"You don't need to be helped any longer you have always had the power to get back to Kansas" said Glinda, the Good Witch of the North to Dorothy Gale; one of the most famous quotes in the movieThe Wizard of Oz; for many reasons this is one of my favorite movies of all time, I feel 'young at heart' every time i watch it. It also has many metaphorical messages to be captured and learned by watching it. In some way we are all like Dorothy at one point in life. Like her, I had to travel the golden path, many times with lots of bends and bumps along the way. Yet, I think you need to experience that until you can walk straight. In addition, hving the assistance from someone special like Glinda who magically appears out of the blue in a pink bubble can help map your way to your inner guru. I am blessed to say that I currently have an amazing Guru who is not only my yoga teacher but a good friend and mentor. The last few years I personally feel like we bonded into a spiritual partnership, she is assisting me with my quest in finding my inner guru. I believe each and every one of us has the ability to find our inner authentic and adventurous self. I have so much to say about this revelation (and this is a pretty long article/blog, but I wanted to say it all at once, to get my point across of course); and hope to help the audience - like a compass finding the light that shines bright in you - your inner guru!
The traditional Guru and Yogi is an ancient one. All learning from generation to generation has been handed down this way in India for thousands and thousands of years, yes thousands! Guru Purnimais a festival traditionally celebrated by Hindus the first full moon in the month of July the month ofAshadh of the Shaka Samvat. It is a time dedicated to the expression of gratitude towards the teacher by his/her disciple. I thought it would be a wonderful time to publish this in July in honor of my Guru. Perhaps I should tell you the definition of a Guru; he/she is compassionate, yet exacting. The Yogi must be sincere and dedicated. The word Guru can be explained by examining the Sanskrit root. Gu means dark and Ru means light; therefore; a Guru is one who leads one out of the dark into the light. Although the seeker has to tread the spiritual path to self realization alone, the Guru's guidance is essential to show the right path and to safeguard the Yogi, the student of yoga, who decides to follow. The Guru opens the students eye's to awareness, the gate of the student's dormant faculties and awakens the pure energy within.
In the presence of a true gifted Guru like my 'Guru', it's like being in the glow of a brilliant sunlight. I should mention a few things here 'path' and 'safeguard'. Interestingly enough the connection yelped out to me: Glinda aka Guru and Dorothy Gale aka Student or Disciple (ME). As we all know, Glinda instructed Dorothy to follow The Yellow Brick Road with specifics to stay on the 'path' and not veer off. She sealed her safety with a kiss on Dorothy's forehead for good luck that would 'safeguard' her journey. The relationship between Dorothy and Glinda was magical. Glinda is the glow of goodness and love - the munchkins really respected and felt good to be around her too. As in my yoga class my teacher gives us this special kind of feeling.
Let me introduce my Guru, her name is Sagarika Ghose a 500 hour credited yoga instructor certified in India and America, she has practiced yoga all her life and has been teaching for about 20 years. Her father encouraged her to be a yoga instructor so that she can help many people heal and lead a healthy life style through the practice of yoga asana and pranyana. I like to think of Sagarika as a tree, she has many branches that spread out to many students who are looking for healing through yoga. She grew up in Bengal, India and is a gold medalist of yoga asana and had the privilege to practice and become a certified instructor with well known Yogis in India. To this day she still keeps in contact with her Guru in India and when she visits her native country she spends time with her Guru expanding her knowledge of yoga.
Currently, I disciplined myself to practice with her exclusively 3 to 4 times per week and on the off days I practice solo at my health club She has turned my world upside down, in a good way of course. Before I met her I was living my life in inversion until she taught me to live life positively upright. One day I did open up to her with my struggles, sadness of loss of close family members in my life, the dreadful mistakes I made and basically all the negative feelings I stuffed inside my heart - wanting to let it all out. I realized my negative emotions started to come to the surface, like an ice cream cone melting on a hot summer's day in the sun. My body, mind and spirit starts to cleanse with sweat and tears after my yoga asana class. Every time I am on my mat and in her class, I could see a dim light at the end of the tunnel just before class ends, while I am in savasana (that is the meditation state after my vigorous yoga asana - meditative) it can also be called corpse pose.
Interestingly enough, I believe there is a rebirth after each yoga asana practice - I guess you could say you are repented. Look forward and not backward. I think when we are ready to let go what is holding us back, we will do so with relief - at least that is what has been happening to me. The days I find myself crying after class, it is the attachments holding me back. That is when I go to her for sympathy and want her to say everything will be okay; instead, she would stop me in the middle of my rambling - she would hold up her finger (like to say quiet) "Ellen think positive, don’t hold onto the negative, let go". I realized that in the end: No one else can stand in my shoes. No one else can live my anxiety and depression, but myself. No one else is better equipped to know me. No one else can act but me. During our yoga asana class she was strict, precise and watched all of us (her students) like a mother hen protecting us from our ego, in other words to respect our pose and if we are not ready for an advanced or full expression of a posture she would say "not for you yet". At the same time, if she knew we could do it or we were not challenging our self she would encourage us into a pose we thought would be impossible to do. She would say "you did it", like a proud mother. Sagarika's presence has such a positive vibe, she greets all her students with a huge smile, and you could not sneak into class brand new, she immediate took note of a new student, she would introduce herself and explain the levels and of course keep an eagle eye on that new student to make sure he/she was safe.
If I was to compare the character role in the movie The Wizard of Oz, I am Dorothy Gale after the house fell out of the twister into the land of munchkins - opening the door stepping out of the black and white and noticing all the wonderful colors before me - a rainbow!. Then Sagarika (my Guru) is Glinda arriving just in the nick of time to help me find my inner guru. Dorothy and Glinda represent an important role in finding your true self. Dorothy had the power all along; she just needed a little push, instruction and protection of The Ruby Red Slippers on her feet. Interestingly enough red is the color of the root chakra called Muladhara (root of support).
What are Charkas? They are energy centers in our body, flow of subtle energy that runs through all life and through the human energy system. It is like a ladder that takes us from the physical realm of substance up through the workings of the higher mind and spirit. There are seven chakras colors - a beautiful rainbow of colors. The root chakra starts at the base of the spine moving its way up the crown chakra at the top of the head. Muladhara is concerned with keeping life vibrant and sustainable. It keeps us safe, keeping chaos and evil far from our door, and ultimately it is concerned with having the patience to see our dreams come true - just like the words in the song Somewhere Over The Rainbow she sings at the beginning of the movie!
I should mention The Wizard of Oz is not so much about religion or this article is to persuade the audience that yoga is the one and only way of life a person should follow to find their inner guru. I picked yoga and this movie for many reasons and connections to what I want to shout out what I learned after all my research. Although Christianity, ancient teachings of Tibet or Buddhism, and wisdom from Hinduism has a lot of influence in finding your inner guru, but rather a way of looking at life and the world that surrounds us. This can enrich the lives of everyone no matter what your faith is.
Why did I choose yoga to find my inner guru? Well for me the daily practice was a commitment I made the day I found out my mom only had two weeks left to live, every single day since April 2010, I was so upset and scared to lose a third member in my family and this helped ease the pain. I felt lonely, scared and wanted to find love. For a long time a huge black hole was in my heart, darkness. Attachments and fear of letting go was at times a constant obstacle in my life. Like a domino effect I tried to put my foot forward in the healing process of the loss and then another tragic thing happened in my life. My Guru was helping me to look within and yes! slowly I am letting go. It is sort of like a child trying to hold onto a helium balloon, yet the balloon wants to let go and travel way up into the sky.
The Wizard of Oz is an allegorical tale of a soul's journey along the spiritual path, which in the story called The Yellow Brick Road. Kansas represents a physical place on Earth where Oz represents heaven or the enteric plane. We are all on a journey like Dorothy to find our inner true self. The swirl of The Yellow Brick Road starting within the core of the circle, spiraling outward, after doing some research I found out this design meant a life source. It usually relates to a souls existence within the continuum of life and spiritual protection. I am not walking as fast as Dorothy did with her pals, I take baby steps, and it takes years and years to reach that inner guru that each and every one of us holds in our sparkling hearts.
Dorothy's virtual pals mesmerized me, The Scarecrow, the Tin Woodsman and The Cowardly Lion. In a dreamy kind of way her pals represent a little bit of what she needed in life to find her inner guru. She needed to develop and grow her soul. The heart: she needed to love her inner self more and not run away from the ones who love her most Aunty Em and Uncle Henry. The courage: she had to fight the fear that we all have hidden inside us - face your troubles. The brain: through her lesson's that needed to be learned her Guru Glinda was her teacher to help her find the wisdom that resides in all of us through life experiences. All Yogis know this saying yoga involves: mind (brain), body (heart) and spirit (courage). As virtually everyone knows, Dorothy wanted to go home but she didn’t know how to get there. We are not unlike Dorothy in that we have incredibly powerful portals to find our own inner guru. Most of us don't even know that we too have the power like Dorothy.
Dorothy's Ruby Red Slippers were granted to her by Glinda instructing her to use it to her advantage and protection. According to Buddhist interpretation of The Wizard of Oz, the Ruby Red Slippersrepresent the 'inner spark' within all of us. Interestingly enough Glinda tells Dorothy never take off the shoes, she is telling her to never lose her 'inner spark'. Again the chakra connection, wearing red shoes reminds us to ground our bodies and serves as a reminder to bring attention back to the physical body. Anchoring your energies to the earth and creating a better balance within yourself. Let's look at the connection with finding your inner guru and the Ruby Red Slippers; if you tend to ignore your lower extremities, you are ignoring a good foundation upon which the life of the higher self will thrive. In Indian Ayurvedic healing traditions Ruby is the stone of the sun. The sun is the center of the heart. A Ruby has such a connection with the heart, seat of the destiny. Often in life (like what happened to me) the heart suffers pain because we feel unable to fulfill our wishes and desires barriers in an attempt to prevent future hurt. Unfortunately, what this really does is just separate us further from the source of our own power and courage. So the use of a Ruby it helps balance the heart, enhancing its function and the circulation of the blood and improving the quality of thought and feeling associated with the heart. The Ruby acts by energizing us at the very center of our being. Like Dorothy it constantly reminded her to succeed in the venture to Oz.
After Dorothy missed the hot air balloon to return home to Kansas, she felt stuck in the mud. Once again Glinda arrives, so happy to see her Guru Dorothy said "Oh will you help me? Can you help me?" and Glinda told her she had the power all along. They were confused, and the Scarecrow asked "Then why didn't you help her before?" Glinda said "She wouldn't have believed me because she had to learn it for herself - she had to find it out for herself". Glinda then placed the star wand above Dorothy's head, told her to close her eyes and to click her heels three times and repeat "there is no place like home -there is no place like home - there is no place like home". Similarly in some yoga classes a teacher will recite Om aka AUM three times before a yoga class because many sacred rituals repeat actions or words three times in honor of the trinity.
My 'path' in finding my inner guru was to find it on my well used blue yoga mat - like a magic carpet. Actually this mat is sort of like my Ruby Red Slippers which represents my heart. I had to move into the postures and work through my troubles on my yoga mat - reminding me to always accept and love myself. Like the saying goes "you are your own best friend". Sometimes I am on my mat all day long to help shake off the negativity - like gum on the bottom of your feet. "When all things are difficult and seem the darkest look within - because that is where the answer to your question has always been". This is a quote from L. Frank Baum author of the classical book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Life was definitely not an easy for Mr. Baum he had a rocky road financially, many people told him he was a failure and would never be a famous children's author - but that obviously did not discourage him to fight all the obstacles that were in his path - this paved the road to fame. His wisdom taught me a lesson to never ever give up! Towards the end of the movie Dorothy defeats fear with truth and to be happy and fearless, we create our own reality by living our inner guru by letting go of attachments that hold us back. Glinda reminds us we have the power all along, if you don't like something - change it. Be the change!
Over the Rainbow was the first song Dorothy sang in the movie, I believe it represented the colorful life she wished to find. As I mentioned earlier regarding rebirth and The Wizard of Oz had another deeper meaning: Dorothy was reborn. Some say she had a near death experience. It makes perfect sense to me as we become a new person after a change. A birth can signify the old way of life. However, we think of death of some kind of loss - a literal death of some false aspect of our own self. A door that we go through would always be open unexpectedly slams shut. Suddenly we are seeing the world with new eyes. In the wake of this death, I was born to a new understanding. So long before we die to an old behavior, the way has been paved like the Yellow Brick Road for a new one. Not realizing until the end of the movie, after she went over the rainbow that she had it with her all along. I realize that my quest through yoga to find my inner guru has relocated the center of my attention from the brain to the heart, where it belongs. Through my Guru's wisdom and grace, my heart has been awakened. We are our own Gurus, if we choose to listen and absorb the wisdom that lies within, a great reminder that our fate is up to us. In conclusion, being your own guru begins when you add positivity in your life, find happiness in everything and balance in your life. You do not have to go to Oz or find the Wizard for a magical fix, with a little assistance from a teacher, friend, mentor, guru or parent you can find it. My inner guru is Oz - it is inside of me, the center of my heart and shining like the Ruby Red Slipper!