Lessons from Balasana


I find myself in a contemplative mood as I listen to my Matisyahu playlist on the train ride going home. I was in full concentration on their Live at Stubb’s album, listening to that prelude about the kingdom and the people, and how both relate and validate each other.

This reminded me of that unforgettable moment three years ago, where my college orgmate posted photos of her experience in attending the Shanghai World Expo on Facebook. One photo of hers particularly stuck with me:


Prior to seeing this, I chanced upon an Oprah Show episode featuring the best countries to live as a woman. Denmark was one of the featured countries, and their segment did highlight how bulk of their population was agnostic in terms of their religious demographic, but that they were progressive still.


Amazing stuff, I thought. I could not help but ponder on this further, how ahead they were in promoting gender equality and empowering women, one of the UN millenium development goals. It was in learning of the MDGs back in the day that got me to start thinking about intrinsic cultural paradigms and their impact on the rate of development for a country. And I don’t view this in the context of sheer GDP growth alone, but also on other bottom lines, particularly those that dwell on sustainability and inclusiveness. But this is not a post on gender gaps and filling them in.

Progress. Inclusiveness.

I might have stepped the lands of Shanghai three years too late to catch that expo, but it was with the power of technology that enabled me to relish in that unforgettable moment, albeit virtually. It goes without saying that I will defend my habits as an SNS junkie to the death. This is further validation of my love for technology.

Progress. Inclusiveness. The exponential benefits of technology.

Yesterday, I found myself in the 3rd Filipino Technopreneurship Summit organized by GoNegosyo. Of the prominent tech startup founders that took the stage to share their success stories, one of the prevailing themes that resonated was to get oneself out there and find the right people who share your values and vision. It is with this shared vision, they say, that will pull a team through adversity and catapult the start-up to the next level.

Progress. Inclusiveness. Technology. Collaboration.

This then leads me to recall the brewing frustration I have been having in class. I am honestly getting sick of sitting in lectures that often involve ranting and criticizing other institutions, looking at failures and highlighting them, but ending there, not even coming up with commentary on how to improve things. Last term, I got so irked by this, people adding complaint upon complaint, and just dwelling on that level. It came to the point where I raised my hand and asked the entire class, “So, what is the solution?”

I got different answers. One was to elect different leaders. Another was a sentiment saying that the role of academe is to make the students aware of these problems, so that the students may come up with the solution.

We then shifted on to another topic. But that moment got me thinking further: if the world was a venn diagram, and we had a God’s view on matters, will we choose to see the differences? Or will we choose to see the intersections and unions of things? Should everything be compartmentalized as an I-do-this-and-you-do-that type of thing? Or should everything be seen as convergent and idle opportunities waiting to be acted on as a collective?

Progress. Inclusiveness. Technology. Collaboration. The cultural lack thereof.

I found myself in a moment of restfulness in Yoga class this morning as I transitioned to balasana after continuous rounds of suryas. It is a beautiful pose, it enables one to reconnect with the earth, to feel a state of willful surrender and yet the ground feels as if it is cradling us, supporting us.

And so it is with this subliminal sense of support that we thrive, is what I felt.

In the start-up ecosystem, people are known to help and support each other, validating and challenging each other, but all done in the spirit of wanting each other to succeed. It is a refreshing feeling to witness the greats, in all their laurels garnered throughout life, helping the young ones (whether by one’s age, or by the age of one’s venture) in their initial attempts to cross the chasm.

On the flipside, I’m also starting to get a glimpse of the polarities of thought in the ecosystem. I profess to be a fan of conflict, as I believe that great things can come out of it when taken maturely. It is in the lack of maturity though, that childish banter get brewed. It is my hope still that a shift in a paradigm will evolve, where the incentives of looking at convergences are actively seen, rather than the differences.

As one splendid development worker I recently met splendidly puts it: we are not the message, we are the messenger. We do what we do for the ecosystem, not our ego.

Progress. Inclusiveness. Technology. Collaboration. Culture. Hope.

I am brought back to a moment one year ago, as I found myself in a contemplative retreat. One fine afternoon, the moderator encouraged us to take advantage of our youth, to use this time to shop around and choose our values. Youth is like jello in room temp, he said. At this time in our lives, we’re soft and flexible, but over time, we become jello in freezer conditions, living our lives with the values we’ve set ourselves on.

Progress. Inclusiveness. Technology. Collaboration. Culture. Hope. Empowerment.

Be like jello. Great advice not just for dance moves, but for values.
As one of the richest Filipinos who came from humble beginnings puts it magnificently: love what you do. Be curious, shake things up. In difficult times, your love for what you do will pull you through. He also encouraged answering math prob sets.

And as my favorite yoga teacher would say: superhero movies make it big in the box office because we highly subscribe to the notion that someone will save us. But what if we dig deeper and think that we can save ourselves? We are all that we’ve been waiting for.


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