On Children by Khalil Gibran & his book The Prophet

Your children are not your children. 
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth. 
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far. 
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness; 
For even as he loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.

How To Bring More Ritual Into Your Life by my mama friend Noe Venable

Do you ever feel like you need more ritual in your life? Do you ever wish you had a regular space to go deep with some of your personal questions and strivings, but struggle to find a tradition that feels like the right match?

For those of us who self-identify as “spiritual but not religious”, this question may have an added potency. When we are defining our spiritual life outside the context of organized religion, it can sometimes feel like we’re starting from scratch.

But in fact, you really don’t need to identify with any of the major organized religions to bring more ritual into your life. Really, to bring the power of ritual into your life simply requires the desire to do it, the openness to experiment and find what is authentic for you, and the follow through to make it be.

Here’s how to bring more ritual into your life:

1. REFLECT

Where do you connect with Source? That is, what kinds of settings and practices help you connect most deeply with your own deep sources of strength?
For some of us, this might happen in nature. For others, it might in the presence of one or more beloved friends.
For others, it might be a voice of inner guidance.  Perhaps, in a difficult time, you have had the sense of hearing a “still small voice” that rises from within you, just at the time you most need it.

Think about this part of yourself, and where you feel it most strongly.  What kinds of practices might help you connect with it more strongly?

2. DECIDE ON A PRACTICE

Just as to learn anything takes practice, our sense of spiritual wellbeing grows stronger through regular practice. What matters is simply to find a practice that resonates for you. Here are a few of the practices we use in my groups for grown-ups:

Meditiation: Meditation can be either guided or silent. You might start with simply sitting quietly, and bringing your attention to your breath. Set a timer, and spend ten minutes just watching your thoughts as they arise. If you are new to meditation, there is a wonderful app, “insight timer” that offers a free beginner’s course that can help you get started, right on your own at home.

Journeying: Journeying is a shamanic practice that is found in indigenous, earth based traditions around the world. It has been practiced in some form by cultures on nearly every continent, including (I recently learned) ancient Scandinavia!

In journeying, you listen to a repeating sound – traditionally a frame drum or rattle. This can be done either with a real drum or rattle, or with a recording. As you listen, you allow yourself to take an inner journey, where you can meet inner guides that can offer you their wisdom.

Journaling: Have you ever explored writing as a restorative self care practice? Journaling can be a wonderful way to access our intuition. This kind of writing is entirely process oriented – it’s just about writing freely and seeing what comes through.

Singing: If you know me, you know that I’m wild about singing as a way to connect with each other, and with our own deep sources of strength. This form of singing is non performative, it’s un self conscious, and it feels great!

And so many other practices… Yoga? Prayer? Process art? What matters is just that the process is authentic to you and to your community.

Which brings me to the next important piece in creating ritual:

3. GATHER YOUR PEOPLE

Think about who you’d most love to have present at the ritual you are forming. Who are the people that inspire you? People it just feels good to be around. People you feel seen by.

4. PLAN YOUR RITUAL

Plan an event that holds space for all of you to share in one of the practices above TOGETHER.

You might want to enlist a person who you resonate with spiritually – a sacred space holder, Dharma teacher, shaman or priest. Or you might simply do it on your own.

5. DON’T FORGET THE PHYSICAL NOURISHMENT

Many of us struggle in our lives with having inadequate time devoted to self care. Could you end your ritual with a wonderful dinner? Hot tea and chocolate?

I had a wonderful experience of this recently at a ritual created by a dear friend of mine. She was marking her transition out of the early post partum days with a “closing of the bones” ceremony for herself, and a naming ceremony for her son.

Her magical event closed with a dinner, prepared by the amazing Kristin Mattias of Mother Ayurveda Healing. It was a truly amazing experience, after what we had just experienced together, to sit and talk and laugh and break bread together.

The food was so delicious, and what we had collectively experienced was so potent, that the food felt like a sacrament. I felt, perhaps more powerfully than ever, the way that food can nourish us, body and soul.

So if you’re drawn to the idea of ritual, I hope you’ll continue to experiment to find what works best for you in your own life.  And I’d love to hear from you – how do you bring spiritual practice into your own life?  What creative rituals have you been a part of?

To learn more about Noe Venable and her amazing offerings, check out http://www.noevenable.com/singingcircles/

Divine Mother and Female Forms of Worship

Mother is the first manifestation of power and is considered a higher idea than father.  With the name of Mother comes the idea of Shakti, Divine Energy and Omnipotence, just as the baby believes its mother to be all-powerful, able to do anything.  The Divine Mother is the Kundalini ("coiled up" power) sleeping in us; without worshiping Her we can never know oursleves.

All merciful, all powerful, omnipresent are attributes of Divine Mother.  She is the sum total of the energy in the universe.  Every manifestation of power in the universe is "Mother".  She is life, She is intelligence, She is Love.  She is in the universe yet separate from it.  She is a person and can be seen and known.  Established in the idea of Mother, we can do anything.  She quickly answers prayers.  

She can show; Herself to us in any form at any moment.  Divine Mother can have form (rupa) and name (nama) or name without form; and as we worship Her in these various aspects we can rise to pure Being, having neither form nor name.

The sum total of all the cells in an organism is one person; so each soul is like one cell and the sum of them is God, and beyond that is the Absolute.  The sea calm is the Absolute; the same sea in waves is Divine Mother.  She is time, space, and causation.  God is Mother and has two natures, the conditioned and the unconditioned.  As the former, She is God, nature and soul (man).  As the latter, She is unknown and unknowable. 

Out of the Unconditioned came the trinity - God, nature and soul; the triangle of existence.  A bit of Mother, a drop, was Krishna, another was Buddha, another was Christ.  The worship of even one spark of Mother in our earthly Mother leads to greatness.  Worship Her if you want love and wisdom.

- Swami Vivekananda on why many religions of the world worship the "Divine Mother" or the Female form of energy

(Source and credits; http://cwsv.belurmath.org/volume_7/vol_7_frame.htm)

 

Sthira Sukham Asanam In Motherhood

As a new mother, I felt depleted physically, mentally and emotionally after the birth of my first child.  I was seeing an Ayurvedic doctor but I was having a difficult time incorporating an Ayurvedic diet and lifestyle.  I was deeply interested in healing myself and improving my overall well being.

I decided to commit myself to studying the ancient science and art of Ayurveda, which is the oldest form of medicine in the world from India.  At the time, I was seeing an Ayurvedic doctor and noticing a lot of physical health improvements.  Once I decided to pursue Ayurveda as a student, I immediately felt very connected to it.  I was incredibly fortunate to find a spiritual teacher & Ayurvedic doctor, Acharya Shunya ji, who I have been studying with since 2012. My school, Vedika Global https://www.vedikaglobal.org/ forever transformed my mind, body, and spirit health.  Through my Ayurvedic studies with Acharya Shunya ji, and my time spent at Vedika, I have incorporated basic Ayurvedic lifestyle principles into my daily life and my families daily rhythm.  The sthira/strength it has provided me has led me to create Mother Ayurveda Healing (MAH) to share this ancient science of healing, health promotion and self awakening.

I spent a lot of time reflecting on how I wanted to merge my own experience with Ayurveda and motherhood into MAH's mission and offerings.  Modern day mothers are holding a lot of responsibilities with a never ending list of expectations and things to do.  Being a mother provides the most ample opportunity to prioritize what is important in life, and why putting health at the forefront of our lives is a must. When I think of the word Mother, I think of health, beauty, creator, essence, and empowerment.  Often, mothers are so focused on providing the care and nourishment to their child(ren) that their own health suffers.  Ayurveda helps to bring back harmony, vitality, and refills our capacity as mothers to give from a place of balanced health.  It realigns our minds, bodies and spirits, to it's natural state of beauty and health.   There is a well known yoga phrase that was created by Pantjali in the Yoga Sutras which states, Sthira Sukham Asanam.  This quote can be translated into the motherhood journey in such sacred ways.  

Sthira sukham Asanam translation; a yoga posture should be steady, firm and stable, yet also comfortable, light and delightful.  Similar to motherhood, if a new mother is feeling steady and firm, she can feel more joy and comfort as she transitions into this new phase of life.

Sthira: Strength, Stability, Steadiness & Groundedness

In the Sanskrit language, Sthira means steadiness or the sense of feeling grounded. It is the quality of firm strength that we bring to mothering. A tree is able to grow tall due to deep roots in the rich soil.  Despite strong winds and rains, trees can withstand due to their inner strength.  New mothers find the 24 hour commitment and care that is demanded of newborns and children overwhelming. Yet, when we are strong, stable and firm in our own bodies, minds and spirits, this foundational energy is transferred to the baby, and its siblings.  The entire family unit is supported when mama feels steady.

Sukham: Happiness, Joy, Gentleness

Sukham, is translated as happiness and gentleness.  It is a feeling of lightness, and grace in all of our actions. Ease develops from continual practice, and carving out time in our daily lives to create more space for our health and wellbeing.  Mamas self care practices turn into the family’s practice, and daily life feels more integrated and centered.  This becomes easier and feels like less effort is involved when we directly experience the impact of putting health at the forefront of our parenting.

Asanam: Seat, Posture, and Pose

With steadiness and ease we enter into our seat, or place in motherhood. We recognize that we are grounded to Earth, supported by nature, and the natural flow of life.  We have been given the gift of a beautiful child, and we see that our place in this world is forever changed.  Through the eyes of our children, we see the abundance of nature, the magic of animals, the strength of humanity, and our true limitless power as providers of nurturing and nourishment.  Our spirits become more alive and awakened.  We are aware that we now have been given the gift of life.  With steadiness, grace and ease we can care of ourselves and our families.   We can feel rejuvenated, empowered and inspired to share the never ending gifts and blessings of motherhood.

 

 

From Isolation to Connection: One Mother’s Transformation with Ayurveda & Vedanta

In September 2010, I began my journey as a new mother with the birth of my daughter, Veda. I had one of life’s best gifts, a thriving, healthy, and joyful baby. Yet, I felt depleted, isolated and overwhelmed. My mind was taking me to dark places and dead ends. Luckily, my interest in Ayurveda led me to find Vedika Global and its 2-month Ayurvedic Self-Care Course when I really needed mind, body and spirit relief. The day I entered Vedika, my life was instantly transformed.

A large part of my transformation and relief came from the physical benefits of eating Ayurvedic food and applying Ayurvedic knowledge to my postpartum daily life.  Ayurveda helped me understand which foods to increase and/or decrease in my diet to ensure my daughter and I were properly nourished and eating foods that would promote self-healing. I learned the importance of eating sattvic, or “pure” foods such as ghee (clarified butter) and kitchari (mung bean and basmati rice stew). Including sattvic foods in my diet helped to calm my mind and provided the practical aspect of “loving oneself,” which allowed me to be more present with myself and my daughter. I began to feel more engaged, strong and nourished.

Becoming and being a mother has such a physical impact, and living an Ayurvedic lifestyle gave my body the support it needed. But I also learned how to feel supported spiritually as I was introduced to the spiritual philosophy of Vedanta at Vedika Global.

My first experience with Vedantic teachings ignited my inner fire and consciousness. I was introduced to an important Vedic concept called moksha, which means “freedom from the mind, body and samsara (world) and being in union with your highest self, and Brahman (God).” As my teacher Acharya Shunya ji, stated, “Moksha is your birthright. You were born free. You just forgot. Moksha, however, is accessible right here and now, in every moment.”

As I began to contemplate what moksha meant to me, and how I could integrate this concept into my life, I saw that I had been focusing on my shortcomings and not treating myself as the free, whole person that I was. I was so overwhelmed with all of the responsibilities and decision-making that a new mother has to make, such as: do I co-sleep, do I vaccinate, is she getting enough breast milk, when do I introduce solid foods, which medicine do I give and not give when she is sick. The list of questions went on and on. The responsibilities felt so burdening, and in turn, I was focusing on all of the things I wasn’t doing rather than all of the love and nurturing I could provide to my child. Clouded by self-doubt and criticism, I had forgotten my divine, whole, and complete nature.

Through the teachings of moksha, I was able to regain strength and belief in myself both as a person and as a mother. I allowed myself personal time to take walks, meditate, and journal about my connection to my higher self, God, and nature. During these times, I was finally able to relieve myself of negative talk, over-thinking, and judgments. I was able to focus more on my inner light, my child, and to give myself more love and gratitude for sacred divinity. Once I began to love myself more, the freer I felt from all of the negative stories that my mind was creating. I felt a deeper connection to myself and was able to focus more on honoring my mind, body, and spiritual needs, which greatly benefited my family and myself.

While I continued my studies at Vedika Global, in part by attending Satsanghas, which later became the Vedic Studies Program, I became pregnant with twins. During the pregnancy, I received a lot of negative facts and statistics on what could go wrong, and I was immediately labeled as having a “high risk pregnancy” by my Western health care providers. But I wanted to enjoy my pregnancy and connect with my twin babies while in the womb in a calm and nourishing way, despite being fed so much fear about what could happen. I reminded myself of this state of moksha, always accessible to me, and in doing so I was able to focus on the abundance and blessings I had rather than feeling overburdened and stressed. When my mind wanted to grab onto fear and tell itself negative stories, I chanted a very powerful mantra, the Gayatri mantra, which my guru had taught me. I was able to use the Gayatri mantra to anchor my consciousness in moksha and light, which reminded me that I was strong, limitless, and able to handle whatever situation came my way. I was free, and therefore, capable of rising above the chaos of the world. I continued to eat an Ayurvedic diet during and after my pregnancy with the twins, and as a result, I felt much stronger throughout my pregnancy and through the post partum period compared to my first experience with my daughter. I was able to eliminate much better, I felt more physical strength, and overall more centered. And the birth of my twins occurred naturally without any complications.

While integrating moksha into my life, my teacher’s father, Tata ji shared with us another important Vedantic principle: “Vedanta is about oneness, connectivity of all humans and living beings.” Watching my 3 young children play so freely, I realize how beautifully engaged they are in their moksha state. They organically connect to nature each and every day. They lovingly point to birds flying above, playfully chase squirrels, dig in the dirt for worms, shout with glee when they find roly-polies, dig for crabs at the beach, and notice the bounty of plants, flowers and all of mother nature’s gifts. My children provide the space for me to join them in this free state. I connect to my children, nature’s elements, and the divine beauty and grace of life more now than I ever have before. I join my children in being truly awake and free.

I have also noticed how my children, living in this state of moksha, share and spread so much light to so many different people. The connectedness they feel towards others inspires me and allows me to live in deeper and more meaningful ways, and I find myself sharing smiles, waves, and conversation with others in positive and uplifting ways, and thereby spreading feelings of moksha and freedom to others.

My children and I are very grateful to be able to grow together with this knowledge guiding us all. I feel mind, body, and spirit relief, and I am able to display the importance of living a spiritual path to my children. In turn we all continue to grow and learn from one another. I am very blessed and grateful!