Today I am honoured to bring you an interview with Mother Maya, a spiritual teacher renowned the world over. Mother Maya is visiting Sydney next week, and leading several programs at Jivamukti Yoga Sydney. I am so excited to get the opportunity to spend the weekend learning from her, and if any of you are around Sydney I would highly recommend any of the events.
Mother Maya is an outstanding spiritual leader/teacher who has been praised by the Parliament of World Religions for her global work in fostering wellness, peace and inter-faith understanding. An acclaimed author, founder of Wise Earth School of Ayurveda and Mother Om Mission, Mother also survived the odyssey of ovarian cancer at the age of 23. Belonging to the ancient wisdom tradition of Veda Vyasa, India, she walks a simple, accessible life in service of all. Maya received the prestigious Dhanvantari International Award and Rishi Award for her quarter-century long pioneering work in Ayurveda.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Mother Maya this week, read on to learn more about her and her inspiring work...
Q: Mother Maya, can you tell us about the events that lead you to find your own path of self healing?
There have been three critical junctures of healing in my life. Through my odyssey with ovarian cancer at the tender years of 18-23, I was fortunate to uncover pearls of the spirit that can never be stripped away, the gems of my purpose. Later, I was to meet my guru, His Holiness, Swami Dayananda Sarasvati, under whose tutelage and care I was weaned and reunited back to my rich Vedic tradition. In this treasure-trove brimming with the knowledge of the Self, I spent decades exploring the art of healing, the science of our One Spirit. I have lived in the forest communing with nature and the animals, whilst disseminating the work and education of Wise Earth Ayurveda. Through this education, I restored the earth-based sadhana practices of the Vedas wherein we reclaim the light of awareness in which presence we heal and become Whole. Through this journey I recognised that the way to wellness, joy and enlightenment isactually simple: Peace, the cultivation of inner harmony. But to reclaim salubrious life, we must be prepared to let go of the erroneous beliefs, ideas, and habituations which we have garnered through centuries of mentalised living. The reality is simple: First, peace must start within! The cultivating of inner harmony is the most critical accomplishment each one of us can endeavour to attain the global state of wellness. For this reason, I am on the Living Ahimsa World Tour 2009-2015. The purpose of this work is to share the gems of One Spirit with each and every person who is seeking to live in the full embrace of love, harmony, peace and joy!
Q: What role did Ayurveda and the practice of sadhana have in your personal healing?
Vedic education, knowledge and practices gave me the clarity to know my own nature: to recognise the Divine Mother Conciousness within myself, to know that my greatest light comes from her, and to finally discover that being the best servant I can be in her Service, to serve all is my highest purpose. Let me share a bit about the process of healing~
In self healing, the process is all there is. In aligning ourselves from the onset to this truth, we reveal the hidden cavern of unresolved desires, fears, weaknesses, and hurt baggage of hurt transported from generation to generation, from life through the cycle of rebirth. Our illness or distress is ours alone: we cannot live anyone else's karma, or their illness, their happiness, or their process. Whatever is the challenge, and however we feel about it - right or wrong - the glory and the fight is ours and the way we get through it - the process - is also specific to our individual karma; or the content and the context of who we are and where we are on our life's path. The goal through any challenge is to heal. However, the only way we can accomplish this goal is by accepting what is and, in invoking a clear intent to honor the journey however it unfolds.
We are better equipped to influence a successful outcome of success when we understand how critical it is to honor our process, however unexpected, challenging it may be. The process is often hard to face because it is not so pretty. It contains, at the heart of it, that part of our journey which is hidden,that "stuckness" and staleness that need to be shaken loose, and brazened out. If we are able to face it head-on, we open up to spirit and find resolve. In so doing, we develop a greater awareness of who we are, where we are going, and the nature of our purpose. In other words, we find our golden wings. This is what wellness and lightness of being is about - the growth we earn that ultimately brings harmony, love and happiness to the fore. Healing is about mothering, accepting and loving the self; it requires courage to embrace and honor our progression. Bear in mind, this course of action is a sacred thing, and requires a sanctum of privacy around it. To expunge negative energy, it is best you create a retreat for yourself so that you can more easily open the shroud to reveal honesty. It is equally important in this space that the process be witnessed by one other person to whom you feel intimate in spirit - a spouse or a friend who listens and hears you, and who would never judge you or your process.
Q: Many of my readers are young women in their early twenties; do you have any advice for incorporating sadhanas into their everyday lives?
Modern women - young and old - are faced with unprecedented levels of stress, fatigue and illness, as well as a profound disconnection with their inherent creativity and femininity. By calling on the ancient healing wisdom and practices of Ayurveda, Yoga and Meditation, I spread a revolutionary idea: that women contain the power within themselves to reconnect with their female nature and ultimately heal themselves. This power is called the Shakti - in essence, it is the power to bring forth new life, to nourish, heal, create, and nurture. By the authority of its innate nature, the Shakti energy gives women the supreme power to flourish intelligent living within themselves and by so doing, extend this energy to protect family, community, to Mother Nature and all of her species. First though, to safeguard and nourish ourselves, we must be prepared to recognise, and respect our feminine force, to treat the body as the temple of the Mother Consciousness, to know that we are beyond the vanity of body, and busyness of mind, to recognise that we are one spirit, the feminine force that gives life to children, men, community, harmony and Love! Young women have a greater opportunity to reclaim this primordial right to nourish, nurture themselves at an early age in life so that the power of Shakti energy is preserved to bloom and blossom over their mature years. The preservation of this Shakti energy is imperative for the wellness of self, and all beings, and for the sustenance of our world! And we women hold the key to its thriving! (See more, below, on the practice for Women's Power to Heal.)
Q: Do you think that it is important for someone who is on a spiritual path to be a vegetarian?
Absolute ahimsa is an impossibility, even to the most conscientious ascetic. It is a reality of life that in order to live we have to destroy life. Yet it is also true that as sentient beings who are capable of attaining Absolute Awareness, anandam, we have the perennial responsibility to safeguard life, to respect the life force of all species - and in particular - of the animals, to avoid slaughtering them to fatten our bodies. To grow awareness, we must mitigate suffering whenever and wherever we are able to do so within and goodwill for all is rooted in simplicity. My Vedic ancestors understood love as foundational nature. They recognised that harmony is produced only by cooperation with all of nature, and her creatures. They did not involve themselves in the barbarity of today's "animal husbandry" in the name of food. As sentient beings the ancient safeguarded harmony by extending reverence and gratitude to all creatures, to the forest, the mountains and to nature as a whole. They were intelligent people who understood the remarkable set of inter-connections we bear with Mother Earth. They learnt from Nature how to sustain happy and prosperous communal living. For this reason, it stands to reason they were not meat-eaters. They would not kill the very life force that supported the well-being of their families andcommunities. Instead, they worked very hard at keeping love and harmony alive. They were expert foragers who knew the cadence of nature and what to harvest and reap as the seasons cycled onward. They harvested herbs, roots, and fruits, and legumes without bludgeoning the forest or animal members of their community. They did not see their everyday tasks as punishing arduous work, but as the necessary humane duty they were put on the earth to do - that is, to keep harmony thriving in their lives by investing love into Mother Earth. They recognised the indelible qualities of love and harmony to be the bedrock of intelligent life that sustains humanity. We have much to learn from our ancient forebears and much more to be grateful to them about. They invested love. And their investment is eternally paying dividends. Our forebears taught the great big animals to harvest the land, uproot dead trees, clear pathways, and carry loads, transporting their families and goods from one place to the next. They sheared their fur to made beddings and other items to keep the family warm. They used their vegetarian feces to make fuel for the fire; their urine as antiseptic, for various cleansing applications. In return, these consciously domesticated creatures provided on-going sustenance of peaceful foods - milk, and honey. In the legendary words of Bhishma in the Mahabharata a great Hindu Sacred Text: Neither was there nor will there be a higher gift than the gift of life. Prandadanat paramadanam na bhutam na bhavishyati.
Q: You are currently in the middle of your Living Ahmisa World Tour, which is soon bringing you to Sydney. What is your aim and what do you hope to achieve with this tour?
In this close-up and personal event, I guide participants into the heart-awakening practice of Ahimsa Vrata - taking the Vow of Ahimsa - our individual commitment to inner-harmony, health and world peace. This potent practice immediately shifts the mind into a state of awareness. On the Living Ahimsa World Tour, I advocate the imperative work, for humanity to take back the world of harmony within. First though, peace must start within. I teach us to awaken our innate power of awareness, to reclaim inner harmony and to cement the indelible bonds that hold us together as a human family - Love, humor, enlightenment, and kindness.
As I move forward with the tour from USA, Canada, Brazil, UK and now on my third visit to Australia, I have noted the immediate impact these simple observances have on the daily lives of participants as they awaken to their hidden resource of awareness. The intention of this work is to awaken self-awareness; to heal millions of lives and transform disease, poverty and despair into health, harmony and happiness. This program arouses personal awareness and thereby creates and instant shift into global consciousness.
Since Living Ahimsa World Tour's inauguration, I have guided more than 100,000 particpants into the Vow of Ahimsa. As the tour continues, we are seeing an exponential increase of numbers. It comprises an inspiring education of cultivating self-awareness, along with wholesome and simple practices to achieve inner harmony, happiness and wellness.
Q: You are teaching several workshops next month at Jivamukti Yoga Sydney, including the very special workshop Woman's Power to Heal. What is the Woman's Power to Heal workshop and who might benefit from participating.
In this work whose time has finally come, Women's Power to Heal illuminates how women of all ages, backgrounds, and cultures can transform disease and despair into health and inner harmony.
The workshop is practical, entertaining, informative, and comprehensive, and explores a 7000-year-old integrative and holistic medical system called Ayurveda that delivers simple yet powerful tools for the wellness, harmony, and longevity that is a Woman's birth right. It takes a modern look at centuries-old wisdom, gleaning the most useful information and empowering women - young and old.
How do women access the power within to heal themselves, live fully, and embrace their female source of energy? They can start by reconnecting to the cosmic rhythms of the moon cycles and the seasons as they connect with their feminine nature. Women's Power to Heal Through Inner Medecine draws upon my own dramatic recovery from life-threatening ovarian cancer 38 years ago.
I have witnessed so many miracles and experienced the gems of spirit from the fascinating and inspiring stories gleaned from a quarter-century of working with women from around the world who have come to me to learn how to heal themselves.
This practical approach includes specific practices for female conditions including difficult menstruation, menopause, fertility issues, hormonal imbalance, PMS, herpes, miscarriage, osteoporosis, yeast infections, and others with simple, safe, and proven sadhana-practices to try at home. And for women in good health, the workshop provides the ultimate in preventative self-care for maintaining optimal health and well-being through connecting to the cycles of the moon and healthful practices to nourish and revitalise the womb.