You have strengths. Powerful abilities. The capacity to overcome challenges.
We all have stubborn tendencies. Aspects of our being that keep us blocked in some ways. Parts of who we are that keep us stuck.
You have vulnerabilities. Sweet spots. A soft side. Places in you that are wide open.
We all have weaknesses. Instabilities. Shaken grounds. Dark holes that threaten to swallow us.
You are a woven together tapestry of triumphs and disappointments, hurt spaces and a healing forces, habits and surprises.
We are complex beings. We can rise after we fall. We can collapse without any apparent reason. We can reach new heights and run faster to further distances than ever before. We are tough and tender. We are predictable and filled with twists and turns. We are fierce and gentle, able and helpless, in charge and controlled by forces greater than our own.
We are work in progress. And we have to learn how to stay open for business while under construction. We make changes. We transform. We evolve. And we find ourselves facing the same issues over and over again. It’s frustrating. And it’s beautiful. Because we are who we are. And we have the power to shift and make ourselves better versions of ourselves.
We battle our demons. And when we learn to dance with them they give us breaks. We can slay them and rise triumphantly. But we need to remember that they will forever hide in the shadows and give us opportunities to battle them again. They are ours.
I’m here in Tel Aviv to support my sister and her newborn baby. I wanna be with her as much as I can, and help her out around the house, and keep her company on those new mama moments, when the loveliness turns to loneliness. When the postpartum cloud conceals the sun of new life.
My kids are here with me. Since my daughter is missing school on this beautiful trip, I need to help her with all the independent study and make sure she’s completing all the tasks her school set us up with. It’s enough to keep our day full.
Between all of that, plus making sure everyone is eating healthy, and I’m getting my exercise, and the kids get enough outdoor play time, and enough sleep, I feel like I am not getting to everything. Like I’m not not doing enough.
But it’s nothing new. I never feel like I’m getting to everything. I never feel like what I do is enough. I never feel like I’m enough. Boom! I never fucking feel like I’m enough. I’m not perfect. And not perfect is just not good enough. It’s an old wound. My most stubborn tendency. It’s my buffalo demon.
Durga – the powerful Hindu goddess who slays demons, rides a lion, looking gorgeous as she rules the battlefield, and mothers the whole of the universe – is famous for destroying a buffalo demon. Her victory is celebrated in India every Fall (and Spring) in a holiday called Navaratri (nine nights). The celebration is happening right now. It’s a nine night festival to worship The Goddess. It started on September 29th and continues till October 8th.
Durga is beauty and badassness. Her name means: Tough Going. And she is the nourishment and love that breathes us alive as creatures. She is our protective power. She’s our feminine ferocity. And she’s our graceful, gentle, giving spirit.
With Durga we live on the battlefield – working to become who we are inspired to be, battling to accept ourselves more fully, opening to receive all of our parts, but not surrendering to our self destructive or self diminishing tendencies.
With Durga’s power we can also rise to support others in need, fight for the rights of the oppressed, stand for something greater than ourselves.
She rides a lion because she wants to tell us about our sovereignty. And as the queen of the animal kingdom, she reminds us that we’re never only sovereign – we are always part wild. Our work on the battlefield of our lives is never done. Self mastery isn’t a goal to achieve, but rather a process to engage. She’s not the expectation to gain a state of perfection. She’s not the pressure to count our a achievements. She’s the invitation to ask ourselves: Am I fulfilled? In this messy process of living as me, am I learning to live and love me as me?
The buffalo demon holds all of our big, fat, heavy, stubborn tendencies – individually and collectively. Our stuckness. Our blockages. He’s how hard it is not to become rigid or complacent. One of his super powers is that he’s a shapeshifter.
Our most powerful demons are shapeshifters, aren’t they? Disguise is one of the most dangerous weapons they have. When we don’t recognize our issues, when they show up in disguise, it’s much harder to deal with them, to move through them, to overcome the hardships that they create.
After a long and super hard battle with this shapeshifter demon, Durga catches him in the vulnerability of the space between forms. Right in the moment as he changes from a man back into a buffalo, she gently places her foot on his head, and he surrenders, slowly melting and sinking into the earth.
The secret is that what makes him lose the battle is the softness of her feminine power that is revealed as she places her foot on his head. He just can’t handle it.
What would happen if we approached our most heavy, stubborn, intense parts – the ones that ooze with struggle and shame, the ones that are filled with self destruction – with softness, receptivity, and acceptance?
My imperfections are driving me crazy sometimes. And my perfectionism is my most harming of demons. What if I caught the space between my imperfections and my perfectionism and allowed that vulnerability to be received by my own softness?
Aum Dum Durgaye Namaha.
You can chant it while sitting in meditation, as you breathe consciously. You can do it for a moment, right before bed, or while you get ready to face the day. Chant it whenever a painful, repetitive thought about yourself arises, when you feel hurt and sad or angry. Do it while driving, or while you’re in the shower. Sing as you cook or clean or cry.
Sing this mantra, and remind yourself of your greatness, or as a reminder to be less forceful and more gentle with yourself. Sing it to invoke your strength. Sing it to empower yourself. Sing it to remember to love you. Sing it to learn to live in your skin. Sing it nourish your relationship with yourself. Sing it when you need to get on the battlefield.