Happy October ~ The Season of Change!

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“Any change into a new state of being is the result of the fullness of nature unfolding inherent potential.”  The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

Greetings, from the Himalayan Institute in the Poconos where I have begun my sabbatical. My intention for this sabbatical is for me to “check in” with myself by going deeper into my own practice of yoga.

The eight limbs of yoga includes five Niyamas, which are observances or duties and are described below:

1) Saucha/Purity
2) Santosha/Contentment
3) Tapas/Austerity or Heat
4) Svadhyaya/Self Study
5) Ishvara Pranidhana/Self Surrender

I wanted to practice Saucha/Purity by purifying my body and mind with delicious, healthy meals and a strong physical practice of yoga to bring in more balance.  Well, I asked for this now, here I go…

Plans were made for me to live and work at the Himalayan Institute as the Barista, serving coffee and tea in the cafe. However, in perfect timing for the fall when it’s the season of change, my plans were changed for me and I was no longer going to be working as the Barista and instead I was offered to work in the kitchen.  

Even though one of the main reasons I was coming to the Himalayan Institute is because of their healing vegetarian and vegan meals, I wasn’t exactly thrilled with the notion of working in the kitchen.  Since my children have grown up and moved out, my cooking skills seemed to have vanished. So, I didn’t exactly feel comfortable with working in the kitchen; however, I knew I needed to trust in the Universe and give it a try.

First lesson during my sabbatical is welcoming change through the practice of Santosha/Contentment.  Santosha is the second Niyama and it means to practice contentment in all situations and to look at all circumstances as opportunities to learn.  The Himalayan Institute describes Santosha as “accepting what has come to you without expectation, jealousy, bitterness or frustration.”

The second lesson of Saucha/Purity now comes to me as I reported to work my first day and was asked to remove all jewelry, except for my wedding ring. I even had to remove my engagement ring! (My ego felt as if part of me was being stripped.) I put on my work shirt, pulled my hair back into a bandana, put my apron on and set to work. Saucha is also associated with simplicity.  When all outside appearances are removed, what is left…the simple Truth of who I am which is the same with or without being an owner of a yoga studio, wearing jewelry, fun yoga clothes and my beautiful hair free and flowing! LOL!  But seriously, external and materialistic items do not make who we are.

The Yoga Sutras 2.40-2.41 states, “Through simplicity and continual refinement (Saucha), the body, thoughts, and emotions become clear reflections of the Self within. Saucha reveals our joyful nature, and the yearning for knowing the Self blossoms.”

Working eight hours a day, which are mostly standing and, in addition, I am still doing work for the studio during any in between time, is proving to be exhausting.  Exhausting was NOT my plan for my sabbatical.  Now, enters the third lesson on my sabbatical, practicing Tapas/Heat which is also the third Niyama.

Before I came to the Himalayan Institute, I read a passage from the spiritual director of the Himalayan Institute, Pandit Rajmani Tigunait, Ph.D,’s book, “Touched by Fire” that said “On this journey of life, when you really get exhausted, then simply stop and wait, and keep remembering that He will pick you up.”  I was not feeling like I was being picked up!  I called my husband and said, I think I’m going to come home and God Bless him, although he misses me a lot, he inspired me to continue and said that I can do it!

The Himalayan Institute describes tapas as “self-discipline or spiritual and says that the practice of Tapas implies effort.  When we make a disciplined effort, we build energy and enthusiasm for our task.  Tapas leads to self mastery.”

I believe that the work that I am doing now is definitely burning heat and burning impurities. Burning Tapas is similar to burning an internal fire which is transforming.

Each morning I wake up as early as I need, so that I can do my daily practice of yoga.  When I am feeling my best, physically, emotionally, spiritually  and mentally, is when I keep my daily practice of yoga, meditation including mantra meditation, reading sacred texts and breathing techniques. My work schedule was getting tougher; therefore, I need to vigilantly keep up with my own daily practice.

“The blessed Lord said:  Listen, focus your mind on me; take refuge in me; and practice Yoga.  Then you will surely unite with me and know me fully.”  Living the Gita, The Complete Bhagavad Gita by Sri Swami Satchidananda

The fourth lesson, which is also the fourth Niyama, on my sabbatical is Svadhyaya/Self Study. The practice of yoga or some type of daily practice that inspires us, that brings us closer to that inner Light, that brings us closer to our connection with the Universe or God or whatever name you have for Pure Consciousness, is necessary so that we can POLISH THE LIGHT OF OUR SOULS and remember that we are one with Pure Consciousness.

My fifth lesson and the fifth Niyama is Ishvara Pranidhana/Surrender to a Higher Power.  What does that mean?  To me it means being GRATEFUL and surrendering each and every thing that I do to a Higher Power, so as I am writing this newsletter, I surrender it to a Higher Power, as I am making Almond Milk in the kitchen, I surrender it to a Higher Power, as I am learning to work with teenagers again, I am surrendering it to a Higher Power, as I am learning to work for others, when I have been my own boss, I am surrendering to a Higher Power.

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I’ve taken this sabbatical because my own life had become unbalanced with work and my own daily practice was slipping.  Without a daily practice, we become drained.  If I can keep my daily practice and balance in this situation, then by practicing the Niyamas/Duties, my hope is that I will certainly keep equilibrium when I return.  
Remember to practice consistently, and keep polishing the LIGHT OF YOUR SOUL and know that your true essence is pure Light and Love.
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Namaste!
(The Light in my Soul honors the Awesome Light in your Soul where we are all ONE!)
Victoria Purcell-Goodwin
Yogini