The idea of devotion can often scare or put people off. Bringing with it many notes of religious under or over tones, the idea of devotion can either raise an idea of a beautiful religious or spiritual practice, or can bring back horrid memories of being forced into a belief system that one may or may not have agreed.
However in the practice of yoga devotion is a beautiful and profound concept that brings us closer to ourselves and our relationships with our practice. Each time we step on our matts or sit on our meditation cushions we are honoring ourselves and saying that we want to become our best. When we devote ourselves to this practice beautiful amazing events start to unfold in our lives.
Devotion as defined by the Oxford English Dictionary:
- love, loyalty, or enthusiasm for a person, activity, or cause:
Thus devotion is nothing than putting our whole selves, our whole love, and loyalty, with the greatest enthusiasm into some practice or person. If we chose to put these feelings into our yoga practice or even into ourselves we are able to fully realize the depths that both our practice and our souls can go.
This month I chose to honor the idea of devotion for several reasons in my classes. One of which being that I was called during one of my meditations to truly look at what I was putting into my own practice, what I was willing to put in, and how to fill the gap. However I later found out that today, is in fact is Hanuman Jayanti, or Hanuman’s Birthday, and a celebrated event in India. Hanuman is the incarnation/representation of devotion in the Hindu faith, and is personified as a Monkey God.
The reason that Hanuman is seen as the incarnation of devotion, and as the ideal devotee, is because of the great accomplishments that he made while helping the God King Ram (an incarnation of Vishnu) save his wife Sita (an incarnation of Lakshmi) in the epic story the Ramayana. In the story Sita was stolen from their home by a demon whom wished to marry her. He took her to a remote island in the middle of the ocean. After tracking the demon to the ocean’s shore, Ram and his companions had no way to get to the island and were left feeling defeated. That is until Hanuman was able to find his inner strength and leapt across the ocean to the island where Sita was held and saved the day. All of this was made possible by his devotion to Ram.
Although this story may seem far fetched for some, there is something to be said about the idea of devotion. More and more scientific research has come out acknowledging that having a belief in something greater than ourselves not only helps us live longer, and happier; but also allows us to bounce back from disappointment and failure faster. Further our culture is no stranger to the idea of super human strength that can come out of disastrous situations when our loved ones are in trouble. Nor the idea of will power or manifestation when we are trying to obtain some goal, or next level in our lives. Ergo when we devote ourselves to some person, object, or idea, there is something else happening that creates positive results.
So then as yogis it makes sense that when finding the idea of devotion we should apply it both to our own practice and ourselves. Essentially this means that whatever we resolve or vow to do regarding our practice or ourselves, we commit. It can be as simple as going to a class once a month, waking up early enough to meditate everyday, or just being more aware of what we say; then we focus and persist in these commitments. Sure some days we maybe too tired, or have to choose between our meditation or spending extra time in the shower; but the more we devote the more beautiful things will unravel.
When we take those few precious moments during the day or during the week to ourselves we are able to relax, unwind, and take off whichever mask or hat we have been wearing for too long. Just these moments of respite allow us to reflect on what is truly going on and we can tackle challenges more focused, or love more deeply than before. Even if we mix the two together, and our time for ourselves becomes our practice, or vice versa, the same results will manifest.
Devotion is an all in kind of thing; but as always it is a practice and something we are allowed to ease into. Chose something small that you can begin with and just stay there. Stay there until you feel the growth and desire to expand. Watch your life unfold and take flight as you settle into each step; and then finally you will find yourself fully devoted and all in to your choice of devotion. You will find a new breath of life, a new state of being. At that moment a profound peace will evolve, a peace that will allow you to leap over the ocean and save the princess.
Practice in Peace and Love ❤