For almost 15 years, I have been studying and finding my way back to the Divine Feminine essence (Shakti) that I believe has been ignored and distorted for quite some time. Shakti as I talk about her here, is the manifested world. She is the Darkness of the Womb, she is the Chaos of things falling apart so they can evolve, and she is the Creative Force that drives us forward. In this paradigm, the Masculine (Shiva) is the field of Awareness itself. Shiva is the Watcher, our Awareness, and without quality. The Masculine is the void we experience in deep meditation. In other words, the Feminine cannot exist or play without the Masculine. Nor can the Masculine DO anything or even exist, without the Feminine. One is not higher, or better, than the other. Shiva and Shakti are depicted together, intertwined lovers, who dance and hold each other through eternity. Equals.
In this paradigm, the world Stuff is all an expression of the Feminine, of Shakti. So what we have termed “masculine” aspects still fall into the realm of Shakti. In my past, I have associated the aggressive, outward moving energy as masculine. The receptive, dark, passive aspect was feminine. The intellect and reason: masculine; emotions and intuition: feminine. You see where I’m going, yes? The world of opposites can also be categorized as masculine and feminine…but in the broader perspective of Shakti and Shiva, ALL qualities are expressions of Feminine force expressing itself.
And so, for many years, I was focusing on the aspects of Creation that felt really good: getting in touch with Desire, and listening to my body (which I spent years ignoring), and building up my intuition and instinct. These were things I desired deeply and desperately needed to do, in order to come to the awareness that I had been missing the entire point, which was that there is ALWAYS a Feminine aspect to EVERYTHING.
Now we get to Discipline. In our current culture, the concept of discipline turns me off. A lot. I picture the military, and drills, and being forced into a behavior from an authority figure. It doesn’t feel good. It’s not juicy. It’s not an internal evolution, but an external mold to fit. Even “crunchy” folks have disciplines that get really hard-feeling: stringent dietary choices, pushiness about religion, politics, and such things, as well as general “spiritual materialism” (as Trungpa so aptly named it) seem to define the Westerner’s desire for something more. We have diluted teachings and in the dilution, we have distorted them. <end rant. apologies. i’m off my soapbox now>
The amazing thing, is that I have FINALLY learned that Discipline CAN and IS just as juicy as Desire and Indulgence and Rest and all those other yummy entities I have spent years making friends with. It’s all about INTENTION.
When my intention comes from a place of nourishment, of connection, of compassion….the discipline to sit in meditation every day is easy. When my intention is to connect and breed more love, the discipline to check my tone of voice and not speak negatively is easy to remember. I take more deep breaths. I am kinder. It is easy to do kriya (energetic tune-ups) that might otherwise feel frustrating and “hard”. When my intention is set upon these larger things than “My teacher told me to…” or “I need to get x,y,z”, Discipline emerges from a softer, centered place. It is a joy.
It’s a tricky business, because only you can know why you are doing something.
To me, the easiest way to know where your intention lies, is to check in with how something feels. Is it fun? It is enjoyable? (And I am not saying that every morning my Sadhana is enjoyable…sometimes I am downright irritated with myself! But I would rather have that time for myself so that junk can come out an be cleared, and I can step into my day in a centered way, rather than carry the irritation with me…that’s how I know I am aligned with my Intention.) Are you consistently feeling well after it’s complete? Does it nourish you? Does it fit into your life?
When you are doing something that’s NOT aligned with your Intention, you are forcing yourself into a paradigm that might not fit, and chances are, it won’t feel right. It will bore you. It will feel “hard” and you will make excuses to NOT do it.
I used to do that a lot! When I didn’t want to practice, I didn’t. I don’t think I had a good structure within myself, or a clear understanding of why I was engaging in such behavior. So I wasn’t consistent. I still reaped benefits from the practicing I did engage in…but I must say, that doing a Sadhana daily, without excuse or fail (even if it’s only 5 minutes) is changing me.
My knots are loosening. I am more vulnerable and open to change. I am receptive. I am kinder. I am less reactive.
I hope you can find a way to your Intention, and a way of practicing that suits you. Next week I will offer you what I do for my Sadhana every morning, in hopes that it inspires you, or at least gives you a place to begin.