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What Is Ahimsa And How To Practice It In Everyday Life?

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All life in this world has a Divine origin and the same beginning. This means that by harming someone, we harm ourselves and our karma. Therefore, we should always keep in mind that all living beings have a soul and can feel pain. An immortal soul is incarnated on Earth from one being to another in order to complete a long path of spiritual evolution. But it is only in human form that it finds the opportunity to find out the Divine truth. This is the basis of the Ahimsa principle that I want to discuss in this article.

What Is Ahimsa?

Ahimsa is a principle of nonviolence which applies to all living beings. This principle is inspired by the premise that all living beings have the spark of the divine spiritual energy and therefore, to hurt another being is to hurt oneself.

Ahimsa means the absence of the qualities that accompany the manifestation of evil in all possible forms — in thought, speech, and actions.

However, it would be a mistake to understand Ahimsa as the need to remain passive in any situation. In fact, we need to understand that passive non-resistance to evil can lead to harmful consequences. You should not allow others to destroy you by reacting to the wave of evil directed at you. However, you should know how to resist any energy attacks from others.

To do this, you should learn to defend yourself without showing negative emotions and aggressive responses. It is necessary to train yourself to maintain a state of balance and calmness impassively and unshakably.

Only then any “attacks” will not be able to hit you energetically, and you will not react with negative responses, and the wave of evil directed at you will be neutralized without causing harm, colliding with a wall of counteracting energies of calm and fortitude. It is necessary to defend yourself without allowing evil in the heart.

Ahimsa And Violence

Now let’s take a closer look at different expressions of violence and how Ahimsa can help us overcome this negativity.

1. Anger, hatred, aggression and all the resulting consequences (quarrels, swearing, violence, murder, physical harm, etc.).

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Any external manifestations of anger, hatred and other negative emotions have a hidden internal source, which is the rejection of oneself.

In no case should Ahimsa be understood as containing the anger that has arisen, which will entail undesirable consequences in one form or another. It is important not to allow it to occur at all.

The energy of anger is destructive. All our actions will sooner or later respond to us in the same way, and the destructive energy that you “bestowed” on the world around you will inevitably return to you. This is the law of karma.

However, it is always very difficult to not allow anger to control you. Therefore, if you still get angry sometimes, it is essential to learn how to control this feeling. If you feel that anger is coming, try to distance yourself from the situation and think about whether the reason for the anger is so significant. Taking time to think about it will give you an opportunity to calm down, analyze everything and make a reasonable judgment.

Any manifestation of aggression and hatred is a reflection of our subconscious attitude to ourselves. Until we learn to accept ourselves as we really are, we will not like anything in the outside world that doesn’t match our expectations. If you love yourself, you love God in yourself. This sincere love leads to acceptance of everything that exists in this world. The desire to criticize, be offended, or be angry disappears as soon as we learn what true self-love is.

2. Participation in animal killing

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Veganism is one of the main ethical aspects of Ahimsa. Fortunately, nowadays there are more and more people started to realize this simple thing: when we eat meat, we support violence (even if we did not participate in the killing of the animal).

There is also an opinion that the cells of a killed animal “remember” its fear, aggression, despair, which it experienced before death. And along with the meat, a person swallows these negative emotions, which then begin to “germinate” in him.

I often hear from people that they can’t stop eating meat or give up on dairy or seafood. And then they try to “make a deal” with their karma: “I won’t eat meat, but I will replace it with fish or shrimp”. I’m not sure what kind of logic they follow in this kind of choice but for God, there is no difference between a pig’s life and a shrimp’s life, or between a human baby’s life and a chick. Therefore, it is pointless to try to negotiate this deal with your karma. Each life has to be valued equally!

It goes without saying that we are not able to control every step we take so as not to step on some bug. Unfortunately, it is impossible to prevent such “accidents”. Since no choice was made, your responsibility for such acts is less. However, if you were given a choice, then, following the principle of Ahimsa, you can always get around the insect on your way. In this case, you are not causing harm. Don’t forget that we are creating our own future every second, every minute. Therefore it is so important to always stay mindful!

3. The use of other living beings

ahimsa and zoo image

In our modern society, for some reason, it has become the norm to use others for selfish purposes, without thinking about what they may feel.

People go to circuses, take children to zoos, without thinking about the fact it’s not a natural environment for the animals and they may suffer there. Animal exploitation in circuses and zoos creates very bad karma for everyone who participates in it (including the ones who pay for watching it).

You see, every time we pay for something, we sponsor it. Think about what you invest your money in the most. Does it make our planet a better place or cause more suffering in the world? This is the question that needs to be asked before every purchase you make!

Animals suffer from loneliness and lack of attention in the cages of their prisons – zoos. They develop an abnormal, stereotypical behavior called zoochosis. A survey of zoos around the world has shown that this phenomenon is widespread.

Zoos often sell or kill animals that no longer attract visitors. Others are sold for meat or given to research laboratories.

Circuses are in fact a prime example of animal cruelty. All circus tricks are unnatural for wild animals, so they will never do them themselves, of their own free will. And the process of training includes cruel bullying to “make” them perform and do tricks.

Do you think animals enjoy this? They came to this world to live! To live in freedom, and not in a gloomy cage of a prison-zoo, and not to please thousands of curious eyes looking at the circus arena, in order to have some fun.

4. Environmental pollution (household waste, chemical emissions, non-recyclable garbage).

ahimsa and pollution image

The consumer lifestyle is ruthlessly destroying the ecosystem of our planet. The problem of ecology is particularly acute in recent years. Human influence on nature leads to the impossibility of its self-healing.

The ecological crisis is caused by the manifestation of human selfishness. Mountains of garbage that man has littered the planet, deforestation, pollution of the hydrosphere with oil products and heavy metals, the removal of huge masses of minerals from the earth’s bowels, the depletion of the world’s oceans, the toxification of the earth with pesticides, herbicides and nitrates, the destruction of thousands of species of plants and animals, and the pollution of the atmosphere with harmful substances are all the actions that cause bad karma.

Ahimsa Of Thoughts

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Ahimsa also means not causing harm with our thoughts. The evil that is done in thoughts is not obvious. It has a hidden form. However, the damage that a single negative thought can do to someone can be truly enormous, because it is not limited in its action. Therefore, its occurrence will necessarily lead to a certain consequence, favorable or not — it depends on the nature of the thought. It may seem that the results of our thoughts are invisible. However, the energy of thought is the root of all phenomena.

Have you heard the saying: “If you want to change the world, start with yourself”? And this saying can be applied to Ahimsa.

You see, we also build our inner world in our thoughts. Therefore it is essential not to allow their adverse manifestations. Remember that the thought that is born in you, first of all, poisons you, attracting the corresponding vibrations in the surrounding space. Self-poisoning occurs with your own evil thoughts! Do not create this poisonous energy in yourself and do not allow others to “infect” you with negative emotions.

When we judge and criticize other people, we resent their nature, thus showing our rejection of the divine plan. It is better not to judge at all. When I deal with negative people, I like to remind myself that the best judge is karma. Karma will eventually take care of every act people do, whether it is good or bad. And it is not your job to analyze what people do wrong and criticize them.

It is important to understand that it is impossible to correct another person. We should always remember that everyone suffers from destructive passions and emotions, being in the captivity of their own illusions. Other people’s shortcomings are always in front of us, and we turn our back on our own. Let’s always look back at ourselves — this will make us more tolerant of other people’s vices.

How to practice Ahimsa?

Now let me share with you how you can start practicing ahimsa in your everyday life. Here are 4 ways to start with!

#1: Wish others well

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This simple practice in a short time will teach you to treat people more warmly and impartially, which means that you yourself will become more loving and kind. Another variation is to practice a mental bow to everyone you meet.

#2: Don’t respond negatively to negativity

This is one of the main rules I accepted for myself long time ago.

If someone shows you a negative attitude, the first automatic reaction is to express negativity back. As a result, we only multiply it. Moreover, in such a battle we waste so much energy that can be used for something more important! Instead of talking back with negativity, stop right there and ask yourself the questions: “Is this my emotion or am I just reflected it? Do I really need it now? Is it really necessary to respond?”.

If you stop yourself from unnecessary verbal battles, you will not only save your energy from waste but will also help another person not to attract more negativity.

#3: Take care of your body

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Yes, Ahimsa is also an act of nonviolence towards ourselves. Your body should be always treated with the love and respect that the Spirit that lives in it deserves.

When we eat too much or poison ourselves with toxic products, our bodies are forced to spend all their resources on digesting and removing all these toxins. When we don’t take care of our own bodies we violate the Ahimsa principle. Eating light, healthy food, exercising, meditating – are also ways to practice Ahimsa.

#4: Take care of your mind

Similarly, you should take care of your mind. To do this, learn to always pay attention to what information you consume. The flow of negative news that leads to a state of despondency, movies with violent scenes that cause a sense of fear — all this “clogs” the mind and shifts the focus towards the negative.

To practice, Ahimsa means to minimize the information noise that provokes negative emotions. The less negative emotions you have, the more peaceful you become. And if you are peaceful and calm, you won’t be able to cause suffering for other beings.

The Bottom Line

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Our planet, as well as all living beings, has its own aura. The Earth’s aura consists of the auras of all the creatures that live on it. Thus, all of us together create the main tone of the aura of our planet. We all need to realize what a great responsibility we have. It depends on each of us what kind of energy the Earth radiates into outer space — malevolent or benevolent. As soon as we fully realize that our existence should not be accompanied by the satisfaction of egoistic needs, the principle of Ahimsa becomes a natural way of life.

Katya Ki is the Founder of SOLANCHA Magazine, a Metaphysical Expert, a Reiki Master, and Human Rights Attorney. She has been studying Eastern metaphysics, cosmology, and esotericism for almost 20 years now. And she's still discovering new knowledge, which is hidden in ancient teachings. During her pilgrimage to the monastery of Saint Catherine in Egypt, she discovered the SOLANCHA System. This is how the SOLANCHA journey started!

Spirituality

Ishvara Pranidhana: The Art Of Living For a Higher Purpose

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Are you one of those who sincerely turn to the path of knowledge of spiritual truths, the search for the meaning of life, the comprehension of the essence of being? Do you seek to understand the nature of your Soul and your true purpose? Then you are one of those spiritual wonderers who is able to see the world beyond the material limitations of the physical world and strive to live your life for a higher purpose. In this article, I want to introduce you to Ishvara Pranidhana which means attunement to the supreme consciousness. The practice of this Divine principle will help you to plant in your heart the highest degree of piety through which the mind comes to Samadhi.

Yoga Sutras Of Patanjali

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali are a collection of 196 Sanskrit sutras on the theory and practice of yoga. It describes the goals of yoga and the principles of techniques needed to achieve them.

The two first stages that the Sutras describe are the principles of Yama and Niyama.

Yama is a set of ethical norms that teach us to communicate with others in the right way.

There are five Yamas:

  1. Ahiṃsā (अहिंसा): Nonviolence, non-harming other living beings.
  2. Satya (सत्य): truthfulness, non-falsehood.
  3. Asteya (अस्तेय): non-stealing.
  4. Brahmacharya (ब्रह्मचर्य): chastity, marital fidelity, or sexual restraint.
  5. Aparigraha (अपरिग्रहः): non-avarice, non-possessiveness.

Niyama is the step of forming self-discipline and uplifting spirituality.

Five Niyamas are:

  1. Saucha (शौच): purity, clearness of mind, speech, and body.
  2. Santosha (सन्तोष): contentment, acceptance of others, and of one’s circumstances as they are, optimism for self.
  3. Tapas (तपस): austerity, self-discipline, persistent meditation, perseverance.
  4. Svadhyaya (स्वाध्याय): the study of self, self-reflection, introspection of self’s thoughts, speeches, and actions.
  5. Ishvara Pranidhana (ईश्वरप्रणिधान): contemplation of the Ishvara (God/Supreme Being, Brahman, True Self, Unchanging Reality), attunement to the supreme consciousness.

All these principles are interdependent. If you break one of the Yamas or Niyamas, you are bound to break the others. And if you improve in the practice of one principle, then the practice of other yamas and niyamas will also be improved.

For example, if you violate Satya by allowing yourself to lie, you will not be able to practice Ahimsa. Or, if you do not observe the principle of Saucha and pollute your body and mind, it will be difficult for you to practice Brahmacharya.

What Is Ishvara Pranidhana?

What Is Ishvara Pranidhana Image

Ishvara Pranidhana is the fifth niyama described Patanjali which means the contemplation of the Ishvara (God/Supreme Being, Brahman, True Self, Unchanging Reality), or attunement to the supreme consciousness.

Ishvara is a Sanskrit word that can be translated as “supreme, God, the Absolute Brahman, True Self, or Unchanging Reality”. Pranidhana means “dedication, devotion, or surrender”.

In the Upanishads, the word Isvara means “a state of collective consciousness”. In this sense, there isn’t a Godlike figure we are supposed to worship or devote our actions to, rather ‘God’ represents a state of collective consciousness, and therefore represents all of us too.

Thus, the fifth niyama teaches us to surrender to God or Higher self, meaning, cultivating a deep and trusting relationship with the universe and making each action an offering to something bigger than us.

A person who practices Ishvara Pranidhana, dedicates the merits of his actions to the Supreme, and coordinates every step he takes (all actions, thoughts, words) with the expediency for the benefit of spiritual development. He is not looking for personal gain, his actions are pure and sincere.

Thus, when we are talking about the practice of Ishvara Pranidhana, we mean our complete surrender to God (our own higher self). If we can dedicate our lives to serving the God that dwells within everything and everyone, we will move beyond all feelings of separateness and free ourselves from the dualistic mindset. If we can say without reservation, “I give You myself: my body, my mind, and my heart, to serve the Highest Good of all,” then we will be freed from the stress, anxiety, self-doubt, as well as from negative karma.

The Idea Of Surrendering

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In our modern society, the feelings of separateness and disconnection prevail. Ego and pride are people’s main motivators, and being strong and domineering over others are the main qualities of successful people. Most of us silently accepted that this is how life goes and there is nothing we can do about it. Our egos made us believe that we, human beings, are somehow in control of the universe. Therefore, the very idea of surrendering seems like something negative, as it implies a sort of weakness or defeat.

Our minds were programmed since ancient times that surrender means losing. This belief comes from military terminology where surrender means the opposition to the victory. And it makes sense since the very nature of any war or competition is built on duality. For us, human beings, it’s normal to see surrender as something bad because our minds are stuck in the duality and it’s hard to see something beyond these limited paradigms.

In spirituality, however, we don’t limit our beliefs with “right or wrong” labels. Instead, we are learning to see the hidden meanings of everything by overcoming the dualistic mindset. Thus, victory is attained as we willingly surrender our limited idea of who we are (i.e. our name, our jobs, our problems, etc.) and create the space needed to feel our true Self, our Divine Spark which is limitless.

Surrender requires self-discipline, trust, and faith. Ultimately it will take far more effort to cling to the smallness of the ego than it will surrender the Higher self.

Applying the Practice of Isvara Pranidhana to Life

#1: Examine your path

Isvara Pranidhana Definition Image

Start with introspection. Ask yourself what you are guided by in your life when you choose the path that you follow throughout your earthly incarnation. After all, intentions are the main criterion that reflects the sincerity of your actions, words, and thoughts.

Examine your path, the purpose you live for. Are your intentions dictated by ego, prestige, greed, or pride?

Think about your strongest motivation in life. Are you motivated by selfish motives? Or, is every action you do aim at improving this world, creating good, bringing light and love, joy and warmth to this world? Answer these questions honestly. What do you live for? A sincere answer to this question will clarify for you the meaning of your existence and direct you to the true path of life.

#2: Practice letting go and non-attachment

Letting go of the fruits of our actions and non-attachment are a focal point of the Bhagavad Gita

If we’ve put a lot of effort into something, we often get attached to a result of our actions. Questions like: “Will they like me?”, “What if I’m not good enough?”, “Will my project be successful?” are perfect examples of attachments to a result. All this worrying about things we have no control over is the main cause of our suffering.

Instead of worrying and focusing on the result, concentrate on the process and the idea of service – meaning, dedication of the process of doing to God. In this case, you’ll be fully engaged in the action without thinking about what might or might not happen.

The practice of surrendering requires us to acknowledge that we can do our very best in each situation, but we can’t really do any more than that. Realizing this simple truth essentially allows us to fully engage and be present in what we’re doing, bringing all our energy to the present moment and experiencing it fully just for what it is.

Such attitude to the process helps us to develop trust and faith that are essential for our spiritual development.

You can do the same action with or without God. However, when you’re doing it without God (guided by ego) you’re facing all kinds of challenges, obstacles, worries, and suffering. But when you’re acting with God (focusing on offering your action to the Divine), you know that any outcome is beneficial because this is what God wants. This approach gives you satisfaction with any result – because you have your trust and faith that whatever happens as a result of your actions is for the highest good for all.

#3: Stay open

Awakening during Brahma Muhurta hour image

In our daily life, Isvara Pranishana can be also seen as an opening up to what isThat is, instead of fighting against life’s twists and turns, you are remaining open to experiencing life as it unfolds.  

When we are remaining fixed and rigid in our conditioned patterns, habits, and limitations, we are doomed to a limited life. Whereas surrendering has an expansive nature that boosts your development. Surrendering is hugely challenging because it means transcending the ego, and the ego will do everything it can to stay in control over your mind.

Worries, conditioning, judgments, and perceptions are the “hooks” that the ego pulls us by. Without those “hooks” the ego would not exist. Therefore, it tries desperately to cling on when we work on quietening it.

Surrendering requires trust in the Universe and the courage to express ourselves for who we are, as we are. Each time we choose to surrender, we move closer to freedom. 

Conclusion

When we see ourselves as a part of one whole, we are no longer in the illusion of separation (duality). This leads to the emergence of healthy altruism towards all living beings and a sincere desire to share the divine light of our hearts, which becomes possible due to the disclosure of this light in our souls. When we observe the principle of Ishvara Pranidhana we become free from egoistic motivations in our behavior and in our activities.

  

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Spirituality

Divine Union: Achieving the Ultimate Freedom From Enmeshed Reality

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If I had to choose one neurosis that we all hold as a collective, it would be the understanding of ourselves as separate from source. Throughout history and until the current moment humanity is known for enduring strife and challenges that have led to profound cognitive distortions. The idea that we are separate from the ever-unfolding creative energy that exists in all the universe has become an embodied reality.

How Did This Neurosis Unfold?

Whether it is due to an orchestrated amnesia or the seeds of ignorance, we have all been vulnerable to a false power that is the influence of the mind; the very thing that breeds separation, illusion, and fear.

Throughout history – religious, scientific, industrial, and social movements have all moved beyond the natural and organic. This has been coined as evolution, however, without the heart leading the way it has undoubtedly altered our ability to perceive ourselves as part of the whole.

What we understand instead is a system that keeps our minds in shackles and tension under the illusion of security and control. The neurosis that something is unquestionably wrong with us, society, our world as we know it plagues us in a way that we seldom recognize. The need to fix, improve, calculate, and just push towards a better something has kept us in perpetual unease. Our need to avoid discomfort and suffering has irrevocably separated us from the grace of divine order.

“The fear of experiencing that which we judge wrong keeps us from experiencing the love that truly does protect us from all things.”

We do not feel safe, held, or supported, and as the Samsara wheel churns, many fall further and further away from the tree of life. Instead of experiencing the self as part of a vast and organic whole, the tendency is to reside in a deep unconscious state where the appeal for a false sense of control has become prominent. The fear of experiencing that which we judge wrong keeps us from experiencing the love that truly does protect us from all things.

There is fixed enmeshment with this man-made reality that profoundly disconnects all from the truth and from the vibration that is unconditional love, which indeed emanates from in every sparkle of an eye, every speck of sand, every Tsunami and every other materialized construct within the infinite universes that exist.

What Happened to Faith?

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Faith is a word that has lost its true context – it is now loosely understood as believing in or trusting that an outside force may or may not meet one’s intended desire. This notion of faith is a diluted interpretation of the vitality in which the word truly resides.

Faith, as it has revealed itself to me, is the actual embodiment of union and it is not limited to the concepts of the mind nor is it something to be manipulated by demand. Faith speaks of an enlightened expression of the union with the source of all that is.

“There is truly an emancipation held for all by the mathematical perfection that are the universes. Suffering breeds from not feeling worthy of this and being attached to that which we believe is our identity and yet is not our true nature.”

The term, enlightenment in this prose refers to a conscious awareness of the small self as well as the Self that is attuned to the love that is the whole. The paradox itself is hard to grasp- it defies all things defined in the polarity in which we believe ourselves to exist, and it challenges the fixed status quo. However, this conundrum is the very place where we can find peace from the endless chatter that speaks of unrest in the mind, in the body, and most importantly in the self.

There is truly an emancipation held for all by the mathematical perfection that are the universes. Suffering breeds from not feeling worthy of this and being attached to that which we believe is our identity and yet is not our true nature. We were born beyond the endless constraints of logic and calculated manipulation and still we walk in those very shackles forgetting ourselves as boundless and infinite creative expression- this of course superseding even death.

We stopped trusting our intuitive nature and instead allowed our minds to become masters. Still, the field beyond right and wrong as our beloved lover and poet, Rumi would say; truly does exist.

Divine Union Is Not In the External

Divine Union Experience Image

Divine union is not a choice but an absolute truth that can only be experienced through the liberation of the small self. It is not about attracting the ideal quantum partner nor is it in the glory of a manifested desire. It means transcending the alleged separation and surrendering to the simplicity of being.

Freedom comes from allowing ourselves to embody our union with the divine as paint on a canvas would trust the strokes of its artist. There is a masterpiece that we are all part of and yet because of universal free will, we continue to lose sight of it.

Divine union is within every breath we take, we need only provide the space for it to bloom the way a flower unfolds in the Spring; petal by petal, not worried about the contours of its shape. She simply becomes its full radiance with focused intention allotted to her by her very existence, and the most subtle of expressions that derive from her simply being. Its vibrancy trusts; it does not fear decay, nor does it try to manipulate the direction or the speed at which it will flourish. Without knowing she embraces the pure fluid state that by default is all of existence; mankind included.

“Freedom comes from allowing ourselves to embody our union with the divine as paint on a canvas would trust the strokes of its artist.”

Re-union Is Definite

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The labyrinth that our egos journey through paves the way for remembrance. All paths lead home as the slogan goes. There is no bypassing the organic process from our forgetting to the collective unraveling of our true essence. The enigma brings forth a rise in consciousness where we can feel into that which lies beyond the veils of our manifested reality. With the shift of the ages, we now have additional support through the more expansive access to higher dimensional frequencies that supersede the matrix consciousness.

There is a light pouring in from the cosmos that is summoning us from our sleep state. It is bringing great awareness to the depths of the collective complex of perceived abandonment. The gates of heaven are now truly accessible to all – the journey there is within. In the stillness of the mind and emptiness of the small self, the subtle whispers of conscious awareness ripple through and beloved to ourselves we become.

“The gates of heaven are now truly accessible to all – the journey there is within.”

The Bottom Line

I like to remind my clients of how fortunate they are to have incarnated at this time. Although they may perceive me with questioning eyes at such a statement while they are still deeply enmeshed with their severance; there is something that stirs in them. It is then that the invitation to remembrance becomes alive.

If they choose to answer they are ignited to explore the alchemy that is life from a higher perspective; one that doesn’t undermine the organic process that is life but instead highlights the beauty in the complexity of its nature and the absolute safety of its colorful landscape.

The heart is the gateway – we need only seek in that direction and recall that it is not a pragmatic excursion. Remembrance transcends the confines of the logical mind and calls forth the frequency that has and will always permeate above all – love.

About Ishtar

Ishtar is a psychotherapist (LCSW) who earned her masters’ degree from New York University in 2006. She is also a KRI certified Kundalini Yoga instructor; licensed in 2013 at Goldenbridge, New York City. Prior to this training, in 2008 she experienced what she coins as divine remembrance and has spent the last 13 years in service to others as a wayshower in the ascension process. As a Christed pillar of light embodying the solar crystalline frequencies; she carries the codes of gnosis and sacred transformation. Ishtar is a Rose priestess of cosmic lineage and holds a multidimensional awareness that guides clients from all walks of life into divine union. Currently, she resides with her daughter Ixchel Inanna in the city New York and remains committed to activating divine remembrance through a myriad of sacred tools.  ​

About Luminous Magik

Luminous Magik practice focuses on traditional integrative psychotherapy infused with an array of healing modalities intuitively tailored to your specific needs. The sessions can include Kundalini yoga and Meditation, Energetic Alignments, Light Language, Shadow Work, Ancestral Clearing, Womb Activations & Cosmic Coding. For more information, visit Ishtar’s website luminousmagik.com.

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Spirituality

Dark Night of the Soul: The Signs and Counter Measures

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Picture this: You have the dream job that you always wanted. Your mortgage payments on your dream home are up to date. And, you just proposed to the partner of your dreams. It is such a time that you should feel content, if not excited for your accomplishments, right? But, why are you losing interest in pursuing more goals? Why the unexplained sadness, confusion, or a sudden loss of focus? Chances are you going through the Dark Night of the Soul.

What Is It?

The Dark Night of the Soul refers to a transitional stage when we undergo a ‘spiritual depression’ before getting an intense perception of life. It involves letting go of our past perceptions of our careers, relationships, and belief systems and replacing them with a life appreciation that leads to spiritual growth. This letting-go process can be painful, therefore, triggering sadness or feelings of getting lost. Hence, despite doing well in your career or social circles, a state of despair or suffering in humanity can leave you feeling sad when you should be happy.

The Origin

The term “Dark Night of the Soul” was first used in the poem of St. John of the Cross, depicting trials or purgation that the Roman Catholic followers go through before attaining a Divine union or illumination. In this poem, only one light lights the soul as it goes through the night. This light is what leads the soul towards Divine union.

The Symptoms of the Dark Night of the Soul

Symptoms of the Dark Night of the Soul Image

Everyone on a spiritual journey undergoes the Dark Night of the Soul before achieving spiritual enlightenment. However, we all experience it differently. And, unless you know what is happening, this transitional period can be confusing and scary. Here are 5 key signs that you could be going through the Dark Night of the Soul:

#1: Bouts of Sadness

The Dark Night of the Soul is a crisis in faith that can trigger a spiritual depression characterized by sadness. Think of persons with immense Christian faith like Elijah, Jeremiah, and David. History documents show how these spiritual leaders struggled with anxiety, depression, and failure (Psalm 51, 1 Kings 19, Jeremiah 20). Likewise, Mother Teresa is said to have dark night experiences that lasted for close to 50 years. 

#2: Feeling Powerless or Hopeless About Your Current Situation

Anyone undergoing the dark night experiences becomes overly aware of their incompleteness and imperfection to God.  You feel an overwhelming confusion. It is a discomfort that comes with a lot of hopelessness.

For example, the death of a loved one may remind you of how fragile life is, triggering a sense of powerlessness and sadness. Yet, unlike depression that brings about suicidal thoughts, or resentment towards God, the pain in dark night experiences is for a purpose. Hence, the loss of pleasure towards things of God is only temporary.

#3: You Desire to Connect with People

Are you active on social media, or lead a public life where you enjoy impressing the masses? A dark night experience may evoke a desire to connect with your followers or audience. For, this spiritual transformation process causes you to question everything that you once thought was true. Hence, your mind tries to derive meaning in all your interactions with others, letting go of interest that is no longer serving your audience.

#4: Lack of Interest in Your Passion

Often, a spiritual crisis leaves us listless and with no motivation to do the things we once enjoyed. In turn, we isolate ourselves with our friends and loved ones, sinking deeper into depression.

#5: Longing for “Home”

If you feel frustrated and conflict to the extent of getting homesickness for an imaginary place you want to call home, it is a clear sign of a dark night experience. See, the spiritual trials make us long for normalcy that we associate with our loved ones of the home environment. It is a natural response to any life transition that comes with a feeling of loss and a need to adjust to the new norm.

Overcoming the Dark Night of the Soul

Overcoming Spiritual Depression Image

If you are going through spiritual depression, here are some tips to make this experience bearable: –

  • Maintain a journal of your dark night experiences.  This approach helps you see what triggers the sadness, emptiness, and anxiety. More so, it will give you the insight necessary to assist another person going through a similar experience.
  • Understand how your subconscious mind works. Knowing your thought process helps you anticipate and avoid an emotional breakdown. Plus, it will give you a chance to identify any areas in your life that bring about cognitive dissonance.
  • Let go of your fears, feelings, and old beliefs. Instead, be open to the present moment.
  • Embrace the dark night experiences with a positive attitude. The experience is only temporary, and the result is a profound perception of self.
  • Enrich your soul. Here, taking part in yoga sessions, forest baths, reading motivational books, or listening to sleep meditation provides an outlet for the anguish you feel inside.
  • Practice living in the present. Remember, sadness, hopelessness, or anxiety comes about when we have regrets or conflicts about our past thoughts.
  • Stay active. A regular brisk walk can help wade off thoughts of depression and loss of interest in our passion. Likewise, if you know you enjoy camping or traveling, start by making a campfire in your backyard.
  • Find support. Spending time with friends and family can uplift your mood.

Conclusion

Meister Eckhart the great philosopher, once said, “We rarely find people who achieve great things without first going astray.” Indeed, this is the essence of the Dark Night of the Soul. It is a spiritual disconnection that leads us to a deeper understanding of our soul and who we are. Only, these dark night experiences may trigger an overwhelming sadness, insatiable cravings, or lack of interest in what you once enjoyed. Learn to identify the symptoms of dark night experiences to embrace them positively. More so, differentiate them from symptoms of clinical depression or chemical imbalances so that you may seek appropriate help.

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