Group from Lavras, Brazilwith friends at waterfall

I will finish here sharing my experiences while teaching at the Integral Yoga Institute in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.  The last program I offered there was a weekend dedicated to practicing Yoga as a way of life.  I spoke about the original purpose of Yoga–a means to free ourselves from the conditioning that limits our experience of the truth and the illusory notion that we can achieve happiness by controlling the world around us.   Then we can experience the deeper Spiritual Self that is already at peace.

This requires a paradigm shift – a peaceful revolution that occurs by learning how to quiet and replace the unconscious beliefs that bind us, and make conscious choices that are in harmony with our true nature.

This shift must take place in a comprehensive way.  Doing spiritual practices a few times a week is not enough.  However, most people do not have the time to devote their lives to spiritual practice.  Here are some of the ways that I recommend integrating Yoga practice and teachings into one’s daily life.

Practice one spiritual teaching in depth — write it down and post it for a period of time, such as one week.  Incorporate that intention into the way you do anything for that time period.  Some examples are practicing contentment, compassion, or gratitude.  All of these are positive ways of aligning actions with the Spiritual Self, and letting that inner Self guide you

Dedicate your work – make all that you do into a spiritual practice, by finding a way to put your heart into it.  Your work can be done as an offering to God, as a way to serve the well-being of others or simply as a way to allow the energy of love, not fear, to express in whatever you do.

Expose the mind to the Light within you– make some small goal to do a regular practice of meditation.  Meditation helps calm and focus the mind, enabling it to function in optimal ways.  Over time, meditation makes it possible to experience the innate Peace within, which heals and enlightens the limited mind.

When we reinforce spiritual values in all aspects of life, we begin to experience moments free of habitual thought patterns, and see ourselves and our relationship to the world in a fresh way.  We begin to feel our connection to each other and all of nature.  Over time, a comprehensive practice of this kind will gradually restructure even the subconscious mind.  Then we will no longer be compelled by old beliefs and fears and can approach life with a sense of deep belonging, inner contentment and wonder.

I had a few days to relax before returning to San Francisco, so my hosts took me to a beautiful waterfall about an hour from the city.  We climbed on the rocks near the river, jumped into the cold water, and warmed ourselves in the sun.  Somehow, being in nature always makes me feel at home and at peace with the world, which seems like a fitting way to end both the outer journey and the inner one.

Swami Ramananda Signature