How Lakshmi Teaches Us Discipline, Gratitude, and Abundance
A long time ago, a dear friend of mine called me up, excited and ecstatic. She was engaged! But instead of immediately being happy for her, my mind went to my own life. How I was single and not even close to being married. A lifestyle I thought I should have been living by that point in my life. I was blinded by my own narcissistic tendencies and unable to feel true happiness for this woman who has, over the years, done nothing but generous, sweet gestures for me.
Fast forward to over a decade. I did yoga, and I chanted. But I also discovered that chanting to Lakshmi was helpful in invoking certain energies I wanted to embody. She is the goddess of adornment and beauty. She also asks us to use discipline to stay IN the practice. To feel abundance by focusing on what we HAVE versus what we are missing. She also allows us to feel true happiness and gratitude for people. She dissuades us from focusing on what we don’t have and instead on what we do.
I chanted and sang to her, Om Shreem Maha Lakshmiyey, calling upon the great goddess. As I chanted the mantra, which loosely translates to ‘my salutations and adoration to the great Lakshmi,’ I looked at my life and my choices. I was finally able to feel grateful for my individual path and appreciate the abundance of my life.
Lakshmi and Discipline
One day, Lakshmi woke up and felt the need for some time alone and space away from her duties. She decided to take a dive down into the deep milky ocean waters to take a long nap and a much-needed break.
Many years later, some demons started attacking the Universe. Demons often represent our negative thought processes and debilitating narratives. The demons were starting to win the battle. The gods spoke with Vishnu, Lakshmi’s husband, beseeching him to find her to help defeat the demons.
Vishnu, The Sustainer of the Universe and member of the Holy Trinity, acquiesced. He knew what ocean Lakshmi was in but not her exact location, so he found a stick and started churning the waters, hoping to rouse her from her self-retreat.
He churned for years and years, all the while the demons kept destroying everything he knew as righteous. But he was motivated and disciplined, continuing to churn. A little over a thousand years later, Lakshmi was convinced Vishnu really meant his call for her. She poked her head out of the surface of the water to ask him what was up. He filled her in, and long story short, she helped save the day.
This story shows us that Lakshmi showed up once she was convinced Vishnu meant his call by demonstrating his drive and motivation. But he had to prove he was disciplined enough and serious enough by churning the ocean for over a thousand years. This is what Lakshmi asks of us.
If we are ever in need of feeling gratitude or abundance and are calling on her, we must first show we are serious; serious about our request, our practice, and dedicated for the long haul. That’s when she shows up for us and helps us.
Lakshmi and Gratitude
The goddess is often seen sitting or standing on or near a lotus flower. The blossomed lotus, hovering above the surface of the water, represents purity. The lotus also represents the wealth contained in each moment of our experiences. But it’s a type of wealth unblemished by grasping or clinging.
We can learn to be grateful for so many things along the path of our journey, but Lakshmi asks us to loosen our grip on our expectations. And in this way, we start to experience true gratitude for all things and joyous for all moments big and small.
Lakshmi also asks that we make our lives beautiful, loving, and striving for balance and harmony. She is the goddess of adornment and Lakshmi is very much about giving. But it’s the type of giving that is done without any need for recognition.
Adorn yourself beautifully because you want to, not because you crave compliments. Help a friend in need without desiring recognition. It’s in these ways we will attract gratitude and the essence of Lakshmi. Gratitude will then be given and received in unexpected ways.
Like I mentioned earlier, chanting to Lakshmi, or using a Lakshmi mantra, will help us feel grateful for what we have. It will also help us feel grateful for people in our lives and happy for them regardless of our own circumstances.
OM SHREEM MAHA LAKSHMIYEY NAMAHA
Lakshmi and Abundance
We turn our attention inwards, looking to our body and our heart, which exist in the present moment and never lie. Upon closer observation, we then notice we hold the essence of Lakshmi inside of us. She is our divine inner spark, she is our inherent grace, and she is the abundance of limitless possibilities available to us. She helps us see our lives as enough, versus lacking in any way. This is how we feel abundance.
Lakshmi is often seen with coins spilling out of her hand. At first glance, the coins seem to portray material wealth, but they represent more than that. They represent worldly and spiritual prosperity.
The coins remind us that first, we must start with ourselves. Consider who we are and what we have in order to honor the abundance of our lives. We take a realistic evaluation of how we can truly take ownership of our lives. We become empowered by tapping into a feeling of deep inner abundance and true prosperity. We start to understand that abundance is not some external thing we emulate. It is truly a state of mind, and of remembering our own true nature beyond all the stuff.
As we learn to tap into the energy of Lakshmi and use her to motivate our practice, feel gratitude for our lives, and appreciate what we do have, we start to see things slowly begin to shift. Gratitude and abundance have no room for negative relationships, anger, fear, insecurities, or dishonesty. It’s then we begin to move from darkness to light.
Ridding Your Negative Personal Narratives With Lord Shiva
Lord Shiva is a well-known and worshipped Hindu deity. He is one of the Holy Trinity (the Trimurti), which consists of Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu, and Lord Shiva. What each represents in our familiar terms are brand new beginnings (Brahma), the middle of everything in existence (Vishnu), and the endings (Shiva). When Shiva, as the Lord of Dissolution, gives us the endings, he also provides the space for Brahma to instill a bright new beginning. It is from the void of nothingness, or space, left after something comes to an end, that Brahma responds by bringing the start of something new.
Shiva, Lord of Dissolution
Shiva, The Auspicious One, is also known as Mahadeva or The Great God. He is worshipped as the Supreme Being in Shaivism, a major institution within Hinduism. I like to explain the concept of endings giving way to brighter new beginnings with the metaphor of a bookshelf filled with storybooks that represent our own considerations about ourselves.
Imagine you have a large bookshelf in your mind. The bookshelf is jam-packed with books whose titles represent your own self-judgments or concepts of yourself. One thing to mention is that we are constantly in judgment of ourselves. We are usually in judgment of something and judgments can be good or bad. For instance, we might see a book entitled ‘I am a great Mother,’ or ‘I am a giving person.’
Conversely, we have the debilitating narratives. ‘I am unworthy’ or ‘I am not flexible enough’ as some of the titles we’re experiencing. But the debilitating narratives are simply opportunities to grow or bring Shiva into our lives.
Shiva comes along as the Lord of Dissolution; he shows us where we are hindering our growth with certain stories or ways of being. For instance, when you decide you are fed up with thinking of yourself as unworthy, or not good enough, Shiva gives you the willpower to dissolve that story. The ‘I am unworthy’ book gets removed from the shelf and thrown to the wayside.
What is left behind is an open space, an open space ready and willing to house a new book with a new title. Brahma steps in and gives us the capacity to formulate a new storybook title that feels brighter and shinier as a new beginning, or judgment of self. For example, we switch from the ‘I am unworthy’ mantra to ‘I am good enough.’ In this way, Shiva and Brahma give us the ability to challenge our belief system and change it for self-betterment.
Shiva, Lord of Dance
A common depiction of Shiva is one of a dancing four-armed deity. In this form, Shiva is known as Nataraja, or the Lord of Dance. He is seen dancing in a halo of fire which represents samsara, or ‘flowing around.’ In his upper right hand, Shiva holds a hand drum said to have drummed the first drum beats to help create everything, paired with the sound of “Om.”
His upper left hand holds a flame said to have the ability to destroy on behalf of transformative new beginnings. His bottom lower right hand holds abhayamudra, a gesture used to convey fearlessness. His bottom left hand mimics the lifted position of his left leg. This symbolizes a respite soul’s find from the earthly troubles on a path towards soul liberation. His lifted left leg is a journey towards this elevated consciousness. Finally, the snake he wears around his waist is the creative energy that exists in our psychic body.