Transmuting Poison into Nectar

neelkanth_shiva

Tonight is a celebration of the Hindu festival Shivaratri, or the “great night of Shiva.”

One of the legends related to this celebration tells the story of Shiva saving the world from the disastrous effects of a poison that emerged during the churning of the sea (Samudra Manthan). According to this legend, the Demons and Gods joined forces to churn the ocean in search of the nectar of immortality, or Soma.  During this churning, a poison emerged that threatened all of creation. Shiva came to the rescue and drank the poison, however he didn’t swallow it. Instead, he held the poison in his throat and through his yogic powers, transmuted the poison into nectar so it could be swallowed. His neck turned blue due to the effect of the poison on his throat, and henceforth he became known as Neelkanth or the “blue-throated one.” This great feat is honored through an all night celebration in honor of Lord Shiva, on the 14th night of the new moon, during the month of Phalgun (February/March).

This story illustrates an important lesson: that the “poison,” the challenges and obstacles in our lives, can be digested, transmuted, and transformed into divine “nectar” or spiritual awakening. [click to continue…]

7 Signs You Need a Cleanse

KitchariQuoteThis post was originally published April 11, 2014.

Cleansing has become very trendy in recent years, and for good reason. The benefits of a good cleanse can range from improved energy and weight loss to decreased pain and improved digestion. But not all cleanses will have these effects. Some will leave you feeling depleted and can even weaken your digestive fire, making it hard on your body to go back to “real” food. This negates the effects of the cleanse altogether, as returning to your regular diet only increases toxins more quickly.

That’s why I feel so fortunate to have discovered Ayurveda, and with it the cleansing process that has been used successfully for thousands of years to help people heal from a wide variety of illnesses—some that are even thought to be incurable. This form of cleansing is an effective way to prevent disease later in life.

So what are the signs that you could use a cleanse?

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Take Your Practice to the Source

KathaImagine: You are sitting in an ancient prayer hall, lined with the images and divine figures of Tibetan buddhism. You feel vibrant and alive, having just completed your daily practice of pranayama (breathing) and asana (postures). The hall where you are sitting has been infused with the vibrations of thousands of monks’ mantras (chants) since the mid-15th century, and you feel the resonance of these buddhist devotees supporting your own spiritual aspirations and insights. As you sit quietly in meditation, the movements of your mind slow down, eventually becoming completely still. Through this stillness of mind, you become aware of the expansiveness of your being. The totality of the world exists within you. [click to continue…]