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A kaleidoscope mandala

Recently life’s been a little kaleidoscopic. So much going on, it’s kinda hard to work out what I’m actually meant to be focusing on.

Which can be good and not so good. Then when there’s half a moment to calm down, sometimes things settle in a pattern that makes sense of the world a little more.

And that’s good, right?

So, last week I heard this (voice in my head), then wrote it down AND made it my Facebook status:

Do something you love, something from the core of your being. Give over to it entirely. Let your heart open. It makes all the difference…

And today I’d like to add this:

Doing the things you love, generates love.

See, I’ve been thinking a lot about our outward seeking culture recently and how needy we human beings are as a result.

To clarify, there are two broad definitions of need that I’m talking about here:

Need type #1 – fundamentals that help us to live. E.g. oxygen, sunlight, breathing, nutritious food, love (yes, I think love falls into this group). Characterised by things we do not thrive without.

Need type #2 – internal or external objects of desire that we crave. E.g. entertainment, clothes, physical appearance, other people, money, cars, houses, iPods, travel, fame etc. Characterised by a belief they will improve our self-image/confidence etc.

Of course, needs from type #1 can and do cross over into needs from type #2. And we tend to believe strongly that needs type #2 are in fact, needs type #1.

I’ve been wondering about that. Why? Why are we so needy? How do we get these different types of needs so messed up?

And I confess. Most of my life I’ve felt that sense of need, based on what I think I’m missing. How, if only I had a boyfriend who loved me, or more money, or more friends, or if I was prettier, or wasn’t such a dork, or had a home of my own, or children or nicer/better taste in clothes, or if I was taller/shorter/thinner, or if I didn’t have to work for a living or… you get my drift… that I’d be happier.

Maybe other people are smarter than me and have this stuff figured out already? But I’d be willing to bet that most of us, even if it’s only in a very subtle way these days, experience that kind of need. It can make a person feel desperate at times. Or hollow, even.

But generally, we just think less of ourselves because we don’t have what we think we need.

This my friends, is need type #2. The kind of need that creates suffering because it makes us feel incomplete in some way. But actually this is really just the default human condition, until we get sick of it that is, and seek another path.

For me, that path is yoga. And what I’m trying to convey here are some personal realisations combined with everything I’ve studied and learned to date.

So, let me talk a little about my own personal kryptonite: love. Or the lack thereof.

I’ve had such a funny relationship with love in my lifetime. Mostly, I’ve felt like I never had enough love, or enough of the right kind of love. Not accepted. Not wanted.

And if you believe it, and so it will be.

Like many people I grew up believing that we must be loved by someone else in order to have love, and to feel like we are valued. And much of the “evidence” in my life suggested that I was not valued very highly at all!

I have a good idea how these beliefs arose. As far as I can tell they date back at least several generations before I was even born. I grew up saturated in them and so of course, I’ve inhabited those ideas for myself.

At the same time, as I’ve been re-counting, my other life-long goal has been spiritual evolvement, before I even knew what that meant. There’s been this ongoing battle between my extreme neediness and my desire to shed such a limited view of life.

Of course, throw a few traumatic experiences into a person’s life, and watch the neediness factor multiply. Especially if they’ve got screwy ideas about love in the first place.

I’d say this is something that’s plagued my relationships and friendships for most of my life. Even worse, it’s had endless impacts on my relationship with my Self…

A few weeks back I went to something called ‘Yoga of Chant’, conveniently held at a yoga studio just a five minute cycle from my place. It was advertised on a meet up website that I’ve used before, and I was immediately drawn.

First one I didn’t get to as I was at home with a horrible flu. So disappointing! Second one was only two weeks later and I was determined to go! Of course, it had to bucket down rain just as I was leaving. I arrived kind of sodden but it was worth it.

Had to peel off my plastic pants and rain jacket, so the chanting (or kirtan) started before I found a seat. The dude running the group (a yoga teacher) played electric keyboard and sang (gorgeous voice!) while his friend played double bass (it worked really, really well), while we sang extended versions of Sri Krishna Govinda and Om Namah Shivaya mantras (Krishna Das style).

I don’t get too many opportunities for kirtan here in Melbourne (i.e. none) and this one rocked. It was kinda awesome actually and for me, there was real bhakti in the singing – loudly, deeply, from the very center of my heart.

Its not that I have a fantastic voice, but I absolutely ADORE singing kirtan.

Next day I was still buzzing, and had this lovely-warm-gooey-heart-opening sensation most of the day. The sort of feeling I get when I do ardha chandrasana and reeeaaalllly rotate and open through the torso…

…times about a hundred!

Interesting, I thought… and went to the next one (last Saturday actually).

The other thing I did last Saturday was attend a free Shadow Yoga class (more about that in another post). And I came away literally glowing with happiness. I could feel it, and I noticed other people noticing it, too.

Cycling home from the yoga class (before the kirtan), that’s when those words popped into my mind: Do something you love, something from the core of your being. Give over to it entirely. Let your heart open. It makes all the difference…

And I got it. Hey, sometimes it takes me a while to get things!

Ohhhhhhh! By doing things you really, really, REALLY enjoy, you are generating love for yourself and other people? And when you do that, there’s no sense of neediness? No space for miserable, self-defeating thoughts? No feeling bereft, adrift and craving connection with others, because the connection is already generated with yourself, through the LOVE you’ve been pumping out via your own actions?


That’s what happens sometimes, when you shake all the pretty pieces of coloured light in your kaleidoscope to reveal a mandala you probably already knew about on some level… but had never experienced for yourself.

Until that moment when you do.

And it changes EVERYTHING.

[Read part 2]