I may be a bad hindu in many ways—a hindDON’T, if you will—but I do appreciate the symbolism and the stories of the religion I grew up in.
So if an atheist is allowed a favourite god, mine would be Ganesh.
And not just because he’s a quarter elephant with 4 arms. Or because he’s literally part of the Marvel comics universe (not joking, look it up).
What I like is that he’s considered the remover of obstacles and the god of wisdom.
And like most Hindu gods (and Power Rangers), Ganesh also has a dedicated “vehicle” or animal mount—in his case, a mouse.
I know what you’re thinking: *Someone* drew the shortest straw. Especially when some of the other gods roll through on tigers and lions.
But I like to think this mouse represents those pesky, destructive thoughts—thoughts like envy, fear, anger, regret, “what if” and “never will”—that nibble holes in our happiness.
These unproductive thoughts enjoy biting at our heels and have the potential to become bigger obstacles than anything in front of us. But Ganesh, with the weight of his wisdom (his body too; he’s not the slimmest god), knows he’s bigger than the mouse —these thoughts.
I’m still not sure what “mindfulness” means, or why it seems to be the cure-all for everything today, but I think this at least makes a good metaphor, a powerful reminder, that our own bodies are bigger than our thoughts.
It’s not only what you do to take care of your body, but how much time you spend taking care of your mind and cultivating good mental habits—something I’m trying to focus on as my life gets more hectic.
If we pay attention to ourselves—if we learn to step outside of our minds and put our foot down whenever we feel the need to stray toward negative thoughts—we can stop ourselves from being controlled by our thoughts, from letting them take a piece of our peace of mind.