The Goddesses Series – Durga

This whole journey of exploration of the goddesses’ powers started with Durga. I did not choose that, it was given to me by my teacher from India and it couldn’t have been more fitting, as Durga is all of them, all the goddesses come from her, from her power.

When COVID-19 began to spread around the world and one by one, countries started to go on lockdown and uncertainty, fear and suspicion started to grow as exponentially as the virus, my teacher decided to call an online conference and address the current situation from his perspective, and also to offer remote support for all his students, now spread all over the world. Amongst words of encouragement and incentive for us to keep cultivating our sadhana, he asked us to take an extra practice, which was to do japa (meditation with a mantra and mala beads) for Durga for the next 21 days (the end would coincide with the date for the end of lockdown in India, which eventually didn’t happen as the virus continued to spread and lockdown was extended). I took on the challenge but as I didn’t know much about her, I decided to consult my Goddess book, just so I would know what forces I was dealing with.

It turns out Durga is the goddess to go to when we need strength and courage. She is a warrior goddess, so she knows how to drive us forward when we have to go into battle. She is at the same time the caring mother who reassures us we are good and capable, and the powerful commander, who pushes us beyond what we think our limits are, who wakes up a force within us that is usually dormant, because we cannot see our own strength, blinded by so many generations of conditioning and manipulation designed to weaken us.

But the trick here is that she is usually hidden, just observing us. She sees us battling external forces, but also the more powerful, more cunning internal enemies, thinking we have all under control and using this false sense of control to push things away, bury things further, hide and cover all the demons that are constantly causing havoc inside our hearts and minds. She waits patiently until we push the ego aside and call for help. This is what she is waiting for, to be called forth, so she can show up in all her majesty, riding her lion and using all the weapons she carries in her many hands to destroy ignorance, evil, fear and all that is not our true nature. This internal cleansing manifests externally with a renewed vitality, a recognition of power and ownership of our own lives and what is true to us.

So as I started chanting, I would always feel this overwhelming vibration starting on my stomach going up my chest, throat and head. Sometimes it was almost unbearable and after chanting I had to do grounding practices or go in the water to calm down. I had no idea what I was building up to, until one day it came.

It arrived in a way I wasn’t expecting. At the time I was teaching on a TTC, and with the lockdown, said training had to be interrupted immediately, as all the other trainings happening around the world. A very unfair deal was offered to the teachers to continue the training (this was all unfolding through messages in a Whatsapp group). As I read the messages coming, not really believing the amount of bullshit coming out of some of the messages, that familiar strong vibration started to pulsate in my body. I saw Durga coming and settling herself in my body and I exploded. A mixture of rage and ecstasy coursed through me and my fingers started typing faster than I could think, addressing all the injustice and fighting back the attempts to guilt trip and manipulation, not really caring who was reading that and what the consequences were going to be. It was all coming for a deep place of knowing, a fierce expression of the truth that was embedded in compassion, first and foremost for myself, as I could not tolerate more abuse and lack of respect for our profession. Yoga teachers tend to feel guilty for asking for a fair payment, as there is so much judgement on making money from yoga. I could write an essay on my views on this, but for the context of this post, it is not relevant.

What is relevant here is the power and the eloquence to express this power that manifested in me, there was no fear, no worries about what people would think, it was pure shakti emerging from somewhere deeper than my mind or ego. I never regretted the decision I made during that kind of trance. I knew many people were affected by that decision, and for some this might not have seemed fair, but it was clear to me it was either ignore my own truth and allow abuse of power and manipulation to happen once again, or stand my ground and face the consequences (which in my mind would be things that in the past terrified me: people not liking me, judging me, thinking I am not good enough or that I am selfish). This time it was a price worth paying, also because it was really clear to me what my value is, what my truth is, and that the way other people take my actions are not mine to worry. It is a lesson given to the collective, and everybody has grown their own way by learning to face the circumstances presented to them.

After the initial turmoil, everything eventually fell into place. That strong energy stayed with me for a few days then subsided into a calm, steady energy that pushed me forward to reorganise my life and embrace other opportunities with their own set of challenges that have been overcome one by one. We finished the 21 days period, after which my teacher instructed we stopped with the chanting. The overall intention for this sadhana was to send this powerful energy of courage and strength out to the whole world, so humanity could find inner resources to fight against all the uncertainty and fear that was pervasive then (and still is). If that helped, there’s no way for me to know. All I know is that it helped me immensely step into my own power and not be afraid of it. We can only start healing the collective if we heal the individual wound first, and that was a good starting point for me. I thought this was the craziest wave I had to ride, but had no idea what was in store for me. It was only the beginning…

The Goddess Series continues here, with Shri Radhe.

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