The foundation of wisdom is knowing our spiritual identity. This is not sectarian belief, but a clear understanding of the nature of the body and the eternal self, or soul, which is the life essence within. The body is compared to clothing that we, the soul or atma, are wearing. Unlike clothing which wears out, the atma or self is eternal, with a wise and blissful nature. The highest goal of human experience is to come closer to this understanding, and taste this happiness and wisdom.
Know that which pervades the entire body is indestructible. No one is able to destroy the imperishable self. Only the material body of the indestructible, immeasurable, and eternal living entity is subject to destruction.
Bhagavad Gita 2.17-18
For the self there is never birth nor death. Nor, having once been, does he ever cease to be. He is unborn, ever-existing, undying and primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain. Bhagavad Gita 2.20
This knowledge frees one from many anxieties, fears, and confusion in connection with the changes the body goes through in the world. Often the physical body is compared to a vehicle that the eternal self is riding in. Just as we take care of our car even though we are not the car, because we need to travel to our destination, similarly, it makes sense to take care of the body, since we want to use it to fulfill the destiny of our human life. Yoga promotes physical health, stamina, flexibility and internal organ functioning unlike most other exercise routines which may strengthen muscles and bones but don’t affect the subtle channels.
By practicing these ancient exercises, the body and the mind become relaxed and strengthened, thus facilitating any meditation or prayer that you may practice. You may notice a deeper awareness, or quietness, in your life. You may find yourself reacting differently to situations, feeling more tolerant, more peaceful, less involved in the “bad weather” around you.
Many people understand at least theoretically that their real identity is an eternal soul or atma, but understanding the nature of the mind is often more of a challenge. Taming the mind is necessary for peace and tranquility, and the practice of yoga is an excellent method for helping to pacify the turbulent mind. First one learns to witness the mind, instead of being taken on wild rides, then tolerate the demands of the mind, and finally, the mind itself can become a peaceful friend. When one reaches this stage, there is a sense of internal peace and happiness that comes from within, like a spring bubbling up continuously, regardless of what is happening in the world around you.
A man must elevate himself by his own mind, not degrade himself. The mind is the friend of the conditioned soul, and his enemy as well. For him who has conquered the mind, the mind is the best of friends; but for one who has failed to do so, his very mind will be the greatest enemy.
Bhagavad Gita 5. 5-6
For one who has conquered the mind, the Supersoul is already reached, for has attained tranquility. To such a man happiness and distress, heat and cold, honor and dishonor are all the same. Bhagavad Gita 5. 7
As a lamp in a windless place does not water, so the transcendentalist, whose mind is controlled, remains always steady in his meditation on the transcendent Self. Bhagavad Gita 5. 19
Meditation means a deep focusing of the mind on a particular object. There are many objects of meditation, and many kinds of meditation. The highest meditation, and most deeply satisfying, is meditation on the Supreme Divine.
Practicing this simple meditation will enhance your appreciation of your true essence.
Who are you? You are a spark of the Supreme Soul; an eternal life particle; an eternal spirit soul. Understanding this truth is the beginning of self-realization.
I am spirit; I am not matter.
I am not the body.
I am not the mind.
I am the eternal spirit soul.
The eternal spark, coming from the Supreme.
I am only temporarily in this material body.
The body is temporary.
I am eternal.
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