Reflections in Mirrors and Murtis

I do a practice that is slow, and mindful - deliberate movements flowing with the breath - dancing with the Universal Principles of Alignment of Anusara Yoga. I end with many Urdhva Dhanurasanas - a pose I have avoided because of all the emotional issues it unleashes. But now, as the dry "vata" season of the fall and winter - yield to the wet "kapha" season of spring - I feel drawn to a practice and cleansing rituals that will balance my primary dosha. Something deep inside is awakening once again, after a long hibernation and deep slumber...

For so long, I avoided a practice of intense back bends even though they held up the mirror to where I needed to work. But I was not ready to go there...

If we are honest with ourselves, we will recognize that we are offered many opportunities to see our reflection in the mirrors dear friends hold up to us to do the work that we need. These opportunities come in all our experiences on a daily basis - and often they are offered by those we are most in conflict with. Colin Tipping the author of Radical Forgiveness says these people are truly angels, for they perform a most important task in our lives...

What we avoid, and what we embrace also reflect to us what we need to know and what we need to work on...

I reflect on these things, as I go for a walk in the rain. I review some of the things I was reminded of once again, at a workshop I attended at Willow Street Yoga this weekend, with Dr. Manoj Chalam - a fascinating man - with a doctorate in chemical physics who answered his calling to teach and make available rare and sacred murtis - statues which are truly infused with spiritual energy.

While many might look upon these statues as being mere representations of Hindu deities and therefore dismiss them, Manoj explains they are so much more. Through the telling of the stories of the deities and their symbolism - he reveals how they are really archetypes which Carl Jung recognized as present in our collective unconscious. It is no accident that we are primarily drawn to certain manifestations of these deities. I am amazed at my own attraction to Siva.

I have been drawn to Siva for many years - primarily in his manifestation of the dancing Lord - even before I had embarked on this yogic journey of mine. Years ago, I bought a Siva Nataraja in SoHo in New York because I was mesmerized by it. I knew nothing of the inherent meaning of its symbols. A year ago - a dear friend who is an intuitive - was able to see this archetype of Siva in me - and not really knowing anything about Siva - described this deity as dancing in my heart in a circle of flames. When she saw the murti in my room - she pointed to it.

Deities we resonate are called our "ishta devatas." My intuitive friend also revealed that Jesus and Buddha were also my soul's companions...

The dancing Siva speaks to those who are in a process of radical transformation. One of his hands is held up in the "abhaya mudra" - which is a gesture that says: "Fear not!" This mudra removes fears and uncertainties. A flame in a second hand - exhorts us out of our comfort zone. Another hand holds a drum that represents oneness and multiplicity at the same time. One more hand points down in a gesture that says - "Let it go!" It invites surrender - which is my greatest spiritual lesson in this life. The snakes that wrap and surround Siva represent our desires and invites us to be in control of them.

One foot of Siva stands over a demon that symbolizes our forgetfulness of who we are and our true essence. The wheel surrounding Siva represents the cycle of life. This manifestation of Siva ultimately invites us to live more deeply from our heart center. Siva dances through the chaos of life - symbolizing the changing the unchanged - reminding us that life represents both aspects.

It amazes me that I was drawn to a murti that in effect, summarized my life's greatest issues and the very areas I have been working on these last few years...

I know that my murtis have held up a mirror to those places in me needing work. Last year I purchased several Sivas - one of them doing a one handed handstand - floating in the air without effort. This Siva represents ultimate freedom - and I bought it during the Anusara Yoga Teachers Certified Gathering on a day John Friend had me demo a handstand in a room full of 150 yogis - and in a year that his tour was called "Ultimate Freedom!" This murti is also the symbol of a true "Jivanmukti" - one who is living - remaining embodied while having attained liberation - which is the goal of every yogi and yogini.

This weekend I purchased two Natarajas - one for my home studio, and another for my meditation room.

Ultimately, the murtis reflect our own sacred and Divine nature back to us. We are all murtis - for we are all temples of the Divine. We are also murtis to one another - holding up the mirror to each other - and doing so - is really the greatest gift we can give to another - no matter how painful it may be... And so, I wrote this poem to one such soul who has done this for me, over and over again...

You Held Up the Mirror

you held up the mirror
showing me the places
where I had to do my work

you held up the mirror
pointing the way
to where I needed to heal

you held up the mirror
and revealed the darkness
hungrily seeking the light

I looked and saw
what was there--
trying to remain hidden

you held up the mirror
reflecting the doorway
to the Other Side

you held up the mirror
and like Rumi,
I entered the ruins
of my own heart
and learned the meaning
of humility

you held up the mirror
and like the first bud of spring
my soul began to germinate
yet once again

Who and what holds up the mirror for you to see your own reflection? The opportunities are there - all around you - if you are willing to see them...

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