Many who practice yoga and it's philosophy are ultimately seeking their own enlightenment, their understanding of themselves in the bigger picture beyond ego, beyond thought patterns, beyond physical distractions. Isvarapranidhana is the yogic concept that brings us closer to realizing this path on our journey, opening us up to a broader comprehension of our larger selves and our place in the Universe.
The Universe does have our back, even though we tend to forget. Even when are not consciously aware of that support, it is there for us, operating on our behalf. We all want to feel safe and grounded and be able to know what's coming. The feeling of not knowing seems difficult for many of us to imagine and manage, either in serious situations (like waiting for a diagnosis, a test result, an answer to a problem) or in our day to day lives, scheduling every minute without space for things to just happen. Knowing gives us the opportunity to take action and move forward, where as not knowing may leave us feeling at a loss about what to do or where to go. But things do just happen all the time and we have to address them, deal with them, pivot to something different than our original plan. What if we could trust that the Universe/Divine Partner(s)/Higher Self was on our side always? What if took time to "listen" for it's guidance, rather than attempting to be in control of everything?
Have you ever seen a trapeze artist high above the floor, swinging confidently on their bar only to let go from the safety of that bar to be caught by the person on the other side at just right time, in order to not fall to the ground below? Those moments of being suspended between the two bars, not knowing for sure whether or not you'll be caught, takes a lot of faith and trust. Probably more than many of us can comprehend fully. But isn't that what real trust and surrender to something greater than ourselves is like? We can get so caught up in the fear of the unknown that we miss out on all the amazing possibilities that are actually available to us.
What does it take to find that trust, to connect with that larger force in the Universe? There are many ways humans have done this over the ages. Philosophies and religions and spiritual traditions have developed all over the world to explain it and experience it in different ways. A connection with nature itself is often a good place to start. It is part of our physical world, but it's also intricately entwined with the mysterious and unknown energy of the Universe as a whole (as are we). The natural world can be a place to find the quiet and stillness that is often needed to tune in to that larger force. In yoga and meditation, we start with the breath, closing our eyes and letting it take us inward so we can start to quiet the distractions of the visual world outside, as well as the mental chatter that exists in our minds. When those noises are present it can be challenging to "hear" the direction we're being guided in. Even in something as simple as moving our bodies through the asanas, our focus might be more in the distracted mind than in the present awareness of noticing ourselves and embodying the practice at hand.
Whatever practices we choose to expand our connection to Isvara, it is called a "practice" for a reason. It takes the regular doing of it to stay connected to ourselves and get more and more in sync with the energy that is greater than us. What are some ways that help you to quiet your mind and other distractions in order to connect with your inner guidance and higher Self? Do you have a favorite spot in nature that you like to go that holds a broader perspective and makes you feel more expansive to possibility? Take some time this week to make space for quiet awareness and see if you can tune in to your own connection with Isvarapranidhana.