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Black Tara Who Destroys All Negativities

In the fall of 2010, our monthly Tara practice began at sundown at the end of Rosh Hashanah, the beginning of the Jewish new year, 5771. The days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are known as the Days of Awe. During these ten days, observant practitioners reflect on the past year to repair harm they may have inflicted on friends, family, or members of the greater family of the planet. They apologize to others and seek to do t’shuvah to make amends if possible. People work consciously to repair and let go of past negativity and set intentions for the coming year to prevent further mischief.

Black Tara Who Destroys All Negativities was on the calendar for that night. We appreciated the synchronistic timing of the two events. I noted that Tara protects us from negativity, internal and external, and helps us release the effects of negative energies we’ve encountered or generated. This protection occurs in part from remembering our connection to the Whole—that we are nurtured and contained by a multilayered universe. When we help another, we are helped. If we harm another, we harm ourselves. Perhaps harder to grasp—if we harm ourselves, we harm the whole universe.

The teaching centered around the meaning of the mantra, which refers explicitly to ingrained behaviors operating outside of consciousness that wreak havoc in interpersonal relationships. Negative energies transferred from one individual to another are potent and destructive, and often have lasting effects.

Tara’s Appearance

Black Tara appears with her mouth wide open in a fierce expression. Like all the wrathful emanations, she sits on a fiery sun disc, which rests in the center of her lotus throne. The sun disc replaces the usual soothing moon disc. She holds a black vase, which contains the power to overcome even the most destructive and negative powers. In this aspect, Tara is known as the Destroyer of All Negativities.

The Mantra

Om Tare Tuttare Ture Sarva Vidya Avarana Ye Bhye Phat Soha!

“Ohm Tahray Tootahray Tooray Sarwah Veedyah Ahvahrahnah Yay Bay Peyt Soha!”

This mantra sheds more light on the meaning of the practice, when you might need to use it, and how to align your own intentions with those of Tara. It insists that Tara remove mental obstacles that block insight into your complexes or the emotional forces that obscure your understanding. Avarana refers to the causes underlying negative tendencies in yourself or others. These instincts, imprints, or potencies are ingrained, influencing behavior outside of awareness. They are unconscious, unquestioned, and unprocessed. They have been denied, repressed, or avoided. You or others around you might struggle to bring them to consciousness or have no wish to do that whatsoever.

As with many words in Sanskrit, vidya has multiple meanings depending on the context. Vidya often means “wisdom”; in this instance, it means “intentions,” particularly negative intentions. Bhye phat urges Tara to destroy these obstacles or difficulties!

The mantra asks Tara to overcome the negative intentions of the enemy. Use it when you want her complete protection in order to fully grasp the difficulties in your situation. Watch for signs that you are being infected or possessed by internal negativity, which would be a natural response to the energy coming at you. Don’t be naive about actual outer dangers you might be facing; you have to remove yourself from harmful situations.

The Practice

Visualize the entire mandala of the twenty-one Taras arising out of vast space in front of you. Green Tara appears in the center in her radiant body of green light. Imagine your teachers surrounding her and all her other emanations in the background behind them. Finally, invite your friends and supporters and all beings you wish to receive the blessings of your practice. Recite the preliminary prayers. Then imagine that Black Tara Who Destroys All Negativities moves into the foreground, seated on her lotus throne with a sun disc in the center. She holds a black vase, which contains the power to destroy even the most virulent forces in the universe. See light streaming out of her heart and from her seed syllable Tam (“Tahm”) standing on a moon disc inside the vase. Just as a seed contains the entire essence of the plant it will become, the seed syllable Tam contains the entire essence of Tara’s infinite powers.

tam

If visualizing a Tibetan syllable proves difficult initially, simply visualize light streaming out instead. The light destroys all malice and negativity.

Invite Black Tara to protect you from the negative intentions and actions of others. Set your own intentions to release the shock of the impact of such energies on your body, psyche, and spirit. Ofer Tara all of your dark emotions; ask her to protect you inside and out as you engage with our imperfect world in which aggression and hatred are too easily encountered.

Recite the mantra, Om Tare Tuttare Ture Sarva Vidya Avarana Ye Bhye Phat Soha, at least 21 times or 108 times whenever possible. Then rest in the subtle vibration created by the mantra recitation. Notice the qualities of the energy around you. Remember and be grateful for the inherent goodness in the universe that is continuously giving birth to positive impulses inside of you and other beings in the world.

Black Tara brings you back to the radiant spaciousness at the core of your being. As she dissolves obstacles created by negativity, try to identify the signs of true knowing versus the cynical and damaging commentary of the complex. Learn to distinguish what’s coming from inside, what’s coming at you from outside, and how the two are related. Reach out to the cosmic Mother Protector in the form of Tara. Reach inward to her indwelling presence and open yourself to access wisdom and compassion, which offers the greatest protection no matter the circumstances.

As you bring the meditation to a close, visualize Black Tara receding into the background among all the other emanations. See the light streaming out of the entire mandala and then allow the mandala with all its beings to dissolve into space. The light flows into your body and heart, vivifying and stabilizing the essence of Tara within you, and then disperses into the universe. Dedicate the positive potential of the practice to the healing and awakening of all beings everywhere, with no exceptions.

This is an adapted excerpt from Tara: The Liberating Power of the Female Buddha by Dr. Rachael Wooten.

rachael wooten

Rachael Wooten, PhD, is a Zürich—trained Jungian analyst and psychologist who has been in private practice as a therapist for more than 40 years. An enthusiastic interfaith activist, she has studied and practiced in Buddhist, Jewish, Christian, and indigenous traditions throughout her adult life.

Rachael has been mentored by spiritual teachers such as her Tibetan root guru Lodrö Tulku Rinpoche and Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi. She has taught Tara practices under the authorization of Lodrö Rinpoche for more than 20 years. Rachael has offered Tara workshops through the Resource Center for Women and Ministry in the South, ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal, and C. G. Jung Society of the Triangle. She currently teaches a monthly Tara meditation group at Pullen Memorial Baptist Church in her hometown of Raleigh, North Carolina. To learn more, visit rachaelwootenauthor.com.

 

 

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The Simple Magic of a Book

One of the gifts of isolation, solitude, and social distancing is the opportunity to reconnect with pieces of soul and strands of vision that have become lost in the busyness of our ordinary lives.

Reading for many has become a lost art. We can become so used to turning on the news, scrolling through Facebook, becoming lost in hours of YouTube or Netflix, or fused with one electronic device or another. Nothing wrong with any of these, but at times an alternative portal will open.

To take a book and find a place within your home or under a tree or out in the park and go on a pilgrimage with it. Ask the stars to help you to find a place to just be for a while and open to revelation.

It need not be a “spiritual” book, though of course those are fine, too. A book of poetry, a novel, a book of art history, or of mythology.

Allow its images to come alive, its metaphors, its characters… step into the poetic landscape with the figures and enter a state of receptivity and play. Sense what they are sensing, feel what they are feeling as these correspond with the internal others dancing within you.

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Not necessarily reading for “information,” but for communion. Allow the language to open you, to uncover a feeling you haven’t felt for a long time, an ache in the heart that longs for tending, a dream you had forgotten, a vision that you sense circling around you.

Read a paragraph or two and close the book. Enter the interactional field – with the natural world, with the visions, figures, moods, feelings, and images that seek your attention, your curiosity, your care, and just a moment of your being-ness.

We can so easily forget the magic of this place, of the imaginal realms, of those liminal places in between the physical world of matter and the transcendental realm of pure spirit. In the liminal we can dance and play and see and perceive and sense and intuit something holy.

A good book can help us do this, can serve as a companion as we step into uncharted territory.

Reading has been such an important part of my life. My books are my friends, lovers, allies, guides, and they also challenge me, break me open, tenderize and marinate me in the Unknown. They reveal how little I know about this world, this soul, this heart, this place, and the unique opportunity to be here. I find this so lifegiving.

I fantasize that perhaps in other worlds there are no books. That is sad to think about. For me, at least.

This blog post originally appeared on Matt Licata’s blog, A Healing Space. Redistributed with permission.

matt licataMatt Licata, PhD, is a practicing psychotherapist and hosts in-person retreats. His work incorporates developmental, psychoanalytic, and depth psychologies, as well as contemplative, meditative, and mindfulness-based approaches for transformation and healing. He co-facilitates a monthly online membership community called Befriending Yourself, is author of The Path Is Everywhere, and is the creator of the blog A Healing Space. He lives in Boulder, Colorado. For more, visit mattlicataphd.com.

 

 

 

 

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From Our Shadow and Into the Light

In its role as protector, the Shadow of the Mind instills fear when adversity strikes or when we try to grow beyond what we are used to, even if we are stepping into something we have long dreamed of. To the Shadow of the Mind, expansion means risking harm and hurt. In its great valor, it tries to override our aspirations by berating and belittling us or by keeping us caught up in anxiety-producing thoughts. It does this in an attempt to keep us safe. It will try to stop us from evolving and changing. It will do whatever it can to prevent us from following through with our deepest calls and dreams.

When we are not aware of the shadow’s ways, we can become its captive and find it hard to move freely in our lives. Kim, a student of mine, told me that when lying on the floor for meditation, she would often feel overwhelmingly vulnerable. Being undefended, open, and receptive was so difficult. She recognized all the ways her body was contracting in “an effort at self-defense.”

The revelation both startled and humbled her. Before this moment, she hadn’t seen how her shadow was holding dominance over her body, but once aware, she was able to release it. This brought her to tears. Kim, like so many of us, was operating under the force of this shadow, and did not even realize its grip. We do not realize we are in an almost constant state of bracing ourselves, rather than opening up to our life.

When something in our life falls, ruptures, or shifts; when challenge or change sprawls forward; when a condition isn’t met; or our perceived safety and comforts are threatened, the Shadow of the Mind rises up and assumes dominance. It rises up when grief knocks on our door. When we sit down to meditate and breathe and feel fear coming to the surface as we begin to meet ourselves. When life says that the ground you are standing on is not as solid as you thought. When a lover leaves, or a trust is betrayed; when an angry or harsh word guts us. Even when a love is realized, when dreams manifest, the Shadow of the Mind shows up to maintain safety and order. It tries to divert us from touching down in these places. It is what we hide behind most days and what stops us from living an emboldened life.

But here’s the thing: you have the ultimate say. You get to say no, I am ready to face all the risks in order to live a more fully embodied and alive life.

It’s worth pausing here to recognize that you have always held this power. The Body of Light has been there all along. But you need to relieve the shadow of its duty before you can give the wheel to your Body of Light and let it steer the ship.

Join Sarah in a guided practice to find your Body of Light in this video, From Shadow to Light.

This is an adapted excerpt from Heart Minded: How to Hold Yourself and Others in Love by Sarah Blondin.

Sarah BlondinSarah Blondin is an internationally beloved spiritual teacher. Her guided meditations on the app InsightTimer have received nearly 10 million plays. She hosts the popular podcast Live Awake, as well as the online course Coming Home to Yourself. Her work has been translated into many languages and is in use in prison, recovery, and wellness programs. For more, visit sarahblondin.com.

 

 

 

 

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Meet The Author of Sovereign Self

The Author
Acharya Shunya is an award-winning and internationally renowned spiritual teacher and scholar of Advaita (nondual wisdom) and a classically-trained master of Yoga and Ayurveda. The first female head of her 2,000-year-old Indian spiritual lineage, she has dedicated her life to the dissemination of Vedic knowledge for the spiritual uplifting of all beings. She is the president of the Awakened Self Foundation with its international headquarters in San Francisco and founder of the spiritual nonprofit Vedika Global. Learn more at acharyashunya.com.

Sovereign-Self-3D-CoverThe Book
A comprehensive guide to yoga’s most influential texts, making their profound teachings both accessible and immediately practical for modern seekers. Filled with hidden insights and engaging guidance, Sovereign Self will help you awaken and recognize your potential to be joyful, resourceful, abundant, limitlessly expansive, and sovereign.

 

 

 

 

Show us a day in your life.

I lead the life I want to lead, every day,  my heart leading me, and not because I must.

Acharya-Shunya-Saying-a-Prayer-to-her-Guru

 Acharya Shunya Meditating in the Early Morning

In the early morning I say a prayer of gratitude to my guru and meditate on the beautiful and divine, forever sovereign presence in my heart, that is my true Self. 

Self rises silently in meditation to fill my heart with light, and bless me from within.  I become, as if renewed, to meet my day with my spiritual power, full on.

 

 

 

 

 

out and about

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Many spiritual seekers and members of my Vedic lineage often join me through my day.

Acharya Shunya Hiking with FriendsAcharya-Shunya-Teaching-MomentAcharya-Shunya-Teaching-Group-scaled

I go hiking with students, lead them through meditations, and impart Vedic wisdom from my 2000-year-old Vedic lineage from India.

in-hill-house-study-roomworking-on-my-book-copyConducting-fire-cermony-in-mid-morning-to-evoke-Universal-Peace

From lunch onwards, I like to be mostly by myself in my study, to think and imagine, to feel and to surrender to my higher Self, and capture my inspiration in words. On many days, I spend time in Vedic ceremony and its consciousness awakening inner rituals and meditations.

Acharya-Shunya-with-her-Chef-Husband-Sanjai

I also value spending time with my husband. Sanjai is a trained Ayurveda chef. Here we are enjoying the fruits of his labor in our kitchen.

Has your book taken on a new meaning in the world’s current circumstances? Is there anything you would have included in your book if you were writing it now?

Shunyaji

In today’s uncertain world, embracing one’s unimagined power can open up possibilities as we synchronize with our true Self. 

According to the Vedas, Upanishads, and Bhagavad Gita—India’s oldest body of sacred yogic wisdom—human beings can be inspired to awaken from conditioning, shed limiting patterns and shackling attachments, and tap into the wisest, boldest, and most authentic and fearless parts of ourselves—which dwell as an invisible potential inside our heart, called Atma, the boundless one. This mighty Self, with all its hidden powers, becomes activated through right knowledge, meditations, and insights, making us true masters of our destiny, able to forge a path of sovereignty in every circumstance, good or bad.

 

Knowing the sovereign Self in our heart can alter the course of our life; this Self-knowledge can become a source of inner equanimity in any circumstance in life, not only when life is fun and people around us are acting supportively and lovingly, but also when life is unpredictable and people’s behavior is shadowy and dark. 

Naturally, this book has taken on a new meaning since I wrote it because today, our world is besieged by uncertainty and possibilities of disease; death is stalking each one of us, invisibly. To add to our collective sense of anxiety, we’ve also witnessed one of the most polarized elections in this country’s history. Social and racial injustice is at an all-time high. Our reality and our values stand to be changed forever. Now, more than ever, the sanctuary beyond fear and impermanence lies within the rediscovery of our true, invincible nature. 

If you are a sensitive and evolved soul who believes in dharma, nonviolence,  equality, and justice for all, my book, Sovereign Self, will be like a balm to your soul, a flame lit softly in a pitch-dark room—a path revealed, where none existed before.

Share a photo of you and your pet. Did your pet have a role in helping you write your book?

Acharya-Shunya-with-her-pet-and-writing-companion-Noddy

Noddy, my six-year old labradoodle, has been my constant companion through the writing of Sovereign Self, which took almost three long years. The process required me to let go and descend deep within the mystical realms of my being, and connect with the true Self—the boundless essence, Atma, which I talk about in my book. 

It is from here, from that boundless essence where I have always been perfect, complete, and inseparable from Source, that ideas would emerge spontaneously and words would become sentences that shall become path-showers for seekers all over the world. Many times, I would meditate and be lost in trance for hours. Noddy would sit patiently by me, and even sacrifice his desire to bark at his arch-enemy, “Mr. Squirrel.” As long as my eyes were closed, my baby would be quiet as a mouse. But the moment my eyes opened, he would greet me with an explosion of love and affection: “Woof, woof, welcome back to my world, mama; how was your inner world, mama, did you find me in your heart, mama?”  

Noddy and our next-door neighbor’s German Shepherd, Peet, have unresolved karmic issues from a relationship in their former lifetime. As a result, whenever Peet barks, Noddy barks back with recognition and emotional resolve to sort the karma issues in this lifetime itself! As I wrote and talked about the human ego and how it becomes lost in the chase of relationships and things, the experience of watching them go back and forth in their dance of egos, through playtime and tug-time and wagging-tail-time and angry growl-time, made me smile, and reminded me that we really are always enough in who we are. This is what Noddy means to me—when he kisses me with all his inner sweetness intact, he reminds me that while my ego may be employed in worldly tug-of-wars, my true Self remains whole, happy, and incredibly sweet within. Noddy, you are such a reminder!

Sovereign-Self-3D-Cover

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Meet the Author of The Wim Hof Method

The Author
Wim Hof, a.k.a. “The Iceman,” holds multiple world records for his feats of endurance and exposure to cold—such as climbing Mount Kilimanjaro wearing only shorts and shoes, running a barefoot half-marathon in the Arctic Circle, and standing in an ice-filled container for more than 112 minutes. The benefits of his method, now practiced by millions, have been validated by eight university research studies. For more, visit wimhofmethod.com.

Wim-Hof-Method-3DThe Book
Wim Hof shares the life-changing technique that anyone can use to supercharge their capacity for strength, health, and happiness. Join this trailblazing teacher for in-depth instruction on the three pillars of his method (Cold, Breath, and Mindset), the science supporting his techniques, his incredible personal story, and much more.

 

 

 

 

Show us a day in your life.

Every day is a challenge to do more, as in mindset. My mindset always has been going for the full, everything you got.

Wim in split

wim in tubStrong exercising, breathing, postures, power, and ice water.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I feel everyday gratitude for what has been achieved, which is helping many, many people. My soul knows: you give it all, you get it all.

wim IGWim-shavasana Wim's yard

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I am very hungry to learn more and go deeper. I spend my days spreading the message as wide as I can. I love my garden, coffee, and my kids—so much richness in my life.

Wim-with-family

So, I see my everyday routine as a new opportunity to experience full gratitude. I am alive!  

Has your book taken on a new meaning in the world’s current circumstances? Is there anything you would have included in your book if you were writing it now?

This book is needed more than ever. We need to not only strengthen our immune systems but to acknowledge that we are capable of dealing with the influx of information by reconnecting with our inner knowing—our core being. Anxiety and stress alike, we are able to create a new foundation for health, happiness, and strength in these challenging times. It’s a great gift to yourself to read this book. 

Share a photo of you and your pet. Did your pet have a role in helping you write your book?

wim and zina

Zina is my guru, she is my brown shadow. She is so unconditionally loyal. She gives me beautiful light—we are true companions.

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Meet the Author of Dinos Don’t Do Yoga

The Author
Catherine Bailey is the author of multiple picture books, including Harbor Bound and Mind Your Monsters. For more, please visit catherinebaileybooks.com.

Dinos Don't Do Yoga CoverThe Book
Rex is a dinosaur with a rough, tough crew. But when a yoga-loving dinosaur comes to town, Rex and his fierce friends discover there’s more to strength than big muscles and bad attitudes. This fun-filled story features timely themes about kindness, friendship, and being able to see past our differences.

 

 

 

 

Has your book taken on a new meaning in the world’s current circumstances? Is there anything you would have included in your book if you were writing it now?

Dinos Don’t Do Yoga was written back during the calm and quiet of 2018. At the time, it was simply a funny story about a grumpy T. rex. Today we are living in a very different world. Things have changed dramatically in terms of how people interact with each otherfrom social distancing to increased activism.

So now when I read Dinos Don’t Do Yoga, the relationships between the characters are more meaningful. I hope my readers see kindness, acceptance, and connection (in addition to a funny story!). I also hope that the book inspires children to explore yoga as a physical means of dealing with the stress of these crazy times. Yoga is a beautiful way to get back to a happy mental space.

After all, if dinos can do itso can we!

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Send us a photo of you and your pet, and let us know if your pet had any role in helping you write your book!

Here we have a snapshot of the world’s most annoyed cat. I decided to share this particular picture because it reminded me of the Dinos Don’t Do Yoga cover. The illustrator of the book, Alex Willmore, brilliantly contrasted the highly disgruntled Rex (complete with eye twitch!) with his blithely happy costar, Sam. I laugh every time I see that artwork!

The same is true for this photograph of myself and our family cat, Chloe. This picture was taken right after her first (and probably last) bath. In my defense, I only bathed her because she had a small flea problem. She still has not forgiven me.

bailey cat

What is something about you that doesn’t make it into your author bio?

bailey 3

My author biography contains all sorts of fun tidbits, but it doesn’t mention this one cool thing about me: I am kid-sized! By which I mean I’m very short for my age. You cannot tell from (most) pictures, but even though I am an official middle-aged grown-up, I am only 4’8” tall. That is about the size of the average second grader! 

So why do I mention it? What’s so great about being super small? Well, a lot of things! But best of all is that it makes me empathetic and mindful of other people’s differences. And that makes me a better writer. For example, it was easy for me to create the characters of Rex (challenged by his petite arms) and Sam (a true “outsider”) in Dinos Don’t Do Yoga. It is true what they say—great things come in small packages.

 

Dinos Don't Do Yoga Cover

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