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The Nine Nights Of The Goddess – Navarātri

Yoga and tantra provide maps and paths through the maze of complex existence. They aim to transform the body-mind from raw, mundane states of existence to refined, exalted states of experience and realization.

Within many yogic and tantric traditions, certain seasons, months, and times of the day are given special importance.

They are ‘auspicious’ times when cosmic energies are heightened and, as such, support psycho-spiritual practice. These auspicious moments in time assist us in achieving positive results. For example, dawn and dusk are said to be ideal times for yoga and meditation.

The festival of Navarātri or Nine Nights (‘nav’ is nine and ‘rātri’ is nights) is one of the great ceremonies in the lives of Hindus in India. The exact time of this celebration varies according to the lunar calendar. It begins on a dark moon in the Indian autumn (in the month of Ashwin, usually in October) and ends ten days after. In 2020 Navaratri starts on the 17th of October (depending on which part of the world and time zone you live in).

This period of The Nine Nights is devoted to invoking The Great Mother Goddess, The Divine Creative Power, or Shakti, the creator and supporter of the universe. She is most closely identified with Durga, an exquisitely beautiful goddess who rides a lion, and who wields in her many hands’ awesome weapons, including the ‘shul’ (pike), ‘chakra’ (wheel), ‘parashu’ (ax), and ‘talvar’ (sword).

Durga is said to be the manifestation of the power of all the goddesses that, long ago, faced a terrible and irresistible demon called Mahishasura.

Mahishāsura is a mythic representation of the human ego in its demonic form

Many yogis do not see Navaratri as a religious process, but rather as a psycho-spiritual one, and a unique opportunity for yogic practice. 

They adopt certain practices and rituals to understand their psychological shadow and to confront their egos.

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Why Mindfulness Is Not Enough

Mindfulness Is Not Enough
Many people come to us for therapy believing they cannot meditate. 

They have tried a few simple mindfulness and breath awareness techniques; however, they tell us they couldn’t meditate because they couldn’t stop thinking. They either feel bored looking at their thoughts, which they had hoped would stop, or they become nervous because they could not stop the anxious feelings, emotions, and memories that accompany these thoughts. 

It is a common misconception that you have to stop thinking to meditate. Rather the opposite is true. When you start off in meditation, the mind will be full of thoughts. This is a sign of success. The attainment of the thoughtless state, the state of Inner Silence, comes later on down the path.

The tragedy is, that because of this initial experience with pure mindfulness techniques, many people close the door on meditation and say that it is not for them. The real problem is that they have experienced only one technique, have not had access to theory, and are unaware that there are many other techniques that can give them a peaceful experience of meditation, even if they are thinking.

Mindfulness is one of the most popular forms of meditation. However, mindfulness, which is really the simple act of paying attention to the present moment and not being lost in thinking and rumination, is only a small part of meditation. It has gained popularity because it has been integrated into mental health programs where it is part of a larger approach to mental health. Mindfulness is not a standalone technique. It supports the clinical psychologists’ treatment of mental illness. 

For most people, and especially in a clinical setting, mindfulness needs to be combined with other techniques that enable you to reduce negative feelings attached to thoughts. You need to combine mindfulness with techniques that enable you to cultivate positive feelings so that you develop a positive sense of self-control. 

Much more is possible if you understand the theory behind meditation. This includes learning about the structure of the mind, and how to apply meditation to the thinking, feeling, and knowing aspects of the mind. 

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Yoga Tantra Advanced Study Group

8 x 90-minute classes, every fortnight, starting on August 30th at 9 am (Sydney, Australia time).

Hi everyone, we hope you are well and safe in these difficult times.

Many of our students have been requesting guidance in developing a practice program that’s in line with their needs, especially regarding health, psychological growth, and spiritual evolution. As a result, we are starting an online study group for advanced students of yoga, tantra, and meditation.

The aim of the group is to empower and illuminate the yogic path through knowledge and practice; to provide live online teachings, access to deeper theory and practice, and opportunities for discussion.

  1. The first part of the teachings will focus on how to use yoga to develop a strong balanced ego structure, a strong sense of self-esteem, and the ability to better achieve your goals.
  2. The second part will focus on growing your relationship with your deepest Self and exploring the mysteries of the psyche, unconscious, and higher dimensions of being.

This is an opportunity to deepen and upgrade your understanding of the philosophies and techniques from Yoga, Tantra, Sāmkhya, and Vedanta, and to practice meditations and techniques derived from these philosophies.

Selected texts will be recommended. For example, we will explore the Upanishads, Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, the Bhagavad Gita, and various Tantras (sacred texts).

Topics

Topics include consciousness, energy/shakti, light; mind, karma, elemental forces; mantras, yantras, initiation, psychic symbols (Ishta devatā); spiritual practice (sādhana), peace, silence, stillness; community (sangha). Many other topics will be incorporated into the teachings and discussions.

You will also learn principals from both Eastern and Western psychological approaches to self-development and self-realization.

You will have the opportunity to clarify and discuss issues in health, mental strength, and spiritual life. This does not include personal medical advice.

Pre-requisites

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