spirituality

Wisdom of a beautiful white Swan and her rider

Saraswati is the daughter of Shiva and Durga. The Goddess of knowledge, music, arts, wisdom and nature and represents the free flow of wisdom and consciousness. The meaning of Saraswati is ‘the flowing one’. She is seen as the mother of the Veda’s or the Hindu scriptures. Saraswati is praised by the wise and artist of all forms and without her there is only chaos. All Indian Goddesses are connected to creativity, because Shakti is inherently creative. But Sarawati is the one whose cosmic function is to embody the creative flow through language, speech and sound. (Source: Awakening Shakti, the transformative power of the Goddesses of Yoga by Sally Kempton).

Solitary creative woman

Since Saraswati is very much dedicated to personal growth and to gain more insights and wisdom, she often ends up alone in the mythological stories. This is also for true for the ‘Saraswati women’ among us of whom many are not ending up in long term relationships. They live solitary lives and are often seen as unconventional, since they are unaware of the existence of any rules. Saraswati women get their deepest satisfaction from being in touch with the creative flow of life. Commonly women who identify with Saraswati are writes, nuns, scholars, musicians, spiritual teachers, scientists, yoginis or artists.

Discipline

Saraswati also symbolizes discipline and rigor, since to truly master an art we have to spend hours and hours practicing. She is not your traditional wife, instead she prefers to spend all her time studying, meditating, practicing or learning. Sarawati is not so much focused on financial gains or abundance more so on recognition, fame and acknowledgment of her / his (you also have men with lots of Sarawati energy) skills. Saraswati can also be noticed in the teacher who is asking the right (critical) questions for you to learn and grow.

Shadow Saraswati

Saraswati is the deity to invoke when you need some help with your communication. For example becoming a better listener or being able to speak truthfully from your heart. She is also the original energy behind the internet and computer wizards can be seen as children of Sarawati. In her book Awakening the Shakti, Sally Kempton calls Sarawati the ‘cosmic downloader’, “the mother of innovation, who lives as the source code behind your computer’s programs as well as in your inspirations and your capacity to follow them to a real-world manifestation.” Miscommunication or communication that isn’t pure and true is also called the Shadow Saraswati. It can be small like talking too much and not being able to listen well. Or something bigger like causing big harm through propaganda which can potentially cause war and for sure lots of pain and damage. We fall into the shadow of Saraswati if we don’t notice the difference between truth and falsehood and if we are not able to use our speech to speak the truth.

Tapping into your intuition

Saraswati is also the one to turn to when you are looking for inspiration, wisdom and answers. This requires you to listen very careful, to turn your attention inward, because Saraswati voice is so subtle and her voice is often hidden. There are two distinctive ways to receive inspiration from Saraswati or tap into your own intuition. Since connecting with your own intuition is symbolizing you connecting with your inner guru or Saraswati. One way to connect with her is through automatic writing, the other one is through inner listening. For both ways to work, it is required first to take time to become calm, aware and present, through for example a meditation practice. Then you can choose the way that works best for you and let the inspiration flow through you.

Flowing like water

Saraswati can also teach us to learn go with the flow while seeing her sitting comfortably on her beautiful white Swan going with the natural stream of the river effortlessly. Every corner of the river represents a new experience and Saraswati accepts this new situation fully. Since how do you learn and gain more insights? Through new experiences and situations. Saraswati is for me the invitation to embrace the quality of water within us and flow through life with ease, joy and trust. It brings me back to my childhood when I played outside in nature during the holidays and lost track of time and was ‘in the flow’ while playing and discovering. It reminds me of those moments where I listened to a beautiful song that reminds of how perfect this very moment is. Ultimately, it is the realization that the wisdom & happiness we all seek, is already here in this very moment and in the wisdom of our own body.

Note: The inspiration and lots of the wisdom in this blog post is a summary of the chapter about Saraswati in Sally Kempton’s book: Awakening the Shakti. The transformative power of the Goddesses of Yoga.

 

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source: http://www.thegoddessgarden.com/the-hindu-goddess-saraswati/

 

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Letting my wild woman roar

Kali is the fierce powerful goddess we all have in ourselves and an incarnation of Parvati. She was born out of the third eye of the goddess Durga, who got so enraged that her anger burst from her forehead in the form of Kali, representing hatred. Kali is the one full of confidence and strength. She is also known as ‘Crazy Kali’ and her feature confirms that: she looks scary and wild and has wide open eyes with her tongue sticking out and four arms. She is usually symbolized with a sword in one hand and a cut off head in her other hand. She is also called the ‘Black Mother’, ‘the Dark’ or ‘the Awful One’. Kali is the female counterpart of Shiva and is symbolizing transformation through destruction. Her energy is purifying, since she destroys all demons and evil that keeps us from living our life to the fullest and in order to let the light of good triumph.

Kali is the one to call upon if you would like to transform or change aspects of your life and shed unnecessary baggage or to connect with the fierce goddess within you to cultivate courage, inner strength and confidence. Kali often appears in dark tough times when change is unavoidable and necessary such as illness, heart break, financial loss and career change, when boundaries are being pushed. She is done with the old way of doing things. Without her husband Shiva, Kali’s power could go unchecked and destroy the universe. Shiva’s clear light of consciousness gives direction to this powerful energy. Kali’s energy isn’t only about destruction, power and strength. She also reminds us to incorporate a feminine energy that is creative and playful. Kali is also connected to the first chakra and therefore has a grounding and stabilizing effect.

I can definitely use some fierce Kali energy. I recently discovered that I carry an unhealthy vow or belief with me. I felt responsible for the emotions and happiness of those people around me that are vulnerable or can perceived as weaker. When I discovered this (with the help of family constellations and journey therapy) I transformed this belief into a more healthy and supporting one: My happiness inspires people around me to choose for happiness as well. I can be that fierce and crazy Kali lady that walks her own path and chooses happiness without being responsible for the reactions of others.

This for me represents Kali: to shed away any dark layers and unhealthy habits that prevent you from living your life and follow your dreams. A couple of weeks ago, I also decided to delete my facebook account which has given me space and time to live my own life and be more focused on my immediate surroundings. I kept holding on to my facebook account, because I kept telling myself that it is necessary for growing my work as a yoga teacher. However, it was mainly an energy and time sucker and it feels much more peaceful and calm not to spend my time on social media platforms.

Kali also reminds me not to carry my sensitivity on my sleeve. Instead, share my struggles and worries with the right people at the right time. Lately, I have received plenty of reminders that sharing my emotional and mental world can often be misinterpreted. When I let my inner Kali be present, I can stand firmly in my shoes and beliefs and not to let me throw off balance by other people’s opinions and judgments. The reality is that not everybody will like me or what I am doing. So instead of pleasing others, I focus more on pleasing myself. I invite you to let your inner Kali roar too and be a bit crazy like Kali at times and stick your tongue out!

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Goddess Kali standing right on top of her husband Shiva (Source: http://www.drsvoboda.com/resources/articles/when-kali-comes-to-call/)

Categories: Chakra, Happiness, healing, Inspiration, Sharing, spirituality, Uncategorized, Yoga | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Making Peace with your Monkey Mind

From: dichtbijmediteren.nl

Hanuman, the monkey god is believed to be another one of Shiva’s incarnations, like Shiva Nataraj we highlighted last post. Hanuman symbolizes pure love, devotion, strength, persistence and shows us that we have gifts beyond what we think we are capable of. There are many different stories about Hanuman, told in many different ways. I will share one of my favourites.

Anjana

It starts with Hanuman’s mother Anjana. She desperately wants to become a mother, so she prays every day for a child. The god of the wind, Vayu hears her prayers and decides to fulfil her wish by sending her rice grains that made her conceive. Her son was born and called Anajaneya (son of Anjana), he was half human and half god, since Vayu, the god of the wind was his father. At times, being half god with special powers brought him into trouble. One morning he woke up and saw a mango floating in the sky or that is what he thought it was. Of course it wasn’t a mango but the sun, Surya. When Surya saw Anajaneya coming after him he threw a lightning bolt towards him. Anajaneya was wounded in his jaw and died. Vayu his dad was outrageous and inhaled deeply to breathe in all the air on the planet which made all living beings gasp for air. All the gods came together to deal with this emergency. They all decided to bring Anajaneya back to live under a new name: Hanuman (hanuh = jaw). He was also cursed with a short memory to make sure he wouldn’t remember being half god with special powers to prevent him from causing more harm. He wouldn’t live with his mother anymore but with the apes in the forest. That is why he transformed into an ape to better fit in with his new family.

Ram & Sita

One day Hanuman met King Ram and instantly felt a connection and made a vow to never leave his side. Ram is married to Sita, a beautiful woman with heavenly qualities. The demon King Ravana is jealous at the couple and decides to start a war to take over the kingdom. He kidnapped Sita and brings her to the island of Lanka. Ram is busy with protecting his kingdom that is why Hanuman sets out to free Sita. Hanuman has no idea how, since he doesn’t remember he has special powers. From a place of pure devotion and love for Ram he manages to overcome his own doubts about his capabilities. When he arrived at the shore with the Island Lanka in his vision he kneels down into hero pose, Virasana to pray. Hanuman closed his eyes and asks for support to help him accomplish the impossible. When he felt he had enough energy, he pressed his feet into the earth and took his famous leap to the island of Lanka.

“It was the greatest leap ever taken. The speed of Hanuman’s jump pulled blossoms and flowers into the air after him and they feel like little stars on the waving treetops. The animals on the beach had never seen such a thing; they cheered hanuman, then the air burned from his passage, and red clouds flamed over the sky.”

The yoga pose Hanumanasana (full spilt) mimics Hanuman’s famous leap from the southern tip of India to the Island of Sri Lanka. I personally love the stories behind the asanas. It is inspiring to know what the story is behind the posture and it also gives the pose another dimension then just the physical plane. The above described story comes from; Myths of the Asanas: The stories at the Heart of the Yoga Tradition, by Arjuna van der Kooij & Alanna Kaivalya. They have more stories about Hanuman, as well as other yoga asanas. I highly recommended this wonderful book.

Monkey pose

The pose Hanumanasana can bring up all kind of associations and emotions for you. Dislike or like? Stillness or agitation? You might desperately want to get into the full expression of the pose, even though your body proportions will never allow you too without causing harm. Can you be content with your journey towards the pose without attachment? Can you still breathe and smile while finding your edge in the (half) spilt? I can tell you one thing for sure; if your pelvis is touching your mat it doesn’t make you any happier or reward you with more yoga points. The biggest thing that is affected is probably your ego (and possibly your hamstrings and hips). As a yoga teacher, I don’t really care where you are in the pose. For me it is more interesting and inspiring what the pose is doing with you? Can you continue to breathe and believe in your own strength and possibilities while being in the midst of the intensity of the pose? And when you step of the mat, can you continue to stay connected with your heart and focus your mind when in the midst of challenges and struggles? These questions are symbolising the strength and healing powers of yoga to me.

Monkey mind

Only you know what you can learn from Hanuman. One of his qualities, keeping a sense of humour and lightness under all circumstances is a powerful one for me. However hard the situation is you are in right now, can you also stay light and see the humour in every circumstance, maybe not in the midst of your struggles, but in hindsight. Hanuman also symbolizes our mind. The unpractised mind is like a drunken ape stung by a bee, also called the monkey mind. When our mind is focused, we can accomplish anything. For me this is a reminder of the strength of our mind and to keep our mind focused through meditation and asana practice, the full spectrum of yoga. To not let your crazy thoughts lead you all the time, instead connect with the devotion and deep love and strength of your inner Hanuman. You could see Hanuman as a reminder to be devoted to your own heart that is leading the way.

Jai Hanuman!

 

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Miffy’s Power and a bit about Shiva

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– 

Categories: Freedom, Happiness, Inspiration, Sharing, spirituality, Yoga | 2 Comments

Favorite Yoga/Healing/Self-development/Spiritual Books

It has been a long time since I found and made time to write/post/blog. Today after teaching my yoga class, one of my students reminded me of my website and the books I recommended to her, which I could make available to all. This has been on my mind for a while too, hence this post.

I have always loved reading! I remembered receiving an award in the last class of primary school for having read the most books. I would often read in bed and our babysitter would reminded me to sleep instead of read in bed till late. In high school, I lost the love of reading for a while after having to read ‘literature books’ and analyzing them into detail. I lost my love and joy for reading only temporarily luckily.

The last decade, I have been drawn mainly to books about yoga, healing, self-development, spirituality etc I know very boring, right? I am a bit of nerd. Before becoming a mum I would read lots of maternity, pregnancy and baby books, I will keep that list for another time. Inspiring books remind me what is really important in life, I use them to prepare my yoga sessions and they are a great way for me to relax and not to waste time on social media.

So here is my (longish) list. I have organised them into two main groups, yoga and self-development/healing, although some of them fit in both the groups. Thank you for everyone who has been recommending books to me and I would love to hear about your favourite books!

Yoga Books

The Yamas & Niyamas, Exploring Yoga’s Ethical Practice, by Deborah Adele

Bringing Yoga to life, the everyday practice of enlightened living, by Donna Farhi

Fierce Medicine, Breakthrough practices to heal the body and ignite the spirit, by Ana T. Forrest

Perfectly Imperfect, The art and soul of yoga practice, by Baron Baptiste

The Path of the Yoga Sutras; a Practical Guide to the core of Yoga, by Nicolair Bachman

Wheel of Life, The Classic Guide to the Chakra System, by Anodea Judith PhD

The Four Desires : creating a life of purpose, happiness, prosperity and freedom, by Rod Stryker

 

Self-development/Healing Books

The Dance of Connection, How to talk to someone when you’re mad, hurt, scared, frustrated, insulted, betrayed or desperate by Harriet Goldhor Lerner

The gifts of imperfection, Let go of who you think you’re supposed to be and embrace who you are, by Brene Brown

Daring Greatly, How the courage to be vulnerable transforms the way we live, love, parent and lead, by Brene Brown

Anatomy of the spirit, The Seven Stages of Power and Healing, by Caroline Myss, Ph.D

The surrender experiment: My journey into life’s perfection, by Michael Singer

The untethered soul, The journey beyond yourself, by Michael Singer

Wild Feminine, Finding Power, Spirit & Joy in the Female Body by Tami Lynn Kent

The Power of Now, A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment, by Ekhart Tolle

 

 

 

Categories: books, Chakra, Happiness, healing, Inspiration, spirituality, Yoga | Leave a comment

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