How I Came to the Goddess

It’s been about 4 years of me actively seeking the feminine perspective in the Divine. Honestly, as has been my track record, I started looking in this direction because of excruciating physical pain. A little backstory: I broke 3/4 of my lower left leg while working as a ski patroller and had two surgeries: one titanium rod placed in my tibia and then another surgery to remove the screws that held it in place while it healed around the rod. This was in 2006 and 2007. The excruciating pain didn’t develop until about 8 years later. To combat the pain, I tried SO many therapies, traditional and non-traditional, but kept sensing that there was a deeper, more spiritual reason for the pain. I was part of a church at the time and tried all the prayers and “laying on of hands” and “soaking” practices and times that I could, but the pain got worse. It literally felt like my body was tightening and constricting, I would even use the word rebelling, against all that I was doing. I knew there had to be another way and the church wasn’t providing an answer or clue.

During this time, I began to actively teach Yin Yoga and found the slower, more meditative, contemplative, and inward focused style to be so healing for me; the pain in my body began to lessen and I could feel my body begin to loosen up. The word yin is Chinese and literally means: the passive female principle of the universe, characterized as female and sustaining and associated with earth, dark, and cold. The dark part of yin intrigued me and scared me. I had recently completed 3 years at a Christian Ministry School and darkness was always equated with evil, but I began to wonder if the darkness was where I actually needed to go…

I began to research and test this darkness and what I found was eye-opening. As with the Chinese, all other cultures equate darkness as feminine, the womb, night time, inward gazing, contemplation/meditation, the other half of the Divine. I had not heard any of this in my decade or so of Christian teaching! So, I cautiously began to explore this darkness, pushing boundaries, limits, and edges and continued to find healing for my leg as I confronted fears and began to find out for myself the difference between darkness that heals and darkness that is evil. (There is definitely a difference! I was thankful for my Christian training to build so solidly a foundation on the Divine to be able to test this limit and know that s/he had me, held me, and fully supported my childlike wonder and exploration and was Her/Himself the one providing the healing.)

This inward, dark, earthly journey lead me to many places: New York to study with Regena Thomashauer who operates the School of Womanly Arts, it lead me to co-lead a Goddess retreat in Greece to study more about her ways, and in late 2017, took me to India to study a modern culture that worships the feminine through tantra, temple worship, chanting, and yoga. All these things continued to lead me back to Her, to where She truly lives: inside.

What I’ve found is that so many modern religions shun things of the earth and elevate the “higher” perspective of the Divine. This “higher” perspective of the Divine is most often of the Divine masculine perspective and I think in large part because He is orderly, controlled, predictable, straightforward, and logical: it’s the mind and the brain. (For more about the differences between the Divine masculine and feminine check out my most popular blog: Are You a Sissy?)

I feel like I’ve gotten a 4-year degree on the Goddess: I’ve travelled, watched 100s of documentaries and movies, listened to podcasts and Youtube videos, read dozens and dozens of books and articles, taken hours of trainings and seminars and workshops focused on the goddess, had 1000s of hours conversations, and none of it fully satisfied, which is just Her style: she is constantly changing, drawing us closer, enticing us into her bosom, and awakening the scary places with not only compassion, love, kindness, and fun, but with a seductive like quality that I find irresistible. And this my friends, is the feminine, and, why I continue to be drawn to her. The pain in my leg is much less now, it still limits me in things, but I’m using it like a divining rod to lead me to the omnipotent Divine and all her/his magical and mysterious ways.

If you want to join my Goddess journey, I’m leading a weekly class called Goddess Fusion Flow and I’m planning another Goddess Retreat and workshops: all the details for those will be here when they are decided.

Jai Ma and namaste!

xxoo

My Not So Sublime Shakti Pilgrimage in India

This trip took me to places I was afraid to go: inside myself, with others, and deep into the Divine Feminine.

Amongst filth I didn’t know possible, hotels crawling with bed bugs, rats, black mold, and bats, we seemed to travel back in time to a culture of depth and rich history, visiting Hindu Goddess temples, some of which still practice animal-sacrifice, to study the remnants of matriarchal society, Goddess worship, and all Her beautiful aspects.

I fell to pieces here in India. The Goddess (a female representation/perspective/aspect of God) has picked up the pieces, filling in places with holes; I had no safe arms to crawl into, nothing familiar to steady myself with, I had to rely on Her, in me, and feel, cry, laugh, gasp, stand in shock, and experience all that is within and around.

This struggle, this rupture, has given me the opportunity to make Her mine, to see Her strength within me, to know Her as my Goddess, to own the female image of God and all her aspects, flavors, and nuances.

Beyond a shadow of a doubt, I needed to be on this Sublime Shakti Pilgrimage, this trip was an answer to a deep aching prayer I’ve been praying, perhaps since the moment of my conception. This trip has brought together so many of the fragmented truths I’ve known and learned and felt and questioned.

There’s a primal wisdom inside us all and She wants to remake us into who we are meant to be, owning our dark places, standing in our truth, feeling our vulnerability, so we can know our radiance, no matter how hospitable or inhospitable our environment, how supportive or unsupportive our leaders, how familiar or unfamiliar each situation is.

To my fellow travelers who’ve been to India: I salute you. To my companions who experienced this 3-week pilgrimage with me: I love you. To those of you who prayed, reached out, and stood with me from afar, thank you.

What a gift it, you, and She is. Now, I get to walk this out in my home land…. ok. Jai ma.

xoxo

Letting go of shame: Observational Meditation


Shame: it’s ugly head pops up and creeps in, most awkwardly and uncomfortably. With new experiences, relationships, and the deepening of such, I see anew where shame still lives. Seemingly never fully out of its grasp (we are always a work in progress), I use awareness and meditation to face it and then let it go without fanfare (because it doesn’t need or deserve much of my energy or focus). 

The best tool I have found to let go of shame, and any other unwanted emotion or feeling, is through the practice of Observational Meditation. Here’s how I do it:

1. I find a comfortable position, lying down or seated, somewhere quiet and where I won’t be bothered. I decide on a time: 2 minutes, 10 minutes, or longer as desired, and I set my meditation timer. (I use the free app I-Qi timer.)

2. I begin to still myself. Breathe. I settle down and settle in. Taking my time, I begin to label thoughts as they arise. (This helps us become less invested in them and breaks the chains of identity to them. Labeling also separates beliefs from reality.) Taking time to label these thoughts, perhaps even a few times, I get to their root feeling, emotion, belief, or other such deep connection. I often exhale when I get to the core thought, then I know I’ve got it. (If you have a hard time deciding which is the core thought, that’s fine, just pick a label and go with it. The body/mind/spirit will speak to you again. Remember, it’s all just practice.)

3. After labeling the thoughts, I become aware of where I feel this thought in the body. This may come easily, or sometimes I have to sit with the thought/label for some time before I’m able to identify where it lives in my body. I stay with the thought long enough to actually feel it, remembering that the goal isn’t to change or get rid of anything but to observe and experience whatever arises. Sometimes this actually works the other way around: I feel and become very aware of a feeling/area within my body, and then I label it. 

4. That’s it! I just sit with the feeling/labeled thought for as long as I need for it to dissipate and lose its hold on me. Usually this is a matter of seconds before a new thought arises and I move on, but sometimes it’s a minute or so. This is such a simple practice, but one that is super powerful and one that does take effort. 

The fun news is that since practicing this technique in comfort and quiet, I can now do this anywhere and at any time, and really, this is the point: to embody this tool and use it when feelings of shame or anything else that no longer serves, arises. 

The harder we resist, the stronger unwanted feelings become. It’s the Self’s way to get our attention to make a change. Think of this practice like a dog that needs to go to the bathroom. He will continue to bark or whine or pester you until you let him out. Our body, mind, and spirit are the same: communicating to us through thoughts and feelings to get our attention to act. 

Shame sucks. Here’s to letting to go and moving on!

Let me know how it works for you. 

xoxo

5 Self Care Practices:

Have you noticed that in some season’s (either literally: the winter, or, a week, a few days, or even for just a moment) you feel this overwhelming need to stop, be quiet, to take a breath, call a good friend? Have you ever noticed those times that you just crave the simple? How do you respond to such a feelings, honestly? What if these senses or feelings were God/the Universe whispering….?

Taking a break is divinely orchestrated: built in daily as “night” and the human (and animal) requirement to sleep, created as “winter” and the land needing to go dormant for a season to replenish and gain back the nutrients it lost while it was growing and producing during the warmer seasons. Taking a break can be induced by a deep sigh, or the diagnosis of adrenal fatigue, or otherwise. These are some of the clues that Divine Spark inside uses to get our attention, saying: “take care, please, take care of you.”

The words “self care” may spark a shutter, or a blush, bringing up thoughts of “I don’t have time for that” or really, “I just don’t want to stop” or, you may be well versed in such practices, either way, good. Good! We as individuals can only serve others to the extent at which we ourselves are filled.

Self care, on the surface, may seem selfish and egotistical, but really, it’s the most giving thing you can do.

Self-care is the most giving thing you can do for you and for God. God who lives inside you and God who lives inside of others. (For women I’ve been recently calling this Divine Spark, or God inside us, “Goddess.” I’ve been doing this to poke the box of God being a male. If you’re curious you can read more about it here.)

So, if you are feeling the pull toward self care, if you’re hearing the call, and you choose to answer, here is my list:

5 ways to self-care:

  1. Do nothing. Do absolutely nothing. When was the last time you allowed yourself to get bored? Do you know that the creative spark inside us is best tapped when we are bored? Creativity happens when we aren’t busy, when we allow ourselves time. So, lay on your bed and stare at the ceiling, sit in a lawnchair and watch the clouds float by, plop down on the couch and kick your feet up and stare out the window. Do nothing! And see what comes of it: fear, self hatred, creativity, passion, anger, frustration, peace…. maybe those things you’ve been busy-ing yourself to avoid can easily fall away with just a little time…. with just a little awareness…. peace rises up…
  2. Get a massage, mani/pedi, facial, acupuncture, sit in the sauna, take a bath, work out, go to a yoga class, take a walk, attend a retreat. These are the obvious choices for self-care, but none-the-less, super helpful.
  3. Begin that hobby you’ve been wanting and thinking about for a long time now. Let that creativity flow in art form.
  4. Womb Care: my new favorite way to self care. This is self massage. This is getting to know your body. This is facing shame, anger, self hatred, etc. This is love. This is facing love and allowing love to inhabit this beautiful physical body. I’ve been using herbal infused olive oil and gently, intuitively, rubbing my belly and female parts, slowly and with no agenda. Because of some massive trauma I’ve experienced in these areas, this goes deep. For me, this hasn’t been sexual, this has been about releasing shame and fear and softening under my own touch (which then allows me to soften underneath someone else’s). You can learn more, find the oils I use, and get more in-depth details from Amber Magnolia Hill and her Sacred Womb Care MP3. It’s been a lifeblood for me recently and my self-care/pleasure go to. (Men, I have a suspicion this could be just as good for you, but maybe call it Heroic Care…) Remember no agenda, allow feelings to arise, watch, assimilate, hold, take care, meditate, be. Love.
  5. Write a letter, read a book, swamp, listen to a podcast, watch a movie, take a nap, have a date night, have sex, meditate, take a girls/guys night, spend quality time with your kids, play hooky! Enjoy this life, this precious life who’s moments are passing by…

You make time for what’s important to you. What message are you sending if you don’t take time for you?

Know that you are enough. What you are doing is enough. Feel free to say it with me now: I am enough. I am doing enough. I am.

Enjoy you.

xoxo

What men want 

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In my yearning to learn and grow and understand how the world works, my role in it, and how my desires might be better fueled with this enlightenment, I’ve been passionately expanding my breath of knowledge about how relationships between men and women work best. To date, one of the most helpful and profound gifts I’ve received was a video titled “A Plea to Women” from John Wineland. I have listened and watched this video over the past 9 months to the point where I have it nearly memorized, but, it’s not just his words that are so dynamic, it’s his heart. Each passionate syllable he speaks awakens within me the divine goddess called woman that I am and it hasn’t been easy. This is edgy work!  I’ve grown more and more in touch with my femininity and what that looks like for me and the men (and other women!) in my life.

Here are my notes from “A Plea to Women” video. Welcome to the awakening:

1. Celebrate the differences between men and women. Find my curiosity and playfulness within this. Have fun with our differences!

2. Know that my man loves range. He craves range! Let myself be the sassy co-ed, the divine light and mother, and the cock-worshipping whore.

3. What works well in business and at work is not the same as what helps a relationship be successful. My man doesn’t want to know what book to read or what therapist he should see. He wants my vulnerability. He wants to hear how he has disappointed me or how sad I am about his action(s). He wants to hear and feel my heart so he can get the chance to be my hero.

4. Even if I’m super angry at him, find something in him that I trust and love. Honor him with that.

5. Be angry! Don’t settle for his bullshit.

6. Surrender to him. Find ways to trust him, let go, and as some men would call it, be submissive…..

7. Flow, open, and move my body. Connect with the womanly art of passion and desire while moving. “Less tough mudder, more sacred dance.” As the song says: there’s something in the way she moves, not in the way she thinks.

8. Slow down: how I speak, how I move.

9. I more often want more, while he more often wants less, so pause and feel first, before I give him what I want to give him. Listen and tap into my intuition, not logic, with him and our relationship.

10. Love him with the same amount of energy that I used when I was angry.

11. My man wants to love me well. He is dying to love me well, but he is different, think simple.

12. I have every right to be angry at the centuries of oppression, at the over-sexulatization of our culture, at the abuse, but the question is now: what do I want to create? I have been given a new beginning, what do I want to create with my man, because he wants to create with me.

What I’ve found most helpful is to not try to get this “right”, but instead, to be open and communicative as I work these truths out in and for myself, both with my girl friends and my guy, and humbly ask for help. With the world having oppressed women for so long, we are just beginning to see the light as to how much so and who we really are as women, and what that looks like for each of us as individuals. We are products of our environment and we can stay that way, or we can overcome. The more I delve into the divine feminine the more good fruit I see and feel within and around me, so, I believe it’s worth it.

Can you feel it? Does this ring true in the deepest part of yourself?

Enjoy the journey. This. This what our life is about.

Swamping: getting real with repressed emotions

Do the holidays bring up s*it for you? Do you get frustrated or angry or depressed or emotional during this time of year? Does Christmas not really feel like all the Facebook posts of smiling faces and exuberant joy? Good. That’s a start to your new beginning: honesty. (and if none of this is true for you, good for you, too!)

We feel emotions. We have emotions. We experience emotions. It doesn’t mean we are any less than, or that we shouldn’t be feeling such emotions. Nope. It simply means we are feeling. We are alive! What we do with these emotions is the important part. Acknowledging and awareness is the first step. If one doesn’t acknowledge s/he has feelings (so called good or so called bad feelings), then one cannot do anything with them. And if you or I are experiencing emotions we no longer want to feel, then there are tools to release them. One such tool I use is called swamping.

Swamping is a way to release the stored energy of an emotion and/or experience. In the past, I have used my yoga mat or my foam roller and beat it against my doorway and thrown it on the floor, sometimes yelling, sometimes crying, sometimes grunting, just being real with what I’m feeling and without judgement, voicing my frustration, anger, hate, disdain, or whatever else arises. With no one around, I let myself be weird. I let myself go (safely of course, but even then, I find the edge, and let go), I let myself be loud, I let myself be all the things that “I’m not supposed” to be, and it is one freeing experience!

Last night, Christmas night, I was so frustrated with having to reconcile my finances (and hear me, it has NOTHING to do with my finances!!! it has everything to do with repressed emotions towards math homework growing up!) I was so frustrated that I was hyperventilating and shaking. I was annoyed at a friend of mine for not responding to me at exactly the time I wanted her to, I was annoyed that I couldn’t be outside and hiking or adventuring or exploring, I was annoyed that I was annoyed, and then I knew, it was time to swamp. I began with writing about my anger, and reading each word, with emotion, out loud, and then scribbling into my journal until the pages tore, then I chucked my pen at the journal, the floor, the dresser, over and over again until it broke and I started envisioning plastic shards flying into my eye, so I stopped and switched to a slipper, but I was throwing it so hard against the floor, that I switched to an already falling apart slipper and let every. Emotion. Rise. Up. And I threw and I growled and I said every thing that felt good: LETTING IT GO! Foam pieces flew across the floor and I threw it again with my left arm, then both, then my right, until, I knew I was done.

My voice horse, my body trembling, I laid back on my bed, and, I just was. I let myself be. I watched thoughts arise. I felt the quiet calm return. I regrouped as a new me. I found peace, on Christmas night.

A meditation practice is a solid foundation to have before attempting to do this alone. Not everyone is ready to face such deeply held emotions, and especially alone. You can begin your meditation practice here. Also, having a good girl friend (or guy if you’re a guy) to talk with after is extremely helpful, someone you can trust, or who you can just be real with as you own your truth, someone who you understand isn’t your savior but a guide to assist your healing. Therapists are also helpful, as are specific events designed to hold a sacred space for you to process: I am offering one in June of 2017. Learn more about it and join me: here. Yoga Nidra’s can also help you access deeply held subconscious patterns and in a more gentle way. Practice and learn more about yoga nidra here.

God wouldn’t have given us emotions if we weren’t supposed to feel them. Holding on to them (subconsciously or consciously) is the problem. You, I, we are not defined by our emotions, we just have them. Let them flow, let them go, and let’s enjoy this wild ride we call life!

xoxo


Photo by the incredible Tara Huff, on another adventure of emotional heights. Worth every moment, as I step into more and more and greater and greater freedom. Muah!

My Camino Experience

I sit here with tears streaming down my face as I re-read and remember my Camino experience, which I share below.  I spent 2-weeks hiking along the Camino de Santiago in Northern Spain in September and October of 2016 to raise funds for the non-profit Friends of Indreni. Our walk was specifically to fund a dorm in order to ensure the education of older children, since the distance is too far for them to travel. I was more than happy to help such a cause and teach therapeutic yoga to the rest of the Camino travelers in my group.

So, here it is, My Camino Experience:

Challenging has been the most frequent word I have used when I talk about our 2-week Camino pilgrimage, challenging, but I would do it all over again, in a heart-beat. There is nothing like this path; walked upon for 1000s of years by people of differing faiths and ages, a variety of languages heard by people all there for different reasons, yet, we are together. A comradery exists with Camino pilgrims, those on the path with you in the moment, and those you meet after it’s completed. It takes a unique individual to willingly choose to hike 12+ miles a day, with little to no rest days, putting one foot in front of the other, over and over and over again for 8 or more hours a day, up and down 1000s of feet of elevation, meandering around cows and their cow-pies, scampering over slippery shale and rocks, placing one foot in front of the other along miles and miles of pavement and lush green fields, over mountain tops and through valleys; it takes someone willing to go beyond the easy, a seeker of significance and greater meaning, someone looking for truth. I found this, and so much more on the Camino. It was challenging, for obvious reason, but also because I’ve had a leg injury that has kept me from walking much farther than from my front door to my car for a few years now, and yet, I walked the Camino (or about 120 of the 160 miles); and, I am all the stronger for it. Sometimes, we really can do more than we ever think possible or imaginable, even with a lot of pain. This experience was worth every headache, each discomfort, each twinge of pain (mental and physical), because, really it’s not about me (or you) anyway, there’s a bigger reason for it all. Sometimes we have to get uncomfortable and placed in challenging situations to see how great we, and life, really are. This. This was the Camino for me. So, I’m now left wondering, when are we doing it again?! I’m up for teaching yoga again along this magical sojourning. Want to join?

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Be an aid to your healing

As someone who has been sick, injured, and recovering for most of my adult life, and as someone who likes to learn, I’ve never just accepted what someone said to be a “cure” as final truth. This isn’t always good, but for you, now, it is. I want to share with you some of my lessons learned so you can be an aid to your own healing.

Our body’s hurt and ache for a reason. Every time we try to “pray away” the pain, take a pill to silence it, or push past the pain and “suck it up,” we are telling our body to “Shut up! You are getting in my way! I don’t care what you have to say. I want you to do this, now!” This will not produce the healing that we want.

There is a time and place for each of these things (prayer, medicine, moving forward) and they are extremely helpful tools for healing, but, the next time you get a pain, feel a hurt, experience a headache, stop, and pause. Before you again kneel down to pray, before you again reach for that bottle of pain killers, before you again push through, pause. Ask yourself why are you doing this? Take a moment and actually ask the body what it needs, what would nourish it, what would feed it, what would heal it? Take a moment to listen to the body speaking it’s hurts and pains. Often, a simple answer comes: limit the coffee intake, eat organic, sleep more, exercise, yoga, meditate, spend time listening and sitting in the silence. Some pains are much more complex but I believe we know this too, when we take the time to pause and listen, asking the body what it needs. Those fears that we may experience are again, the body speaking. If you feel this fear, or any other emotion, pause, notice it, know that it’s a feeling, and ask again, what do you need, body? Stop, listen. Then, go and see a doctor, a chiropractor, a psycho-therapist, get a massage, try acupuncture, detox, practice yoga nidra (at home), take supplements. Follow through on what you know to be stirring in your heart and mind, through your body.

Be open to the leadings of the body. Let the journey of life be just that, a journey. Pause, listen to that still, small voice, and let humility rise. The body is intelligently designed by a God that loves it as part of a whole. We are triune beings: body, mind, and spirit, and like a 3-legged stool, when the legs are uneven, we will not be balanced and function well. This body sends hurt and pain signals to the brain highlighting that something is wrong. Take a moment to listen, and then, act.

In time, the perfect time, as we continue to pause and listen, as we slow down, the healing and wholeness that the body, and God, have been longing for, all along, will come.

Enjoy the journey. Namaste.

How to change the world


For as long as I can remember, my goal in life has been to make the world a better place: to change the world, and for the 39 years of my life, I have been seeking to pursue this goal. Through friendships, family, intimate relationships, work, schooling, yoga, cancer, meditation, God, the church, food, artistry, photography, writing, etc. I have found the same theme: I cannot change the external, the only constant in it all, is me. This is who and what needs to change.

What’s been incredible is that through each of my ventures, they have all schooled me in how to do this. From the boyfriend who told me “just go with the flow Audrey!”, to the yoga training that taught me that we are all individual water drops in the ocean (of life: we are one), to my days as an EMT and ski patroller that emphasized we cannot help someone else until we ourselves are safe, to my need for my parents to love me but in their imperfect humanness being unable to show it as I needed; all this pointed to the same variable: me, and my opportunity to grow.

All these experiences showed me that it was my own, internal beliefs that were limiting me and holding me back from accomplishing my goal, and from Goodness itself. I cannot change anyone else but I can change me.

Sometime ago I intrinsically learned this and my life has been about working to accomplish a place of stability in this: to reach an internal place where I feel safe most of the time. To reach a place where I feel loved, regardless of who loves me or is nice to me or believes what I am doing is right. To reach a place of internal joy so solid I truly feel happy most of the day, regardless of what happens or doesn’t. I’m closer to these eternal riches today more than ever before, and I like it. This is how I change the world: I change me.

The specifics of how we each impact and change the world vary, but the underlying theme is the same. What and who we are, what we believe, what we carry in our heart’s, is all felt, seen, heard, and experienced through each conversation, in our actions, our purchases, our decisions, and our reactions, and this is the work we are to do. This is how we change the world: we change ourselves.

The good news is: you are changing the world, with each moment you breathe. What you do, say, believe, and even think, is changing the world. How you change the world is your choice. I, personally, choose Goodness.

wheels, chakras, the universe, dancing shiva, creation

This is another spoil/pic from this weekend’s Hot Springs Yoga Retreat with my friend Shiva Reinhardt in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. I am forever changed by this epic retreat and am now seriously contemplating getting my 300 hours of yoga teacher training to become a 500-hour RYT with the same woman that Shiva trained with for her 500 hour. The style of yoga Shiva teaches is unlike any I’ve experienced and it spoke to my heart and spirit like living water for my soul. It brought a wholeness my yoga practice has been looking for. My friend Shiva has a wide influence of training, but this weekend we specifically practiced Prana Vinyasa Flow: Prana meaning the vital-life-force or creator or God, Vinyasa meaning movement synchronized with breath/energy, and Flow meaning a state of unified awareness or consciousness/enlightenment. This awareness on Prana (God) combined with a lunar (meaning of a feminine quality, gentle, beautiful, graceful) and solar (meaning active, strong, a masculine quality) asana focused practice was delicious! I want more!!!

Besides my now newfound love for Prana Vinyasa Flow yoga, I wanted to briefly share my knowledge about the sculpture behind me called Nataraja or Shiva, the lord/king of the dance.

Primarily from the book “Myths of the Asana: the Stories at the Heart of the Yoga Tradition” I’ve learned that the Shiva is one of the god’s in the Hindu trinity. Shiva is often depicted in statue form (pictured here), dancing on a dwarf, with snakes around his neck, dreadlocks sticking out from his head, and encircled by a ring of fire, as an image to convey compassion: a contradiction for those who hunger and thirst for understanding/rightehousness (Matthew 5:6). Shiva represents the ability to turn ages to moments, so that although the days may sometimes feel long and difficult, they are but a passing glimpse in eternity. In one of Shiva’s hands, he holds a drum, signaling death and rebirth, which he beats fast. Shiva dances to his own music within a circle of flame known as samsara. Samsara is likened to the cyclical pattern of birth, life, death, and thus, reincarnation. Another way to describe samsara is: patterns and habits in our live’s, some of which can inhibit us. For Shiva, dance serves to help him find the rhythm amidst this spinning karmic cycle of samsara and he is unafraid of this building wheel of fire and flame, he in untroubled.

The snakes around Shiva’s neck are metaphors for the power we humans have, being made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27) and as such, our divine nature (2 Peter 1:4) to overcome. The yoga tradition recognizes that our misunderstanding as something other than Divine will poison us with ignorance. We practice the yoga tools of asana (poses), meditation, and pranayama (breathing exercises) to remember our enlightened state of Divinity.

The dwarf that Shiva dances upon is the demon of ignorance/ego/selfishness who causes us to become caught up in our own personal and daily life and goings on, busy-ness and drama. Shiva demonstrates that we humans can use the demonic for good (Genesis 50:20) and crush it with our heels (Romans 16:20). Shiva takes a higher gaze (Psalm 123:1) and uses this dwarf as a pedestal for his dance, elevating his consciousness, rising himself above his daily life, dancing with the rhythm of the universe/God, as if lead by Holy Spirit.

Shiva shows that life is cyclical and all that is born also dies. With the understanding that destruction makes the way for rebirth and in rebirth and growth, compassion comes. Shiva is the destroyer so that the Hindu god Brahma can create and rebuild new and fertile life.

The story of Shiva is that of freedom: going with the flow of life (Holy Spirit) and the truth that nothing is permanent. Shiva dances out of liberation and shows us that we can overcome fear. Shiva rides the wave of change, attaining bliss. The scientific law of conservation of mass states that matter can neither be created nor destroyed, meaning that to make something new, something old must be destroyed. Shivas demonstrates that to create change, new life and freedom, we have to destroy social norms, old ways of thinking, and patterns that no longer serve us. So, if we truly want change and growth, we must embrace a little death and destruction.

Coincidentally, I chose to take a deep backbend for this picture. Backbends are very opening, vulnerable, and they can be scary. We often hold fear in our hearts. As we open our hearts, physically and emotionally, we have an opportunity to let go of fear and grow. This retreat was much of that for me and this Shiva statue serves to remind me of my divinity, my humility, my power, and that as I look toward heaven, I can dance with the rhythm of the Holy Spirit and have fun on this journey called life, while holding compassion for others in each of their’s.

Dance on my friends. Maybe I’ll see you on the dance floor….

Namaste!