Two and a half years ago, I went to Varanasi for Shivaratri — the celebration of Lord Shiva’s birthday. Varanasi is considered one of Shiva’s cities, and one of the oldest cities in the world. It is one of the holiest pilgrimages, and it is the final pilgrimage. It is where devout Hindus go to die. To die and have your body burned on the ghats of the Ganga is said to liberate you from the endless cycle of life and death. ⁣⁣
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My time in Varanasi was some of my hardest time in India. It was the time of my deepest grief — the integration of one of my greatest losses; and the releasing of my greatest love. I was enduring both profound heartbreak and the feeling of profound aloneness — having been traveling for 9 consecutive months at this point. ⁣⁣
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One evening, two of my dance friends from Rajasthan and I took one of the boats out on the Ganga and performed a puja of lighting 108 flower offerings onto the river. We spoke the mantra, Aim Hrim Shrim Swaha, into our hearts as we released each offering into Mother Ganga.⁣⁣
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I held in my heart the longing for Shiva. The longing for Devi to lead me to my Shiva. I offered my love for this man who wouldn’t (or couldn’t) fully claim my heart, as a sacrifice for Devi to transmute into a love that is truly anchored. A love that is fully present. A love that cannot be spooked, overwhelmed, afraid, or scared off. ⁣⁣
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Essentially, I was asking for a love that exists beyond the fluctuations of the mind.⁣⁣
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I didn’t know what I was asking for. I didn’t know what I was in for — the excruciating journey of having all my fears and patterns of un-love starved out by a Love that won’t play on that paradigm. A Love that won’t entertain, or acquiesce to my stories of unworthiness. Or incessant fears of abandonment. A Love that insists I rise to meet it — instead of being locked in a pattern of continuously pacifying the same old wounds.⁣⁣
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Shiva is the destroyer. He will destroy all the barriers you put up to protect yourself from a Love that is truly Real. And he will do so by simply remaining who he is. You can flail about trying to earn love, deny love, or living in resistance to the love you profess to want. But he remains — unperturbable, totally loving, fully present, and all-pervading. ⁣

Yesterday, I greeted the other side of the Ganga, on the banks of holy Rishikesh — another town of Shiva — with my beloved. A man who, steadfast in his love, guides me daily from the unreal to the Real. A young Indian girl came up to us and asked if we wanted to do puja. She made me a flower offering with camphor and incense — just like in Varanasi. I lit it and offered it in gratitude to Shiva’s wife, Ma Ganga, for answering my prayers. ⁣

Aim Hrim Shrim Swaha. ❤️📿⁣

And gratitude to beloved India — the land of true alchemy — for taking hold of my life.⁣

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