Picture
View Shakti's recently published work: "The Face of God: Musings of a New Mother," in Evolving God-Images edited by Dr. Patrick Mahaffey.  

This collection of reflective essays explores spirituality and its changing relationship to culture, individual identity, and society in our increasingly globalized, postmodern world. Born out of a doctoral seminar at Pacifica Graduate Institute entitled "The God Complex" the essays provide a personal understanding of diverse and conflicting worldviews and attitudes about religion, secularity, nature, and the purpose of human existence. With a rich range of perspectives, each offering provides a powerful testament to the interdisciplinary study of myth, religion, and depth psychology as a means for revisioning one's understanding of the divine.

Of Shakti's contribution Mahaffey writes: 

"As a yoga teacher and new mother, Rachel Shakti Redding muses on the mystery of the existence embodied by her daughter. The birth of her child, she tells us, deepened her contemplative sensibility and experience of love. Her own mother believed in the divinity of Jesus and that God is love. Just as she received love from her mother, she transmits love and compassionate values to her daughter within the Hindu tradition she has come to embrace. Her bhakti-inflected version of Hinduism is pluralistic and affirms that religious experience is the living source of all traditions. Redding values Jung's concepts of individuation and wholeness, but no the Kantian epistemology that confines divinity to the God-images constructed by the psyche. For Redding, the divine is an independent being or beingness that pervades everything, what Hindus describe as Brahman, which is present, too, within the lotus of the human heart as the atman. This all-pervasive Reality is her transcendent God-image—something that can be experienced, she maintains, in the stillness of contemplation and meditation. Like her own mother, though from a Hindu rather than a Christian perspective, she affirms that the nature of this divinity is love." 


Evolving God Images is available on Amazon.com




 
 
Picturephoto: Third Eye Visionaries
The current challenge is to simply be truly Alive. 

What is Aliveness?
Being Authentically Human. 

—Not a normative human.
—Not an idealized human.

...but a radically authentic human, 
deeply connecting the experience of BE-ing ,
through brokenness, wholeness, suffering and joy, 

and through it all, 
or eventually, 
or never at all, 
truly realizing one's Inner Power. 

 
 
Picturephoto: D'Antonio photography
So, I am deep in the research and weaving ideas for school when my mind demands a break. Generally, my favorite diversions include an outdoor excursion and/or playtime with my kid. But Marley is gone and it happens to be raining (or is that snow?). So instead of stretching into a second yoga asana practice for the day (or eating a second breakfast), I decide to watch the latest episode of Once Upon A Time. Sometimes a good movie or television can inspire the flow of creative nectar.
  
The season finale is premised with time-travel. Our heroine, Emma Swan, gets pulled into a portal to the past and must find her way back home. It isn't long, of course, before Swan's actions trip a chain of events that radically effect her future. Dun...dun...duuuuuun!

Stories of time travel have always made me dizzy. I love the way they provoke the imagination, but they often present annoying affronts to Physical Science. Not to mention that they generally accompany a super spotty plot. Perhaps I am too geeky (or not quite geeky enough) to truly appreciate them.

And the laws of karma, well...they have often left me feeling the exact same way. Attempts to explain the phenomenon can be overly presumptuous or else they render the otherwise rich concept flat, bland and meaningless.

But this popular television show brought it all together in a way that I thought might be worth sharing.

Karma essentially is action in action. It comes from the Sanskrit root kr, which is found in words that connote "doing something." It is often confused with the law of destiny. That isn't it.
Instead, karma is simply the fact that whatever you do has a consequence.

So, imagine you fall into a time-travel portal to a situation that happened ten years ago, or even yesterday.
Whatever you do in that experience, will effect your life NOW.
If you make the slightest change, even with positive actions, it will potentially alter your current/future situation.

But the real power of karma is realized when we recognize that each of our actions in this moment effects us both now and in the future. Tomorrow is our future now. And, if you believe in reincarnation, those things that we do today effect our next life, just as if we had traveled in time to our past life, today!

Are you dizzy yet?

Even if you don't believe in reincarnation, the world will continue to spin when you are gone. The choices you make—the impressions you make
on the world—will impact the lives of our children and their children. It actually IS simple. Simple, but not meaningless. In fact, it is incredibly meaningful, and yoga calls us to enter our actions and decisions mindfully. I can see why someone might be tempted to retreat to a cave somewhere, and do "nothing," in order to preserve an untainted future.

One of my favorite lessons from the Bhagavad Gita, however, is that it is better to act than to "not act."
In fact, in this world of cause and effect, even retreating to a cave has its repercussions.


So, do stuff.
Do beautiful stuff.

Paint, dance, sing, laugh, play, rejoice, tickle, study, learn, kiss, empower, decorate, engage, eat, sleep, bathe, watch t.v., and blog about it...

and, all the while, remember that it—all of it—is contributing to the beauty of the future. 







 

Ma

05/10/2014

6 Comments

 
Picture
Yesterday marked two years since my mama had a stroke with her subsequent cancer diagnosis and prognosis to live three months to a year.

Tomorrow is Mother's Day.

Today, I celebrate my mom's resiliency and spiritual strength. After traveling 20 hours and 1300 miles to visit her last week, I feel blessed to live so close. After all, we are still on the same planet.

In fact, I am celebrating an official shift of awareness from thinking of my mom as "dying from cancer," to honoring her for "living in gratitude." She is an inspiration. Emerging into the light, I find her already there—grateful, joy-filled and unconditionally loving.

But...Sadness is certainly among the emotional sediment found in the cave of the heart, along with faith and hope. To prepare my heart-mind for loss, I had to rest in the darkness for awhile. I had to spend some time with the notion that my mom is "dying from cancer."

My mom is my first best friend and I am not ready to lose the connection we have in this human flesh. Truth be told, I am attached to the sound of her voice, the spark of her eyes and the softness of her hands. No amount of rationalization or affirmations of "the Secret" could shift my awareness before the time was right. There had to be an authentic shift that came from the depths of my heart, not the transcendence of my psyche.

No.

There are times to hold the sadness. There are times to hold pain, fear, shame, insecurity...any emotion that you might tend to judge as "un-yogic" or "non-evolved."


There are times when no amount of humanist psychology or spiritual bi-passing can truly heal the wound, and all you can do, in the honesty of sorrow, is hold these emotions as you would a vulnerable child.
Rock them. Honor them. Because they have a message for you.

Once you nurture your sorrows and fears by listening to their messages, they grow into something beautiful. For me, the lesson is gratitude...a new and deep sense of mindful appreciation for my life and my relationships. It is a call to be fully awake to the beauty in my little daughter, and to love her unconditionally until the tables are turned and she is holding me.

I am writing today to extend this Grace to you. Whatever the emotion, if there is something hard to face...look right at it. Hold it as you would a confused child. After all, we are just babies. And one of the best gifts you can give to yourself this Mother's Day (no matter who you are) is to nurture your soul with unconditional Love.

You'll get through it. You always do. ...But only when the time is right.

 
 
Picture
Do you remember Ferris Bueller's Day Off
Who doesn't, right!?—Matthew Broderick as that lovable smart-alec who plays hooky from school and ends up crashing some parade. He cons his way through  the best day of his adolescence, and has to race the clock (and a host of shenanigans) to return to his bed before getting "busted" by the principal or his parents. 

I bet half of you will be pulling that movie up on Netflix tonight, because if you've never seen it, you should. And if you HAVE seen it...it's probably been a couple decades. 

Those were the 80's, a  time when films portrayed kids on GIGANTIC adventures of hijinx and an even bigger quest to "pull off" the entire affair in time to get home before dinner. Think: Adventures in Babysitting, Back to the Future, and the Goonies

As  a kid, I loved those movies, especially towards the end when the clock was really ticking and there was a very good chance that time would run out for our hero (or heroine).  Eyes wide, and at the edge of my seat, I would silently root for the wild dash to end in victory. 

Since then, I have been living like I am in one of those films. 
Seriously.
I wait till the last minute to do things, pack my schedule beyond what's manageable and pride myself at being able to "pull it all off" in a reasonably professional manner. 

I'm like a chef on one of those competition cooking shows, sweating as she juggles the pans. I try to keep my toddler's needs simmering on the front burner while making time for my husband, writing graduate school papers, building yoga teacher training modules, seeing private clients, keeping up with friends, cleaning my home, and personal hygiene, all get shuffled around the stove. It's a wild, hijinx, mad-dash adventure...

...and it's cray—cray! 


It keeps me from being present to the current moment. All that stress tends to drag my awareness into the future—to an imaginary time when things will be “easier” and more “organized.” 

I didn't used to think it was so crazy. It used to be fun. It was a rush of excitement (adrenaline) followed by fantastic relief when everything turned out well—when I "wowed 'em," in the end, with my spectacular meal, an A+ paper and perfectly clean hair. Whatever it was, I generally pulled it off,  just like in the movies.  
But I don't want to do that anymore...

I love sharing my Soulrise  (birthday) week with Easter. Easter is a celebration of newness, after all. It is an opportunity to start fresh: to let something die and something new begin in its place. Our famous Western example for this is Jesus. His crucifixion and resurrection symbolize the dawning of a new day and its healing potential for the hearts, souls and psyches of everyone who hears about it. 

There are other icons who mythologically share this archetypal story: Inanna, Demeter and Persephone, Dionysus, Osiris, and (of course) Shiva. Like the change of the seasons, they all symbolize both death and renewal. Both aspects of the story are integral to the message. Death is a pre-requisite to  rebirth and the rebirth is the part everyone loves. I mean, if Jesus had simply died (without the Easter victory) he would not be the Savior of the Earth. He would just be another dude with an important message, who was "suppressed"  before he could fully express it. 

So today is an opportunity for you to die. Or rather, it is an opportunity to release that which is  no longer alive within you and no longer serving you well. 

It's not about setting another resolution, like the one's you've already abandoned from New Year's Eve. 

It's about listening to what truly is, in this moment, and being o.k. with letting the decaying parts of your personality fall away, to make room for a new awareness. Yoga allows us to become deeply acquainted with our Selves like that. 

For me, it's that adolescent way of being—caught up in the thrill of the hustle, thriving on the frantic dash to the finish. She's dying. It's just, naturally,  her time to go. 

When I surrender in this moment, I realize that things have changed. While I have been known for my mesmerizing juggling acts in the past; that is simply no longer my enterprise. Awakening to a new awareness that, while life force energy is Infinite, the hours in the day simply are not. 
I want to live them, abundantly, one at a time...even it it means less adrenaline rush. I don't need to crash the parade anymore and I'm happy to find myself home, relaxed, long before dinner. Because, to  quote Ferris: "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop to look around once in awhile, you might miss it." 

HAPPY EASTER


 
 
Picture
It is the day after your birthday. You wake up, do a little yoga, drink a little tea, make some oatmeal and open your laptop. It's time to get back to work... 

What do you find? 
Facebook messages from people all over the world, dropping into your page, just to say: 
"Happy Birthday." 

And that is (channelling Kelso from "That 70s Show") AWESOME! 

When we stop for a moment to appreciate the technology of mass communication, the ridiculously amazing gift is obvious:

The ability to organize a Festival in Goa with 
Wild Yogi friends in Russia; the opportunity to giggle at reception (awkward dancing) photos from my cousin's wedding; the means to rally a campaign for the micro-finance of women in war-torn and poverty stricken communities, world-wide—these magic tricks are nothing less than miraculous. 
They are (I repeat) TOTALLY AWESOME! 

But the beauty of Facebook goes deeper than its ability to connect us.

It also has the power to  remind us of who we are—each one of us, as authentically differentiated individuals. 

Because we are not ONLY the united pulsation of a dynamic organism of Universal consciousness, collectively influencing the health and vitality of our eco-system and social structure. We are not JUST the undivided image that satellites capture from space; or the unified Ideal of a single and Infinite awareness that transcendental theories of Yoga advance from a lofty (and often  hungry) etherial state. 

Our values and ideas are NOT unanimous. Each person's circumstance and adventure is totally their own,  and our faces hold uniquely beautiful details that cannot be replicated by another—ever. 

And that is what I Like  most about Facebook. It is a book of faces and no two are alike. 

My uncle writes "Happy Birthday" on my FB wall. 
A friend from Germany sends a poem. 
Some self-proclaimed "guru" in India posts a virtual birthday cake. 

A dear old family friend shares a photo of my mama pushing me in a stroller. I have never seen it before. She is absolutely radiant, with the face I remember from childhood... the face I remember from last week when we talked on Skype...the face that I will never take for granted...with its one-of-a kind beauty. 

We may be part of something really HUGE; an Infinite and Universal Dynamism that connects us all. 
But we are not the same. 

And for that, I am eternally grateful. 

 
 
Picture
One of the most precarious places to be is a pedestal. Have you been there? Standing high above your friends, afraid to look down,  feeling tipsy— imbalanced—and asking yourself, in the famous words of David Byrne: 
"Well... How did I get here?"


Or maybe you don't even realize that you have gotten so high, until you come crashing to the ground—hard and fast—like a hangover; or the boulder from that insane You Tube video.

Today, I received a message from an STF. She admitted that she had put me on a pedestal, and was disappointed that I had let her down. My first response was defensive. Why had she put me up there in the first place? That is one of the most predictably destructive things you can do to a friendship, after all.

But then, I examined the language that we hold around this idea: she had put me UP, but I had let her DOWN. When she imagined me tumbling to the ground, she was the one who actually fell. 

When you view another as higher than you, it gives you an example to aspire to. It means that you too can become as "perfect" and "whole" as you imagine that person to be.
It also means that when she falls, you fall.  Ouch.

We are all human, after all, perfect in our imperfections and an inspiration to one another. When we say, "Namaste," we are bowing to that part of us which is Infinite and Whole. That Divine beauty, however, is only recognizable because it is embedded within this human grit. What's sacred is the balance—Staying human so that we can digest our gut-level experiences, yet taking ourselves lightly so that we can fly.

Somewhere along the line, my friend had gotten the idea that it was safe to elevate her idea of me. And for that, I am truly sorry. It is my responsibility to expose my realness, my human stink and dirty feet...along with my intense love. Ultimately, it is my responsibility to be and share my true self. So let's be clear:

I am not the teacher.
The teacher is in YOU. The teacher, the healer, the guru moves through all of us by Grace. The wisdom of the Universe is pulsing through our interaction and relationship to Life. We each have ultimately infinite access to the powers of Truth and Love. Your Inner Guru speaks to you through the lessons of your authentic and individual experiences—the good ones and the shitty ones. They are all opportunities for growth. They are all opportunities to become more loving and grateful....
all of them—including the disappointing ones, like when your friends or family let you down.

 
 
 
 
Webinar Series in three parts. 6:00-7:00 p.m. MT
 I am so excited to be offering my first ever webinar series in three parts on Yoga Psychology for Mamas.
My PhD program in Mythology and Depth Psychology has completely transformed my approach to yoga and after 12 years of teaching, I feel more inspired than ever.
Inner Power Yoga programs offer an opportunity to honestly examine the personal myths that influence your life: your beliefs, behaviors, and ultimately your experiences.
   
This first Inner Power Yoga webinar series addresses one of the most complicated challenges and joys on the planet; the adventure of being a mother.

Over three sessions in 6 weeks, you will explore your current personal motherhood myth. Whether you are a seasoned mother, a brand new mom, or a mama to be, you have a story that begins before you were even born. Does your story empower you? Does it inspire you? Or perhaps it really doesn’t serve you as much as it could. By the third session of this webinar series, you will have had an opportunity to revision your story as a mama—in a manner that is truly authentic and personal to YOU.
 
NOV. 6       PART ONE:
Our first session will be a fun and illuminating introduction to four mother archetypes (or universal images) that speak to you and through your psyche.

NOV. 20         PART TWO:
In session two, we’ll dive deeply into four common and limiting myths that constellate mothers today; including the contradictory voices of “I am the only one who can care for my child.” and “I’m the worst mother ever.”

DEC. 4      PART THREE:
Our third session will be a time to recreate and rebirth our myths of motherhood.
You may be surprised to discover how powerful you truly are.

ALL THREE SESSIONS ONLY $25 WHEN YOU REGISTER BY NOV 1. ($45 after 11/1)
(REGISTERED PARTICIPANTS WILL RECEIVE ACCESS TO RECORDED WEBINAR)
REGISTER NOW!!
 
 
Picture
What is an inner guru?
Unlike English words, which generally objectify, Sanskrit words describe the essence of something. The essence of “guru” is associated with many different ideas: master, weighty, large, respectable, great, serious, parent, teacher, valuable, venerable, and difficult to digest. Guru is associated with heaviness in the stomach and is used to express pregnancy or a pregnant woman. The guru principle, in yoga, refers to the teacher that guides one’s awareness towards the Infinite. According to the Siddha Yogis, the guru principle is “The universal power of grace present as the inner Self of all beings.”

When we speak of the Inner Guru in Inner Power Yoga®, we are talking about the quality of consciousness within. This is the source of one’s unique and authentic inner vibration which includes emotions, thoughts and inspirations when these are pointing toward a deeper or higher truth—beyond ego absorption. The Inner Guru is the Soul. It is the source of the Soul. AND it is the creative spark that turns an everyday human into a Soul Artist.

The Inner Guru is the voice you hear from the stillness of the lotus heart, when all obstacles and limitations are removed and you listen.

What is an archetype?
Archetypes are observable aspects of the mysterious universal vibration that unifies humanity as a deeply connected tribe of individuals. Archetypes occur as images, symbols, thoughts, patterns, expressions, motifs and ideas that have gathered from the collective unconscious and may be recognized by personal awareness.

Throughout the years in his study of the inner-workings of the human psyche, Psycho-analyst, C.G. Jung conceived archetypal components which play important roles in the psychological and social development of each individual. These unconscious personalities are the soul images of the ego, persona, shadow, anima and animus. They accompany and inform the attitudes and behaviors of a person throughout the stages of his or her life. They serve as the guiding force into the nebulous world of the unconscious; the realm that Jung recognized as “the Unknown which immediately effects us1.”


What is a guru archetype?

When these two terms are used together as “Guru Archetype,” they may be considered the conscious and unconscious patterns that inform one’s personal, inner teacher. These particular symbols, ideas, and energies inspire the teachings that resonate with a particular person as they recognize them arise. The Guru archetypes may present themselves from within the still center of meditation, or from the chaos of a dance party. They may be found on the movie screen or in a novel. Guru archetypes are living energies that “haunt” every day life. When they are identified as the motivating factors that inspire a particular Soul Artist, that archetype (and its teachings) become even more accessible.

When you know your guru archetype, you may hear the voice, see the beauty and discover the meaning in everything around you.

Four guru archetypes.
The same archetypal energies that have informed the world's greatest mysteries throughout history, also empower the authentic expression of your own deepest truth. Explore these mythic characters as they radiate, vibrate, soar and roar from the collective unconscious and within you. Let the qualities of your inner guru amplify your heart's desire, reveal your life's purpose and illuminate the beauty of your soul.

There are many many archetypal patterns for the Inner Guru.
The Guru Archetypes workshop series offers introductory insight into four re-occurring archetypal patterns that may be of inspiration for you.

LEARN MORE