Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Ask Parvati 27: Addiction - Part 4: Getting Help

PART 4: GETTING HELP

(Continued from Hitting Bottom)


In the case of people who have not yet hit bottom, such as Amy Winehouse, it is very hard to help them at all. An example of resistance to admitting you have a problem are her famous lyrics, “They tried to make me go to rehab but I said 'no, no, no’”. Sadly, she did not hit her personal bottom before she died.


This is tragically the case with many addicts. The disease that is about consumption, insatiable wanting, consumes its host. It does not have to be that way. Step one in an addiction recovery program is to admit that you are powerless over your addiction and that your life has become unmanageable. It takes humility to get to step one, because the addict must come to see that the choices her or she is making are in fact not working. No one wants to admit that their life is a mess. Whether you are an addict or not, you need to admit things are not working as they are if you are going to make changes.


For some, bottom can be very ugly. It can involve losing absolutely everything, loved ones, friends, family, possessions, career, and reputation. For some, it involves even losing your life. But if you come close to the edge and wake up to see that you do not want to go any further, you are lucky. You have hit your bottom. For some, that bottom is a near-death experience. For others, it is the reality of losing what they love.


Only when the addict has hit their personal bottom, which is different for everyone, will that person be willing to get the professional help they need for a serious, potentially life-threatening illness. Addicts need professional help.

Deep wounds, fear, rage and shame are at the root of addiction. These shadow emotions when unmet become the feeding ground for addiction. There needs to be a willingness to embrace the darker side of ourselves so that our shadow does not run wild in addiction. Everyone has painful emotions. Everyone can experience fear, rage and shame. The addict must find the courage and humility to open to these painful parts within their shadow so that those places no longer fuel their addict behavior. Looking into these painful places usually requires the support of professionals who are used to supporting addiction recovery.

If you are an addict, the 12 step programs are very powerful and effective. I have seen many, many people benefit from them. But they only work if you are willing to go and do the work to heal and change. There is a saying in the program, “It works if you work it. So work it! You’re worth it!”

You may feel tremendous resistance to going to getting help and to going to your first meeting. That is normal. But just like with any growth edge, we must face our fear and walk through it. If you know someone in the program, call him or her up and ask if you can go together. If you have a friend who would be willing to go, ask him or her to join you. Or simply go. This would be the best thing you would have done for yourself so far.

When there, you may have thoughts like, “I don’t belong here. This is not me. Look at all these losers!” Tell yourself that this is your addict speaking. There is a part of you that has fed on your shadow for likely years. It wants to still feed. But your sober self knows better. You want to make different choices. You want to empower a different part of you now.

You must find the inner strength to no longer feed that part of your psyche. You know that allowing your addict to rule your life does not work. You can hear the voice that doubts and ridicules your healthy choices, but you must give it no energy. Keep going, move towards sobriety and health. There will be ups and downs. But this will be the most important journey you have ever made in your life. At the 12 step programs, you will meet some of the most inspiring people you will ever meet. Those people are a reflection of you.

If you are the child of an addict, I would suggest you to go to an Al-Anon meeting or a support group to help you find the freedom from the pain you likely experienced growing up. You need the support just as much as the addict does. Being around an addict, especially as a child, we tend to internalize the pain they feel and take it on. This also needs professional support. Get the help you need.

EXERCISE

1) Ask yourself, do you need to do any therapy? Could you use more emotional support to help you transition through different aspects of your life?

2) Do you need to go to Al-Anon? If you are a child of an addict, the answer is, yes!

3) Do you need to go to a 12-step meeting? If your life has become unmanageable due to addiction, the answer is, yes!


REMINDER:Don’t forget that tomorrow (Thursday) is the last day for submissions for this week’s Ask Parvati blog. Send your questions to ask@parvatidevi.com


(Continued tomorrow with Helping Versus Enabling)

 

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Ask Parvati 27: Addiction - Part 3: Hitting Bottom

PART 3: HITTING BOTTOM

(Continued from What Is Addiction?)


Pot smoking and drinking are just things people do. Most people my age don’t question them. They are often at parties. We can smell pot walking down the street. The fragrance wafts from the windows of my neighbours’ house. Many people partake, in some form or another. We often don’t question what is really going on when someone is drunk or high. We accept that they are doing that as a way to blow off steam and loosen up. But is it?


Though I have never been into it, I have been around many drugs and alcohol for most of my adult life. Growing up in the art scene and being in the music industry, I have seen how often what we praise as radical or brilliant behavior, is often creativity induced by drugs and fed by addiction.


I think most recently of the tragic death of the talented British singer Amy Winehouse who struggled with the power of addiction. What would her life have been like with different choices? If people around her understood more about the nature of addiction, would she have died so young? As was the case with Elvis, were there social, fan and business pressures that fed her addiction?


In the creative arts, it is easy for people to turn to alcohol and drugs for inspiration, as the alternative reality provides temporary fresh insight into their creative works. In a recent 60 Minutes interview with Anderson Cooper, Lady Gaga is quoted as saying, "I still smoke a lot of pot when I write music. So I'm not gonna, like, sugar coat it for '60 Minutes' that I'm some, like, sober human being, 'cause I'm not.” But soon, users find themselves trapped into dependency and in need of new means to escape the escape. The cycle continues. Drugs and alcohol are not the solution or even a stopgap.


I am fond of the work of award-winning poet, playwright, and filmmaker Julia Cameron whose groundbreaking book The Artist’s Way opened the door to help many find an authentic creative voice, free from drugs and alcohol. The book was the result of her sobriety as she faced her addiction, which had fueled her creative works.


Addictive patterns develop in those with certain tendencies as a means to avoid pain. Part of sobriety is developing the humility to understand that we are powerless over the force of addiction. In accepting powerlessness, we come face to face with the pull of the addiction and begin to let go of the seduction of its power. We begin to find space between the addiction and ourselves.


It is common for addicts to think they are the addiction, but in fact they are not. That is part of the problem. The habit has become their identity. They cannot see the forest for the trees, so to speak. They cannot see their light because they are so focused on their darkness. They cannot see that it is just a habit that has become an identity, but is not in essence who they are.


If you are an addict, it is a lifelong path to maintain sobriety. It is not something that just goes away. Once an alcoholic, one is always an alcoholic, even if that person has not touched a drink for 30 years. The tendency towards addiction remains.


When addicts begin to admit they are powerless over their addiction, they begin to let go of its power. They begin to step backwards, away from the edge of a black hole that can only consume, and move towards personal choice and the ability to manage destructive habits.


There is only one way to face addiction, and that is to have the humility to admit that you have a problem.  Addiction has a gravitational pull that will draw to it other energies in an effort to consume. Addiction is selfish, because the nature of addiction is to consume, to pull, to feed, to take.


The need to consume comes from the identification with lack, with emptiness. Only when the addict has consumed so much that the pain gets too great, will he stop and realize that there is a problem, that his way of avoiding pain is only causing more pain. Then, the desire to change begins.


EXERCISE:


1) Everyone has problems. Everyone has habits. Addicts have made habits into an identity. Ask yourself, if you struggle with addiction, what is your personal bottom? How far are you willing to go before you realize that you have a problem and are willing to get help?


(Continued tomorrow with Getting Help)

 

Monday, August 29, 2011

Ask Parvati 27: Addiction - Part 2: What Is Addiction?

PART 2: WHAT IS ADDICTION?

(Continued from Where Is Addiction?)


Addiction is a serious disease that affects millions globally. The American Society of Addiction Medicine defines addiction as "a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry." In the truest sense, addiction is a compulsion to be involved with a substance or activity despite the negative and harmful consequences associated with it. As such, addiction alters brain chemistry, making users dependent on either a substance or an action in order to sustain and maintain that particular chemistry.


From a psychological perspective, addiction is a compulsive activity that hinders the quality of life. When do you know, for example, if a few drinks every day after work, makes you an alcoholic? People with this habit are likely to say that they can stop at any time. Perhaps they can. So then what makes them an alcoholic?

To find out if a habit like that makes you an alcoholic you need to see if the habit is negatively affecting the quality of your life and the close ones around you. In order to see if it is negatively affecting the quality of your life, you need to be willing to look honestly at yourself. The notion of “negative effect” can be overt, like bankruptcy, divorce, contemplating suicide. Or it can be subtler. For example, perhaps you feel that having a drink is more comforting than speaking with your children or spouse. The drink, which seems to simply "take the edge off", is in fact building a wall between what you feel and your ability to be honest with yourself. Because of that habit, your relationship with your spouse and children suffer. If this is the case, the alcohol habit is an addiction.


I adore the quote attributed to the Buddha, which I feel sums up so succinctly the way our minds work:


“Watch your thoughts, for they become words.

Watch your words, for they become actions.

Watch your actions, for they become habits.

Watch your habits, for they become character.

Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”


There is an important difference between habit and addiction. When we are addicted, we are identified with the habit. That habit defines who we are. It is our identity. We can no longer differentiate between that action and who we are. We fully believe that that drink, or that joint or that hit will take the pain away. It defines our reality.


When we are sober and face a habit, we can see that it either hinders or serves us. We have the self-awareness, the discipline and the willingness to alter that habit and choose healthier ones. In the case of addiction, we identify with that habit as who we are and cannot see it or the possibility of being free from it, so it continues.


In this way, I understand that addiction to a substance may not be the root of addiction. Addiction can come in the form of thoughts, such as a perpetual core belief with which we have fully identified. For example, the idea “I am ugliness” or even “I am darkness” could be so all-consuming that we end up acting in ways that feed that identification. Feeling like a victim would feed that identity. Feeling others are against us would feed it as well. We can believe that we are empty and need to be filled. We then may turn compulsively to substances, work, sports, people or even to religious practices as a means to try to fill ourselves up. We have identified with darkness and act in ways that only feed that reality, until we wake up to the reality that we are not darkness, but are in fact beings of infinite light.


This form of psychological addiction can come in any form. Perhaps it is the idea “I am not enough”, or “I am a nobody”, or “I am incapable”. Any of these kinds of self-effacing thoughts, when we identify with them as who we are, become an addiction. These distorted, root thought forms, when they become our identity, then in turn fuel secondary addictive behaviors, such as substance abuse.


EXERCISE


1) Take a look at what actions in your life are compulsive. See if they negatively affect the quality of your life.

2) Go within, go deeper and ask yourself, are there any core beliefs that seem so pesky that they have become the way you simply see yourself and reality?

3) If you have identified yourself and your reality in impossibilities, are you wiling to see otherwise?


(Continued tomorrow with Hitting Bottom)

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Ask Parvati 27: Addiction - Part 1: Where Is Addiction?

ADDICTION


Dear Parvati,

I have recently been coming to terms with the fact that my parents were alcoholics and I have many tendencies that are typical for adult children of alcoholics. As I come to grips with this, I'm also beginning to see that my partner behaves like someone with an addiction - yet he does not use alcohol or drugs. What is addiction? Is it the inability to stop using something known to be addictive, like alcohol, drugs or cigarettes? Is it addiction if I spend a lot of money on clothes? How can I best support my partner and myself if I am in relationship with an addict? Or if I am one myself?


PART 1: WHERE IS ADDICTION?


Thank you for these important questions. Addiction is very prevalent in our society, I believe far more so than most of us realize. We live in a society with many contradictions. We can praise behavior and habits that may in fact support addiction, and also publicly acknowledge the harmful affects caused by addiction. We consciously speak of the harmful effects of addiction, yet we often bury our heads in the sand when faced with its painful expressions, root and ramifications.


Years ago, there was an excellent article in the Yoga Journal (Nov-Dec 1996) exposing the world’s largest private cancer treatment and research center for heavily investing in the tobacco industry. On one hand, we strive to eliminate diseases; on the other hand, we encourage them. We celebrate many leaders in our entertainment industry, admiring their lives, wishing for their successes; yet too easily ignore the often accompanying struggle with addictions and deviant behavior. Indeed, we are a culture full of paradoxes.


As a musical touring performer who is immersed in the music industry, I have seen how the old paradigm of sex, drugs, rock n’ roll and excess has been glorified. Addiction has taken the lives of many young artists; yet, for the most part, it is the addictive behaviours that seem to make them more popular.


We may think of addiction and think only of someone strung out on crack or someone who lives at a bar. But addiction is much more pervasive and insidious than these more extreme cases. Often unseen and unheard, addiction can seep its way into our lives for years before it becomes a blazing problem we can no longer ignore. I believe this is partly due to the way we socialize, the way we accept and often encourage behavior that feeds addiction.


We commonly accept cigarette smoking as part of society, not questioning it much, not necessarily seeing it as an addiction, yet we also publicly acknowledge its addictive and lethal qualities. Much of our income thrives on the manufacturing and sales of cigarettes and alcohol, which ironically feed addictions that in turn increase medical and social complications.


Though tobacco has a place in the herbal healing arts, as all herbs do, the way it is consumed socially is not medicinal. It feeds addiction and debilitates health. In the same way, though some can argue that small amounts of alcohol can be medicinal, and some like the taste, I believe that the general tendency is to consume alcohol in an attempt to medicate psychological and emotional issues that require clear headed sobriety in order to heal. Native Americans historically called alcohol “fire water”. That was no accident. Alcohol embodies a seductive energy that has the power to fool its user into thinking he or she is in control and can even destabilize an entire culture.


Addictions come in many forms. People can be addicted to drugs, alcohol, pills, sex, gambling, shopping, over- and under-eating to name a few. At the root of addiction is wanting, a hungry force that is never satiated. When we are fueled by wanting, we attempt to medicate and dull uncomfortable emotions though external distractions. Happiness cannot be found this way. Wanting can rule our lives to greater or lesser degrees. Most people have wanting. For an addict, wanting is the way he or she identifies, the way he or she perceives life. If we are to explore addiction and addictive energies in our life, we must be willing to see in which way we have allowed wanting to run our lives.


EXERCISE:

1) Look around you today and observe the way we socially support the notion of wanting in our advertising, in our media, in our interactions, in the way we think.

2) Go within and explore in which way wanting drives your life.

3) Notice the ways your wanting is co-creating with the wanting images and messages around you.

4) See if you are willing to open to the possibility that there is an entire reality beyond wanting, beyond feeling disconnected and lacking. See if you can allow yourself to rest into the notion of perfection in this moment, of being ok with what is.


(Continued tomorrow with What Is Addiction?)

Friday, August 26, 2011

Ask Parvati 26: Follow Your Bliss - Part 6: Today Is The Day

PART 6: TODAY IS THE DAY

(Continued from Priorities, Focus And The Unexpected)


Our lives can get stuck on autopilot unless we have the courage to awaken and embrace growth. No one else will do it for us. Hiding behind jealousy and envy, we can watch others live the dreams we have, as we fill our minds with “could’ve, should’ve, would’ve” regrets. No one but ourselves can create the incentive within us to take the courageous steps towards our personal wholeness and joy. Though we may allow ourselves to become seduced by the temporary allure of excuses, I don’t believe that any excuse is a good enough reason to squelch the unique voice of our soul. We are the guardians of that voice. It is part of the reason we are each here: to honour and give our soul voice the energy, attention and respect it deserves.


Today, pull out a pen and paper and find a quiet place to ask yourself the following questions. Take your time with each one and write as honestly as you can:


1. What are my dreams?

2. In which way do I hold myself back from living these dreams?

3. What excuses do I make?

4. Are these really legitimate reasons or can they be overcome?

5. What am I afraid of?

6. What will I gain if I choose to follow my dreams?

7. What will I lose if I choose to follow my dreams?


Change can be sudden and change can be slow. In that, there is no right or wrong, only what is correct for you. Every flower blooms at its own speed. But if fear holds you back and causes you to be slow, then perhaps it is time for you to challenge that fear and dig deeper to resource your greater courage. If you tend to push at life out of fear, then it is time to pull back and allow things to unfold more organically. Acting out of fear will only lead to fear. No action rooted in the impossibilities will create a positive possibilities outcome.


Each one of us has a unique purpose and raison d’ĂȘtre. Only we can awaken the voice of our soul and follow our bliss. We learn to welcome the signals from the universe that help us hear the call. We become receptive to mentors, teachers and guides of all sorts as we embark and endure our hero’s journey. We will face adversity but our courage and wisdom will strengthen us. As I say in my song Open To This Love:


“Persevere and endear. Life begins after fear.

Doubt and you’re out. Let your soul beauty out.

I know we can grow. We’ve done it since we’ve been here.

We must let go. Love is truly dear.

Obsessing in perfection only tears us apart.

Never mind that attitude. Let’s focus on our heart.

Open to this love.”


Ultimately, when we find and follow our bliss, we touch the immortal realms, because our soul is rooted in the eternal divine. Our bliss is the voice of the divine in us. When we express our bliss, we express the divinity, our highest purpose. When we express our highest purpose, we support the good in all beings, whether others see that or not.


When you follow your bliss, you not only do it for yourself, but you do it for the world. When you say yes to who you are, you are saying yes to life. When you say yes to life, you maintain an energy that says “yes” to life, which touches everyone you meet. It also sends out a “yes life” energy to the universe, which supports all beings, even those with whom you have no physical contact. When you say yes to your soul voice, yes to life, everyone wins.


Finding the courage to follow your bliss is the greatest gift you can give both to yourself and to the world. And the best part is, it feels amazing!


Much grace to you along your path.

Jai Ma,

Parvati



Thursday, August 25, 2011

Ask Parvati 26: Follow Your Bliss - Part 5: Priorities, Focus and the Unexpected

PART 5: PRIORITIES, FOCUS AND THE UNEXPECTED

(Continued from Facing Adversity)


When the twin towers fell in 2001, I was at the piano working on a melody and song idea. At that time, I was living at my parents’ house. My dad was upstairs watching TV. He came running down the stairs, shaken by what he was seeing on TV. “Come and see! It’s staggering!” he said.


I sat there, jaw dropped, stunned by what I was watching televised in real time: the massive banking towers falling to the ground, people jumping from the windows, emergency crews in overdrive. My heart ached at the loss, the horror, the tragedy.


Flooded with emotion, I went from the TV straight back to the piano, where I wrote the song, “You Gotta Believe”, which later I was invited to perform at Madison Square Garden for the city of New York. The lyrics go like this:


If this moment were your very last, how would you want it to be?

What do you need to do to be at peace? Do you need to make that apology?

There’s no better time than this moment we now have to live the way that you want to be.

What will be in your heart when you leave?

You gotta believe in the good of life and what you feel.

You gotta believe in the power of love and what is real.

You gotta believe. You gotta believe.


Would you want to go in the midst of fear or having a temper tantrum?

Would you want to wait until it’s too late to say you could’ve, or you would’ve or you should’ve been?

Are you brave enough to look within? It’s easier to point out other’s sins

Than to see where we each have erred, how we could have cared, how we could’ve shared.

You gotta believe in the good of life and what you feel.

You gotta believe in the power of love and what is real.

You gotta believe. You gotta believe.


Life’s a wake up call, how we’re all afraid to fall without the love we all need.

What will it take, more raising the stakes for your eyes to fully see, for your heart to remember its divinity?


You gotta believe in the good of life and what you feel.

You gotta believe in the power of love and what is real.

You gotta believe. You gotta believe.
© Parvati Devi, 2001


My heart still goes out to all those who lost in the tragedy and to those who rose to the challenge and grew stronger through it. We never know what life will bring, but we know we must live fully. We know that fear and doubt hold us back from the courage to leap into the unknown, let go of the familiar and try something new.


We also know that sooner or later, even when we have embraced that which feels expansive, rooted and vital for us, we will face setbacks. When we are faced with adversity, if we are to live the hero’s journey and follow our bliss, we need to remain rooted on what is real, on the truth of interconnection and on basic goodness.


Our soul is connected to everything. In this way, the goodness of life is beyond the ups and downs, the pain and suffering we create and experience. There is a force beyond it all that I call the golden thread, guiding us through the messes we create and the hurt we can feel.


Life will test us. Especially then, we need to stay true to your vision. We learn through adversity to put the things that are most important as our highest priority. Most of us can get caught up in the nitty-gritty, rather than putting the scary stuff, the challenging stuff first. “Oh, I will get to that later” we tell ourselves, in an elusive attempt to curb our fears. But when does later come? How long are we willing to wait? What is the cost of waiting? It is easy to fool ourselves into thinking that we are growing and doing ok, when in fact, we are hiding and not challenging ourselves to meet our highest potential. All of a sudden you wake up and ten years have flown by.


Following our bliss requires discernment, constant vigilance, keen focus and commitment to honouring the call of our unique inner voice. The universe supports our greatest joy. We must be willing to remain focused on such while we face the ups and downs of life. Staying focused and being prepared to meet the unexpected are part of the hero’s journey and following your bliss.


(Continues tomorrow with Today Is The Day)

 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Ask Parvati 26: Follow Your Bliss - Part 4, Facing Adversity

PART 4: FACING ADVERSITY

(Continued from Managing Fear And Doubt)


“Your sacred space is where you can find yourself again and again.” - Joseph Campbell


There is a reason that Star Wars and the Matrix were such popular movies. We can relate to and feel inspired by the power of the characters that felt a calling and overcame obstacles to live their highest good and serve the highest good of all. The story of the hero’s journey is not new, but an ancient archetype that weaves through many cultures around the world. If you wish to live your bliss, this is the journey you must take.


Even when we let go of the voices that keep us small and muster the courage to go for the things that make us feel alive, we inevitably meet challenges along our path to wholeness. It would be great if all we had to do is ‘go for it’ and suddenly all lights were green. Along the path, we meet test and distractions that attempt to pull us away from our journey. But just like the fear and doubt, adversity is not ultimately “bad”. If we are wise and sober, it brings us closer to our soul purpose.


When we first heard the call of our soul, we needed to face the voices of fear and doubt that told us we couldn’t and shouldn’t. As we move more deeply into alignment with our soul voice, sometimes the road gets tougher and darker before it gets easier and lighter. On the hero’s journey, the hero must face his/her shadow to find wholeness. So too, we are tested in the process of becoming our fullest selves.


I do not believe that adversity is a problem or a sign from the universe that we are off path. Sometimes New Age teachings oversimplify life into, “if it’s all fluid, then you are doing well, and if it is challenging, then you are not in alignment.” You may feel challenged when you meet adversity, but I do not believe it is a sign that you have taken a wrong turn. Only when we face our fears will we be free from them. Only when we stop fighting the dark, will we no longer be afraid to be the light we are.


Nor do I believe it is a good idea to passively let adversity steamroll over us and take the wind out of our sails. We wobble. We fall. We get up. We start again. We learn to be both humble and powerful, because we are aligned not to our personal will but to our soul. Through tests, we learn to honour the voice of our soul, which is connected to the divine source of infinite power.


The very love and spark and deep passion that made us start our journey in the first place is the source to which we return again and again. We may feel afraid. That is ok. We may feel challenged and unsure how to make it through. That is ok. Beyond the doubts and the fears, stronger than the power of the obstacles, we learn to touch with confidence the reality that we are guided, that we are not alone, that we are loved. Though the dark may scare us, we know we are beings of light.


Adversity does not make us stronger, in terms of our ability to push at life with more determination. Pushing only leads to a push back, as the universe must maintain balance. Adversity calls us to connect more deeply to our truth and let go of the temptation to get caught up in anger, fear, doubt, shame, rage and despair. Instead, adversity is an invitation from the universe to resource our energies with discernment, to use them wisely so that we may keep focused on our purpose and on our highest good.


Adversity will come. Obstacles will come. Tests will come. But so too will the help, the angels, the mentors, our very own support crew. The universe conspires to support our greatest joy. In this we will learn to believe. We have to put ourselves out there to discover that our dreams are indeed possible.


(Continues tomorrow with Priorities, Focus And The Unexpected)

 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Ask Parvati 26: Follow Your Bliss - Part 3, Managing Fear and Doubt

PART 3: MANAGING FEAR AND DOUBT

(Continued from Name It To Claim It)

“If you don't follow your dream, who will?” - Emeril Lagasse

When we want to start anything new, we usually experience some level of fear and doubt. Sometimes the fear is so great, that we never make it to the starting line. Imprisoned by our fear, we shackle ourselves to what we believe to be true and look out at life, wondering how we ever are going to live the life we want.

Fear and doubt are not bad. I don’t believe any emotion per se is “bad”. When fear and doubt become overwhelming, they hinder our ability to live fulfilled lives. Some fear when starting a new project or embracing life change is natural and can be an ally. It keeps us alert and on our toes. Fear heightens our awareness and can keep us safe from danger.


And so it is with doubt. A small amount of doubt can help us make decisions that are rooted in discernment rather than foolish impulse. Doubt can help us find the courage to ask probing questions and get answers to things that may be less immediately apparent. But too much doubt will keep us from even getting to the starting line.


When fear and doubt become so loud that we talk ourselves out of living our joy, we must stop, regroup and change the way we deal with these emotions.


From what I can tell, everyone has the voices that say, “I can’t. I am too young. I am too old. I am not good looking enough. I am not healthy enough. I am not wealthy enough. I am not talented enough…” The list goes on and on and on and on and on and on and on! It does not stop! The “not enoughs” seem to be part of our human shadow. How we manage fear and doubt often makes the difference between those who are happily pursuing a life they love and those who are waiting on the sidelines.


I do not for a moment feel that people who are celebrities are necessarily on their highest soul path. Perhaps singing and dancing in front of thousands of people, or being a movie superstar, or a high-powered business mogul does not challenge these people at a soul level. Perhaps those abilities are a distraction from what they may find harder to do, such as to stay at home, raise a family and be a parent. A true calling does not have to be glamorous.


Whether you are Sally Homemaker or Pablo Picasso, the one thing I do believe people who excel at their lives and are living their joy have in common is the power to manage the voice of their inner critic. Whether you are in business, the arts, science or sports, anyone who wishes to connect to their soul voice has to face their inner critic that will tirelessly provide them with every reason why they should not and could not follow their bliss.


When we are on the path, we have a choice. We can give the power to these voices or we can let them go. If we are to let them go, we must learn to see them as they are. They are distractions, old stories that have no real power other than what we feed them. We must learn to work with fear and doubt in the moment, rather than push them away.


Just as with any emotion, when we try to run from it, it follows us. When we sink into it and become identified with it, we lose ourselves in it. When we run from or sink into fear and doubt, they grow. What we resist persists. Instead we learn to welcome fear and doubt, and be with them. When we are present and stop fighting them, the energy that feeds them subsides. Soon we find ourselves not so afraid, not in such doubt. We learn to welcome fear as it walks along side us, rather than panicking about feeling afraid. Learning to manage our fears and doubts is key because as we travel along our soul path, we will face adversity. As we develop the skill to manage our shadow, we find the room in our lives to choose the light.


(Continues tomorrow with Facing Adversity)

 

Monday, August 22, 2011

Ask Parvati 26: Follow Your Bliss - Part 2, Name It To Claim It

PART 2: NAME IT TO CLAIM IT

(Continued from Whose Life Are You Living?)

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”
 - Eleanor Roosevelt

I have shared in these blog entries the need for us to challenge our core beliefs, because there we find the voices of external authority that we have internalized, which are not the voice of our soul. We need to ask ourselves, who is really in the driver’s seat of our lives? Is it our soul joy? Or are we trying to please our mother, our father, our schoolteacher or our religious leader? We need to look at what is writing the story of our life and reclaim authorship over it. Our unconscious patterns are part of creating our reality until we have the courage to look within and find out what is really going on.


In my case, the depression and ill health I experienced when I was in architecture was a gift from my soul that helped me wake up to live the life that expresses my joy. Living the life of an artist is not an easy one. I understand why my parents, though they encouraged my artistic skills, discouraged it as a career path. There is tremendous financial uncertainty and stress and there is a transparency that happens when we put our expression out into the world. For me the uncertainty has provided the most powerful spiritual seedbed for the cultivation of faith. It has fueled my spiritual growth in ways I could not have imagined. Then need for transparency helps me every day to face my shadows and purify my ego so that my personality and consciousness may be rooted in service and humility.


When I am asked today for guidance on a career as an artist, I always say, you must really love it, because it is not easy. But because what I do feels connected to why I am here on the planet, I feel connected to my soul voice and so very alive when I engage in artistic work. It is not like I am doing a job when I work on music. I am engaged with life and evolving spiritually. My artistic career feels like my spiritual path. I feel aligned with my purpose.


Part of letting go of living for other people’s dreams is being able to articulate our own dreams. We may judge the idea of dreaming as a waste of time and not even allow ourselves to go there. Before we have begun to connect to our soul voice and our purpose, we have already sabotaged ourselves by judging it as useless.


Once we determine whose life we are living and what voices we are listening to that silence our own, we begin to find the space to express even to ourselves who we are. “I love painting! My dream is to be a full time artist!” Or perhaps “I love flying airplanes. My dream is to fly jumbo jets!” Once we are honest with ourselves, we can be honest with the world and begin to take the necessary steps to make our dreams a reality.


In this clear, inner honesty, we can hear the call of our soul adventure. We can hear our soul speak, because we are now open and listening. We may feel some fear, but we are starting to realize that to resist our soul voice is to live in unhappiness. Though the fear of newness is great, we open to possibility. We welcome the new. We know that if we don’t, our life will remain the same and we will be unhappy. When we say yes to ourselves, doors begin to open and we see things that before were blind to us.


Joseph John Campbell was an American mythologist, writer and lecturer. He had a lifelong passion for the study of the cohesive threads in mythology that seemed to run through disparate human cultures. He spoke actively about the Hero’s Journey, something that we all must face if we are to follow our bliss. It was he who coined the phrase, "follow your bliss". Campbell said: “If you follow your bliss, doors will open for you that wouldn't have opened for anyone else.” What inspiration!


Here is a quote Campbell interestingly said he derived from the Upanishads, inspired by the word Sat-chit-ananda (Truth-Consciousness-Bliss), the high yogic state of bliss. He said, “If you follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. Wherever you are—if you are following your bliss, you are enjoying that refreshment, that life within you, all the time.”


To me that is a perfect summation of what it means to live in the positive possibilities versus impossibilities. When we live in the positive possibilities, we embrace the notion of support and interconnection and doors do open that were closed to us before. If we remain in the impossibilities, we remain closed and disconnected from who we truly are.


When we name it to claim it, we align ourselves with our soul voice and our life begins to move in support of our highest purpose. Though we will be tested, though we still face fear and doubt, we have begun our own hero’s journey, our soul path. And so it begins…

(Continues tomorrow with Managing Fear And Doubt)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Ask Parvati 26: Follow Your Bliss - Part 1, Whose Life Are You Living?

FOLLOW YOUR BLISS


Dear Parvati,
I really don’t like my job, not because I am not good at it, but because I know it is not what I really want to do. I love art, fine art, painting, not houses, but canvases. Colours, textures… they inspire me. I know that you have an active career as a musical artist. I want to know, how did you find the courage to follow your dreams and not get pulled into the rat race?


PART 1: WHOSE LIFE ARE YOU LIVING?


“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.”
- Henry David Thoreau


Oh! How I found the courage to follow my dreams… a question very close to my heart! I feel that my life of an artist is an organic one. As such, it is evolving and ongoing. It is not about arriving, but about being. It is very much an unfolding process, which reveals layers of my psyche that are to be celebrated as an authentic expression of my soul or purified and released as distraction. For me the life of an artist is one deeply connected to spirituality, rooted in the cultivation of both interconnection and humility. So the immediate answer to this question is, I am in an ongoing, day-to-day process, learning and discovering a deepening courage to live my dreams.


However, I can offer what I have learned so far in finding courage to follow my bliss. Through the recording of my first record when I was in a co-founded band, prior to my solo career, I would literally go into the vocal booth repeating: “I choose courage, confidence and commitment.” This helped me greatly overcome the self-deprecating thoughts that would hold me back. The process of finding courage is one that I have been working on, and one that continues to grow.


I have shared in these blogs that singing, music, performing is my “way in”, the way I feel closest to Source, most connected to the divine, most alive. As such, it is also where I feel the most raw and vulnerable. But I need to go there, because it keeps me real, honest and true. I feel connected through music. It gives my life meaning.


I think that is the way it is with our joy. We can get caught up in things that seem easy, but in fact they end up being harder, because they squelch the voice of our soul. When we align with our soul, life starts to flow with lightness and possibility.
Probably like you, I have several skills and could have had a solid career in a variety of paths other than music. I studied architecture and was part of the co-op program at the University of Waterloo. I was good at it, too. I excelled at school and in the workplace. People thought I would have a great career as an architect.


But morning would come and I was expected to be at my desk at the office. I needed to get up, get dressed and get to work, except a weight that felt like a million-pound truck was lying on top of me. It took immeasurable effort to even simply get out of bed. I was depressed. I was listless. I was unhappy. I could not go on this way. So I had to change.


My yoga and meditation practice was my sanity lifeline during university. So rather than doing a Masters in Architecture, which I was generally expected to do, I told my family and friends that I was going to India and to not expect me back for five years. A year later (not five, providing my family with much relief), I returned. But I had changed. I had begun the process of letting go of living for other people’s dreams and listening to my own soul voice, which continues to flower and guide my way.


So I ask you, whose voices are driving your life? Take a moment today to ask yourself sincerely, what drives your life? If you feel it is not the voice of your soul, perhaps it is time to do some inner housecleaning and start living the life you were born to live.


(Continues tomorrow with Name It To Claim It)

 

Friday, August 19, 2011

Ask Parvati 25: Depression And Despair - Part 6: The Angels Are Among Us

PART 6: THE ANGELS ARE AMONG US

(Continued from The Power Of Perception And Core Beliefs)


Whether we are depressed, despaired or not, at a very deep level in most of us, we experience the fear of aloneness and disconnection, a primal fear of lack of love. As we mature, we get to know ourselves more intimately, more lovingly, and hopefully treat ourselves with more kindness and acceptance. We learn to touch deep fears and rest more fully in an eternally loving presence of the now. Though we can see that our ego talks in the language of fear, we know we are safe, loved, supported and connected beyond what we understand.


I was recently walking in an area of the city where there was a lot of commotion. I noticed how my body was becoming tense and my gait more resistant. I took the change in my body as a form of communication, so I went inside and listened to what I was feeling.


When I tuned in, I found that I did not feel safe. Rather than putting on a mask and pretending I was fine, tough, had-it-all-together and was strong, I did the complete opposite. I inwardly called to the universe, shared my fear, and asked the angels with sincere honesty for help to feel safe. I shared with the angels for a moment what I was feeling and knew that I was heard. I asked them to be with me.


Seconds later, I joke not, I came upon a group of two women and three children I had never met before that were about to pass me on the sidewalk. As we approached each other, I was alerted to their presence when one child opened her arms as wide as she could and shouted with the most delightful, playful smile on her face: “Stop! You can’t cross here!”


I was feeling open and in the flow, so I immediately joined in her game. I opened my arms just as wide to greet her and said, “Ok! I am here!”


The next thing I knew, these two beautiful girls, perhaps four and five, came up to my legs and wrapped their whole bodies around me, sending me complete, grounded, unconditional love. I could feel my body relax and my being settle in their embrace. I breathed in the connection and became aware that the angels were in our midst.


After a minute or so of this precious, gracious exchange, the two mothers who were just as surprised as I was with this exchange, suggested to the children that it was time to go. Gently the two little girls let go of my legs and thighs, and we shared a glance that was rooted in open, unspoken understanding. I continued my walk with rooted freedom, openness and ease.


The angels are always with us, looking over us, watching our every step. They come in many forms, seen and unseen, old and young. We can touch them, access them, when we are willing to ask, and willing to receive.


The angels had just blessed me. Miracles are everywhere. I certainly was not alone. Nor are you.


May you feel loved and supported in every moment of every day. It may be just as simple as asking, opening and being receptive to the possibility that you are love, that you are loved in ways you cannot see or understand. Even when clouds cover the sky, the sun is always shining.


Much love,

Parvati


(PS: Next submission will be posted this coming Sunday. Be well till then!)

 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Ask Parvati 25: Depression And Despair - Part 5: The Power Of Perception And Core Beliefs

PART 5: THE POWER OF PERCEPTION AND CORE BELIEFS

(Continued from Depression And Anger)


We are what we think ourselves to be. We are what we perceive. We are what we believe. I am not suggesting that life can be summed up by “you think, therefore you become”. We are part of a vast whole within which we co-create. We are not a singular, linear system that has absolute control. We have the power of free will and the ability to choose how we think, act and react.


What we think, believe, perceive and feel deeply affects the quality of our life. In the cave of depression and when we witness despair, we can feel safe to look within and challenge our core beliefs. We may be holding on to outdated beliefs about ourselves, about others and about the world that keep us small and hidden. The cave of depression can become an incubator for newness, just as when we were in the womb. In the practice of witnessing, we become open to the field of possibility and learn to see things as they are, allowing ourselves to flourish in the fullness of the whole.


We live in a world that still does not quite value the feminine qualities of receptivity, introspection, emotional fluidity, and intuition as much as we value the masculine qualities of productivity, order, logical reasoning and taking charge. Depression, I believe, is prevalent today partly due to our inability socially to know how to feel comfortable with the notion of life unfolding organically.


We are organic beings. We do not have it all figured out. Most of us have little understanding of what is actually happening in the now, let alone what happened a few minutes ago or yesterday. We certainly don’t know what will happen tomorrow. We live in a natural world that is huge and mysterious. Imagine the incredible depth and perfect chaos that you see when you look at all the leaves of a tree! They are all different. They all have their unique place. They all flutter in the wind in their own way. Yet they are all connected to the same trunk.


We cannot expect ourselves to have things all figured out. Ultimately, we are not in control. We have free will, which is the power of choice. We learn to make wise, whole, full, well-rounded choices in the moment that are fed by the voice of our soul, which is connected to the magnificence of the universe. We learn to live in the fullness of not knowing. When we let go of trying to have it all figured out, we may just find we start enjoying the perfection of this moment as it is, rather than trying to make it into something it is not.


Imagine a world where you feel you can say how you are feeling without being judged. Imagine that it is ok to not know exactly when you are going to complete a task. Imagine that others trust that you are doing the best you can at any given moment. Imagine that you are fully supported exploring an intuitive relationship with yourself, with your unique personal healing.


What if I suggested that that world already exists? What if I suggested that it exists in the perfection of the now? As we let go of core beliefs that keep us small and as we challenge our perceptions, we see that ultimately, we are all just doing the best we can. There is a lot of suffering on the planet. We all have the capacity for growth and change. Some people embrace the positive possibilities. Some stay in the impossibilities. The choice is up to each one of us. If we could look at ourselves with the eyes of the angels and give ourselves the love they have for us! Perhaps, if we were open, we might just see that the angels are among us…


(Continues tomorrow with The Angels Are Among Us)

 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Ask Parvati 25: Depression and Despair - Part 4: Depression And Anger

PART 4: DEPRESSION AND ANGER

(Continued from Depression: Beyond The Veil And Into The Cave)


We tend to not want to go inward, because we fear change. But depression is a signal from our soul that we need to go deeper and listen to our soul speak.


Depression is often understood as a symptom of unexpressed anger that we have directed towards our self. Perhaps paralyzed by the fear of disapproval or upsetting the status quo, our anger becomes thwarted and muted. Unsure what to do with the feelings we have, we stuff them down so that they become inwardly directed.


Just because we do not act on our feelings of anger does not mean they will go away. Our emotions are like a river that must flow. Turning our attention away from the river does not stop it from flowing. It just may mean that our unattended emotions flow in directions that are not healthy for us or for others.


We likely have all been on the receiving end of those who cannot control their anger and blow up into a fury. That does not feel good. Nor does it feel good to sit on anger and let it brew, like a lead weight that pulls at our very core.


Anger is an active energy. If we are afraid to stand up for ourselves, say how we feel or actively support our soul voice, we tend to sit on the anger and we become depressed. We soon find ourselves listless, lethargic, grumpy and complaining. All that extroverted anger energy has just imploded. We have directed it towards ourselves. That is why for depression some external activities like exercise can be useful. It helps to move the stuck energy within. But external activities alone are not enough. We must balance external activities with internal awareness.

The heaviness of depression is a signal that we need to go in and explore what we are really feeling. When we go within the cave of depression, we can find out what in actually going on. We learn to listen to the anger and honour its voice. Anger, itself, is not bad. It signals that we feel something is not in balance. Maybe our perception of what balance means needs to change. Maybe we need to take charge and make changes to honour our sense of balance. When we go into the cave of depression and inquire, our inner voice will let us know what we need to reengage our life and find our brightness and lightness of being.

If you feel anger may be something you wish to explore at more length, I wrote a full series of blog entries on the subject "Anger As An Ally".


(Continues tomorrow with The Power Of Perception And Core Beliefs)

 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Ask Parvati 25: Depression and Despair - Part 3: Beyond The Veil And Into The Cave

PART 3: DEPRESSION: BEYOND THE VEIL AND INTO THE CAVE

(Continued from Witnessing Despair)


Depression is like a dark, heavy veil that masks our ability to see the light. Whether or not it is clinical, it is due to a change in the chemistry in our brain. But what is the source of that chemical change? There is nothing in this life that is purely physical that is not also connected to the unseen in some way. We are not strictly physical beings that are unaffected by emotions, thoughts and spiritual laws. The field of pure consciousness always is. We may see ourselves as separate, but we are always held within the whole.


When we are depressed, unlike despair, we have temporarily lost our desire to engage the world. But perhaps that is ok. Unlike despair that calls for understanding and release, depression can be a cue to go deeper. When we meet depression with a sense of attention and kindness, without judgment, we may find that we are being invited by our soul to go within, to enter the cave of our hidden mysteries. We live busy and often disconnected lives. Easily caught up in what others think, how we appear in society, how others look in the media, we can lose touch with our own, unique inner voice. Depression just may be calling us to go within.


Our personal health, just like the universe as a whole, moves to sustain balance. When we have expressed too much outward energy, we are drawn to move more inward. If we remain too inward, we must also move out. Depression may be a cue that we need to regain balance and adjust our inner and outer relationship.


It is good to create some discipline in your life, a little bit like cave housecleaning. Doing inner work is essential in depression. Going inward to ask yourself questions, to get to know yourself better, to make friends with your soul are essential to releasing the energy trapped in the feeling of stagnant depression.


At the same time, go for daily walks, even just for five minutes. If you already do that, go to the gym or join a fitness class. But keep your very important inner work alive. Invite the wisdom of depression into your life. It just might be your soul trying to get your attention, saying that you need to make some changes in your life.

When we take this gentler, more internal and inquisitive approach to depression, it is healthy to also maintain certain external activity, to help keep a balanced state of consciousness. If you tend to have more of an extroverted life, then book time with a therapist where you can be supported to go inward. Start journal writing where you can express your deepest feelings and freely explore your internal landscape. Regularly take a bath and treat yourself to the nurturing, cave-like warmth with the addition of some Epsom salts for relaxation, and fragrant essential oils to soothe and inspire, like bergamot, lemon or rose.


Most of all, when you feel depressed, make friends with yourself by getting to know what you are really feeling. Avoid medicating with things like ice cream and cakes. That will only keep you stuck and trying to stuff down and silence your voice. Go inside in a way that feels safe for you. And do some activity. When you go within, you likely will find that you tend to beat yourself up and get down on yourself quite a bit. That is because depression usually has a connection to unexpressed anger and feelings we have not yet released.


(Continues tomorrow with Depression And Anger)

 

 

 

Monday, August 15, 2011

Ask Parvati 25: Depression and Despair - Part 2: Witnessing Despair

PART 2: WITNESSING DESPAIR

(Continued from Depression and Despair)


Whether we see it or not, we are constantly held within an intelligent, loving whole. We are not isolated islands, but vast interconnected beings. When we are depressed, we are temporarily unable to sense this interconnection. Masked by heavy clouds, we cannot see the light of the sun. All we see are the clouds. By contrast, when we are despaired, we are temporarily unwilling to see the sun, attached to the heaviness of the clouds. Our focus has locked on the clouds and all we believe to be real are those clouds. We have eclipsed the sun.

 

Through exploring my own emotional landscape, I have found that despair involves a giving up, a self-pity, an implosion, a co-creation with an impossibilities dynamic that pulls me away from my truest magnificence. Despair is like the kryptonite on our I Am journey. It pulls us into a black hole of nothingness that envelops the force of life.


I do not believe that there ultimately is any real benefit to the feeling of despair, other than courting interference and hindering our evolution. When we feel despair, we need to learn to see it as it is, like a trick in our consciousness that convinces us that something unreal is real. We need to accept despair as it is, while being rooted in the understanding that it is passing illusion. We learn to not fight it, push or pull at it. We learn to greet this moment in all its fullness just as it is. We learn to witness despair and allow it to release, without giving it undue energy. Eventually, the temporary spell of despair will pass if we are willing to see beyond that perspective and open to other possibilities.


Other than this mindful understanding of despair, and looking into why we feel that way, healing when we feel despair involves activation, like jumping up and down, going for a walk, looking at the trees, seeing a bigger picture. When we feel despair, we have given up on the goodness of life. Life has shrunk down to the size of our own self-importance, which at this time is convinced we suck and are worthless. We have lost the big picture. We have bought into the temptation to feel disconnected and hard done by.


When despair knocks at our door, we can welcome it, just like any other emotion, without attachment, without judgment. We watch our feelings, just like any other. There is nothing gained by judging them and saying to ourselves that we have failed or that we are bad. We learn to witness these feelings, just as they are.


When we witness things as they are, we do not add any story to what is. Despair simply is. We are co-creating with impossibilities and erroneous perceptions. We learn to not add any additional information that supports the feeling of despair. Instead, we patiently, quietly, sit and watch as the clouds of despair slip by, instead of trying to wrestle with them, or instead of crumpling into a pile of hopeless because we feel we can’t “get rid of them” while they remain in the sky. We learn to witness what is and know that these feelings will shift. Whatever is the emotional trigger for our temporary sense of despair will eventually pass. With quiet wisdom and self-compassion we will find a sense of internal space. When we are willing to give ourselves the gentleness, the love and the understanding we need, we will shift and the sun in our lives will once again shine.

 

 


(Continues tomorrow with Depression: Beyond The Veil And Into The Cave)

 

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Ask Parvati 25: Depression and Despair, Part 1

I have been receiving wonderful feedback about this blog. Thank you for reading and for sharing your feedback. There is a comment section at the end of each entry where you are welcome to leave your remarks.


Thank you too for your continuing to send in your questions. Each week, I randomly pick a question to answer from the submissions, which must be in by Thursday. If you have a question you would like answered, send yours in to ask@parvatidevi.com by Thursday each week.


I post the first part of my answer every Sunday and following portions each day throughout the week until my answer is complete. This week, we look at depression and despair.


Dear Parvati,

I have had a tough time with periods of depression and despair. I have tried medications but am not finding lasting relief. I wondered if you could talk a bit about how to overcome depression and despair.


PART 1: DEPRESSION AND DESPAIR


When we are depressed, we feel sad and heavy. When we are despaired, we feel alone and disconnected. In darker emotional states, we can feel unable to deal with our lives, overwhelmed sometimes by even the smallest things, like going outside to collect the mail.


Out of habit and sometimes due to socialization, we try to push our feelings away. We don’t like them. We may feel that they betray our image of ourselves. We may feel too exposed and out of control. We may feel that we will not be loved if we show our true colours. We don’t want to talk about the painful stuff, the things that hurt. We don’t know how to get out of the heaviness, the feeling of burden, the feeling of no hope and being at a dead end.


No one wants to be depressed. No one enjoys feeling despair. Yet we all face depression and despair at one time or another in our lives.


Depression is not the same as despair. When we are despaired, we feel no hope. Despair is a state of consciousness, co-creating in the impossibilities. Depression is biochemical listlessness that causes difficulty activating. When we feel depressed, we may feel the possibility that things could change, yet we feel unable to find the zest to reactivate and reconnect with our vitality and engaged living. When we feel despair, we don’t feel possibility. When we are depressed, life can seem like a movie going on in front of us. We feel out of the picture, unsure how to reenter the fullness of life. When we feel despair, we don’t even believe in the picture and don’t care to reenter it.


For some, depression and despair are an ongoing struggle that colour every day of their lives. With the desire to find relief from the heaviness, people can turn to medical help, to exercise for endorphin release, to all encompassing projects that create singular focus or to entertainment and drugs for temporary distraction and numbness. But none of these will provide lasting solutions. We must go deeper.
Clinical depression is different than occasional depression that we can all feel from time to time. It is a mood disorder that interferes with the ability to conduct a healthy life. In clinical depression, there are biochemical factors, which are beyond the scope of this blog. Clinical depression is for your doctor to diagnose and requires medical attention.


However, whether you suffer from a medical condition or a passing case of the blues, we can explore the landscape of depression and despair with similar care and attention, on top of any additional support you may be receiving for your particular situation. Over the coming days, I would like to do that with you here.

(Continues tomorrow with Witnessing Despair)

 

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Ask Parvati 24: Astrology and the Power of the Planets - Part 7: Saturday, the Day of Saturn

SATURDAY: THE DAY OF SATURN

(Continued from Friday: The Day of Venus)

Saturn Parvati Devi

 


Today is Saturday, the day associated with the planet Saturn. Saturn rules Capricorn, the Mountain Goat. Its metal is lead and the colors it relates to best are black, dark brown and other dark colours.


Saturn is associated with the Roman deity Saturn and the Greek God Cronus, Father Time. In Roman mythology, Saturn is the god of agriculture, founder of civilizations and of social order, and conformity. The Hindus call Saturn Shani, meaning “one who moves slowly”.

Saturn is traditionally associated with limitations, restrictions, boundaries, practicality, reality and structures. Saturn governs ambition, career, authority and hierarchy, and conforming to social structures. It is related to a person's sense of duty, discipline and responsibility, and their ability to endure during hardships.

Saturn is also considered to represent the part of a person concerned with long-term planning and building. Medically, this structurally conscious planet is associated with the spleen, the bladder, bones, teeth, and knees.


Saturn usually refers to deep karma and lessons that we need to be learned. The planet presents us with the very obstacles necessary for growth. Challenging and strict, Saturn is a taskmaster and will not leave us alone until we learn the lessons we must in order to progress and find our life path.


Today, see if you can see obstacles and restriction as Saturn providing you with an opportunity to grow and learn. Wear a dark colour to honour this strict teacher in your life. Opportunity is available to those who are willing to learn through the lessons of life.


Each day of the week, may you celebrate the pantheon of colours and energies of which we are a part, by acknowledging our dynamic universe and all its varied, beautiful planets.

Parvati

 

Friday, August 12, 2011

Ask Parvati 24: Astrology and the Power of the Planets - Part 6: Friday, the Day of Venus

FRIDAY: THE DAY OF VENUS

(Continued from Thursday: The Day of Jupiter)


Today is Friday, a day associated with Venus. In French, Friday is “Vendredi”, a word that reveals more apparently the connection to the planet Venus.

Venus Parvati Devi

 

Venus rules Taurus (the bull) and Libra (the scales). Venus governs interdependence and the romantic drive. Soft pastel colors as well as various shades of blues and purples represent this planet. The metal that best expresses its energy is copper. Venus is a sensuous planet, and is the ruler of your love nature.


Venus is associated with the Roman deity Venus and the Greek God Aphrodite. In roman mythology, Venus is the goddess of love and beauty, famous for the passions she could stir among the gods. Venus is the second brightest object in the night sky, the Moon being the brightest. The Hindus call Venus Shukra, meaning “clear, pure, bright”.


Venus is associated with the principles of harmony, beauty, balance, feelings and affections, and the urge to sympathize and unite with others. It is involved with the desire for pleasure, sensuality, personal possessions, comfort, and ease. It governs romantic relations, marriage and business partnerships, sex, the arts, fashion, and social life.


In medicine, Venus is associated with the lumbar region, the veins, parathyroids, throat, and kidneys.


Today, think of Venus, the planet of love, beauty and creativity. Venus inspires art, romance and also fortune. When we consider Venus, we tune into our appearance and attractiveness and our sense of material place in the world. Wear sensual, regal colours like blues and purples and feel the beauty of Venus within you and all around.

 

(Continued tomorrow with Saturday: The Day of Saturn)

 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Ask Parvati 24: Astrology and the Power of the Planets - Part 5: Thursday, the Day of Jupiter

THURSDAY: THE DAY OF JUPITER

(Continued from Wednesday: The Day Of Mercury)

Jupiter Parvati Devi


Today is Thursday, the day associated with Jupiter. In French, Thursday is “Jeudi”, a word that reveals more easily the connection to Jupiter.


Jupiter is the ruler of Sagittarius the Centaur. Jupiter is a large, glowing planet and as such rules expansion, spiritual ideals, and inspiration. Jupiter is seen as good natured, jovial, lucky, big and juicy.


Jupiter is associated with the Roman deity Jupiter and the Greek God Zeus. The Hindus call Jupiter Guru, meaning “teacher”.


The parts of the body that are governed by Jupiter are the thighs. In medicine, Jupiter is associated with the liver, pituitary gland and fats. The metal associated with Jupiter is tin. White and gold are the radiant colours associated with Jupiter.


Jupiter is associated with the principles of growth, prosperity, and good fortune. Jupiter governs long-distance and foreign travel, higher education, religion, and the law. It is also associated with the urge for freedom and exploration, humanitarian and protecting roles, and with celebrations.


Today, wear white or luminous gold and think big! Allow yourself to open to the fullness of life, feel juicy and expand. Jupiter’s gifts are in the form of abundance and growth. Sense your opulent connection to the cosmos as a whole.


(Continued tomorrow with Friday: The Day Of Venus)

 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Ask Parvati 24: Astrology and the Power of the Planets - Part 4: Wednesday, the Day of Mercury

WEDNESDAY: THE DAY OF MERCURY

(Continued from Tuesday: The Day Of Mars)

 

 

Mercury Parvati Devi

The planets Mercury and Venus represent our social interactions more than any other planets. Where Venus rules our romantic relationships, Mercury rules our day-to-day expression and relationships.

Today is Wednesday, the day associated with Mercury. In French, the reference to Mercury is more apparent, the word for Wednesday being “Mercredi”. Mercury is associated with the Roman deity Mercury and the Greek God Hermes. In Roman mythology, Mercury is the messenger of the gods, noted for his speed and swiftness. The Hindus call Mercury Budha, meaning “awakening” or “sage”.


Mercury rules two signs, Gemini (the twins) and Virgo (the harvest maiden). As the communicator of the heavens, Mercury rules the arms, hands, lungs and tongue. In medicine, Mercury is associated with the nervous system, the brain, the respiratory system, the thyroid, and the sense organs.


Mercury’s metal is quicksilver, and its colors green and blue. Mercury rules the mind, and the way we communicate and express ourselves. Mercury is quick, busy, and active.Mercury's action is to take things apart and put them back together again. It is an opportunistic planet, unemotional, cerebral and curious.


Mercury is the planet that governs communications and commerce. Its domain is reason, analysis, verbal and written expression, and trade. It represents the principles of communication such as thinking patterns, reasoning, adaptability and variability. Mercury governs schooling and education, the immediate environment of neighbors, siblings and cousins, transport over short distances, messages and forms of communication such as mail, email and telephone, newspapers, journalism and writing, information gathering skills, and physical dexterity.

When Mercury is retrograde, as it is now (Mercury appears to move backward through the sky), there tend to be disruptions and delays in communications, technology, business and travel. Delays can work to our advantage while we revisit old issues.

Wear green today and celebrate the mercurial aspects of your self and your life and the universe. Consider how much we rely on travel and communication in this day and age. Consider how your mind works, the speed of thoughts, the way you reason, and how you speak. Celebrate the power of Mercury this Wednesday.

(Continued tomorrow with Thursday: The Day of Jupiter)

 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Ask Parvati 24: Astrology and the Power of the Planets, Part 3: Tuesday, the Day of Mars

TUESDAY: THE DAY OF MARS

(Continued from Monday: The Day Of The Moon)

Mars Parvati Devi


Tuesday is associated with the planet Mars. In French, the word Tuesday is “Mardi”, where you can see more clearly the historical link to the name Mars. Mars’s influence is energetic and aggressive. The planet is associated with the Greek God Ares and the Roman deity Mars, the god of war and bloodshed. The Hindus call Mars Mangala.


Mars is associated with our energy, drive, ambition, and sex drive. The energetics of this planet are willful and driven. It rules independence and the ego-centric drive. Mars gets us all fired up about something, and ready to go, even conquer.


Mars is the ruler of the zodiac sign of Aries, the forceful Ram. Its metals are iron and steel. All the shades of red make up the color palette of Mars.


Astrologically, Mars is associated with confidence and self-assertion, aggression, sexuality, energy, strength, ambition, and impulsiveness. Mars governs sports, competitions and physical activities. Mars is the passionate impulse and action, the masculine aspect, discipline, will-power, and stamina.


Mars rules the head and face. In medicine, Mars presides over the genitals, the muscular system, the gonads, and the adrenal glands.


Today, consider your willpower, your drive. Consider balancing self-assertion in your actions. Observe your ego-drive. Wear red and acknowledge the power of Mars in the universe and in your life.


(Continued tomorrow with Wednesday: The Day Of Mercury)

 

Monday, August 8, 2011

Ask Parvati 24: Astrology and the Power of the Planets - Part 2: Monday, the Day of the Moon

MONDAY: THE DAY OF THE MOON

(Continued from Sunday: The Day Of The Sun)

Moon Parvati Devi

 

The Sun and the Moon represent our major character traits more than any other planets. They are said to be the king and queen of our individual kingdom. All other planets function in relation to them. Monday is the day given to the Moon. The Moon is associated with the Roman deity Luna and Diana and the Greek Gods Selene and Artemis. The Hindus call the Moon Chandra, which means “shining”. In the Hindu tradition, the moon is always found sliced eyelash-thin on the forehead of Lord Siva, deeply absorbed in meditation.The Moon rules Cancer (the Crab) and governs the digestive system, stomach, pancreas, breasts, ovaries, and menstruation (which does occur on a monthly cycle). The Moon’s metal is silver, and its colours are pearly and light pastels. The Moon is luminous in a more inadvertent and mysterious way than the Sun. It is moody, in that it hides at times, and then returns to be seen. It can be dark and then light again. It is also the light that guides your way at night.


The Moon changes, ebbs and flows just like our emotions. It is considered female, passive and receptive. As such it is associated with our mother and our relationship with women in general. It is also associated with maternal instincts or the urge to nurture, the home, the need for security and the past, especially early childhood experiences.


The Moon’s mysterious light guides our intuition, unconscious habits, instinct and emotional world. The new Moon reflects a beginning. The full Moon reflects a culmination or completion of a cycle.


Today, consider honouring your emotional, intuitive self as you consider your relationship with the Moon. Perhaps enjoy the more feminine, receptive, gentle side of who you are as you wear lighter, softer, more pastel colours. Watch how you ebb and flow today, and follow your intuitive flow. Give thanks to the energy of the Moon in your life and in the universe.


(Continued tomorrow with Tuesday: The Day Of Mars)

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Ask Parvati 24: Astrology and the Power of the Planets - Part 1: Is It All Just Astro-Babble?

ASTROLOGY AND THE POWER OF THE PLANETS


Dear Parvati,

Both my boyfriend and I had a hard last couple of weeks in our relationship. When I read our horoscopes, they both said that we would have 3 eclipses to deal with, the last one on July 1st, which would be the toughest. As a matter of fact, both of us had really tough days on July 1st. I wonder how true those things are. Are we in control, or are the planets controlling us?


IS IT ALL JUST ASTRO-BABBLE?


When I first came across astrology, I dismissed it as silly. It seemed far-fetched to think that distant planets swirling through space would have any power over my world. Back then, I was convinced that life was a matter of putting your mind to what you wanted, and that was what you would get.


When I co-formed my first musical band as an adult (yes, I was one of those kids with a rock band), I found out that my creative partner was also a full-fledged, hard-core astrologer. In the first couple of getting to know him, I dismissed his talks with his astrologer friends as "astrobabble". I watched him become completely immersed in a world I knew nothing about. I heard him use words like Uranus and Pluto, that to me seemed more like references to body parts and cartoon characters than to some great planetary forces in the universe I should respect.


My more willful style of living at times bumped into his more fateful approach, until one day, I was face to face with the undeniable power of the planets and their effect on us.  We were coming close to wrapping up the recording and production of our first studio album, but were unable to complete the project because we would meet unforeseen obstacles and turns of events that seemed to continually set us back.


Being the determined character that I was (I recently blogged about the death of "feisty girl" for a reason), I saw these obstacles as simply a sign that we needed to be more focused, try harder and apply ourselves to our task at hand with more diligence.


My musical partner had another outlook. It was Mercury retrograde, and Mercury ruled all things to do with communication. While Mercury was in this debilitated state, things were bound to come up that would hinder our ability to complete the project. Only once Mercury would go direct would we be able to complete the task we had set out for ourselves and the album would be complete.


I thought that was completely ridiculous. How could a planet that is 77 million kilometers (48 million miles) away from the Earth have anything to do with me and the recording gear that is right at hand? I insisted that we just had to plow on through this apparent planetary challenge and ultimately succeed to get what I wanted when I wanted it.


What I was learning was that when our minute egos try to take on an energetic presence as large as a planet, we inevitably fail. We learn to submit to powers far greater than what we may understand or know, and open to the possibility that we might not have it all quite figured out just yet.


MAKING FRIENDS WITH THE PLANETS


The planets become great allies to our growth when we begin to understand our place in the universe and when we learn to work with the power they have. Or they make absolutely sure that we feel the effect of their mighty power whether we like it or not.


As surely as my band mate predicted, our album was not completed during Mercury retrograde. It came together with impeccable convergence the very day Mercury left retrograde and went direct. I was speechless. WHAT just happened? How could this be?


I began to pay closer attention to my band mate's "astrobabble" to learn about the power of the universe of which we are a part. Becoming open to the significance of the planets and the beauty of astrology added rich colour to my life. Today, by no means an astrologer myself, I can get by reading a chart in the same way I play chess: I know what the players on the board do, and my intuition does the rest.


My current reverence for the universe and the planets that affect us all is something I now consider on a daily basis. In fact, those who know me well will tell you that there is a method to the colours I so love to wear. From an astrological perspective, each day has a colour according to the planet that rules that day. Playing with colours this way is one small way I like to acknowledge the universe each day. Through recognizing the power of the planets, I pay homage to the bigness we actually are, rather than getting caught up in isolated self-importance and the drama of the moment.


FREE WILL WITHIN THE INTELLIGENT WHOLE


The direct answer to your question is what I say in almost every blog entry: we are part of a vast intelligent whole. There is no doubt that the planets affect us in every thing that we do, whether we like it or not. That does not mean that we are slaves to the movement of the stars. We are influenced. But we have free will, which provides us with the ability to choose how we will respond to any given situation.


The circumstances in which we find ourselves are directly affected by the unfolding of the universe, which is absolutely related to the position of the stars. Your question this week asks about eclipses, which do indeed have a particularly strong effect on our psyche. (I discussed this in a previous blog entry.)


Horoscopes in newspapers and magazines are limited usually to discuss our primary astrological sign, which is governed by the position of the sun when we were born. But the sun is just one of many planets that affect our astrological charts. So simple paragraphs that tell you about your day or week or month based on your sun sign, will only share a small part of your astrological picture. 
For those who are still unsure, perhaps simple consideration of the way the sun and the moon affect nature could offer some insight into the ways the planets affect us. We know the oceans and all its creatures are greatly affected by the ebb and flow of the moon. We also know that vegetation, plants and the behavior of animals are greatly governed by the cycles of the sun and corresponding seasons.


We too are part of nature. The sun, the seasons, the cycles of the moon and the planets all affect us. Women who are used to listening to their bodies, or men who are close to such women, will tell you that menstrual cycles are affected by the cycles of the moon.


We are interconnected beings part of a vastly intelligent fabric of life that extends beyond what we can fully understand with our thinking mind. We can revel in it with wonder and joy. We can consider in awe how immense it all is. We can let go of the idea that we, an illusory, isolated sense of self, could possibly be in control, and enjoy being part of and witness to an exquisite unfolding of life in absolute symphonic mastery.


As we move through this week, I would like to briefly ruminate over some of what I know about the planets and how they affect each day of the week. I would like to explore some of the meaning I have found in the planets and the colour, quite literally, that they have brought to my life.

 

SUNDAY: THE DAY OF THE SUN

 

Sun Parvati Devi


In astrology, the planets are considered to transmit universal and archetypal energy. They represent an energetic drive or impulse that affects the human psyche. Ancient astrologers connected the planets with the will of the gods. As such, in Western astrology, Greek and Roman names are linked to the names of the planets.


My understanding of astrology is based more in delight and whimsical living than studied mastery. I pay homage to all those who have made it their true art the journey of exploration and skillful understanding of this power, ancient art and life science.


I am not an astrologer, and as such, I make it clear that the information I share here comes from the joy I have had in conversing over the years with both Vedic and Western astrologers. I also had the honour to illustrate, and hence read for inspiration, the book “The Greatness of Saturn” by Dr. Robert Svoboda. I will include in each blog entry this week the illustrations I did for that book as a way to share some imagery of the planets we explore.


Today is Sunday, the day dedicated to the sun. Although the Sun is not a planet, its placement in our birth chart and location in the zodiac have significant meaning. The Sun is the center of our universe and as such, astrologically, it represents the center of our own personal world, the center of who we are.


In Western astrology, our natal birth sign is based on the placement of the Sun in the sky at the moment we were born. For example, I am considered a Capricorn, because the Sun was in the zodiac constellation of Capricorn when I was born. Though there are many other planets in my chart (and in everyone's) in various houses and signs, at the end of the day, Capricorn most describes my core being.


The Sun is associated with the Roman deity Sol and Apollo and the Greek God Helios. The Hindus call the Sun Surya, meaning “supreme light”.


On Sundays, I like to acknowledge the power of the Sun. It is hot, radiant and fiery. The Sun gives life to everything on the planet. It offers nature the essential power of growth. Imagine where trees, plants, animals and we would be without the Sun's heat and light!


The Sun rules the sign Leo (the proud lion) and governs the heart. The metal associated with the Sun is gold. The resonant colors are orange and burgundy. The Sun is associated with male, active and expressive energy. It is the bright center of your identity that is always shining.


Our Sun sign (the one we would look up in a newspaper or magazine) brings light to who we are deep down. It governs our core sense of self, and illuminates our character. Strong Sun placements in the natal chart favour self-confidence, and a strong positive outlook on life.


So today, look for something orange or burgundy in your closet to wear and acknowledge the Sun and its power in the universe. Celebrate your own shining radiance in the world!


(Continued tomorrow with Monday: The Day Of The Moon)

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Ask Parvati 23: The Voice - To Speak Or Be Silent? Part 5: When To Voice, When To Be Silent

PART 5: WHEN TO VOICE, WHEN TO BE SILENT

(Continued from Part 4: Gauge The Stage)


Every day of our lives, we are faced with many choices, whether to flee or to face, whether to voice or to remain silent. There is no quick and easy answer as to how to find our right voice. We learn that to voice is an unfolding process.


Giving voice is central to my spiritual path and a root reason for my personal being. So my life feels like one big experiment in voicing. As with all experiments, we find great teachers, we go through the ups and downs of trial and error where hindsight becomes a powerful ally.


Finding our vocal power is connected to finding our authentic expression and our place in the world. As such, it is part of growing, maturing, becoming wise. There have been times that I have given voice when in hindsight, it would have been wiser for me to remain quiet. And the opposite has also been true, when silence weakened me and I allowed it to hold me imprisoned.


But there are few times that I regret what I have chosen to do, whether I chose to speak up or to remain quiet. I don’t believe regret brings us anything other than backward thinking. Rather than looking at life in the here and now, by living with regret we miss the present. Eclipsed by our past, we gaze at life through a rear-view mirror. Sincere remorse is different from regret. If remorse helps us to humbly learn and grow, regret keeps us stuck in the past.


In the process or learning to give voice, we will stumble and fall. We risk appearing silly and feeling hurt when we "put our self out there" in any way. The greater the perceived risk, the greater the perceived fall. But when challenging the fear of falling, I have found that there never was anything to fall from in the first place.


What other people think of us does not matter. At the end of our life, when our bodies turn to dust, it will be our own choices that we will have to face. We will be left with questions like, “Did I love well? Did I live fully?” My sense is, when we are standing at death’s door, the times we held ourselves back in fear will seem as though we allowed a cloud to convince us that the sun does not exist.


As we learn to find the courage to speak our truth or be silent when we feel inwardly called to be, we need to learn to manage the part of us that does not want to grow. The part of us that wants status quo is going to create all sorts of reasons why not to be true to who we are. It will say, “Stay small. Hide. Don't do it. I may get hurt.”


Someone whose approval we wanted may laugh and ridicule us. We may feel embarrassed. We may judge ourselves as being stupid for what we feel and the desire to express. But I can guarantee that it hurts way more to not do what we need to do and say what we need to say, and remain frozen in fear. (I enjoy John Mayer’s song about this, "Say What You Need To Say".)


When we feel we must, we must. In hindsight, we may regret it, but we will not know until we try. And if we are humble and wiling to learn, there is no better teaching than life itself. By trying, we will know for next time what works best for us and we will learn to better attune ourselves to our inner voice and our natural, authentic expression of it.


So when is it the right time to speak up and when is it the right time to be silent? Ultimately, only you will know. But there are keys signs from our body/being when we are authentically aligned with our highest good.


When you feel rooted, vital and expansive speaking, speak. When you feel rooted, vital and expansive being silent, be silent. But then, you may ask, how do I know if I feel rooted, vital and expansive? This will only come after practice.


I sometimes imagine myself in the future after either having spoken up or remained quiet. How would I feel? Would I regret not speaking, if I chose to remain silent, or would I feel peaceful and warmly joyful? Would I feel remorse if I did speak up or would I feel free, vibrant and relaxed? Then go with the choice that brings you the greatest amount of rooted, vital expansion.


You can do this imagined testing when you are undecided in the moment. Rooting comes from the contact your feet have with the ground, how your energy travels down your spine. Vitality comes from an arising, once you are rooted, feeling an uplifting movement travel through your spine. Expansion happens when rooted and vital, so that there is a feeling of openness, surrender, receptivity to this moment. When feeling rooted, vital and expansive, there is a feeling of balanced rightness, neither too high and light, nor too heavy and stuck; neither too quiet nor too loud, but just right, perfectly you, in balance with who you are.


Enjoy being you. You are unique and the only expression of you in all of time. Ultimately, I believe there is no real right or wrong, only an honouring and aligning yourself with your truest self, or living in fear and for other people’s dreams of who they feel you should be. The choice of your voice is totally up to you.

Jai Ma!

Parvati

 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Ask Parvati 23: The Voice - To Speak Or Be Silent? Part 4: Gauge The Stage

PART 4: GAUGE THE STAGE

(Continued from Part 3: Authentic Communication: From Goo to Grammar)


We are social, expressive beings. We need to connect. We need to touch, to laugh, to wiggle, to create as part of our inherent state of being. But finding out how to express in a way that helps make our message heard is a skill to be learned. How to express in way that is considerate yet not repressive is a point of contemplation. To express with trust, care, honesty and clarity is something most of us need to learn.


How many people give an honest reply when greeted with “Hello, how are you?” Our quip response is usually “fine” or “not too bad”. But what if we replied honestly, openly? Generally when one asks, one is not asking for an in-depth dissertation on how we are doing. We must gauge the questioner’s intention by observing their vocal tone, their mood, their presence and answer accordingly. To answer honestly and be sensitive to the questioner’s intention is a skill we learn.


We have all met people who when you ask them how they are, they go on and on. We have also met those who, when we ask them how they are, we can just tell they are not being honest. In learning to speak authentically, we learn to neither withhold, nor outpour. We learn to find right balance, to express that which feels true to who we are and respectful of others. We also learn to find a rightful place, to feel relaxed in who we are, and welcomed within the whole.


(Concludes tomorrow with Part 5: When To Voice, When To Be Silent)