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We Are Moving From Darkness to Light

We Are Moving From Darkness to Light

“Your inherent nature is joy, ānanda, which is eternal.  That is the message of yoga and vedānta.” – Swami Vishnudevananda

The 3 Gunas

Yoga offers us valuable guidance on our journey towards peace of mind. The formula is simple and can be described as a way of working with the three gunas or qualities of nature: 1) break through the tamas; 2) calm down the rajas; and 3) nourish the sattva.

All the objects of this universe contain the three gunas. The gunas operate on the physical, mental, and emotional levels and obscure our true nature, veiling the Light within. We become attached to physical conditions, stuck in stressful thought patterns, and feel unable to free ourselves from repeated negative emotions.

The light of consciousness, the Atman, reflects through the physical body, the mind and its emotions, just as a brilliant and pure crystal has no color of its own. When a colored object is brought near, it reflects the same color and appears to be that color—blue, red or whatever it may be. In the same way, the Atman is colorless and without qualities yet is veiled by the physical body and mind.

Yoga teaches us that we are neither the body nor mind. We are not our thoughts. The gunas are only veils to our true Divine nature, the Light of Atman.

We must break through tamas

Tamas is resistance to change. The mind seeks stability in the face of constantly changing circumstances (karmas), finding security in addiction to food, alcohol, relationships, and other kinds of behaviors. Without the capacity to discriminate good from bad, we become dependent on external objects and ways of thinking. We may not even like the thing but will choose it anyway out of apathy and ignorance. Tamas veils the Self, providing only a dim view of our true nature. We must make a conscious choice to extract ourselves from Tamas. It takes a good strong kick to move the mind from its tendencies.

We must calm down rajas

Rajas is forceful change. Rajas is ego-driven toward the external, actively engaging the world. Its extreme is to control situations and to meet expectations. One directs their energy outward to effect change that reflects a certain prescribed vision.

Rajas is the energy of action and passion, and of external projection. It singles out an aspect of life that the ego likes and goes towards it to the exclusion of everything else. We become attached to our actions. It is said that fulfilling one desire only reinforces that desire and leads to ten new desires. When these conditions are not met, one falls into disappointment and disillusionment (tamas).

We must nourish sattva

Sattva is wisdom to accept change. We accept that change is in God’s hands and that we do not control change. Sattva is to know that we do not know. Sattva reveals, allowing us to penetrate into the true picture of reality. It is the energy of moving inward and upward, letting go of our attachment to external objects and ever-changing outcomes.

Sattva allows us to see the mind’s tendencies with clarity. With more balance and harmony in our mind, we remain peaceful in the face of difficulty, allowing ourselves to make wise choices rather than reacting to situations beyond our control.

To overcome the egoistic veils of ambition, pride, projections and opinions, desires and expectations, we must nourish sattva through selfless service, devotion, control of the senses and mind, and meditation on the Self. We must learn to detach from external conditions, to question our mind’s thought patterns, and to stop functioning out of habitual conclusions.

Summary

Our journey is to transform ourselves from negative to positive, from restlessness to peace, from darkness to light. Peace of mind is difficult to attain because our minds are always changing. Like the woman who has lost her needle inside of her house, but looks for it outside, we restlessly seek for happiness outside when all the time, the Truth lies within.

Swami Sivananda says, “Fear not. Grieve not. Worry not. Your essential nature is peace. Thou art an embodiment of peace. Know this. Feel this. Realize this.”

Questions for your Self-study

  • How do you react to change?
  • Do you try to control your environment? The situation? Others?
  • Do you find that change causes stress? If so, what aspect of change causes you stress?
  • What are your Yoga practices to nourish sattva?

You can leave answers to the questions in the comments section below.

Other articles of interest:

Author

Swami Dharmananda is assistant director of the Yoga Farm for many years and is in charge of the karma yoga program.  He is a faculty of the Sivananda Institute of Health (SIHY) and is one of the main teachers of Yoga Philosophy and Meditation at the Ashram. He took sannyas vows in 2013 and is keenly interested in yoga psychology and philosophy, presenting the classical teaching in a practical and accessible way to people of all faiths and backgrounds.

Yoga for Awareness and Letting Go

Yoga for Awareness and Letting Go

Yoga for Awareness

and Letting Go

Swami Dharmananda

Swami Dharmananda

Assistant Director

Swami Dharmananda is a faculty of the Sivananda Institute of Health (SIHY) and is one of the main teachers of Yoga Philosophy and Meditation at the Ashram. 

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Yoga is not escaping life, but facing life’s difficulties with detachment and fortitude.

Swami Vishnudevananda said, “If you are carrying some heavy luggage on your head and you are crossing a river and the water is now up to your head but you still want to hold the valuable bundle on your head, the more you try to hold it, what will happen? The more you will go underwater. The more you throw it away, the freer you are to swim across and save yourself.”

Yoga shows us how to let go of our luggage, i.e., the useless negative thoughts and emotions that keep us from knowing the peace we truly seek. Too many times the difficulty comes to us and we don’t have the tools to “cross the river”.

We instead try to escape from the situation or deny the situation rather than living our life with open eyes and an open heart.

Swami Dharmananda talks during a Satsang at the Sivananda Yoga Farm.

Often, we act out of long-established stress patterns that find their root in fear, attachment, and desire. The fight/flight response has caught us and suddenly our choices are very limited. 

I can run from this or I can fight through this. Either way, the threat to my well-being seems real and tangible. Under the influence of this perceived threat, we are less able to connect to our own innate wisdom and are more likely to fall prey to negative emotions or extreme thoughts. 

To compensate for these uncomfortable emotional states, we fall back to tried and true habits such as smoking, drinking, eating unhealthy foods, unhealthy relationships, etc.

Yoga teaches us how to “let go” and to detach from these stress patterns and the behaviors that follow them. We learn how to keep calm even when a strong negative emotion such as anger arises. To detach means to witness the anger, understanding that we are not the emotion.

Students meditate overlooking a view of a pond.

Meditation is one Yoga practice that helps to build awareness and detachment from the mind.

We can say, “I see there is anger in my mind,” rather than succumbing to the anger itself.  We remain peaceful even when circumstances seem to go against us or don’t meet our own rigid expectations.

Swami Sivananda says, “Fortitude is a sweet mysterious mixture of courage, calmness, patience, presence of mind and endurance.” Fortitude is our capacity to endure difficult or stressful situations.

It is based in detachment and discrimination, being able to tell what is real from what is not real. It is understanding that karma is to be experienced and lessons are to be learned.

Students practice Yoga asana as the teacher demonstrates.

Daily Yoga is a powerful practice with many benefits, such as more positivity and less stress.

Through daily Yoga practice we gain awareness of negative emotions and thought patterns. Through trial and error we transform the negative to positive, freeing ourselves from expectations, desired outcomes, and disappointments.  

Swami Sivananda adds, “Every failure is a stepping-stone to success. Every difficulty or disappointment is a trial of your faith. Every unpleasant incident or temptation is a test of your inner strength. Therefore, nil desperandum. March forward hero!”

Ultimate Guide to Positive Thinking

Ultimate Guide to Positive Thinking

Ultimate Guide to Positive Thinking

Positive Thinking Webinar with Swami Sitaramananda

Swami Sitaramananda

Swami Sitaramananda

Yoga Farm Director

Swami Sitaramananda is a senior disciple of Swami Vishnudevananda and acharya of the US West Coast centers and Ashram.  Swamiji is also the acharya of the Sivananda mission in Asia, especially in Vietnam, where she hails from.
In this webinar, we will learn the basic techniques of positive thinking and be introduced to some pointers to practice positive thinking in daily life.

Thinking positively implies understanding what thought power is and how to master thought and how to practice thought transformation.

Understand Everything as Opportunity for Growth

Positive thinking is understanding that everything is an opportunity for growth.

Swami Sivananda taught that “Life is a great opportunity provided by the Lord for His children to evolve into Himself…The great central aim in life is the conscious realization of our Oneness with God.

This means that to turn a negative thought and feeling around, we need to consciously see things from the point of view of our Oneness with God, and not from our separate individual points of view.

Swami Sivananda sitting by the banks of Ganga
Swami Vishnu sitting closed eyes meditating

Source of Wisdom

Positive thinking is connection to the Source of wisdom within.

“There is a Power, an Energy, which each person can tap into if he knows it is available.  This Force inspires, encourages, reinforces and gives strength to those who seek to grow in a positive direction.”
  – Swami Vishnudevananda

Multidimensional Universe

We live in a multidimensional universe.  We experience a subtle reality of thought, and at the same time experience the gross body and the gross universe.  What we think upon, is what we become.

Thought is Subtle

Thought is a subtle force.  Thought can build and it can destroy.  We all need to learn to manipulate these subtle forces in our minds for our own progress and well being. Negative thinking can be destructive and bring about depression,  stress, illness, and friction.

Here is a blog post on transforming negative emotions.

Multidimensional Universe many stars at night
Positive Thinking by remembering Lord Vishnu

Thought Vibrates at Different Wavelengths

Thought is an energy.  Thought is prana.  Thoughts are not of equal value. Some thoughts are of higher vibration and some of lower vibration.

Our duty is to increase our vibratory wavelength to the maximum, by purifying our mind through appropriate methods of Yoga.  If our energy is high, our thought will be of a higher frequency automatically.

Thoughts are all-pervasive.  We are at all times swimming in an ocean of thoughts.  This article is on how to conserve prana.

Thought Atmosphere Influences

The energy of a place or a thought atmosphere is composed of all the thoughts generated there for a very long time.  It is composed of similar dominant thought.

For example, financial districts of big cities generate thoughts of greed, shopping centers radiate thoughts of “Buy! Buy!”, a red light district generates thoughts of lust, and some dangerous neighborhoods generate thoughts of fear.

Keep your mind in a healthy environment and choose your company. If you take a bath in dirty, filthy waters, you will come out dirty and filthy. If you swim in an ocean of unidentified negative thoughts, you will pick up the energy of the place like picking up a virus or flu.  Find out more on how to keep the mind elevated.

Swimming in Dirty Water
Radio transmitter helps us tune to positive thinking

We are like Radio Transmitters and Receivers

We tune to different thought wavelengths, transmitting thoughts and receiving thoughts of the same nature as our own.

Our bodies and minds are like radios. Through yoga, we keep them strong so we can receive and transmit powerful vibrations.

Here are some tips on dealing with stress.

Help others by Maintaining Positive Thoughts

One student of a Positive thinking course said to me: “Before, if my husband is down, and I feel okay, I have to lower my vibration and happiness in order to be at the same wavelength as him. Now, when he is not happy, I remain positive and he becomes positive like me.”

Elephants help each other
Sunset in Vietnam helps us to remember our self

Positive Thoughts have a high vibration

Positive thought wavelengths are more difficult to get because they take more prana.

Negative thought wavelengths are easier to produce because they take less effort.

That is why it is easier to be negative than positive as you can just relax and complain.

The 5 Points of Yoga bring back Positivity

1. Asanas – Yoga Postures help move the prana. The most important energetic benefit of asana practice is the circulation of the flow of prana; through moving the prana, we can unblock mental blockages and restore positivity.

To do so, the sequence of the asanas needs to be respected, and proper concentration and relaxation in between postures should be observed.  This article is and in depth explanation on how hatha yoga heals.

Fish pose matsyasana at the Yoga farm yoga hall
Pranayama is for the mind and gives us positive thinking

Recharge the Battery for Positive Thinking

2. Proper Breathing or Pranayama balances and supplies new energy. Do regular breathing exercises such as abdominal yogic breath and alternate breathing to recharge and balance the two hemispheres of the brain.

Imbalanced personality such as too much right brain thinking (emotional) or left brain thinking(rational) brings about negativity. When both flows of breath through both nostrils are balanced, you will experience well being and centeredness.  This article goes in depth on the topic of understanding our prana and what to do with it.

We should not only do pranayama, but also make wise choices that will help us increase, conserve, balance and channel our prana.

Spending time in retreat, limiting outgoing senses and too much  activity, and offering selfless service are some ways to rekindle your energy and positivity.

Conscious Relaxation removes Stress

Proper Relaxation includes physical relaxation, when there is no tension in the body, mental relaxation, when the mind is concentrated on something positive–such as the breath–and also spiritual relaxation, when one develops faith and knowledge .

The main causes of stress are  failure to adapt, lack of prana, and existential unresolved questions about life, death, and our nature and purpose.  This article explains in depth the science of relaxation.

Final Relaxation with students in savasana
Savasana on a lotus flower

Relaxation allows you to Recharge and go deep inside

  • Physical letting go brings awareness that you are not the body
  • It frees your mind from concerns and anxieties.
  • It helps you get in touch with your inner peace

This article gives relaxation techniques to release tension and stress

Proper Diet and Lifestyle Lifts you up

Proper diet includes taking wholesome and organic food at regular intervals that is easily digestible and full of life force. Avoid substances like drugs, cigarettes, and intoxicants, which clog the energy channels and create damage to your energy system.

An unwholesome diet contributes to an unsteady, distracted and weak state of mind.

Here is our blog with proper diet recipes and articles and here are upcoming courses in diet and nutrition.

Girl with vegetarian plate of food happy
Swami Sita cultivates positive thinking by meditating

Meditation Calms, Connects, and brings Positive Thinking

Meditation recharges and purifies thoughts. In the meditative, silent mind, you feel reconnected with your purpose and God.

Reserve a set time for your meditation practice. Let go of the past, present, future, and all ideas who you are and what you are doing. Practice meditation without expectation, fear or judgment.

To prepare for meditation, keep the mind concentrated and live a simple life.  Read about what is yoga meditation.

This articles gives guidance on how to meditate for beginners.

What you think is what you become

You create your destiny through your thoughts. You attract thoughts to you of a similar nature and repel other thoughts.

Think “strong”, and you will become strong. Think “weak”, and you will become weak.

Here is an article on transforming fear into faith an courage.

Swami Sivananda looking very dynamic
2 girls cooking in kitchen have positive thinking

Take Responsibility for your Thoughts

As much as you do not throw trash around and pollute the environment, do not throw negative thoughts around and pollute the thought atmosphere. You are not a victim. Know that you can create a sustainable positive life for yourself by practicing Yoga and meditation.

This practice will wake you up, calm you down and  make you realize your blessings!

Here is an article on creating positive health.

Positive Thinking is Now!

Do not wait for an ideal situation to come for you to become positive. Let go of expectations and preconceived ideas about yourself and others.

Learn to turn all situations into blessings and realize that all is perfect and no one is to blame!

Life brings you exactly what you need, not what you desire.

fireworks are to celebrate the moment
Lock and Chain will bind us to lower thoughts

You are the Prime Victim

Negative thoughts afflict you, the thinker first, as they drain your prana (energy), separate you from others, occupy your consciousness and prevent you from enjoying the peace of your soul.
They make you sick and keep you in a sort of prison of your own negativity.

This articles talks about how to progress towards Peace of Mind.

Take Care of the Problem Immediately

You can be your own doctor or paramedic.

Thought is fast, and negative thoughts can be triggered without warning.

Therefore, you need to take care of it yourself,  immediately, like an emergency.

This articles talks about the power of here and now.

Urgently take care of any negative thoughts
First Aid kit will give us tools to help our thoughts

Techniques of Positive Thinking

There are different methods to deal with any negative situation or thought. Just like in a first-aid kit of an emergency doctor or paramedic, you have different tools or medicines to respond to any emergency.

  • Try different things the best you can.
  • Allow yourself to explore alternatives and different attitudes.
  • Do not get stuck in one way of reacting.

Your habitual way of reacting has become your personality and identity.

Allow yourself to explore other ways. This is an opportunity to expand your horizons and your knowledge of yourself.

Technique Number 1 – Replace a negative thought with its opposite thought

This is a Raja Yoga technique.  Examples of how to change our thoughts are:

  • Fear change to Courage
  • Anger change to Non-attachment
  • Hatred change to Love
  • Attachment change to Detachment
  • Grief change to acceptance
  • Desire change to contentment

Here is an article on 10 ways to overcome negative emotions.

Meditation outdoors helps us become aware of thoughts
Be like the lotus flower unaffected by the world

Technique 2 – Be Indifferent to Negative Thoughts

This is a meditation technique.

The moment the thought appears, observe it with detachment and let it go.

Do not dwell on it or identify with it.

This article talks about why we need to meditate and the benefits.

Technique Number 3 – Sublimation

Sublimation means to use up the energy for something positive or higher. Turn negative thoughts into less harmful thoughts.

Channel your thoughts, or In other words, refocus and redirect the energy.

Our blog category on Karma yoga gives insights on how to do this.

Use up the energy by gardening and being in nature
Maha lakshmi is goddess of wealth and gives us what we need

Technique 4 – Positive Visualization

  • Have a mental image of yourself endowed with the positive quality you seek.
  • Keep visualizing the virtue you seek in a symbolic image.
  • Example: Siva the meditator and a detached personality, Lakshmi the Goddess of Love and prosperity, Saraswati the Goddess of Knowledge and Wisdom, Ganesha the remover of obstacles.

You can learn more in our teachings on Bhakti Yoga.

Technique Number 5 – Positive Self Affirmation

Like taking regular doses of medicine or vitamins to prevent the re-occurrence of habitual thoughts, consciously repeat the opposite thought to yourself.

I am becoming better and better everyday,
in every way
– Swami Sivananda

This article has 17 affirmations that one can use.

Woman in mirror giving positive affirmation
Swami Sita looking up concentrating

Technique 6 – Concentration Technique

Concentration brings calmness and clarity.

Focus the mind on positive thoughts only.

Keep the mind engaged at all times. A distracted mind is a source of negativity.

Swami Sivananda said that “an idle mind is the devil’s workshop.”

Technique Number 7 – Maintain a Cheerful Attitude

Do not take yourself so seriously.

If you can laugh at yourself, the worst is over. Keep having a sense of humor.

This article gives guidance on finding the guru and how to turn within.

Swami Sivananda practices laughing therapy to keep cheerful
Steps leading on a path

Technique 8 – Change one thought at a time

Be careful of your impatience and the tendency to want to change everything at once. It might lead to setbacks and disappointment.

Change one thought at a time and go on with business as usual.

This article is on concentration and commitment.

Technique Number 9 – Invite Positive thoughts and their friends

Beware that negative thoughts never come alone.

One negative thought allowed in will invite  many friends of the same nature to bring you down.

In the same way, one positive thought will bring a host of friends to uplift you.

This blog post is on the topic that your mind is your best friend or worst enemy.

many ducks in a row bring friends
Silvia nakkach sings music to lift the mood

Technique 10 – Chanting changes your mood

Mantras have the power to change negative vibrations to positive ones.

Chanting mantras is like washing your mind with soap.

Learn some kirtan which you can chant anytime.

Technique Number 11 – Yoga and Meditation Calms and Connects to your Self

Yoga asanas (postures),  pranayama (breathing exercises) and tuning to your Self through  meditation are still the best techniques for positive thinking.

Here you can see images of Swami Vishnu doing all the yoga asanas.

Teaching Headstand outdoors
Monday: Detachment

Tuesday: Courage

Wednesday: Compassion

Thursday: Faith

Friday: Charity

Saturday: Patience

Sunday: Forgiveness

Technique 12 – Cultivate Virtues

Do not wait for a negative situation to happen to learn to be positive.

Be pro-active, cultivate virtues daily.

The blog post is on how to tune to positive thoughts.

Karma Yoga Formula

  • Karma Yoga means to get out of yourself and serve someone
  • It is not about me, I am here to serve
  • I am doing my duty, I do the best I can
  • I offer the results of my actions to God. I am only the instrument.

The best way to find yourself is lose yourself in the service of others”
  – Mahatma Gandhi

Mahatma Gandhi great karma yogi
Mother Theresa great karma yogi

Karma Yoga Formula continue

I am a little pencil in the hand of a writing God who is sending a love letter to the world “. Mother Theresa

This post is on how and why to be selfless.

This post explains how to find your dharma.

Bhakti Yoga Formula

In Bhakti Yoga we say –

  • “Everything happens all the time for the best.”
  • “There is always a good reason for things to happen the way they do.”
  • “It is the doing of the Divine Mother, she is perfect and beautiful.”
  • “Let go, let God.”
  • “It is not my will, it is God’s will, I surrender to God’s will.”

This article talks about how emotions works.

Darshan the cat is completely relaxed
Lotus flower blooming wisdom and light

Yoga Philosophy Formula

In Jnana Yoga we say –

  • “Why would I be so upset when in reality, I am not this?”
  • “I am not my emotions”
  • “I am the silent witness”
  • “I am the observer”
  • “This is not real”
  • “This too shall pass”
  • “Everything changes”

Learn more in our blog posts about jnana yoga.

We are One

There is no “other”. Everybody is my  own Self.

  • “I am in you and you are in me. “
  • “I see my own self in you.”
  • “I am what I think  is separated from me.”
  • “I am like the drop in the ocean that is identical with the ocean itself.”
  • “I am your own Self.”
  • “Love thy Neighbor as thyself.”
  • “Names are Many, but God is One.”
  • “Paths are many but Truth is One.”
  • “I am Sat Chit Ananda – Existence Absolute, Knowledge Absolute, Bliss Absolute. “

This article talks about how to be aware of that Self in all beings.

Planet Earth showing we are all One
Bird flies free

I am Free

Real freedom is freedom from the bonds of karma, from egoism and desires, from thoughts, likes and dislikes. Real freedom is identification with the supreme Self. “
  – Swami Sivananda

This pages explains what is true freedom.

Everything is all the time Perfect

  • May the whole world attain Peace and Harmony!
  • Asato Ma Satgamaya Tamaso Ma Jyotir Gamaya – Mrityor Ma Amritam Gamaya
  • Om Purnam Adam, Purnam Idam Purnat, Purnamudachyate
  • Purnasya Purnamadaya Purnameva Vashishyate
  • Om Shanti Shanti Shanti
Swami Sita smiles and teaches
© Swami Sitaramananda 2018 – No part of this article may be reproduced in any form without the written permission of the author.

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Our Sivananda Yoga Farm Blog has numerous articles, videos, and talks given by our senior teachers over the years.

Transforming Fear into Faith and Courage

Transforming Fear into Faith and Courage

Transforming Fear into Faith and Courage

by Swami Sitaramananda
3
AUGUST, 2018
In Yoga philosophy, the teachers or wise people (the rishis) discuss about the relationship between the individual Self and the Absolute Reality.  They help us to understand the mysteries of life which gives us knowledge to understand our own minds and practice emotional intelligence in daily life.
In fact these teachers declare, out of their own experience and knowledge, that there is a state of perfect existence which is beyond changes, birth, and death. This unchanging state of consciousness is also called Truth (Sat). This state of being is fully aware, all-knowing beyond darkness and limitation. This state of all-knowing-at-all-time is termed Chits. Last but not least, they said when we can attain this state of bliss absolute (ananda), we go beyond any suffering and can live a life of perfect emotional intelligence.

Modern Stress can be overwhelming.

Sat Chit Ananda

This absolute positivity can be achieved by an individual, however, the moment that you achieve it, you no longer remain in an individual existence. At that time, all idea of separation and division would disappear, as the individual consciousness merges with the Supreme Consciousness.

How we would achieve this sublime state of consciousness without having any concept of it?

In truth, this absolute consciousness is all pervading and yet is beyond the mind’s concepts. Technically, the mind and intellect are limited and can not perceive something beyond itself, let alone have a relationship with it. This is the reason why, the sages talked about devoting oneself to the highest ideal or form of the divine that the mind can conceive.

In truth, this absolute consciousness is all pervading and yet is beyond the mind’s concepts.
This devotion needs to be personal, because we need to experience it in the core of our heart. We need to feel and experience truly the love of that Truth that is unfailing, all existing, all pervading, all knowing. This highest ideal needs to be understood and felt in the core of our being so that we can become it. This is the ultimate emotional intelligence.

Stress can come on at any time.

 

Our Highest Ideal

It is easier for us to love someone and become like he or she.  In fact, being a human being, we need to see the perfection alive in a human being.

This idea or ideal needs to become embodied for us to relate to and to emulate. The nature of our emotional mind is that it is easier for us to love someone and become like he or she, by the power of love and absorption.

In fact, we become what we think a lot about. We like to idealize and to be attached to someone we think is morally superior to us. We are ready to follow advice from them.

Therefore, there is the idea of a personal concept of God, Ishwara, for us to be dedicated to. Different minds need different types of teacher. Therefore, we are encouraged to seek for our own chosen ideal (ishta devata).

Truth is One

We do not need to compare ourselves with others who have different paths then ourselves. “Names and forms are many, Truth is one”. “ Paths are many, God is one”.

Ultimately, not only we have an abstract idea of the Ideal and the Truth, but we have also the live example in human form of this ideal person we can become.  This is the ultimate power of positive thinking.

Long term negative emotions can go back to before birth and display as certain personality traits.

Faith is positive thinking

Faith in the Supreme Intelligence comes from an inner feeling that there is something greater than you, a supreme being that indwells one’s essential spirit. When one is enriched with abiding faith one is able to recognize the divine grace operating in all things.  In summary, we are on a journey of self-discovery to uncover the truth of who we are, a journey guided by faith.

We can think of faith as the power of positive thinking that carries us from one experience of grace to the next.  Fear exists when we don’t know the Self (the Atman).  We must rely on faith to progress on the spiritual path until we have knowledge of the Self from our own direct experience.

The more we progress and the greater our connection with the truth within, the Atman, the more faith we will have.  Over time we will need less faith as faith is gradually replaced by knowledge of the Self.  Ultimately faith is replaced by direct experience of the Self. It is then we can say, “I know.”

Above – Learn to relax by spending time in nature and practicing yoga.

True Knowledge

Where is knowledge coming from?  In my earlier days, I experience that knowledge can be glimpsed intuitively. At that time,  I observed that people around me were unhappy and miserable.  Even when I was able to help improve their circumstances, they didn’t seem to be any happier.  But somehow, I had the thought that there must be a place that wasn’t like this where people practiced the power of positive thinking.

I went searching, thinking at first this place must be outside of the city, so I moved to the country.  I found it was not in the country either, and guessed it must be in the ashram. It soon became apparent it wasn’t even in the ashram.

Where is this Satchidananda, or knowledge?  Of course, knowledge or truth reside inside of us, but it is a long hard journey to turn within to find it, as we are always looking outside of ourselves.  This journey of turning within to find the Highest Ideal within and without must be sustained by considerable faith.

As a matter of fact, we lack experience in the beginning of our journey. However, although we do not really have a clue where we are going, faith keeps us going.  This is why we need a teacher to help show us the way to face our fears and to understand the power of positive thinking.

Consciously tensing and releasing our muscles in savasana from the toes, reaching up to the eyes, ears and head, helps to bring our body and mind to their natural efficiency.

Fear is Unreal

Fear is a very strong primitive emotion, present in all animals.  Fear serves a very basic purpose: to help us to survive.  If we were Self-realized we would know there is no danger to our survival, since we are not the individual body that we think we are. In fact, fear arises out of an external view of reality.  Fear is caused in us by things that appear unfamiliar or situations beyond our immediate understanding. Fear creates imaginations of darkness, of falling and distorts the mind.

Therefore, Fear is based in unreality, in Maya.  It comes from our attachment, our grasping on to illusory things and beliefs. We need to think a little about the effect of fear. Being fearful or anxious means we are attached. Being attached means we are stuck, bogged down, we lost our freedom; If we are afraid, we are incapable of letting go of the things that are no longer relevant or helpful to our growth.

We become paralyzed and lose our faculties when we are fearful.  We freeze, unable to do anything to solve our problem.  There was a time years ago, I stumbled on a horror movie on TV.  I was so scared!  And yet, I could not do anything, not even capable to move three feet to turn off the TV. I was paralyzed with fear. This is a small example but illustrates the point; even the simplest situations that arise can stop us in our tracks because of our illusory fearful thoughts.

Practicing Meditation and Positive Emotions we can heal ourself.

Anxiety blocks the way to knowledge

Anxiety is even worse than fear, because unlike fear we cannot identify its source.  Anxiety is fear that has no name. With anxiety, there is no creativity, no productivity, we are depressed and our minds lose the capacity to think clearly.

Now, consider the analogy in which the sun is the Atman and anxiety is a storm of clouds covering the sun. There are days when clouds fill the sky and we can’t see the sun. Yet we know it’s there behind the layer of clouds.

From time to time as the clouds pass overhead we may catch a glimpse of the sun’s brightness or feel its warmth for a moment. In the same way, the Atman is always shining within us, untouched by the clouds of fear and anxiety that we experience.

Conclusion

In summary, loose life and indulgent life is not relaxation, but a conscious, content and simple life is true relaxation and happiness.

The science of relaxation leads to spiritual relaxation, a state of freedom and joyfulness when there is no expectation or desire of anything. Instead of anxiety, we experience detachment, contentment  and fulfillment .

Upcoming Stress Relief and Relaxation courses at the Sivananda Yoga Farm that teaches these techniques.

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Yoga Shows the Way to Positive Health

Yoga Shows the Way to Positive Health

Positive Health

Positive health is that state in which all the internal organs of the body function optimally under the intelligent control of the mind.  There is an interdependence between body and mind.  The Yoga scriptures tell us that the influence of the mind on the body is far more powerful than the influence of the body on the mind. Therefore, mental exercises form the bulk of the Yoga practices, although physical exercises also have a definite place. The physical exercises (asanas) form the third limb of the Yogic path of raja yoga.

Yamas (inoffensiveness or no-killing, truthfulness, non-stealing, continence and non-receiving) and Niyamas (purification, contentment, mortification, study and complete self-surrender to the Lord) form the foundation of the Yoga practice because, without these asanas will not give the desired result.

Physical Body

Hatha Yoga teaches how to keep the physical body in positive health so that the Jiva (individual soul) can reach safely the goal of life, Self-realization. It teaches a natural mode of living. A Yogi should have a thorough knowledge of the physical body and its functioning.

The Yogis believe that the real man is not his body. They know that the immortal “I”, of which each human being is conscious to a greater or lesser degree, is not the body, which it merely occupies and uses. They know well that the body is but as a suit of clothes which the spirit puts on and off from time to time.

Physical mastery

The Yogi develops the body knowing it to be but an instrument for the use of the real part of himself, and solely that he may perfect the instrument to the end that it be used in the work of soul growth. The physically motivated person contents himself with mere mechanical movements and exercises for developing the muscles.

The Yogi throws mind into the task, and develops not only the muscles, but every organ, cell and part of his body as well. Not only does he do this, but he obtains control over every part of his body and acquires mastery over the involuntary part of his organism, too.

When man runs contrary to the law of that great intelligence who has created his body, disharmony and disease result.

Body intelligence

It is the same intelligence which presides over each and every function of the body. That intelligence, the manifestation of which we call ‘nature’, ‘the life principle’, and similar names, is constantly on the alert to repair damage, heal wounds, knit together broken bones, to throw off harmful materials accumulated in the system and in thousands of ways to keep the machine in good running order. Much of what we call disease is really a beneficent action of nature designed to get rid of poisonous substances which we have allowed to enter and remain in our system.

Health of the Body

Endocrine glands are perhaps the foremost to react and cause functional reactions. It has been found that the endocrine secretions very powerfully affect the nervous system. If these secretions suffer, pathological conditions in different parts of the body are rapidly established.

When the thyroid secretion suffers, the cells of the most distant part of the body slowly begin to undergo a change. The hair begins to grow grey, the nails have a tendency to be brittle, fatty degeneration starts in the arteries, the face tends to be wrinkled, weakness creeps over the brain and many, many other symptoms begin to appear. Yoga aims are to restore the internal secretions to their normality by securing the health of the endocrine glands through Yogic practices.

Balance of Body functions

We have learned from physiology that there are two processes going on in our system: catabolism, or the process of waste, and anabolism, the process of repair. Both these processes put together is called metabolism. When the anabolism (that is, the process of repair) is more active than the catabolism (that is, process of waste), then the body grows.

In a growing child, anabolism is more active and makes up for the waste materials brought by the catabolic process. In a healthy adult, catabolic and anabolic processes balance themselves and thus keep up the body unimpaired. In old age, catabolism takes the upper hand and leads to steady degeneration of the tissues.

Yogic exercises reduce the catabolic activity to its minimum and thus the body is kept in a healthy condition.

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The Power of Here and Now

The Power of Here and Now

The Power of Here and Now

by Swami Sitaramananda

10

AUGUST, 2018

Take a moment to contemplate the idea that our mind is our instrument to perceive reality and to learn our lessons in life. The power of here and now is the only way to solve life’s mysteries.

As a matter of fact, all our experiences in life are through our mind, our emotions, our senses.  In Yoga, we use the term” mind” generically, for all mental functions, either perception, memory, decision making and feeling.

Indeed our mind is very powerful and it is important for us to know it better and know how to control our mind.  

Buddha statue represents one who knows the mind.

Be Here and Now

To learn our life’s lessons is the purpose of our birth. Different minds perceive different realities.

In fact there is no objective reality out there, as we see things according to our mental preconceived ideas.

This is the reason why Yoga teachings and Yoga practice and techniques help us to purify the mind in order for us to see a universal reality that is closer to the Universal Truth, which leads us to peace and happiness.

Yoga practice and techniques help us to purify the mind in order for us to see a universal reality.

Swinging of the Mind

For this reason, the yogis always observe the mind and endeavor to understand its workings.

Particularly, they observe that the mind is constantly swinging like the pendulum of a clock, between likes and dislikes.

As a matter of fact, we think a lot about what we are attracted to and what we desire and in the same token, we think a lot about the opposite, what we reject and what we have aversion for.

Really, we dislike certain things, either people, objects or places. In fact, we run away from them.  Thus, the mind is constantly in movement searching for happiness and this makes us constantly restless.

Our mind is like a swing that is constantly changing.

What is our mind doing?

See for a moment how we keep ourselves busy in our minds? We are busy with two types of thoughts: First, we are looking forward to future events or things that we expect to come in the future.

We use our imaginations, we daydream, we scheme and plan, and hope for things that will fit to our idea of a desirable outcome.

Secondly, we are so attached to what has happened that is not fitting our expectations and we spend time reacting to our past events and memories.

We spend our mental energy regretting and rearranging our past, and ruminate about what already has happened.

Birth and Rebirth

From time immemorial, the yoga masters have warned us about our mental tendency that traps us in an endless circle of desire, expectation and disappointment.

Furthermore, they warn us that we will continue to experience the same frustrations again and again and that these are our karmas, leading to births and rebirths.

We did not understand these teachings correctly most of the time.  Either we have a fatalistic view about our destined karmic situations and resign ourselves.

The other attitude is to fall into indifference, denial or resistance to any teaching, carrying on with our ways, justifying ourselves with our limited views.

The yoga masters have warned us about our mental tendency that traps us in an endless circle of desire, expectation and disappointment.

Yoga Shows us the Way

Remember, the way out is to stop the swinging of the mind and experience the liberating moment of HERE AND NOW.

In the Here and Now, we have all possibilities, all creativity, all fulfillment, all satisfaction, all happiness.

In the Here and Now, we actualize ourselves and feel powerful, becoming all that we can be.

There will be no fears, regrets, anticipations, worries, likes and dislikes, duality between self and others. Also, in the Here and Now, we are One.

Furthermore, there will be no comparison, no feeling of inferiority or superiority, no feeling of inadequacy, nor pride. Indeed, there will be no waiting for approval nor self-efforts to prove oneself in the eyes of others.

How wonderful! We are able to solve all the paradoxes in life, all the conflicts in relationships, and able to resolve the inner conflicts we have between contradicting desires.

In summary, In the Here and Now, we are free– we are who we are.

Be detached like the lotus unaffected by the world.

How to be Here and Now

Yogic philosophy declares that time and space and causality are the modes of the mind only. Without the mind, there is no time, space and causality. What that’s really mean?

It means that One lives in the Eternal without reason and conditions, in the state of unconditioned bliss, no matter where One is , and no matter the nature of life’s circumstances.

The Yogis say, “To transcend time, you need to transcend the mind.”

In fact, all yogic techniques of meditation help us to transcend the mind, or at least to calm the mind down.

Additionally, the Yogis keep the mind focused, unwavering, firm and steady in the moment, detached while performing the task at hand, without distractions.

A sublime state of being

This is also called the state of being that is “balanced with attention”, or the state of equanimity.

The yogis endeavor to keep the mind under control, not going to extremes in anything, not desiring, not disliking, not overly active nor passive or depressed, not identifying with something external and becoming attached, nor hiding from the world out of fear.

This exalted state of being is called being “in the world but not of the world,” like the lotus that grows out of the mud yet keeps its purity and fragrance.

The yogi stays focused on the eternal Here and Now of his own eternal Soul and accomplishes everything while being.

This exalted state of being is called being “in the world but not of the world.”

How to attain that state?

This is accomplished step by step by starting to practice daily asanas and pranayama to purify and calm down the mind, also to detach from our actions in life and our current identifications.

Last but not least, this transparent state of mind is achieved through daily practice of meditation and concentration.

The mind will become calmer and clearer and  its motives and behaviors will become known by the meditator.

The meditator will experience glimpses of eternity. Eventually, there will be only one experience,  there will be only One Reality.

Practicing Meditation and Pranayama can bring us back to the Hear and Now.

Emotional Health through Pure Love

Furthermore, mental and emotional relaxation is not being indifferent or being aloof. It is learning what pure love or devotion is.

Through the purification of our heart and emotions, we become mature and “emotionally intelligent”. This is an endeavor of a life time, so one needs to be patient.

How does it work? We need to learn first to regulate our emotions, avoid extremes, extreme highs or extreme lows.

Secondly, we need to learn to calm our desirous heart and to be content and grateful instead for all gifts received.

This journey of mental and emotional discipline will allow us to experience the bliss within. In turn, the bliss experienced within will free us from compulsions and desires.

Conclusion

The Sivananda Yoga of synthesis is the wonderful way to attain that sublime state of mind. Uniquely, it combines in daily life the yogic techniques from the classical 4 paths of Yoga.

We just need to immerse ourselves in  the theory and practice of Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Raja Yoga and Hatha Yoga, plus the philosophy of Vedanta and the techniques of self enquiry of Jnana Yoga.

However, remember what Swami Sivananda said: “one ounce of practice equals tons of theory!”

Therefore, at this moment you read this line, commit ourselves to this daily marvelous practice with the help of an able teacher.  A brilliant future is awaiting you!

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