Kali is the dance of creation and destruction:
one cannot be without the other.
In choosing one and rejecting the other, she appears
as a fragmented sense of self and world.
Day 5 was Sunday. I woke up, lit a candle at Kali's altar, and read this email about creation and destruction, grief, and these two demon kings Shumbha and Nishumbha, who symbolize arrogance and self-doubt/unworthiness within our consciousness.
I really loved the way "demons" were defined in this email, as "rejected parts of ourselves." And in my practice of self-inquiry and dialogue with these demon kings that morning, what I discovered was that although they differ in many ways, what's similar is that both of them want a rest, and they both need to be loved and to feel safe and secure enough to relax and let go, to just shut their mouths and chill. And they need to know they are lovable just as they are.
It reminded me of this:
When I felt complete with that practice, I went to Ecstatic Dance. A beloved community member/poetess/healer/friend/teacher/dancer/beautiful-soul had just recently passed away. And the air was thick with grief. I recalled the poem shared in the morning's email:
Your grief for what you’ve lost lifts a mirror
up to where you’re bravely working.
Expecting the worst, you look, and instead,
here’s the joyful face you’ve been wanting to see.
Your hand opens and closes and opens and closes.
if it were always a fist or always stretched open,
you would be paralyzed.
Your deepest presence is in every small contracting
The two as beautifully balanced and coordinated
I felt into my own grief, my grief over many losses, mostly recent, some old. And I danced with this grief and those demon kings. I acknowledged destruction and death as part of creation and life. I left dance feeling pretty good. Feeling a sense of oneness and acceptance with all that is.
But then I went to do a move-out inspection at a condo I own, and when I discovered that my tenant, who was breaking her lease early, not only failed to clean the place, but also scratched up the floor, I lost it. If only I'd lost it in an angry, empowered type of way. But no. Instead I lost it, as in I felt distraught and disoriented, disappointed, and stressed out.
That night I went home and re-lit the candle I'd started burning for Kali in the morning. The first 4 days I'd always let the candle burn all the way down. But Sunday morning, I had to leave home before it was done. So i lit this candle again, sat at the altar, started chanting kreem, kreem kreem, om kreem kalika-yai namaha, but I wasn't feeling it. I stood up, walked away, leaving the candle burning, and out of my mouth came these words as a song: Burn, burn, burn away, anything that's no longer serving me."
As I walked through my house taking care of various things, like the dishes and getting ready for bed, these words continued to be sung through me over and over and over again.
Burn, burn, burn away, Anything that's no longer serving me.
I went to bed feeling pissed off, but in a peaceful way, excited to see what gets burned away.
So I'll leave you with these questions:
What parts of yourself are you rejecting?
What's no longer serving you that needs to be burned away?
It's official. I've started. 108 days of yoga. 108 days all in a row. Yoga every day for 108 days. Haven't regularly practiced yoga in over a year. But I'm doing this. And it started today.
The best I ever felt in my body was when I was attending yoga classes at least 4 times a week. It's been a long time since I was in that routine. And over the past few months in particular, my body has been crying out, yearning for it, begging for it, whispering in the mornings: "yoga. you need to get back into yoga." And I kept saying, "yeah, yeah, I know, I know," but never doing anything about it. Until now.
Thanks to someone I met a few weeks ago-- let's call him my yoga angel-- who recommended this Ultimate Yogi Program with Travis Eliot. A few days later, I ordered it as a birthday gift to myself. And I chose today as the start date. This means, if I did my math right, I'll complete the 108 days on December 30. Feels like a good way to close out this year and prepare for a new one. Feels like a good way to take care of myself and be the healthiest and happiest I can be.
So last night I set the stage: I unrolled my mat. Put a block next to it. I rolled out the cart with my tv/dvd-player. And this morning, I rolled out of bed and onto the mat. Popped in the first DVD, the one for Day 1. Got into the flow. And it felt like coming home.
I smiled. I cried. And a few times I even roared; the twists are what brought those out, and it felt like Kali working her magic.... It felt good to let whatever emotions and sounds come out that needed to move through me as my body delighted in moving and stretching again in these familiar ways.
I'm not sure how much I'll be sharing "from the mat" over these 108 days. But considering I'm also in the midst of a 21-day Kali Ma Sadhana, I have a feeling some insights will be had and will wish to be spoken and shared here. Time will tell though; it always does....
Until next time, I'll just ask you this: What's something your body has been asking you for, that you haven't been giving it? What can you start doing that will make your body say, "thank you! thank you for loving me."? And when will you begin? Then mark your calendar. Commit. And enjoy.....
I'm feeling sad tonight, as I sit down to write this, and felt some sadness earlier. Lots of resistance and anger today too. Various stages of new and old grief bubbling up to the surface. And yet, I feel like this Sadhana, and especially this morning's phone retreat, is helping me remain calm and just breathe through it, observe it, be with it-- or rather recognize that I am "it." I am all of it. I am creation. I am inspiration. I am the trigger. I am the grief. I am the anger. I am the pain. I am the fear. I am the child. I am the woman. I am success. I am the failure. I am the stress. I am relief. I am the yin. And I am the yang. I am it all. I am that....
And that is all I'll say for now.
No, I won't silence myself. I'll fight with myself, this part of myself that doesn't want to write. And I'll love that part too, so she can soften and relax enough to let the words flow. So here it goes:
This morning I received some inspiration to offer a newmonthly women's gathering in one of my meetups as well as a weekly meditation. So before our 10a.m. Sadhana call, I got online and created the event postings. It felt so exciting to have such clarity and put these offerings out into the world!
But while inviting Facebook friends to the meditation, I was scrolling through the list of names and realized that my ex-boyfriend's best-friend/ex-wife and mother-of-two-little-boys-i-loved-spending-my-weekends-with must've just recently unfriended me. So fucking what? Who cares? But it hurt.
A short but sharp pain in my heart. A reminder of loss. A reminder of past hurts. And just when I thought I was almost ready for the "no contact" phase to end; just when I thought I was almost ready to see if we could be "just friends." But this pain in my heart today caused me to pause. To feel into the pain again, to be with it, to breathe through it. And to know it's ok; it's not even about him, or her; it's about me and part of my emotional cleansing.
And then it was time to get on this phone call with Chameli Ardagh and my yogini sisters. I didn't feel very present. But I lit some candles, took some notes, and painted my nails red in honor of Kali. And after the call, it was time to turn off my phone, turn off wifi, and dedicate the afternoon to editing my manuscript. I was determined, and I'd declared this intention last night and again first thing when I woke up.
I heard the word "Purge." I knew this meant more than just get some stuff out of the house, but there was already a bag of stuff waiting to go, plus a couple more items to add to it. So I hopped in my car and drove that bag over to Goodwill, thinking I'd edit upon my return home.
I ended up in bed.
I felt tired, and I recognized this particular version of sleepiness as resistance (I don't wanna....). Resistance to the pain, the grief, the sorrow that's still inside, some of it ancient, some of it new. (I don't wanna feel bad; I don't wanna cry; I don't wanna be distracted and drained by these emotions, thoughts, and memories....) Resistance to working on my book. Resistance to spending a beautiful sunny day inside, when originally a day trip had been planned but then cancelled.... [sigh]
So I ended up in bed for an hour. And then? I felt great! Ta da! I am it all. The ups and downs. The ebbs and flows.... But I still didn't want to write. I wanted to go out and enjoy the day! So I made plans to meet a friend for a walk, and talked to some other friends on the phone before that.
All in all, I felt pretty good. Happy to have decided to let go of my "I must stay at home and work all day" mindset. But I ended up at my parents' house, where I received some disturbing news, and that stirred up a whole other world of grief and fear and sadness. So I sit with that now. I sit with it all. Not feeling agitated over it. But feeling it. Being with it. Being it. Breathing it. Accepting it. Holding the polarities. Holding myself.
This morning I sat at my altar, lit a candle, and said "Kreem, kreem, kreem." And then? Silence. She asked for silence. I needed silence to drop in and hear. So I continued silently, om kreem kalika-yai namaha, for a minute or two and then I stopped. Lion's breath, tongue sticking out, unplanned; it just happened. And then? My torso slumped, my chin dropped to my chest; this was remarkable, as for years I've frowned upon the tendency for those in prayer to hang their heads-- instead I've advocated looking up, not down. But my body wanted this, and so I followed. I allowed. I surrendered. I waited. And I noticed myself wanting to curl up even more, into a ball, and perhaps disappear or morph into some other form.
And then my spine straightened up, unfurled. My head tilted back, neck exposed. Sweet relief and anticipation. A smile. And then some fear. Is she going to slice my throat, sever my head?
And that's when Kali appeared.
No, she said as she stroked my throat gently, lovingly, motherly.
It doesn't always have to be violent, you know.
This change and transformation doesn't always come as a shock or a trauma, or even as chaos.
Sometimes yes. But always? No.
It doesn't need to be violent, you know.
It can be easy, gentle, gradual, and smooth.
And either way,
you can be held and supported all the way through.
Yes, I replied, I do know. And thank you, Kali Ma, thank you.
I've been feeling her holding me, especially in bed at night, like a big sweet mama. I feel her revealing more of herself to me, revealing the loving, compassionate mother she is....
And then as my day went on, her fierce side came out again. It started when I got onto the freeway and started feeling some stress about traffic. She appeared out in front of my face, and smaller than the size of my head, swinging her sword all around as if to clear my path-- and that included cutting cords and cutting through limited ways of thinking.
Several hours later, while going for a walk, I saw and felt her there again, just a little bit out in front of me, swinging her sword all around, nonstop.
I could get used to this.... Kali Ma as my guardian angel, protector, and guide....
Om kreem kalika-yai namaha.
I wasn't going to share this here in my blog. I was only going to share it with the other women who are on this journey with me. But we are all on this journey; whether you know it or not, you're on it too. And one thing I'm being asked is to express myself more and to share my writing with the world, to not keep it inside or for a select few-- this is what I'm here for; this makes me feel more fully alive. I won't silence myself anymore. So here is the continuation of yesterday, Kali Ma Sadhana, Day 2:
Why am I here? In this Sadhana now because I'm tired of the power illusion has over me. I want to strengthen my ability of Truth-knowing and Truth-telling, as well as my ability to Let Go of that which no longer serves me and put more energy into Creating what does.
What does my longing pull me towards? I feel pulled towards writing, but fear holds me back. I feel pulled towards cultivating healthier, more fulfilling relationships. I feel pulled towards nature. I feel pulled towards animals. I feel pulled towards Simplicity and Ease.
What is ready to die? What's ready to die are the lies, the lies I tell myself, the ways I hide, and how I deny what I feel in my bones.
What makes me come alive? Being outside, teaching, loving, dancing, laughing. Touch. Dropping in to my body, senses heightened. Merging with the Universe. Remembering what's True and what matters most.
--- Interesting. After writing that, I realized the prompt was "What makes my heart come alive?" not "What makes me come alive?" So I asked again and shut my eyes, and the first thing that came was "singing." Didn't expect that! What else? Whistling, kissing, eye gazing, caressing, Sheng Zhen, the wind, child-like laughter, children laughing, tickle-induced laughter, and the feel of a dog or cat licking my toes. Being twirled around on the dance floor or in an embrace. Being seen, being received, being loved. And loving.
What do I want? I want freedom. I want power-- as in the energy and knowing of a strong creative force in me. I want elation. I want peace. I want to cut through all the bullshit and get right to the point. I want a dog. And a good man. I want to be a mom. And I want a couch, a comfortable one. And I want to teach more and finish the book I'm writing and get my writing out into the world. I want to create, create, create. I want to stop damming up this river of nearly constant ideas and inspiration. I want to let it flow. I want to let go.
I woke up to an email from Chameli & The Awakening Women team, with today's practices and was pleasantly not surprised to see that today's practices were heavily focused on wants.
Over the past month or so, I'd been getting more practice than ever in clarifying and asking for what I want, especially in difficult situations. From requesting an face-to-face breakup do-over to stating my terms for allowing an early lease termination, I have been on a roll.
And to top it off, yesterday a hypnotherapy session ended up revealing a need to focus on knowing that not only can I ask for what I want, but guess what! ....I can get it. ;)
And it's true; pretty much everything I've asked for lately, I have received.
So this morning I sat at my altar for Kali again. I lit a candle. I chanted. I stood up and energetically rinsed myself in Bhairavi Kali's fire. And I asked, "what do you want for me?"
Freedom, flow, openness. I want you to step into your magnificence.
I want you to have all you want,
to stop holding back,
to stop playing small.
"Bhairavi, what do you want for me?" I asked again.
I want love, passion, and pleasure for you.
An abundance of peace, ease, and joy,
As well as rage, sorrow, and wild storms.
Bhairavi, what do you want for me?
I want you to hold yourself in the highest regard and treat yourself like the queen that you are.
I want you to drop the veils of separation and illusion.
I want you to be fierce in your pursuit of Truth and in telling it like it is, no holds barred.
Bhairavi, what do you want for me?
I want you to stop with the nonsense, the distractions, the time sucks and energy drains.
I want your focus laser sharp; you have important work to do.
I want your energy clean and strong.
I want you to trust yourself, especially when it comes to walking away.
Bhairavi, what do you want for me?
I want an end to anything that's stopping you.
I want you to fly.
I want you to roar.
I want you to remember, and do, what you came here for.
As I went through my day, I felt a sense of strength and this fiery energy within me. A few things happened that pissed me off or threatened to stress me out, but I kept my cool as this fire burned inside. I knew the right path, the right words and actions to take. I also continued asking for what I want and even landed myself a new meditation teaching gig! All in all, today was a pretty amazing day. Thank you, Bhairavi, for wanting what you want for me.
My conversation with Bhairavi this morning set the stage for tonight's self-inquiry and Sankalpa Shakti activation. But it's late. And I'm tired. So perhaps more on Sankalpa another time....
So much has fallen apart over the past month. Let's see what else....
Been feeling fed up lately with all that's out of alignment in myself, in others, in this world.
I call on Kali to not only help me see the Truth, but to speak it. And not only to speak it, but to act on it.
Off with their heads! Including my own.... Away with anything that's getting in the way.
It's time to step into something bigger and better than ever before. It's time to destroy and to create.
I am ready.
Today is the first day of a 21 day journey. And the timing couldn't be more perfect. Two days after a painful breakup, I saw an ad on Facebook for a 21 Day Kali Ma Sadhana with Chameli Devi & the Global Yogini Circle that would be starting a few weeks later. Usually I take some time to consider whether or not to sign up for something, especially when I've already declared that "I will not be signing up for anything in September!" ;) But Kali was calling. She has been for some time now, especially over the past couple of years. And anytime I ignore her call, or continue with anything or anyone that's out of alignment with the Truth of who I am and what I want, there's hell to pay.
So rather than avoid, deny, or put it off for another day, I decided to sign up , to dive right in. To face it all. So bring it on, Kali Ma, bring it on.
I've been preparing for you, apparently. I woke up to an email with the assignment for this day 1: create an altar. I learned that red and black are your colors. I smiled. Three walls of my bedroom are black. And one curtain is red. I sleep in your altar every night; I just didn't know it until now.
But still I created a sacred little space and an altar just for Kali during these 21 days. And then I lit a candle and recited Om kreem kalika-yai namaha (I bow my head to Mother Kali, Destroyer of Illusion.) over and over until I noticed something strange and started to cry. At first my voice was strong and stable. But then it got quieter and quieter, as if I were losing my voice. But it hadn't even been very long. So what was happening? Perhaps I was being silenced.
What do you want me to do? I asked through my tears.
I saw an image of Kali, eyes wide, reaching for her sword. I felt a sense of rage and then heard a response, "Don't ask me what to do; you know very well what to do."
And it's true. I know deep down, always, what's true and what's right. And yet my thoughts sometimes get in the way, try to convince me otherwise.
It's time for that to change. So, off with my head! And into my body, into my heart, into my soul I go.
That's all for now. I love the thought of sharing about this experience, in writing, each day. But I make no promises. Time will tell. It always does....
And in the spirit of Kali, two questions for you to consider: What needs to be destroyed, or has already fallen apart, in your life? And how can you be loving to yourself, and feel loved and supported by others, during difficult times of change?
And if you're interested in Kali, meditation, or anything I write, you also might enjoy this blog entry from April 2014: http://rebeccacliogould.blogspot.com/2014/04/adventures-in-meditating-devoured-by.html
Rebecca Clio Gould is a Certified Sheng Zhen Teacher and Holistic Wellness Coach. Her specialties include self-love, embodied joy, women's sexuality, spirituality, surgery preparation, and trauma recovery. She is also a Supreme Science Qigong Instructor, Essence vs Form Coach, and Award-winning Author of "The Multi-Orgasmic Diet: Embrace Your Sexual Energy and Awaken Your Senses for a Healthier, Happier, Sexier You."