Ganesha

In My Meditation Today  ( Insights from the Day’s Meditation). I believe that each of us is an expression of God,  so I decided to face myself figuratively, touch my feet, and honor me for all that I am, have been, and am becoming; choosing to treat me, and my journey with the same respect and awe that I typically reserve for great masters. I intend to finally overcome the fear that I am not quite good enough with this practice.

Since Hindus begin every auspicious event with a nod to Ganesha,  I dedicate this first blog post to him and his role in my spiritual practice.

My Morning Ritual. I start my morning meditation practice with this verse.

Shuklam Bharadaram Vishnum , Sashi Varnam, Chatur Bhujam Prasanna Vadanam Dhyaneth Sarva Vighnopa Shantayeth. Translation. I meditate upon the smiling face of he who is clad in white, is the color of the moon, and pervades the universe; May he remove all the obstacles in my path.

The verse above is a verse that invokes the Spirit of Ganesha – the elephant-headed God of Hindu mythology whose trunk uproots obstacles in his (our) path. Every auspicious event in India begins with a call to Ganesha to smooth the way and remove barriers.

First Encounter. When I started thinking about this blog post, a long-forgotten encounter with Ganesha came to mind. I was about 8. My favorite uncle was ill, and all that I could gather from the hushed conversations of the adults around me was that the situation was grave.

One evening, we went to a Ganesha temple by his apartment on our way to visit him. It was a little stone cave-like structure. The scent of incense and burning oil lamps overwhelmed our nostrils. In the center of the temple was a stone sculpture of Ganesha, set in a glass pentagon on top of a pillar that was just a little shorter than me.

The room itself was dark, but fluorescent lights lit up the sculpture. I stood in front of him, shut my eyes and pressed my little palms against each other, and begged, “Please, please, please make him better.” At the time, for me, Ganesha was in the sculpture. He was an entity outside me to whom I had to plead my case.

Nothing was enough to make me feel Enough. My uncle recovered and my prayer to Ganesha that night became a distant memory.
A couple of decades later, I was in the middle of my doctoral program. I was further ahead in my career than I had dreamt. I had completed a master’s program, worked successfully as a consultant statistician, and was in a doctoral program with a paid fellowship. Despite all of this, I was constantly, if silently, questioning my value. A minor mistake or perceived slight from a colleague or family member sent me into a tailspin of negative self-talk. I had often told my children that we were all expressions of God & that they had a little piece of Krishna in them. ” So don’t let anyone make you feel as if you are lesser than them.’ I told them. The way I showed up in my marriage, work, and significant relationships was with a lot of shame, blame, fear and victimhood. I talked the talk but definitely did not walk the walk. No wonder my daughter was slowly developing the sense of unworthiness that I was demonstrating.

 Ganesha’s Return & An Epiphany. Every morning, then as now, I light an oil lamp and repeat a set of prayers to the various Hindu Gods. At the time,  I was juggling several roles, mother, wife, employee, student, and my faith was a little shaky. Most mornings, I would usually repeat these prayers by rote while my mind raced ahead to everything I had to do. On this particular day, I was filled with self-pity, a profound sense of being unworthy, and worry. The worry that the same feelings were developing in my beautiful young daughter. I stood at the altar, mindlessly repeating prayers and struggling to find the faith that had been my anchor in years past. Then, without warning or prompting, I was drawn into a vision.

In the vision, my daughter and I stood in front of a picture of Ganesha; as we stood there praying,  a tiny replica of Ganesha moved into our hearts and started cleaning out. He wrapped his trunk around the darkness created by the sense of unworthiness, self-doubt, and powerlessness and plucked it out. As he did that, the little flame within our hearts became bigger and brighter. The sensations of self-pity, guilt, and shame were replaced with trust and peace.

I came out of that visualization with a deep knowing that the only obstacles we face are within; that Ganesha is not an entity in a picture or a sculpture outside us. He is the power within that recognizes these blocks and helps release them.

It has been more than twenty years since that incident. My daughter and I have come far in our careers, spiritual journeys, and sense of self. However, as the beginning of this blog post demonstrates, I continue to struggle with the questions of self-worth. My meditation still starts every morning with the verse above. I use the visualization anytime unworthiness, self-doubt, or worry about my children rear their ugly heads. I know now that as we work to clear these obstacles of a lack of self-worth & value, our flame glows brighter every day; & we get a tiny bit closer to becoming the true, unfettered reflections of the divinity within us.

Sree Meleth is the CEO of Freeing ourselves.

Freeing Ourselves is about dropping these incessant questions of value & worth.
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