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Light On Yogi: Siddhi Saraswati – Australia

Siddhi Saraswati is a yogi to the core, but it might surprise you to know that she doesn’t practice classical yoga postures. Siddhi is proof that yoga is more about poise than a pose. Read about how her relationship with life, learning, nature, and multiple sclerosis makes her a true yogi.

Words by Siddhi

In 1985 I heard about an Australian medical doctor who had spent a decade studying with a guru in India and had returned to Australia to teach yoga as the foundation of wellbeing. That doctor was Swami Shankardev Saraswati.

My meeting with him soon after changed my life in a most positive, nurturing way.

It sparked in me a deeper connection to yoga, and I became certain that it was to become my vocation. I traveled to India to further my studies and completed my teacher training back in Australia. I taught yoga in Sydney and enjoyed a wonderful yoga community for well over a decade.

In 1998 I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. It moved quickly through my brain and spinal cord, damaging parts of the myelin sheath, the neural pathway that sends messages from the brain to the body. My brain, spine controlling balance, proprioception, cognition, voice, and movement were all affected.

I tried hard to retain the life I’d grown to love, but when I could no longer drive or teach I was forced to leave my students, my community, and to find a new way of living.

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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 2018 Navaratri started on the 8th 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 Your Shadow Makes You Say And Do Things That Are Not ‘You’

We all do it.

Things are humming along nicely, then — from out of the blue — something triggers us.

We lose our filter. Honest feelings rise and pop.

We say or do something that surprises or shocks us, and everyone within earshot.

Someone gets hurt, and we feel lousy.

When this happens to you, you probably spend the rest of the day scrambling to fix the mess. “I’m sorry.” “I wasn’t thinking.” “I’m under a lot of pressure.” “I just wasn’t myself.”

You beat yourself up, vow to get a handle on yourself and never to let loose again. You don’t want to be like that, ever.

The fallout of your sudden outburst can be a hiccup or a hurricane.

A sarcastic comment, a disgruntled rant, and a punch in the face will each elicit a different response. As will a teary outburst, a jealous accusation, and a racial slur.

Those caught in your line of fire may easily forgive you, never speak to you again, or see you in court.

If you weren’t yourself, who were you at that moment?

Where did the other you come from?

That other you is another part of you. It’s the unwanted you — the part you keep hidden, most of the time.

You keep this part of yourself hidden because you find it unattractive, unacceptable, or abhorrent. It’s not how you want your family, friends, and co-workers to see you.

The unwanted you corrupts your self-image and is a blight on your ego.

The psychological term for the unwanted you is the shadow.

Your shadow is the refuge for all the traits, behaviors, feelings and impulses that your ego rejects.

How Your Shadow Is Created

“Everything that is, casts a shadow.”
― Neil Gaiman, American Gods

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Time For Renewal, But First – Clarity Of Purpose

Who you believe you are, how you relate to others and how you engage with the world around you is directly aligned with your life purpose or lack of purpose.

8 Things Your Life Purpose Can Do For You

  1. Your life purpose is the ‘why’ of your existence. Connecting with purpose reduces self-doubt, and increases self-esteem and confidence. When you have a purpose you feel useful, your actions are meaningful and valuable to yourself and others.
  2. Your purpose orientates both your inner life and your outer life. It’s the anchor that keeps you grounded, and the wheel that steers your direction.
  3. Your purpose creates experiences. The sum of these experiences creates your life.
  4. Your purpose takes you out of your comfort zone to courageously seek resources, education, mentors and helpers on your journey.
  5. Your purpose unifies your actions. Rather than being distracted, fragmented or unsure, your purpose gives you focus, enabling you to narrow your field of activity. You know the next thing to do, and the next.
  6. Your purpose is wise and ingenious. Once you make a sincere attempt to connect with it, your life purpose ignites your creativity. New ideas light up your mind, and you begin to think laterally and more creatively on how to fulfill it.
  7. Your purpose is not all about you. It’s bigger than you. Once you are aligned with and in flow with your purpose you realize that, rather than having a purpose, your purpose has you.
  8. Your purpose inspires you to bite off more than you can chew. Then, just as you feel overwhelmed by the task, purpose mainlines you into the cosmic grid and shoots a million stars into you.

5 Things You Can Do For Your Life Purpose

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