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14 April 13, 2014 JPLUS

inspiring MIND
he subject of
and self-
can be, well,
It is not a typical
conversation you would
expect to share with strangers,
especially in a society where
ethereal practices like
meditation are only starting
to nd acceptance among
But for Eva Muchtar, 41, who has devoted the last
nine years of her life to social work and spiritual
sanctity, there is nothing more worthwhile.
I am intrigued about helping people truly be
themselves, she says over iced lattes. And I believe
people can do it through any means that works for
them; through religious practices, or even ordinary
activities like writing.
Before her internal transformation, however, Eva
was like any regular work-crazed member of urban
society. A PR executive at a consulting agency, she had
much to celebrate: a steady job, a tight-knit family and
an extremely active social life. Everything seemed to
be in place.
Yet, the successful businesswoman grew restless
something was still missing.
So Eva did what most of us never dare to do: she
left her 9-to-5 job and took a year-long break in
search of answers.
Eva got became involved in social work and
indulged in me time getaways abroad. But it was
hard to let go of her old ways.
It felt the same. Everything was go, go, go. I was
still yearning for something more.
Ironically, it took a bout of bad
luck and a missing ATM PIN number
during a six-month trip to Spain to
truly turn things around.
I was stripped of everything that
I prided myself on, she says. I had
no job, no money, no friends or any
succinct communicating abilities. As
I had to manage my budget wisely
sometimes I would choose to walk
instead of taking the bus to save money
I was forced to take things easy. I
walked around town, watched passersby, wrote It
was a sobering experience.
When she came back from the trip, Eva decided to
extend her one-year sabbatical indenitely and has
never looked back.
The youngest of ve children, Eva grew up in a
family with strong Muslim values.
Her parents her father was a civil servant, her
mother a homemaker enrolled their children in
public school, but they were instructed in important
tenets of their faith, such as sholat (prayer) ve times
a day and fasting during the Ramadhan holy month.
An increasing curiosity about faith and spirituality
developed in her college years, where she regularly
participated in pengajian (religious gatherings to
study the Koran) organized by classmates.
As she matured, Eva grew to believe there was
more to faith than upholding rigid practices.
My parents are devout Muslims but they did not
push extreme values on us, Eva explains.
We were taught to live by the essence of the
teachings, which is what is most important. Ive heard
Eva Muchtar
Spreading Our Wings
Bali Daily now reaches our readers nationwide
more frequently with The Jakarta Post, Indonesias
best English-language media.
inspiring MIND
many preach overtly-severe rules which nobody can truly
validate telling worshippers that abiding by those strict
rules is the only way to be accepted into the good graces of
God. Well, we are taught He is loving and compassionate, so,
personally, I dont believe He would be so merciless.
The self-proclaimed perfectionist now engages in
volunteer work for NGOs such as Taman Bacaan Pelangi
Anak (Childrens Rainbow Reading Garden) as an ofcial
member of the foundation, and Masyarakat Peduli Autis
Indonesia (Society Cares for Autism).
She also partakes in dialogues about life held by
organizations or groups focused on inner-growth, such
as the Beshara School in Scotland. Eva attended the
alternative school for six months on a scholarship in 2008.
The avid yogi makes ends meet working as a freelance
copywriter for a slew of multinational companies mostly
focused on social development.
Building a retreat for folks to take a much-needed
break from fast-paced modern life, which she claims is
of utmost importance, is a long-term dream she hopes to
realize some day.
Speaking candidly on faith, life and self-knowledge can
be a little daunting for those unfamiliar with the text, or
maybe even a little too uncomfortably frank for some.
Eva shrugs off the notion and gives a light-hearted laugh.
Everyone has their preferences. My friends and family
understand my passion and they have no issues with it. Yes, it
isnt for everyone, but thats OK. As I said, to each their own.
She pours her most-inner musings eloquently on her
blog and continues to practice
an interesting balance between her religious beliefs and
spirituality, regarding them as equal parts of a whole or
maybe even as one and the same defying the common view
that, for the most part, regards both as separate factions with
belief in God as a dening line between them.
No matter how you spin it, this spiritual journey, at
least for Eva, is simply a woman living life.
As our conversation comes to a close, the question remains:
has she nally found that something she was searching for?
Yes, she replies with a smile.
Eva (far left) at an autism training workshop.