Since the day following Halloween, my 8-year old has been actively writing lists of gifts she would both like to receive and give for Christmas. As an adult less focused on the material aspects of the season but bracing myself for the busyness, I am moved to reflect on the nature of abundance. As per usual, I draw on insights from the yogic tradition to sustain myself.
To the poet-seers of the Vedic era, the entire field of abundance, prosperity, and generosity was encapsulated in the sound “sri” (pronounced “shree”). Sri was a quality seen to be manifest in the life-giving waters, abundant crops, individuals (particularly kings), healthy families, and thriving communities.
Over time, this force of bounty and vitality evolved into the goddess Lakshmi. She is the epitome of a deva, a “shining one”. She is typically envisioned with sumptuous clothing, coins dropping from one hand, her other hand in the mudra (hand position) of giving boons. Her two additional back hands (how convenient!) hold lotus blossoms. She stands on a floating lotus. She is associated with both material and spiritual wealth.
Initial chanting explorations awakened tangible feelings of being provided for, intense gratitude, and a more open heart. All good things! But I was totally unprepared for the deeper field of energy that then opened up:
Plunging down into
Fertile, fecund earth.
Unceasingly creating life.
One of the meanings of “Sri” is “radiance” but it also derives from another Sanskrit root word meaning “refuge”. Which is probably why I felt I landed home in that moment.
Yogic stories later helped me by providing some context. In yogic mythology, Lakshmi is the consort of Vishnu, the preserver of the world. She is his Shakti, his power. He’s basically nothing without her. She has two sons: Kardama (Mud Slime) and Chiklita (Moisture). (Isn’t it sooo difficult finding original boy’s names?!) Seems idyllic. But Vishnu is often depicted with a deity on each arm. We have Sri Devi on one side but who is this other deity?
It is Bhumi Devi, the earth as goddess. Both are aspects of Lakshmi: the world of material and spiritual wealth, and the power that creates them.
Lakshmi, at her essence, is the Shakti that sings deep within the depths of the fecund earth as the nectar (the rasa) of creation. She is the intelligence that transforms the formless waters into the richness of all forms of life.
Mantras, I have come to learn, especially bijas, contain energetic fields that are interrelated: psychological, physical, and spiritual. Mantras provide us with a vehicule to connect with aspects of our being and to connect with aspects of Being-ness itself. The mantric field continues to deepen and unfold with repetition and an accompanying sense of surrender.
So. The holidays will be here before we know it. At least my 8-year old is equally focused on giving as she is on receiving. She revels in the joy of both, as should we all.
But as adults we need to tap into a deep, felt sense of vitality, open-heartedness, and abundance at anytime of the year. Especially when life gets tough, things get lonely, and challenges abound.
This holiday season: I’ll make time for meditation and fuelling those meditations with chanting. Mantras are luminous, resilient structures drawn from the depths of the collective unconsciousness that both shape our being and align ourselves with elemental energies outside of ourselves. They are powerful. They are said to be the archetypal sound forms that created the universe.
We all know, but try to ignore, that the earth's resources fuel our economic system but how often do we stop and think about how the earth gifts us with spiritual resources? I plan on a few trips for kidlet and I out of the urban jungle into the forest to connect to the source.
But most importantly, during all the busyness, I want to keep tapping into a sense of gratitude and connection to where the gifts in my life actually arise from… and to never take them for granted.
Have a wonderful holiday season ... full of abundance, generosity, and love.
Catch you in the new year. Until then, stay (at)tuned.
Inspired? Join me January 21 at Yoga On the Park in NDG for an hour-long class "Sound and Centering for Meditation". Register here.
Here are my "musings" on mantra and sound as a transformative path.