“If money were an object, what would it be for you?”
My sister and life coach, Rebekah Anderson, asked me this question one day while hiking last summer.
Immediately, an image of a bedazzled elephant came to mind. I hesitated and tried to think of something that would make more sense before I said it aloud, but the elephant was all that I could see.
She continued to ask deeper questions about this elephant and my relationship to it.
“How close are you to it?” Rebekah asks.
“It’s far away, but I’m working to go meet it,” I respond.
“When you meet it, what will happen?” She questioned.
“I want to experience a ride on this elephant, connecting with his/her story.”
After you ride the elephant, will you keep it, or let it go?”
"Let it go," I uttered.
During this conversation, I already knew that a journey to India was next on my list, but I hadn’t made any plans yet.
India, the motherland for yoga, is a special place full of dazzling color, life, and history.
I discovered that I think of money as a means for experiences and travel. However, as I’ve started my research, I’ve realized that the elephant not only represents our relationship with money, according to our chakras, but also holds much more significance for this journey. I actually felt goosebumps as I took a deeper look…
In many cultures the elephant is a symbol of power, intelligence, dignity, strength, endurance, and reliability.
The elephant may also be viewed as a burden or obstacle. In the same way, in Christianity the elephant is an icon of patience. In addition, in many Asian cultures the elephant represents a symbol of longevity.
Photo Credit: Buzzle.com
If you dream that you are riding an elephant this suggests you have a tendancy to be a leader, and others are heavily depending on you. Specifically, the elephant is considered a symbol of responsibility because it takes great care and responsibility of offspring and elders (Animal Symbolism: Elephant Meaning by Avia Venefica).
Moghul King Procession Scene on Elephant Miniature Painting
When elephants come into our dreams, it is a message that we are able to deal with any obstacle we are faced with.
Interestingly, in hindu India, the elephant god, Ganesha, is the Lord of Obstacles. His task, in the divine scheme of things, is to place and remove obstacles.
Photo Credit: Tarang Arts Miniature Painting of Ganesha
Coincidentally, I recently read the book by Ryan Holiday, The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph. He teaches that obstacles are put in our path to make us stronger, “The obstacle in the path becomes the path. Never forget, within every obstacle is an opportunity to improve our condition.”
We have a choice on how we view this obstacle. Holiday inspires us to be the best that we can be, “In life, it doesn’t matter what happens to you or where you came from. It matters what you do with what happens and what you’ve been given…Just because other people say that something is hopeless or crazy or broken to pieces doesn’t mean it is. We decide what story to tell ourselves.”
Elephant energy can support us through a long, hard journey by overcoming whatever obstacles are placed in our way.
Ironically, I will be doing a lot of writing for this blog and upcoming books during this time in India this spring 2017; I learned that Ganesha is also the patron of arts and sciences, of intellect and wisdom. His energy is often called upon during writing sessions. As many stories stress his cleverness and love of intelligence.
The traditional story of the blind men and an elephant was written to show how reality may be viewed from differing perspectives. The source of this parable is unknown, but it appears to have originated in India. It has been attributed to Buddhists, Hindus, Jainists, and Sufis, and was also used by Discordians.
In yoga kundalini philosophy, our root chakra, Muladhara, is the energy center at the base of our spine. Mula means "original or main" and adhara means "base or foundation". It extends to our legs and feet as our grounding mechanism.
Isn’t it peculiar that money is sometimes called “mula?” When our root chakra is in balance, we have a healthy relationship with working and saving/spending money and living up to our full potential. We have our basic needs met for food, water, shelter, and safety and we move through life’s struggles without being stopped by fear.
Bulls and Bovines are the animals associated with this chakra. Ironically, baby elephants are also called bulls; therefore elephants are also the symbol of our 1st basic chakra. Likewise, Ganesha, the god of fortune and protection, is worshiped on many secular occasions, especially at the beginning of ventures such as buying a vehicle or starting a business. Ganesha is believed to protect you as he charges through blockages and obstacles on your behalf.
Check out my new digital artwork, designed with reference to my bookend, to represent the elephant as our relationship with money and our 1st chakra.
This artwork is now available on yoga leggings!
I’m trying hard to earn as much money as I can to spend on upcoming growing opportunities and adventures. Most of my work all depends on the amount of business I receive and that shifts with the seasons and tides. Recently, I’ve been setting a weekly date with money to set enough aside for my bills, emergency savings, education, and business expenses before I spend on any extras.
One helpful mantra to charge through any problems with money is to chant, “I provide” whenever I’m feeling scarcity. I stay open to new work opportunities, like teaching piano lessons. I recently opened that door to the Universe and now I have 7 sweet beginner students!
Ryan Holiday encourages us to ignore excuses and fear, stop complaining, and start working towards our purpose with action, grace and poise. Life happens and surprises are guaranteed. The higher we aim, them more pressure we will face. We can respond by working twice as hard.
I’m aiming high with this upcoming journey. The more I realize the importance of this challenge, the more I feel empowered to reach it and now my trip is almost completely planned. I’ll be flying into New Delhi, solo, touring the city, Taj Mahal, and Jaipur, writing and recording yoga videos; then I’ll spend a week at the Ashram, Parmarth Niketan, for the International Yoga Festival 2017 in Rishikesh.
My first obstacle is raising the money I need to pay for the flights, food, accommodations, etc. The second obstacle is enduring the 30 hours to get to New Delhi. The third obstacle is getting to the hostel safely, my fourth obstacle is meeting people to tour the city with, and my fifth obstacle will be recording and editing yoga videos at these sites. There will probably be even more surprises along the way. I’m hoping to make many yoga connections at the festival as well as explore deeper yoga concept both in my body and in my soul.
This bright bold creature is on my mind more and more as my departure dates grow nearer (February 23rd). With each obstacle, I know that I will grow and become stronger. As I work hard, I believe the elephant energy will help me to provide for these basic needs by inspiring my wisdom and intelligence. Although I’m working well over full time with my teaching and working, I haven’t quite reached my goals for this trip.
Can you help? Please watch the video and donate on my generosity.com page. I’m a huge believer of “what goes around, comes around” and I have many yoga benefits to exchange in gratitude of your donation (yoga videos, leggings, VIP Facebook Group and reserving a place at an upcoming retreat).
You can also contribute by purchasing one or some of my yoga leggings and videos!
After I symbolically ride the elephant as a journey through India, I will set it free and let it go and with an empty bank account and a full heart. Then, I will start working towards my next adventure, perhaps a playful monkey or courageous lion…
Finally, Ryan Holiday strongly proclaims, “You know what’s better than building things up in your imagination? Building things up in real life.”
What obstacles are you overcoming with strength, intelligence, and endurance?
Hannah seeks to find relationships between nature, cultures, yoga, and art through her writing.
Fun Yoga On the Bay
Travel the world with me through yoga!
These themed lessons are fun for all ages and levels at Mission Bay Park.
See the page, Park Yoga, for more information!
Lessons from Abroad