Road to redemption

How is it Thursday already? Yesterday morning, I woke up and saw Tim Miller’s weekly blog post, which always publishes on that juju-laden day of Tuesday. It had a promising start:

I think the Universe should issue a high-surf advisory for the coming week.

Intrigued, I kept on reading:

Wednesday morning at 2:27am PDT the Full Moon will occur in the Nakshatra (lunar mansion) called Hasta, “The Hand.” Hasta provides us with “Hasta sthapaniya agama shakti”—the power to put the object of desire in one’s hands. It is ruled by Savitur, the “Rays of the Morning Sun”, a deity who symbolizes the generative energy of the Universe.

Savitur has a jovial, light-hearted persona—he is often portrayed laughing. He is a playful deity interested in all kinds of tricks, amusements, and games of all sorts—mind games and physical sports—who is extremely clever with his hands. Hasta falls within the sign of Virgo, which is ruled by Mercury, exalted here in this nakshatra. Savitur is thought of as a combination of the vitality of the Sun and the cleverness of Mercury. The word “Has” means laughter, something that Savitur is fond of doing. Under the influence of Hasta we feel playful and want to have fun. Just as our fate is written in our “hand”, we also have the ability to determine our fate, to some extent, by taking matters into our own “hands”. Hasta stimulates a desire to change and grow and provides the necessary energy and playfulness required to confront the resistance that rears its ugly head when the status quo of our lives is challenged.

Speaking of challenging the status quo, we have a very interesting triple planetary conjunction on Thursday, when the Sun, Venus, and Uranus get together in the Nakshatra called Uttarabhadra. Located in the sign of Pisces, Uttarabhadra is associated with the deity known as Ahir Budhnya, “Serpent of the Depths”, the ruler of the celestial ocean and a symbol of wisdom much like Neptune. Ahir Budhnya relates to varshodyamana shakti—“the power to bring rain”–spiritual rain from the celestial ocean of consciousness with the opening of the crown chakra. The Sun and Venus together give us a desire to express ourselves through creativity and relationships. We want to be noticed and put ourselves out there in warm and friendly ways to attract the attention of others. Everyone gets a little more charming under this influence, but we may be susceptible to over indulgence and believing that we are the most fascinating beings on the planet, when others are thinking that we are incredibly vain and foolish. When Uranus joins the party, all hell breaks loose as we are given a jolt of liveliness intended to shake us out of our dreary, lifeless routines. Uranus is the planet of rebellion, striving to free us of whatever shackles we feel are binding us. Our samskaras (inherent tendencies) will be very much in evidence now and we will be faced with the choice of riding this big wave of electric and transformative energy, or trying to ignore it (not recommended).

Hmm: Choose to either ride this wave of transformative energy or choose — inadvisably — to ignore it. I guess it was the kick I needed. I had written the blog post below late Tuesday night, some 20 hours after I had gotten up. It was a pretty personal post written at the end of a very long day, and I wasn’t sure if I should publish it. (It’s rare that I wait to publish a post. Normally, I post as soon as I finish writing — strike while the iron’s hot, so to speak. Wait too long, and you start to tinker too much.)

But reading all this stuff about heightened desires, and accompanying heightened currents of energy, to change and grow inspired me to decide to go ahead and get it out there. I would have done it last night, after yet another long day, but it was pretty late and I had to get up early to practice (of course).

I’m getting back in my car right now to drive about an hour to a work event — maybe I’ll dig up a little Bruce for the ride.


During the 2004 Vote for Change tour, when I was living in New England, I boarded a plane from Hartford, Conn., to Detroit to see Bruce Springsteen live. I was newly obsessed with Springsteen, and soaking up his back catalog. I needed to see him live, and I couldn’t get any decent (as in, pit) tickets to a show on the eastern seaboard unless I was willing to pay cut-throat rates from resellers. Any reasonable person would fly to a show they could get clean GA tickets to, right? (Hardly flush with cash, I did it by getting a cheap ticket and not paying for a hotel, opting to crash overnight at the airport instead — not something I’d do today.)

That night, standing in the front row of the pit — I got lucky with the ticket lottery — I was finally experiencing what it felt like to be with thousands of Boss fans under one roof. I understood how people worshipped at the altar of Bruce. I understood that Cobo Arena was that evening’s church.

What was I seeking there? Hope? Maybe. Solace? Yes. Redemption?

Absolutely.

The promise of redemption runs deep in Springsteen’s songs, and there was something going awry in my life. I was emotionally not equipped for some of the stuff I was dealing with, but I didn’t know it then. On the surface, things were fine. Inside, shit was getting twisted.

I needed Springsteen’s word that redemption was possible. But over the years, rock ‘n roll was never able to show me the actual path to it.


I woke up this morning at what is now my usual Tuesday time: 3:20 a.m. That allows me to get dressed, make the 60-minute drive to the ashtanga yoga shala, practice for 90 minutes, and then assist for another 90 minutes before starting my work day.

Was it the couple dozen backbends I did on my mat, rolled out in the long room’s first row? (I think I had an extra kapotasana today, for a total of four, and I don’t know, maybe 20 notes of urdvha dhanurasanas. My back-of-the-heart armor is slowly finding some movement.)

Was it assisting in a room of 25 to 30 super sincere practitioners, all so earnestly and honestly doing this challenging practice as a devotional song to a more harmonious life? (Talk about a powerful energy as concentrated as any space I’ve ever been in.)

Maybe it was the proximity to the full moon.

Or maybe it was that this was a normal Tuesday for me now.

On my commute back to work, I cried for much of the way along US 23 North, not quite composing myself until I hit I-96 West. As much as I believed it was possible, standing on the thundering concert floor and paying homage to something bigger than myself on the concert floor wasn’t enough to orient me. The guitar riffs and lyrics that rang so true weren’t enough to help me figure out how to bridge the gap between who I wanted to be and who I was.

But showing up to stand at the top of my mat day in and day out, breathing and moving in a silent Mysore room — this has somehow been enough.


I thought about what the orienting questions my ashtanga teacher asks herself in challenging times: “Who am I, and why am I here?”

The “who am I?” part is something I can only experience, and share, as a vibrational quality.

The “why am I here?” part — an answer found me today.

I am here to share the gifts that have been shared with me.

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