Holy Days. Spring. Inspiration.
For me, Easter has come to mean new beginnings.
My childhood winters in the US Midwest were long. Once Christmas had past it was mostly just snowy, drizzly, dreary days and long nights. Nearly half the year spent under cloud-cover, seeing your breath when you talk, waking up for school in the cold dark.
Daylight would arrive each morning a little sooner...and a little sooner until one day, like a sunrise blast over the horizon, the entire world felt different.
The world looked different.
Life changed in an instant.
They say that when Jesus came out of the tomb, not all of his friends recognized him at first. He had changed.
That makes sense to me.
Within the span of the three new moon days/nights, Jesus had traversed into the underworld, ascended into heaven, and returned to solid Earth. It stands to reason, things would have been a little different.
Per usual, Jesus provides a model for the Soul Artist who seeks to live their most meaningful life.
Because this has been a year.
In the span of just over 365, we have certainly traversed some new territory. For some it was a deep-dive into the underworld–the "Dark Night of the Soul." Others found illumination of their shadows. There have been challenges to be certain, and hardship provides opportunity for transformation.
What about you? How have you changed?
Do you feel yourself cycling through into something new?
Today, I remember my favorite childhood Easter dress. I remember styling my hair and polishing my shoes and stepping into the church pew to hear the Sunday sermon.
There was excitement in the air.
After the service (and oh! the singing) the children were ushered out into the warm and radiant sunshine for an egg hunt on the lawn. I was bigger then. I followed behind the smaller ones. Something new was stirring.
As I walked the perimeter of the church yard, I spotted a little nest nestled beneath a tree. It was crooked and disheveled as if it had fallen from the branches. But there were three tiny eggs inside. I sat down to get a closer look.
It was a Soul Artist moment.
On the soft cool ground, under the brilliant blast of the Easter sun, I had a new understanding about the cycles of change (samsara in Sanskrit). It is all happening. Seasons. Moons. Days. Years. Thoughts. Life.
...and it is always coldest, darkest just before the dawn.
It was something like that, anyway, elusive and curiously peaceful as I sat awestruck with wonder beside that little broken nest. Birds sang everywhere above me. The breeze blew the style out of my curls. And the sun was there.
I let the littler ones look for the Easter eggs. I had already discovered mine.
Walking back to find my mother I felt like I had grown.
I wondered if she would recognize me.
Love. Inner Power. Diwali.
What don’t I know?
We are all pretty sure about one thing: our own perspective. So many conversations begin with, “Look here,” or “Listen up,” because “This is where I stand.”
The whole entire enterprise of human engagement becomes a quest to be understood.
But standing in that mentality means staying in the dark—denying that there’s another point of view.
So here’s something new: What if you start each encounter with the question, “What don’t I know?”
Example: The neighbor’s dog won’t stop barking and it’s making me crazy. What don’t I know? Or: Marty left his dirty laundry in the middle of the floor, again. What don’t I know?
I fail at it daily. But when I remember this practice, my life is just better. It’s like real world enlightenment. The light shines on another’s perspective and I find out that we weren’t standing so far apart, after all.
Today is an Indian holy day: Diwali. It is an opportunity to celebrate the light.
The light of awareness.
The light of consciousness.
The light of your inner power.
There has never been a more crucial time for the teachings of Mystic Traditions to make their way into the real world human experience,
to make life... just better.
diwali. love. marriage.
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Diwali. Lakshmi. Abundance.
Diwali is called the "Festival of Lights" because it is a celebration of illumination. It honors the light of your awakened consciousness. It invokes beauty, abundance, prosperity, and love–the archetypal attributes of the Indian Goddess, Lakshmi. This mystic tradition invites you to realize those attributes as qualities of your own mind. Rituals serve to remind you of your inner power and transform your awareness. Your most powerful expression of abundance is a grateful heart. Diwali is the party for a more meaningful life.
10 Practices for Diwali
diwali. light. rituals.
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Imagine the world before electricity. I bet you'd tend your fire carefully. Make it last through the cold, dark night.
...And then comes dawn. Every morning is like a victory–the triumph of the light.
That is why Indian holy days, like Diwali. celebrate the light.
That is why Indian mantras, like Gayatri, invoke and worship the light as a divine power.
In yoga, I honor the "dawning of awareness" as the power of illumination which awakens, heals, and provides clear vision.
But the light does not always come easy. Let me explain with a story:
Once upon a time my husband and I were arguing. It was heated. Now, I can't even remember what it was about. But at the time I was quite certain–I had no doubt–that I was "RIGHT!"
He disagreed. He presented his case, but I doubled down on my point of view, again and again. I wanted him to realize (and admit) that I was "RIGHT!"
Then something happened. Mid-sentence. It hit me like a floodlight: "Oh, shit. He is right...
Daaaang! I felt just like Wile E. Cayote when he looks down from his full-throttle pace to realize that there is nothing beneath him but empty space and a long, hard fall.
We celebrate the light as if it is always welcome. As if we are in a state of perpetual curiosity, always ready to expand and embrace personal development.
But sometimes we're not.
Sometimes we think we already have the answer. We already know. We are "RIGHT!"...and nothing will change our minds. Then the light of awareness "dawns" on us illuminating our flaws. It isn't comfortable. Sometimes, truth be told, we wish we could stay in the dark.
Our practice often determines what happens next.
Yoga provides the courage and compassion to face, and embrace, the light.
So back to that one time, when I was wrong:
I took a deep breath, mustered up the humility and said, "Wait. I'm just realizing that you are right. I am wrong. I am sorry."
My husband looked at me, first with surprise, then tenderness. "Yeah," he said. "I love you."
I had braced myself for impact, but it turned out to be a super soft landing. Blissful in fact.
Because in that moment, I realized that being wrong gives me the opportunity to experience his unconditional Love. If I were always "RIGHT," I would never feel the sweet sensation of forgiveness.
When I embrace my imperfection it becomes a radiant gift.
I am human, and growing. I wouldn't want it any other way.
Inspired by the words of Leonard Cohen: The cracks are where the light gets in.
That realization has been, for me, like the break of a glorious new day.
Invoking the principles of Courage, Compassion, and Creative Clarity with R.R. Shakti, PhD.
Maha Navaratri is one of the most celebrated Indian holidays, occurring every year on the new moon in the Vedic month of Ashwin, near the autumnal equinox.
Nine nights are dedicated to the feminine principle.
The archetype of Durga is honored during the first three nights of Navaratri. She is the “invincible” one, who slays the demons of ego delusions, ignorance, and self doubt. Like Kali, who is actually an incarnation of her, Durga is a great destroyer. She rides a lion into victory and symbolically guides all spiritual warriors into the first phase of the alchemical journey to help establish courage and compassion in the face of fear and confusion.
For the next three nights, the Lakshmi archetype is honored. Lakshmi means “goal” in Sanskrit and she symbolizes abundance, beauty, and the enjoyment of worldly delights. She guides you along the spiritual path to awaken santosha (deep fulfillment). Her image invokes gratitude, creativity, and an unconditional love for life.
The final three nights of Navaratri are dedicated to Saraswati, whose name, when translated from Sanskrit, means “essence of Self” or "truth of Self." Saraswati carries a book, mala and a musical instrument. She is the archetype of the arts—learning, knowledge, and wisdom. She provides the creative clarity to realize your true nature as an expression of Infinite Consciousness.
These feminine principles are honored in this particular order because only after you have passed through the first two initiations of courage and compassion can you be ready to access your heart’s full awakening into creative clarity—the realization of who you really are!
This celebration is an opportunity to recognize the divine feminine principles within YOU!
1. Read a written copy or listen to an audio recording of the Devī-Māhātmya
The Devī-Māhātmya is a celebrated Indian text. It provides a Goddess revolution that emboldens the non-dual traditions of Hindu Tantra. It forms the foundation of the Navaratri Celebration. The story is recited during the nine nights of celebration and each of the nine goddess images hail from the mythic vision of Devī.
2. Decorate your altar with the three images of Durga, Lakshmi, and Saraswati.
The first three nights will provide an invocation to the fierce warrior goddess, Durga.
Nights four through six will honor Lakshmi, and the final three nights will celebrate Saraswati.
You will want to change the images and offerings on your altar to reflect the particular invocations of each day.
3. Light a candle or small, safe fire.
A fire burns continuously for the entire Navaratri celebration. If you can secure a flame to burn SAFELY for all nine nights, this will serve as a beautiful reminder of your awakened consciousness. It also signifies your commitment to tend the fire of your heart with nourishing food, self-care practices, and continued learning.
4. Prepare soups and teas.
It is traditional to fast during the nine nights of Navaratri. Fasting does not have to mean going completely without food, though. Especially during vata season, it is recommended that you keep your body nourished to stay balanced and grounded. Navaratri is a perfect time, however, to enjoy a cleanse from sugar, alcohol, caffeine, and meat. See how amazing—detoxified and hydrated—you feel after nine days of warm vegetable soups and herbal tea.
5. Listen to mantras and chants to the God/dess
Here are a few of my favorite tracks that honor the feminine principle:
Navaratri Mantras & a prayer for you.
Om Dum Durgayei Namaha
Om Shrīm Mahalakshmiyei Namaha
Om Shrī Saraswatiya Namaha
Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti.
Salutations to the God/dess archetypes of Durga, Lakshmi, and Saraswati.
May you face all your shadows with the courage and compassion of a love warrior.
May you realize the sacred beauty of the human experience, delighting in each moment with creative freedom.
May you awaken to the divine wisdom within you, realize balanced wholeness as a sacred marriage of all opposites in your life, and remember your Self as a radiant expression of Infinite Consciousness.
And may you know peace.
R.R. Shakti, PhD
About The Author
R.R. Shakti, PhD
Founding teacher of Inner Power Yoga®, Shakti is a Contemplative Mythologist, ritual facilitator, and writer who presents a Tantrik approach to personal empowerment and social action. Through contemplative story-telling and mind/body practices, she offers a vision of deep peace and radical freedom.
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