Imagine this: You wake up eagerly before your alarm goes off, anticipating the day ahead. You’re ready to embark on a new project, and you have so many ideas that you want to explore, you barely know where to start. Once you’ve walked the dog or ushered the kids off to school, you settle in and begin your work. Before you know it, it’s 3 p.m., and you realize you were so engrossed in what you were doing that you forgot to eat lunch. You’ve hardly gone to the bathroom! You were in the flow.
The creative force that fueled you is the goddess Saraswati’s Shakti energy. If that doesn’t sound like your typical day, it might be time to connect with the goddess.
The story of Saraswati
Saraswati is the goddess of learning, speech, and creativity. In Hindu mythology, she was brought to life by Lord Brahma, the god of creation. Brahma had decided to create a world from all of the cosmic chaos, but didn’t know where to begin. To help with this effort, he called forth goddess Saraswati by touching the tip of his tongue. She provided him with the feminine energy, Shakti, and the wisdom he needed to create an organized world.
Saraswati was very beautiful, with big brown eyes and long, lustrous hair. She played music on her veena, a lute-like instrument, and traveled by swan (which is a pretty creative way to get around if you ask me). Saraswati became Brahma’s consort and wife. Enraptured by her beauty, Brahma grew multiple faces so he could look at and admire Saraswati from all different angles. This really annoyed the goddess. Like many marriages, Saraswati and Brahma were not in it for the long haul. Their relationship did not last, as she was more interested in her personal projects and quiet contemplation than in her wifely duties.
The name Saraswati means “to flow.” In earlier Hinduism, some considered Saraswati a river goddess. The actual Saraswati River was very important in the Vedic religion, representing a pathway to the heavens, and Saraswati embodied that river. Later, people more often associated her with knowledge, speech, and creativity. However, the concept of “flow” is still very relevant to Saraswati energy. Whether you desire to have your speech flow purposefully or to be in a state of flow while at work, you can call on Saraswati. Followers of Saraswati petition the goddess to spark a creative idea, help understand a new or complex concept, and speak eloquently.
How Saraswati manifests in modern society
People who have a lot of Saraswati energy are more interested in following their passions and creative callings than in accumulating material possessions or money. These people have an idea, and it’s important for them to bring it to life, no matter what. While they don’t do it for the money, they do like to be recognized for their contributions and creativity.
Author Elizabeth Gilbert is a modern-day example of a Saraswati-inspired woman. In fact, I would consider her book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear a manifesto for anyone who wants to walk hand in hand with Saraswati. In the book, Gilbert says, “Do whatever brings you to life, then. Follow your own fascinations, obsessions, and compulsions. Trust them. Create whatever causes a revolution in your heart.”
The goddess doesn’t want you to play it safe. Saraswati wants you to learn, create, and evolve
It’s important to note that Saraswati creates for the benefit of herself. She doesn’t create to get rich quick or become an influencer, she creates because she has something inside her that needs to be brought to life. Just as society benefits from any talented artist, other people benefit from Saraswati’s creations. She does it because her soul is calling her to do it. It’s her dharma, her life’s purpose.
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a modern-day positive psychologist and author of Flow, believes that happiness and fulfillment are a result of “a state of heightened focus and immersion in activities such as art, play, and work.” You achieve flow when you’re doing something that you really enjoy. Like Saraswati, when someone is creating for themselves and for their higher purpose, they are in the flow. I find it amazing and synchronistic that the meaning of Saraswati’s name — flow — is also the term Csikszentmihalyi uses to represent a state of immersion in a creative pursuit. It makes me believe that all roads lead to one version of the truth. In this case, that manifests as connecting with divinity by engaging in work that lights you up.
How Saraswati showed up for me
I’ve traditionally considered myself a creative, as I was a designer and entrepreneurial spirit. I created and launched several business endeavors, including a pet grocery and self-serve dog wash. Though the business didn’t last, I was always proud of the accomplishment and bringing the idea to life. Sometime in my thirties, I traded my desire to create for stability, money, and benefits. In some ways this was expected, as I was raising two children and was the breadwinner of the family. While the job was great based on that criteria, it wasn’t fueling my creative spark the way previous work had.
Working at a corporate job with back-to-back meetings and a structured methodology was uninspiring. I was going through the motions and doing a good enough job, but with a lack of any real excitement or curiosity. In meetings, I would say all the right things as if I was reading from a script, but there was no heart behind my words. Inspiration had run dry. Looking back at Gilbert’s quote, I was not doing something that brought me to life. I was not speaking my truth or bringing new ideas forward. I was there for the money. I was not in the flow.
It reminds me of a quote from Fight Club: “We work at jobs we hate to buy shit we don’t need.” In my case, a truer word has never been spoken.
After attending the 17th scrum ceremony of the week (that might be a slight exaggeration, but it sure seemed like 17), I felt a presence. It was like Saraswati was sitting next to me in the corporate conference room with fluorescent lighting. She was glaring at me through her long eyelashes, arms folded against her chest. She was wearing a business casual outfit (that she was not happy about, by the way) and basically said, “Either you leave, or I leave.” With that ultimatum in place, I decided to resign.
Though it was scary, it felt like the right thing to do. The first day I woke up without a full-time job in over twenty years, I felt a little unmoored, a little queasy. I was reminded of the expression that ships are safe in the harbor, but ships weren’t built to stay in the harbor. It was time to set my own course and choose work that was meaningful and inspiring to me.
We can’t ask for Saraswati’s inspiration and then ignore it once we receive it. Elizabeth Gilbert explains in Big Magic that an idea is not our own. If we don’t devote the time and energy needed to bring an idea to life, it will move on to someone else. I’m thrilled to now have the time to pursue ideas that have been percolating. They’d been kept on the back burner, since I hadn’t had the time to explore and develop them. It’s tough to predict what the future holds, but at least I won’t look back in 20 years wondering why I didn’t take the time to labor my own creations.
We are most creative and in the flow when we’re not thinking about what needs to be done, but rather doing it without judgment or attachment.
Saraswati reminds us to pursue the things that make our souls light up. That’s why we’re here. It’s not about the huge 401(k) or the McMansion. It’s about learning what excites us and how we can use that to add value to the world. The goddess doesn’t want you to play it safe. Saraswati wants you to learn, create, and evolve. That is our dharma.
A ritual to activate your Saraswati energy
Rituals can help you to connect with the goddess and activate her Shakti energy. To get started, make sure your meditation area is clear and free of clutter. The goddess who flows needs space to create. Make your environment comfortable for Saraswati to stay and inspire. Light a candle or burn some incense, like frankincense, bergamot, or jasmine, to invoke creativity. If you have an altar, make some offerings to Saraswati. It could be an artifact of the project that you are embarking on, or maybe it’s your favorite book or piece of music.
Take a comfortable seat on the floor or on a meditation cushion. Before you begin your meditation, petition Saraswati for help. Where would you like her help? Do you need help initiating a new project? Or maybe you’ve begun a project but don’t know how to complete it. Or perhaps you need inspiration for a new idea. Ask the goddess for help, being as specific as possible.
Next, start an awareness of breath meditation. This meditation’s focus is on observing the breath. Breathe normally, and when your mind starts to wander, which it will, simply bring your focus back to the breath. Observe your mind’s activities non-judgmentally and keep returning to the breath. This will help you develop concentration and give you a sense of your current state of mind. Do this for 5–10 minutes.
After your meditation is complete, get to work. Whether it’s planning your next project or wrapping one up, begin. Try to remove your ego or thoughts about the project and let Saraswati’s Shakti energy lead the way. We are most creative and in the flow when we’re not thinking so much about what needs to be done, but rather doing it without judgment or attachment.
I wish you creativity, passion, and wisdom on your journey.