I recently came home from a retreat in the magical island of Corfu with my teacher Chameli Ardagh. We gathered in circle, like women have done for thousands of years and practiced with Radha, an incredibly potent Goddess of love and devotion. My time with them was powerful beyond words and I’m only beginning to feel into the gifts of their particular medicine. It is from this place of “uncooked” integration that I’m honoring my impulse to share my journey with you.
Radha is Lord Krishna’s beloved. Their love for each other begins in childhood and blossoms into adulthood. Wherever Krishna goes, Radha accompanies him. Her devotion towards him is unwavering and deeply passionate. Nevertheless, their love is a star-crossed lovers kind of love and due to very different destinies, they cannot be together. Krishna returns to his home to fulfill his princely duties and Radha stays in their village as a gopi, “cow girl”. With Krishna’s departure, Radha’s heart shatters and she throws herself into her grief, very much like she threw herself into their love; with absolute surrender and willingness to feel her longing.
For the rest of her life, Radha continues to adore Krishna and sees him everywhere she goes. Her love for him transforms into a love for God, a love for life and off course…herself.
The first time I heard Radha’s story, I cringed. This level of devotion and surrender towards her lover seemed unreasonable and frankly, needy and quite co-dependent! I was raised to be a strong woman after all.
But here’s what I’ve come to understand: beyond her love for “her man”, Radha’s love points to something greater. It points to our willingness to enter and deepen our relationship with the Divine, with that which is greater than us. It speaks to our capacity to engage in a wild love affair with life and it’s beautiful and mysterious ways. Krishna is a doorway into that deep love for the beloved the Sufis so beautifully speak of….he/she who is God/Goddess and lives within us.
So, my dear, what if you could live your life through Radha’s eyes? What if your partner, your child and your work in the world were all portals into that divine love affair? What if you said yes to fully entering it? Knees trembling and heart racing? My heart delights in this possibility.
Radha does not hesitate. She honors her longing and rides it all the way into deeper connection with herself. Two feet in. Wholeheartedly committed. She’s a badass warrior of love and I’m so grateful for her teachings.
I find that as strong, independent women a vital part of our journey towards wholeness is to reconnect and reclaim this innocent way of loving. It is humbling and incredibly vulnerable because it asks us to let another person reaaaally in, deconstructing the idea that we need to protect our hearts, stay “strong” and “have it together”. Allow yourself be needy and tender. Let yourself long for what you long for and open to LOVE. After all, this work is the greatest gift you can give yourself (beyond whether or not it is reciprocated). And remember that true strength resides in your vulnerability (check out Brene Brown’s awe-inspiring work on the power of vulnerability).
This summer Radha taught me about a very different way. As the practices opened and softened my heart, I got a taste of the most exquisite feminine strength. A strength that comes from the depths of my heart and womb. A strength that is soft and spacious and that whispers, “open, love fully, love deeply, do not hold back….I’m here”, “open love fully, love deeply, do not hold back…I’m here”.
And so it is!