THE Stories, no one tells you about
Om Sri Ganeshaya Namaha
Ganesha, the remover of obstacles, is the deity invoked when marking a new beginning. As with so many other yogic concepts, the elephant-faced one is not only a symbol for removing obstacles, but simultaneously represents the obstacle: if an elephant decides to stand in your path, you’ll have a hard time continuing along it. What to do? How to deal with it?
Being conscious of the importance of a good and solid beginning is the first step towards a successful path. Preparing yourself well, understanding that respect and care are essential ingredients to your undertaking, and that obstacles will be part of your journey, are all useful in the process of getting ready for a new beginning.
Whether you enter into a longer undertaking like a course or training, or simply get onto your yoga mat for a practice: to visualise yourself preparing for the task, maybe even doing a little ritual that involves the cleansing of hands and feet, lighting a candle or doing some breath work, to bring yourself consciously to the task, will allow for a much deeper entering into the process. It will prepare the mind and the body for what is to come.
So make ritual part of your practice. Go and find one that suits you and your purpose, but be mindful not to become habitual and mindless in the repetition and application of it. Be open to changing your ritual when necessary and remain alert to the need to do so. An empty, meaningless ritual becomes a routine, numbing you to the complexity of the task, and defying the purpose of the ritual. The mind is prone to the illness of forgetting: forgetting purpose, forgetting ongoing alertness and enquiry. Only an alert and open mind is willing to experience and thus learn. To learn, we need to be from expectation, from anticipation, from judgement.
Check in with yourself often: am I practicing habitually, seeking rigid rules and information that is set in stone and gives me the security of knowledge? Or am I engaging mindfully in ritual that allows me to become more open and free with each experience I am inviting into my process of growth? Am I becoming more capable of integration, or am I seeking the diminishing of complexity? On this path, am I becoming more rigid or more flexible? Is my mind dull or alert?
Contributed By: Nina Alfers (www.svastha-yoga.com) comes from a background of martial arts and yoga and practices as a massage therapist. She has studied Sociology, Philosophy and Psychology and practiced as a counsellor for some years before embracing her other healing capacities. She is based in Melbourne, Australia, and often travels to SE Asia to broaden her knowledge and to facilitate yoga workshops, immersions and teacher trainings.