Last post I wrote about Ganesha, the remover of obstacles. Ganesha is the son of Shiva and Parvati. Shiva is known as the destroyer as well as the creator. Together with Brahma and Vishnu, Shiva forms the triple deity. Brahma is seen as the creator of the universe. Vishnu preserves and protects the universe and Shiva is the destroyer of the universe. Shiva is often called upon and seen as creator, preserver and destroyer. In Shiva the opposites meet.
Shiva can take up many shapes and incarnations. Shiva Nataraj is one of Shiva’s incarnations, also known as Lord of the Dance. While we practice dancers’ pose on our yoga mat we can call upon the power of Shiva Nataraj. Shiva Nataraj is seen surrounded by a circle of flames while standing on a demon shown as a dwarf who symbolizes ignorance or our lower (ego)parts. Shiva is an invitation to wake up and remember your true nature or essence. ‘Om Namah Shiva’ can be translated as ‘I bow to my inner light or teacher’ or ‘I recognize my true essence’.
Shiva Nataraj also symbolizes all the cycles we experience in life; the cycle of day and night, winter, spring, summer and autumn, joy and sadness and the cycle of birth and death. For me Shiva Nataraj reminds me that in the end, all will end, everything is a phase and to dance through the cycles with joy and playfulness. I once heard a great saying; The good news is: it is a phase and will end and the bad news is: it is a phase and will end. You cannot have true joy without real sadness. In our everyday society we often behave as if we live forever and deny the truth that life is precarious and live accordingly. I have realised that not everybody likes to think and talk about death. For me it is not necessarily a depressing sad truth, rather the reality and therefore an invitation to be grateful for all the little things in life. When contemplating our limited time I often ask myself questions like; have I said everything I want to say to my loved ones? Am I living the life I want to live?
Shiva or our true essence reminds me to treasure this special time I have with my little kids who are very much in tune with the dance of life. I recently heard from Ram Dass, that the best thing to do to prepare yourself for death is to live NOW. So I am blessed to have two little wise teachers reminding me of this every day. Little kids haven’t identified themselves with their ego as much as adults and they often haven’t got any idea of time yet. They perfectly and naturally know how to live in this moment with all their attention and energy. For me this is a wonderful lesson, since I have the tendency to overthink, overanalyse and worry instead of being truly present. While I am writing this first draft, I am holding a little miffy cuddly toy on my lap given to me by my eldest son. ‘Here mum this one is for you, miffy will make sure to scare away all the ghosts (demons) for you.’
Om Namah Shivah!
“You know, for always trying to banish our pain we don’t learn anything from it, and it can’t help us to serve others, so we have to turn towards it. Allow ourselves to touch the pain of our life with some mercy and tenderness. When we realize just how precarious this life is – and it is absolutely precarious – then we don’t want to waste a minute. Then we want to use our lives in a responsible way. We want to jump into our life fully. We want to tell the people we love that we love them.”
– Frank Ostaseski–