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What Is Tapas? Yogic Tool For Overcoming Obstacles Explained

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Changing a habit or pattern of thinking and following the path of spiritual development and self-improvement requires a lot of effort and discipline. And here it is worth remembering one of the basic yoga principles – Tapas. It is the tapas practice that focuses on austerity, self-discipline, persistent meditation, and perseverance. Tapas is realized through a conscious and sustained effort to resist all temptations and to overcome all obstacles that stand between you and your goal.

In this article, I will answer the three most common questions about Tapas:

  • What is tapas?
  • What are the benefits of practicing it?
  • How can we practice it in everyday life?

What Is Tapas?

Most yoga practitioners are familiar with basic yoga principles – yamas and niyamas. Tapas is one of the niyamas.

So what is tapas?

Tapas can be variously translated from Sanskrit into English as heat, spiritual austerities, fiery discipline, and internal fire. It represents zeal and fullness of effort.

Sometimes it is regarded as a purifying action, for it removes impurity. This concept refers primarily to the body and means proper care for it. It is due to asceticism and the elimination of impurity that the perfection of the body and sense organs is achieved.

Patanjali emphasized that only spiritual heat (tapas) can burn off the contamination of the psyche. Daily practiced tapas as a component of Niyama, along with cleanliness and contentment, changes the state of the mind, making it less “polluted”. The practitioner cleanses himself from worldly filth, accumulates merit, and increases the store of spiritual energy.

Sometimes “tapas” is translated as “asceticism”. However, the idea of extreme asceticism is also far from the teachings of Patanjali. After several years of severe asceticism, Buddha Shakyamuni abandoned strict asceticism and began to preach the Middle way (Madhyama Marga) that focuses on moderate self-restraint and high morals. The term “tapas” in Buddhism means “self-discipline”.

Tapas And Yoga

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Yoga practice is always about tapas and overcoming inner challenges. It is always about the kindling of inner fire. When we practice yoga, pranayama, and meditation, despite our reluctance and laziness, we cultivate willpower and develop self-discipline.

To follow the spiritual path, you need to continuously train yourself, challenge yourself, and overcome difficulties. A spiritual path is not about staying in harmony while living somewhere in a peaceful and isolated place. Following your spiritual path means finding peace and harmony everywhere you go. And the more challenging you feel to find them the further you move forward along your spiritual journey. The number of challenges you overcome is proportional to your spiritual growth and the level of your self-development. Therefore overcoming such challenges as laziness and apathy in your spiritual practice is essential for gaining willpower and self-discipline.

Where Does Laziness Come From?

When we are captured by worldly desires, when our energy channels are narrowed and clogged, when our mind is controlled by old information, limiting beliefs and outdated stereotypes, our willpower is very much weakened. And when willpower is weak, our actions are guided by apathy and laziness.

When we start overcoming our laziness and apathy by performing spiritual practices our willpower gets trained. As an ordinary muscle is pumped up through daily workout, so daily overcoming of your laziness “builds up” your willpower. By daily practice, our willpower grows stronger. And eventually, you will notice that now you can easily get rid of bad habits such as smoking, eating junk food, etc.

If you practice tapas daily for several years, the results will exceed all your expectations. Along with your willpower, your own body will also obey you. Your entire body and your health will obey your orders.

The Three Kinds Of Tapas

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There are three types of tapas:

  • Tapas of the body
  • Tapas of the speech
  • Tapas of the mind

What is tapas of the body?

Tapas of the body (KAYIKA) is the development of the willpower through performing such practices as Brahmacharya, service to Gurus and sages, Ahimsa (or nonviolence), fasting, etc.

What is tapas of the speech?

Tapas of the speech is the development of the willpower by speaking the truth, using words that do not hurt any living being, studying the Scriptures, etc.

A very special form of tapas of the speech is Mauna – the silence. Mauna implies not to talk at all for a certain period of time (one day or a few hours). A superior level in Mauna is mental silence, i.e. keeping the mind totally quiet. Mauna practice helps conserve energy and sharpen the insight.

What is tapas of the mind?

Tapas of the mind (MANASIKA) is the development of the willpower to keep a perfect peace of mind, to practice effortless self-control, to have a lack of negative thoughts, etc.

To maintain the balance of the mind in all cases of life, to be always serene, contented and calm, to be cheerful in adverse conditions, to have courage in the face of danger, to have the presence of reason and abstinence — these are all forms of mental tapas.

From a philosophical point of view, meditation is the highest form of tapas of the mind. Fixing the wandering mind on God is the mastery level of tapas.

4 Ways to Make Tapas Your Everyday Practice

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Here are 4 ways to help you develop discipline both in your spiritual practice and in life.

#1: Practice Yoga In the Morning

Set a goal to wake up as early as possible, preferably before sunrise, and perform Surya Namaskar. Do not look at your phone or open social networks right after waking up and before practice.

Alternatively, you can practice mantra chanting, meditation, affirmation practice or pranayama every morning. Also, a morning prayer can be included in your daily routine.

You see, in the morning, we are full of creative energy. Early morning practice will help you set yourself up for a conscious and productive day that will be spent in a calmer mood.

#2: Create New Eating Habits

They say food addiction is the worst addiction. We all have it in one way or another unless you are breatharian.

When you don’t know how to control your appetite and cravings you can easily turn into a slave of your habit to eat whatever you are craving.

It is always difficult to give up the usual foods that bring pleasure but does not bring health benefits.

Tapas can help you to develop self-discipline in your eating and take your cravings under control. There is something you can try right now. At least for a week, try to exclude from your diet foods that interfere with your practice or may even be harmful to your health. For example, give up sweets for a week. It can be whatever you like the most – alcohol, coffee, dairy, meat, bread, chips, etc. Then try to do the same for a month. And then do it for an entire year. Once you mastered it for a year you can exclude it for life.

#3: Practice Yoga Daily

Promise yourself to practice yoga for at least 10-15 minutes every day for a week, no matter what happens. Over time, this will become a habit, like hygiene in the morning. Discipline will bring development to your yoga practice and better results.

Do the same with your meditation practice. Meditate for at least 10-15 minutes daily. It’s better to perform a daily 10 minutes meditation than not to meditate at all.

Prioritize your spiritual practices and very soon you will see that your life is changing as well as your mindset. All the events in your life are going smoother and you have a clearer understanding of what’s going on in your life and what life requires you to do from the spiritual point of view.

#4: Control Your Thoughts

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To develop control of your thoughts is a primary goal for everyone who follows a spiritual path. Our thoughts have the power to create the reality we live in. People who have no control of their thoughts become prisoners of life ‘circumstances’. Therefore everyone should learn how to develop the ability of concentration and thought-control.

During your yoga or meditation classes, you may have thoughts that are usually repeated in everyday life. It is these thoughts that are the obstacle on your spiritual path. Pay attention to them and learn how to control them.

A wonderful practice that may help you to develop concentration and thought-control is a daily mantra chanting. If you find it difficult to concentrate on Sanskrit mantras, try affirmation practice. Say the same positive affirmation 108 times with a complete focus on every word you are pronouncing.

By applying these methods, you can improve your yoga, meditation, mantra or any other spiritual practice, change the patterns of thinking and behavior. Your mind, your attitude to yourself, and the events of your life will change in a positive matter.

The Bottom Line

No matter what we do for developing our discipline we should always remember that the basis of discipline should be love, not punishment. When trying to follow Tapas, pay attention to the benefits it will bring. Talk to your inner child and explain to him/her that, for example, waking up early in the morning will give you more time to do the things you enjoy doing but never can find the time for them. Also, start applying the principles of tapas during your yoga classes. This will improve your practice because the main thing in mastering any practice is consistency. And it also depends on discipline!

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!

Personal Development

Divine Masculine Awakening: Achieving Balance Through Spiritual Maturity

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We all have divine masculine and divine feminine archetypal energies. The divine masculine is direct and represents the giving nature. In contrast, the divine feminine is cyclical, expressing a receiving nature. When working together, these two energies dance to form a spiral similar to yin and yang or SO and CHA. Indeed, the dualistic nature of the universe exists because of these two opposite energies. Think of day and night, hot and cold, light and dark, yin and yang, and so on.

Anyone seeking spiritual maturity must nurture, honor, and balance the masculine and feminine energies. When these energies come into harmony and balance with one another, they begin to express divine qualities. Though they exist in everyone, women awaken their divine feminine nature more often, and men are encouraged to activate their divine masculine energies. Here, the individual proactively embraces a healthy way of expressing the side they wish to cultivate. For example, a man can seek to learn all of life’s lessons about masculinity.

So, this guide will focus on divine masculine energy. More so, we will define it, identify signs of its awakening, and share tips on how to awaken the divine masculine energy within you.

What is ‘Divine Masculine’?

The divine masculine is an energy of expansion. It refers to focused strength and action in a manner that is in harmony with beauty and wholeness. This energy is not gender-sensitive, hence, manifests in both men and women. It is believed that the divine masculine energy is connected to the left side of the brain.

What are the Signs of Divine Masculine Awakening?

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When you awaken your divine masculine, the following things happen: –

#1: You Develop Great Confidence

Divine masculine awakening provokes healthy confidence and belief in your actions, not to be mistaken for arrogance. It stems from having that diving masculine energy within, giving the person confidence to face any task because they know they are guided by spirit. You no longer see hurdles as stumbling blocks but as stepping stones to success.

#2: You Become Loyal and Trustworthy

When your divine masculine awakens, it brings out commitment, understanding, and faithfulness in you. It places value on the bond you share with your partner. Since it believes in the revered union of love and the boundaries necessary for the relationship to flourish, your loyalty and self-control come naturally.

Faithfulness becomes your way of living rather than an imposed behavior. Hence, when a man who labels himself as a womanizer starts to show loyalty and trust toward their long-time partner, it is a clear sign of the divine masculine awakening in them.

#3: You Become Protective

While masculine energy drives us to protect what we like, divine masculine energy drives us to protect the innocent and righteous path of life. Hence, you feel drawn to show unconditional love towards everything and everyone in your care. That way, your spouse, child, sibling, parent, friend, or colleague feels safe and protected when close to you. And, the energy will attract more people to you, for they feel safe with you.

#4: You Practice Self Care

Anyone undergoing a diving masculine awakening owns their actions. This energy helps you identify your needs. In turn, you get proactive with self-care routines as you work towards your happiness. Likewise, you are in control of your actions. Hence, you know when to exert your divine masculine power to help others.

#5: Show Responsibility

The divine masculine energy makes you responsible enough not to be a victim of those that need rescuing. More so, when you make a mistake, this energy gives you the courage to reflect and acknowledge your wrongdoing. Anyone whose divine masculine is awake sees the blame game as a waste of energy.

#6: You Are More Active

Does your comfort zone seem not comforting anymore? If you are the kind of person who felt content and seemed to settle in their career, relationships, or studies, a divine masculine awakening will push you from a passive to an active lifestyle.

Now, you find it automatic to take the initiative to go out and pursue new and higher goals. And when you rest, it is only to review and strategize your next course of action. The healthy confidence you have assures you that you can reach your goals as long as you never give up on them.

5 Ways to Awaken Your Divine

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Are you seeking to awaken the divine masculine within you? Here are 5 ways to do so: –

#1: Heal Your Father

Do you have any grudge or unresolved issues with your father, grandfather, or any other father figure? It could be anger or hatred you have for the trauma, abuse, or neglect you went through as a child. Or, it could be a sense of betrayal when your father figure gave you up for adoption. Whatever the source, strive to let go and make peace, even if this father figure is no longer alive.

#2: Heal Your Sexuality

If your sexuality revolves around seeking instant gratification or body pleasures, you need to change this perspective. By learning everything about the relationship between sexuality and divine masculinity, you will discover that your sexuality can be a great source of creativity and inspiration. Hence, you can create whatever you want from a powerful perspective. Start by reading more about the sacredness of sex and how you can practice what you learn.

#3: Physical Movement

Divine masculine awakening requires you to be a person on the move. For example, you can take part in martial arts to build your physical and mental power. Or, enroll at the gym. Your divine masculine energy gets outlet through these physical activities.

#4: Care for Others

As mentioned earlier, divine masculine energy has a giving nature. It wants to serve and share with others. Therefore, to awaken it, find a course that is bigger than you. Share your skills with those who need them.

#5: Lead a Purposeful Life

Embark on a soul-seeking journey to figure out your purpose in life. Ask deep soul questions about your existence, where you come from, and why you are here today. By doing so, you learn to live truthfully without fear of taking risks. Hence, your divine masculine energy will follow that direction to fulfill your life purpose.

Conclusion

The divine masculine and divine feminine energies work together in a balanced way to create a powerful dynamic in our lives. However, you must awaken them. We hope this guide helped you understand better what divine masculine energy is and how to awaken it. May it help you attain spiritual maturity and balance in life.

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Spirituality

Must-Have Crystals For Spiritual Work & Their Transcendental Properties

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For thousands of years, crystals have been used in spiritual practices, healing sessions, and shamanic rituals. The use of crystals dates all the way back 6,000 years ago to the ancient Sumerians in Mesopotamia. Since then, crystals have been used in different forms, rituals, and practices in countless ancient cultures such as in China, Rome, Greece, Egypt, and South America. In this article, I will share with you 8 must-have crystals for your spiritual work and their transcendental properties.

But first, let’s take a look at the science behind crystals.

The Science Behind Crystals

“Everything is energy and that’s all there is to it. This is not philosophy. This is physics.” ~ Albert Einstein

It has been scientifically proven that matter is 99.999999999999% empty space. And what makes up this empty space is energy. Therefore, it won’t be a mistake to say that energy is everything, and everything is energy. You, everything around you – the furniture, the phone you’re holding, and the crystals are vibrating energy.

Each of us has our own unique vibrational frequency. People with higher vibrations radiate love and kindness, peace and compassion, whereas people with lower vibrations experience more low-vibe emotions like fear, anger, jealousy, or anxiety.

Whatever frequency we are at, as humans, our vibrations are very unstable and can be easily affected by our environment, other people, social media, the news, traffic, the weather, our own memories, etc.

Crystals, on the other hand, have a very stable energy frequency due to the fact that they were made up of a fixed, regularly repeating, perfect geometric pattern of molecules. Therefore, they are able to maintain their perfect stability of the Earth element. This is the opposite quality to our constantly changing, non-stable human nature.

While the healing properties of crystals have not yet been proven, we do know that crystals radiate a unique electrical charge known as piezoelectricity. Piezoelectricity is an electrical charge that is emitted from crystals once they are pressed or cut.

Scientific research has been able to demonstrate that synthetic crystals can actually store data. This could explain why certain crystals have specific qualities.

8 Must-Have Crystals For Your Spiritual Work

Now, let me share with you the 8 must-have crystals that can help you in your spiritual practices and inner work. You can program these crystals with your intentions, meditate with them, use them for opening up vibrational doorways, supporting your spiritual rituals, and strengthening your prayers. If you are not involved in deep spiritual work yet, you can let these crystals serve you as mindfulness totems. Whatever way you choose to use your crystals, they will surely enrich your spiritual journey.

Here is my list of the must-have crystals:

#1: Spirit Quartz

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Spirit Quartz is a crystal of harmony and alignment. Its crystals are like high-frequency little beings who attract the spirit realm and put out positive energy into our environment. Its resonance is spiritually uplifting, radiating high-vibrational energy in all directions, and is a perfect ally in aligning the aura, chakras, meridians, and the physical body, as well as carrying the gifts of Spirit out into the world.

Spirit Quartz is a stone of non-duality. It perfectly blends and balances the energies of male and female, yin and yang, and enhances all metaphysical abilities.

Here are the properties of Spirit Quartz:
  • provides protection from harm while awake and during dreaming and astral projection;
  • activates the Crown chakra;
  • helps to channel your desires toward higher frequency goals;
  • facilitates the transition between different brainwave states, heightening awareness and psychic perception, and encourages insightful dreams;
  • helps remove fear;
  • assists in ascension process;
  • activates the Lightbody;
  • provides multi-directional spiritual and cellular healing;
  • helps in reframing the past, and to realign the etheric blueprint for the present life.

#2: Aura Quartz

Aura Quartz Image

This crystal utilizes the ancient powers of alchemy and synergy. This crystal is an extremely powerful healing and energy amplifier. It absorbs, stores, releases, and regulates the energies of the body. Enhanced by precious metals, Aura Quartz becomes a high-vibrational healing stone. It carries a high level of Life Force, cleansing and enhancing the organs, stimulating the immune and energy systems, and bringing the body into balance.

Aura Quartz is the crystal of spiritual elevation, remarkable for its powers of guidance and expansion of the soul.

Properties of Aqua Quartz include:
  • provides serenity and peace during meditation;
  • deepens one’s attunement to the Divine and opens gateways to the angelic realm;
  • assists in remembering lessons from past incarnations;
  • expands the awareness of one’s spiritual purpose for this lifetime;
  • protects during spiritual journeying;
  • assists in conscious channeling and all types of inter-dimensional communications.

#3: Azurite

Azurite Crystal Image

This dark-blue stone has been guiding souls to enlightenment since the earliest civilizations began. Its rich vibrancy resonates with the exact frequency of the Third Eye chakra. To the Atlantians and the early Egyptians, Azurite was a most potent psychic stone. It was called the Stone of Heaven by the ancient Chinese who believed it to open celestial gateways. For the Mayans, Azurite inspired the mystical self and facilitated the transfer of wisdom and knowledge via thought.

Azurite is definitely one of the must-have crystals that will assist you on your spiritual journey due to its transcendental properties.

Properties of Azurite:
  • clears away tension and confusion and opens the mind to new perspectives;
  • stimulates the intellect;
  • awakens the development of psychic and intuitive abilities;
  • brings inner vision into alignment with spiritual guidance;
  • assists in entering a meditative or channeling state;
  • enables out-of-body journeys to take place safely;
  • assists in exploring past or alternate lives;
  • clears the Throat Chakra;
  • inspires the search for truth in one’s personal reality by challenging the examination and letting go of old programmed belief systems;
  • expands one’s awareness to a deeper understanding of life.

#4: Moqui Marbles (Boji Stones)

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Moqui Marbles are also known as “Shaman Stones.” They come in three varieties: male, female, and androgynous. The word “Moqui” comes from the Hopi word that means “dear departed ones.” It is believed that spirits of the dead would play with these “marbles” at night and leave them in the morning to send messages to those that were living.

Properties of Moqui Stones:
  • stimulates psychic abilities;
  • promotes grounding and centering;
  • helps to connect with earth energies;
  • clears the energy field;
  • balances male and female energies;
  • helps to connect with animal spirit guides.

#5: Cacoxenite

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Known as the Stone of Ascension, this beautiful stone is believed to raise the spiritual awareness of the human race and to provide a loving and ethereal connection between all of the universe. It encourages a conscious awareness of the significance of random events to guide us on the right path, and in sensing the essence of the Creator in the beauty of nature and the kindness of people. Its vibration assists in surrendering personal will to Divine Will, making it easier to receive the guidance and assistance needed to move forward on one’s spiritual path.

Properties of Cacoxenite:
  • initiates a higher level of creativity;
  • clears the Third Eye and Crown Chakras of conventional thought and limitations;
  • brings new ideas and innovations to humanity;
  • enlightens spiritual awareness through meditation and dreamwork;
  • relays the message that everyone carries a Divine spark and may connect with the Creator, as well as one’s guides, guardian spirits, and other higher powers, at any time to receive healing and guidance;
  • unites collective consciousness in ceremony or ritual gatherings, for world meditations and planetary alignments, and in connecting with the Universal Life Force to draw in energy for Earth’s healing.

#6: Nuummite

Must-Have Crystals Nuummite Image

Did you know that Nuummite is one of the oldest stones on our planet? Mined only in Greenland, this powerful stone was formed from a volcanic eruption around 3.8 billion years ago! This is a rare and sought-after stone as it is very limited in quantity. Many esoteric collectors see Nuummite as a highly valuable stone.

Nuummite is often called the “Sorcerer’s Stone” or “Magician’s Stone”. It’s very powerful and one of the must-have crystals for many esotericists and spiritual seekers.

Properties of Nuummite:
  • strengthens one’s energy field;
  • enhances personal power;
  • aids shamanic journeying and soul retrieval;
  • helps to access unconscious layers of the mind;
  • promotes spiritual grounding.

#7: Moldavite

Moldavite Must-Have Crystal Image

This is one of the most powerful stones you will ever touch! Moldavite carries an intense frequency, a fusion of earthly and extraterrestrial energies. Holding this stone for the first time often produces a sensation of heat, felt first in the hand, then progressively throughout the body. In some cases, the Anahata chakra is activated, experienced as a pounding pulse, followed by sweating or flushing of the face, and an emotional release that may range from laughter to tears.

This mysterious green stone is star-born, formed from nature’s violent meteoric impact with Mother Earth. It was formed around 15 million years ago when a meteorite entered our universe and crashed near a Czechoslovakian river. Etched by force and flame as it fell from the heavens Moldavite returned to the earth’s surface transformed, a glass of amazing delicacy and grace ready to serve humankind. It is believed that Moldavite was sent to Earth for spiritual awakening, transformation, and spiritual evolution.

Properties of Moldavite:
  • facilitates a strong, clear, and direct connection between one’s consciousness and the Universal Source;
  • activates and strengthens Anahata chakra (Heart center);
  • helps to connect with Ascended Masters and cosmic messengers;
  • increases occurrences of synchronicity;
  • draws into the Earth plane those thought patterns and light vibrations that are most beneficial for ascension and illumination;
  • promotes rapid inner transformation;
  • creates an energy of spiritual protection;
  • raises one’s vibrations;
  • grounds Light for the healing of the Earth;
  • provides an understanding of the essential unity of all life and our responsibility to see our planet as a whole being in need of love and compassion;
  • connects one to higher consciousness.

#8: Lemurian Quartz

Lemurian Quartz Crystal Image

Lemurian Quartz is one of the must-have crystals to assist your spiritual development. Lemurian crystals originated much earlier than the existence of the Lemurian civilization, although it left its light prints on them. These crystals grew in conditions when the bowels of the Earth were still clean – when there was no oil and poisonous ores inside them. These crystals served as repositories of Memory. People could fill these crystals with the memories of the most beautiful events, just as we fill albums with photographs. It was believed that there was a seed of the Creator in each of these crystals.

Some people believe that these crystals can sing because music lives in their Chiaroscuro. Many people who have psychic abilities claim that when working with these crystals, they can hear a wonderful baritone, performing an Aria, which later gives way to the magical music of distant stars and planets.

Properties of Lemurian Quartz:
  • promotes lucid dreaming;
  • aids spiritual awakening;
  • helps to develop telepathic abilities;
  • amplifies prayers, wishes, and intentions;
  • helps to access higher states of consciousness;
  • promotes energy healing;
  • connects one to hidden knowledge within oneself;
  • promotes past lives regression;
  • removes energetic blockages from all chakras;
  • awakens one’s connection to wholeness;
  • helps to astral project easily and safely;
  • connects with the Higher Self, the angelic spheres, and spiritual guides;
  • restores the integrity of the aura;
  • helps to heal past traumas;
  • aids inner child healing.

The Bottom Line

There are many beautiful and powerful crystals and stones that you can use for your spiritual work. These eight are the must-have crystals that I believe can help to take one’s personal spiritual evolution to the next level. Use these stones for your spiritual practices, meditations, rituals, or as amulets that you wear. Don’t forget to regularly cleanse and charge your crystals to keep their energy strong.

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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

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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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