Learning to Fly
by Heather Eilering
There comes a time in one’s Sadhana (spiritual practice) where the answers that were previously sufficient are no longer enough; when the external world no longer provides enough meaningful fulfillment. At this time the seeker must turn inward beyond his/her thoughts, beyond emotions, beyond sensations to seek for that fulfillment within. This is when the seeker truly steps on the Path to Spiritual unfolding. This journey inward can at first be intimidating, because the solid ground that had been depended on is being left behind for unknown territory where the ground is unpredictable. Ancient yogis having gone through this process of stepping off solid ground to the unknown have provided us with stepping stones as we take this journey. As we begin to release what we have known to be true our whole lives; what our teachers taught us, what our parents taught us; the ideas that we took hold of and created a whole foundation around to the seeming invisible world within, we have been provided a map of sorts to guide our new exploration.
The seeker can take this map and read it from her mind or she can continue to stay open in a state of true exploration and learn a whole new way of being in this world. A way of being that leads to true peace, not peace dependent on something outside herself. What is this map you may ask? Are you willing to let go of what you know in order to experience the Truth? If so, read on, if not feel free to read on as well but know that what you believe will prevent you from opening to what truly is.
What you believe has served you up until now so be grateful, but now it is time to let these beliefs go in order for something even greater, beyond what your mind has the capacity to imagine or understand. That’s why taking this step on the path is so frightening. Your mind has been your guide, your mind has gotten you this far and life isn’t too terrible, it even appears to be wonderful at times. Why stop listening to the mind that has gotten you this far? Because, this is as far as it will ever take you unless you open to learning more. Consider a child learning to walk. This child has spent it’s whole existence crawling from one place to another, but one day he realizes that his feet and legs can support his weight, he can put one foot in front of the other, travel becomes easier, a whole new world emerges. Then he learns to run, then to drive. How did this child learn to walk? Could his parents teach him? Not really, they could show him, encourage him, but they couldn’t make him learn to balance and take steps. One day he simply gets up and walks. For you, today, it’s time to start flying. Walking is not good enough anymore, you can do more, you can feel more, you can give more.
So, what is this map that is going to help you fly? Patanjali speaks of ten Spiritual guiding principles called the Yamas & Niyamas. Patanjali is one among many ancient Yogis who stepped off solid ground, took the journey inward learning to fly and returned to offer you these stepping stones. They are to be practiced with an open heart and mind, leaving behind what you think you know about these concepts to a whole new reality. As you embark on this new journey, remember these are not to take the place of Truth, which is an experience, not a concept. They are here to guide your mind to a place where it is able to open to the Truth. They represent how one would think, feel and act in the world when they are in alignment with Truth. So as you begin to explore them do not use them as a means to judge yourself or anyone else. Use them as a guide, a practice that will lead you to living in this world with peace and joy as your foundation, not dirt, ideas or beliefs. As you meditate with these ideas let the power of the energy they represent embrace you and support you.
Yamas are considered moral restraints. Ahimsa teaches us that peace is our true nature. Satya offers us the courage to see the truth that we have lived thus far and move beyond it to the Truth of Spirit. Asteya reminds us of the abundance of the universe. Brahmacharya reminds us that the Truth is beyond the limiting boundaries of the physical world. Aparigraha helps us realize the abundance of Spirit and the power of joining.
Niyamas are disciplines. Saucha helps us clear out the clutter within so that we can allow the Light to shine. Santosha helps us feel a true sense of contentment in the world. Tapas teach us the power of our Sadhana and a love of our practice because of the light it opens us to. Swadhyaya sets forth a Guide to help us to explore our self in order to open to our True Self. And finally, Ishvara-Prandidhana teaches us to fall so deeply in Love with the Divine that we serve the Divine in all at all times with true unconditional Love.
Beginning next month we will feature a Yama or Niyama each month in classes at Santosha. Our staff will guide you along these stepping stones to a meaningful experience of their power and protection. We invite you to take this journey inward to deepen your yoga practice. The more you contemplate, meditate and act in accordance with these principles, the more you will begin to see the love and compassion of Spirit, the more you will feel supported in everything you do, the more you will want to dive deeper within to uncover the beautiful Light that has been hidden. You have forgotten but you are the Path, you are the Light, you are the Knowledge. The more you let yourself go the more the Light within you will emerge and embrace you until you become that Light.
In Loving Service,