Finding Beauty

Spring Cleaning with Shiva

Shiva Nataraja

I’ve decided to do my spring-cleaning in the company of Shiva this year. Or rather, I plan to tap into those aspects of Shiva within me that shift, clarify, and empower. So as I transition through the gray drizzle of early New York City March into the softer season, when rubbery stems of flowers optimistically emerge around the two trees planted in the cement of my block, I’ll be negotiating the same mysterious process of transformation within myself.

Shiva is my map, my game plan. Look at Nataraja, the dancing form of Shiva. In his upper right hand he holds a drum, representing creation. In his upper left hand, he holds fire, for destruction. He supports himself on one bent leg, displaying sustenance or maintenance. These three acts of Shiva are the ones on which I am focusing right now. Through the contemplation of these acts: creation, destruction, and maintenance, Shiva Nataraja is an invitation into our own consciousness – a path that offers us the opportunity to deeply engage with ourselves and with the world. Shiva is a mirror, inviting us to gaze upon our own lives – to see the choices we make and to more clearly recognize our patterns, to evaluate what is and isn’t working, and what changes we need to make.

Periodically, I notice that my little stacks of books and paperwork have turned into furniture in the corners of my apartment. I realize that the physical stacks of stuff are some interesting sort of parallel to the inner stacks of stuff inside my head and heart. It is time to dissolve them, reorder them, and create a more sustainable system. So those habitual patterns that aren’t serving me – those ways of thinking that limit me – burn them to ash and sweep them away. It is only from this place of clarity that that I can create something substantial, something worth my energy and effort. By daring to destroy, I can create something new that I am excited about sustaining. This is an endless loop. This is a dance. By fully engaging in this dance, my own consciousness becomes Shiva.

How can you skillfully engage and navigate the vicissitudes of your own personal transitions? How can you take hold of Shiva’s tools of consciousness and meaningfully engage them in your dance?