June 18 – July 27
Each summer during the 40 days that precede Guru Purnima, sadhakas are invited to participate in the Spiritual Festival, to expand and refine one’s sadhana. This year the 40-Day Spiritual Festival will begin on June 18 and will end on July 27, which is Guru Purnima.
These 40 days are celebrated wherever you are.
It is a time to contemplate (and talk with others about) the many ways you can participate.
In reviewing the guidelines and making your own commitments, please keep in mind your own capacity. Success with a series of smaller goals will lead to greater purification and capacity for next year. Assess your own capacity and do not try to push to complete “on time.” Accommodate for your family responsibilities.
As Swami Ritavan has written,
“Celebrating Guru Purnima is a joy beyond words, a deep stillness that echoes a wholeness and holiness. A wholeness that provides the answers to our pursuits, our yearnings and reveals a purpose for life. To live and to love with a heart unconditioned by conflict, and a mind, unified beyond division.”
During these 40 days, yoga students can choose to intensify their yoga practice and/or make beneficial changes in their lifestyles, in a variety of ways. Here are just a few:
1. Increasing one’s practice of meditation and japa.
2. Expanding some other aspect of one’s daily yoga practice with subtle relaxations or pranayamas.
3. Studying an inspiring book and applying a principle or practice in it.
4. Implementing an element of yoga, such as a particular Yama or Niyama. “These Yamas and Niyamas are the sure means of advancing spiritually. When your mind is clarified, purified, by the constant application and implementation of these principles, you’ll find that your problems will become less and less overwhelming.” – Pandit Usharbudh Arya (who became Swami Veda Bharati)
5. Cultivating positive aspects of mind through such practices as the Four Right Attitudes (brahma-viharas – friendliness toward the happy, compassion for the unhappy, delight in the virtuous, and indifference toward the wicked) or pleasant-mindedness (chitta-prasadana – clarity and purification of mind, making the mind pleasant and clear).
6. Making lifestyle changes so to honor the natural environment – reducing clutter, consuming less, planting trees, simplifying one’s way of living.
7. Making healthier choices in one’s daily schedule in terms of diet and nutrition, sleep and exercise habits and punctuality of meditations.
8. Refining one’s personal relationships with family, friends and co-workers.
Suggestions from Swami Veda for stabilizing the spiritual mindfield include:
Let your selfless service increase, whether by one percent or five percent or whatever. Increase the time and energy you spend in SELFLESS service of others. That is the first concrete action you can begin with.
Refine your personal practices including:
a) Concentrating more on exhalations. This will help you achieve 2:1 ratio of breathing without physical effort.
b) Review: Read Mind Field: The Playground of Gods at http://ahymsin.org/main/swami-veda-bharati/mind-field.html . And Marks of Spiritual Progress at http://ahymsin.org/main/swami-veda-bharati/marks-of-spiritual-progress.html
Keep your regular meditation time. In addition to that, you may sit at other times in the day.
Do not forget to take 2 minutes, 3 minutes breaks, for breath-awareness many, many times in the day.
Prepare a study and practice plan for yourself.
“May we weave the fabric of spirituality in our lives, and within our spiritual family – AHYMSIN,” Swami Ritavan Bharati has written. He requested that we use four points for discussion and contemplation: maintaining holistic and spiritual ideals in life, cultivating non-violent sentiments in their subtlety, respecting wisdom of elders and nurturing youth with maturing ideals, and benevolent guidance and discipline in life and in teaching.
Himalayan Yoga & Meditation
5000 W. Vliet St. Milwaukee, WI 53208 | 414-454-0500