Rivers, Boats and Boatsmen
2019, Kumba Mela in Prayag Raj (formerly Alahabad) I took a boat ride on Mother Ganga. Just 1 mile away from Sangham - where over 6 weeks 150 million spiritual seekers took bath in holy Ganga and made their offerings to the river: flowers, candles, incense, packets with money and sweets, pieces of silk, colorful and sweet... Contained in ever shifting sandy banks, Gangaji took their offerings, softly and steadily carrying them on...
Our boat struggled to navigate strong and shallow flow. The boatsmen, knee deep in water too shallow for oars, pushing the boat on. Until the current parked it on a sandbank for full stop.
I looked around: flowers, candles, packets on tiny boats... prayers, hopes, dreams - offerings floating in Mother Ganga, River of Life.
Our boatsmen, no match for Her flow, got out and waded about. One fished out a coconut, smashed it open with what looked like machete, and distributed pieces among us - 'bout a dozen western pilgrims who chant his holy mantras and pay homage to his land. Another waded through the flow of offerings, picking up and uncovering $100 rupee bill from one, wrapped pieces of candy from another... Taking what is worth keeping and letting what is not float away.
Our Life is a River. The boat our Body. The offerings our intentions, thoughts and experiences. The boatsman? You. Me. The Navigator, Wader and Chooser. Keeping what is useful. Letting go what is not. Sometimes, there is a corpse that floats by (river burial). No use to the boatsman, but life to river dogs... This river. Wastes nothing, digests everything, nourishes every life.
~ Aham Prema
Thorns, Veil and God.
In a strange and beautiful land of India I aimed my zoom lens at a sweet little dwelling in a field. But what my honest lens captured clearly instead are thorns that protect it and an old tired cloth spread over them. Thumb over trash icon, I paused... lassoed into that ripped window...
Human mind is like that. Made of cloth and thorns - meant to protect us, but, if left to grow - obstructing the view completely. Yet, that little dwelling - our true aim and desire - is also our mind. And the one who wants to capture it and keeps trying? That's us too.
Some have or acquire better lens, some better skill, others keep bushwacking ...
And there are those who say “screw it” to the perfect capture and just see the beauty in what they got: cloth, thorns, blurry aim and the Spirit that keeps trying. Perfectly imperfect picture.
Result? They make no enemy with their own mind. They accept and love their own thorns, and, over time, it becomes easy to accept and love the same in others. Like Mother, looking upon her baby try, make a mess, fall, rise, tumble and cry again - she loves it all the same, and will keep raising the bar to see it grow stronger. Those unruly tantriks...
How many are aware of such totality? How many see beauty so completely? How different would this world be if such seeing was the norm?
It may take years of practice, but training to see those we set our eyes on this way - their strengths, their weakness, their good, bad & the ugly, AND THROUGH IT ALL TO SEE THEM AS BEAUTIFUL, their Spirit trying - is worth the sweat and tears, to me.
What if we speak to Spirit in every human being? I see yours, and you see mine. True meaning of NAMASTE. What if...
Shoot that Arrow
Went out on another date...
Lately, when "interviewing", I am finding myself popping the Big Question: "What is your purpose here?"
And this is why I am still single... No one knows the answer
That's half the problem - I can work with that.
The bigger issue is: "I don't really want a purpose. Isn't the purpose of life to just enjoy it? Live it to the fullest? Life is too short not to?"
"White Male Privilege" RED FLAG goes off (skin color aside - I've enjoyed all).
Yes, Sir - to enjoy life to the fullest would do nicely.
There are so many who aren't able. So many who are lost, sad, confused, and disempowered. So many who, struggling to afford the very life we speak of, can see no end to their strife. And you want to buy yourself a $5K+ bike just to explore another "ability" of yours? (I threw up a little in my mouth when I typed this.)
The instant turn off: too many means + lack of purpose. That's an imbalance. Very unattractive.
The Instant turn on: Knowing your Purpose. Dedication to it. Integrity (live it every day).
Please, good people of means: find something you truly care about (I know this will be bigger than yourself) - and take a goddamn stand for it. Stand for something. Take your means and invest them into a worthy cause. Even if you think you have nothing - you have so much!
Just stand for something.
Shoot that arrow.
In my home country - women of all ages are honored with flowers, small gifts and early release from school and work (my earliest memory - a bar of fancy soap from my first little man in 3rd grade - Ilya=precious).
In my spiritual home (ancient tantric tradition) - Female principle is called SHAKTI and represents Energy. She is never stationary, always moving, becoming, creating and changing. She is the force of change. She is change.
She is balanced by SHIVA - male principle representing space (=container). He is never changing, always stable, always quiet, always observing his Shakti's creative process, containing her movements in a safe space.
Some of us have that balance in embodied life. And some - seek it. Through change.
Change is often given a negative connotation as shallow, temporary, something to transcend and overcome. But, in fact, change is necessary for continuity of Life - it IS life. The very Nature maintains it's existence by continuously transitioning. And yet the word "transition", when spoken in the same sentence with one's name, is usually accompanied by a somber look or, at the very least, a raised brow. Being in transition myself, I connect with new people, and most of them confess that they, too, are "in transition". And have been for some time.
"Transition" has come to mean:
- from married to single
- from corporate job to self-employment
- from busy Mom to empty nester
- from healthy to chronically ill
- from one gender to another
- from heterosexual to homosexual
- from youth to old age
- from famous to "washed up"
- from life to death
- ahem... purgatory
"Transition" has come to mean something scary or difficult. Something undesirable. And with that stigma, here we are - struggling to welcome our own process of change, becoming, creating and recreating ourselves! Getting stuck because of that resistance in a perpetual limbo!
The truth is - NO ONE has it together. Even the most accomplished of them all. Everyone is in transition. Everyone is swept up in Shakti's dance. Sometimes for years. For an entire life. And it's OK. It's natural. It's healthy. Change is good. It's OK to not have it together. That, too, will change. But, until it does - I want to embrace transitioning friends - and in my heart of hearts deeply celebrate their birthing pains. I want to wipe their tears and whisper in their ear: 'don't stop'.
I don't want life on Earth to stop.
I hereby wish you a Happy International Women's day! And I invite you to celebrate HER in you - celebrate your changing nature, the uncertain, unknown, unpredictable, moody, undesired and uncharted TRANSITION. She is the Beauty who keeps the word going round and round. Please, continue to continue...
As for Shiva... Is there an International Men's Day ;)?
The "Goddess Syndrome"
Another victim of pervasive "Goddess Syndrome" bit the dust. There's one for each passing day, it seems.
Each day, another summon call to the "Inner Goddess" echoes off social media screens with beautiful face and body behind it cooing words of freedom, self-realization and untold manifested riches should we click the button (some even exhibit the 6-figure income promise).
Humbly sharing only teachings thoroughly assimilated and passed on to me down the line of Himalayan (=highest peaks) Masters, I see that beauty, I hear that sexy cooing. And a leettle voice inside me squeaks: "why aren't you THIS "out there"? Where is your Goddess, you, UNrealized, UNpretty, aged and tired, barely keeping it together pathetic NOT Goddess? What riches do you have to add to glory of Divine, you UNDERachieved whimp?!" As if what has already been accomplished is not enough. As if, the everyday achievement of being honest human doing simple honest work is not enough. A black hole in stardom heaven opens up - through which I FEEL my self-worth leaking, leaking, leaking... Oh-oh, I I've succumbed to the Goddess syndrome!
And then I remember.... Feel, seal, heal.
SEEL the hole: take hiatus from social media.
HEAL: Remember UNpretty, UNsexy, OVERworked, OVER tired Mothers who raised humanity. All of us. Remember my Mother and Her Mother, and Mother Russia - yeah, the Mother who won WWII. And my Soul is repaired with that strength and courage.
And I worship that Mother: Unseen, UNpraised and UNDEFEATED.
Child of Prana
The 0.01 percent of Mother in us all.
A Mother like no other - timeless, whole.
Before I'm born, I am in Her.
And after, She's in me.
And when I die, Her hands, upheld in mudra, mine receive.
A Breather of Desire, and a nag -
She ever gently pushes me to tag
along a golden, weary path I know -
because it feels so good to dare to love, to grow.
To know, to feel, to share this flame of Hers.
A Child of Prana - I am Yours.
Peace is a gap between two wars
I just can't be alone right now. Because then it's just me and my mind - duking it out.
The Guilty, Unworthy, Failure and Co.
Yogini, I have the tools: I go IN. And the deeper I dive the darker it gets. No amount of company, affection, wine, friendship, reassurance, support from without is enough. Not even a full day of transmitting teachings of Yoga to highly receptive seekers is enough. To end the tunnel. To fill the void. To ease the vacuum suction of space - eternal, endless, dark, alone and empty.
Is a dark force trying to destroy me? A curse? A ghost? Then I remember: they are Bhutas - ghosts that live in empty spaces. Of course! I uprooted myself from the only fullness I knew: 25 year old relationship, home, family, country. There is now a lot of empty space - and I CREATED IT. Of my own volition. Yes, I did. I willfully chose loneliness, uncertainty, anxiety, and fear. Was I clueless? Unaware? Unprepared?
C'mon, Natasha - even your critics see you far too intelligent to be fooled like this. You chose this consciously. You did. Perhaps you saw the dark half of your self that you've been dying to love all your life? And now you get to. He is the tunnel. Niceties aside: go get him, Goddess.
OM Namah Shivaya.
Duke it on out - there is peace between wars. War must take place for peace to exist. The dark must exist for light to be seen. Silence must exist for sound to be heard. Void must exist to feel my own fullness. Get it, Goddess? You are it.
I like Semac. He is new to yoga, but has been coming to Yoga Clinic like clockwork twice a week. Follows up with a "thank you" text almost every time. He is a true blue all American old timer who drives an old volvo 'cause it just sat in his neighbor's yard too long, so he bought it. He is new to yoga, but has been a yogi all his life, I get the sense. Yet because he is convinced he's new, Semac is innocent enough about the practice - he just says it like it is: plain and honest.
Once after a particularly "twisted" class (we didn't put our feet behind our ears - but I DID do Samikarana pranayama with them in 4 diagonal directions), there was a deafening silence for about 10 minutes. Each time - there is nothing left to say after. Except this time, Semac dropped it: "Well this was just kind of a pretzel yoga".
Damn right, Semac. Because LIFE is a PRETZEL. But remember: YOU are NOT.
Each time we do this twisted yoga - we put ourselves into a sort of pretzel, so that we could find the pretzel hole - a space within that is not twisted, shrunk and contorted. A space within that's free. And we breathe into that pretzel hole so we can expand it, increase our inner freedom. Sometimes we add a bind, an arm/leg balance - bit of "mustard" to give that pretzel flavor, open up it's taste.
Shiva is the pretzel hole: SPACE, One who holds everything in His vast embrace.
Shakti is the mustard: One who stimulates, challenges, creates, exists, changes, moves - the CONTENT.
We are both: Shiva and Shakti. Some days, more like pretzel hole. Others - more like mustard. But never the pretzel.
LIFE IS A PRETZEL. What are you today, Semac?
Shaken, not stirred
I was meditating on my deck - connected deeply to fierce form of Divine Mother who is my Ishta Devata...
Amidst the noises of my surroundings one came particularly clear, accompanied by man's muttering. Hesitantly, I opened my eyes. And saw a man with clipboard stumble through my wild yard - he saw me look at him and dropped his clipboard. He saw my posture, mat and mala. "I am so sorry, I didn't know you were praying! i prayed this morning too, so I know! I know!!"
Shaken off meditative state myself, I calmly said it's Ok, does he need my help, etc.
He would hear none of it, but keep apologizing profusely. Until I finally asked him to calm down and breathe a little. He was AAA home inspector, here to inspect my house for insurance estimate. He proceeded throughout the house, asking permission to step one foot in front of the other, while continuing to apologize profusely, almost crying, hands shaking - clipboard and all.
I've never seen a man so scared in my life. He must have known that to disrupt a yogi from samadhi is 1 of 5 instant ways to collect negative karma. And if it's a Yogini... Well, my grand teacher even warned hapless fellow I once knew: "you shouldn't make a woman angry".
A Yogini is far too powerful on her own.. That is why, throughout the world she is always "tempered" by a man (or attempted to be). Why? Because, if she is not - this wouldn't be a man's world anymore. It would just be a ... gasp! ...
in which man, woman, child, beast, all can just ... gasp! ...
Because that is what our Mother would want for us, would she not? To just BE. Would you not want this for your child?..
Oh Gawd, I am a Tantrika
TAN = to stretch
TRA = beyond limits (a.k.a. beyond that which holds us safe)
I've been blessed.
With good homeland, good parents, good childhood, good education, good friends, dedicated students, good husband, good kids, good vocation, good life.
Why oh why, then, have I:
- left my country
- left my parents
- left childhood memories in dusty photo books
- discarded my degree
- neglected my friends
- offended my students
- filed for divorce
- agreed to seeing my kids only 1/2 the time (?!)
- been searcing for a job
Could it be that all those blessings were not enough? Apparently not, since all I did was leave the riches...
Is it, then, those blessings are too much? Apparently not, since I am still praying:
For strength to overcome (what on earth?)
Wisdom to know (which secrets?)
Power to become (who?)
I know. I am TANTRIKA - one who peels off her safe keeping covers. One who tears off what she is given and uses it as spring board to launch herself into unknown. Into what she will claim for her own. I am one who pushes love away until it becomes beyond shadow of a doubt that LOVE is all I'm made of. We are a narly bunch. Witches.
Oh Gawd. I am here.
Not here to prove anything to anybody. And no one needs to understand me. I only need to understand myself. In the end, it's all about Me (=You?), my (=your?) Self, and God. This page is only a sharing of little moments of connection, for your reading pleasure if you wish.