Discover for yourself

“No man can reveal to you aught but that which already lies half asleep in the dawning of your knowledge. The teacher who walks in the shadow of the temple, among his followers, gives not of his wisdom but rather of his faith and his lovingness. If he is indeed wise he does not bid you enter the house of his wisdom, but rather leads you to the threshold of your own mind.” ~Kahlil Gibran

kahlil gibran quote

(photo March 2017 – AD)

New Year’s Resolutions

It’s almost that time again. Time to think about your New Year’s resolutions and priorities. This January counts 11 years since I made the New Year’s resolution to practice yoga in a meaningful way.

One of my favorite quotes from Swami Sivananda is excellent to reflect on when deciding your spiritual New Year’s resolutions. I find it to be very inspiring. It’s from the book Sadhana:

“In the spiritual path it is a case of progress or regress. There is no comfortable “sitting on the wall” frequently. To rest is to rust. With a flaming aspiration push forward. Every day must show that you have taken one step more upon the path. Progress is not to be counted in number of days that have passed in practice. It lies in how far you have outgrown your former ways of thinking and living. What is the extent of your victory over external environments? Do you maintain a calm and balanced mind? Do you remain unaffected by little annoyances and irritations? Are you more ready to forgive and less ready to offend? Has your aspiration grown stronger? Are you doing increased Sadhana or are you expecting Divine grace to help you to carry out your resolves and vows? Are you waiting to get blessings or Asirvad from saints and Avatars? Blessings are always there, but unless you prepare to boldly struggle upwards and onwards blessings are just as useful as staff and shoes to a traveller who does not care to march ahead.”

sivananda from life archive

Swami Sivananda

Opposite Positive Thoughts – applying yoga to everyday life

Applying Yoga to Daily Life
The Opposite Positive Thought

Most people who practice yoga like to participate in the yoga asanas, or postures. Usually people go to a yoga studio, or a fitness location a few times a week. The benefits of this practice are enormous and many yoga students will gladly tell you about their experiences with reduced stress, better mental health, improved physical health and so on.

What many people are not aware of is that yoga is considered by many to be a holistic lifestyle, and there are many simple practices that can be put into your life on a daily basis that will positively impact not only your own health, but your relationships and interactions with everyone you meet.

With the holiday season upon us, most people experience days of greater stress trying to meet all the obligations of family, school, children, parties, and entertaining on top of their regular activities and packed into that same 24 hour day. It can get difficult to remember that the season is really about love, sharing, and giving.

There is a yogic concept called The Opposite Positive Thought. In sanskrit this is called Pratipaksha Bhavana (pronounced pra-tee-pak-sha bhaa-va-naa).  The definition is: “The method of substituting the opposite through imagination; thus fear is overcome by dwelling strongly on its opposite, viz., courage.”

More generally, what that means is, anytime you have a negative thought you should immediately try to replace it with a more positive thought. Thoughts of stress are replaced with thoughts of calm. Thoughts of anger are replaced with thoughts of love. Thoughts of impatience are replaced with thoughts of patience.

Any negative thought you have at any time, and about anything or anyone, should be replaced with the opposite positive thought.

Trying out this concept will not only make you feel better and help keep you on a more even keel, it will help create around you a more positive aura, so that your family and friends and all the people you meet will feel enriched and uplifted by your presence. Even if you only remember to do this part of the time, it will still go a long way. It seems like such a simple concept, but it really can help a lot towards making the holidays for you and your loved ones go more smoothly.

“The best thing to give to your enemy is forgiveness; to an opponent, tolerance; to a friend, your heart; to your child, a good example; to a father, deference; to your mother, conduct that will make her proud of you; to yourself, respect; to all men, charity.” ~Ben Franklin

Happy Holidays!

Austerity of Speech

One of the yogic ideals is the practice of austerity of speech. This means speaking words that are truthful, pleasing, beneficial, and not agitating to others. This is a lot easier said than done and a lot of questions of morality can be discussed in trying to determine what exactly makes up austerity of speech. Remembering the importance of not speaking words that might be agitating to someone else goes a long way towards understanding life from someone else’s point of view and in being compassionate.

There is a website called Speak Kind Words www.speakkindwords.com that is trying to spread this message. They say:

“We live in a verbally abusive society. Our minds are bombarded with cursing and angry tones, with sarcasm and profanity. Often the people whom we love the most are the ones who must bear the brunt of our anger and frustration. Our words are powerful and they have a profound effect on those upon whom they fall. We have the power to tear someone down in an instant with our tongue, and we do it every day without thinking about the consequences.”

The first quote on their page is from Mother Teresa and it says “Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.”

Thanks to the people of this site for spreading this wonderful message.

Mind of a Sannyasin – Vivekananda

Lately I have been reading “Vivekananda – A Biography” by Swami Nikhilananda. It’s a really good book, and if you are interested in knowing about the great yogi and sannyasin Swami Vivekananda and how he did a lot to bring eastern thinking and vedanta to America, this is the book for you.

I especially like this quote from the book which is a story about an event that happened with Swami Vivekananda and which I think demonstrates the detachment of a true sannyasin’s mind:

He [Swami Vivekananda] was one day walking with Miss Muller [a student] and an English friend across some fields when a mad bull came tearing towards them. The Englishman frankly ran, and reached the other side of the hill in safety. Miss Muller ran as far as she could, and then sank to the ground, incapable of further effort. Seeing this, and unable to aid her, the Swami – thinking, “So this is the end, after all” – took up his stand in front of her, with folded arms.

He told afterwards how his mind was occupied with a mathematical calculation as to how far the bull would be able to throw him. But the animal suddenly stopped a few paces off, and then, raising its head, retreated sullenly. The Englishman felt ashamed of his cowardly retreat and having left the Swami alone to face the bull. Miss Muller asked the Swami how he could muster such courage in such a dangerous situation. He said that in the face of danger and death he felt – and he took two pebbles in his hands and struck the one against the other – as strong as flint, for “I have touched the feet of God.”

The Power of Words

I found the following story at http://networkedblogs.com/p24843237 which, through a story about frogs, describes the importance of the affect of your words on other people. In yoga it is part of practicing the austerities of speech, or learning control over the organ of speech or vak indriya.

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A number of frogs were travelling through the woods. Two of them fell into a deep pit. All the other frogs gathered around the pit. When they saw how deep the pit was, they told the two frogs that they were as good as dead.

The two frogs ignored the comments and tried to jump up out of the pit with all of their might. The other frogs kept telling them to stop, that they were as good as dead.

Finally, one of the frogs took heed to what the other frogs were saying and gave up. He fell down and died.

The other frog continued to jump as hard as he could. Once again, the crowd of frogs yelled at him to stop the pain and just die. He jumped even harder and finally made it out.

When he got out, the other frogs said, “Did you not hear us?” The frog explained to them that he was deaf. He thought they were encouraging him the entire time.

This story teaches two great lessons:

There is the power of life and death in the tongue. An encouraging word to someone who is down can lift them up and help them make it through the day.

A destructive word to someone who is down can be the push over the edge. Be careful of what you say. Speak life to those who cross your path. Anyone can speak words that can rob another of the spirit to push forward in difficult times.

Special is the individual who will take the time to encourage another. So my wonderful friends, always be kind and encourage others.