This morning I received an email newsletter from my wise friend Veronica Drake and it contained an image of an elephant and words that had me considering all of the ideas that go along with this massive, wrinkled being. She spoke about the concept of training baby elephants who live in captivity, to remain stationary. When they are very young, a sturdy rope (and sometimes a chain) is tied to their ankle. As they get older, something less substantial keeps them bound. Because they have been so conditioned to stay put, they never consider that with one slight pull of a gargantuan leg, they could break free of their bondage. Is it any different with us? When I think about the ingrained beliefs that have kept me constricted, restricted, fear-laden, hesitant, STUCK, I shake my head in wonder that all I really needed to do was recognize where my feet were planted and then take the next step. So here is my Elephant Guide To Enlightenment, for your entertainment and consideration:
1. It’s all about perspective. Remember the story of the 5 Blind Men and The Elephant? Each one of them had a portion of the creature accessible to them, or at least thought that’s all they had. One touched the trunk and discerned that an elephant was a hose. Another held its tail and was sure that an elephant was a rope. A third touched the silky ears and stated definitively that an elephant was a fan. The next one wrapped his arms around a leg and swore that an elephant was a tree trunk and the fifth caressed it’s hide and just KNEW that an elephant was a wall. The truth is, metaphorically speaking, it was all of those things and none of them.
2. Don’t work for peanuts. You and your creative abilities are worth more than a few meager crumbs in order to perform. (unless you REALLY like peanuts)
3. Sound your magnificence mightily. Have you ever heard an elephant toot its own horn? Pretty earthshaking and attention getting. It really is ok to get the world to sit up and take notice of what you have to offer.
4. Consider the Hindu God Ganesha/Ganapataye, referred to as The Lord of Success and Remover of Obstacles (child of Parvati and Shiva) whose elephant head rests atop a rotund body. He is the blending of spirit and corporeal. Devotees repeat a chant to honor him .
Chanting, with reverence:
This came from the website Indo Pagan Project http://indopaganproject.tripod.com/id22.html
5. Be like Babar. The Story of Babar by Jean de Brunhoff was written in 1931. It describes the tale of an elephant who leaves the jungle, dons clothes, learns about the world outside his familiar confines and returns to become king. He wisely advises his willing subjects and yet knows he can’t do it all himself, so he takes counsel from others that surround him as well. He is a beneficent ruler who admits his flaws as well. My first yoga book, believe it or not was Babar’s Yoga For Elephants. My friend Brian gave it to me when I began my practice. I laughed when I saw it and figured that if elephants could do asanas, so could I!
6.Overcome limiting beliefs like Dumbo. As far as we know, elephants don’t fly….except when they do. Armed with his magic feather (which I particularly like as a symbol of transformation) which he really didn’t need, he just thought he did, this little guy was able to take off simply by flapping his wings and lightening his heart.
7. Retain an elephant’s memory for the beautiful, loving, creative, beneficial experiences in your life. In the midst of daily activity, especially those times when I am tempted to complain about what’s wrong, I forget what’s right about any given situation. I can always, when reviewing past events that might have looked similar to what I am experiencing now, remember something that worked that I can bring forward into this present moment.
And enjoy the sounds of the Ganesh chant offered by Deva Premal http://youtu.be/_EaJNzzycIk