Today we complete our exploration of the 8 Limbs of Yoga by contemplating the last of the five Niyamas given by Patañjali in the Yoga Sutras:
Ishvara Pranidhana ईश्वर प्रणिधान
Samadhi siddhir isvara pranidhanat
“Samadhi* is obtained through devotion to Isvara (the Supreme Being).”
*spiritual state of consciousness
To embrace Ishvara Pranidhana is to surrender to God (the Universe, the Divine, higher consciousness, Buddha, Jesus, Krishna, Allah, the deity that you believe in).
By believing in something higher, a benevolent universe, we can relinquish the need to be in control (which is really an illusion) and surrender to the unknown, impermanence and uncertainty of life.
By trying to control our life, situations and even other people we step into our comfort zone, are feeling in charge, powerful and safe. When things don’t go our way though we feel deep disappointment and come to realize that we can only control so much in our lives. This is different from being responsible for our actions, commitments, intentions and communication. However, interestingly enough many would prefer to put the responsibility for their actions or well-being to others, and be in control rather than responsible for things.
So how can we let go of blame, the need to be in control? How can we come to live in the present moment doing the best we can, and then accepting what is and just surrender and trust?
There are many ways to practice Ishvara Pranidhana, e.g. praying, meditating, reciting mantras, dedicating your yoga practice with each pose and breath as an offering, spending time in nature, being of service to others, etc.
By being aware of synchronicities (meaningful coincidences), listening to the whispers of our heart and soul (intuition/gut feeling) and doing the best we can, we follow our purpose and contribute to life.
Embrace life with all its uncertainty and enjoy every precious moment!
As always please share your thoughts with me, I’d love to hear your feedback!
Congratulations for completing your study of the 8 Limbs of Yoga with me!
To conclude our exploration of the Niyamas, please enjoy the Zen Buddhist story “Obsessed: Crossing the River”
Two traveling monks reached a river where they met a young woman. Wary of the current, she asked if they could carry her across. One of the monks hesitated, but the other quickly picked her up onto his shoulders, transported her across the water, and put her down on the other bank. She thanked him and departed. As the monks continued on their way, the one was brooding and preoccupied. Unable to hold his silence, he spoke out.
“Brother, our spiritual training teaches us to avoid any contact with women, but you picked that one up on your shoulders and carried her!”
“Brother,” the second monk replied, “I set her down on the other side, while you are still carrying her.”