Its always darkest before the dawn.
The last day before the new moon is the darkest night of the month and we often feel that mirrored in our own life as there may be some difficulty in our outer life that causes "darkness" within or the reverse when what is brewing in our shadow begins to project out into our life. How we experience this peak of "endarkenment" can change and coincide with a natural going within or retreat to emotional melt-downs with the display of sadness, grief, swelling of feelings, neurosis, conflict, emptiness and despair. If we are not aware of the powerful mirroring of this peak darkness, it catches us off guard particularly if we are in a high-peak cycle of joy, stability, "life is wonderful" state of being. The days before the new moon can rock our world if we are not aware of this natural shift.
The hardest part of householder life is to maintain a steady rhythm of personal retreat necessary during times we we are naturally moving inward. Monks and nuns, sannayasins (renunciates), yogins and yoginis have these ritual rhythms as the center of their life which is also full of challenges. The potency of ritual life is to be able connect with the larger cycles of nature that are effecting every being on this planet simultaneously and be in harmony with the cosmos.
When we are feeling at our "lowest", "darkest", most vulnerable, our practice becomes truly alchemical as we are very aware of the need to understand, listen and move with a new energetic flow. Balancing excess vata and pitta is very common at this time as the air and the fire fan each other creating aggravation. Yoga can be viewed as an inner rasayana or alchemical elixir working with both the elements and the prana-shakti to alchemically transmute stress and karma into bliss and authentic being. Tantric-based yoga develops a connection to the alchemical flow of life - how every moment is a creative opportunity to be in true presence, dance with change, create antidotes for difficulties, and sustain the flow. Our practice, our sadhana, is the place to align our life with the sacred flow, the alchemical movement that renews us again and again.
The New moon is the reflection of this process and this month we have the opportunity to renew ourselves in the sacred 9-night festival known as Navaratri.
This ten-day cycle connected to the three aspects of the Great Mother - Creation, Sustaining and Dissolution and Victory over Ignorance or Sarawsati, Lakshmi and Durga. Most likely before the new moon and this transformative time of fall, we are able to connect with what we are letting go of, what we are sustaining with love and what is emerging within us. It is during this Navaratri cycle that we have access to authentic transformation as well as magnifying the blessings in our inner and outer life that are the essence of Sri - the creative, regenerative power of the one - that although beyond personification - becomes invoked as the divine feminine within all.
I am grateful to all the amazing men in my life who choose to honor the sacred feminine in their beloved lover, wife, sister, daughter, son, their own self, the Earth. I encourage all the yoginis to make as much space in their awareness as you can over the next 10 days to really connect with the Shakti within.
Navaratri CycleNavaratri begins Oct 8
Days dedicated to Durga - Oct 8-10
Days dedicated to Laksmi- Oct 11-13
Days dedicated to Saraswati - Oct 14-16
Dusshera - last day of Navaratri Oct 17
The beginning of spring and the beginning of autumn are two very important junctions of climatic and solar influence. These two periods are taken as sacred opportunities for the worship of the Divine Mother. The dates of the festival are determined according to the lunar calendar. Being the oldest religion in the world, Hinduism has numerous belief systems.
In Hinduism the adherents believe in one omnipresent Deity but may worship Her/Him in any of the numerous manifestations that are prevalent all over India. Navaratri represents celebration of Goddess Durga, the manifestation of Deity in form of Shakti [Energy or Power]. Dasahara, meaning ‘ten days’, becomes dussehra in popular parlance. The Navaratri festival or ‘nine day festival’ becomes ‘ten day festival’ with the addition of the last day, Vijayadashami which is its culmination. On all these ten days, the various forms of Mother Mahisasura-mardini (Durga) are worshipped with fervour and devotion.
Living Yoga Sadhana for Navaratri
These are the recommendations for yogis and yoginis during Navaratri
1) Create Sacred Space- AltarCreate your altar or renew your current altar. Clean the Space for your practice and set-up your supplies (incense, lighter, etc.). You can activate your altar in a specific way for each sadhana with relevant pictures-murtis-symbols (images of the Divine), sacred objects and specific colors of cloth, flowers and candles. Keep your altar simple but potent as a reflection of your inner being. Choose vital and expressive colors and images; Siva-shakti or Shakti or images of your own creative inspiration.
Explore the pathways of awakening kundalini shakti as the divine creative brilliance within nature, within your body and as a supreme navigating intelligence within the flow of one’s life. Includes essential daily practices, meditation, kundalini namaskar, prana flow creative sequences and prana sahaja flow – the spontaneous awakening.
Have a candle at the center of your altar or images of the Goddess according to the predominant day - Durga, Lakshmi or Sarawati.
2) Meditate in the morning and evening with bhava, mantra and devotion - the duration is not as important as the consistency although the longer the seep the deeper the soak. You can have your regular meditation practice and add or substitute the mantra connected with each Shakti for a mala (108 rounds).
Om Aim Saraswatiye Namaha
Om Dum Durgaye Namaha
Om Shrim Lakshmiye Namaha
You can also listen and chant the 108 Names of the Goddess, and Lalita Saharanama (1008 Names of the Goddess).
Here are some suggestions of tracks and artist below
* Craig Pruess
* Bombay Jayashri Goddess Namavali
* Shakti Blessings - by Benjy Wertheimer - "Jala"
* Lalita Sahashranama - CD and book from www.amma.org
3) Live and practice yoga with heightened awareness, with intention, seva and rasa vinyasa(tm) - an alchemical connection to the flow in your daily life.
According to the three phases of Navaratri - 3 days for Dissolution and Letting Go; 3 days for Manifestation and Abundance; and 3 days for creative energy how will you focus
4) Fast in some form either by releasing a food item such as alcohol or sugar or being pure vegetarian for the entire 10 days. This is a very powerful way of strengthening your inner dedication and relaxing attachments.
5) Journal your experience and share.