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Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Embracing Our Inner Kali

Black/White, Yin/Yang, Light/Darkness, Sun/Moon, Masculine/Feminine - yoga teaches us to embrace both sides considering that is what "hatha" means. While away this past weekend for a former teacher's wedding, I was blessed to carve out some yoga time at a beloved studio in Sag Harbor. The teacher had a great message that she wove throughout class on embracing our inner Kali who is explained below:

The Mythology: Kali (pronounced kah'lee), is the Hindu Goddess of creation, preservation, and destruction. She is the insatiable hunger of time that births, then devours. Skulls, cemeteries, and blood are all associated with her worship. Kali's energy is uncontrollable. After killing two demons, she got drunk on their blood and began dancing on their dead flesh. She danced herself into a frenzy until she realized she almost danced Shiva to death.

The Lessons of this Goddess: Kali has begun her dance in your life to tell you it is time to face your fears. All that is lurking ominously, either buried deep in your inner darkness or close by, needs to be stared in the eye and brought into the ight of consciousness. Are you fears serving you by warning you about dangerous places, things, or people? Or do your fears prevent you from dancing your dance, living your life, creating with Creation? The Goddess comes to tell you that your dance is needed as part of the whole Dance of Creation. Wholeness is nurtured when you reclaim the pieces of yourself that you've given over to fear. Most fears are formless. By naming and witnessing the fear, you gain power. Wholeness is created when you learn to acknowledge your fears and walk through them.

Poem of Kali
I am the dance of death that is behind all life, the ultimate horror, the ultimate ecstasy. I am existence, I am the dance of destruction that will end this world, the timeless void, the formless devouring mouth, I am rebirth, Let me dance you to death, Let me dance you to life. Will you walk through your fears to dance with me? Will you let me cut off your head and drink your blood? then will you cut off mine? Will you face all the horror all the painall the sorrowand say "yes"? I am all that you dread, all that terrifies. I am your fear, will you meet me?

(Mythology, Lessons, and Poem from

I loved hearing a reminder that we ALL experience emotions that we're not proud of - anger, greed, guilt, jealousy - and that we have to go into the places and explore them in order to grow. Pema Chodron in The Wisdom of No Escape says to make friends with our demons because they are here to teach us, and that once we understand what they are here to to teach us, they will become our friendly companions on the spiritual path. Basically, we won't fight the emotions but we'll go deeper to understand them. Pema also noted that our idiosyncracies are what make us uniquely beautiful. I loved that idea! Really, my mind that races from thought to thought and my incredible lack of patience (always wanting things yesterday) is what makes me special? Wow! I like that thought.

However, the overall point the teacher was trying to make this weekend was that we have to sit with emotions and situations that make us uncomfortable, explore them, analyze them, feel them, scream, cry, and let them out in order to move past them. The only way to move forward is by moving through the parts of ourselves that we don't like and prefer not to acknowledge. All of life is cyclical and as one door closes, another opens. After a dark night, there is going to be a brighter morning.

One final notion that she said, and I've read in a Deepak Chopra book, is the reminder that what we see in others that we don't like is actually a mirrored reflection of what we don't like in ourselves. Now that MY friends is one to ponder....

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