If we take the time to do some inner reflection and silent contemplation, we soon realize that what we think we may have been wishing for, is not the answer to what we’re really longing for. Our heart’s desires are born out of love, and we have a natural yearning for deeper connection with people around us, ourselves, and the divine.
We also seek meaning and purpose. If we don’t feel we’re dedicating ourselves to our own soul growth, feeling connected, and having a more meaningful life, we risk feeling lost and confused, and even worse, depressed and living life in fear and despair. And in those disconnected states, there is no mansion house in the world that can make us feel safe, content and fulfilled.
The question for many of us is how to get there. How do we live a more meaningful, connected and purposeful life? As a passionate yogi myself, I am very inspired by ancient yoga scriptures, the concept of Self-Realization, and the beautiful teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda. The Autobiography of a Yogi happens to be one of my favorite books!
It was in a yoga class many years ago that I first heard of the Yoga Sutras. The teacher was reading a precious passage from the text. I can’t remember which one she shared at the time, but I remember it was a beautiful spiritual message, and I was very grateful for the reminder. Over the years I’ve read many inspiring words of wisdom from this collection. The sutras are filled with miraculous inspiration for the soul!
The classical collection, known as The Yoga Sutras, is an ancient scripture with 196 sutras written by the sage Patanjali. The sutras also offer suggestions on how to develop a spiritual practice, as we walk the path of self-realization.
This practice is described as an eightfold path of yoga, referred to in the scripture as as ashtanga (sanskrit for “eight limbed”). Following this practice helps us experience meaning and purpose along the way – by helping us live life with devoted self-discipline, and embracing a beautiful spiritual connection.
The practice involves the following steps: ¹
- Yama – right action – this limb focuses on good conduct, how we behave in life. When we treat others well, we feel better!
- Niyama – right action – this limb relates to our own spiritual observance. When we dedicate our lives to living in grace, life feels more graceful!
- Asana – this limb relates to the postures in yoga, helping us keep our spine straight. When our spine is healthy and straight, energy flows freely through us!
- Pranayama – control over the energy of the body through breath practice. When we develop control over our breath, we also develop control over our mind and body!
- Pratyahara – interiorization of the mind, this is where we direct our attention internally. When we go within, we feel less distracted by outer events.
- Dharana – one pointed concentration. The mind can only focus on one thing at the time, this is a natural pathway to meditation!
- Dhyana – deep meditation. When we enter deep meditation we reach high awareness!
- Samadhi – oneness. This stage is seen as first conditioned in sabikalpa (limited by ego consciousness), and then unconditioned in nirbikalpa (no more limitations). The latter is the highest state possible. “As Yogananda once put it: ‘When you become one with God, you are God.'”(¹p.125-126).
With Love & Gratitude, Anna-Karin, xo
¹ Swami Kriyananda (2006). The Essence of the Bhagavad Gifta: Explained by Paramhansa Yogananda. Nevada City, CA. Crystal Clarity Publishers. p. 125-126.
Anna-Karin Bjorklund is a writer and inspirational speaker, and the author of Dream Guidance: Interpret Your Dreams and Create the Life You Desire! She is also a Therapist in Newport Beach specializing in Dream Analysis, Mindfulness and Meditation, helping clients with Anxiety, Fear of Public Speaking, Stress, Sleep, and Depression. She loves sharing her passion for dreams and soul growth with audiences near and far, and has made expert appearances on Fox & Friends, and the Steve Harvey TV Show on NBC, and been interviewed by Money Magazine, Daily Worth, Marie Claire UK and other media outlets.