Ishvara Pranidhana


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YS II.45 samadhi-siddhir Ishvara-pranidhanat

“Surrender to your higher power brings perfection in samadhi.” —BKS Iyengar

Iśvara. It has many translations, many word blankets, around the simplicity of truth. Higher Self, higher truth, higher being. We keep and use the definition that aligns best with where we stand in the cosmos.

What is your highest Truth? Can you find words that shimmy in closest to your perspective? And can you allow that perspective to stretch just a little by the shimmy-sham of the perspective on the next path, next hill over? One burden or challenge, one lesson away?

And, eventually, after a few hills and climbs, several tumbles, some bruised dignity, can you allow yourself to let go into a peace that comes from knowing that your needs are known and are lovingly allowed? This is an extension of the belief that you are not one and alone but part of that greater whole, however it stretched—maybe it purred, maybe it shrieked—but if you work to be present, you will witness Iśvara evolve along with your life.

Through asana practice, we ask to align and purify the body, to stoke the energy centers of our beings. Iśvara starts with the physical. Our spirituality, our God concept, is not somewhere on a floating island surrounded by flower petals. It pulls us up and through the mud of our lives, depression, illness, cruelty, whatever we most fear and struggle to avoid. The shining self grows through all the times that scare us. Flowers need darkness and dirt to grow roots. Trees seek always into the earth as they reach for the sky. We grow the same way.

Deep inside our comfort zones of stasis, in solitary darkness, a point of light, embryonic glow, tiny tiny candle is alight. We shelter and protect this secret until we are safe enough, well enough supported to bring it forward. Eventually we realize it is the same glow in our neighbor’s face. It’s birthed on the yoga mat next to ours, in rush-hour traffic or in a hospital room. It’s coming from our heart. And what a glow, when one heart gathers in sorrow or celebration with another!

Right practice, an ethical life, time for meditation. These add kindling. Community can help by providing safe space and encouragement, a sharing across lines and barriers that somehow courage arises and burns its way across. We can allow love. We can ask for support. The endeavor to grow beyond known paths is enormous. We need all the kind faces of our school or family or group of fellow journeyers. We need strangers; we need friends, need each other.

No one I know is already in a place of Samadhi (enlightenment). We are travelers, and this is where we are going: to challenge boundaries in our minds and bodies and spirits. We will find joy in the strange. We will dance with infinite diversity. We will accept imperfections. Ours and the world’s. By being so strong, we can be so kind. Through our power, we surrender; and by giving all illusion of control away, we kiss ultimate creativity. Enter the Divine.

by Barbara Myerson