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Kali

This past week, in the New York City part of the globe, was the spring equinox on March 20th. This is the festival of Ostara, the beginning of longer daylight time and the awakening of the earth with blossoms!

This is why we evoked the Kali essence within ourselves. Kali, pictured above, is known as the preserver of Earth and the embodiment of Mother Earth. She is considered mother of the world and the ‘treasure-house of compassion’.  She is considered the primordial mass from which all of life arose; we are all born from mother, from the womb of matter, though we are eternal.

All of these sound very beautiful and very wonderful, but Kali is often misunderstood simply because of the way she looks.  She’s often depicted having black or blue skin, her blood red tongue sticking out, her necklace made of skulls, and her skirt made of arm bones. She wields a sword and carries a severed head. The sword and the severed head are in her two left hands and in her two right hands she holds abhaya mudra for fearlessness and the varada mudra for blessings.  But when you come to understand what all of these representations symbolize, we come to understand her deep and infinite love and protection that she offers all of us.

She wears no finite or real clothing. She only adorns the skull necklace and the skirt of arms because she is infinite and pure, she needs no clothing because she is infinite in form. Her skin color of dark black or deep blue symbolizes how she is limitless, all pervading, and eternal.  I often envision the night sky when I hear this. Her very name, Kali, often is said to mean “she who is beyond time”.  Her name is also translated as “She who is black”.  

Her blood red tongue sticking out is her thirst to destroy all evil and evil doers in the world. In some Bengali traditions the blood red tongue is also symbolic of modesty. 

The sword that she wields is to destroy the ego and is also known as symbolic of higher knowledge. She supports us in severing our attachment with our ego and personality in order to fully understand and liberate, moksha/liberation, ourselves from the binds of illusion, or maya. 

The severed head supports very much the same, a detachment from ego.  

The skull necklace is meant for us to understand that we must ‘cut out the skeletons in our closet,’ meaning release secrets, stop hiding, understand who we truly are in our infinite form.  Then we must speak of Truth, live from a place of Light, honor, doing good, being kind, and Loving one’s Self as well as others and the planet. 

Kali helps us to more fully understand the natural cycles of birth, death, and rebirth. We can understand this at that finite and infinite level of birth, death, and rebirth. And we can also embody it down to the most simplest of forms of experiencing our breath. The four cycles of the breath of the exhale, the transition from exhale to inhale, the inhale, and the transition from the inhale to the exhale. And then it all starts again. We can also experience these cycles in our part of the globe through the cycles of the seasons. We can also experience many other forms of cycles even within one lifetime, call them the ‘seasons of Your Life’.  However, Kali helps us to understand that what some cycles of death and ending may appear as a loss, it is really the beginning of a positive new phase.

Kali is often shown stepping her right foot in front of the left.  This is a symbol that she is on the right spiritual path. Her mission is divine. Her mission is to protect, preserve, and to help pour the love of the universe into our hearts. This is why in our classes we embodied the Kali mudra, also sometimes called Ksepana mudra, which means “to pour out”. 

Kali Mudra Meditation: Clasp your hands together and interlace all of your fingers, then point only your index fingers forward, check down to make sure that the left thumb is on top of the right, and now you have Kali mudra.  Place the mudra in front of your solar plexus and allow your elbows to drop and your shoulders to sink down. Create a little lift through the front of your chest at your heart, sit quietly and feel. Notice what you notice. Notice what you feel coming from the energy of this gesture, mudra, of your hands as it’s energy runs up through your arms into your heart and gets pumped out into the rest of your body. For a couple of breaths, allow yourself to receive. Receive the love of the universe, the love of the divine mother, Kali, And the love of Mother Earth. After some time, focus on pouring out your love, and this universal love, from your heart towards yourself.  After some time, imagine this love pouring out from your heart through your index fingers and sending it to whomever or wherever you wish. And finally, after some time, imagine this love pouring out from yourself to the world at large, to all the plants and waters and air and elements, and to all of its creatures.

During parts of our physical practices in yoga this week, I invited people to imagine their own physical body as the body of our Earth. To embody another Earth. And to imagine what all of those elements and capabilities, powers, and supports felt like.  Mother Earth has destructive powers, this is why Kali is often called the “Dark Mother”.  She has destructive powers which are meant to eradicate evils of the world, to use her destruction for the betterment of all beings, and to end suffering.

A client of mine recently told me this quote that she had to received as a young girl from inside a fortune cookie: “the root of all unhappiness lies in comparison”.  I’ve also been taking a liking to this quote that comes from an unknown author: “The difference between a flower and a weed is a judgment”.  And I’ve been tying all this in with a quote that comes from a shirt that I bought at Target many years ago: “a flower does not think of competing to the flower next to it, it just blossoms”.  perhaps what we need to cut out the most in our lives, what we need to sever, what we need to get rid of, what we need to let go of, what we need to re-evaluate and change is a judgment towards our self, or others, and to stop comparing ourselves to some made up illusion of what we think we should be, or the comparison of ourselves to another. I always come back to the quote from Donna Markova: “My path is not greater than or less than yours, it’s just the only one I know how to make authentically”.  Or as some other people say it, ‘you do you’!  Be yourself, be kind to others, and share your light to this world because we need you!

Now, as much as I love that quote about the flower in the weed and the difference being just a judgment, I also felt these words in this passage come through me this past week:
“Till the soil, pull the weeds, plant the seeds. Nourish life and love and watch what grows!”
Sometimes we must pull the weeds in order to clear space for what is meant to come alive and to blossom. Be that a flower, or be that something from deep within our hearts and our higher knowing. Liken this to spring cleaning if you will, or equate it to that old belief you know is not serving you anymore that you know you must cut out. And allow Kali to remind you that as one thing goes inevitably another thing enters. Or as my dear friend and creator of “The Empowered Publicity Podcast”, Amanda Berlin,  stated recently, “a void cannot exist”.  In the context of the things that we’re speaking to here, I found these words very potent and wise. As they say, ‘when one ending happens, another cycle is beginning’. Or as some say, ‘when one door closes, another one opens’.

Use the Kali mudra to help clear blockages, especially along your central channel line that we call the shushumna nadi, “gracious one”.  This will help support to create that clear path for freedom and liberation, and knowing one’s True Self. Use the Kali mudra to encourage positivity in your body as well as to create positive thoughts. To reduce distractions and to shear away negative thoughts. Use Kali mudra to reduce tension and to help build your life force and strength.

Before I close this very long blog, thank you for reading it all.  I felt two pieces of wisdom come forth in this week:

1.)  Sometimes I might not be leaving a scenario or a situation in my life because I was disrespected, but I might be leaving because I know I’m not best used there.  My path, my ‘right foot stepping in front of the left’ like Kali, and my resonance when I listen to my heart and not my head, is the place where I have the deepest resonance and the most power/impact/love to offer at my best. This might be when I recognize that I know I need to leave a certain situation, relationship, job, situation, or moment in my life so that I can stay true to my path. This is not always easy, nor will it always feel good. But, I can more easily feel the love pour in and pour out!
2.)  I would sometimes close the practices with this little meditation:
I call it the “Heart Seed Meditation”:  “Find a comfortable seated or lying position. Take some time to become quiet and slow your breath and still your body.  Once you feel a little bit more grounded and a little bit more relaxed, begin to guide your awareness towards your heart space. Your physical heart that is the ‘treasure-house of compassion’ and the home and temple of your spiritual heart.  Invite a little part of your heart to open so that love may pour in.  Look into this opening in your heart and gaze down, because you will find their lives a seed there. This seed of unconditional love was planted long before you were born in this physical form, and it is the essence that will be there long after you leave your physical form. That seed is you. It is love. It is your Essence. It is the essence, and the seed and energy of who you are that you leave behind whenever you interact with someone, or the planet. I invite you then to ask, how will you live? How will you love?  From this seed of love that is you, let it blossom.  Nourish it, love yourself, feed it, water it, hold it in the sunlight, and let it grow. Let the blossom become fruit. And allow the fruits of your essence to be those ripple effects out to others, all beings, and the world.  Let the fruits that you leave behind, be what will inevitably go on to be the planted seeds for the next generation. Be the good ancestor now.”

All my love and light,
Shawna
Breathe and Believe.
P.S. That’s me, below, in Virabhadrasana 1 with Kali mudra, and right foot in front, with the flower quote shirt on! I found it! LOL!