Ishvarapranidhana: Remember Who You Truly Are

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Read the podcast transcript

Hello Everyone,

This is Myra with Hale Pule’s Everyday Ayurveda and Yoga podcast. We are in late spring here and we’re enjoying the longer days and resulting warmth. The plants are all popping with new leaves, fruits and veggies. There are birds singing all around. The transitions between seasons are really good for keeping the mind flexible and fresh. We all have our favorite times, but we can learn to find the best in all times of the year when we see the bigger picture of life. Appreciating the rhythm of change and the cycles of nature helps us to remember who we as eternal spirit, the unchanging part of ourselves. And this brings me to Ishvarapranidhana, the last of the niyamas and our exploration of the yamas and niyamas this year. 

Ishvarapranidhana is actually two words, Ishvara which means the ruler of choices, blessings and boons. In more recent times it is defined as God, the unchanging eternal aspect or our true self. Pranidhana is giving attention to, to be prayerful, meditative. Together, then, these two words symbolize the remembrance of who you truly are by giving attention to that eternal aspect of self. Ishvarapranidhana signifies, commitment to the God of my heart. It’s the practice of total devotion.

Ishvara as the ruler of choices could mean that there is something in me that has an effect on my choices besides my mind. What are the things that affect my mind in this life? Mmm. Well, my samskara or the impressions I experience in this life and my responses to them, my parents dosha balance and imbalances and toxicity at conception, what my mom was exposed to during pregnancy, my karma from past lives or another way of saying it is my opportunities to learn and grow in this life and my state of balance or the imbalances of doshas and agni.

But with all of what I just mentioned, it’s my response to those things that makes the difference. This is where Ayurveda is so important in our living. How my mind works results in my chosen responses to what I am given in this life and it is so highly affected by my diet and lifestyle. In Ayurveda we know that the imbalances come from our disconnection from our higher Self or the God of our heart, or purusha. And my ability to make choices that move me toward the god of my heart is a natural thing that is only blocked by the imbalances from my choices. The natural state of our minds is sattva, balance and harmony. So Ishvara can be the ruler of my choices if I keep myself pointed in that direction. If I allow myself to be distracted by life on the outside then I forget the God of my heart and I start thinking I need to control everything around me and I get attached to the timing of things. Big trouble. So this spiritual connection within needs to remain as the foundation for living.    

If we think of Ishvara as God - now this can bring up a lot of stuff for a lot of people. Many of us associate God with some kind of organized religion or limitations.

I went through the early part of my life rejecting the religions I was exposed to as they seemed limiting and judgemental, qualities that seemed to me to be the opposite of what I could comprehend as God and the essence of religion to be about. But as I turned away from religions, I also  threw out any sense of my spiritual self. So for a while in my life I felt like a ball in a pinball machine - trying to get somewhere fast but ultimately just bouncing off of walls with absolutely no control.. As time went on I started trying to control people and things around me to have some sense of grounding and connection. Although I didn’t really realize that I was trying to do that at the time. My choices in life were only recognizable if they were extreme. I changed careers a couple of times, I moved across the US a few times. And that didn’t often seem to bring me what I really wanted. It always felt like my life would start after that next thing I was looking at was finished. What Yoga and Ayurveda offered me were tools that could take me beyond relying on all of that outside of me.

What Ishvara is telling me is that there is a boon, there are blessings, which comes from my choices - from my ability to choose.. The blessings that I experience externally are merely a reflection of my choices internally.. But then the question becomes - how to choose wisely? And that’s where the pranidhana comes in. It is this action of turning inward for answers rather than focusing on outward action. It is the devotion that allows me to cultivate and fully experience the power of choice through my connection to the God of my heart. 

The meaningful inner connection comes with acceptance and surrender. Of what? To what? Think about how you felt when you came to accept something or someone. Relief, peace, a sense of opening or space? Acceptance is letting go of the resistance. 

When I moved to New Zealand the paperwork started. So many signatures, so many requests to prove my identity. I went into resistance, which is fear, to the process and it felt like torture for a few weeks! And then finally I accepted it and started to laugh about it. And the people on the other end of the phone got a laugh about it too. They would say, I just need you to sign one more document. I laughed and said, yes, of course you do. And we laughed together and it passed so easily.  

Acceptance is the act of taking something that is offered. But on a deeper level it is to see what is real for us or to recognize something. For example, we can recognize the uniqueness in each of us and realize the unity within us as well.

And what about surrender. To what? How about to the process of life. I used to think it was giving away my power. But I found that it’s actually claiming my true power within. This is not power over others, but power in our self control and how we use our five senses. In other words, the choices we make in our daily lives..

With the practice of Ishvarapranidhana we can see the power in our choices. And with surrender we can see the depth of who we are. With practice we can see the difference when we act from a place of disconnection, and when we surrender to this divine source that is always there within us. When we connect to the God of our heart, we become teachable, relaxed and adventurous in life. Like Bilbo in the Hobbit. We can experience the different flavors of life and discover the blessings in letting go and letting ourselves line up with the God of our heart.  

Thanks for listening in. If you have 5 minutes, check out Spark your Intuition podcast. It’s a series of intuitive meditation podcasts for daily life. It will support you to explore your prana, which is your energy, and how it runs. Each meditation will offer you simple tools to know your mind, body and spirit, your energy body, and how they all work together.

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