William has been attending a public yoga class at a local studio, once a week for nearly three months. It is a beginning level class that commences with chanting of the sacred syllable OM followed by a recitation of the Gayatri mantra in Sanskrit, which is venerated as the “Language of Gods." This invocation is accompanied by the employment of a specific hand gesture, the jnana mudra, and the musical drone of a tambura. As the vibration dissolves, the room is quiet. William joins the other participants in seated silence to absorb the stillness and to psycho-spiritually “arrive.”
Now, it is time for asana.
The class moves, as if a single entity, through dynamic postures and physical alignments. They breathe and flow and stretch and hold. They engage their muscles and absolve their minds as they conform to detailed instructions. Their bodies become symbols, their hearts the corporeal axis mundi (center of the world).
Occasionally the teacher will cue a psycho-emotional consideration:
“Allow your heart to open.”
...or “Connect into the Earth.”
...or even, “Surrender to the Universal Flow of Love.”
William is accustomed to hearing these phrases. They are a part of the experience and contribute to the atmosphere of the practice. Everything transpires as usual, as if by protocol, in expectation of the final gesture of the exercise: savasana.
Translated from Sanskrit to mean, “corpse pose,” savasana is the culmination of the dance.
This is William's favorite part.
He relaxes onto his back, granting every muscle to release, in a manner that has become affectionately familiar. Suddenly and spontaneously, he is engulfed in emotion. His body trembles as a torrent of tears mark rivers along each temple, pooling on his mat. He is not sad; he is bewildered. He has had a spiritual, perhaps liminal, experience that provokes a curious swell, “What is this Yoga?”
The preceding is a true story, and one that I have encountered many times over the past twenty years as a yoga teacher; when new practitioners succumb to a mysterious incident. Often, this unexpected phenomenon will inspire them to investigate their relationship to the world. They examine their soul's purpose. They will describe the sensation as both joyful and sorrowful. Deep questions rise from the unconscious mind, yet peaceful assurance is subtly provided. In the words of the great Mircea Eliade, the practitioner will “experience his profound nothingness–feel that he is only a creature” (10).
...And at the same time, the individual is empowered–inspired and motivated to seek meaning for his or her life. She feels both humbled and expanded–one with the entire universe. This incident will generally solidify her connection to the practice. In that instant, her involvement is shifted from curious neophyte to faithful devotee.
The aim of any ritual is transformation.
Ritual uses metaphor, imagination, and symbol to transform energy and awaken consciousness. Marion Woodman writes, “A ritual should take you into a much broader, richer experience; every time you go through a ritual you should contact that deepest, divine part of yourself and open to something new.”
Could yoga class be considered a ritual? Is it possible, that a studio in Colorado, thousands of miles and thousands of years from the original Vedic sages, could be the site of spiritual transformation?
Despite the exuberant work of religious and secular theorists, the definition of “ritual” remains elusive. The term has been used to refer to religious acts, secular celebrations, even systematized personal behaviors. The word "ritual" has been sensationalized and/or de-mystified and used to sell products. To other people the idea of "ritual" seems foreign—exotic and peculiar.
But human beings long for ritual. We have a natural tendency toward ritualization, ie everyday societal norms like shaking hands, birthday gifts, and prayers before meals. In fact, some theorists would assert that ritualizing is critical to the success of a society. Employing habitual patterns and repetition, ritualization establishes, transmits and perpetuates certain behavioral norms. It connects people and creates cohesion.
But here's something else about human beings: most of us will only do something for so long until we begin to ask, “What is the point of this?”
For a ritual to be potent, it must be living. It must have meaning. The purpose of a ritual is illuminated by the flame of its intention, ie: the point.
Ritual is like art. It is animate with meaning.
One might argue that great art is meaningless–created solely for art’s sake. But even art that is purposefully "purposeless" becomes defenseless to the meaning that it invokes. Eventually, as a relationship develops, an art appreciator will inevitably attribute some meaning to the work. Human beings are meaning-makers, after all. We are soul artists. We create purpose from connection.
Like art, ritual is not responsible for providing meaning. Instead, it instigates meaning. Meaning arises from engaged participation. It evolves out of embodied experience.
Across cultures and continents, ritual has inspired the imagination of its participants. Hopi kachina initiation rites, Isoma fertility rituals of the Ndembu tribes of Zambia, Tamil pilgrimages in India, Dia de Muertos of the Mexican heritage....rituals are defined by what they effectuate within the psyche of their adherents.
I offer Yoga class as a ritual.
It is an invitation to move consciousness beyond the routine identification with ego- personality, to connect with something seemingly larger than your limitations. Yoga teachings inspire mythic imagination while verbal cues engage your body as a microcosmic symbol of transformation. It invites you into the cosmic stillness, where the presence of the numinous may be experienced.
What does all of that mean?
You are a soul artist. The meaning is entirely up to you.
Yoga becomes ritual when you fully engage the practice and give it purpose; when you "open to something new" and dance inside the mystery.
...And after his experience, I know that William would advise you to never skip savasana.
The "corpse pose" is still his favorite part of the ritual.
It is, after all, the culmination of the dance.
Eliade, Mircea. The Sacred and the Profane.
Woodman, Marion. Conscious Femininity.
Did you miss the 2019 SOUL AWAKENING DHARMA SUMMIT~ for Women ?
Embodied Dharma Coach, and longtime soul sister, Swati, asked me to share about the union of masculine and feminine principles, in honor of the Indian holy days of Navaratri.
Swati's Dharma Summit included twelve wisdom sessions featuring twelve inspiring voices of Self-care and personal empowerment. Topics were geared toward awakening your true dharma. This online event took place over the nine nights of Navaratri, a time of colorful celebration and invocation of the feminine archetypes of Kali, Lakshmi, and Saraswati.
Below is a recording of my conversation with Swati. We share a deep desire to empower people toward realization of wholeness.
Join the celebration. Watch for the Dharma Summit to return next year.
For more information and/or opportunities to engage new levels of Embodied Leadership with Swati, visit www.swatijrjyotish.com
Happy Shivaratri from R.R. Shakti, PhD.
On this Indian holiday union of all duality is celebrated as the marriage of Shiva and Shakti, in her incarnation as Parvati (the daughter of the mountains).
Therefore, Maha Shivaratri is a celebration of God/dess–the essence of God in Nature.
While Shakti creates the manifest experience of embodied consciousness, Shiva is said to be lying in stillness, deep in a dream. When he awakens, the created universe dissolves into the unified experience of Pure Consciousness.
The marriage of Shiva and Shakti may be celebrated as an awakened awareness of Pure Consciousness while still embodied in the human experience.
This is Yoga: the realization of divinity on Earth and the sacredness in each and every moment. It is remembering the dream within the waking state and knowing the deep wisdom of your intrinsic wholeness.
The March New Moon invites you to honor your dreams. They hold the deep wisdom of your unconscious mind and Visionary Heart. This month, in the Eleven Moons God/dess Odyssey, we are Dream Tending.
Below is a glimpse of the content from our Eleven Moons Spring Journal:
Association with your dream image means connecting it with any recent events, scenes, ideas or feelings from your life or memories. This can be done using the method of “first thought, best thought,” whereby you allow an authentic and spontaneous association to arise. Write about these associations in the dream journal.
Amplification is a process of correlating dream images with mythic figures, archetypes, fairy tales, literature, movies, etc. There is no limit to this process. A single image can inspire many different correlations woven together in your imagination.
To animate the image, you bring it into the present moment and space. See the image as a living body, a separate entity. Witness what it does of its own accord. Notice how it moves, how it interacts with you, and how it makes you feel; writing all observations in your dream journal. You may wish to articulate the animation of your dream images conceptually or to explore the feeling of the image through painting, sound, and movement.
For a deeper exploration of Dream Tending, see Dr. Stephen Aizenstat's work at https://dreamtending.com/
SOUL QUESTIONS & ACTION STEPS
LEARN MORE ABOUT THE ELEVEN MOONS GOD/DESS ODYSSEY.
A Reflection of the Ramayana by R.R. Shakti, PhD
Incarnate to serve the dharma,
here I am again.
As the monkey god serves Rama
as a confidant, a friend.
He, the base of Cosmic Order;
the mysterious of deep.
I am only Nature’s daughter:
grain, leaf, droplet, particle, sheep.
He is Infinite Potential,
and his favor is my boon.
He’s the ever resting, always hidden, light of the new moon.
With his love I can move mountains,
and heal the ails of Earth.
I can leap across the ocean,
sing the beauty of my birth.
Infinite is my true nature
and sweet victory, my right.
My body: the bridge of Union.
My eyes reflect the Light.
By grace, dharma embraces me.
By grace, I tame the beast.
I can slay a slew of demons,
and the dragon lay to waste.
And I AM the dragon.
CRASH, CLASH, CLAMOR, STAGGER, STRUT
rape and pillage
slave to anger
blind with longing
Blind with Longing
LUST, RAGE, DENIAL, HOPELESS, GRAVE
CLINGING, CRUEL, LOST, FEARED AND FEARFUL.
DREADED, WICKED, NEEDY SLAVE.
Slave to Anger
I steal away the Joy
SPLURGE, PURGE, GIMME, GIMME, GRIP!
SELFISH, STICKY, TRICKY, DEATH.
WICKED, LONELY, ROTTEN, WASTED.
I cultivate misfortune
and sew seeds of seething pain.
All I know is Separation.
I AM VAIN.
I AM VAIN.
I AM VAIN.
I seek the silence.
With the truth of Love eclipsed.
I take the true king’s shelter;
bare my chest, release my grip.
The life, it courses through me.
And I also AM that Light.
Grace lies within the balance
of surrender and the fight.
So’Ham Nama Shivaya;
sacred dance and cosmic play.
The hide and seek continues through the night and every day.
Purpose lies in imperfection:
mantra, meter, rhythm, rhyme.
I am nothing ever, always.
I am everything, in time.
And so from this fertile soil,
with no beginning and no end.
I am formed to serve the dharma.
and yes, here I am again.
With the twisted wrath of Ravana,
and Hanuman’s pure heart;
I am destined to rejoin lovers.
And I am the demon who keeps them apart. ||
Dharma: A Reflection of the Ramayana
R.R. Shakti, Oct. 1, 2010
I found the poetry, above, in some old files.
I wrote it almost a decade ago, and I am amazed at how far I've traveled just to realize where I am. WHO I am.
As I continue to realize that all archetypes–all God Image AND all shadow reside within me,
I discover a whole new level of "free."
I decide, every moment, HOW I want to be who I want to be.
In the words of Joni Mitchell, "I've looked at Love from both sides now,"
–and no matter how the story goes, Love ultimately wins.
R.R. Shakti, PhD
A memoria on substance abuse and clarity, written by R.R. Shakti, PhD.
This post is bound to be wildly unpopular.
...Because I have found that people, in general, don’t like to talk much about their addictions or substance abuse.
I know I didn’t.
Last year (November 2017) my husband decided to take a year off from drinking alcohol.
My first (internal) response was something like: “That’s great for you since you (obviously) have a problem; but don’t expect me to give up the "half a glass" (the reality was 2 glasses) of divine red nectar I imbibe most evenings...forget it! You’re on your own!”
My defensive retort was accompanied by a sudden stinging (and humbling) realization, like a spanking from the Universe.
I mean who was I fooling? My indignant loyalty to wine (over my husband) was a sure sign of delusion.
It was time for re-evaluation.
Allow me to take you deep into my past.
My sordid relationship with substances goes way back before, and much more interesting than, mom-wine at the end of the day.
I grew up in an upstanding, church-going (kinda hippyish) Christian household, where a subverted weed of addiction grew (quite literally) in the basement.
My dad liked to smoke. A lot.
I remember relighting the butts he left in the bathroom ashtray and relishing the strange—slightly queasy but super buzzy—sensation I got from just one puff.
In 1991, my homeschooled, bible-studying, “good choice” days came to a screeching halt when I descended upon the State University.
The very first weekend of my very first semester away from home, “The Doors” movie (remember the absolute wizardry of Val Kilmer!?) played on a huge outdoor screen in my campus quad and my eyes were widened.
It was Jim Morrison’s poetic depth that attracted me...and the mystical dance of the human experience, approached with new found inside-out and upside-down “clarity.”
From that time on, most of my boyfriends we’re (conveniently) holding.
To the tunes of Jane’s Addiction, Kate Bush, the Grateful Dead, et al., I experimented with uppers, downers, and hallucinogens. I was known to swallow something before asking what it was.
Life became a backdrop for out-of-mind experiences. Going to the city was a great time for cocaine. Camping was ideal for mushrooms. Most movies were complete with just a little bit of acid, and music always sounded better when I was high.
I tried it all, from ancient herbs to newfangled chemical cocktails. My favorite sensation: sinking into the oblivion of a purple opiate haze. There was an occasion, or maybe two, when I had to reach across the floor to make sure my friend was still breathing—or maybe that was my friend's hand touching me...
It's a little hazy: psychedelic memories.
Cigarettes burned almost constantly, and a tequila shot was best chased with whiskey.
I ate the cake and drank the drink and found myself time and again, in a magic bubble, dancing with a bunch of fantastical puppets and an elfin king who looked an awful lot like David Bowie.
Wait a minute, I might be getting things confused with one of my favorite childhood movies...
But anyway, it’s true. “Real life” had become an impossible labyrinth—sometimes fun, but mostly confusing, emotionally exhausting, kinda scary, and (looking back on it now) really dumb.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t regret those days one bit. I mean, “Drugs are bad M’KAY,” (and simply not worth the risk of addiction) but I learned so much from taking them...like how to truly sit in discomfort and where to find my abandoned mind.
It was as if I threw myself completely off-balance—in fact onto the very brink of insanity—on purpose; so that I would have to distinguish my center from the chaos...again and again.
Then I started practicing yoga.
Wait, that’s not right. Not quite yet.
...And I’m remembering now that it was Nature—Nature saved me first.
Because when we were out there, on our mushroom quest to reach the top of Pikes Peak by midnight, for instance...
...or when I wandered off into the woods drunk and alone.
I was never alone.
The winds, and trees, and moon were talking.
They were trying to remind me that I am one with All.
Within the hallucination was a sobering reckoning with Reality...a beckoning to come home to my innate wholeness.
So after I told that one guy I was leaving
...and after I threatened again
...and after I had no choice because I had no money, and I had no job, and he was in jail, and another friend had died (drunk and hit by a train)...
And I found my way home.
...Up on top of a mountain, hiking, rappelling, climbing, kayaking, ice climbing (hated that, btw), skiing, snowboarding, surfing, scuba...
At 10,200 feet—and sometimes in the Canyon lands—and sometimes in the Great Barrier Reef—I got an Associates Degree in Outdoor Recreation Leadership.
Me. A degree!
I went from climbing the walls to climbing rock-walls.
Me. Rock climbing!
And that’s when I started practicing yoga.
I had landed a job with the Colorado Outward Bound School and those cool Course Instructor cats were downward-dogging by the river. They hand-stood in the canyons. They were tree-posing at 14,000 feet. It was as if they were striking these yoga postures to throw themselves completely off-balance—on purpose; so that they would have to distinguish their center...again and again. They seemed to know how to peacefully sit in discomfort and where to find their befriended minds.
I succumbed to peer pressure (everybody was doing it).
I took a deep breath. And then another. And then another. And then I remembered:
One with All.
Little by little, breathing interfered with my smoking.
Drunk yoga was no fun. Believe me, I tried.
My lifestyle just changed. It had to, if I wanted to keep living in this beautiful Reality.
They say: "Yoga heals" and "Nature heals."
And it's true. Yoga in Nature was my medicine; but only because it reminded me that the healer is within. It showed me that there is nothing—at all—wrong with me. There is no emotion, behavior, or personality trait that needs to be "self-medicated" by any outside substance. Love never fails; and that means Love for my whole and complete Self...truly, madly, deeply.
Continued studies and practice fortified my experience of wholeness. But then I started graduate school. It was intense. I felt a little like Cinderella at the ball: in rapture for the moment, terrified that at midnight they would all find out that I didn't really belong.
I remember visiting the bar after class one day with a bunch of 3rd year students...already working on their doctoral dissertations.
They were 2 and "half a glass" in when I asked:
"How can you drink while you are writing?"
The most glamorous one replied:
"The real question, darling, is how could I write without drinking?"
Getting buzzed was like a creative right.
I bought it.
I started writing my own PhD work...enjoying the creative rite of a simple sip of wine.
Little by little, one glass here and there, turned into "half a glass" almost every night.
I made some stupid decisions while drinking...said some dumb things.
It wasn't debilitating, sure, but I certainly felt more tired than I needed to. Less free.
And then, that day, I faced that needling decision: to take a year off from the drink...
or to continue to pretend I was totally cool. But I already knew the answer—because I remembered—I am already home.
This evening I had a glass of wine—my first in over a year.
I might not drink another until next year. Then again, I might have one tomorrow...
But I truly don’t want a second drink right now (not even just “half a glass”)
...and that feels a lot like freedom. It feels like Love.
There are many, many factors that lead a person into addictive behaviors.
There are many healing tools that can bring a person back home to their wholeness.
If you struggle with addictions or substance abuse, please know you are not alone.
YOUR POWER IS WITHIN.
...but if there is a lot going on in there and you have forgotten where to find your center, help is on the way.
In Infinite Love,
R.R. Shakti, PhD.
Set Your New Year's sankalpa with Yoga Nidra.
(first published in 2012)
This week, according to Statistic Brain, 45% of Americans will make a New Year's Resolution, and only 8% will actually achieve it. The studies also report that "People who explicitly make resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than people who don’t explicitly make them." Don't be discouraged from setting intentions. This year, let one of those mystical, accomplished 8% be YOU!
Join the Resolution Revolution to recalibrate your thinking for success!
Take a tip from the ancient practice of Yoga Nidra and set a sankalpa (declaration of purpose), following the 4P's for a successful sankalpa:
1. Your sankalpa must be personal: You generously share energy with others throughout the year. Allow yourself this time to concentrate on your own personal development. After all, shifts in your behavior can only stem from changes in your thinking...in YOUR own citta (psyche).
2. Make your sankalpa powerful: Remember, you already ARE everything you are hoping to be. You already HAVE all the power you need to live your life to the fullest. You don't need to "attract" what you are seeking to find. You simply must remember that you already have it, as part and particle of the Infinite.
3. Use language (even from your inner voice) that is positive: if you tell yourself "I won't ever smoke another cigarette!" what your monkey mind hears is "smoke another cigarette." Instead, solidify positive behavior with positive messages, such as: "I honor myself with a healthy, non-toxic lifestyle."
4. And lastly, make your intention a pithy one. My Yoga Nidra teacher, Sreedevi Bringi, suggests using no more than 8 words to identify your sankalpa. When typing your heart's intention on the tablet of your brain, less is definitely more—especially with an already chattery citta.
Once you have established your sankalpa, write it down and memorize it. Then make yourself comfortable, close your eyes and listen to the following Yoga Nidra practice for a good healthy dose of positive brain-washing.
Each moment is a new opportunity to make important, beautiful and LASTING changes. The Resolution Revolution is Now!
LISTEN: Guided Elemental Yoga Nidra
My daughter was three years old when I took her to see Kung Fu Panda 3.
Enrapt from start to finish, she was particularly attentive during the great battle scenes between the adorable ninja Panda and his scary nemesis.
As we left the theater, she turned to me and said,
"Mom, I've noticed something...the good always defeats the bad."
Happy New Moon and Diwali!
This has been an auspicious day throughout India—a festival of lights celebrating the radiant triumph of divinity over the darkness of confusion--a sort-of "Good Defeats Bad" Day.
Various Hindu mythologies exemplify the power of righteousness over demonic forces, like the return of exiled Rama and Sita, the victory of the Goddess over the wicked Mahishasura, and the sacred marriage of Vishnu and Lakshmi.
It's an age-old story: the universe is animated by dueling forces, and we all hope desperately for the virtuous to prevail. The question is who decides who is virtuous? History has made this grand narrative into an "us vs. them" story. When taken literally, it becomes the foundation for division and alienation: whomever is on "our side" is virtuous. On the "other" side is evil.
In his work, Creation of Consciousness, Edward Edinger explains that consciousness is only possible in the presence of an "other." Therefore, all human awareness is dependent upon this dichotomy: self and other, me and you, us and them. But when we project the shadow side of our own selves onto an outside "other" we set up a never ending war zone.
The teachings of non-dual Tantra assert that all things are individualized aspects of a single, dynamic pulsation of universal LOVE. ...A LOVE beyond all opposites. ...A LOVE so pervasive, perfect, and powerful that it encompasses everything.
So, I explain to my daughter: "Sometimes it doesn't look like it will, but the good always wins in the end...because LOVE is the biggest, most powerful thing. In fact, LOVE is all there is. When people do bad things it's only because they have forgotten LOVE.
When you remember that you are LOVE, you become as powerful as a superhero ninja."
The new moon is a time of introspection and self-examination.
Tonight provides a sweet opportunity to turn inward and get real with your Self.
Who is your scary nemesis?
Do you project all evil onto an outside "other?"
Can you embrace the dark qualities of fear, anger, confusion as aspects of your own psyche, too?
Can you envision a LOVE so vast it extends beyond all opposition?
That LOVE is so pervasive it can actually include your fears, sorrows, and confusion without losing a single iota of its infinite brilliance.
YOU ARE THAT LOVE...you superhero ninja, you!
On mindfulness and discomfort within the Shambhala Tradition, written by R.R. Shakti, PhD.
Recently Naropa University announced that Sakyong Miphan Rinpoche, leader of the global Shambhala community, has stepped down from his venerated role in response to allegations of sexual assault.
As many of you know, I am a graduate of Naropa University and the teachings I share from the Shambhala Tradition, including Mindfulness Meditation, Maitri, and Tonglen, have been passed down from a lineage of teachers through Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, who brought the tradition to the West in the 1960s.
My direct teachers, including those at Naropa University and Pema Chödrön, have transmitted these practices with kindness, humor, humility, and grace.
...But Sakyong Miphan is not the first Tibetan Buddhist leader to cross the lines of ethical conduct. In fact his father, Chögyam Trungpa, was notorious for controversial behavior, alcoholism and sexual misconduct, in a time when women's voices went generally unheard—before the #MeToo movement opened the floodgates of accountability.
Since his death in 1987, people have been questioning the life and teachings of Trungpa with an understandable scrutiny. It is a considerable challenge to reconcile his transformational teachings on awakened living with the more savory aspects of his own lifestyle.
In a 2013 interview with Tricycle Magazine, Pema Chödrön speaks of her teacher:
"Trungpa Rinpoche was a provocative person. In Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism he says the job of the spiritual friend is to insult the student, and that’s the kind of guy he was. If things got too smooth, he’d create chaos. All I can say is that I needed that. I didn’t like being churned up and provoked, but it was what I needed. It showed me how I was stuck in habitual patterns..."
The Shambhala Tradition is based upon being absolutely truthful. Mindfulness is cutting through the bullshit of ego's habitual self-serving patterns. Maitri is courageously staring right into the heart of the shadow, and cultivating compassion within that conflict. It is making peace with the inevitable discomfort of being human.
I am uncomfortable.
The day before hearing the news of Sakyong Mipham, Drew reminded me of the recently released film documentary on the incredible story of Osho's renegade commune in 1980's Oregon. Six hours of footage in "Wild Wild Country" tells the story of how easily corrupted the human ego can be. Three days later another friend sent me this article on the "Dangers of Tantra". It is a commercialized warning of the dark magic that has been associated with Tantra's left hand path.
I close my eyes and remember stories of perversion within the Catholic Church—the insidious abuse of power. I recall the first time I learned of the Christian crusades and the millions of people brutally murdered in the name of Christ. I was a teenager. I was devastated.
It is deeply disturbing, heart-breaking, maddening--profoundly uncomfortable—to face the shadows of humanity: to realize that no matter how pure the intentions, anything on Earth can be manipulated and used for the glory and power of the ego.
The teachings of Jesus, Buddha, and the non-dual Tantrik texts tell a different story. They offer a message of unity, compassion, freedom from suffering, and LOVE.
That is where my heart is.
Pure light is without shadow. As soon as light makes contact with any matter, a shadow is cast. Darkness is not the absence of light. It is the obstruction of light.
For some, that obstruction is as simple as holding eyes closed.
But patience cannot be cultivated without trial.
Courage does not exist in the absence of fear.
Compassion is awakened within my own sadness.
As we cried together over the world's madness, Gretchen reminded me of this:
"It hurts so that we never forget why we are here"—to Love.
It is time to open our eyes...to get courageously honest...to face the shadows that accompany the human experience as uncomfortable and as painful as it may be. Together, we must cultivate compassion for ourselves, and compassion for each other, even within the conflict.
As Chödrön writes in The Places that Scare You: “Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It's a relationship between equals. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.”
― Pema Chödrön, The Places That Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times
R.R. Shakti, PhD
Quotes from my teacher, by R.R. Shakti, PhD.
August 15, 1928—July 9, 2018
On July 9 the soul of my beloved guide, Marion Woodman, set.
She was an incredible inspiration to so many. Her life an example of love in real-world service to humanity.
In moments like this, I honor words for their healing power and their ability to unify. Without words we might not share the exact insight that wrote: “To me, real love, the move from power to love, involves immense suffering. Any creative work comes from that level, where we share our sufferings, just the sheer suffering of being human. And that's where the real love is.” (Woodman, Conscious Femininity).
Marion taught that true compassion requires courage. We must embrace the entire package of this human experience. She taught that true freedom comes from loving your Self—that to heal the soul, we must attend to the wounds of our culture and of the earth. We must nurture the inner child, honor the feminine principle, and remember the sacredness within nature. I am beyond grateful that she shared her heart's wisdom with us through her beautiful words.
Below are some of my favorite words from Marion.
To learn more about her, visit https://mwoodmanfoundation.org/
R.R. Shakti, Ph.D.
“This is your body, your greatest gift, pregnant with wisdom you do not hear, grief you thought was forgotten, and joy you have never known.”
“Only by discovering and loving the goddess lost within our rejected body can we hear our own authentic voice.” ― Coming Home to Myself: Reflections for Nurturing a Woman's Body and Soul
"Dismissing poetry is dismissing the glory of the imagination." ― Bone: Dying into Life
“Healing depends on listening with the inner ear – stopping the incessant blather, and listening. Fear keeps us chattering – fear that wells up from the past, fear of blurting out what we really fear, fear of future repercussions. It is our very fear of the future that distorts the now that could lead to a different future if we dared to be whole in the present."
“Having a body that is like a musical instrument, open enough to be able to resonate, literally resonate with what is coming both from the inside and from the outside, so that one is able to surrender to powers greater than oneself.”
“I can tell you that it takes great strength to surrender. You have to know that you are not going to collapse. Instead, you are going to open to a power that you don’t even know, and it is going to come to meet you. In the process of healing, this is one of the huge things that I have discovered. People recognized the energy coming to meet them. When they opened to another energy, a love, a divine love, came through to meet them. That is what is known as grace. We all sing about amazing grace. It is a gift. I think that it comes through the work that we do. For some people, it can come out of the blue, but I know that in my own situation, the grace came through incredible vigilance.”
“Without an understanding of myth or religion, without an understanding of the relationship between destruction and creation, death and rebirth, the individual suffers the mysteries of life as meaningless mayhem alone.”
“A flower won’t open if I yell at it and say “Bloom!”
“This is the point where love becomes possible. We see the other with the eye of the heart, an eye not clouded by fear manifesting as need, jealousy, possessiveness, or manipulation. With the unclouded eye of the heart, we can see the other as other. We can rejoice in the other, challenge the other, and embrace the other without losing our own center or taking anything away from the other. We are always other to each other — soul meeting soul, the body awakened with joy. To love unconditionally requires no contracts, bargains, or agreements. Love exists in the moment-to-moment flux of life.”
“The feminine takes time for spontaneity and slow time, honors inner reality, and gives values to feelings without brutally repressing them as “sissy” or meaningless.”
“Once we get used to listening to our dreams, our whole body responds like a musical instrument.”
“When I say the feminine, I don’t mean gender. I mean the feminine principle that is living—or suppressed—in both men and women.”
"Storytelling is at the heart of life... In finding our own story, we assemble all the parts of ourselves. Whatever kind of mess we have made of it, we can somehow see the totality of who we are and recognize how our blunderings are related. We can own what we did and value who we are, not because of the outcome but because of the soul story that propelled us."
What would it look like to release all my fears?
...because that's what was happening. That's what I felt.
But the moment was greedy for my full attention
—no projection, just tears
tears, and rocking, and shaking, and heart melt
like heat and cold mixing and swirling around--
alchemy in the half-light of a medicine more profound than I had even imagined.
And was I imagining freedom?
...Come back to the breath, to the completion of
"in it right now!"
Imagining the moon's face over the sun.
Imagining shadows like tendrils of smoke, ribbons of silk
dancing their way to the inner circle of darkness
while a radiant ring promised emergence of fearlessness
...And all along returning and returning and returning
to my body and the breath and the images of Marley's dream--
where, there, the mermaid of white
points to a sunken ship and gravely proclaims:
"It mustn't be stopped."
Oh! What treasures must hide inside.
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.
PSYCHE + SOUL
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