The Pissed Off Yogini

Recent visitors to my blog might be wondering why I changed the blog name from The 300 Pound Yogini to Darshan.

(I’m not sure I want to box myself in as a weight loss blog—though I intend to revisit this topic as health and healing are a large part of my current focus. Thankfully, I am starting to see significant changes in my health since shedding 30 pounds. But that’s another blog post).

I almost changed the name to The Pissed Off Yogini.  It’s Darshan for now because the word soothes me. It immediately evokes memories of standing in the Darshan line to get a blessing from my garlanded Guru.

Since I can’t seem to settle on a name, maybe I will change it each time I post to reflect what I am thinking and writing about. For now I am going to name this post, The Pissed Off Yogini and then wait and see if it wants to turn into a blog title.

Lately no amount of groceries, meditation, mantras, walks or Asanas seem to be able to quell the storm inside me. Lately has turned into the last year—maybe longer—maybe it’s been since Trump announced he was going to run for president. And if I’m being honest—maybe it’s been longer than that. I tend to run a little hot.

I have no words for the horror that our country experienced this past week.

At 6:59 on Thursday–the day after the massacre in Florida, I was jolted out of bed by a text from my dear friend in Florida. Her school is on lockdown. She is hiding with sixteen students. She tells me she loves me and to please offer prayers to our guru.

Thank the Goddess it was a false alarm.

At 8:02 my daughter calls. She is headed to a training on how to handle situations such as these.

Three years ago my daughter she was locked in a closet with pre-school children. I learned of her situation thru texts and drove immediately to her day-care. Police surrounded the building. Thankfully, it was handled quickly and no one was harmed.

At 4:09 my daughter sends another text. “The elementary was on lockdown today due to a violent parent threatening teachers and children. It was the high school last week. The high school student was locked, loaded and ready to go when the police stopped him before he got on school property. They received a tip off, acted and they saved lives. But they didn’t save one life. The boy attempting the shooting was responding to his best friend committing suicide the weekend before due to bullying.” She also shared the following, “Children who are deeply abused feel powerless. The developing brain of the adolescent can not fully understand that high school is passing and they will not be living in that time forever. And more importantly this is a highly charged time in the development, view and understanding of the growing adult self. Bullying is ruining our society. If you have a culture of rape, oppression and violence it effects our schools. Our schools are not a separate entity. They are just one more mirror.”

Of course the school-shooting evoked panic and blind rage. So did the communications with my daughter and friend. These are natural responses and they prompted my questions.

Are there different faces to anger and rage? Are all forms of rage toxic? Is it a poison or does it serve a purpose?

I reached out to a yoga friend. Here is a link to her blog and a post she shared about Trump.

She offered the following quote.

“Being “nice” is not a Buddhist practice.  Being kind is.  It doesn’t always mean telling people what they are comfortable hearing.  For example, acknowledging the structural depth of white privilege and supremacy in America and elsewhere is not comfortable.  But if our society has a future, overcoming white supremacy is a practice we need to lean into immediately.” – Ethan Nichtern

She also stated, “You can absolutely be engaged with something and still remain unattached.  I like that word better than “detached. Think about it, I feel there is a difference.”

I am thinking about it and for some reason it does feel more expansive. It encourages me to not get attached to outcomes—but to do the work in-front of me.

But the most important thing she provided was the following link and quote.

https://bzbi.org/holy-anger/

“Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel in his seminal work The Prophets, he writes: [A]nger is something that comes dangerously close to evil, yet it is wrong to identify it with evil… Like fire, it may be a blessing as well as a fatal thing — reprehensible when associated with malice, morally necessary as resistance to malice… Anger may touch off deadly explosives, while the complete absence of anger stultifies moral sensibility.[16]”

I found the following paragraph on the site:

“I’ve decided it’s time for anger — but for holy anger, the kind that won’t let you sleep at night until you find a way to make change in the world. Because holy anger took children out of sweatshops and into schools. Holy anger did away with slavery and Jim Crow. Holy anger inspired Zionists to take a two-thousand-year-old dream of Jewish independence and turn it into a very real State of Israel. Holy anger freed Soviet Jewry and ended South African apartheid. Holy anger gave women the vote and fueled the Freedom Rides and drove marchers across the bridge in Selma, and holy anger will carry us across the next bridge, and the next, and the next. It’s time for anger because we live in a world in which rape and sexual slavery have become weapons of war. We live in a country that suffers 33,000 deaths and 84,000 injuries a year from gun violence, and our leaders persist in doing nothing to solve the problem.

Today, I’m sitting in the fiery flames praying that I’m not consumed. And if I am, may it be a transformation that leads me to be of service.

What a Yogini Looks Like

“So often, the inability to write is a sign that we are not yet ready to be honest, or reckless in our pursuit of subject matter. In the face of such a tall order, the only thing I know to do is to resign myself to the unpleasant experience of waiting patiently at the gates. To pass the time, and to build up courage, I return to Kafka, Nietzsche, Nabokov, Lispector. Eventually, I’ll read a sentence like, ‘Now I know how, have the know-how, to reverse perspectives….’ Suddenly, I’m reminded of how alien the world feels to me, and, before I know it, I am writing again. All I had to do was suffer long enough to remember that I am only spying on this strange and sublime world momentarily, and that I don’t have any time to waste.”  Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi

I haven’t waited patiently at the gate. It’s been months and I’ve found only scraps–breadcrumbs of relief in literature and in my own writing. Exhaustion has set in from trying to force the gate open. I’ve been searching for the right combination that unlocks/releases me from myself–from my patterns and from my inability to write because the things inside me that are chewing and clawing their way to the surface leave me feeling vulnerable and exposed. To deter them from the light I created other blogs–that talked about other things–but not these things. Not eating disorders or how I’ve avoided writing about  my unending hunger that isn’t just attached to food but shows up consistently in other areas of my life. Sometimes it propels me forward in a positive way but often its ends up shape-shifting into a weapon that I use against myself.

For whatever reason–I tend to write raw–not always refined and often with my veins open. My writing process begins with identifying what is happening inside my body–how I feel about what I am writing. I have to experience how the words and images feel inside me before I engage my mind. This experience component is my jumping off place. It’s what provides the juice–the energy.  But when the writing threatens to reveal my hidden corners–the things I keep sealed, that’s when I bring out the lasso and impose a gag order on myself. This has happened repeatedly with the birth of new blogs. They never last long enough to se the light of day.

Loss of weight is one of my goals  for this year but I don’t want to approach it from a place of numbers. I don’t want to be chained to the scale or form an attachment to a specific amount of weight loss in a specific amount of time.  What I desire is to heal. To stop the endless cycle of feeling shame for not measuring up. I’ve been keeping myself under wraps   for a very long time. And though my inner wild-woman has been gagged and silenced she has s finally figured out how to make herself heard–and her voice is rising above the others–above the self judgments and voices from the past.

I am a little late to the table but I am learning how to properly nourish myself–care for myself–even put myself first so that I am whole and healthy and able to give back to my community and to those I love. I never learned to truly care for myself. There is still a lot of worn out patterns from my childhood that continue to inform my adulthood. I am in the process of letting them go–especially the voices that tell me I have no business writing about yoga or the Divine Feminine or spiritual practices of any sort–or writing–or anything that I am knowledgeable about because to date I have not been successful at healing this aspect of my life. Yes, I know–it’s ridiculous. And I’m done.

This unhealed way of being has caused me to hide my gifts, downplay my wisdom and it has been successful at keeping the wild-woman- creative part of me under lock and key so that I don’t draw attention to myself.

I am drawing on Kali’s strength and I am walking directly into the fire–She is the fire. I am going to start where I am. Which is right here. Now. In the Present Moment. No more hiding.

Maybe it was the grace of my Guru, or perhaps a Deity took pity on me or maybe my mantra practice ripened but something shifted internally. I have started to engage with gentle yoga poses. This hasn’t been a smooth process. I am much more comfortable with yogic philosophy, meditation and learning about ritual and The Divine Feminine. I know that landscape–the internal one. Sadly the external landscape of my own body is still foreign to me but I am committed to learning to live inside my body instead of hovering around it. I have started the process of slowing down and listening to its wisdom. I am engaged with root chakra work–the floorboards to my foundation have buckled.

My intent/sankalpa for my journey is to nurture/grow a healthy lifestyle that is filled with foods, exercises, practices, books, writing, rituals and relationships that nourish on all levels. This will be the focus of this blog–of this new path, which isn’t really new–it’s my awareness and perspective that has shifted and provided me with a sense of newness. I am surprised by how freeing  and liberating it is to finally engage with myself in this way.

In closing I want to state that I honor and respect all shapes and sizes. And I firmly believe that Yoga is for every body–including my own body, despite what the glossy yoga magazines mirror back. I am what a Yogini looks like.

The Next Step

2017 ended with some surprising health issues for both my husband and myself. I have been thinking a lot about what I can and can’t control. How do I heal—not just on the physical but internally as well?

Recently, I spent five weeks living beside the VA hospital while my husband recovered from surgery. I witnessed many families and individuals that were suffering. This is the second holiday season we spent at a medical facility. I experienced anger and frustration around the out-of-controlness of it all.

I am six months away from my 60th birthday. There are a lot of changes I would like to integrate before I arrive at a new decade. Most involve health but I am also looking at all aspects of my life—including my writing. How do I return to balance in the areas most important to me?

I feel like I am receiving a wake up call but I don’t want to answer it from a place of fear or anger, or from a place of creating to-do-lists. I don’t want the foundation of how I move forward to be rooted in external motivation. I want to approach life from a place of mindfulness, devotion–from a spiritual perspective. I want my internal and external journey to line up—not separate—not in opposition to each other.

To mark my new journey I enrolled in a class-Shakti: Faces of the Goddess. This is a 4-Week interactive Online Workshop with Laura Amazzone.  We are studying the mythology, history, and iconography of four goddesses: Saraswati, Lakshmi, Kali and Durga.

The first Goddess we are studying is Kali. What jumped off the page while I was reading the homework was the part about how Kali presides over the places that we have no control over. I knew this information but apparently it was a very surface understanding. I found myself reading and rereading the same paragraph.

I think I needed  to fully grasp that we all suffer—we all die. We all experience illness and hardship. Even though I recently witnessed this playing out at the hospital I refused to acknowledge its reality. All of the things I want to avoid, abolish, run from and ignore are part of the human-condition–Kali’s realm.  And now they are beating on my front door—slipping in under the cracks—bleeding thru the wallpaper. I can’t Ommm them away. But what I discovered was the more that I sat with this understanding the more I could touch the preciousness of life. Life’s beauty was eclipsed by my fear, avoidance and my incessant need to control out comes.

My intent/sankalpa for my journey is to recognize that certain things can’t be changed. I can’t control everything. Along with this understanding I want to nurture/grow a healthy lifestyle that is filled with foods, exercises, practices, books and relationships that nourish on all levels. These are the things I can change/work with. This is where I want to place my focus. My walk in this world isn’t just about recognizing that illness, death and hardships exist. They most certainly do exist and are part of the fabric of the human condition but there is also a vast and limitless space for healing and for recognizing beauty in the most unlikely places–including within myself.

Jai Maa!

Darshan

“Darshan is a Hindu concept that means “to see and be seen by the deity.” It is a transmission of Shakti.” Laura Amazzone

Darshan is derived from the Sanskrit, darsana, meaning “sight,” “vision” or “appearance.” In Hinduism, darshan is the act of beholding a deity, divine person, sacred object or natural spectacle, especially in a physical image form.

The poet, Gary Snyder, has given a naturalistic meaning to darshan:

“It’s a gift; it’s like there’s a moment in which the thing is ready to let you see it. In India, this is called darshan . Darshan means getting a view, and if the clouds blow away, as they did once for me, and you get a view of the Himalayas from the foothills, an Indian person would say, ‘Ah, the Himalayas are giving you their darshan’; they’re letting you have their view. This comfortable, really deep way of getting a sense of something takes time. It doesn’t show itself to you right away. It isn’t even necessary to know the names of things the way a botanist would. It’s more important to be aware of the ‘suchness’ of the thing; it’s a reality. It’s also a source of a certain kind of inspiration for creativity. I see it in the work of Georgia O’Keefe.