"Tell me a story about Krishna!" says the beautiful little girl I met last night. Luckily for me her dad, who was there for a kirtan (devotional chanting) at Yoga on Main, answered her request. He told a little story while her mother danced, acting out the story for us. It was captivating! It was a beautiful performance.
The story goes something like this. There was a thousand headed snake that lived in a river. He wanted the river all for himself so in an effort to keep others away he filled it with venom. All the little cow-herders and the cows they lovingly tended to drank from the river and fell ill. Little Krishna, who was also a cow-herder saw his friends and their cows near death and he leaped into the river to fight this evil snake. He, of course, defeats the snake and dances on his heads. Each time the snake rears one of his heads, Krishna gives it a little stomp to put the snake in his place. The storyteller explains that the snake symbolizes our ego and Krishna is one aspect of the Divine. Whenever we let our ego rise Krishna will dance on our head to put our ego back in it's place. I certainly have felt the dance of Krishna stomping my ego back in it's place.
I've had the experience of watching my mood oscillate based on my external circumstances. I noticed my ego rise when someone has given me a compliment and then just as easily noticed myself getting depressed by someone else's negative comments. In both situations, it's my ego that is rearing it's head. It's the ego that makes us puff out our chest with pride and it's the ego that tells us we aren't good enough.
The awareness of this oscillation reminds me of Patanjali's definition of yoga: Yoga Citta Vritti Nirodhah, stilling the fluctuations in one's consciousness. It's those fluctuations that prevent us from experiencing peace of mind. One minute we are Krishna dancing on the head of the evil snake and the next minute we're the snake.
The fact of the matter is that there will always be circumstances that make us feel like we're a bottle in the ocean being toss around by the waves that are effected by the winds. That's why yoga/meditation is so important. It's in those moments of meditation that we find equanimity. It's when we still the fluctuations that we see the dance of Krishna. We see that everything in our lives, good and bad are the hand of the Divine in our lives.
Sometimes we'll be the gopis dancing and singing with Krishna and sometimes we'll be the snake. Either way, the presence of the Divine is always in our life. When we become aware that we are being toss around, from here to there and back again by the external situations of our lives, we come to the yoga mat.
We use our practice to still our minds. It's there on the mat that we find our way back to equanimity. In that state of equanimity we once again find our true nature which is divine.
I can't remember the little girl's name but it means, the lotus flower that blooms in the moonlight. That's one of the many stories she told me last night. There were lots of fluctuations in the time I spend with the little lotus flower but when the music and chanting began, even she settled down a bit.