The fifth and final Niyama is Isvara Pranidhana, and what a loaded Niyama it is. Once we have cleansed (Saucha), contented (Santosha) and disciplined (Tapas) ourselves, and have given time to reflect (Svadhyaya), we are set for Isvara Pranidhana. The reason we have prepared ourselves through the other observances is Isvara Pranidhana can be interpreted as surrendering to the universe or divine. The difficult thing about this is if we haven’t balanced ourselves through the previous Niyamas, we may have difficulty in giving up control, either because we feel through the Yamas and Niyamas we are finally getting a handle, or because we control too tightly and we are not of the habit of loosening our grip. But this is the innate challenge in the Niyama itself, can we allow ourselves to simply exist in and as a part of the universe, carried in its currents through its seas.
Isvara Pranidhana may be the most difficult Niyama to practice, at least for me it has been. I am/was of the ilk to see reason, or rather, looking for reasons behind every action or inaction of myself, others and the world around me. While there very well be a reason (or not) for these events, it isn’t necessarily important for me to analyze and understand them. Here is where an issue may lie for some, because practicing Isvara Pranidhana might be seen as merely becoming passive and reactive, but in truth, its about becoming proactively responsive. This Niyama is intended to cultivate a keen sensitivity to the workings of the world around one, without the irrational need to exist in any other way then one already does.
So how can we practice Isvara Pranidhana in our day to day lives? Begin by practicing the previous Yamas and Niyamas…but you’ve been doing that, right? Well just in case…begin by letting go of extraneous external distractions, simply acting as you need. A good place to start is the breath. Notice the depth and length of your breath, as well as the pace. Breath as you normally would but taking note of the air as it passes through your nostrils and enters your body. Don’t try to understand what the air is, or what you are for that matter. Simply understand the act of breathing, as it allows you to act as you need. Explore this idea of receptiveness, tuning in to the hum of the universe.
Take a breath and live your life as you would. Allow your self to act and be acted upon, coming to understand the universe ebbs and flows. You need not control everything, but just enough.
Time magazine recently named the Pope ” 2013 Man of the Year.” Editor Nancy Gibbs explained the Pope as being “a new voice for conscience.”
So what makes this Pope wonderful?
In a world of religious held wars, financial instability and just a general disregard for empathy, Pope Francis is the man, to quote Billy Joel, at “keeping the faith.” Other than braking barriers within the Church by becoming the first Jesuit Pope, he has opened the door for discussion on the issues that bind the global population: poverty, justice,the role of women, marriage, modernization, racial and religious discrimination.
With all of the stigmas attached to the Catholic Church, it is difficult for the Pope to do the things he does – like washing the feet of a Muslim woman or roaming the streets of Rome, incognito, performing blessed acts of kindness and change. But the Pope does it anyway because he is the man and is the embodiment of not just the spirit of God, but of the spirit of man.
And anyone who beats out the “Wiki-leaks” guy and Mikey Cyrus is awesome.
Walking outside the past few days in the blistering cold, experiencing the first snowfall yesterday, indicates that the winter weather is fast approaching! People bundled up under layers of scarves, hats and coats also means that the cold weather is here to stay. This is a time when colds and flu are at their peak, leaving many people with runny noses, hacking coughs, fever and body aches. Grabbing for that over the counter medicine to feel better immediately may seem like the best thing to do, however, people don’t realize that there are more natural ways to prevent and alleviate cold and flu symptoms with ingredients in your own kitchen!
I posted this recipe last year from my dad, who suggested that I make this instead of taking OTC medication. One day when I was sick, my dad encouraged me to try his tea concoction, which I will call the “Russian Remedy”. My dad is of Russian decent and believed that a lot of ailments can be cured naturally. He told me to boil for 10-15 minutes fresh, shredded ginger, about a branch full. The flavor gets more potent as you boil it so you can adjust the amount to your liking. Once it is boiled, pour the liquid into a cup and add 1-2 tablespoons of honey, half a lemon and a pinch of cayenne pepper. He said to drink this 2-3 times a day while hot and in no time I should feel better. I have to say, as someone who always reached for medication, that this remedy made me feel better faster. Now when I start to feel run down, I make this tea right away, and encourage all my family and friends to incorporate it into their regimen as well. They too say that they feel better after drinking the “Russian Remedy”!
Now this is not the only mixture that will work but I hope that you give it a try when you start to feel run down and achy and see how it works for you. You can read about other foods that reduce cold and flu symptoms by clicking here.
In the Niyamas, or the self-observations, Svadhyaya is self-reflection. Funny, how the Niyama that seems to be an umbrella for the other Niyamas is fourth on the list, but it makes sense when seen in context. The previous three Niyamas – Saucha, Santosha, and Tapas – establish a practice of self respect. Remember: Saucha is the practice of cleanliness or purity; Santosha, the practice of contentment; and Tapas, the practice of discipline. Once one has integrated these three, Svadhyaya can be approached from a genuine place of earnest and acceptance rather than a critical and judgmental place.
Svadhyaya can take many forms. Whether walking through the woods, journaling, or sitting in a quiet moment with a hot drink, taking the time for self contemplation can bring new insights to old issues, or even new ways of thinking about one’s self. Self reflection can help to paint with a broader brush; allowing one to see more of the “big picture,” and how one might fit into what has happened in and around them thus far. Svadhyaya is about coming from a place where there is no right or wrong or good or bad, but where things simply are.
So how can we practice Svadhyaya in our day to day lives? Beginning by practicing the first three Niyamas to cultivate care for the self. Once those are routine, incorporate self reflection in a way that is effective for you; be it yoga, photography, or simply staring off into the distance. After that, once you begin to “see” the integration of your life, allow for those thoughts, feelings, and emotions to exist without labeling them one thing or another.
Take a breath and self reflect. Allow you’re memories to coalesce, and simply take note. By beginning with acceptance, we slowly allow ourselves to listen to the wisdom of the universe.
Join the Counseling Office TOMORROW for a Stress Relief Workshop! With finals quickly approaching, this can be a very stressful time for students. This workshop will teach you how to help reduce the effects of stress and learn techniques that help to achieve a more balanced state. The workshop will take place in Room 215, Tuohy Hall from 11-12pm AND from 2-3pm. Learn how to incorporate breathing and visualization techniques to reduce stress and anxiety. Please take a look at the attached flier for more details. We look forward to seeing you there!
Categories: Events, On-Campus
Meth Awareness Week Through 12/7/13
The first national Meth Awareness Week runs now through Saturday, December 7 in an effort to combat the abuse and use of methamphetamine. Coordinated by the Meth Project, a large-scale, teen-targeted prevention program of The Partnership at Drugfree.org which aims to significantly reduce meth use through public service messaging, public policy and community outreach, the week will kick off with provocative creative and social content dramatizing the dangerous and devastating effects of meth.
“Meth production, use and resulting addiction have wreaked havoc among individuals, families and communities across our nation,” explained The Partnership at Drugfree.org President and CEO, Steve Pasierb. “The launch of Meth Awareness Week is a prime opportunity to engage all sectors of our society to take action to prevent teens and young adults from ever experimenting with meth. While intervention and treatment are vital components to reduce use, prevention is the most effective and efficient step in eliminating the damage done by this destructive drug.”
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, methamphetamine is one of the greatest drug threats to the nation. The agency recently reported that the drug is at its highest levels of availability and purity; and lowest cost since 2005 because of increased levels of meth imported from Mexico, and growing rates of small-scale domestic production. RAND estimates methamphetamine costs the country between $16.2 and $48.3 billion per year in treatment, healthcare and foster care services, as well as the costs of crime and lost productivity associated with the drug.
To learn more about Meth Awareness Week, visit The Meth Project