by Joseph Glaser
The first two steps of the Raja Yoga path, the path of mental mastery, are Yama and Niyama. Yama and Niyama are each a set of 5 values. The former being values you cultivate towards your community and the latter being values you cultivate within yourself.
The final Niyama is Ishwara Pranidhana which classically refers to faith in and surrender to the Divine or a higher power. Wether you believe in a higher power or not Ishwara Pranidhana is an extremely powerful tool for getting rid of unnecessary suffering, a negative mind frame, and feelings of lack in life.
John Lennon said, “All is well in the end. If it’s not well then it’s not the end.” This is one of my favorite quotes and it is derived from great faith. In this instance not faith in God necessarily, but faith in life which works just as well. A life practice like this creates a lot of positive experience and little suffering or negativity.
When you cultivate Ishwara Pranidhana it doesn’t mean that unpleasant events won’t happen to you. It means that instead of choosing to let these events scare you from walking your path it is easier to choose positivity. For example, if you don’t have faith and you lose your job then it will probably be a terrifying time in your life. It will be a time of low self-esteem, victimization, negativity, poor health etc… If you have faith and you lose your job it may still be unpleasant and you may be scared of what will happen next, but you will have a much calmer mind frame because the dominant thought will be this happened for a reason. I am taken care of and my path is leading me in a different direction. My Ego may not be comfortable with this but I am taken care of. With a positive thought process like this you will be much more receptive to the signs of new doors opening, you will sleep better, and maybe even cultivate excitement for what is next.
Let me say it another way. If you don’t believe that you are capable of doing a Yoga pose then it is going to be very difficult for you to practice that pose. The mind and body and connected so when you have a negative thought like this the nervous system responds by speeding up the breath and tightening the muscles. Two occurrences that inhibit the practice of a relaxed pose. If you believe you can do a pose then the breath will be slower and the muscles longer and you will have a much greater chance of finding yourself in the pose with ease.
Faith makes all the difference. What you want to put faith in is up to you, but put it in something. If you don’t believe it in wholeheartedly fake it to you make it. Try not to get too intellectual about it because their is little that is intellectual about faith. If your intellect can help you find faith use it and if it gets in the way let it go.
Faith is something that all practices teach. It is hard to succeed when faith is absent, but with faith so much is possible.
We can do it. I believe in us.