Bhuvaneshvari: Wisdom Goddess of the Cosmos

Bhuvaneshvari: Wisdom Goddess of the Cosmos

Of all ten MahaVidyas (Great Wisdom Goddesses), Bhuvaneshvari is the most closely tied to the element of Space. When you think of Space, you may see grand valleys or open skies as seen from the top of mountains. She is bigger than big, she holds it all and beyond. Yet, you can also find her in the infinitely small.

Books of 2015

I’m so excited to share my favourite books of 2015 with you! I’ve been hard at work on my new website (I hope you like it!), and have gotten behind on posts. Better later than never, as they say. 

As I compiled my list of favourite books for 2015, I realized that fiction has completely disappeared from my new line-up shelf. I was not expecting that! If you’re curious, check out the list of 2014

Tantric Yoga and the Wisdom Goddesses by Dr. David Frawley

Every year I add one of David Frawley’s books to my reference shelf. In 2015, his work on the ten Mahavidyas swept me off my feet. I keep going back to it over and over. I love how detailed and concise his compilations are. Here, he covers the whole range, from mantras to yantras. Now, if he could fulfill his wish for a whole book on Tripura Sundari… 

The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer

You may have come across Amanda’s amazing TEDtalk, or you may know her from her punk rock music, or via her prolific husband, writer Neil Gaiman. Her talk rocked my world, and so did her book. It’s hard enough to ask, but it may be harder still to receive. If 2015 has given me one lesson, it’s this one: for some of us, giving is a lot easier than receiving. There is vulnerability in receiving, but there is also grace, trust, and connection. Amanda Palmer does a great job at putting all of it in perspective by sharing her own stories of discomfort, refusal, misunderstandings. It felt like she was talking to me, directly. A great read!

We make countless choices every day whether to ask or to turn away from one another. Wondering whether it’s too much to ask the neighbour to feed the cat. The decision to turn away from a partner, to turn off the light instead of asking what’s wrong.

Asking for help requires authenticity, and vulnerability.

Those who ask without fear learn to say two things: with or without words, to those they are facing:

I deserve to ask


You are welcome to say no.

Because the ask that is conditional cannot be a gift.
— Amanda Palmer

Meditation for the Love of It by Sally Kempton

This book is more about falling in love with meditation than about learning to meditate. Sally Kempton has a powerful yet understated way of appealing to the receptive part of us waiting to be embraced and loved. Meditation is not a linear process, and it certainly is not a one-size-fits-all approach. This book provides a wide range of experiential techniques, as well as guidelines to stay on track. This is a wonderful read if you’re experiencing a falling-out with your practice. 

Timeless Healing: The Power and Biology of Belief by Dr. Herbert Benson

If I write that Dr. Benson’s research is uncovering what we always knew, you’ll think it’s useless. But that’s exactly what he’s doing, and he’s helping the modern homo scientificus that we have become make peace with the fact that we are first and foremost feeling and believing beings. Dr. Benson was a pioneer in the research on the relaxation response in the 70s, and he has since made great strides in demonstrating that relaxation can be used as an actual healing method. In Timeless Healing, he explores the relationship between healing and beliefs. I needed to read this book to understand that my beliefs have a direct impact on my wellbeing and on my ability to recover. It was about time!

Yoga of the Nine Emotions by Peter Marchand

This book came recommended by Julia (find her at thetalsam.com). I really didn’t know what to expect. Within the first few pages, I knew I’d learn something and that it wasn’t all a waste of time and resources. By the 100th page, I knew I’d never deal with my emotions and those of others the same way. Rasas, or emotions, are powerful teachers. Learning to experience them without judgement can actually free us from our own limitations. The author even explores sadhana, practices, that can help us engage deeply with our feelings in a systematic exploratory manner. Although Joy and Love rasas may seem like the ideal emotions, I’m completely in awe of Wonder right now. I remember the child within.

My Right to be Melancholy

I have severe bouts of melancholy. My friends and husband can attest to it, they’ve seen me on my “quiet” days, when I don’t feel like talking much, when I don’t care if it’s green or black tea, when I frankly should have cancelled our time together because I’m giving the impression I’d rather be elsewhere - or rather that I am elsewhere in my head.

I have long fought against it, judged myself for being “so soft.” I’ve tried to identify triggers, I’ve tried to control my environment, I’ve tried to surround myself with happy music, movies, and people. It doesn’t work. It just makes it worse.

Truth is, what harm is it to be melancholy? Why is it such a bad thing? Why is it expected of me to be happy, smiley face every day? That doesn’t sound real to me. True happiness is not a 100% setting all the time. True happiness is knowing that everything, whether good or bad, is temporary. Some days, I just don’t feel like smiling my ears off, it doesn’t mean I’m depressed, or that I don’t like you, or that I don’t have my shit together.

So please, please stop asking me if I’m OK and if I want to talk about it. Some feelings are just too deep for words, some internal contradictions cannot be resolved by the mind. I just need time and space to process and digest.

I understand that this is a touchy subject. And you might be thinking that I’m justifying my mood swings, or I haven’t yet reached nirvana. The confusing piece is that there is a blatant disregard of the truth in the yoga world regarding happiness. We picture ourselves in yoga poses on the beach with our big smiles. How luminous, brilliant wide smile-asana! I’m happy, you’re happy, we’re happy. If you haven’t mastered that pose yet, keep trying.

Truth is, yoga never made any promises regarding happiness - in fact, I’ve never seen it mentioned in any traditional texts. The true yogi understands that happiness is neither a goal, nor a fixed state. Feelings come and go, they evolve, they transform. Without our ability to recognize our feelings and to honour them, we become empty masks. I try to put up face, of course I do! On Facebook, in my classes, I don’t want people to think I’m depressed. But I can’t help but think that if, as yoga teachers, we acknowledged our feelings, we would be much better guides.

In times like these, I look up to Dhumavati, the crone Goddess of Disappointment and Letting Go. She’s taught me many things over the past two years. If her nature is to obscure the obvious, it is to better reveal the hidden, the unknown. Unlike other Mahavidyas, she is depicted as old, and she isn't beautiful. She represents what we avoid, what we turn away from in an effort to ignore. Indeed Dhuma, in Sanskrit, means smoke. Like the smoke of sorrow and melancholy, she obscures something to reveal another. A messenger of sorts, an ally.

When we honour Dhumavati's wisdom by “giving reverence to sorrow and disappointment as Divine friends who have come to teach us the limitations of the body-mind,” she rewards us with clarity. Melancholy is an opportunity to dig deeper, to uncover what we have left undone and what our true life purpose longs for. 

As today’s melancholy bout comes to an end, I am thankful for its light. I understand myself and my mission in this world a little better.

*Quote pulled from Tantric Yoga and the Wisdom Goddesses by David Frawley.