Meet Ganesha

Have you ever had one of those days where you were late for work (again), you forgot to do that assignment (again), you forgot your lunch at home and have to eat out (again), you decided to finally walk outside but step in doggie dodoo, you agreed to something you knew you couldn't commit to (again) while your to-do list is growing and now you're running on fumes? No matter how much you try it seems like you just can't escape your problems. Or perhaps, these are just the tip of the iceberg for you.  

Now is the perfect time to welcome Ganesha into your life. He is the elephant-headed figure from Indian mythology and a deity of the Hindu tradition. He represents the ability to overcome obstacles with resilience and he urges us to axe our attachments with the past. Ganesha is a great guide and protector no matter how difficult the obstacle or how high the hurdle. His presence is a reminder to find focus in the mind, stability in the body, fearlessness along the path and sweetness in the morsel of the present moment. The next time you find yourself in a frustrating situation, imagine a red, pot-bellied, elephant-headed figure, riding in on a mouse, holding sweets in one hand and an axe in the other, ready to cheer you up AND take care of the situation. Here are some of the many ways that Ganesha can appear in your life: 


The Remover of Obstacles

Ganesha (Sanskrit: ganeṣa) is known all over the world and across traditions as the "Remover of Obstacles," deity of wisdom and slayer of writer's block.  He represents the power we have to overcome the unexpected difficulties and troubles that life brings to us. 

In Sanskrit, he is given the epithet of "Vighneśvara" meaning 'the master of what agitates us.' As a yogi, it implies that Ganesha has developed complete control over anxious and disturbing impulses. He is practiced in subduing any forces of impediment. As an archetypal guru his job is to place obstacles and setbacks along our path (just as much as he removes them) so that we can gain the fortitude to overcome them. Take a moment to think about what you really want in your career and your partnerships. What really matters to you? What areas of your life need some clearing out? What obstacles are preventing you from manifesting your greatest reality?  Through Ganesha we learn that "the obstacle indeed is the path" and thus also becomes skilled in averting future problems for ourselves. Obstacles "check" us and keep us alert with awareness fixed upon the present moment. 


Ganesha on guard as the "protector" at the entrance of a Balinese compound.

Ganesha on guard as the "protector" at the entrance of a Balinese compound.


The Guardian of the Gates

Ganesha is also widely known as the "Keeper of Thresholds"  and so his symbolic presence adorns and protects the entryways of many homes and temples across the world. But he isn't just the keeper of gates in the physical realm...  he guards the doors of our perception influencing our senses and how we experience the subtle elements.  We can call upon Ganesha to dispel our negative self-talk and to keep out feelings of self-doubt. 

Ganesha is our guide when we wish to refine our senses. In this way he represents the practice of pratyāhāra or sense withdrawal. Sense withdrawal is the intentional restriction or limiting of focus from the external to the internal. This redirection of awareness by closing off the senses of perception to outside stimuli is an incredible effective tool to dissolve mental barriers, blocks, or hinderances. By overcoming mental blocks, you are able to more powerfully rein in scattered, anxious, or distracted energy.

pratyāhāra : practice of closing off the 'gates of perception' and directing sense-awareness inward

muladhara-cakra : the root cakra or subtle-energy center associated with the earth element

 kundalini shakti life-force energy aroused when desire meets potential

Sense withdrawal can be practiced anytime, anywhere through meditation, the use of sensory deprivation tanks, or by using eye masks and ear plugs to block out distracting sights and sounds. In this space of meditative focus transformative energy is said to awaken at the first cakra (subtle-energy center at the base of the spine where matter and spirit meet). This transformative energy holds the power of unlimited, rising potential and activates the energetic center that propels the wheel of life. Esoteric systems refer to this energy as kundalini shakti. When kundalini shakti is activated in the root chakra, it rises up the channels along the spine, leading to energetic transformation.

Because it resides at the base of the spine and symbolizes the foundations of all earthly existence, this first cakra is known as the root-cakra (Sanskrit: muladhara-chakra). It governs the basic needs we have as embodied beings from establishing a sense of stability and security within ourselves, to more basic needs such as access to food, water and safe shelter. This chakra is also known as the source of all outward, creative manifestation. Instinct, memory, and will are also represented by the root cakra which is often symbolized by the color red, the color of our beloved pot-bellied Ganesha. It is associated with the earth element that grounds us and reminds us of our humble human condition. Concentration and meditation on the root chakra amplifies our connection with the earth.


Ganesha as the King of Wisdom and Mental Discrimination

Ganesha as the King of Wisdom and Mental Discrimination


The Master of the Mind

As the "Master of the Mind" Ganesh is the embodiment of intelligence and discrimination (Sanskrit: viveka). He is often pictured as a king or raja who reigns over our senses and mental space. Ganesha is that force guiding and supporting your inner wisdom. This inner wisdom exists as creative intelligence beyond duality. It is always there and available to you in moments of silent stillness. As the "Master of the Mind" he appears as the head-master, Gaṇapati, meaning the leader or guide of a group/assemblage. Guiding us to see through the Gates of Perception, Ganesha helps us access the assemblage of memories, experiences, and knowledge we have accumulated in life to attune and activate our intuition or "deep inner knowing." To tap into this archetypal power, use your knowledge and experience to activate your intuition. Listen to your body and trust your gut to make the best decisions for you. When we tap into intuition, creative energy flows through us and endeavors in the arts and sciences are embarked upon with ease. When you make decisions from this place of wisdom, you will feel alignment in every aspect of your being: body, mind, and spirit. 

Ganesha is also the patron deity of writing and scholarship. If you are undertaking a writing assignment, call upon Ganesha to be your literary guide. He will put your mind at ease to allow blocked creativity to flow freely. Visualize your move from abstract idealism to concrete reality by crafting your own powerful, visual story. Free associate or journal and notice what ideas spark your passion. What makes your eyes dance? What fills your speech with love? What brings fullness to your life?  


Lord of New Beginnings

Ganesha is often evoked as the "Lord of New Beginnings" at the start of rites, rituals, and ceremonies.  Ganesha bestows blessings of prosperity and success as well as offers guidance and protection for devotees undertaking new or unfamiliar endeavors. Standing at the threshold between the old and new, the familiar and unfamiliar, and the past and the future, he clears the path to make way for whatever lies ahead in both personal and professional life. Ganesha can be called upon or brought to mind as a source of inspiration. In his child form, Ganesha represents potential for growth, greatness and transformation. 

Baby Ganesha, as a symbol of growth and potential, with his divine parents Parvati and Shiva

Baby Ganesha, as a symbol of growth and potential, with his divine parents Parvati and Shiva


If you find yourself at a crossroads between habitual patterns and possible new beginnings, ask yourself: Does it advance you forward in your personal or professional path? Or does it distract you?  If any heavy emotions or thoughts are weighing you down, consider dropping them. Rather than accepting the story others have given us, we can reclaim personal power by writing our own. Re-write your own story line and manifest your own vision of your self. If you're unhappy with your old ways, now is the time to start anew. Get clear about your life vision or "story" with a goal setting session. Use visualization to re-create yourself over and again. If you feel lost or overwhelmed, it's ok! Sit with whatever comes up and know that Ganesha is on your side. Give yourself some space to simply sit and breathe. 

As the "Lord of New Beginnings" Ganesha guides us into the future with a gesture and attitude of fearless (Sanskrit: abhaya-mudra). This mudra is done with the right hand held up with the palm facing out and it serves as a reminder to overcome fear with faith. Ganesha also keeps us connected with our sweetest desires and soul yearnings. Allow Ganesha to lead the way into new, unfamiliar and unknown. He will cut the cords of attachment to old ways and grant you access to the deeper realms of your being. He will support the use of your intuition and wisdom as you embark on a new path toward your greatest, most elevated self.  With oneness of mind and single-pointed devotion, you can achieve anything.

Ganesha Mantra

If you ever feel frustrated, stuck, or blocked by negative energy, bring an archetype of Ganesha to mind or evoke the qualities of Ganesha with a mantra. Mantras are vibrational patterns used to dispel destructive negative energetic forces. They are the ultimate armor to protect oneself against bad vibes. 


Repeat this Ganesha mantra at several moments throughout the day:

Om Gam Ganapataye Namah 
om gam ganapataye namah

Pronounce the mantra syllable-by-syllable. Keep repeating the mantra in a steady, relaxed manner. As you repeat the mantra, visualize Ganesha as one of his archetypal qualities: The Remover of Obstacles, The Guardian of the Gates, The Master of the Mind, or The Lord of New Beginnings. 


"I evoke the essence of Ganesha...

the Master of the Mind,
the Guardian of the Gates
the Lord of New Beginnings
the Remover of All Obstacles,