I recently delivered a workshop titled Crossing the Threshold to New Beginnings. I have to say, I love this workshop. It’s a blend of yoga philosophy and coaching, asking you to tune in and develop a deeper relationship with (your)self. It inspires people to reflect on where they are in life, where they want to be, how to get there, and what’s getting in their way. People left in a different mental space from where they were when they arrived.
The feedback I got was so fabulous (I had to pinch myself), I thought that I’d share a chunk of it with you.
Vision, Values, Discernment
Together, we’ll uncover three things…
• First: Your vision: what do you really want in and for your life? This is your highest purpose— that which nourishes and sustains you. In yoga, it’s referred to as your Dharma.
• Second: Your values: why is this vision important to you? Your Motivation?
• And third: We’ll consider the concept of discernment — often the most important step in aligning your life to its highest purpose. Exercising discernment helps us clear out the clutter and determine what needs to go away in order to live a more easeful, happy life. To create the space to do MORE of what makes you happy.
Who is Ganesh?
Ganesh, just like all the Hindu gods and goddesses, is both a mythic character, and an archetype or personification of energies within us. There are many versions of this story, so you may have heard it slightly differently.
Shiva and Parvati live a typical god and goddess life. Parvati, goddess of love and devotion is sitting at home alone waiting for her husband’s return. But he goes away for so long at a time, and she is lonely. “Aha! A child could be an ally and keep me company and help me fill the time until Shiva returns,” she muses.
SO, goddess that she is, she creates a little boy from her laughter.
One day, Parvati tells Ganesh to watch and protect the threshold. She is going to bathe and does not want to be disturbed. Of course, this is the day that Shiva returns. But Shiva and Ganesh don’t know each other. And Shiva gets angry that there is an obstacle in the threshold preventing him from seeing his wife, and engages in battle with Ganesh. Ganesh handles himself well, but this is Shiva, and ultimately Shiva prevails and beheads Ganesha.
Parvati emerges aghast at what Shiva has done, explaining that Ganesh is their son! She tells Shiva that he must fix this. Shiva walks out into the forest and the first being he sees is an elephant, who offers his head to Shiva. Shiva returns to their home and places the elephant head on the boy’s body and this is how we get Ganesha, the Elephant-Headed God.
When we think of him, we are invoking the Lord of Obstacles and The Lord of Thresholds. The God of Beginnings. We are saying that we are ready to align ourselves to our highest self, and let go of what isn’t serving us, what is holding us back.
There is a load of symbolism, as with all of the Hindu gods and goddesses- but I’d like us to focus on 3 things today:
His big ears: to tune in and listen deeply.
His Twisted trunk: Our path is always twisty to get from where we are to where we are going (not straight and direct)
His potbelly: We have the capacity to take in, to digest all that we encounter: good & less good.
Abhaya Mudra: His hand gesture means fearlessness.
Broken Tusk: All of us have brokenness, have imperfection. (Our peak pose today, Svarga Dvijasana, Bird of Paradise in our asana celebrates that asymmetry)
Sit comfortably and close your eyes. Root your sitbones, and even out your breath. Breathe softly. Relax your body and quiet your mind.
Begin to lengthen your inhales and exhales. Allow yourself to go deeper inside yourself where it is calm and curious.
Imagine yourself walking outside. You are in nature. You come upon a path and begin to follow it. Begin to observe what is around you. What season is it? Notice the temperature. What do you see around you? You’ll want to awaken all of your senses for what you will encounter on this adventure.
Is the ground soft or firm? What colors, shapes, and textures surround you? How does it smell? Is it completely quiet? Do you hear your footsteps? Rustling in trees? Animal sounds? As you continue along the path, walk mindfully so that you notice as many of the details of the experience as you can.
Maybe you’ll need to stop to look at something more intimately, or to listen…
As you continue, you encounter an intricately scrolled wrought iron gate. A threshold. This is the gate of future possibility. Through it, you can see a glimpse of your life as you have dreamed it. A manifestation of your innermost desires. Just then, you notice a small Ganesh murti, a statue on the ground beside the opening.
There is a sign on the gate. It asks:
What is the life that you really want?
Why is that meaningful to you?
And what needs to go away to make more space for what nourishes you?
Wow! That’s some profound sign! You stand there contemplating for a few moments as you consider each of the questions.
“What is the life that I REALLY want”
“Why is that meaningful to me?” and
“What needs to go away to make more space for what nourishes me?
You unlatch the gate. As you continue through the gate, it feels familiar to you. Yet, while much is similar to what you know in your current life, there are a number of things that are different.
This gate took you to a place and time years from now where you are living your fullest potential. Here, life is more easeful and blissful. You are aligned with what is most meaningful to you, what is most important in your heart. And there, just ahead, you see your future self, a version of you who overcame fear, doubts and other limiting behaviors to get here.
Your Future Self
You greet yourself. Your future self welcomes you looking radiant: confident and energetic and happy on the inside. You are invited in to have a conversation. Look around. What is the setting? Who else is there? Your blissful self smiles at you as you soak it in, as you consider what you want to ask.
This is your opportunity to ask what it feels like to live your most aligned and refined life. And the path that enabled it to become a reality. After the initial pleasantries, you ask, “What has happened that stands out. You can ask whatever feels important. And you can ask more trivial things too.
After some time of discussing where your focus lies, and when it is and isn’t aligned, you acknowledge that often, it’s the smallest things that can make a big difference. And what support did you have to help you get to this place?” Listen intently with your big elephant ears as your future self answers your questions: “What do I need to be most aware of to get me from where I am now to where you are?” You have been sitting for a while listening and sharing about the twists and turns of the path to get here, the patterns that you must surrender to stop getting in my own way.
Your refined self also reminds you that if you’re paying attention, the Divine is always present. And like Ganesha’s big potbelly, you can experience your fullness. You have the ability to digest all that happens on your journey even when you think you don’t want to take it in. You talk about the discernment that has occurred along the way, paying attention to what is consistent to what you want, and what isn’t, —like Ganesha’s twisted trunk, this is not a linear journey. How obstacles can also be opportunities for transformation. Just another threshold to move through to experience the sweetness that life can offer.
This was a precious conversation. You are grateful for the opportunity to get insights and learn from your future self. You pause and connect to this place. What else do you see? What does it feel like to be here?
Connect to it in your heart.
And now, it is time to leave. You thank your future self for shedding light on how you can get to this place again, and for sharing their wisdom.
You begin back down the path, slowly, reflecting on your conversation. Your senses are heightened as a result of this adventure. You feel the bliss that life can be.
Returning to the gate, different than when you entered
You are grateful for having the chance to gain insight from this unique moment. You are walking down the path again…with heightened senses from what has just happened. Up ahead, you see the gate that you had entered through earlier.
Now you notice a reed basket to the side of the latch. On it, there is a sign. It reads:
“You can reach this place again. Leave in the basket whatever is limiting your potential, your obstacles to your enlightened self, whether material or psychological. Place them gently inside, and cross this threshold.”
You think to yourself what you have heard during your conversation. You consider what you want out of life, what nurtures you and is important to you. You think to yourself, “What is TRULY keeping me from moving beyond my current day-to-day where I so often feel like I am spinning my wheels? You imagine the Self you just left, and you continue to consider what is different from the you standing at the gate. How do I hold myself back? You think, “What am I attaching myself to that isn’t consistent to what I want?” You stand there for a few moments thinking and then put your obstacles in the basket so that you can make space for more of what you do want.
With a hint of nostalgia, you take a deep breath and walk through the gate to return to where you started. You’ve had a glimpse of what you could be, what has helped you to reach this enlightened realm, and the obstacles you needed to overcome.
You have embraced the change so that you can reach this place, this state again.
You may wish to reread this visualization and recall everything about your adventure, your visit, the environment, your questions and the answers.
Write or draw all that you can remember. Do not judge or think about it. Just recall and document.
Every moment is a new threshold. Try to align your actions to what it is you want, considering what you value and why those things are important to you. Clear out what isn’t serving you so you can make space…space for more of what you do want.