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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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Has Your Shadow Hijacked Your Life?

Your shadow contains all the traits and impulses that you disconnect from in yourself, but which you can plainly see in other people, such as egotism, laziness, carelessness, cowardice, greed and aggression.

If you are unaware of your own shadow, or if you are aware but neglect responsibility for it, your shadow can send distressing thoughts, emotions, and impulses into your awareness, seemingly from out the blue, and can even cause accidents. You can say or do things that you would rather not say or do, and this erodes the quality of your life.

Your Shadow in Relationships

The more control your own shadow has over you, the more easily you fall prey to another person’s shadow. Relationships can be fraught, strained or stormy, and they often end suddenly and badly. This is because if your shadow is in control it causes projection and denial. You can’t see who the other person actually is because your projection is getting in the way. The greatest tragedy, however, is that you can’t see yourself.

No-one is immune to the power of the shadow and we all have one. The quest is not to get rid of it (since you never can), but to learn about its nature and impact on your life, and begin a process of reintegration of all the shadow aspects that you’ve disowned. Ultimately, you need to take responsibility for your shadow so that you stop projecting both your ‘negative’ and ‘golden’ shadow onto others. This creates psychological peace, which is essential for mature relationships.

Feelings and Behaviors from the Unconscious Shadow

An unconscious shadow can cause anything from niggling annoyances to severe psychological disorders. Here are some examples of the shadow being in control; when the suppressed shadow becomes energized and empowered.

  • Feeling irritated and angry for no obvious reason
  • Feeling nervous or anxious for no obvious reason
  • Regurgitating a negative thought or emotion
  • Thinking that life is meaningless
  • Feeling apathetic or bored
  • Compulsively hiding how you really feel
  • Acting against your own values and ethics
  • Feeling shame or guilt
  • Blaming others for your problems
  • Sulking

Types of Shadows: Negative, Golden, Family, Societal

Everyone carries several types of shadows, and they often overlap.

Here are some examples:

You repeatedly encounter people who share the same fault e.g. jealousy, aloofness, thoughtlessness. This is your active Negative Shadow.

You are surrounded by people who are talented in the way you wish you were e.g. they are outgoing, creative, successful. This is your active Golden Shadow.

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