As Yogis and Yoginis, we’ve all heard the stories about Ganesha, the remover of obstacles. The myths of the jolly elephant are abundant in yoga culture.
I think I’ve heard them all, and dearly love each one. However, it wasn’t until I heard one of Noah Maze’s takes on Ganesha’s little friend Mushika, the mouse, that I began to see Ganesha and the lessons he has to offer in a new light.
Noah was talking about Ganesha’s mouse as the “mini-me” of the elephant. I was surprised that hadn’t occurred to me before because even physically they look alike; the same grayish color, the same bellowing velvety ears and the same round body shape. And really, a mouse does indeed look like an elephant shrunken down in size!
Noah discussed the idea that Mushika could be thought of as the “shadow side” of Ganesha—the things that Ganesha doesn’t want to see in himself. Perhaps that’s why in Western culture, there are myths of elephants being afraid of mice.
Is this an allegory for us being afraid of our own shadows, afraid to look at the places in ourselves that we try to diminish and make so tiny that people won’t notice?
Noah’s was an interpretation of Ganesha and his mouse that I hadn’t heard before, and it really gave me pause.
I reflected upon my experience as a mother, and how many times people have said that each one of my daughters looks like my “mini-me.” I began to ponder this “mini-me” idea, and think of each of my children in terms of the teaching on Ganesha, meditating on what each of my little sidekicks was trying to teach me about myself.
This reflection will be a lifelong process, as I also continue to interpret my relationship with my own mother in this framework as well. But for now, here are my thoughts on my three precious little daughters…how each one of them is a looking glass, or really a magnifying glass. Each “mini-me” giving me an exaggerated and close-up view on myself, my personality and indeed my own consciousness.
My oldest daughter, let’s call her “Rainbow,” has obviously been on this planet with me the longest of my three children. Therefore, I’ve had more time to see and learn about her subtle nuances and personality quirks. That is to say, I’ve had more time with her to learn about myself.
Rainbow is what some would call an “impulsive” child. She’s quick to jump into things feet first without thinking. She has no time for things that don’t interest her. These characteristics that are often interpreted as negative in our culture (and may even be seen as a reason for medication) also have a very bright flip side. She jumps in with both feet simply because she has unquenchable thirst and zest for life! She can’t wait to taste, touch, and experience everything. She’s the first to be spontaneous and try something new, and when she finds something she loves her passion could light up a room!
Rainbow has taught me that my somewhat distracted and impulsive side is also the side of me that loves to try new things, continue my quest for learning and dive into new adventures while others my age sit on the sidelines.
My middle daughter, “Penelope,” has marched to the beat of her own drummer since the day she was born. Scratch that. Since before she was born! She was over two weeks late arriving into this world, and even then she would have liked to hang out in my womb for another six weeks! If a sloth and Penelope were to have a race, I’m pretty sure the sloth would win. Not that she isn’t athletic, but she just moves at her own pace. As I wait for her after school, most days she is the last child out of the school. While she’s truly a walking (although at a snail’s pace) lesson on patience, she teaches me way more than that. Penelope takes the time to talk to everyone. Even those that others would label as “nerds,” “outcasts,” or “special.” She is the most caring person I know. And while she is slow, it’s because she’s literally smelling every rose, dandelion and weed along the way, and maybe stopping a few times to soak up the sunshine and feel the breeze on her skin too. That girl is present in the moment!
Penelope helps me realize that I can take things for granted. That I can be a rushed and crazy mom, herding my posse like a border collie.
Her gift to me, is that her actions remind me daily that I need to be more present as I go about my business, and to take the time to not only smell the roses, but notice the people along the way that might need a little love.
My youngest daughter “Lily,” is quite the character. She’s like a newscaster in our house, making all kinds of announcements, proclamations, and status updates on current events in our household and beyond. Everything from who got in trouble at school, to what’s in the gift box, to what the Obamas had for dinner. She also enjoys finishing other people’s sentences, and is like a walking cross between Wikipedia and Facebook. That girl knows her facts, and has the memory and listening ears of an elephant! While Lily could easily be seen as a “know-it-all” at times, with all her headline news flashes, it’s really her way of caring about others and showing interest in what they have going on. And no need to tell her your favorite color twice. She will remember the littlest detail about you until the day she dies.
Her little updates are precious reminders (on a very regular basis) that I need to take a real interest in the lives of those around me. Listen more and talk less. Lily beautifully guides me to remember that we all just want to be heard, and that the kindest thing we can do is listen.
Carole Westerman‘s true passions are yoga and her family. She strongly believes in the mind-body connection, and uses her years of experience in the field of Psychology to help bridge the two through heart-centered teaching; weaving together body, breath, and mind through the power of movement and the vibration of music.
Carole is a happy and joyful member of Shiva Rea’s Prana Flow® Yoga Tribe, and is a mentor in her Teacher Training Program as well as an assistant for both Shiva Rea and Twee Merrigan. Carole is also currently in Teacher Training with Noah Maze, adding to her already over 1,000 collective hours of Yoga Training in various styles of yoga.
Anyone that knows Carole, knows that she whole-heartedly believes in the magic of the family to empower and elevate the consciousness of the world! Therefore, Carole not only teaches classes for adults, but also teaches for all phases of life; Prenatal, Mommy & Baby, Toddlers, Kids, Tweens & Teens, and Adults of all ages.
You can find out more about Carole and her Yoga Travels and Trainings on her website: www.CaroleWesterman.com.
Editor: April Dawn Ricchuito