Last year I lived in a tiny room at my mom’s house w/ family for 8 months. As undignified as it felt, I made the most of it- minimized my belongings, slept on a couch, and set up a little altar to pray & meditate.
During that time a little mouse frequently visited me. Usually I’m a ‘jump on a table and scream/ start speaking in tongues’ person when it comes to mice. But this time I decided to keep calm and name him Malcolm.
Interestingly, Malcolm would show up at certain times:
1. When I was ruminating on social media, re-watching my own posts and checking likes. (I’m not proud of this, just being honest.)
2. When I was fantasizing…or in the astral plane. Playing guitar as an escape, ignoring that my altar was a mess, my living space was chaotic and overflowing with journals, books, clothes and scattered musical instruments.
3. When I got really secretive with my songwriting/ devotion. Chanting real quiet so nobody would hear, almost embarrassed of it.
4. When my mind felt scattered- overly excited, and my thoughts were wavering, wandering, or “scurrying.”
It is believed in Hinduism that Ganesha actually intentionally rides a mouse to get to the secret nooks, corners, and crevices of our mind (inner obstacles) so he can obliterate them with his heavy force/ gravity.
In Indian wisdom tradition, Ganesha’s mouse symbolizes a vahana, or vehicle. In the mythology stories his name is Mooshika, and when Mooshika drives it symbolizes us letting ego drive our life.
When we are in ‘Mooshika mind’ our thoughts race and we feel unfocused, trying every direction reactively. We let fear dominate, or ‘drive,’ and we look for places to hide.
Ganesha, the elephant or “spirit mind,” symbolizes the atman or inner guru. When we let him drive we go slow, calm and steady. Our thoughts have staying power, our breathing is deep and focus comes easy. We feel divinely guided, and more intentional with our actions and the direction we take in life.
I’ve experienced Ganesha’s ‘pull’ as the natural force of love- a big love that has pried my ego’s hands loose from unhealthy or self-destructive situations. Ganesha broke me away from a job I was unhappy at.
He said no more injuring your body lifting 50lb boxes all day. He broke down my car, put a difficult coworker on my path, caused all these external obstacles to get me to wake up and get out of an environment/ way of thinking that reinforced stubbornness/ desperation for money.
It feels boring at first to align with Ganesha, because he breaks you away from the habit of excitement, which can masquerade as happiness. But true happiness is calm, steady, and carries you like an elephant.
That energy carried me out of my mom’s to a new living space on 30 acres, where I now look out my window at beautiful sunsets and in the morning see deer prancing. And with 4 cats on the property you can guarantee I won’t be seeing any more mice.
Here are some journaling questions for anyone who’d like to contemplate Ganesha and Mooshika:
1) Can you think of a time you misdirected your mental energy? How did you get back on track?
2) How do you know you’re being Mooshika (misusing your gifts/ talents) vs Ganesha (aligning them w/ the divine)?
3) How do you align with Ganesha instead of the mouse?
4) How does your inner Ganesha feel about your inner Mooshika? Do they get along?
5) What does it mean to ‘ride your vahana’? To harness & direct it? What does that look like in your life?
This is post #1 in a 6-part blog series to recap insights discussed during dharma talks at Inner Warrior yoga studio in Louisville, KY.