woman has to understand her role

Mary Magdalene, by Toni Carmine Salerno (with my modifications)

Mary Magdalene, by Toni Carmine Salerno (with my modifications)

“Woman has to understand her role. Her role is not to worship God; her role is to be the very self of God. Her oneness can affect and open every heart.” -Yogi Bhajan, 7/15/84

One of the reasons I’m most drawn to Kundalini Yoga is the emphasis on the exaltation of women. When Yogi Bhajan arrived in North America to introduce these teachings to the west, he did so with the intent of transforming women ‘from chicks into eagles’.

I do believe the Divine Feminine is making her presence known on the planet at this time. And for women and men heeding her call, it is not necessarily a gentle, airy-fairy, new age ‘goddess power’ experience. In fact, it is anything but that. It takes major guts, heart, and intuition to disentangle from a paradigm that’s been in place a very long time. (And radical self-honesty to see where we’ve played into it.)

I won’t lie: much as I love, and am very grateful for, all Yogi Bhajan’s beautiful words, I’ve also resisted them throughout these last few months of teacher training. Being of Indian ancestry, and experiencing its intense paradoxes about women, a part of me has become deeply cynical and mistrustful of male gurus (perhaps all men?) who extoll the virtues of the feminine. I.e., the philosophy hasn’t always matched ‘real life’.

But – all this is part of the healing. The Divine Feminine flame is compassionately melting those hardened, jaded places within me. I must acknowledge and feel the pain and grief that underlies any rage I’ve carried. I must be willing to release whatever has given me a false sense of power, so that the sacred feminine and masculine can manifest within, and on this planet. I must give up the compulsion to people please, and the need for approval. Survival no longer depends on it.

It’s not easy. It doesn’t happen overnight. But my glimpses of freedom keep me going. Shiva and Shakti are alive and well indeed.

Sat Nam

 

10 life lessons from mandala painting

Last weekend I stepped out of my comfort zone and into one of the most profound experiences of my life: a 3-day mandala painting course.

It’s hard to put such a deeply healing and transformative experience into words; I’m still basking in the afterglow of it all. It’s not an understatement to say it changed my life. Here’s just some of what I’m very thankful to have learned.

This is Shakti

This is Shakti

1. Everything I need is within. I was the last to pick a canvas. I didn’t rush to get my paints. I was feeling anxious, and had made the conscious decision to be patient and kind with myself. Somehow I knew that whatever was within me would come forth, no matter what external resources I had.

2. I can no longer say ‘I’m not an artist’. This process unlocked the artist in everyone who participated. Many of us were beginners, and each person created their own unique masterpiece. Everyone can do this. We just need the support and tools to draw out our inner creative fire.

3. Mandalas are a portal. We can access deep realms of consciousness when creating or contemplating a mandala. I don’t quite know how it works…but that’s the point. Our logical mind is not in control; we’re perceiving and interpreting from the heart. The process is mystical and ineffable.

4. Art opens people like lotus flowers. It was amazing to watch, and experience in myself, the joy that unfolded over the weekend. I was able to bring forth something that had been waiting for the right moment to express. Everyone was discovering this hidden place within themselves. There was a sense of wonder in the air. New life was being birthed.

5. I created it…but I didn’t. My experience flowed more easily when I let go of thinking of ‘my’ painting, ‘my’ possession – when I dropped the ego. Yes, it emerged from within me…but I like to think of it as a co-creation with a greater essence that is both me and not-me. I couldn’t grip it too tightly.

6. This is life. I felt an overwhelming sense that life could be so much more than mass consciousness programming would have us believe. Being in the zone of creativity and stimulating conversation, free from iPhones and Facebook, was such an immense, life-affirming contrast to the 9-5 matrix I’d become so accustomed to in the past.

7. Mandala painting is therapy. I’m convinced that the act of mixing colours, putting brush to canvas, being in a supportive group, and creating a personal, sacred work of beauty would heal in a weekend what might take years in traditional therapy. The mandala gave me a vision into my own soul.

8. Self-expression is a shared process. Self-expression is not a solitary act. It requires a community to receive it. Creating art with others helped me let go and trust in the group. The group’s presence impacted what I created, whether or not anything was verbally expressed. Communication transpired on an unseen level.

9. Surrender. I became anxious when I thought too far down the line, e.g., the next colour I’d choose and whether it would ‘look good’. There was a fear of screwing things up…anticipating what could go wrong instead of trusting that each layer would be reveal itself in the perfect sequence. I relaxed when I surrendered to what was right in front of me.

10. The Divine Feminine is awakening. She is here. At the beginning of the weekend, we each gave ourselves a name – a symbol for our journey at this point in time. I picked ‘Shakti’. I’d been very much feeling the presence of the Feminine, seeing coral-red colours in my recent meditations. These colours materialized in the mandala without forced effort. Magic!

I am looking forward to painting more…the portal has been opened!

the power of the women’s circle

Today is the final day of a 3-day sacred women’s circle I’m part of. I didn’t even know about the event until just a few days ago. It popped up on my Facebook wall (on the Full Moon, hmmm) and, despite my recent resolve to not spend money on retreats and workshops for the next little while, I knew immediately that I had to go. Not only would I be connecting with women in my own city, we would be learning the steps to facilitate our own women’s circles – gatherings where women come together to connect with each other deeply and authentically.

josephine wall, 'spirit of flight'

josephine wall, ‘spirit of flight’

I’ve always been intrigued by the idea of leading women’s circles, so I trusted the divine timing at play and signed myself up before the doubting inner voice could talk me out of it.

After two days, what I know is this:

Few things are more powerful than women coming together in sacred circle to heal (individually and collectively).

Women can really go there when held in a trusting environment. Our emotional depth and our capacity to self-express makes my head spin (in a good way)!

It feels amazing to sit with a group of conscious women and feel truly seen and heard. Feeling that total acceptance is like coming Home. When judgment does come up, it is usually acknowledged (internally or externally), and dealt with.

-When women create sacred space with intention, magic happens. I mean real, palpable magic. The energy is electric. The power we can tap into when we are united is astounding.

I live two different lives: the one I present to the outside world, and the one in circle. In sacred space with my soul sisters (yes, even those I’ve only met two days ago!), I can relax and be truly Me, with no pretense. I can say things I would never ‘normally’ say out loud. Women can allow this for each other. It is possible. And when it happens, it is fucking amazing.

-Our society is set up such that women are often in judgment and competition with each other. It’s ingrained in most of us, and it takes constant conscious awareness to override this programming. Not an easy task when our triggers get activated and the pain runs so deep – not only in our present life experience, but in our ancestors/genes (DNA).

It is what it is for now, and it’s much more manageable when we have support and can see the bigger picture.

Women are waking up. And a lot of us really want men to be along for the ride, by our side, the Divine Masculine to our Divine Feminine. Both men and women can rise to a level of greatness that Planet Earth has not yet seen. The road to get there is not for the faint of heart…but it’s OH-SO-WORTH waiting for!)

***

I didn’t know the importance of authentic connection with women, or how much I needed it, till I experienced it for the first time a few years ago. A whole new world opened up.

This is where the Divine Feminine happens – when women gather together with the intention to awaken her. She is found in the real, raw, uncomfortable, deep, soulful, exhilarating, hilarious gatherings of women in our communities, in our backyards. The effects of those gatherings ripple out and transform all.

I’m driven to do this work…it’s exhausting and out of my comfort zone, it’s messy, and it brings up a lot of unpleasant stuff. I certainly can’t say it’s fun. But I feel alive when I’m doing it. I feel I’m tapping into something so Real in the midst of a grand illusion. This stuff matters. And I want more of it in my life.

And so it is.