I took my very first yoga teacher training back in 2003 at Mount Madonna with Baba Hari Dass.
During the training, Baba Hari Dass gifted me the spiritual name of Ambika. It was written on a small piece of paper with a brief meaning and handed to me by one of his assistants. I was honored and humbled to receive such a gift. When I read the words and the meaning, it sounded beautiful but I did not feel a connection to it at the time. So I decided to hold onto that piece of paper as a special gift and reminder of my time up at the Ashram.
Ambika is another name for Durga, the Hindu Deity or Warrior Goddess of protection and inner strength, of whom I had not met yet nor knew anything about.
I was introduced to Durga 3 years later in 2006. She came into my reality through a friend’s mention of her and through hearing mantra sung in her name. I felt a strong pull towards her and was immediately drawn to learn more. Once I learned more, I immediately felt a resonance with a deeper part of myself, an aspect of her that was me. She was an archetype that lay within me but not fully cultivated, yet waiting inside of me. What I did not realize at the time was that my draw to her was that part of me calling me out in a much bigger way. That feeling was the call to know myself more in the ways of deep inner strength. I was meant to embody that energy, her energy and completely.
At that time in my life I was going through some pretty difficult challenges in what turned into a toxic relationship. I called upon Durga to assist me in getting out of a situation that I was stuck in and did not know the way out. I used mantra, invoked her name, danced and prayed to her. And I did this for about 2 years straight. Well, little did I know that within that 2 years, my world was going to be turned upside down and that every experience I had from that point on was Durga holding up a mirror illuminating to me how I was creating the drama and stuck-ness within my life and own being. Humbling to say the least yet incredibly empowering. As difficult as it was, I loved every minute because I knew some deep un-serving patterns were being gutted and I was going to come out not only alive but way stronger than before.
So knowing and trusting this energy I was calling in, I embraced it and was on for the ride.
Well within that time, I completely fell in love with Durga Ma and have since had her close to me, worked with her and feel her energy and presence within me.
Summer 2014, 11 years later, (and the number 11 being an auspicious number of synchronicity) as my spiritual practice continued to blossom, I felt a strong feeling inside me that it was time to have a spiritual name. I decided rather than hunt for the name, I would put it out there and let the name find me.
So I went on personal retreat and brought my favorite book by one of my teachers by Sally Kempton called Awakening Shakti. I decided to skip to the chapter on Durga and re-read about the Goddess I had such an affinity for.
I read all kinds of inspiring and empowering attributes and symbolism and then I got to the end of the chapter where Sally goes into mantras for Durga, colors associated with her, her symbolism as a force of inner revolution and a list of alternate names. This is where my body got the chills and my hair stood on end. The very first name on the top of that list was Ambika. I had not seen or heard that name uttered once since it was given to me by Baba Hari Dass back at Mount Madonna 11 years earlier. I sat there staring at the page with a big smile on my face and a softness in my Heart.
A full auspicious 11 years later, the name Ambika came back around yet completely and utterly perfect. I knew her. I understood her. She was an integrated part of me. And when I read the name Ambika in that moment, it fit. It resonated deeply and it was clear this was my spiritual name all along.
So, it is my given AND chosen spiritual name. And it has great meaning. And now having this as my spiritual name, I know that relationship will only deepen and become more refined in ways I could only imagine and in ways I have yet to know.
Aum Dum Durgaye Namaha!