I returned home on Saturday from India. There were many temples in Mysore, not all with the same deity as the focus. The one near us was the Ganesha temple. Ganesh is the elephant headed God. I passed by the temple many times when the priests were performing daily rituals. People would come on their way to work at the beginning of the day, or on their way home. On our last day there we met a lovely woman who had arrived in her car for her daily devotion at the temple. I asked if it was appropriate that we could go in. She guided us to a tap at the back of the temple to wash our hands, and escorted us in. The feeling in the space was a mix of that palpable sense of focus and depth one gets in a devotional space, and the ordinariness of this in peoples daily lives. She asked if she could put some red powder on our foreheads. It felt like a very privileged ritual of connection and in a sense our leaving India was a beginning, as every moment potentially is. As we left the temple a local older man was entering. He offered up flowers at the entrance and touched the statue of feet with both his hands. Ritual and devotion are a foundational part of the culture in India and touching the feet is a gesture of humility, of being open to something bigger than our small selves.
Today we begin a new term of yoga at the studio, and I invite us to do so with a sense of beginners mind, of openess, of humility … of freshness and willingness to not know, to be open. There is so much we don’t notice or perceive, so much to learn and experience, so many ways and directions we can grow. In the yoga tradition Ganesh or Ganapati, the elephant headed deity, is called on at the time of New Beginnings. Ganesh is called on to remove obstacles in the way allowing a free path forward. He is also puts appropriate obstacles in the way … just as life sometimes feels like a smooth ride, and sometimes a bumpy one. Here’s to being present and open to to the journey and all it presents.