Satya’s Sanctuary

The Opportunity in Obstacles

Chanting is a powerful way to still the mind and open our inner space for wisdom to be revealed. Like many people throughout the world, I find profound benefit from this meditative practice. After a recent session of chanting the mantra “Om Gam Ganapataye Namaha” which calls upon the energy of Ganesha, the remover of obstacles, I started to reflect on the nature of obstacles and to question what obstacles actually are.

Obstacles are normally seen as blockages in the way of what one is wanting to accomplish. They can show up in many forms, such as a physical detour, an illness, or not having the resources needed to carry out a goal. As I began to question the concept of obstacles, I noticed that something that shows up and keeps us from fulfilling our goal may only be appearing as an obstacle. Could it be possible that the obstacle in the way may be beneficial? Are we able to shift the perspective to seeing the blockage as a way to align us perfectly with where life wants to lead us?

This brings up the question whether we are we in control of our lives or not. If we think we are in control, than yes, there may appear to be obstacles in the way of us creating the life we want. Yet if we are being lived by life itself, this could change the perspective of what obstacles really are. Obstacles in this sense would be just right, asking us to be open to a possibility that we are not yet conscious of. They may be leading us to something bigger than our imagination can perceive. Or they may be keeping us from doing something that will lead us in a different direction than what is supposed to be.

In this context, an obstacle would be more like a signpost for a new direction, telling us to wait for a new opportunity. Obstacles are often seen as negative, but what if we let that idea go? What if life is perfectly aligned and orchestrated, leading us in each moment to the exact result intended? If we are able to listen and trust that, we may be led to the most harmonic outcome. Thinking back on my own life, I can see several “obstacles” that brought me to the perfect place at the perfect time. I would not consider them obstacles now as I reflect upon them, yet at the time they seemed to be, and it felt like the universe was against me. But what if I had been more open to them as a supportive part of the life transition that was occurring, bringing me right to where I needed to be? Perhaps my internal and external experience of the transition would’ve been less stressful and less painful – and perhaps the circumstances would’ve shifted with more ease.

One very inconvenient obstacle – an unexpected car repair during my move from Maine to Colorado – resulted in me meeting my husband at a campground in Colorado, by delaying my arrival to just the right moment. At other times, the job that I didn’t receive allowed for a better one to come along, and the trouble of finding a house rental brought us to a new town that opened up opportunities for inner growth. Sometimes even having an illness can bring new friendships and deeper understandings. The experience may reveal a sense of beauty in an uncertain and less pleasant aspect of life.

Photo of Ganesha by Martin Wolff, taken in India at a small temple near Arunachala

 

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Detoxifying Our Relationships

It is always refreshing to hear someone else’s insight – especially from someone with deep wisdom – on things that relate to aspects of our daily lives. This occurred for me when ORGANIC INDIA recently sponsored a COLORAMA event with Dr. Vasant Lad , BAM&S, MASc from the Ayurvedic Institute in New Mexico. As a sponsor, ORGANIC INDIA was honored to serve Tulsi Tea to the participants and I was able to attend Dr. Lad’s lectures. The subject for the lecture on Friday night was “Detoxifying with Ayurveda”, in which Dr. Lad discussed the intricate process of detoxing our bodies through diet, exercise and herbs. He then moved into discussing the process of detoxing our minds and emotions through meditation, pranayama (breath work) and mantric chanting. Yet, from here he went even deeper – to something I hadn’t consciously considered before – into detoxifying our relationships.

In relation to our bodies, he referred to the red blood cells as our “sangha” (our community) within our bodies and said that dis-ease can accumulate and cause trouble if we don’t let go of the stagnant build up in our sangha by detoxing. With this same concept, our partnerships can have painful memories, imprints and patterns lodged within it that can cause difficulty.

When things “get under our skin”, it is more challenging to be in a loving and receptive space. We begin to react defensively when our partners point out things that are troubling to them. We may react by denying, numbing out or completely ignoring their feelings. Yet, if we are able to really LISTEN (Dr. Lad emphasized this) to our partners in an open and compassionate way, things can shift and detoxify quite effectively. He pointed out that it is only because our partners actually care that they are taking the time to share something that is disturbing to them. If they didn’t care or didn’t love us, why would they even bother being vulnerable with us and sharing their feelings?

Of course it’s hard to hear criticism, yet putting the ego aside (the one that would feel bruised) and seeing the value in what is being shared can open up new possibilities.  Relationships are a mirror – they offer a place where we can see where we are being critical, afraid, angry and hurtful. We can step outside of our ourselves and look at the ways we move and react due to patterns from the past. We can also step outside of the situation and take a few deep breaths, chant or meditate – even with our partner – to connect with that which sees it all and is untouched by the criticism. From here, we are able to love the soul of our partner and the soul of ourselves, seeing that we are both trying our best to live from a place of wholeness. Quite beautifully, behind the confusion and emotion that we need to face and move through is Illumination. And without expectation of what our relationships are supposed to be, we can love what is and be in the space of openness and compassion. This person standing in front of us is our Self – the inner and outer worlds are the same. How could we not be open and loving to this being that reflects who we are?

Dr. Lad offered a conclusion to this possibility of cleansing our relationships by saying that when we are able to live this way, each day becomes a honeymoon, meaning “sweet tranquility”. This may seem far away right now, but spending some time each day, recognizing our true nature and our partner’s true nature through meditation, conscious breathing and open sharing, can shift patterns. If we are able to detoxify our past and fully live in the present, with this beautiful person who we are blessed to know and share our lives with, can become sweet nectar. Honoring our relationships in this way can not only detoxify them, but also create more love that can then spread into other areas of our lives. From here, all of live becomes sweet and held by a foundation of peacefulness, even when challenging things are occurring on the surface.

Dr. Lad at the Ayurvedic Institute can be found at: www.ayurveda.com

Photo by Moon Mullen Photography

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Life Moves Us

Somewhere from deep within, we are moved. Somewhere, from deep within, we speak. From this inner place, we never have to question what is appearing or what is the right action in our lives. It is all just right, even though it may not make sense to the mind. The mind only sees part of the picture; a view from one angle. Yet, that deeper knowingness within can see for years and decades; through timelessness. It has the clarity and the awareness of 1000 suns. When we trust that, and know that is truly who we are when all personality and conditioning is stripped away, we can rest in the realization that everything is as it should be; everything is unfolding as it is meant to. That doesn’t mean that things don’t change, or that we have free reign to do as we please; that is just the ego making it okay to carry out the desires that keep us held in its grip. If this knowingness within is calling us to make a change, that is also right. It isn’t about going numb as we see the pain in our lives and in the world. Yet, some people are meant to watch, sit quietly and go inward to heal, while others feel a strong energy within that moves them to action. There is a balance to all of it.

As we notice this inner space of clarity and begin to trust it, the seemingly outside world responds by first bringing up more to be seen. There is a world within ourselves full of the same chaos and pain that we see on our planet. Things that we had turned from and truths that are hard to tell are suddenly looking right at us. This can be a painful time, yet telling the truth as each aspect is seen allows the alignment of our nature to be revealed fully, until finally there is peace. A sense of being is revealed that seemed unimaginable.

Trusting this beingness opens unseen doors, allowing us the freedom to be as we are, in each moment of our lives. From this point of view, we have the capacity and ability to feel our eternal nature and realize that all that is appearing is temporary and part of the play of life. Knowing this doesn’t make it any less beautiful. The beauty actually increases because there is less “why me” or “why not me” involved. Life effortlessly flows through us as we realize that we are life and all of its appearances.

 

We are the mountain
and the small droplets of melted snow
smoothing the river rocks
And we are the rocks
that the water gently smooths through time
And we are the ocean
in which all immerses into.

 

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Bursting Out of Our Shells

It’s that wondrous time again. Birds are waking us out of our morning dreams; spring flowers are popping out of the ground and days are getting just a bit longer… ahhh. The energy of spring is just that – it puts a spring in our step.

Surprisingly, as part of the springtime energy, we may also be feeling a bit of anger- something we normally try to push away. Yet, anger can be useful if we use it in an appropriate way. Have you ever considered what kind of energy it takes for a little seedling to push itself out of the hard, recently thawed ground in order to meet the sun?

This energy is similar to the energy of a ram, moving forward and not letting anything get in its way. When we naturally tune into this energy and express it within ourselves during this time of year, it can be very productive. It doesn’t necessarily need to be a negative aspect – this energy used in a positive, proactive way can express itself as power. Power used appropriately can be profoundly helpful to us as we move through the seeming obstacles in our way in order to reach our goals.

So if you are sensing an inner stirring – an unsettled feeling that just won’t let you be, take a moment to look at what may want to sprout from within. What idea wants your attention right now? What dream do you have that is ready to be manifested? The unsettledness may effortlessly shift to that inner strength that can be used to birth this idea. Trust that and watch it grow. Nurture it in just the right way, with a balance of openness, patience and action.

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Gathering Sunlight

The sun, in many ways, is beyond our human capacity to comprehend. We are just beginning to access its energy in order to power our world and we continue to discover more about its mysterious existence on almost a daily basis.

Some of us have taken the initiative to harvest the sun’s power by placing solar panels on our roofs, while most of us at least can benefit from its energy through the food that we take in. This time of year especially is full of amazing fruits and vegetables that are so colorful and delicious that we can literally taste the sun’s energy through them.

Yet, did you know that you can also consciously gather energy directly from the sun, similar to how a plant soaks in the rays? Every cell on our skin receives solar energy directly, especially in our hands, which are natural collection sites, much like solar panels.

A simple practice, called Gathering Sunlight, allows us to bring in the light of the sun directly, bypassing the process of eating to receive its energy. It is a very empowering practice, as we realize that we naturally have the ability to tap into the energy of the sun. I am in no way suggesting that we stop eating, but you may notice that using this practice will decrease your appetite a bit, since you are being fed in a different way. I welcome you to try it and let me know what you experience.

To gather energy from the sun, stand or sit in a relaxed position, preferably in a natural setting outside. Hold your arms above your head, or at a comfortable position. Face your palms toward the sun. You may also tilt your head to face the sun more fully, yet be careful not to look directly at it.

As you breathe in, imagine you are inhaling at the palms. Allow the breath to come in through the pores of the skin. The light of the sun is riding on the breath, so as you breathe, the light is moving into your body. As you breathe out, notice that the energy is moving deeper into your body. You may feel it flow into the heart center, or into the lower abdomen, a potent collection and storage center, or into other areas that may be depleted.

Simply hold your attention on the palms and on the breath, while keeping an open perception of where the energy is moving within. I also recommend sending gratitude back to the sun as you breathe and to simply notice the effect of that.

You may begin to feel the palms warming up and tingling. They may feel full as they collect the light. Be aware of what you experience as you gather the sun’s energy. Do this for as long as desired, typically 5 to 15 minutes.

I enjoy doing this practice in the early morning. It is a beautiful way to greet the day and it fills me with a radiance that I can use throughout the day.

You can also do this practice with the moon, which is reflecting the light of the sun. The moon energy has a softer, more feminine quality and is wonderful for tapping into that similar essence within. Doing this on the full moon is very potent. Gathering moonlight may especially help women become more aligned with the natural rhythms of the body.

Summer is the best time to Gather Sunlight, since the sun is so intense and the days are long. Charging our internal battery during this time of year can support us during the darker months of the year.

Allow yourself the time to build an internal relationship with our star; feeding our hearts, feeding our bodies and in turn spreading this radiant light into all aspects of our lives.

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Our Personal Practice

A day can be filled with anything imaginable. It is twenty four hours of free and open time, which can include activities that we enjoy doing or ones that leave us depleted and drained.

Even if our day is filled with some things that we don’t look forward to, at least a few minutes of our day can be devoted to something that we do enjoy  – something that makes our heart sing, our mind quiet down and our body feel stronger and healthier.

I most often find myself doing breathing practices, which help me to get centered within, relaxed and recharged. Sometimes this occurs first thing in the morning, as I enjoy lying in bed for a while before rising; and sometimes this happens at night, when I feel too wound up to fall asleep right away. Sometimes, I find time in the middle of my day when it is just right to stop what I am doing and to give myself a moment for personal practice.

We all need time for ourselves – to nurture and replenish who we are. A simple practice during the day, even 5 minutes of quiet, focused breathing, can give us this important self-nurturance.

What is your daily practice?

 

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Daily Ritual

Many of us look forward to that week off from work which we get a few times each year, to be able to relax and rejuvenate. Yet often vacations can be full of activity and may not bring us the rest that we need.

Creating daily rituals is a simple way of keeping us in balance, rested and nurtured, even when a vacation is far in the distance or full of activity. We already have many daily activities and practices, such as eating a certain breakfast, walking the dog, going to yoga class and eating dinner with our family. These small things that we do each day affect us on many levels and can be either draining or replenishing.

I try to incorporate several rejuvenating rituals into my daily routine in order to stay centered and ready to meet the day with positivity and adequate energy. Some rituals that I have incorporated which have made a difference for me are:

Awakening a little early to do a meditation practice.
Taking a morning bath instead of a shower.
Drinking a super food smoothie to start the day.
Taking time to make a healthy lunch.
Driving to work on a country road to avoid the hectic pace of the highway.
Keeping a lit salt lamp on my desk and applying essential oil to it.
Taking a walk around the block during the afternoon.
Making a fresh vegetable juice.
Reading an excerpt from an inspirational book before going to sleep.
Giving myself a quiet night once per week.

I invite you to share in these rituals and to also create ones that resonate with you.

Even doing one nurturing ritual per day can give us the sense that we are taking care of ourselves and that we are important enough to do that. Once we are out of balance, it is much harder to bring ourselves back to harmony, and we sometimes stop trying. It is at these times that we can make poor choices with diet and lifestyle, which can ultimately deplete us even more.

Everyone has their own favorite rituals and practices, and it is important to honor them and allow ourselves the time to do them. When we are rested and ready to do our work in the world, there is much more support available. Our work actually gets done easier, as if we are not actually doing it – it is simply happening through us.

The world will then meet us in this nurturance and allow it to radiate through and into all that we do.

 

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Natural Rhythms

Deer Light by Moon Mullen

There is something so intuitive about connecting with Earth, the planet that we miraculously inhabit. Being made of its very elements, we can sense the strength of the healing energy it emits; and can connect with this by just some simple acts, such as placing our feet on the earth first thing in the morning or taking in a sunset at the end of a long day.

When we lose sight of or forget about this basic need of connecting, we can begin to get out of balance and out of synch with our own natural rhythms. Over time, this can lead to physical imbalances and other issues, such as depression, insomnia and many other challenges.

Our society is so different than it was even 100 years ago. We now travel in metal boxes and walk with rubber soled shoes on concrete, hardly ever connecting to the actual ground. We live on the surface of the planet; yet our cities are set up so that we hardly ever have to come into physical contact with the natural world. Even though nature surrounds us in our daily lives, we don’t get our hands dirty, or our feet planted, without an actual conscious effort to do so.

Earth’s healing qualities are so available to us. She offers the gifts of water, minerals, and bountiful plants and shows us the beauty of wild animals and singing birds. We can connect with this living energy by spending time with the simple things of life, such as looking at a wildflower for a few moments, watching the ocean waves crash on the shore or simply sitting on a rock in the mountains.

We are also offered a simple, yet profound, awareness when we connect with nature. Our thoughts may begin to be perceived as too loud, and may slow down a bit, as we notice the contrast of our everyday activity to nature’s world of life lived softly. Time may begin to feel irrelevant as we tune to a different rhythm of reality.

We may begin to become aware of sounds, smells and beautiful sights that we hadn’t noticed at first – ones that may have been resonating on a level that we weren’t aware of. The colors of nature may shift – the shades of green are subtle, yet immeasurable, and may become more vibrant as we notice them.

A different sense of life is present here. It may even feel as if we have entered a different world. We may begin to notice and sense our own nature as we open to this experience. We may notice the natural sway of our walk, how it resembles the sway of the trees moving with the wind. We may notice the movement of breath, or a voice which echoes the song of the birds that we pass by. We may begin to sense our natural pace (which may be slower or quicker than we think it should be), and how it mirrors the way certain flowers open at just the right moment to catch the rays of the sun.

We may sense ourselves returning to being a part of nature, not just an observer of it. And nature in turn becomes us as we settle into its state of being.

The wind touches our skin and flies up to the tops of the trees, rustling the leaves of the aspens, and back again to gently guide us along the trail. We notice the beauty that is here in this unique setting, offering what we had been seeking, which is most often peacefulness. This healing quality of nature is so available to us, simply by our noticing it. It reminds us, and mirrors to us, our own ability to allow peace to be present in every moment, however it looks.

During this beautiful time of year, when the days are warm, yet not too hot, allow yourself some time to be in nature. Allow nature to embrace you so that you become a part of it. See if it is possible to find a defined boundary between you and it. Allow what wants to be heard, and notice your ability to embrace the insights that arise. These insights often appear as a whisper, possibly through a gentle breeze or a small animal greeting you, yet they are profound and precious.

See how your life shifts when you give yourself this time to be with your self and with nature.

And time to be with nature as yourself.

 

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