This past fall, I took a much needed sabbatical from my job of seventeen years. Significant amounts of time off (in my case, five months) can help clear the lens, see things that you've never seen before, or from a different perspective. Allowing shapes, thoughts, ideas, stories to come to the forefront of the mind that might've been buried for years, decades, lifetimes.
We all have stories. Stories we tell ourselves, tell others, sometimes to protect ourselves, sometimes because we don't know any better. Stories that we heard as children. Stories that society has created as Truth. Stories that were passed down from our parents, their parents, our ancestors, previous lives.
These stories can be considered samskara, or the karmic inheritance of mental or emotional patterns. The word samskara reminds me of the word scar: some of the deepest scars and wounds that we collect throughout our lives: present, past and future.
While sitting in a training in San Francisco in October, it hit me that one of the stories I've told myself my entire life, is that I live from a place of lack, rather than abundance. That I always focus on what I live without, rather than what I already have. I realized that this idea was instilled in me from a very young age, usually having to do with money, and has grown to include lack of time, lack of energy, lack of sleep, lack of yoga classes full of students, among other things.
How ironic that it took me having days full of freedom to realize that I live from a place where time is always running out.
So it was exactly in that moment, sitting on my meditation cushion, that I realized that this story needed to come to its end. That I no longer wanted to live this story as my Truth, that I needed to detach myself from 45 years of such a strong belief, and begin to live from a place of abundance. Not only for myself, but to break the samskara before it takes hold of my daughter as well.
Upon returning home from my trip, I began my 40 day Sadhana.
Sadhana means daily spiritual practice. It is the foundation for your personal, individual effort to communicate with the Divine inside of you and all around you. It's the main tool you use to work on yourself to achieve your purpose in life. On a daily basis, always done intentionally, or with sankalpa.
I study Bhakti yoga: the yoga of devotion, which includes prayer, chanting, often invoking Hindu deities. If you had told me even 10 years ago that I would pray and chant to Gods, I would've looked at you like you were crazy. I had never prayed or connected to any organized religion. What sold me were the stories. Stories of an elephant headed boy who loves to eat candy and enjoy the sweetness in life, a monkey man so devoted to his friends he took great leaps of faith to keep them safe, the woman who used the only thing she had left, her fierce vulnerability, to destroy the nastiest of demons. I could go on and on, but I'm already digressing a ton.
So I started my 40 day Sadhana, honoring Lakshmi: the beautiful Goddess of wealth, prosperity and abundance. To thank her everyday for the beautiful gifts that I have received from her and others, and to offer my gifts freely back.
Because that's the thing with Lakshmi, you need to work for it, she won't tolerate greed.
Shri Ma, Jay Ma, Jay Jay Ma
Every morning, I hold my mala that holds Lakshmi’s energy and bow my head to my murti, an image or statue of a deity. I chant 108 times, the words above, as my right fingers slide over the stones, one after another. I am loving this daily practice and my mind is blown how I have received her gifts. Sometimes they come in large packages, some very small and hidden, and where you least expect it.
One morning, early into my 40 days, I was in the middle of chanting when my text alerts were blowing up my phone (note to self: turn off ringer). I ignored them until the end of my practice. When I went to check my phone, I received texts from two completely separate people offering me incredibly generous financial gifts (no, not telemarketers).
The next day, I decided when I showed up to teach one of my yoga classes, that I was going to set up a blanket and two blocks for six people. This was a new class on the schedule and it was taking some time to ramp up attendance.
Six people came.
Why? Because the blankets and blocks were an invitation. An invitation that was offered intentionally.
I have laid out blankets and blocks every class since then, and all my classes have at least doubled or tripled in attendance.
After these first few experiences of abundance, I started thinking.... shit, this stuff works.
The power of intention is strong. It's not about the money, the time, the amount of students. It's about the ability to create an intentional life, one filled with purpose, that is completely unique to you.
I continued my Lakshmi Sadhana for three full months. She's a hard one to let go of. I know I'll be back.
During this three month Sadhana, it became clear to me that these were some of the tools that I have wanted to share with others. To help those in need of finding clarity and direction in their practice. Maybe they've never practiced meditation or mindfulness. Maybe they want to go deeper. These tools will combine all of my passions into one main offering.
I am putting the finishing touches on my website. Soon I will be able to present to you: