Ishvara Pranidhana is a practice of self-surrender in deep contemplation of the eternal source of all. Ishvara connotes God, Brahma, Lord of this universe. Historically, people have given it slightly different meanings but they all point to a higher power, a consciousness greater than our individual sense of self. Pranidhana also has multiple connotations but primarily means fixing attention on the Divine through meditation or prayer and generally implies self-surrender. This practice is one of surrendering your ideas, beliefs, constructs, control and most importantly your sense of self to the one Self, to pure essential being, to the Lord, God, the infinite Brahma, however you express it for yourself, your Source.
Inherent in this practice is knowledge of something greater than your small ego existence. If you let go and surrender, you just might get over yourself enough to perceive the immense shower of grace flowing from the eternal Divinity. And if you really let go, you just might melt into that ocean of love.
It is through surrendering to this infinite Self in the practice of Ishvara Pranidhana that the deep Selfknowledge of Svadhyaya arises and that all of the practices of Yama and Niyama really come into focus. Without Ishvara Pranidhana, it is not possible really to do the other practices.
Ishvara Pranidhana is the base of all practices of Yama and Niyama. If you are to know Divine Consciousness, you must come in direct contact with that consciousness. With direct contact, harmlessness, truth, integrity, purity of heart and mind, equanimity, and Self-knowledge become more accessible. Divine connection and the cultivation of the wisdom of Yama and Niyama go hand-in-hand. When you do the practices of Yama and Niyama, you purify the mind. At the same time when you ideate upon the Infinite in meditation, there is direction and focus for the mind. Without focus, your efforts become scattered and unproductive.
Through meditation and self-surrender in Ishvara Pranidhana, you come in direct contact with divine Presence. Ishvara Pranidhana allows you to focus all of your concentration upon the controlling point of this entire universe, often called Ishvara. This sublime Cosmic Consciousness, manifesting as the nexus of the entire manifest universe, is the Soul of your soul, the heart of your heart. When in your meditation you focus your mind in full surrender to the divine God Self, the nucleus of existence, then, by grace, it may become known.
The practice of Ishvara Pranidhana focuses upon this cosmic Self. When you first begin meditative practice, you may find you are spending all your time trying to concentrate. However, as you begin the practices of Yama and Niyama, you will find that your concentration in meditation grows better and better. When your lifestyle is made subtle with these practices, concentration is enhanced. As concentration is enhanced, a deeper knowledge of the Infinite arises. The noises about you when you meditate cease to bother you. The internal chatter of the mind, like the noise around you, does not bother you because you are focusing on something much more profound. As you focus your awareness on the profound consciousness that underlies all manifestation, you find that you begin to have a resonance with that infinite Divine Consciousness.
There are certain basic qualities that everyone’s mind possesses. The first is that mind is not static; it is in a perpetual process of movement. The second basic characteristic of mind is that it is malleable; whatever it moves toward, it takes the likeness of. Whatever you focus on, you tend to become absorbed in. When you frequently think of a material object and have a strong desire for it, then it will fill your awareness. As you continue to focus on the object of interest, the mind becomes more and more absorbed in the object until the image of it is fixed in the mind and your thoughts and feelings begin to revolve around it.
In the practice of Ishvara Pranidhana, the characteristic movement and malleability of the mind is utilized to gain vision of the Infinite. The infinite cosmic Source, the controlling point of the entire manifest universe and of the unmanifest universe becomes the focus of your attention. When ideation upon infinite consciousness becomes your focus, then the first characteristic of the mind, mental movement, is set in motion toward the divine Self. As you continue to concentrate your attention in meditation upon the Divine, the second characteristic of mind, malleability, comes into play and the mind begins to take on the qualities and characteristics of that infinite Self. The practice of Ishvara Pranidhana gives us opportunity for knowing the depths in our meditation, in our contemplations and in our prayers.
Maetreyii Ma: a teacher of yogic wisdom & practices