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 ;)?
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.
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.
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?
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?..
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.
I was in Barbados. In a cab. I get friendly on a beautiful island (or any new place on Earth) far away from dreary Michigan winter. I asked my cab driver what was in season and what to look for at the farmer's market.
"Cassava", he said.
Not my usual food staple.
I got curious: "What is it? How do you prepare it?"
He was excited to tell me (apparently, cassava is soul food for Bajan people, like beets for Russians):
"I peel it, cut it in bite size pieces, then I cook it in water... Then I add butter."
I thought of sun chokes I love to make and chimed in: "Mmmm, or maybe I could toss it with olive oil and parsley...?"
"Sure," - he said, "but cassava is better with butter."
"Well, everything is better with BUTTER," - I said.
1/2 a minute passed. Then in the front mirror I saw an ear-to-ear grin widen my driver's face:
"I like it," - he shook his finger. "Everything is better with butter".
Yes, everything is.
I left that cab with arms full of cassava he had just picked up from a farmer and shared with me.
In every cuisine - there is butter (some call it ghee, fat, oil, or lard). A common ingredient that makes all food taste good.
Just like Breath makes every yoga pose feel good.
Just like Joy makes every connection all right.
Just like Love makes every action - an Act of God.
Everything is better with BUTTER. Smear it on. Better yet - just cut think chunks and pave your butter croissant with them.
My friends laugh at me for how much butter I put on my toast - and all I say is the Truth:
"I do like me a little bread with my butter". I go for the universal ingredient, one that makes it all good.
I had a great day. My 7-yr old was home getting over a strep throat. This is after my husband - loving but fearful father of my children - ran to get antibiotics for him and ... gasp... gave them to him without telling me first (last time he did that was 4 months ago - Johnny's 1st strep infection, and now 2nd - coincidence? I think not.)
I know. I am a control freak when it comes to the health of my kids. But... from what I learned about antibiotics - most times I can do better job than them. I spoke up clearly and firmly, stood my Nature Mama ground. And stayed home to take strep matters into my own hands. Johnny was fever free and his own chirpy self by mid-day. We bonded. We laughed. We had lunch and cracked jokes (day prior he cried at the mention of taking a sip of anything and moaned at the touch of cool wet cloth across his burning forehead).
I had a mind-expanding hour long meditation (thanks, Yogarupa, for that Durga bit you gave us in Kajuraho) - bright and strong, inspiring and motivating.
I taught a fun Spirit of Asana class where I geeked on about trinities of Universe and the Sages "in-the-know", while prepping those kids for kick-ass full expression of Vasisthasana, with some of them nailing it beautifully.
Victory all around. And yet... It feels like a "nothing" day. Like yesteryear's ... dead fly... Some days are just like that - like dried up tissue paper, even when good things happened, still everything feels like a DEAD FLY.
Oh the horror! What to do? Do I need more meditation?! Must I fill this dried up empty carcass with juicy things like romance, movie, wine, chocolate, music, laughter... anything, anything to breathe life into this "DEAD FLY"....
.... Ah, screw it - I kinda like Death. It has a refreshing effect of nullifying Ego's attempts at grasping onto accomplishments. After all, as my friend Chree once put it: "If nothing ever dies, then how can anything ever really come to life?"
Hey, ennui is good for us. It's a sign that we are bored with the way things are. That means, we are ready for change.
Change means NEW. New way of being alive. And come it will. After the OLD is dead. I think I'll pour a glass of wine and raise it to my dead fly. This wake may take a few days. I am prepared for that. I'll remember this, once unrelenting, herald of change for all the telltale signs she warned me of: too sweet, too sleepy, too warm, too...... Yep. Gotcha sista. I am on it.
I am a Cornucopia of Joy,
dispensing Laughter, steeped in ancient Wisdom.
Embracing Shaktis - all and none at once,
of which are none in You that aren't, too, within me.
Become and Be, and Die again - I have.
Breathe in / breathe out,
Express / withdraw -
Consume and be consumed - no End and no Beginning.
I am No One and All:
upon a look at You - I see my Self within.
No end and no beginning.
~ Tat Tvam Asi
Aham Brahma Smi
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.