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In the eight limbs of yoga one of the core values is Ahisma - the belief that to harm another is to harm oneself. In a world that contrasts light and shadows, how are we expected to defend ourselves in emotional or abusive situations? It does not mean to turn the other cheek, nor does it mean to fly into a fit of rage sometimes, which will only lead to more emotional harm to ourselves. But to stay in a relationship that consistently damages your spiritual well-being is a form of passive violence to oneself.
Many women are preconditioned to play nice with a smile and follow the societal norms that are preconditioned for us. It is when we are not given a voice or learn how to define our divine feminine than we begin to fall from thriving in our own world. The societal constrictions for many women keeps them in a haphazard state where it is acceptable to stay in a disheartened, abusive relationships because they are not defined by their character, but the roll of preconceived notions of how a woman should behave in society.
A key to breaking these societal norms is for women to begin to connect to their own inner goddess. It is from tapping into their own core spirit, which enables them to keep their wings free from being broken and allowing many to soar even further in this world.
One such goddess to explore is ancient Kali, the mother goddess, as she defies all societal values with fierce passion and tenacious will. She can be the light, and yet she unleashes destruction in the darkness. She is unique because of her dualistic nature: on one end wrathful, and the other finding peace in the light. Kali is known for battling the giants, drinking the blood of their leader to prevent the rebirth of a thousand more, and when she won, celebrating with such a passionate victory dance that the earth trembled.
In most imagery she is standing on top of her husband Shiva, as he lies passively attempting to placate her, with the giant's head in one hand, a sword in another, and yet another holding enlightened symbols showing her dualistic side. She is able to release her fierceness which opens the world to change. It is an inner transformation of recognizing her power from within. The severed head is symbolic of the cutting our ego, releasing our spirit, and finding our true self. It is through releasing the power of the ego, the concern of others, we will then strive to live on our own terms without fear of judgement.
Sally Kempton points out in, Awakening Shakti: The Power of Goddesses in Yoga: “When a world-transforming energy gets modulated through an individual’s unconscious, it becomes a personal archetype. For many contemporary Western women, Kali represents not the inhuman power in nature or culture, but the possibility of an audacious fierceness that has historically been denied both to the divine feminine and to individual women. Almost always, when a woman says “I need to find my Kali side,” or “I need some Kali energy,” she’s looking for a way to stand up for herself, to discover her inner fierceness, or to express the outrageous side of her sexuality.”
What we as women can learn from Kali is to trust our instinct to walk away when something or someone does not feel right. It is when the core between the light and darkness of her soul aligns to bring her peace. We can find our own peace when we reflect on our energy instead of diminishing, allowing for us to channel it to overcome challenges and diversity. If we live in a passive aggressive state of smiles and hold in our anger, we emerge like a thunderous storm which can be harmful to anyone in our vicinity. It is by recognizing that thunder, and channeling towards a positive direction, that it begins to nourish our soul.
It is by not accepting violence against oneself or others that allows for many women to tap into the strength of spirit, find their inner goddess, whom rumbles within, and walk away from people who do not uplift or strengthen you. The acceptance of any harm to oneself is a form of passive violence that chips away at core of your own spirit and only contributes to the cyclical violence of the relationship. As women we can connect to our own inner goddess and find the freedom within that gives the power to walk away from damaging relationships.
It is important for women to tune into their empowerment which can be done through yoga and meditation. They need to tap into their power by escaping the chains that bind them to toxic relationships. If overwhelmed by circumstances that have gotten out of control, the simple step of repeating these words in your practice will help to find the strength to leave and remember that the universe always has your back:
"It is with fierce strength that I release the chains arounds me,
I recognize the power within as the world begins to synchronize around me,
In this alignment I will find the power in my center core to move forward –
With the assistance from the universe who is always loving and watching out for me."
Take a deep breath and release everything with a strong fierce lion’s breath out into the universe. Next, slowly begin to move through your sun salutation three times. From tadasana (mountain pose), turn to the width of your mat, stepping your feet wide at a 45 degree angles. From there, bend your knees at a 90 degree angle and channel your inner goddess. Take another deep breath and release a strong lion’s breath. Next, straighten your legs and hinge from the hips into a nice open forward fold. Hold for five beautiful breaths. Slowly come back up and turn to the top of your matt. Take your feet mat width apart and crouch into a yogi squat, holding for five breaths. Release, and slowly take a seated position, extend your legs forward, sit up tall and take a beautiful forward fold, holding for seven breaths. Release. Make your way onto your back and rock from side to side. Slowly settle, then bring your knees up to a 90 degree angle and twist to the right, then the left, holding for twenty breaths on each side. Bring your knees back to center, the soles of your feet together and open into a diamond pose, resting on the floor with cactus arms open to the universe. Rest in this positon, making your way to your final resting pose, savasana.
It is there you should take the time to recharge, recalibrate, focus on the present, only your breath, and find ease from the stress of your life. It is in these quiet moments when you take care of you that you begin to find strength and connect with your own inner goddess.
Sally Kempton, Awakening Shakti: The Power of Goddesses in Yoga
W.J. Wilkins, Hindu Mythology