Niyama : a personal observance
- Saucha –सौच – Purity of the body, mind, and intention, & ultimately spiritual purity. Saucha is basically self-care and can be practiced in many ways. You may choose to clean your living space or organize your day. Saucha is ridding yourself from thoughts that do not serve you and the habits that keep you distracted and impure. Everything we do is connected. Saucha is the art of harmonizing our environment and actions towards purity and peace.
- Santosha –संतोष- Contentment. Being content is like almost being happy.
Practicing Santosha is imagining for just a moment, every moment, that you love your life just because you get to live it. We have three critical pitfalls when it comes to contentment: Thinking that happiness is a static emotion, but it isn’t. It never was. Your reactions and choice to be happy is directly related to the weight you give events, things, people, factors in your life. Practicing Santosha is in part a process of surrendering. No doubt there will be events that make you scream for joy, and cry with pain, but surrendering that these events are in a constant state of self-balancing will grant you an awareness of how lucky you are to include them all in your story. Santosha is where life begins.
- Tapasya -तपस्य – Fire from Austerity – Tapasya is practicing your will power for life: the most powerful tool to enhance the burning passion within you. Tapas, the root word, means fire. But what does austerity mean? [We often think of austerity as governmental measures taken to restore public finances, like lowering budgets, spending cuts, or a hiring freeze, but really, Austerity just means something like: A Pause.] Fire from Austerity is a lot like maintaining commitment and extreme concentration through sustained self control. Why is self control important? Because you are strong enough to not give in to the whiny baby residing in your adult form. Exhibit restraint and have the fortitude to overcome the “I’m tired..””I’m hungry..”and “I don’t want to..” Self-control is not only to be understood as negative reinforcement. It could be positive efforts of doing something you don’t want to, and enduring it with patience and dedication. Tapasya can be understood the ultimate commitment to you.
- Swadhyaya – स्वाध्याय – Self-Study Does practicing Swadhyaya tell us to study the self, or to regularly practice studying? Yes. Both of course. Swadhyaya is a path to freedom as it is the practice of learning or un-learning all of the things that hold you back. Swadhyaya is a 2- Part agreement: first with yourself and secondly with your respect for learning. Swadhyaya actually means to study the self, or self-analysis. This agreement is with you and your best friend: also you. As your own best friend, you need to know you better than anyone else. You need to listen & talk to you, trust, encourage, and love you. Be forewarned, the Swadhyaya classroom is a relentless one. In order to be a self-studier you become teacher and pupil. You are the only person who can design and adhere to the curriculum. You will instantly become aware of all of your negative tendencies, who you have turned into, and how terrible this may make you feel. Welcome and accept your limitations as this is where learning begins.
In this practice of self-study you must find the source of…
or Self-loathing.. You will also learn how cunning you are and will be tried by your own deception.The more we do this, the more we are free.
- Ishvara Pranidhana – ईश्वर प्रणिधान – Surrender to the Divine Consciousness.Ishvara = Divine Consciousness, Pranidhana = to surrender. In this final niyama, ego sheds from you like a snake that’s outgrown its skin. Only the prudent arrive here in their spiritual journey. Please click links below to recap the 4 previous niyamas.
What in the hell is a Divine Consciousness? It’s the energy that binds us. We are made of star stuff and the body, we think we own, will decay and become star stuff once again. Ishvara Pranidhana is the practice of acknowledgement that you are not in control. You never were. Your parents, yes they made you enter this world as a baby, but you were always created from the the Universe and the Universe is connected to everything, therefore you are immense, limitless, and infinite.