Ganesha and My To-Do List

A gorgeous work by my friend and fellow yogini, Susie Walby. This image and more available at

A while ago I came to the realization my number one obstacle in staying connected to the universal is busyness.  That’s kind of depressing, but it’s true.  If my daily to-do list is not too long, and I sense that there is ample time and space to do what I need to do, then I am pretty good at softening, appreciating beauty, being present with the people with whom I interact, and remembering that there is more to my life than that list.  But the minute there are too many deadlines looming and one too many must-do items on this list, I lose my connection – quickly.  It’s like I knocked the plug out of the outlet!  And that’s frustrating, because it’s exactly when I need the external power source the most.  I get wound up, hurried, and anxious, and I lose the ability to be compassionate and patient.

While teaching the first of the Yogi Superheroes practices this morning, it occurred to me that this would NEVER happen to Ganesha.

I mean, just look at the guy – does he look like he is ever whipped up into a frenzy, running around trying to get things done, vata energy abounding?  Nope.  He is nearly always depicted sitting.  He’s calmly and  contentedly smiling, proud of his pot belly, in no hurry to go anywhere.  Like an elephant, of course!  Elephants don’t generally move very quickly – unless of course, there is a really good reason.  They’re big, so they need to conserve their energy, and they step carefully and mindfully in the world.  When they swing their trunks to get a branch of leaves to eat, they get what they aim for.  For much of the day they rest.  And breathe.  And digest their food.

One of my sadhana sisters, Sara, our YogaTejas intern, just returned from a two-week trip to her hometown last night.  Needless to say, she arrived to a “to-do list” (in fact, I am the one who made the to-do list for her!).  And, like any dedicated servant of a yoga studio, she was feeling pressure to attack it the moment she woke up.  But she came to class, this class where we explored the stories of Ganesha and moved our bodies in ways that cultivate his qualities of steadiness, commitment, dedication, and calm.  We moved slowly and methodically, never allowing our foundations to wriggle.  We felt our feet on the floor and sank down into our legs.  We did hip openers and breathed deeply into our pelvic regions. We got out femurs back into their sockets and opened up the energy channels in our lower bodies.  And most of all, we fed our back bodies with breath.  In yoga, the back body is associated with the universal, so the more we can fill ourselves there, the more connected we feel.  The cool thing was that Sara came out of class saying, “okay, I feel better, what do I need to do, I can get this stuff done.  It’s all good, I’m home.”  Mission accomplished.  And I felt the same way.  Centered, grounded, and capable, as well as open to the people and tasks and experiences that were to come my way all day.

Ganesha has a lot of amazing qualities for us to emulate.  For me today, that was his steady, slow, enjoyment of life that comes from a deep, unwavering connection to the universal.  Just another reminder that remembrance is just one pause away.

For more details on Ganesha’s inspiring qualities, stories about him, a kirtan video, and links to articles and pictures, check out an earlier Ganesha blogpost of mine here.


~ by bridgetannlyons on January 9, 2012.

2 Responses to “Ganesha and My To-Do List”

  1. I like this post. I like the connection to Ganesha. Does he ever look relaxed!

  2. […] wield some interesting tools.  One hand holds a goad (a little axe-like tool that we’ve seen in Ganesha’s hand), one holds a lasso, one holds a bouquet of flowers, and one holds a bow.  This isn’t just […]

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