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New Boundaries, New Beginnings

Sep/24/2023 / by Sweta Vikram

This Ganesha Chaturthi, remove the obstacles to your happiness

Silhouette of happy woman near the shore at sunset
Photo via Shutterstock

Ganesha Chaturthi is still on my mind because of the deep revelations this festival unveils. For those unfamiliar, Ganesha Chaturthi is a Hindu festival celebrated to mark the birth of Lord Ganesha. A few days ago in pranayama class, we talked about Ganesha being the remover of obstacles.

Lord Ganesha rules muladhara chakra, which is the first chakra or root chakra. This chakra is associated with family, stability, and wealth. In Hinduism it’s believed that Ganesha is the root cause of our familial happiness and keeper of peace at home. 

Growth And Happiness 

I have been wondering about our own responsibility in creating happiness. Season 5 of the Netflix show “Virgin River” dropped on September 5th. It’s an intense season of forest fires, heartbreaks, betrayals, forged relationships, renewed friendships, loyalty, losses, and much more. There was a lot that went on this season, and I watched it just before the Ganesha festival. One of the dialogues resonated so deeply that it made me look at myself: “Growth happens when we start to question our own BS behavior.”

My father would say that everyone we meet teaches us a lesson and so does every situation. But we must be open to the idea of teachings pouring in and keeping our egos aside. I am paraphrasing the dialogue that Mel—the lead female character in “Virgin River”—tells her fiancé Jack. She says that he needs to own his part and action in the relationships that have fallen apart. Fundamentally, perhaps we are partially responsible for other people’s behavior and the instability in our lives. 

Being An Emotional Dump 

Recently, there have been a few incidents where I have felt heavy talking to a few people, that feeling where someone has sucked air out of you. Have you ever sensed that too many whiny people have been reaching out to you? Ever receive a phone call where a person only talks about themselves? Notice that the person texting with you completely ignores your messages or any important information you might have mentioned and nonchalantly continues to chat about their saga? At a dinner party, have you been accosted by a stranger who thinks it’s okay to share vile details of their personal life with you? At family gatherings, do you have an aunt or cousin or uncle who cornered you and vented about what’s bothering them or asked you for health recommendations?

See, I answered YES to all the questions above. I had always wondered why even strangers think it’s okay to dump their emotional baggage on me. The elders in the family, including my parents, felt it was okay for them to be raw and vulnerable with me. And when I watched the new season of “Virgin River” I understood why that was happening.

For whatever reason, I attract people who need positive vibes, emotional support, visibility, and encouragement in their lives. I am often the designated secret-bearer in many of my relationships and nurturer for the extremely insecure. People don’t realize that like yoga and writing, I practice happiness. Most of us don’t just wake up happy, we work towards it. 

Evolving And Transforming

Normally, I don’t consider this a big deal because I am able to juggle 50 million people’s emotional chaos. But I am exhausted right now. Grief is depleting and even after four months, I am still healing, so my energy levels are low too. I am also evolving and transforming. This means I don’t have the bandwidth for negativity and sagas. With both my parents gone, I am also fiercely protective of the child in me who realizes there is no one looking out for her unconditionally.

I go back to the show “Virgin River”. We are partially responsible for other people’s behavior and the de-stability in our lives. When you pause to reflect why something keeps happening to you, the truth reveals itself. I started to notice a pattern. We show up as different people depending on who we are with. The same uncle or aunt can be courteous or rude depending on which family member with whom they are interacting. The same boss or colleague are capable of being compassionate or a bully depending on how others accommodate their behavior. 

Drawing Boundaries

Somewhere I “permitted” people to treat me like an emotional dumpster because I offered safe space and zero judgment. That’s not a bad quality, but there must be a boundary that conveys this is too much. Maybe I even enabled certain people’s toxic behavior because I gave the green signal to show up as they are/were even when I was at the worst phase of my life.

Ganesha is known as the “keeper of thresholds”—he protects the entryways of many homes and temples across the world. I hadn’t protected the entrance to my energy field or limited certain people’s access to it.

Removing Obstacles

Ganesha is considered the lord of new beginnings. On his birthday this Ganesha Chaturthi, I cut the cords of attachment to old ways. I started to shift how I spent my energy without apologies. I informed people that I had a friends and family rate for my Ayurvedic counseling sessions, but I was no longer going to offer healing for free.

I do pro bono work for those who can’t afford it (for example, incarcerated men and women as well as survivors of violence). I sought out friends and peers who lifted my spirits  and people who brainstormed ideas with me. I didn’t end any old relationships but limited the access that needy and clingy people had to me.

Lord Ganesha is also called vignaharta, which roughly translates to the remover of obstacles. I also reminded myself that Ganesha can remove obstacles only if I remember to not become one. If you think honestly and meditate deeply, you’ll realize that often we ourselves are the hindrance in our path of happiness because we don’t stop to question if we are responsible for people’s bad behavior.

 “People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don’t believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and if they can’t find them, make them.” ~ George Bernard Shaw

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