Connection & Commitment

In My Meditation Today: I became very conscious of the force that holds me back from manifesting the biggest vision I have for myself. Recognize that I am terrified about what achieving fame and full financial freedom might mean for me and my marriage, for my time with my children and grandchildren. So I hold back. Instead of giving everything I do my all, I put in just enough effort to be moderately successful; opting for the safety of mediocrity rather than the perceived danger of excellence. Committing to excellence today. Releasing the restraints and letting myself soar.

Goddess Durga, Maa Durga, wallpapers, images, Maa Ambe, Happy NavratriThe Sapta Shloki consists of seven verses from the Devi Mahatmyam – The Grand Story of the Divine Mother. Reciting these seven verses is considered equivalent to reciting the entire 700 verse scripture. The sixth verse of the Sapta Shloki is

 

 

Rogan Aseshan Apahamsi Tushta

Rusta tu Kaman Sakalan Abhistan

Tvam Aashritanam na Vipannaranam

Tvam Aashrita Hya, Aashrayatam Prayanti

 

When pleased you destroy all afflictions

When displeased you thwart all aspirations

No calamity befalls those who have taken refuge in you

One who seeks refuge in you, herself becomes a refuge for others.

 

Of the seven verses in the Sapta Shloki, this one is special because it has both has the most troubling and the most uplifting thought of all seven verses.

Let us tackle the troublesome thought first.  I do not like the idea of a displeased God / Goddess. I find the idea of suggesting that a displeased Goddess robs you of your aspirations more disturbing, even abhorrent.  Over the years, I have come to terms with this by interpreting the “displeasure” as an experience of disconnection with the divine force within me. A disconnection with my highest potential which in turn results in a thwarting of my aspirations and ambitions.  

The most uplifting line, the line that for me describes my purpose in the world is the last line of this verse.

One who seeks refuge in you, herself becomes a refuge for others.

For me, this describes the effect of connection. The result of knowing and resting in the knowledge of my divinity is that I become a refuge for others in need. I achieve my full potential by being a solace and support to society.

Over the last couple of years, I have done several things that I believe are helping to move me closer to achieving my dreams. I enrolled and completed a creative non-fiction writing certificate;  started on a memoir; enrolled in a personal life coaching program; began coaching with a business coach to develop an online business and attract my ideal clients – those for whom I will become a refuge while they find their purpose and Iearn to shine, and I started this blog. I  have also started training and developing my physical strength and stamina. I ran a 5k and am now training for a 10k. So I have been breaking several mental barriers that said  – “ You are not a real writer”; “You are not a business woman”; “ You are not an athlete.”  As I break each mental barrier, I release and allow myself to get closer and closer to my full potential.

As I have been doing all of this, throughout the year, I also have several times been making promises to myself to stop drinking alcohol. The promises have varied from saying that I will only have a drink a day to saying that I will not drink anything at all for “X” number of days. I have been breaking my word to myself the same day that I make it. Every morning I decide that I will not drink and every evening I have been telling myself,

“ Oh come On! – You are never going to stop. You like your alcohol, so who are you fooling?”

Last Thursday, I spent some time trying to figure out why I was having so much trouble with keeping this commitment to myself. As I meditated and wrote, what became abundantly clear was that I was scared to commit fully to my well-being. I was so committed to success in other areas of my life; it was as if I needed something every day to remind me that I was not so great. That I sucked at something, and there was a weird comfort in that because as long as I was using something to keep my self-worth in check, it meant that I would not experience runaway success. The full import of Marianne Williamson’s lines

 

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.

Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.

We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous,

talented and fabulous?

 

dawned on me. I was terrified of fully committing to my success because there is a deep-seated belief that I can only get to my full potential if I lose something. The displeasure this verse speaks about is that disconnectedness with my divine potential that feeds that belief. That disconnectedness is causing me to thwart my aspirations and keep a lid on them. With this clarity, it has been easy to stay away from the alcohol. The little voice still pipes up every evening, but now I recognize it for what it is. The small, scared part of me that would rather keep me small and safe. It is now easy to hold and comfort her while I stick to my commitment to be my best self.

Enough and Good and Good Enough

In my Meditation Today: I noticed that I was actively withholding love for me as I  decided whether something I had said to someone was ok. The question unconsciously repeating itself in my mind was “Was it something a person I considered “ Good” would say? “The feeling of scrunched up energy in my center was an indication that I had decided that it was not and that I did not deserve my approval or love. Beginning to realize that one of the biggest and possibly hardest lessons to learn is to hold me in love regardless of what is going on in my external world.  Deciding to learn to love me unconditionally first before expecting it from anyone else.

The Sapta Shloki  consists of seven verses from the Devi Mahatmyam – the Grand Story of the Divine Mother. Reciting these seven verses is considered equivalent to reciting the entire 700 verse scripture.

The fifth verse in the Saptashloki is

Sarvaswarupe Sarvese Sarvashaktisamanvite

Bhayebhyasa Trahi no Devi

Maa_Durga_HD_Lord_Devi_PhotosDurge Devi Namostuthe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sarvaswarupe – You who exists in all forms / You who are the essence of all forms

Sarvese – Controls everything

Sarvashaktisamanvite – The embodiment of all Power

Bhayebhyas Trahi No Devi – Remove our fears Devi

Durge Devi Namosthuthe – I bow to you Devi Durga

This verse reminds me to remember that all forms are manifestations of Durga, i.e., I am a manifestation of Durga and therefore by definition I am the embodiment of all power. The sense of not being enough or judging myself as not good enough and therefore withholding approval for me is equivalent to withholding it from Devi.

Have you noticed what happens to you physically when you are judging yourself? For me, it is a sense of emptiness in the center of my being. My shoulders hunch upwards, my chest moves inward, and my whole upper torso is bent forward as if to protect the empty space in my center.  It does not take much to hollow out my center.  A raised eyebrow from my husband; a response to my text from one of my children that is not as effusive as I expect it to be, or an off the cuff remark from a colleague that I take as an indication of my not being valued is all it takes.  A hundred different things during the day when I am telling myself that I am not quite enough.

Recently a casual comment from a friend suggested that I was too involved in my adult children’s lives.   My interpretation of her comment was that I was a  mom who did not allow her children to make their mistakes and grow from them.  Interestingly, she had never actually said those words.:)

Needless to say, that the reason it struck a chord was because I have judged plenty of other parents using this yardstick and could not face the fact that I might be guilty of the same crime that I had accused so many parents of. Even as I write this, I am tempted to point out all the ways in which I am not an over-protective parent :).  

In any case, the comment hit home, and I carried it around for days. My insides felt hollow; my shoulders hunched up, and self-judgment was relentless. As always after several days of wallowing in this mess, I knew that this was something that needed deeper work. I set the intention to heal as I started my daily meditation.

As I worked through the SaptaShloki and came to this verse, I felt my shoulders move down and back, and my chest thrust forward. I became aware of three separate parts of me. There was the ME who was wise and centered and settled into my relaxed shoulders and open chest; there was me in miniature who occupied my center and had curled up in a ball of shame and then there were the judges, tiny forms of my children, standing upright a little off center and wagging fingers at the crunched up me. As the meditation progressed, my wise and centered self, the Devi within, took the curled up me by the shoulders, stood me up, hugged me.  She then turned me towards the wagging fingers of my children. As I looked at them with Devi’s hand around me,  I realized that they were just creatures of my imagination, a reflection of my constant fear of not being a good enough parent that I was projecting onto them.  As the realization grew, I was able to let the judgment drop and lean back into the love and compassion that the Devi within me embodied.  I was Devi manifested in form. I could not be anything but enough and good and good enough.

The energy in my body which had fragmented into the judged and the judge merged with my wise and centered self. I had healed and was whole again.

 

Surrendered Action

In My Meditation Today:  Surrender does not equal inaction. Surrender is letting go; letting go of guilt or regrets about the past, and worry about the future. It is a sigh of relief, a squaring of your shoulders, a descending into your hips, and being present here and now. It is leaning back knowing that life always has your back, dropping your barriers, allowing inspiration to flow.

The Sapta Shloki consists of seven verses from the Devi Mahatmyam – the Grand Story of the Divine Mother. Reciting these seven verses is considered equivalent to reciting the entire 700 verse scripture.

The fourth verse in the Sapta Shloki is

 

Sharanagatha  Dinaarthaimages

Parithrana Parayane

Sarvasyaarthi Hare Devi

Narayani  Namosthuthe

 

Salutations to you O Narayani,

Who is intent on rescuing the distressed and afflicted who surrender to you

Who removes the suffering of all.

Sharanam, in Sanskrit, translates to surrender; Gata – to walk on or on the path; Thus Shararagatha – She who is on the path of surrender or has surrendered.

This verse for me is all about the act of surrender. 

It is letting go of the feeling that I have to control and manipulate the present to create a particular future. 

It is a letting go of the worry that I do not know how to act in the present and that I cannot act unless I know exactly what to do.

 It is clearing out the confusion and fog that memories of the past and anxiety about the future create. 

It is also something that one practices again and again, and sometimes grace intervenes, and you experience a magical miracle that a complete surrender is. A miraculous opening of the mind and access to inspiration & intelligence that you never knew you had.

It was the moment of reckoning. I had worked hard for several months to prepare for the comprehensive exam that would qualify me as a doctoral student and allow me to complete my Ph.D.  I had to go through two grueling days of exams. We entered the hall at 9 am, and pretty much went straight through to the end of the day, except for body breaks.

The first day was reasonably easy – as easy as a graduate exam in applied statistics can be.

On the afternoon of the second day, my worst fears were realized.  There was a question on the paper that I was sure I could not answer. Getting this wrong could mean failing the exam. My heart was racing. Images of me telling my husband and children that I had failed and the disappointment on their faces filled my head; I told myself  I would never complete my Ph.D. because this would happen again in the next exam. My inner critic was gleefully telling me how stupid I was and how I had just proven that I was never really going to be as good as the rest of the students in the class.

As I began to go down that spiral, I put my pen down; I took a deep breath and began speaking to Krishna, my go-to Hindu God in times of crisis.

“Okay,” I said, “This is all yours. I do not know what to do here, so now would be a good time to work a miracle”.  

As I said that, my breath slowed and became deeper, the brain freeze-thawed. “Although I cannot quite remember the formula I need, I know how to derive krishna god hd wallpaperformulae,” I said to myself, “I can try and resolve this problem using first principles.” Ideas and inspiration flowed, and I  remembered statistical principles and processes that I did not even know that I knew. Suffice it to say, I cleared my comprehensive and won the award for outstanding doctoral student :). As a mother of two, a wife, and a full-time student who also worked part time, that was quite an achievement… one that I was close to giving away in that moment of frustration and confusion. If I had not taken a breath and allowed myself to experience surrendered action, I would have failed the exam and probably would not have had the courage to try again.
Surrender is not helpless inaction. It is an opening up to grace and settling into inspired action in the present moment.

Gratitude for “Blah”

In My Meditation Today: I am grateful not just for the wonderfully miraculous things that life brings to me, the love, the babies and the abundance but also for the fear, worry and anxiety. Grateful for the miracles & the disasters; the joy & the sorrow; the hope & the despair.

Grateful for the entirety of this miraculous thing called life.

The Sapta Shloki consists of seven verses from the Devi Mahatmyam-the Grand Story of the Divine Mother. Reciting these seven verses is considered equivalent to reciting the entire 700 verse scripture.

durga-puja-wallpaper-740453The third verse in this collection of seven is:

Sarva Mangala Maangalye

Shive Sarva Aartha Saadhike

Sharanye Tri-Ambike Gauri

Narayanee Namosthuthe.

 

I bow to the Goddess who is the goodness in all the good, the auspicious one;

To You who accomplishes every intent;

To You, The Refuge, The All-Knowing, Shining Gauri.

 

The English translation of the third verse in the Sapta Shloki does not explicitly give thanks. However,  the last word in the verse is “ Nammosthuthe”, i.e., “I bow to you.” Together with the fact that it talks about Devi as being the goodness in all the good and the one who accomplishes every intent,  this verse spells gratitude to me. So every morning when I get to this verse in my prayers, I pause and give thanks for everything that is going right in my life. Depending on the day and where my life is at, finding something good to be grateful for is a breeze or requires a lot of effort.

So as I planned to write this post, I was sure it was going to be easy. That was until this morning. I woke up today and tried to write but nothing .. I could not muster up any sense of gratitude. I was not feeling inspired. I was feeling “blah.”  I did not want to write about this.

The resistance to proceeding with the post was strong, and my mind was playing all the of the tricks Steven Pressfield talks about in “War of Art” and some more.  So, I put on my analyst hat.

 

“ What is it about today’s post that you do not want to face?”

“ I am worried that what I am writing is too esoteric”;

“ Nobody is reading what I write.”

( in which case, it really would not matter if it was too esoteric 🙂);

“Maybe they think I am crazy” – so maybe I should stop writing!”

A brilliant strategy to help me to find an excuse to stop writing and risking ridicule or even worse – indifference.

As I stared at the page trying to figure out what  I should do next, the miraculous wisdom that somehow appears when you put pen to paper intervened, and I wrote,

“Isn’t the genius of the mind that is wanting to protect you from perceived insult and heartbreak something to be grateful for?”

Startled out of my “blahness” the words poured out.

Could I be grateful for waking up to blahness?  

Could I feel grateful for waking up to this resistance?”

Well,  what if the other option was not waking up at all???

That alternative made the “blah”, something to be very very grateful for :).

As I continued to think about this, the sheer wonder and grace that life continually serves up were evident, and my body filled up with a sense of wonder, humility, and awe.

 

Remember the spiral that I talked about in the Mahamaya blog post (http://seeta2durga.com/2016/01/18/mahamaya/)?

As you go down that spiral, the sheer necessities of living in a physical body intervene.  Needing a drink of water, feeling hungry or having to go to the bathroom interrupts and you get a break – a small window of opportunity to stop the downward slide into your mental hell.

The morning after my mother died in a plane crash, I was in the shower, and I remember thinking, “How crazy is this? My mom has  just died, and I am taking a shower, and nothing has changed about what that shower feels like!”

Today I know that having to continue to take care of the mundane needs of the physical body is the greatest blessing we have in our time of greatest crisis. The physical act of living provides a constant opportunity to bring us back from the anger, despair and hopelessness we are mired in, into the present moment.  It is a moment of grace. A moment fleeting in duration but unrelenting in its recurrence.  

That is the message of this post that started with the blahness.

Be grateful for the “blah” because it represents aliveness.

Be grateful for the body because it unrelentingly brings you back to the present.

Be grateful for life in all of its messiness and its glory.