Wish you all a happy new year from Kerala! Today, is Vishu and according to the Malayalam calendar a new year starts. On this day, the most significant event is the sighting of the Vishukkani during dawn, which is believed to bring luck throughout the year. In Malayalam, the word ‘kani’ means ‘that which is seen first’, hence, ‘Vishukkani’ means ‘that which is seen first on Vishu.’ It is believed the first thing that children see on the day should represent abundance. For this, the Vishukkan is prepared and children are blindfolded and brought to the altar to see the decorations and start the new year on an auspicious note. In general in the Indian tradition and spirituality it is believed what you see or think first in the morning will decide the course of your whole day. Every sleep is a small death and every waking up is a new birth.
Perhaps I am growing older and more free and unbound… I am not sure. I have reached a level of comfort in the Indian culture, where I am ready to expose my “sinful parts” like shoulders, ankles and oh, dear! my calfs… 🙂 I am absolutely not trying to revolutionise the traditional Indian culture. I simply feel a deep rooted need. And what is my need? Let me tell you the truth. I just enjoy being naked.
The more I connect to my body as a woman, I feel the need for nudity. I feel it is the most pure, sacred and natural state of being. I see my body as a temple. And let me tell you, living in India, naked moments are not easy to get. Security check: all curtains closed, doors locked, lights off… Yes, sometimes I am having a lot of fun. Read more
Do you know the mythological story about how the chipmunk got the three stripes on its’ back?
This story dates back to the 7th – 5th century BCE, when the ancient epic of India, Rāmāyana, was written down. In one of the subplots, the demon Rāvana kidnapped Sīta, lord Rāma’s wife, and brought her to his palace on Lanka (today’s Sri Lanka). Rāma called upon the monkey army led by the great monkey warrior Hanumān. The army had to build a bridge in the sea between India and Sri Lanka, which is known as Ram Setu. Up to today, there are coral formations and fossils in the shape of a bridge and a new study is being conducted into its’ origins: https://indianexpress.com/…/explained-this-underwater…/.
I was inspired to write this article by a short chat with Sarka Vojackova. She posted a live video clip from behind the scenes of her online yoga class. Guess what? Microphone is not working, picture is not clear….
This sounds very familiar to my own class set up in India. Sometimes electricity doesn’t work for a whole day, so that all back ups are empty. At times, visitors come without prior notice and you have to welcome them and make tea. At times, workers whom you called three times, suddenly walk into the middle of your class and start repairing the AC while you try to keep your focus on the womb energies. Sounds funny, doesn’t it? And finally it is, if you don’t take life too seriously. Read more
At some point in July last year or the year before (due to corona times I have lost the track of time), I felt the urge to start sharing THAT, what I have practiced and found useful for keeping or restoring my own balance as a wife of an Indian guru, mother, yogīnī, cow caretaker, since 1 year a home schooler for both Indian and Czech schools, occasional cook of the South Indian cuisine, ashram administrator and occasional member of the ashram police squad. No really, sometimes it goes overboard and the more I longed for a practice tailored to my needs mainly as a WOMAN juggling between Indian present and European samskāras. Read more
You can dance, sing, pray or chant om namah śivāya. Connect with the energy of śiva, who is the compassionate destroyer of old and dysfunctional.
Śiva represents the male linear energy which exists in us women also. We need this energy to reach goals and to clearly set our limits.
This is what Sadhguru of Isha Foundation says about Sivaratri:
In the Indian culture, at one time, there used to be 365 festivals in a year. In other words, they just needed an excuse to celebrate every day of the year. These 365 festivals were ascribed to different reasons, and for different purposes of life. They were to celebrate various historical events, victories, or certain situations in life like sowing, planting, and harvesting. For every situation there was a festival. But Mahashivratri is of a different significance. Read more
When I moved to Kerala, a small state in South India in 2009 – due to a huge cultural and religious diversity in India I feel entitled to write only about this state ( not mentioning the religious and caste differences) – I was amazed by the fact that even small children were encouraged to read the daily newspaper. No wonder that Kerala, unlike other Indian states, achieved 100% literacy. Read more
Under normal circumstances, we have a cook at our ashram. When the lockdown in India started in March, from one day to another, our staff was not allowed to come including our cook. My worst nightmare came true. I had to cook local Kerala food which involves cooking from a scratch, cooking on fire and gas, warm breakfasts… sounds yummy? It it, but then it is a full time job – hours in the kitchen and piles of dishes. Homeschooling, garden work and taking care of cow and hen were meant for relaxation. Many days I felt despair and helplessness. Many days I blamed India and Indian cooking: “I am not a housewife! I am not a servant! I am from the West! I am a yoga teacher!” Nevertheless, I kept going…
Because human values still prevail over materialism. Because children are loved. Because nature is worshipped as sacred. Because you will be fed in every household when you are hungry. Because as a guest you will be given the host’s bed to sleep in. Because old age means respect and not uselessness. Because Mother is God. Because a prayer will be chanted before the supermarket opens for customers (including the customers). Because rules are all about exceptions. Because teacher profession is respected due to the responsibility for further generations. Because cow is considered a member of a household. Because as foreigner people try to help rather than put you down. And….
because India is giving away Covid vaccines free to other countries, while other pharmaceutical companies are stuffing their pockets and claiming not to have enough.
For many, mantra sounds like a hex from Harry Potter. However, mantra is a scientific tool to literally cleanse our mind. How and from what?
The Sanskrit word Mantra मन्त्र is a composition of two words: manas (mind) and trai (cleanse, liberate). Therefore, mantra is a tool to calm down the thoughts in our mind. Now what is mind?
Generally the śāstra (yogic science) says, that mind consists of pranic body (prānamaya kośa), emotional body (manomaya kośa) and wisdom or intellectual body (vijñānamaya kośa). I don’t go into much detail on these, as it would take many pages of writing. The important thing to know is, that mind consists of different parts. As prāna, our vital energy, is the bridge between body and mind and all “bodies” remain in constant interaction, mantra also influences our physical body through prana in the form of sound vibration of our bodily functions.
Mantras were originally “composed” or expressed in Sanskrit. It is believed that Sanskrit is not man-made but was revealed to the ṛṣis (wisemen) during their transcendental meditations. Those of you, who are using mantra regularly for your own yoga practice can surely affirm this. Just like other ancient wisdom based disciplines, also yoga is experience based, even though, today, the neuro-linguistic effect of mantras is widely known and could be measured and proven through scientific experiments.
According to the Indian tradition, mantras are chanted to the dying as it is believed that the last thing you hear or think about will influence your future birth. Makes sense to me.
I personally like the approach of blending science and philosophy, however, I didn’t need any scientific proof on this one. Some of my life experiences were the best proof to me.
First time I started to work more intensely with mantras was during my pregnancy, when I used to chant Lalita Sahasranāma (thousand names of Mother Goddess) everyday. I was struck by the power of this 40 minutes chant as I approached birth with 0 worries and also 0 information. 🙂 That time my mantra was sufficient.
Later I used mantras to bring Gayatri and other babies 🙂 to sleep or chant when she was angry. It used to help not only the child but also the mother. 🙂
Second milestone in my life experience was when Gayatri was 4 years old and was admitted to ICU during our travels through Bhutan with acute pneumonia and her chance of survival was only 50%. When she stopped responding, I started chanting mantras. I don’t know how long I sat there that night beside her bed. But one thing I knew: the mantra gave me faith and strength and I think Gayatri’s subconscious mind reconnected with the vibrations chanted in the womb and next day she sat up on her hospital bed and asked for food. That time I knew the worst was over.
This is my personal experience with mantra.
Hari Om Tat Sat