What happens when your heart opens? What does it feel like? How do you hold onto that moment, and bring it into the next moment, and the next?
These are among the questions that have arisen in my life during the last few weeks of the Sadhana Challenge. Spring Navaratri began on Monday, Maa Durga has definitely been here! Chandra once told me a few years ago that she noticed Durga entering people’s lives when they needed to be held by a strong Mother. Deep work with the fierce Tara and blissful Kamakhya lately have opened a sort of internal churning, a kind of burning away and cleaning out of the cobwebs, facilitated and held by work in community, and by sitting and doing sadhana every day. The strong and yet gentle embrace of Chandi (another name for Durga) has been a welcome energy.
Yesterday, I didn’t do my sadhana in the morning. I awoke late, and had to run out the door without sitting. Did I feel guilty? Yes! But then I remembered that we’re not allowed to use the Sadhana Challenge as a tool to beat ourselves up. We do the best we can – we make a commitment each day to do our best, to bring ourselves closer to the Divine in our own way. The Challenge was set for morning practice, but what happens when I skip that morning practice?
Instead of giving up, I instead sat and meditated before bed, working with our peace mantra. There was a sweetness to it, and I noticed the subtle difference between starting my day with sadhana, and ending with it. Morning sadhana for me is about building and strengthening foundation, and evening sadhana more about reconciliation – bringing together scattered energy, releasing things I’ve picked up during the course of the day, calming and centering after being in the world. It reminded me that spiritual practice isn’t something we can put in a box and bring out when it’s convenient – the work is continual, and the more we can be aware in each moment, the more power we have to transform our lives, to bring us closer to that Divine spark that unites each of us.
I hope that your sadhana has thus far brought you peace and insight. Do feel free to share your progress, your frustrations, how you’ve handled or felt about missing a day or a week, and what brings you back to the practice again and again.
It’s always tempting for me to judge myself, to compare myself to others. But these are just manifestations of my inner demons. This week, I meditate on Maa Durga, and how She killed the buffalo demon, Mahishasura, who was threatening to kill the world. Her myth is a powerful metaphor for the internal work we do, in order to live in peace and harmony in the world. When I focus energy on conquering my inner demons, on examining my actions and reactions with humility and fierce, unrelenting compassion (and a healthy dose of humor!), it helps to direct the way toward peace and understanding. Lately, I see Durga’s trident as being made of that fierce love and compassion, of deep truth and kindness, plunged into the heart of darkness and despair.
Wherever you are in the world, and however you are doing with your sadhana, I wish you all the blessings of Maa Durga, and peace and happiness, my sisters and brothers on this spiritual journey.