I recently went through a big shift in life when I let go of a group I had been religiously attending and committed to for the past year and half. I also cleaned out all my closets and drawers in my house, and took inventory of how I was spending my time and who I was spending it with. Everything needed a recalibration – no matter how big or small.
In the added space I created from letting go of what wasn’t in alignment anymore, I immediately got an intuitive hit to fully commit to honoring Navaratri this year. For those of you who aren’t familiar, Navaratri (also spelt Navratri) is a Hindu festival celebrating, honoring and worshipping the Goddess for nine nights. Navaratri literally means nine nights. It is a sacred time of year to spend journeying deep within oneself, praying, meditating and communing with the Divine/Brahman/God/etc. It is a time of drawing forth the Spirit that dwells inside of you.
Navaratri is the celebration of light overcoming darkness.
When I got the divine download to fully commit myself to the holiday I instantly felt an uprising surge of energy course through my body. “This is gonna be goooooooood,” I intuitively knew.
I immediately requested pujas (ceremonies of worship) at Amma’s temple in India for all nine nights and committed to performing pujas in my own home as well. I dedicated additional time throughout my day to sit in meditation. People will oftentimes fast during Navaratri, but let’s be honest...I would end up strangling myself or someone else. Not a good idea! So I decided to cleanse with primarily fruits and nuts. Totally manageable! Ha, and yes...I even stuck to my cleanse when I attended a black tie gala at Rancho Valencia. Truth be told, it was easy...I wasn’t tempted or frustrated ONCE the entire nine days. I might have been lame at social gatherings but never was I tempted, frustrated, or irritable.
First off, one of the biggest reminders that surfaced through observing Navaratri was the power of devotion. I wasn’t on a cleanse for a physical reason, but a reason of the heart. Everything I did was an offering to Ma – the Divine Mother. I gave up what we all believe to be nourishment here in the physical world to be nourished and sustained by Her – her Shakti and her Love.
I also had major realizations working with the deities. My relationship and understanding of each dramatically deepened, even after 7+ years of working with the murtis. (A murti is a statue of a deity.) In Navaratri 3 nights are devoted to each Goddess: Durga, Lakshmi and, lastly, Saraswati.
When Durga was on the altar, I was reminded of how she is the fierce mother driving me FORWARD in life. Anything that I was dragging my feet about – within myself, in relationship or related to work – was no longer accepted. Immediately, I started to push forward, gain momentum and velocity as I tackled anything and everything that had been on my to-do list.
Durga was INTENSE. I’ll be honest. There was a lot of tears and releasing. Not in a suffering way by any means, just a deep soulful clearing. It actually felt really good. Ya know how clear and beautiful the sky becomes AFTER the storm??? That’s exactly how my heart felt after a few days of giving myself completely to Durga.
When it came time to put Lakshmi front and center I was so surprised to find how extremely gentle her energy was. She’s soooo sweet! Ha, profoundly different than Durga! After my deep soulful clearing with Mama Durg, Lakshmi came in and REFINED me. She smoothed out any leftover rough edges, and polished anything that was dull.
I received her wisdom and guidance regarding a few areas of my personality that were “prickly” and at times borderline “obnoxious” (hahah and quite possibly frighteningly annoying to others). There was nothing to necessarily be released during my time with Her, but rather everything associated with “refinement” and “beauty.”
Also, because Lakshmi is the goddess of abundance, I think people have the misconception that it just takes a prayer to Lakshmi and a check will show up in the mail. I didn’t receive a lump sum of money from an unknown source, but what Lakshmi did grant me was tremendously insightful IDEAS about my work and offerings, and my hunch is, when implemented, they will bring forth the abundance in many forms, including monetarily.
Lastly...Saraswati took me deep. DEEEEP. She is the goddess of wisdom, writing, speaking, music, study, etc. I have worked with one Saraswati murti for the past 5 or 6 years while writing, but something inside of me stirred for a specific murti my dear friends have on the altar in their temple.
I actually had asked my friend, Manoj, if I could buy this specific statue from them in January. Even though Manoj is my homeboy, he told me no, but he would bring me one just like it from India. For some reason I passed...just didn’t feel right.
As synchronicities would have it (which Saraswati orchestrates these), I ran into Manoj a few days before Navaratri began down at the Vedanta Center. To make a long story short, he told me that I could have Her – the Saraswati I had originally felt drawn to!
This specific murti had been on their altar in their temple for 7 years, and in January he wasn’t ready to part with her, but he shared that he knew now was the time. Something had shifted. And not a shift in him, or even that I was now ready to take her home...but that SHE was ready to TAKE ME. That's how the Goddess works, ya see...
On the first day of Saraswati puja (Day 7 o Navaratri), Manoj and I met at his temple at 11:11am (yes...we both geek out on this stuff so of course we made our date for 11:11). Bless this man’s big beautiful heart as he greeted me and led me into the curtain-drawn temple and sat me down right in front of Saraswati. He led me through an illuminating meditation, teaching and weaving in the symbolism of this beloved Goddess.
“Soon...” he said, “You will realize that she is simply mirroring you.”
In this moment of the ceremony of what felt like initiating Saraswati as my ishta-devata (primary deity residing inside of someone) I broke open in silent tears. I realized that yes, Saraswati is reflecting who I am right now in my life.
I took her all in, the murti steeped in symbolism, and gazed at her holding the Vedas, which represented my great passion for studying and teaching the philosophy. She also holds a musical instrument and her presence resides in the throat, opening one’s heart through music. I am currently busting through some blocks with expressing through my voice and playing guitar (thanks to my new AMAZING guitar teacher!). I took note of her malas, and looked down to see an identical one on my wrist, representing my devotion and commitment to self-realization...my commitment to the Inner Path.
After I brought her home for 3 nights of puja, I was hit download after download of what I am to teach in 2018. I’ve been working on trusting whatever the intuitive hits are, allowing the Divine to simply move through me with the teachings.
“I am just the faucet. You, my beloved, are the water. Pour through me. I pray...please, pour through me. Use me.”
There are too many beautiful and auspicious moments to document here of my 9 nights with the Goddess. But take this with you...
Whatever you believe in, a higher power, a specific path to God, it doesn’t matter, just know that profoundly mystical and auspicious things will unfold naturally if you simply surrender to going DEEP along this path. You will find so much meaning and clarity!!! Over and over through the pujas and meditations last week I would pray with as much devotion, bhakti, and openness I could possibly call forth when I would call out in prayer “TAKE ME DEEP! I am yours. Take me deep. I am willing.”
Deep within us is the I AM presence, the seat of our divinity, the same creative power that orchestrated and maintains this entire Universe. Going deep is the brave quest of the mystic – the courageous willingness to go into the darkened aspects of the soul and bring LIGHT to the shadowy areas of consciousness. Going deep requires one...yes, REQUIRES one to look at the things he/she is repeatedly turning away from out of fear, denial and/or shame.
As Joseph Campbell said, “ The very cave you are afraid to enter turns out to be the source of what you’re looking forward.”
Taking the hero’s/heroine’s journey of the Inner Path this Navaratri has dramatically reinspired me to teach more, write daily, and most importantly...to Love wider, deeper and better, every chance I get.