conscientiously trying to define your morals (yama), “image” (niyama), sorting out feelings with clarity, and finally, making the “right” (i.e. informed (experiential/ observational learnings) + morally aligned + socially responsible) decisions.

#Todos

  • observe your intention.
  • think before making the next action.
  • act with the intended outcome in mind.
  • reflect on your current emotional state of mind.
  • “objectify” (i wont say detach emotions but more react in the way you wont regret) a reaction.

after staring at this #Todos, yeah there is no question that the amount of self-control needed, discipline, mindfulness, or even sheer consciousness required is gonna be mentally draining.

then again, if it were so easy, all of us would be saints. i guess that was always my gripe. why humans so flawed? why am I so flawed?

let’s +1 to linkin’ park and start trying to break our habits together tonight ft. #ahimsa. :prayer-hands:

Silence Is The Sound Of Sahasrara

Sahasrara, a funny sounding word to a Sanskrit-foreigner. difficult to remember, fun to attempt to pronounce, and satisfying to let the syllables roll off your tongue. the concept is similar. “funny sounding” to a non-believer (of “divine consciousness”), “fun” to attempt to experience to experience from within, to the higher consciousness, and PROBABLY satisfying if you could attain balance of the Sahasrara – i mean, i am guessing but being connected to the everything and nothing, being conscious and “unconscious” (detached) to all – sounds like the ultimate peace, like you have beat the final boss in a video game (called life?).

what is silence to me?

channel 1: phasing out all senses (esp. of audio, visual, and smell) around and in me into a messy harmony (or destruction) of sounds and sights

how? by recognizing the existence of that presence, and then simply acknowledging it.

moods that would let me channel such silence:

  • when i am feeling neutral and driven and am able to concentrate at my center – nothing matters more than my current being
  • when i am feeling relaxed and at peace, that everything is ok
  • when i am feeling outta outta sorts due to lack of mental/ physical energy, or overdrive of mental energy (i.e. super pissed/ upset!), and cannot concentrate on a single instance of something

channel 2: filtering out all senses around me

how? by forcefully shutting everyone and everything out.

moods that would let me channel such silence:

  • when i am feeling defensive, angry, and close-minded
  • when i wallow in self-pity, feeling depressed and low, like nothing will ever be ok
  • when i feel defeated and hopeless, like everything is pointless
the parallels in everything we do, including asana practice/ ashtanga sutra, is mad.

 

next is a very lame series of text i would love to call poem –

Title: understand, experience, be

in control vs state of controlling (effort vs effortlessness)

acknowledging vs shutting out (phasing vs filtering (of senses))

attachment vs detachment (of everything-ness and nothingness)

them growing pains; one day we shall

reach without trying to reach

 ’nuff said.

 

Pratyahara – A Sensory Withdrawal Or Detachment?

TIL: we dont have 5 senses. we have 18?!?!? 

disclaimer: this post is based on my shallow understanding following my 1-video curiosity to learn about pratyahara.

Apparently, senses can be categorized into:

“Primary” “Internal” “Super”/ “Higher Order”
Sense of sight
Sense of sound
Sense of smell
Sense of taste
Sense of touch
Sense of warmth
Sense of cold
Sense of pain
Sense of muscular co-ordination
Sense of balance
Sense of thirst, hunger and sex
Sense of inner sight (clairvoyance)
Sense of inner hearing (clairaudience)
Sense of inner smell
Sense of inner taste
Psycho-kinetic sense
Psycho-sympathetic senses of sympathy, empathy, pity
Sense of higher compassion

In the 5th limb of ashtanga yoga, Pratyahara is often described as the “withdrawal of senses”. this is derived from a naive interpretation + translation of based on the breakdown of the word; prati means “away”, and ahara means “food”, or in this case, a any stimuli that we sense (or should i say, “feeds” us).

For the past few years since I managed to have a little bit of my ajna chakra activated (or so i would like to believe), i have been attempting to withdraw myself from my senses.

Let me step back and provide some context – i have always been someone who has heightened senses –  not to all 18 of them, but i would say more than 50% of it – i get extra negatively impacted when i sense someone/ something around me not being in the state of harmony, even if it were a stranger. i get overly consumed with negativity over a long list of things:

  • when i witness/ hear about an upsetting experience

(or superficially, when i…)

  • smell strong scents
  • see something out of place
  • touch something cold or wet
  • hear inconsistently loud noises

(or even more superficially – yes it’s possible – when i…)

  • only scratch my left arm and not the right arm
  • dont type with all my fingers equally
  • dont part my hair each side + centre about equal number of hours each day
  • have to stand in front of a fan on louver (because the air hitting me is not consistent)

The list simply goes on.

At this point, i can hear people laughing about such lameness/ weirdness. but emotionally, and to a certain extent, physically, i get more affected than one can imagine; i can feel my manipura chakra triggered and running in full speed (if i am using the concept correctly, but you get idea) – i feel a dull throbbing at the circumference along my temples, i feel flustered, i get impulsive. and yes, i would then react on the impulse and escalate situations that could be nothing – sometimes i’d start a heated argument/ blame it on the first person i see beside me/ allow myself to fulfil the “illogical” need (like proceeding to scratch my right arm).

So yes, since i learnt truly the idea of self-reflection and analysis, i recognized such unhealthiness brewing within me, and have been trying to do things to help myself. from hearing from others/ reading of self-help books/ experiential, i concluded that all these impulses due to my lack of self-discipline. here are some things i tried:

(sorry i am going to use my lame but hopefully entertaining examples.)

  • exercise discipline to abstain – stop myself from scratching that other arm when it doesnt even itch
  • exercise discipline to anticipate and control – intentionally scratch one side and stop myself from balancing out with the other
  • exercise discipline to delay gratification – wait until the end of this post to standardize fonts/ alignments if i know it is going to take more 10 seconds
  • exercise discipline to focus – meditating and focusing on breath as opposed to the 1 million things in my mind speaking at me/ surfacing in my brain.

Last year, i furthered in this journey of attempted self-help by consciously withdrawing myself from situations (which of course after taking this course only did i realize is called Pratyahara).

Despite so, i dont feel like i have made much progress – i mean yes there is a liiiittle progress in terms of 10% shorter procrastinations/ 5% lesser impulsive needs – but i find myself falling back easily/ progress made is not sustainable or stagnated. During this period, I also received advice that i should not avoid a negative thought, but rather acknowledge and even put in ALL the attention, and learn to let go of it. that is something that i have consciously tried to practice – the concept is easy to understand (though hard to convince my own friends because i cant verbalize myself very well), but i always had trouble applying the technique, and grasping how the experience should feel like… until this youtube video i decided to click on just because youtube recommendations… i mean, there were many more visually-appealing videos. #everythingalwayshappensforareason

In the video is this very wise dude, Dr Ananda, talking basically about the “missing link” in yoga. he states that Pratyahara is that easily-dismissed-as-just-another-external-practice, but in reality, the linkage between the other 7 external and internal concepts (or limbs) of yoga (to attain a yogic life). (please watch the video at your own time to understand why.)

He then started preaching about what Pratyahara actually means (to him) – it is not just the withdrawal, but the choice to withdraw from our senses. his interpretation is based on Pantajali’s sutra 54 and 55 (from 2:00min).

Sadhana Pada Sutra 54: Swavishaya Asamprayoge (to attach) Chitta Swarupa Anukarah Iva; Indrianam Pratyaharah

Direct translation: Pratyahara or abstraction is, as it were, the imitation by the senses of the mind by withdrawing themselves from their objects.

Sadhana Pada Sutra 55: Tatah ParamaaVashyateIndriyaanaam

Direct translation: Then follows the greatest mastery over the senses.

Quoting wise Dr Ananda’s interpretation of the sutra, “we have the tendency to attach and identify with our sensors. we need to come away from them” and “thru the practice of pratyahara, you are able to untangle yourself from the web of senses (indriya jala) into a state of mastery over the sense”.

He describes the practice of Pratyahara as intentionally over-heightening the sense that is being triggered, really experience, assess, analyze, and emerge objectively from the sense (i.e. “let go”), by the power of choice. specifically, you see the best you can see, you hear the best you can hear, you feel the best you can feel… and then you choose to withdraw yourself (“vairagya”) non attachment/ passion; only by choosing to move away from a sensory experience would you be able to achieve objectivity towards your sensory experiences; only by taking a step back and understanding your experience with objectivity, i.e. shifting our sensory experience inwards, and seeing it as an experience, as opposed to my experience.

Our pre-frontal cortex located between the brows is what gives us the power of choice. and that is what differs us from other beings – spinal -> reactivity -> response/ “response-ability” -> cortical (at brow center). according to Dr Ananda, in Pratyahara, you want to move away from spinal cord tendency to react reflexively, and responding reflectively instead.

Hence one can practice between-brows strengthening exercises – the more you become conscious of the brow center and choose to reside in the power of choice, you start to become a master of the senses rather than a mere slave to them. 

Dr Ananda’s recommendations are:

  • perform Shanmukhi Mudra while sitting in Padmasana, focusing on breathing at all times.
  • practice Prana Kriya to enhance your power of shifting your experience from external to internal. (meditate; IN 6 counts, HOLD 3 counts, EX 6 counts, HOLD 3 counts.)
  • practice Sapta Kriya – in savasana, sense (softest/ loudest) as much as you can on your periphiral, then come back within to observe your (softest/ loudest) internal sounds to silence.
  • om Japa – power to quiet your lymphic system (which is tied to our reflexive/ reactive/ emotional behavior)

After revisiting Dr Ananda’s teachings and my summary via this post, i am beginning to see that it does all fall back on discipline. given i acknowledge that there is a choice to withdraw, it is only with discipline would i be able to make the choice. with more knowledge on what (breakdown + linkage of concepts), why (bases of concepts) , and how (techniques) , i now feel a little more inspired to try harder.