How expanding your consciousness can deepen your practice
There is a simple desire in all of us for a sense of belonging. The practice of Yoga provides that; the word “Yoga” being literally translated as “union”. Yoga optimizes physical wellbeing, quietens the mind and elevates the spirit, giving a profound sense of security that you belong in this world.
There’s no doubt that as humans we are always searching for a better understanding of who we are. Yet, to be spiritual means to enter into an awareness beyond the physical. So expanding consciousness involves moving beyond physical limitations into a boundless space. The mind is that junction point between the body and the spirit. It’s thoughts, beliefs and emotions (collectively the EGO) influence everything you do. But through conscious breathing, movement, and attention to postures in Yoga, you can achieve a state of body-centred awareness that moves you beyond that junction point. The union that we call Yoga is achieved via asanas, pranayama and dhyana – or postures, breathing techniques and meditation – using the mind as a gateway rather than an obstruction! And this is what we call spiritual freedom.
Deepak Chopra – co-author of the world-renowned book The Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga – recognises three key questions that help shift your internal reference point from ego to spirit. They are “who am I? what do I want? how can I serve?” At first you may find yourself wanting pizza or a new car or something like that! But as you progress in your practice, you may find that the answers to those questions emerge from a deeper layer of your being. As your needs and wants change, the essence of who you are remains in the continuity of awareness that has no beginning or end. Chopra eloquently pens it as, “Your thoughts, beliefs, expectations, goals, and experiences may come and go, but the one who is having the experiences – the experiencer – remains.”
I’m a strong believer in the evolution of consciousness as one of the most powerful forces in the universe, but how does Yoga assist in that process? In Chopra’s Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga he explores the eight traditional Yoga branches and shows how the Seven Spiritual Laws can play a crucial role in the path to enlightenment. As explained in the article, a daily Yoga practice can help you unite body, mind and spirit to bring you into alignment with the rhythms of the cosmos. But harmony, happiness and abundance are only available if you are able to translate this consciousness-based approach to your whole life, not just on the mat. The fact is these laws only work if you bring them into action every day. Mantras, breathing techniques, Yoga poses, intentions; each of these plays a crucial role in Yoga’s path to wellness. But flexibility, balance, muscle tone and mental endurance are only beneficial in the physical realm. Chopra calls this physical realm the field of molecules. Remember how we mentioned earlier that the word Yoga means union? Well, Yoga helps to unite this field of molecules via the mind field to the field of pure potentiality! “Yoga encourages us to bring our attention to this universal domain so that we become imbued with the deep stillness and creativity it represents. Then, even as we are engaged in dynamic activity, we retain the silence and centred awareness of the universal spirit,” Chopra explains in The Seven Spiritual Laws.
While the body appears to be material, it’s really a field of energy and intelligence that’s inextricably connected to the mind. Yoga is a powerful practice that enhances your mind-body integration – mind-body integration means establishing a healthy dialogue between your thoughts and your cells. But before it arises in your mind, a thought is in the domain of consciousness or spirit. “As you become increasingly familiar with the experience of thoughts condensing from consciousness, your identity begins shifting from your mind to your soul,” Chopra says. Since you are an inextricable part of the field of consciousness, you are also infinitely creative, unbounded, and eternal. Meditation, pranayama, Yoga philosophy, even Sun Salutations and asana development help to bring you into alignment with the rhythms of the cosmos. By expanding your consciousness you can experience freedom from suffering. By bringing happiness and success to others, the fruit of your actions are happiness and success for yourself. By expressing your unique talents and using them to serve others, you will experience unlimited love, abundance, and true fulfilment in your life.
The Seven Spiritual Laws are:
The Law of Pure Potentiality
“Om Bhavam Namah”
I am absolute existence.
The Law of Giving and Receiving
“Om Vardhanam Namah”
I am the nourisher of the universe and the universe nourishes me.
The Law of Karma or Cause and Effect
“Om Kriyam Namah”
My actions are aligned with cosmic law.
The Law of Least Effort
“Om Daksham Namah”
My actions achieve maximal benefit with minimal effort.
The Law of Intention and Desire
“Om Ritam Namah”
My intentions and desires are supported by cosmic law.
The Law of Detachment
“Om Anandham Namah”
My actions are blissfully free from attachment to outcome.
The Law of Dharma or Purpose in Life
“Om Varunam Namah”
My life is in harmony with cosmic law.