Friday, January 15, 2010

For the New Year's....

Since practicing yoga I've been researching into Hinduism and it's become an important part of my practice. To understand some of the aspects of yoga and where the words come from and what they mean, I felt it was critical to do my homework so to speak. Yoga is something I began when I was planning my wedding as a way to get in shape but it quickly became a mental life saver to me. In fact, a month before my wedding I had the symbol for Om tattooed on my ankle because it meant so much to me and I wanted to commemorate what was, what is, and what will be in the future (one of the many meanings of Om). Marriage was such a life changing event for me and I truly felt I would have been more than overwhelmed if I hadn't found yoga and Hinduism and Buddhism as a way to ground me and keep perspective on life.

One of the reasons we went to Thailand was because I was so interested in the Buddhist religion. I also wanted to ride an elephant in the jungle. So I though in light of those two things, I'd have a spotlight on one of my favorite Hindu deities, Ganesha.
In case you aren't familiar with Ganesha, I've posted this picture. When visiting my parents for Thanksgiving I actually noticed my dad had a statue of Ganesha in his kitchen. I was like, Dad you have a Ganesha? He of course, had bought it because he liked it (he has quite the collection of dragons, kimono ladies and other Asian characters throughout his house) without realizing the symbolic nature of the statue (much like people do when they buy Buddha's which he also had). Ganesha is the remover of obstacles and evil and Lord of Success. He is also worshiped as the god of education, knowledge, wisdom and wealth. As you can imagine he's one of the most widely worshiped and commonly recognized gods. This also explains why elephants are seen as sacred in the Buddhist religion and probably why they are treated so well over in southeast Asia as well.

Here is the significance of his form as described from
Ganesha's head symbolizes the Atman or the soul, which is the ultimate supreme reality of human existence, and his human body signifies Maya or the earthly existence of human beings. The elephant head denotes wisdom and its trunk represents Om, the sound symbol of cosmic reality. In his upper right hand Ganesha holds a goad, which helps him propel mankind forward on the eternal path and remove obstacles from the way. The noose in Ganesha's left hand is a gentle implement to capture all difficulties.

The broken tusk that Ganesha holds like a pen in his lower right hand is a symbol of sacrifice, which he broke for writing the Mahabharata. The rosary in his other hand suggests that the pursuit of knowledge should be continuous. The laddoo (sweet) he holds in his trunk indicates that one must discover the sweetness of the Atman. His fan-like ears convey that he is all ears to our petition. The snake that runs round his waist represents energy in all forms. And he is humble enough to ride the lowest of creatures, a mouse.

I don't worship any Buddhist god's or anything, but I do feel like Ganesha is an important focus for the new year. He is a remover of obstacles and evil and I feel like this is really critical to my life now. Being newly married, buying a house, and thinking about the future I know there will be many problems that might arise in the New Year. It's inevitable. But when life gets hard I feel I can always channel my inner Ganesha and draw from within the power to move forward. There is so much I want to accomplish in the future and I realize that I can be my own worst enemy. As they say when working out, your mind gives out long before your body does. I am determined not to let my mind get in the way of anything I want to achieve in the future. Wish me luck!

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