In modern society there is not only a push to do more and achieve more, but a constant bombardment from media to consume more. This is taught by media images and advertisements that try to convince us that the external consumption of material things will give us greater happiness and peace of mind.
However, the truth that the yogis teach is that the way to true inner peace has nothing to do with things on the outside, nor what we accomplish, achieve and obtain — or even from what we do. Instead, the yogis teach us that being in touch with the essence of who we really are, the innermost Self, is the key to inner and lasting peace. This can be realized with a few simple steps a day, practicing some simple yogic tools to connect us with our true nature. It is in this connection with the deepest part of us of that we can experience the simplicity and joy of just “being.”
Swami Vishnudevananda, who founded the Sivananda Yoga centers and ashrams in the U.S., said, “It is impossible to find peace outside. If you want to find peace, you have to look for peace where it is. If you want to find peace, you must first of all find it within. If you find this peace within, you will also find it outside. So if you want to have external peace, find, first of all, the peace within.”
His guru, Sivananda, said, “To achieve that state of lasting happiness and absolute peace, we must first know how to calm the mind, to concentrate and go beyond the mind. By turning the mind’s concentration inward, upon the self, we can deepen that experience of perfect concentration. This is the state of Meditation.”
To sit and do nothing but observe the breath, perhaps a sound (mantra) or other tools to calm the mind, brings so many benefits. It is so simple that many people overlook it and seek external ways to find peace. When we start to meditate, and sit still, for even a few minutes a day, we may see that truly “less is more,” as joy and peace is obtained not in the “doing” but by the “being” of your true nature.
To make our lives more simple and create a few more minutes a day to meditate and “be” with our innermost Self, we can follow some basic ideas from the yogic way of living.
Yoga, or “union,” is an ancient science to help us reach a greater connection with ourselves and the world around us. Yoga includes postures (asanas), breathing exercises (pranayama), chanting, relaxation, meditation, nonviolent actions and diet (vegetarian) and healthy, balanced eating and living. Even trying small steps from the yogic ideas brings greater health and balance and can impact our life in beneficial ways.
Everyone can benefit from yoga, because yoga can be modified to suit your needs. The benefits are numerous, ranging from pain relief to peace of mind.
A simple way to think of it is that yoga can be summarized as a full lifestyle. Swami Vishnudevananda condensed the essence of the yoga teachings into five principles for physical and mental health, as well as spiritual growth:
Using these five principals for a holistic yogic lifestyle for inner peace, outer health and harmony with animals and the earth, plus some additional ideas suggested here, can contribute more simplicity, more peace and greater harmony to our day.
10 Ideas to Simplify Our Lives:
Eat a little, drink a little,
Talk a little, sleep a little,
Mix a little, move a little,
Serve a little, rest a little
Work a little, relax a little,
Study a little, worship a little,
Do Asanas (yoga postures) a little, Pranayamas (yogic breathing exercises) a little,
Reflect a little, Meditate a little,
Do Japa (mantra repetition) a little, do Kirtan (devotional chanting) a little,
Write Mantra a little, have Satsanga (gathering of spiritually like minded people) a little.
Serve, Love, Give, Purify, Meditate, Realize.
Be Good, Do good; Be kind, Be compassionate.
Enquire “Who am I?” Know the Self and be Free.
Stacie Dooreck has been teaching yoga for 20 years, teaches Chair yoga at California assisted living homes, leads the SunLight Chair Yoga Teacher Trainings and wrote the book SunLight Chair Yoga: Yoga for Everyone! Visit www.sunlightchairyoga.com.
*This article was also published in the Edge Magazine, 2015.
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Stacie Dooreck is the author SunLight Chair Yoga: yoga for everyone !and Yoga for Everyone! books and ebook. Stacie is a Stress Management Specialist for the Ornish Heart Disease Reversal Program in N. CA and wellness instructor of companies. Stacie is a based in Marin/Bay Area CA and is a certified Sivanadna Yoga instructor since 1995, a Kundalini Yoga and Gentle Integral Yoga Certified instructor.