As a lover of myth and a yoga teacher, I live in a world where myth is used to exemplify and understand human behavior. One of the most popular deities among yoga practitioners is Hanuman, a deity in the form of a monkey who plays a part in the great Indian epic, Ramayana. Hanuman is loved for his selfless service, his utter devotion, his loyalty, and his unwavering courage. Hanuman is the heart of everyone who has great dreams for their life. He is the deity to embody if you recognize that your life’s purpose on this Earth is bigger than you..
Hanuman’s birth name is Anjaneya. When Anjaneya was growing up he was precocious and wild — a perfect blend of a toddler and a monkey (with extra powers)! One day Anjaneya looked into the sky, and seeing the sun, thought he was looking at the biggest, juiciest mango. Anjaneya took a great leap toward the mango and in the process was killed. His father, the wind god, saw this and demanded that he be brought him back to life. Anjaneya was brought back to life with the new name, Hanuman.
This was his first great leap. And as a result of this leap, he became Hanuman, the ultimate representation of devotion, selfless service, and dharma – your unique mark on the world. We all have dreams and greater visions for our lives. What is your greater vision? What is your mark on the world? How are your gifts showing up and serving you, your loved ones, and the world?
You must take great leaps into the unknown to give your gifts to the world because no matter what it looks like, you are opening your heart and making yourself vulnerable. To make a great leap, to make a change in your life, requires that you shed layers, that your , old identities, lingering beliefs, traumas, and shadows, must die. Everything must evolve for you to grow.
In his first leap, his whole identity changed. Hanuman’s second great leap is the iconic one that is immortalized as the yoga pose Hanumanasana, or splits. It is one thing to make change in your life, to start heading down the path of your dharma, your dreams, your service to the world, and it is another thing to KEEP GOING!
When Hanuman recognized his life’s purpose as a servant to Prince Rama, he jumped into this duty with full devotion. Can you say the same? How many times do waver on your dreams? Get sidetracked by something shinier, prettier, or easier to acquire? Before he jumps, Hanuman sits on India’s southern tip staring across the ocean to the island of Lanka (presently Sri Lanka) where Sita, the beloved of Rama, is being held captive. Hanuman knows he must cross this ocean, he knows he must get to Sita. He knows this in his heart. But he does not know how he is going to do it. Only that he must get across this ocean.
Stop worrying about how you are going to do something. Instead focus on what it is that you must do. Among it’s numerous meanings, the ocean represents beginning. It is the formless chaos of potential. Like the amniotic fluid that houses the developing fetus, the ocean is the beginning of all creation. Hanuman sits in front of the ocean, devoted to Rama, ready to begin his great journey and complete his service. He takes the great leap, and like all jumps at first it is great exhilaration. Yes! You did it!!
And then obstacles arise.
For Hanuman it was first a great mountain tempting him to rest. For you, it is your old life, comforts, and habits calling you back to your old life, calling you back to what you know: your warm bed instead of meditation, drinks with friends instead of working out, your favorite TV series instead of writing that book.
Then came a demon that emerge to eat Hanuman and as he grew bigger so did the demon and Hanuman had to make himself really small to move past it. These are those obstacles that seem to get bigger and bigger like the money to rent retail space or childcare to give you more free time
Finally, Hanuman met a demoness shadow eater. As much as he tried to pull his shadow away, she bite harder. To defeat her, Hanuman jumped into his shadow — the limiting beliefs, the shame, the self-hatred, the hidden traumas, and the raw scars – and allowed to be devoured by the demoness where he ripped through her belly and completed his leap to Lanka.
Everytime you dream bigger, every time you listen to that inner calling asking you to go bigger, every time you are called to open yourself to the world, you are being asked to make a great leap into the unknown. The ocean, a symbol of creation, also represents your subconscious mind. It is your driving thoughts that work to keep you safe and small. They are are the hidden fears and limiting beliefs that ask you to stay on the shore doubting your greatness, doubting you can leap across the ocean.
The only way your life will change and the dreams you have will manifest as reality is for you to make that great leap into your future with courage, inner faith, and the unwavering focus that you will make it to your island. The process of growth requires you shed old layers, allow parts of you to “die,” and embrace the discomfort of entering into the unknown. To make dreams a reality you must be willing to change your habits, try new things, and dive into and move through your shadow side.