Sunday, November 7, 2010

Kali, a Spiritual Warrior

Sometimes we have battles to fight in life. These are not physical battles where we harm others. Rather they are mental, emotional or spiritual battles when we need to be strong and have the courage and focus of a warrior to overcome obstacles that limit our potential.

The Hindu goddess Kali is thought by some as the goddess of destruction, but she is really the goddess of liberation. From a spiritual viewpoint she represents enlightenment. She is fierce, fearless and wild. With a discerning eye, she cuts through disguises and denials. She calls us to uncover our feelings of anger, hurt and sadness that can lie buried deep within us. The voice of Kali is a call to action. She is the epitome of tough love.

Life can be easy, but it can also be difficult. We can get stuck in limiting beliefs, a sense of unworthiness, thinking that we are supposed to be someone we are not. It takes finding an inner strength, the strength of a warrior, to liberate ourselves from these conditions that keep us from realizing our unique essence. There are times we need to go deep inside ourselves and find our fierce side and stand up to the demons in ourselves and others. (1)

The obstacles we fight can be internal or external. Both require courage, honesty, dedication, perseverance, and sensitivity to overcome. For example, if you tend to feel like a victim because things typically don't work out for you, it is time to take an honest, penetrating look at what is really happening. Are you giving up too quickly? Are you not working hard enough? Are you doing what you really want to be doing or something that you think you should be doing? Or are you blaming others for problems that are really your responsibility?

An external obstacle could be something like losing your job in a tough economy. So what do you do? Do you go into a serious depression? Or do you look to learn a new career or use your talents to start a your own business? Maybe this is the time to truly enjoy unemployment for a while, without being stressed out, and take a needed at-home vacation to do some things you did not have time for when working full time. Then you may find some clarity that had evaded you before.

Yoga focuses on being peaceful and equanimous. But yoga is a union of opposites. There is a time to stand up for what you believe, a time to be passionate and strong, a time to be fierce and wild. This makes the calmness even sweeter. That is why we balance muscular energy, engaging muscles strongly inward, with organic energy, softening our skin and extending outward. We need to be diligent in setting a firm foundation, and playful in testing our edges. The warrior poses in yoga are fundamental to every practice at every level. Keeping an open heart, both physically and metaphorically, is key to practicing the challenging Warrior III with grace and dignity.

Instead of fearing and denying your warrior side, embrace it fully. Turn to it when you feel something is wrong, when you sense you are holding back and not honoring your true nature, or when you are not feeling your joy. The consequences of suppressing your Kali nature can lead to depression, stress and even sabotage your health. Without the balance of boldness and acceptance, a part of us will become lost and we will never feel truly at home. Use the disciplined energy of the warrior to cultivate your inner strength to walk on the wild side.

Footnotes: (1) "How to be fierce." by Sally Kempton Yoga Journal

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