What effects are you wanting to create in the “shape” of your world and that of others, just like the waves shape the shore? Email me and let me know.
A para-sailor glides over the cliffs as waves meet Moss Beach. Moss Beach, California.
I’m just going to dive right in, pun intended. 😉
Choosing to be fully present to all of life. I consciously choose to be fully present to all of life. This means choosing to experience failure, grief, anger, fear, jealousy, resentment, frustration, and also excitement, joy, happiness, love, awe, and more.
What I see, witness, and experience, and my perceptions of it all, create “shapes” of who I am. From how I physically hold my body, to the way the waves of my mind form; these “shapes” and “forms” also affect the “shapes” of my surroundings – my energy, body, attitude, emotions, and mindset affect the world and people around me. I can move my chair to a new location in the room. I can open and ‘move’ someone with a smile. I can also witness how my own heart can be cracked open by a child being born, the loss of a loved one, a beautiful photograph, a moving song, or anything else that enters my world, my “shapes”.
Being out here in the west, in California, I have take much solace in the waves. Waves of the ocean. And also “waves” of thoughts, waves of emotions, waves of changes, waves of life’s shifting ‘forms’ because it means the erosion is happening. New worlds are forming and I have effect over what shapes it will take.
I take solace in the waves because it is by their consistent erosion of the land, that the land becomes shaped. Breaking down rocks, moving sediment, shifting sand. It’s never ending, always reshaping a new unique form.
Swim in the silence of your heart, take solace in the waves. To take solace is to take comfort or consolation in a time of distress or sadness. Offer solace. Solace as a verb is to give comfort or consolation to. Offer yourself an inner sanctuary of solace.
Speaking metaphorically, when I am in a “low tide,” life can get pretty stinky. No motivation, the uncomfortable energies of fear and uncertainty feel heavy. But, I also forget what nourishment can come from other perspectives of this “low tide.” Perhaps it is time to rest, to regroup, or to stop and look down instead of up; for when I looked down during the recent low tide at Half Moon Bay, CA, I saw and heard an immense cacophony of life! I saw hundreds of crabs scurrying around! Life was living, moving, “forming,” even in the “low tide.” It’s also when birds caught a lot of fish, and we can catch a lot of our best ideas during those moments of more stillness.
And then can come our “high tides.” Rushing, goal oriented, seeking, motivated, and energized. Focused and fierce, like the waves that get larger and larger. Each crash seems to have more impact, and surges can happen as the ‘weather’, our actions and thoughts, pick up! It can feel good, and other times overwhelming. Instead of being submerged by overwhelm, may we remember we are always submerged in the divine; covered in love and protection.
These waves are guided by a pull, a gravitational pull, that is relational to the moon. I attribute this to our souls being pulled by the gravitational energy and nurturing embrace of Source/Universe/Creator guiding us to the shore of love and Self realization.
You have the same pull as the moon, the same power as the waves, and can effect powerful new “shapes” of your heart, mind, soul, body, and those of others.
Sometimes, for me this feels huge, and too much for me to handle, because I desire to support all in feeling this infinite love within them self, so how do I do this!? How can I create such change? But, I know I can, if even for one! And you can too! You can do it for yourself. You can do it for one person, and for that one person, it will mean the world! The tide goes high, and I can and do! The tide goes low, the wave as my Self, flows back into the arms of the ocean; I surrender to Love/God/Source.
Remember, Source/God/Atman/Universe has been lovingly tugging all of us from the beginning. Source has always been shaping our ‘form’ to be of love, and for love. Universe wants us to know we have That same power and energy to shape ourselves and the world. We are made of the same stuff as stars; may we remember the Fireflies words from last week, “there is a fire in your soul – the seed of a star. Focus on that and let your Light shine outward, fulfilling hopes and dreams.”
Here is a beautiful mudra, Uttarabodhi Mudra, that has been giving me solace to remembering my Light when I feel less than or overwhelmed. This mudra uplifts One whenever down. It calms mind and offers that solace before taking on difficult tasks. This mantra helps guidance us towards enlightenment and universal knowledge. It’s a mudra to use when you wish to build self-confidence and remember your true self! It removes fears and reminds us to have faith.
Breathe and Believe.
We Can Get Back to the Light…
“The human soul is to God is as the flower to the Sun; It opens at its approach, and shuts when it withdraws.”- Benjamin Whichcote
“God, like the sun, emanates on all: on the hill exposed in the open, on the plant growing in the window, Even on the weed getting cracks of light under the porch. The same source of spirit emanates on our different lives, regardless of our circumstance. Thus our experience and perception of God in the world may be limited in different, may even change, but that doesn’t define or limit the Source.
And though the sun appears to disappear everyday, it is the earth that turns away, causing night. Likewise, when it appears that God is nowhere to be found, it is we, in the term oil of our lives, who turn away or are turned away and back, again and again.
But unlike weeds that grow under the porch, we can move back into the light.”-Mark Nepo, ‘The Book of Awakening’
The above passage was used in my classes this past week. We had just finished the journey thru the chakras, and I felt there was so much we had all been through. There is so much we could go back and dig deeper into, unpack, unearth, and shed Light upon*. Intuitively, I felt we could all use a reminder, a breather. And Mark Nepo’s book was calling me. So, I reached for it from my alter, and of course, the first page I opened to was the message that was wanting to be seen, heard, and experienced.
We moved and breathed with our Light. We challenged ourselves to question how CAN we remember the Light is always shining upon us, no matter what? And, how can we move our self back into the Light when we can’t see it or feel it?
Occasionally I would offer these mantras that I had discovered in embodying Mark Nepo’s message:
“Love/God is always pouring into me and my life.”
“Love/God is shining upon me.”
“I am Love/God/Source.”
“God/Universe/Source/Love is a limitless source.”
“I am limitless in my capacity.”
“Love never turns away from me.”
“May I heal my hurts/wounds with love and remember my Light.”
“I can move back into the Light.”
“My I lift my thoughts to the Light that is always pouring into me and my life.”
“I am worthy.”
“May I let my Light shine.”
“May I allow my Self to receive the Light/Love of the Universe.”
How do you move back into the Light? Perhaps movement, or meditation. Maybe it is a walk in nature, to remember your own innate Nature! Maybe it is shining Light upon someone else, and in doing so, your Light gets brighter. Maybe it is remembering someone who loves you. There might be as many ways to move back to the Light, as there are human beings. Everyone can have their own way of returning when it feels as if love is not around. For one young mother I knew, it was dancing with her little baby. And, for another, it is sitting still on their meditation cushion.
I asked most of my classes this week to think of one thing they could do this week that will move them back into the Light. For me, it will be playing the song ‘Darling’, by Beautiful Chorus!
What will it be for you?
I cannot tell from week to week what any of you are going through. And, we don’t often get the chance to connect deeply, share vulnerably, and be able to shine the Light upon each other. I am creating an opportunity for that to happen in the up coming months…for us to come together, heart to heart, and to lift each other up to the Light. And as we lift each other up, we are lifted our Self! It’s not always easy, and sometimes complicated, but moving back into the Light IS always possible. You are showing up. To life and to practice. And even if you do not feel like you are showing up, don’t berate yourself because of that; don’t perpetuate that cycle. Rather, offer yourself patience, time, and love. Start there, with love. Sometimes coming back into your Light, remembering your worth and amazingness, is a process in and of itself.
“I got this.”
“Keep focus to the Light and the Love within.”
Our Closing Meditation:
Take a moment, breathe. Become still, if possible. Imagine yourself at one of your most favorite places in nature! Envision yourself there. Imagine the sun begins to rise, and casts its nourishing warmth upon you. Be alive here, with all your senses! What do you see, hear, taste, and smell? What do you feel; around you, and within you? What emotions? The Light around you is the Light within you. Bask here for a while. Receive. When you are ready to leave, take on last look around and offer gratitude. This place is now a part of you, in your heart. You can go there anytime, and be in the Light.
The above picture is one of my favorite places in nature! Sanibel Island, Florida. And, yes, that’s me after my wedding in 2014.
Breathe and Believe,
p.s.*Don’t worry if you are wanting to go back in, nourish what you had planted in our chakra journey, and ritualistically burn what was not working. I have something in store for you this fall! It is going to be a journey where all things can be brought into the Light. A fully supported cultivation that allows your own Light to reveal to you what you are seeking, how to get there, and what you will need to shed in order to transcend, transmute, and transform! Feel free to email me if you are interested to learn more.
We have kicked off my annual Journey thru the Chakras in my weekly classes! This is always such a great opportunity for witnessing One’s Self, and checking in on what might be needed now for best healing practices.
I cannot believe that it was March 3rd, 2020, just over a year ago, that I had entered my Second Chakra blog into my website. This week, in May of 2021, we are diving into the waters of Svadisthana Chakra.
It would be two weeks later that would be my last class inside Mind Body Soul Yoga studio in Washington Heights. None of us knew all of what lay ahead. I still feel a little bewildered. No real time to process everything we have been thru and are going thru. Have you? Have you had any time to slow down enough to feel? I am inviting that this week with second chakra, to slow down enough to actually feel what is within me. I hope you will join me in practices! And, if a retreat might be just the thing to slow down, please fill out my survey, which you can find at the bottom of this newsletter.
I want to share two poems that stood out for me with the first chakra, Muladhara/ “Root Support.” Both are beautiful in their own unique ways. I hope you will enjoy.
For all things first chakra, click HERE!
But, before I share them, a first chakra quote from Anodea Judith:
“If we can replace unreasonable fear with reasonable faith, then we have a natural antidote to out first chakra demon.”
For more on Faith, read what I wrote by clicking HERE!
And some first chakra mantras just for you, from me:
“I trust my bodies wisdom.”
“I am here.”
“I am real.”
“I have a right to have all my needs met.”
“The Earth provides all I need.”
Enjoy these incredible poems that made me cry deep gratitude tears for First Chakra Essence:
LOVE AFTER LOVE
by Derek Walcott
The time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror,
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.
THE HOUSE OF BELONGING
By David Whyte
in the gold light
turning this way
it was one
like any other.
the veil had gone
it must have been the quiet
that filled my room,
it must have been
with which I breathed
myself to sleep,
it must have been
the prayer I said
speaking to the otherness
of the night.
this is the good day
meet your love,
this is the gray day
to you could die.
This is the day
how easily the thread
between this world
and the next
and I found myself
in the quiet pathway
close grained cedar
me like fire
and all the angels of this housely
through the first
roof of light
the sun has made.
This is the bright home
in which I live,
this is where
this is where I want
to love all the things
it has taken me so long
to learn to love.
This is the temple
of my adult aloneness
and I belong
to that aloneness
as I belong to my life.
There is no house
like the house of belonging.
All my love and ‘root’ support to you,
Breathe and Believe.
Last week in the topic around compassion, I was struck by these words out of Jack Kornfield’s book, “The Wise Heart'”:
“The courageous heart is the one that is unafraid to open to life without armoring. As the poet Rilke reminds us, “Ultimately it is on our vulnerability that we depend”.”
After having collected so many ‘tools’ for our backpack as we journey through life in these practices for the past couple of months, this quote was making me contemplate laying it all down. Laying down all of our tools, thoughts, essences of self, and just stepping forth with wild abandon! I have this image of a Being, naked and hair blowing in the wind, standing tall in the face of the thick and dangerous forest; holding nothing and yet so unafraid. This Being exudes such grace, strength, love, boldness, and true sense of Self.
What if you began to let go a little more each day of the things that you don’t need. What if you donated some of those clothes in the back of your closet? What if you cleaned out that cupboard of mugs that you rarely use? What if you let go of that belief that you’re not worthy of love? What if you quiet once and for all that voice that tells you you’re not capable?
Of course I think of Marie Kondo, and Minimalists, including my husband, but I also think of aparigraha, non-possessiveness. If you want an INCREDIBLE organizer for your life, look no further than Inwood, NYC, by the way! Call Amanda Sullivan, The Perfect Daughter, for ALL your needs! I know from personal experience how wonderful she is! She helped me organize my taxes before I had a husband that LOVED doing taxes, but she also will organize your house, closet, or whatever else you want to clear up! And, buy her book, “Organized Enough: the anti-perfectionists guide to getting – and staying – organized”. And, no, she doesn’t even know I am putting this in my blog, lol. This is NOT a paid advertisement, lol!
Ok, back to your regularly scheduled programming…
Aparigraha Is one of the five yamas, or “restraints”, within the ethical practices of yoga as laid out by the sage Patanjali’s in his texts, the yoga sutras.
In her book on the yamas and niyamas, the Deborah Adele writes, “What if we could trust life like we trust the breath? What if we could take in all the nourishment of the moment and then let it go fully, trusting that more nourishment will come?”-‘The Yamas & Niyamas: exploring yoga’s ethical practice’
What if we really and truly trust life is always sending us the next nourishing and supportive thing in perfect timing? In her book Deborah Adele introduces the idea of the trapeze artist; hence my trapeze pictures from 2012! Trusting, they have to let go and then be suspended for a brief moment midair as they reach for the next, and then take a hold. If they hold on too long they’ll miss the opportunity of receiving the next swinging bar that’s coming for them. So many questions pop up in my mind’s I am when I think of this, such as; How do we know when to let go? How can we trust our own innate timing more? How can we ultimately trust that the universe has our back? How can I live with a sense of wild abandon?! And to that I answer with this quote…
“You cannot travel the path until you have become the path itself.”-Buddha
To know we are life itself, to know we are love itself, to let go of the idea that there even is a path to begin with, this is to let go of that illusion. We are divine, we are life, we are the expansion and contraction and everything. We are this moment. Trust. Use your intuition and discernment. Listen to your heart, it knows.
Rupi Kaur writes, “You do not belong to the future or the past, you belong right here.”
“Aparigraha invites us to practice divine play, experience full intimacy and contact with the moment, and then to let go so the next thing can come. It is how our adikara, or competency, grows and how we become more who we are capable of becoming.”-Deborah Adele. We can build our competency and our capacity! Capacity to let go and to be ever more present in each moment, present to life.
But even as I write those last words above, I feel and hear that innate whisper in my mind that this is a difficult task, to attempt to truly stay in the moment. As example, I’ve lived some really beautiful experiences in my lifetime and I’ve known some very difficult moments, but can I let go of the past? And, as another example, I have great dreams for the future of myself and my family! I don’t want to give up striving towards them. But this is where I think there’s a little distinction between surrender and non-grasping, at least in the way i am thinking about it these days…
To me, surrender is more of a giving over and a letting go in a way where there is less action. Aparigraha, non-grasping, causes me to feel that they’re still actions being taken. This is where the wild abandon comes into play. This is not abandonment. This is a wild abandon that is remembering that we have all the tools we ever need within us, we always have, and we always will. So we can step out boldly, not holding on to any idea of who we are or who we think we need or should be, or who we’re even becoming, but to just be all in in the moment, be fully present, and go for it! What if we could trust life like we trust the breath?! And if I am life, this means I’m trusting myself! I belong here!
“Anything we cling to create some maintenance problem for us. The material items that we hoard, collect, buy because they are on sale or take because they are “free,” I’ll take up space and demand our attention. Storage boxes and sheds become an easy way to fool ourselves. Settle attachments come in the form of our images and beliefs about ourselves, about how life should be, about how others should be. These images keep us in bondage to our own learning and growth. Clutter in our physical space blocks our ability to physically move, while clutter in our minds blocks our freedom to expand and have space for the next thing life wants to bring to us.”- Deborah Adele
Out of her blog, Karen Karbo brings up the image of the big wave surfer, Laird Hamilton, and talks about wild abandon. He rides three-story tall waves! He has prepared and planned, but ultimately he has to let go and trust and feel and breathe. He has to ride the wave, he becomes the wave and the wave becomes him. There is no path, we are the path itself. He is all in! When was the last time you were all in? Was it on the dance floor at a party? Was it singing Happy Birthday for a friend? Was it having a serious talk with your partner or your children? Was it having a heart to heart with your parents? Was it soaking in a well-deserved bubble bath taking care of yourself? Was it sitting in meditation? All these questions make me want to ask the one great question, when was the last time you were your authentic self?!
In classes we used Ganesha mudra and I would close the class with Ganesha’s mantra, ‘om gam ganapatayei namaha’. Ganesha is the elephant deity who’s the remover of obstacles. Anything we hold on to is a maintenance problem said Deborah Adele, so may we remove the obstacles of seeing our self as less than, may we remove the obstacles of having too many physical items that we just never use, may we remove the obstacles of illusion, and may we dance freely sharing all of our beautiful colors to the world!
In some of my classes we worked up to the posture of svarga dvijasana, or bird of paradise pose. I love how ‘dvija’ means twice born. Even though the posture is named after the beautiful flower, birds are born twice. Once as the egg, but then the egg cracks revealing the raw, precious, infant bird who will continue to grow, spread its wings and fly! Aparigraha and non-grasping makes me feel like cracking our own shells, dropping the armor, and allowing our self to be vulnerable. On our vulnerability we depend. Step out wild and free.
I ended most of the classes with this Gabrielle Roth quote, “In many semantic societies, if you came to a medicine person complaining of being disheartened, dispirited, or depressed, they would ask one of four questions: when did you stop dancing? When did you stop singing? When did you stop being enchanted by stories? When did you stop being comforted by the sweet territory of silence?”
Breathe and Believe.
I love this simple picture of Max and Quinn. He is holding her hand to both guide her and protect her from running into the street. It was a reminder for compassionate acts of kindness and consideration that we can offer ourselves and each other.
As we continue on the journey of the essence of different tokens and magic to bring along in a journey, how could I forget one of the most important ones?!
Compassion. By definition compassion is ‘sympathy and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others'(Oxford). It’s also defined as ‘sympathetic consciousness of others distress together with a desire to alleviate it'(Miriam Webster).
After visiting action last week, I was in a real need for both emotional, as well as physical, space to soften. I was thinking of synonyms to softening, relaxing, slowing down, practicing some self-care, things of that nature. It took a little bit of thought, but then I realized that this is all compassion. Offering myself compassion.
But then a week passed. I wrote this blog, and had it as a saved draft in my emails. A lot transpired in this past week. George Floyd’s case continued on as the officer, Derek Chauvin used the 5th amendment, and chose not to speak at his own trial for the death of George Floyd. Duante Wright was shot by police, leaving his young son fatherless, and a mother and entire community grieving in Minnesota; the same city George Floyd was killed. And, 2nd Lieutenant Caron Nazario was peppered sprayed in his car, wearing his uniform, being asked to both keep his arms out of the car and to get out of the car at the same time. All I can do right now is grieve with them. Hold their grief in my heart with compassion, because God knows I want to alleviate their pain, bring their boys/sons/dads/uncles/husbands/partners back to life, but I can’t. When I listened to Duante Wrights aunt speak, I balled. When will this stop? The racism, the hate, the brutality? I don’t know when, but I pray it DOES. And, I will continue with my compassion, as much as action to ending suffering for my Black, Indigenous, Asian, Pacific Islander, Trans, Gay, Brown, People of Color, and more. EVERY PERSON DESERVES TO FEEL AND KNOW THEIR WORTH, and to experience a life that is free and loving.
Jack Kornfield in his book “The Wise Heart: a guide to the universal teachings of Buddhist psychology,” writes that compassion is our deepest nature. It arises from our interconnection with all things. Immediately I think to my two-year-old, And how she can so innately notice if I’m sad, if I’m frustrated, or if I’m happy. When she sees I’m sad, I see her body get still and her eyes continue to observe me. Sometimes she even comes over to me and just hugs me. Sometimes I have changed my appeared emotion so she doesn’t take on my pain. The scientific proof of our compassion came in the way of discovering our mirror neurons. In the 1980s the scientist by the name of Giacomo Rizzolatti, and his colleagues, had discovered some brain cells that were later called mirror neurons. They found that ‘we could actually feel the emotions, movements, and intentions of others’. Researchers talk about this natural empathy as part of our social brain that connects us intimately in every encounter we have with anyone.
In my classes during this week of intention around compassion, I invited people to practice specifically self-compassion. Jack Kornfield writes, “compassion for our own fear and shame opens us to others,” and that “compassion is only a few breaths away”.
I invite you to take a deep breath, deer reader. Take a moment to reflect on all you’ve done today, done in the past week, lived through in the past year, lived through in the course of your entire life up to this moment. You’re doing great things. You’re doing great things just by being a compassionate human being. You’re doing great things because you’re here. Your body is doing amazing things right now inside of you, your heart’s beating and your lungs are pumping. You’re doing big things! Offer compassion to yourself, offer compassion to your body, offer compassion to whatever emotion arises, offer compassion to whatever thought arises. Now notice, what has changed through offering yourself compassion?
“The courageous heart is the one that is unafraid to open to the world. With compassion we come to trust our capacity to open to life without armoring. As the poet Rilke reminds us, “ultimately it is On our vulnerability that we depend.””-Jack Kornfield. I feel here that vulnerability comes as way of openness, willingness, and availability. When we can be compassionate to what is real and true within our hearts and within our self, then the armor falls. Just like when we are true and real in compassionate ways with others, the armor and the guardedness falls away. We open to each other, when we open to our self.
“Living with compassion does not mean we have to give away all our possessions, take in every homeless person we meet, and fix every difficulty in our extended family and community. Compassion is not codependence. It does not mean we lose our self respect or sacrifice ourselves blindly for others. In the West we are confused about this point. We mistakenly fear that if we become too compassionate we will be overwhelmed by the suffering of others. But this happens only when our compassion is one-sided. In Buddhist psychology compassion is a circle that encompasses all beings, including ourselves. Compassion blossoms only when we remember ourselves and others, when the two sides are in harmony.
Compassion is not foolish. It doesn’t just go along with what others want So they don’t feel bad. There is a yes in compassion, and there is also a no, said with the same courage apart. No to abuse, no to racism, no to violence, both personal and worldwide. The no is said not out of hate but out of an unwavering care. Buddhists call this the fierce sword of compassion. It is the powerful no of leaving a destructive family, the agonizing know of allowing an addict to experience the consequences of his actions.
Wherever it is practice, compassion brings us back to life.”-Jack Kornfield, ‘The Wise Heart’.
“With compassion one becomes courageous. Compassion brings triumph when attacked; It brings security when maintained.”-Tao Te Ching. I personally have been really focusing on the last piece of Lao Tzu’s quote here from his wisdom, the Tao Te Ching. All of last year, nothing felt secure nor maintained. Rather, everything felt uncertain, scary, and at best, just trying to get by day-by-day. The idea of stability, maintaining life, or maintaining a vacuumed floor or washed hair, seemed exhausting and not so possible. But, when I practice compassion towards myself in the moments when I feel underwater, then I DO feel secure within the knowing of my heart, that everything will be ok; everything IS ok. And, not only do I feel secure, I can choose to maintain the security thru maintaining the compassion.
“Work with compassion intuitively. At times it may feel difficult, as though you might be overwhelmed by the pain. Remember, you’re not trying to fix the pain of the world, only hold it with a compassionate heart.”-Jack Kornfield, ‘The Wise Heart’
I invite you to sit with the Karuna mudra. Karuna is the Sanskrit term for compassion. Cup your hands like the letter ‘C’, ‘c’ for compassion maybe?! wink wink. Then. place your left fingertips at the base of the right fingers, at the top of the palm. Now, rotate your hands so that the right palm is facing out, left palm facing in. Right palm out is compassion for others, left palm facing in is compassion for yourself.
If you like, use the mantra, “Om Mani Padme Hum”. The Dalai Lama’s meaning for this mantra is so beautiful; the be on a path of intention and method to be compassionate with wisdom. Yes! Read it HERE.
om = om
mani = jewel
padme = lots
hum = indivisible
May we all continually offer compassion for ourselves, and compassion for one another.
This week in my classes, after a hiatus in the month of March to be with goddesses during women’s history month, we are back inside the larger overarching intention of aspects needed when in the journey of life. In the past, we’ve been through consideration of beginnings/starting a new, mastery versus success, surrender, and balance. This week we take action!
Where do you see beauty around you right now? How do you remind yourself to see the beauty in all things? Take a moment to reflect.
This past week, in the New York City part of the globe, was the spring equinox on March 20th. This is the festival of Ostara, the beginning of longer daylight time and the awakening of the earth with blossoms!
This is why we evoked the Kali essence within ourselves. Kali, pictured above, is known as the preserver of Earth and the embodiment of Mother Earth. She is considered mother of the world and the ‘treasure-house of compassion’. She is considered the primordial mass from which all of life arose; we are all born from mother, from the womb of matter, though we are eternal.
All of these sound very beautiful and very wonderful, but Kali is often misunderstood simply because of the way she looks. She’s often depicted having black or blue skin, her blood red tongue sticking out, her necklace made of skulls, and her skirt made of arm bones. She wields a sword and carries a severed head. The sword and the severed head are in her two left hands and in her two right hands she holds abhaya mudra for fearlessness and the varada mudra for blessings. But when you come to understand what all of these representations symbolize, we come to understand her deep and infinite love and protection that she offers all of us.
She wears no finite or real clothing. She only adorns the skull necklace and the skirt of arms because she is infinite and pure, she needs no clothing because she is infinite in form. Her skin color of dark black or deep blue symbolizes how she is limitless, all pervading, and eternal. I often envision the night sky when I hear this. Her very name, Kali, often is said to mean “she who is beyond time”. Her name is also translated as “She who is black”.
Her blood red tongue sticking out is her thirst to destroy all evil and evil doers in the world. In some Bengali traditions the blood red tongue is also symbolic of modesty.
The sword that she wields is to destroy the ego and is also known as symbolic of higher knowledge. She supports us in severing our attachment with our ego and personality in order to fully understand and liberate, moksha/liberation, ourselves from the binds of illusion, or maya.
The severed head supports very much the same, a detachment from ego.
The skull necklace is meant for us to understand that we must ‘cut out the skeletons in our closet,’ meaning release secrets, stop hiding, understand who we truly are in our infinite form. Then we must speak of Truth, live from a place of Light, honor, doing good, being kind, and Loving one’s Self as well as others and the planet.
Kali helps us to more fully understand the natural cycles of birth, death, and rebirth. We can understand this at that finite and infinite level of birth, death, and rebirth. And we can also embody it down to the most simplest of forms of experiencing our breath. The four cycles of the breath of the exhale, the transition from exhale to inhale, the inhale, and the transition from the inhale to the exhale. And then it all starts again. We can also experience these cycles in our part of the globe through the cycles of the seasons. We can also experience many other forms of cycles even within one lifetime, call them the ‘seasons of Your Life’. However, Kali helps us to understand that what some cycles of death and ending may appear as a loss, it is really the beginning of a positive new phase.
Kali is often shown stepping her right foot in front of the left. This is a symbol that she is on the right spiritual path. Her mission is divine. Her mission is to protect, preserve, and to help pour the love of the universe into our hearts. This is why in our classes we embodied the Kali mudra, also sometimes called Ksepana mudra, which means “to pour out”.
Kali Mudra Meditation: Clasp your hands together and interlace all of your fingers, then point only your index fingers forward, check down to make sure that the left thumb is on top of the right, and now you have Kali mudra. Place the mudra in front of your solar plexus and allow your elbows to drop and your shoulders to sink down. Create a little lift through the front of your chest at your heart, sit quietly and feel. Notice what you notice. Notice what you feel coming from the energy of this gesture, mudra, of your hands as it’s energy runs up through your arms into your heart and gets pumped out into the rest of your body. For a couple of breaths, allow yourself to receive. Receive the love of the universe, the love of the divine mother, Kali, And the love of Mother Earth. After some time, focus on pouring out your love, and this universal love, from your heart towards yourself. After some time, imagine this love pouring out from your heart through your index fingers and sending it to whomever or wherever you wish. And finally, after some time, imagine this love pouring out from yourself to the world at large, to all the plants and waters and air and elements, and to all of its creatures.
During parts of our physical practices in yoga this week, I invited people to imagine their own physical body as the body of our Earth. To embody another Earth. And to imagine what all of those elements and capabilities, powers, and supports felt like. Mother Earth has destructive powers, this is why Kali is often called the “Dark Mother”. She has destructive powers which are meant to eradicate evils of the world, to use her destruction for the betterment of all beings, and to end suffering.
A client of mine recently told me this quote that she had to received as a young girl from inside a fortune cookie: “the root of all unhappiness lies in comparison”. I’ve also been taking a liking to this quote that comes from an unknown author: “The difference between a flower and a weed is a judgment”. And I’ve been tying all this in with a quote that comes from a shirt that I bought at Target many years ago: “a flower does not think of competing to the flower next to it, it just blossoms”. perhaps what we need to cut out the most in our lives, what we need to sever, what we need to get rid of, what we need to let go of, what we need to re-evaluate and change is a judgment towards our self, or others, and to stop comparing ourselves to some made up illusion of what we think we should be, or the comparison of ourselves to another. I always come back to the quote from Donna Markova: “My path is not greater than or less than yours, it’s just the only one I know how to make authentically”. Or as some other people say it, ‘you do you’! Be yourself, be kind to others, and share your light to this world because we need you!
Now, as much as I love that quote about the flower in the weed and the difference being just a judgment, I also felt these words in this passage come through me this past week:
“Till the soil, pull the weeds, plant the seeds. Nourish life and love and watch what grows!”
Sometimes we must pull the weeds in order to clear space for what is meant to come alive and to blossom. Be that a flower, or be that something from deep within our hearts and our higher knowing. Liken this to spring cleaning if you will, or equate it to that old belief you know is not serving you anymore that you know you must cut out. And allow Kali to remind you that as one thing goes inevitably another thing enters. Or as my dear friend and creator of “The Empowered Publicity Podcast”, Amanda Berlin, stated recently, “a void cannot exist”. In the context of the things that we’re speaking to here, I found these words very potent and wise. As they say, ‘when one ending happens, another cycle is beginning’. Or as some say, ‘when one door closes, another one opens’.
Use the Kali mudra to help clear blockages, especially along your central channel line that we call the shushumna nadi, “gracious one”. This will help support to create that clear path for freedom and liberation, and knowing one’s True Self. Use the Kali mudra to encourage positivity in your body as well as to create positive thoughts. To reduce distractions and to shear away negative thoughts. Use Kali mudra to reduce tension and to help build your life force and strength.
Before I close this very long blog, thank you for reading it all. I felt two pieces of wisdom come forth in this week:
1.) Sometimes I might not be leaving a scenario or a situation in my life because I was disrespected, but I might be leaving because I know I’m not best used there. My path, my ‘right foot stepping in front of the left’ like Kali, and my resonance when I listen to my heart and not my head, is the place where I have the deepest resonance and the most power/impact/love to offer at my best. This might be when I recognize that I know I need to leave a certain situation, relationship, job, situation, or moment in my life so that I can stay true to my path. This is not always easy, nor will it always feel good. But, I can more easily feel the love pour in and pour out!
2.) I would sometimes close the practices with this little meditation:
I call it the “Heart Seed Meditation”: “Find a comfortable seated or lying position. Take some time to become quiet and slow your breath and still your body. Once you feel a little bit more grounded and a little bit more relaxed, begin to guide your awareness towards your heart space. Your physical heart that is the ‘treasure-house of compassion’ and the home and temple of your spiritual heart. Invite a little part of your heart to open so that love may pour in. Look into this opening in your heart and gaze down, because you will find their lives a seed there. This seed of unconditional love was planted long before you were born in this physical form, and it is the essence that will be there long after you leave your physical form. That seed is you. It is love. It is your Essence. It is the essence, and the seed and energy of who you are that you leave behind whenever you interact with someone, or the planet. I invite you then to ask, how will you live? How will you love? From this seed of love that is you, let it blossom. Nourish it, love yourself, feed it, water it, hold it in the sunlight, and let it grow. Let the blossom become fruit. And allow the fruits of your essence to be those ripple effects out to others, all beings, and the world. Let the fruits that you leave behind, be what will inevitably go on to be the planted seeds for the next generation. Be the good ancestor now.”
All my love and light,
Breathe and Believe.
P.S. That’s me, below, in Virabhadrasana 1 with Kali mudra, and right foot in front, with the flower quote shirt on! I found it! LOL!
Make a peace sign in your hands! Now, place your index and middle fingers down over your thumb, and lift your ring and pinky fingers up; bring these two hands to meet and you now have Shakti mudra! Shakti Mudra. This was our “Mudra Dance” that opened most of our practices this past week. Breathe in Peace, and breathe out Love. Hold the shakti mudra at your heart center and physically snuggle it into your chest. Sit quietly, breathe, and feel the energy.
Rumi: “Weeping, then laughing. The power of love came to me, and I became fierce like a lion, then tender like the evening star.”
It was one year ago that everything shut down in New York City. I remember the date was actually March 14th to be exact. I had not read my emails and had boarded the A Subway train South to go teach a class in the afternoon. When I arrived at the studio, I was met by the beautiful Adina, only to hear the words that I would be teaching to an empty room and a screen. Sadly, that beloved studio, Mind Body Soul Yoga studio, has now completely closed. Our community stays strong.
It’s been a year, needless to say, of great transformation and change. I thank Goddess that I was teaching the heart chakra the week that things closed down. I know it helped me, and others, through that immediate shock.
Sometimes I perceive this pandemic as shedding a Light on many things that needed to change. Both within myself, our country of the United States, the Yogic world, and the world at large. And then other times, I deeply wish it had never happened. The loss is unbearable.
Energy that creates change, even when the change feels hard and difficult, is the energy of Shakti. Shakti is “energy”. This energy is in us, and it’s all around us. Shakti is the personification of energy and power for good within us, around us, in the world, and beyond(Universe). Personification is used in stories to make complex ideas more easier to understand. Shakti has many various forms, and many different names. However, Shakti is depicted as the Divine Feminine. She is the Divine Mother. This Shakti energy is a power of love. It’s the power of the heart, and it nurtures and supports. Even when the energy and the power pushes us, or challenges us in ways that we don’t like and that we are uncomfortable with, this change is inevitably always for our own betterment and the world. There is always a deep lesson that Shakti is showing us.
“What will you do if you discover you have real power? If all power is transitory and ephemeral, what effects do you want to leave behind, both within and without? While we are each individuals, we are also one. That which binds us together is love. It seems to me the important question becomes: How can you achieve a state of Love other than by Loving?”-Thomas Ashley-Farrand, ‘Shakti mantras’. I feel what Thomas is getting at here is, how will you Love? What energetic essence of yourself do you want to leave in the world when you leave your body? What essence of energy do you want to touch others with, thru words, actions, thoughts? How can you be giving your energy more lovingly to yourself and others?
“Shakti leads to the Divine Beloved within, where all questions are answered, all tears are dried, were all Love resides, all Knowledge is contained.”-Thomas Ashley-Farrand
I invite you, dear reader, to remember that you are this love. Repeat within yourself now, “I am Love”. “Aham Prema.” (Listen to the gorgeous singers below!)
Allow yourself to enter into the present moment. “I live in the present, I can only touch you now.”-Dr. Edith Eger. How powerful the doctors words, it feels as if Shakti is speaking to us through her, and Shakti is, because we are all Shakti.
Breathe and Believe.
March is women’s history month. In the first week of March, I wanted to highlight a Goddess. As I was still feeling the deep underlying threads of the past couple of weeks around this idea of “what are different aspects to keep in mind when you’re on a journey”, I knew I needed to take a look at discernment. Also because I’ve been needing to take a serious look at a decision that I need to make within my own life. So, it was very perfect to remember that the goddess Saraswati is the goddess of discernment, wisdom, and knowledge.