Sanctuary Living by THE YOGA SCHOOL

Body / Meditate / Inspire

“Happiness is a birthright. Be brave and seek yours.”

By The Yoga School / October 4, 2018

Entangled within the web of her “tragic life reel”, Rie Komiya struggled to find happiness for years. She shares how she finally found inner peace through her Kundalini Yoga practice

We all have dreams.

Back in university, mine was to become a successful business woman. But that dream changed when I got married and moved to Singapore in 1999. A year later, I became a mother to a beautiful baby boy. The experience of carrying a child into this world brought me the deepest joy! In spite of the challenges I faced as a new mum in a different culture, all I wanted was to be the perfect stay-at-home mum.

Before long, I was blessed with a second child – a daughter, who I lost when she was just 10 days old. Losing her utterly broke me.

I couldn’t talk to anyone about it, not even my family, the ones who were supposed to be my closest kin. Sometimes I wonder if it would have made any difference if they’d known that their silence was deafening. They didn’t seem willing to talk about it. I reckon it was because no one knew how.

The truth was, I didn’t know where to turn to for advice. I had no one to share my pain with. I was wrecked with grief, but I didn’t know how to deal with it. I cried, every single day.

Suppressing my emotions seemed to be the only way to carry on with life. But the emptiness ate me up inside.

To cope, I started revolving everything in my life around my family. I said “yes” to everyone’s requests. My homemaker “role” felt like a security blanket. It was the only identity I knew and I clung on to that anchor in a sea of uncertainty. I embraced the role wholeheartedly, wanting to play the part as perfectly as I could. Although no one demanded it of me, I put myself last and prioritised everyone else’s needs first. I’d convinced myself that this was what I needed to do to feel “valuable” to my family. The self-guilt was all consuming. The sense of hopelessness and depression overwhelmed my entire being.

On hindsight, I know now that I was clinically depressed. But back then, it never crossed my mind that I could get help by consulting a doctor. My condition deteriorated over time, manifesting physical symptoms like chronic lower back pain, sciatica and increased heart rate.

The specialist doctors I went to see were able to provide temporary relief for my physical ailments. But I remained mentally and emotionally unstable. My marriage eventually fell apart when my ex-husband and I reached the point where we felt we were no longer compatible.

I felt like I had hit rock bottom.
And yet, in my darkest moments, life brought me support.

If there was one thing that I’d always been always passionate about, it was Argentine tango. Dancing made me feel alive again even when my insides felt dead.

One of the tango dancers recommended dance meditation. “You need to process the years of sadness you carry,” she said. “The ‘shift’ will help your sadness to flow out.” Another friend introduced me to Reiki. Inspired by her joyful demeanor and uplifting energy, I decided to give it a go. From there, I started exploring other modalities like Kundalini Yoga, Family Constellation, and sound healing (through Tibetan Singing Bowls and Crystal Singing Bowls). These tools helped me to break old patterns and create space for new ones to enter.

As I continued to practice Kundalini yoga, meditation and Reiki,I started to feel the rivers of my once-stagnant life force begin to flow again. For the first time in a long while, I had access to the self-care tools I needed and it was amazing… I felt safe, secure, and empowered knowing that I could walk out of this darkness and negativity that I’d trapped myself in for a decade.

In Kundalini Yoga, the most important thing
is your experience. It goes right to your heart.
No words can replace your experience.
Your mind may accept the words or it may not,
but your consciousness will not accept just words.

– Kundalini Yoga master, Yogi Bhajan

The “yoga of awareness”

The practice of Kundalini Yoga emphasises one’s personal experience, and in the process, guides you to confront your ego and view of life. An amazing tool for personal growth and transformation, its teachings incite self-awareness and introspection.

Powerful, dynamic, and profound, my Kundalini yoga practice heightened my awareness and helped to evolve my mental and emotional states very quickly. I started to see how I had unknowingly trapped myself in a vicious cycle with the victim mentality – an acquired behaviour that’s brought on by the constant churning of negative thoughts. People with a victim mentality often feel an overwhelming sense of helplessness. That feels unpleasant, so we blame external factors because we feel powerless to change the situations we find ourselves in.

For years, I had expected other people to change for me to feel better and safer, but if you really think about it – that’s such a crazy idea! How can you live your life based on other people’s words and actions, and expect them to always be able to keep you happy? I had handed the keys to my happiness over to someone else, unrealistically expecting them to be the driver of my life. In doing so, I created situations that led to negativity… I saw myself as a “victim of life” and often felt angry, resentful, disappointed, sad, and hopeless.

This was a great turning point for me. The first empowering step was learning to take responsibility for the degradation of my own quality of life. To deal with my sadness, I had to look within. We think that external events cause us to be sad but in reality, no one can make us sad but ourselves. Self-love doesn’t happen simply because someone compliments us – the elation we feel is transitory. The remedy is found within our own hearts. With awareness, I learned to shift my perceptions. I realised that I had the power to change how I viewed everything else around me. I learnt to be grateful for the little everyday things, like having food to eat, nice clothes to wear, a car to get me around, family I could depend on to care for my son whenever I wanted to go off on holidays… over time, I gained acceptance and appreciation for my life. With newfound clarity, I saw how badly I had been treating “me”.

I was judgmental.
I loved myself with conditions.
I had encouraging words for others but saved none for myself.
I carried so much self-guilt whenever things went wrong.

I’ve come a long way from where I started. I did not value my being, my health, or my happiness – no wonder my life felt so difficult! It’s a continuous process and I won’t pretend that it’s always smooth-sailing – sometimes, the dark moments descend, bringing with them inner demons from the past. Sometimes, they overpower me. But each time I find myself falling back into victim mode, I turn back to my practice for new perspective and deeper healing. I no longer get stuck whenever I hit the “I’m not okay” wall.

For instance, when I’m holding sadness from past experiences, I do a Kundalini Yoga kriya for sadness. A kriya is a series of postures, breath and sound work that initiates a sequence of physical and mental changes. There are kriyas for just about anything you can think of, from supporting the liver and boosting the immune system, to increasing willpower and breaking bad habits. If that’s not enough, I incorporate other modalities to support the passing of these old emotions. I’m more grounded now as I know that I have the awareness to shift my mindset. This sense of “I can handle it” brings me calming moments of serendipity.

Coming full circle

I am a student of life. Growth is a constant process, we continue to grow at every stage, till our last breath. My practice opened my eyes to the support pillars present throughout my journey. I see now that I’ve never been alone.

I’ve found my path as a practitioner, teacher and healer, and nothing is more fulfilling. As a Kundalini Yoga teacher and Usui Reiki healer, I hold space for my clients and students, who heal and learn through their own wisdom and willingness. We all have wisdom within us, we just need to learn how to harness it.

No matter what we’ve been through in the past, each of us has the innate ability to heal and grow. A long time ago, I lacked the wisdom to accept what my meditation teacher told me. She said that “difficult experiences are blessings in disguise”. Kundalini Yoga brought me awareness about how to process negative feelings like sadness, grief, and loneliness – the key lies in recognising the futility of indulging in them. These feelings are there to teach us, not torment us.

I have made peace with my past.

Editor’s note: Kundalini Yoga kriyas can be very advanced in nature, and it is strongly recommended that you explore them with the guidance of an experienced KRI certified teacher, especially if you’re a beginner.

About Rie Komiya:
Originally from Japan, Rie Komiya is a KRI certified Kundalini Yoga teacher, Usui Reiki master and teacher, and Quantum Alchemy Crystal Bowl Level 1 practitioner, who has lived in Singapore since 1999. Having benefitted tremendously from her own practice, she’s a passionate about sharing self-care tools to improve health and wellness. Details about Rie’s Kundalini Yoga and Meditation weekly classes can be found here.