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September 22nd, 2017

06:57 am - Mistrust
I realize I don't trust Western doctors. I don't like how they come from a position of authority and don't entertain challenges to their opinions and views. It's like they're used to making people feel small.

Sorry for the exaggeration here.

But I would never entrust my health to a doctor. I will always read up and experiment to be in charge of my own health. And take his or her opinion as just one of them out there, rather than the truth.

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September 19th, 2017

09:44 am
Oh my. I dream of Zachary, my crush from secondary school and diatonic harmonicas... those feelings of sensing he's near, looking out for him. And saying goodbye. So real.

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07:02 am - How much of health is psychological?
I was carrying this burden in my heart and while carrying this burden, I experienced unprecedented physiological changes in my body. The most obvious was the lost of sleep. I never lose sleep this easily before. I usually sleep deeper and soundly and this is prior to 2016.

Two days ago, I decided to drop the burden. And somehow, sleep that eluded me for many months, returned to me in a vengeance. I not only sleep through the night, almost, for nine hours straight. I also can take multiple naps during the day time. So I was also feeling other strange symptoms like body ache and tiredness.

You know, not many people think there's this link. They think it's mostly physical. They think I'm exercising too much. But I feel it is mostly of another level, a psychological-emotional level.

Interesting right?

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September 16th, 2017

01:43 pm - My room is getting messy...
The first thing to go in prolonged sadness is my tidiness.

I take a lot of pride and put in a lot of effort to keep my physical space in order. My mum would disagree with that, because she thinks I'm perpetually messy. But no, I do care about putting things in order, just that sometimes I don't have enough mental capacity to keep things in order. My external space is a reflection of my internal space or at least the effort I put into maintaining order is a reflection of my effort in putting myself in order.

This relationship begin during the period of the great depression where I lost control of my emotions and felt relief being able to control my physical surroundings. So I created spaces of peace and comfort, burning candles, aromatherapy, clean and tidy.

Yup... Things are going a bit haywire for me now. Actually for some time I haven't been sleeping well and have been losing weight. I thought it was normal at first. But I am becoming concerned. And now trying to regain control over my body, mind, heart, and spirit.

Shuyi dear, all things will pass away. Even this period of discomfort will not be forever. Hang in there. It's NOT always going to be this grey.

Thanks C for the verse.

Isaiah 41:10
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

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10:51 am - "All Things Must Pass"
I was quite young when George Harrison's album "All Things Must Pass" first came out, but I eagerly went to buy it, being the crazy Beatles fan that I was last time. But I think I couldn't appreciate the beauty of what the song and those words meant until today.

Sunrise doesn't last all morning
A cloudburst doesn't last all day
Seems my love is up and has left you with no warning
It's not always going to be this grey

All things must pass
All things must pass away

Sunset doesn't last all evening
A mind can blow those clouds away
After all this, my love is up and must be leaving
It's not always going to be this grey

All things must pass
All things must pass away
All things must pass
None of life's strings can last
So, I must be on my way
And face another day

Now the darkness only stays the night-time
In the morning it will fade away
Daylight is good at arriving at the right time
It's not always going to be this grey

All things must pass
All things must pass away
All things must pass
All things must pass away

Listening to this is bittersweet. I feel like crying yet so comforted at the same time.

Thank you, George, for this gift. Thank you.

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September 14th, 2017

09:10 am - "Stay with your feelings..."
Sometimes I think I have overcompensated. I try very hard to be happy, positive, grateful, enthusiastic and excited, because I don't want to feel the familiar emotions of sadness, negativity, yearning, boredom and dullness.

M said, "This is what makes me see your yearning. You are sad. Only sad people speak of gratitude...the "making do" with what we have of life. Happy people have no time at the point of happiness to say this."

I'm just lying down here and thinking back into my past and what a melancholy child I was. Just grappling with the meaning of life at an age when I should have been more carefree and playful. No, I was so bounded by rules, afraid, and sad.

Retrospection distorts.

B has been telling me to sit with my negative emotions and I do not have to run away from them. Just last year I started this habit of getting out of Singapore everytime I meet with an unpleasant situation. I didn't need a holiday. Booking one was a reaction to appease certain unpleasant emotions.

"But once u accept things are a certain way, whichever way it is. Your mind will ease up a bit and u will feel better.

Remind urself that things sometimes just are the way they are. U can start by accepting that u r feeling shitty right now. But instead of feeling bad bout feeling shitty. Just say, ah i am feeling shitty without trying to change how u feel.

Then u realize it isnt so bad. The real stress comes from wanting to change things."

I'm learning to accept instead of fight and flight. It is very different. CBT asks you to fight. By nature I would take flight or find many activities to do that will distract me from how I'm feeling, cover up those emotions with new and different ones. But B is suggesting not doing anything but stay with my feelings, accepting them. Let me try...

I know it's strange too but one thing I'm grateful of is being able to write this and even sort of consolidate my thoughts. I was looking back at my blog that span, by now, 16 years of my life. It has helped me process and is cathartic release for me. I am grateful I have an outlet. Cause I don't know how I can bear all these on my own in my heart. Maybe that's also why I go to God. Just too much for a small heart to take.

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September 11th, 2017

07:00 am - Insights and Retrospection
During one of my last therapy sessions, she asked if I would want to find another therapist after she left. I told her no and that I will do freediving instead, having already tried a few training sessions and finding that it delivered me as much uplift as a one hour heart-to-heart talk a week. (And comparatively, it was much cheaper.)

I am just looking back at how far I have come. My freediving buddies asked yesterday what do I like about freediving, and being unselfconscious, I said - technique mastery. S liked how it changed his lifestyle holistically for the better. K liked how it enhanced his senses. I like how I can learn something and keep getting better at it simply by practicing.

Freediving has opened up new worlds to me in ways I really would not have expected.

I have been an academic for many years but the truth is since I was young, I have always found greater appeal not in mind work but physical work. My dream jobs were very hands on and involved manual labour. Unfortunatly, in Singapore's meritocratic system, you are "rewarded" for hard work and that just propelled me further and further along the academic path when honestly, I might have preferred a job like a hairstylist or florist or grasscutter.

But yes, now... Let's try. I got to nail that PhD thingie as well. Let's try. Though I really know deep down in my heart that if I had to choose between the two, which one I would pick. Now, just let me bring in the cash for the meanwhile.

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September 5th, 2017

05:45 pm - My hands free experience
I remember that innocent question I asked my coach a few months ago towards the end of a training when I saw him teaching another student about equalization, "Can I equalize by swallowing?"

It was a question asked out of desperation as I struggled with my inability to do what everyone else was doing, holding the nostrils closed with one hand, and pressurizing the nasal cavities with a force from the tongue or diaphragm.

That didn't work for me, but "swallowing" did. He immediately understood what I meant by swallowing and said yes! He did it by swallowing too, first equalizing the mask and then equalizing the ears.

Because it is popularly believed that only a small percentage of (lucky) people can equalize without bringing one hand to the nose, few people even consider that they might belong to this special group or dare challenge the popular belief that people are either born with or without this ability and it's highly unlikely one can train to become efficient at it.

But ignorant and desperate as I was to dive deeper, with or without my hand to my nose, I kept exploring and experimenting and playing around with that swallowing and yawning motion. I was training myself to be able to perform the Hands Free equalization or BTV - the voluntary opening of the Eustachian tubes.

People who can Hands Free often described it as a movement similar to swallowing or yawning. And I noticed that both involuntary movements involved the raising of the soft palate. If I was able to voluntarily raise this soft palate, perhaps I would have figured out part of the technique. I kept playing around with it, inducing the swallow and yawn, until I could isolate two movements that together enabled me to produce a clicking sound in my head.

And the next step I took, encouraged by my other coach, was to find an instructor who was able to perform this manoever and knew how to help me progress with it. This I found at my school in Gili Air. For six days, I practiced freediving with my hands free. The first dive, my instructor wanted me to be relaxed and free immersion down the line slowly. The second dive, he asked me to add a little kick to go down with more speed, without sacrificing the relaxation. What I noticed from these early dives was that I needed my tongue to be relaxed and not blocking my nasal cavity in order to not have to equalize my mask. This was a big realization to me as prior to this, I had subconsciously isolated my mask space through tension causing me to continually have a tight mask that required constant equalization. When I was relaxed, I realized the mask equalized on its own.

A master student who uses the same method as me also asked me to show him how frequently I could equalize using my fingers to count and show him each equalization I made. I tried and it was slow and deliberate. He showed me his frequency, raising his fingers rapidly, and I realized, I needed to be equalizing a lot more and faster. And this is what I have been practicing since then! Clicking my ears to the rhythm of music and just trying to make it as relaxed and fun to equalize as possible.

On my sixth and last day of diving, I went down to 20m but with the mask pressed down onto my face and my tongue sucked up against my hard palate. That wasn't the most comfortable experience and I will need to work on getting comfortable at that depth and pressure. But meanwhile I hope to work on my speed and frequency of equalization as I had to "brake" a few times during my constant weight dives to equalize.

I have not given up on learning how to Frenzel, and will need this pressurizing technique when my hands free muscles are tired, (and isn't it great to know more than one way of doing things?) so I've been doing diaphragmatic and tubular aerobics when I wake up each morning. One day, I'm going to combine my hands free with my Frenzel!

I just thought of sharing my personal experience with you to suggest to you the possibility of learning an alternative way of equalization! And to share a grey case of someone who was in between. I wasn't someone who could just go down easily without pinching my nose (that's how you identify people who can Hands Free) but one who wanted to explore that method and had some curiosity and practice with it until I could do it to a depth I wanted to achieve. So perhaps there is a way to learn how to use those Hands Free muscles, the way we once had to learn how to Frenzel or do the Vasalva.

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September 1st, 2017

11:01 pm - Belonging
Sometimes I get flashbacks of emotions of not being accepted and they bring tears to my eyes.

It was so important to me, maybe to any growing child or adolescent, to be accepted in a group and to belong to it. And when I felt I could not fit in, I felt rejected, even though perhaps it was never a deliberate rejection by others, but just that maybe I was the wrong piece of puzzle that did not fit into the empty space.

I am so grown up already, but these feelings can still return and nag at me. Very primal, very very primal. I feel like a 13 year old kid right now.

A 31 year old big kid retrospecting her emotions.

*gives Shuyi a big heart*

I feel you inner child. Don't worry. People are people, groups are groups, and there are flux and sometimes you click, sometimes you don't, and sometimes you want to, sometimes you don't want to... Whatever it is, I'll be here for you. I won't reject you, ok? Even if others do, please remember that.

Gosh, what am I doing? Comforting my inner child?

Love you little one. :)

*big hug*

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August 25th, 2017

06:33 am - BTV
Don't mind me, I'm an educator by profession, or at least see the world through a certain lens.

I am just taking a slight evaluation at my process as a freediver. And the part about me having equalization issues. How I learned Frenzel wrongly on my own, combining a Valsalva into it. And how because of my inability to Frenzel, do the most recommended method, while immensely frustrating, also helping me discover that I could do something else called the Beance Tubaire Volontaire (BTV) or Voluntary Tubal Opening or the Hands Free, because unlike Frenzel and Valsalva where you need to create pressure and then force either by the tongue or by the diaphragm respectively, so you need your hand to pinch your nose, the hands free doesn't require this pressure build up. It is said to be a gentler approach.

One of my instructors here asked me why didn't I proceed with my hands free since I could do it? At first I thought it's because my instructors in Singapore wanted me to do the Frenzel, but... Today, I realized, I did not even know I could do the hands free, UNTIL Frenzel failed me.

What is the educational significance?

How often do we give up on children just because they were unable to do something we asked them to? We may not give up on them, but we may think less of them, or even label them, and continue trying to help them using our own way. But there could be an alternative route that works better for that individual, even better than the original method that worked well for everyone.

We so often overlook the individuality our of students. Another friend, J, helped me see this. He said that equalization is very personal. No two bodies are alike, no two ears, nasal passages... Yes, generally all humans have similar structures, but if you look at it at a finer perspective, no two humans are alike. so sometimes the teacher will need to help the student find alternatives that will work for them. What works for a group of people, may not for another. Diagnosing correctly the issue at hand, what is needed for an individiual, wow, takes so much experience!

I think that is my personal draw to BTV. Besides it being the only method that can work reliably for me now, I feel it is so neglected as an alternative. How many have given up (or have stagnated) because they couldn't do Frenzel or Valsalva (perhaps not a big group, but because I belong to this group, I care!)? What if like me, they could do hands free, but they never tried or tried learning because Frenzel works for the large majority?

Or how many in the Frenzel circle might actually be able to do hands free, but never learned, because they could do Frenzel.

Gosh, I'm only saying all these because I can't Frenzel... How the lack of alternatives cause you to think about these things.

But I will work on isolating my diaphragm muscle so that I can Frenzel...

You know, just as a personal experiment, and for my potential future growth. If I can learn the Frenzel, I think anyone can learn the hands free! Let's wait and see... I know... how tough that is for me... So I can empathize with those who say the BTV is impossible.

Let's try!

Am immensely grateful to find a school so open to hands free and a coach willing to test my limits in it. :)

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