“Serve, Love, Give, Purify, Meditate, Realise” were the famous words uttered by the great Yogi Swami Sivananda Saraswati and were taken on and practiced by his successor Swami Satyananda Saraswati. These helpful tools for life can be seen as steps to help awaken to the higher consciousness within and around us.
The Path to Self-Realisation
When we think of yoga, many of us tend to jump straight to the asana and meditation part as a means for self-realisation. What if we are missing something? After all Yoga comes from the root Yuj, meaning to join. Yoga means the conscious union of the human being (Atman) to the universal existence (Brahman). Notice how in Swami Sivananda’s famous words, the “serve, love, give, purify” comes before the “meditate” and “realise”. That is because when we awaken service, love and giving within ourselves, meditation comes spontaneously and easily. When we purify our bodies and minds through different practices we are able to realise our potential because we are free from limitations and can see clearly without illusion. The less we obsess about ourselves, the closer we come to connecting with our true selves. The shackles of human existence are limitless when our minds and hearts are open. This is true conscious union. Join us in another self-reflection challenge as we work with a weekly theme and incorporate the fullness of yoga into our daily lives.
Week 1: Serve
Service is the action of helping others without expectation. By helping others you can ultimately help yourself. By helping others you can awaken joy within yourself. Seva is the Sanskrit word for selfless service. It means offering oneself wholly to a greater cause. Karma Yoga is the ‘yoga of action’, the action that is done with awareness, the action that liberates instead of binds. It is through selfless activities, unattached work and loving service that one can acquire the precious gem of purity, patience and humility.
- Practice Seva or Karma Yoga daily.
- Notice where there is distress in someone else and share what you can to alleviate it.
- Ask yourself how can you help and offer your energy where it is needed.
- Perform a random act of kindness for someone.
- Practice releasing expectations and judgement when you help others.
As you move through the first week keep the spirit of service alive in you. Feel the joy ripple through your body as you offer your energy to others without needing anything in return.
Week 2: Love
What is love when we take away emotional attachment? It is the deepest expression of the heart. We live in an era where the word love has been misconstrued. Self-love has been marketed and reduced to represent manicures, face-masks and bubble baths. The love we see on TV is often portrayed as painful, selfish and possessive. True love is unconditional and loving the self comes hand in hand with loving others and in turn loving all that is around us. Bhakti means love for all beings. Love or Bhakti is an ever-pervading energy that can be awakened in us all. Love knows no fear. Love expects nothing in return. Love can heal.
- Hold love in your eyes when you make eye contact with people.
- Practice gratitude every morning to awaken love within. Read our recent blog on gratitude to find out how to practice it.
- Awaken Bhakti through the form of Kirtan (singing and chanting mantras).
- Open the Anahata Chakra by visualising your breath moving in and out of the heart space.
- Ask yourself what can you do to be more loving in each moment.
This week focus on expressing love fully. Practice loving without attachment or personal agenda and notice the energy open and expand around your heart space.
Week 3: Give
In Into the Wild, Christopher McCandles said “Happiness is only real when shared.” Happiness comes to those who can give happiness to others. If you practice abundance, abundance comes your way ten-fold. Give what you no longer need, heck even give what you do need. Pay it forward with love and non-attachment and it WILL enrich your life. Giving is not only physical; you can even just give someone a smile and it could brighten up their day. Give. Give in plenty. Give with joy. Give with love. Just give.
- Give someone a gift.
- Smile at everyone you encounter.
- Donate to an organisation, cause or charity of your choice. If you feel called to give to Anahata Yoga Retreat, head over to our Heart Chakra Fund.
- Go through your things and give away anything you are not using, or if you want to be brave give away something you love dearly.
- Pay it forward at your local cafe, buy the person behind you a coffee.
In this third week connect deeply to the spirit of giving and allow it to uplift and inspire you. Give fully and with love.
Week 4: Purify
To purify, is to invite purity into the body, heart, mind and soul. Many of the practices in Hatha Yoga work towards this. The Yamas and Niyamas are part of Patanjali’s eight-fold path of yoga and are a series of spiritual guidelines to impart on oneself. They are specifically designed to purify the body and mind and prepare one for meditation. If you didn’t participate in our June challenge that explored some of the Niyamas you can find it here.
- Work with the Yamas and Niyamas.
- Have a regular Hatha Yoga Asana practice.
- Try one of the Hatha Yoga Shatkarmas (Yogic cleansing Practices) such as Kunjal (Throat Cleansing) or Neti (Nasal Passage Cleansing). These practices require the guidance of a trained teacher.
- Practise Antar Mouna (Inner Silence Meditation); a mental purification practice.
This week make sure to invite purity into all aspects of your life. Allow yourself to be free from physical and mental clutter.
Week 5: Meditate and Realise
This final week is more about reflection. Spend some time in meditation. Think about what you have learnt through your exploration of these themes. Observe your experiences over the past few weeks and write down your insights. Do your best to integrate all of the practices into your daily life.
Each week keep up to date with us on Facebook and Instagram so you can follow the challenge, connect with others and be inspired. Remember that these themes and practices can be used anywhere and anytime to uplift and encourage you on the colourful and beautiful path of yoga.