The costumes we wear all year long...

Halloween is a big deal around my house, better than Christmas! My kiddos love dressing up and trying out new personas, especially the really scary or odd characters that are so far from their everyday nature. It reminds me of the way we try on different costumes all through our lives. I’ve been through times when I wore my hippy costume, my sorority girl costume, my super-organized-got-my-act-together costume, my I’m-not-cool-enough-for-those-people costume…. so many costumes…

One of my favorite teachings in the yoga philosophy is about the 3 malas. A mala (not the same as the mala bead necklace- this mala should have an accent over the first a: said Muhla) is a covering, a veil or cloak: the dusty film that conceals our true nature. As humans we all experience wearing these masks, they are the disguises of disconnection.

Anava mala is the costume we wear when we feel that we are less-than. We can recognize this mask when we are telling stories about not being good enough: when we criticize the way we look, the way we parent, that we’re not smart enough or we don’t have anything of value to offer the world. Anava mala hides our connection to self-as-source. We forget that we are perfect in our imperfections, that our unique nature is exactly what makes us divine. It is the cloak of Lack. We drag around in our watery-dreary-darkness costume that conceals our own light from us.

How does this mask show up in pregnancy, birth or motherhood? Maybe it sounds like this: 🌀I don’t know what I’m doing
🌀I don’t have time to get the nursery done before the baby comes
🌀I can’t have the birth experience I want
🌀My body failed me
🌀 I’m not losing the baby weight fast enough
🌀I should do the dishes instead of napping
🌀Why is this so hard for me
🌀I’m not a good mom/wife/employee


And on and on and on... when you start talking to yourself this way it’s a pretty sure sign you’ve been wearing anava mala! When I find myself dressing up like this I call on one of my favorite “mantras” to help me shed the covering:


I have enough
I do enough
I am enough


Sometimes it works the first time and sometimes I have to repeat it all day long…

Mayia mala is the disguise we wear when we feel that we are better-than. We can see that we’re wearing this costume when we tell stories about being separate or different from others. When we judge others for their beliefs, the choices they make or how they look. We stand in superiority because our way of doing life is better than that other persons way of doing it. We forget that person is also an expression of the divine, through their own way of being. Mayia mala disconnects us and veils our ability to see other-as-source. It is the cloak of excess. We tromp around in our indignant-fiery-arrogant costume that blocks out the light from others.

How does mayia mala show up during pregnancy, birth and motherhood? It might look like this:

🔸I can’t believe she had the baby at home, that’s so dangerous!
🔸She’s choosing a c-section, doesn’t she know how bad those are?!
🔸How can she complain about a traumatic birth, mine was waaay worse!
🔸My MIL is evil, she acts like I can’t raise my own child
🔸My partner isn’t helping out at all, he’s zoned out on sports center all night 🔸Why do they buy that kid $90 jeans?
🔸She probably got a boob job, mommy-make-over thing
🔸How is her house so clean?
🔸They have no clue how hard it is for me, they’re totally out of touch and unwoke


And so on...mayia mala is the mask that turns our shadows outward and we hyper-focus on other people. When judgement and comparison set in, mayia mala is the disguise 🎭

This one is tough to own! No one wants to admit they’re being judge-y 🙊 It helps me to reframe it and call it separate-y. I’m trying to disconnect from my own fears and insecurities by trying to be separate and better than other people’s fears and insecurities.
Do I have a favorite mantra for this? Yes I do!

What part of me do I see in you?

And finally, Karma mala…But first, a note about karma. Ever heard this: karma’s a bitch, what goes around comes around, karma saw that, you get what you deserve etc...? Well, that’s a misunderstanding about what karma is: Karma is about action. Here’s a great explanation from Sadhguru: “Every moment of your life, you perform action: physically, mentally, emotionally, and energy- wise. Each action creates a certain memory. That is Karma”.

Karma mala is the heavy robe of restricted action. When we wear this costume we are unable to show up ways that are life-affirming. We experience helplessness, depression, anxiety, judgement, fear and anger in our interactions with ourselves and with others. This weighty costume is often a result of wearing one, or both of the other two disguises. Our ability to live freely, in awareness and joy, is hampered by the masks of disconnection from source. We forget that we are are connected to each other and to something much bigger than ourselves.

How does karma mala show up in pregnancy, birth and motherhood? Maybe it looks like this:

⚠️ Feeling bad about how much weight we’ve gained and then eating a pint of ice cream to numb that feeling. ⚠️ Making up a story about why we can’t get to a coffee date with a friend because we’re embarrassed to tell her we’re too tired (or depressed or anxious) to leave the house. ⚠️ Lashing out at our partner because the house is a mess (while secretly blaming ourselves for it)
⚠️Yelling at the person (also maybe cussing and using hand gestures) that doesn’t use the turn signal while we’re driving about in our can’t-you-see-I’m-late-for-soccer suit.
⚠️ Punishing our child for acting in a way that is upsetting or triggering for us (and probably mirrors our own behavior).

Acting, saying, feeling or doing things that keep us from our authentic nature is a signal we’re wearing the karma mala cape (with a side of anava and/or mayia mala). You bet I wear this one! And yes, I’ve got a mantra for it too.


The action i take ⚡️
The energy i create⚡️
Is the life i make⚡️

The good news? They’re just costumes! We’re all at a costume party called LIFE. It’s not our true nature to wear these coverings but it is our true nature to forget that. We put them on, take them off, put them back on again… the masks are a manifestation of the divine acts of concealment and revelation. Give yourself a break and have some compassion for your desire to play dress-ups. We all do it:) When we can find empathy for the ways we hide ourselves and wear our favorite disguises, we can find empathy when others do the same. Being able to look past the human facade allows us to see what lies beneath: beauty, love, peace, connection and joy. In yourself. In other people.

Have fun at the party, y’all!

Alicia Poldino