Finding Your Elephant

A few  months ago, I started using the Ganesh mantra in my yoga practice.  Om Gam Ganapataye Namaha.  I was chanting it in my head every morning while running, singing it out loud (much to my children’s dismay) while washing the dishes.  There is ALWAYS a song stuck in my head anyway, so I decided to stick this mantra there.  It played over and over inside of me, instead of some other song, like say, the theme from the Brady Bunch, or my current obsession; Am I a Man or a Muppet?

Ganesh is a Hindu god with an elephant’s head. The Ganesh Chant is recommended for use when you are beginning a new journey, or a new stage of life, in order to remove any obstacles that might impede your success.  And by the way, did I mention that I don’t really believe in any of this crap?  Nevertheless, I had decided to enter into my yogic journey with a beginner’s mind, open to all new things, so I gave the mantra a shot.    Things did start to happen.  Subtle changes were taking place in my life.

When I taught my second Community Yoga class I told everyone my story.  How things had started to change for me.  How I had decided to stand with feet firmly planted on the ground, arms raised in a V (like Jeremy. Now that song is in my head) and say “Bring It, Elephant!”  I decided to be open to whatever the universe brought my way-, good, or bad.

More things happened.  I decided I had to quit my job, because it was getting in the way of pursuing yoga as a career.  The opportunity to take a training class, and learn to teach yoga to kids in Newark (my hometown and my love) came my way.   I stumbled upon it on the Internet one day, purely by accident.   Other little things were happening too. So many, I can’t remember them all.  And then, I shifted.  It’s hard to explain, but something inside of me opened up.  My entire awareness moved to a new place.   I felt endless opportunity all around me.

On my drive to the Newark training, I passed a giant elephant statue outside of the zoo.  I had to snap his photo, just for fun.   Shortly after that, a fellow yogi sent me a photo of an elephant she had seen.  Then another.  Then an elephant from another friend came.  And another.  I started to see elephants everywhere!   I now have friends posting pictures on my Facebook page, sending me text messages, e-mailing me, and calling me to tell me stories of the elephants they have been seeing.

I remember, in 1979, my parents bought a car.  It was their first brand new car.  A brown Chevy Nova.  Suddenly, everywhere I went, I saw brown Novas.  I thought that it was strange that everyone had started to buy the same car.  Was there some kind of sale?

One day when we were driving, I asked my parents why so many people had all of a sudden started buying Novas? My mom told me that there weren’t any more of them on the road than before.  I wondered how was it possible that they were always there, but I had never seen them before? My mom said I was just seeing them now, because I had started looking for them.

That sort of  blew my little mind. There was a shift in my schema that day for sure. I felt it.   To think that something had always been there, but I hadn’t seen it.  How could that be?  How could I just not have seen them?  I would have seen them if they were there, wouldn’t I? Did that mean that if I didn’t look for something, it was just as if it weren’t there at all?

Like the elephants.  They weren’t put in all of the store windows, Chinese restaurants, and hotel lobbies recently.  They have always been there.  I just didn’t see them because I wasn’t looking for them.  My awareness of them wasn’t there at all.  I would walk past them and not even think twice.  But once my awareness shifted, I saw them.

It is the same with opportunities for growth and change.  Just because I didn’t see them, doesn’t mean they weren’t there.  They are everywhere. And they have always been there.  But I wasn’t looking for them yet.  I wasn’t ready for them.   Now I am.  And now I see them everywhere.    Every obstacle I encounter is an opportunity.  Every interaction.  Every moment. Every breath.

A friend said the universe is bringing the elephants to me.  I think the universe has finally brought me to the elephants.   And all I had to do was open my arms, and my heart, and my eyes.


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