Thursday, March 21, 2013

Don’t panic, you’re free, the sky is limitless. By Shannon Lough.

Everyone once and a while someone will tell you to “have a little faith” and for a moment you release into the hope that yes, everything will work out. Even with all the uncertainties, and the slight knot of panic that burrows inside when you think about the future, you submit yourself to that little bit of faith.

Faith, a word that denotes God, the Divine, or complete spiritual devotion in intangible concepts. You don’t have to be religious to have faith. It’s simply an act of submission. An act of complete trust in someone or something without any expectations or demands. 
In Yoga, there are specific rules of conduct to follow called niyamas, as compiled by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras. Of the five niyamas, the first four being purity, contentment, austerity, and self-study, the final is the most abstract at first: Isvara Pranidhana, which asks for complete surrender to God or the Divine to achieve Samadhi. Through this surrender you can achieve an elevated state of consciousness when you connect with the universe. How does this apply to our lives?

Isvara Pranidhana is the faith that we need to embrace. When the present becomes disturbed by thoughts that drift into apprehensions about the future, allow yourself to open up to the idea of surrendering. We cling onto our structured lives, the safety bubble that we lock ourselves into because it seems like a sure thing. Sometimes we find ourselves outside of that bubble, whether you’ve just finished university, a contracted job abroad, or a career. You’ve been released from the safety net that let you sleep comfortably at night. You’re like a free bird that doesn’t know where to find its flock. Don’t panic, you’re free, the sky is limitless. This is the best time to listen to the wind, and the signs that the universe lays out before you and invites you on your path. 

The concept of the Divine turns some away. It seems too religious and enigmatic for the secular world we live in the West today. In regions of India and Nepal, you can witness daily rituals by the locals, surrendering to their definition of their Divine, through puja’s or acts of worship. They ring bells, light candles, chant mantras, send silent prayers to divine images and maintain their altars. In Japan, you see the locals walking in silent meditation through the forest as they sweep the path, or standing before the a temple, and washing themselves in the ash of incense and removing their shoes before prostrating themselves before the Buddha. These are acts of submission, of humbly disrobing the ego-self and embracing the divinity in themselves.

Even in a secular society, we can let go and search for the divinity inside ourselves by connecting to the universe. It’s all about perspective, and how you choose to define the Divine. Instead of thinking of a theoretical being, identify it with what you know. The miracles that are already present inside our own bodies, our beating heart, expanding lungs, our untapped mind. The miracles around us, in nature, the cycles of the moon and the pull of the ocean’s tide, the smell of the forest and the shelter it provides for so many beings, a rolling field of flowers and the powerful presence of a mountain range. Even the miracle of our technology, in the brilliance of the city lights, the sound of communication in the buzz of a mobile phone, or laptop. In moments of obscurity, instead of being the rock, allow yourself to be the stream. Listen to the flow that moves within and outside of you. If you let go, and give trust to surrender completely into universe, it will guide you. Listen to it’s presence and you will find your way.

Cherry blossom petals are falling
Beautiful like snowflakes.
The remaining rest do cling.
Without knowing their destiny. (Zen proverb)

Shannon Lough is a 200RYT, who completed her yoga and Thai massage training with Yogi-Nomad in Nepal.  She practices daily, and follows the principles of Tibetan and Zen Buddhism, after traveling to India and living in Japan for three years.  She is a marathon runner, a hardy backpacker, and an avid writer.  If you have any questions or comments please email her at 

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