I was absolutely gobsmacked when sitting in a philosophy class during my 200-hour Kunalini Yoga Teacher Training in Rishikesh, India. Right there, in that room, we were being taught the concise formula to become enlightened. The 8 Limbs of Patanjali presents a systematic and complete process of how the emotional, psychological and physical transformation occurs when a human being raises consciousness to the point of enlightenment.
Patanjali ascended to the first stage of enlightenment where he fully recognized Self as Infinite and not limited by time and space. Interesting to note, this was at least five centuries before the birth of Christ. More interestingly, is that a German writer by the name of Holger Kersten (1991) believes that wisemen took Jesus to India when he was a child (running from Herod) where he was raised with the knowledge of Vajrayana .
To continue, Patanjali’s wrote his text of Yog to assist everyone to rise to a state of human perfection. Hence, the complete practice of Yog was designed to join together the lower self with the cosmic consciousness (higher self). When Yog travelled to the Western world it was called Yoga (with the A) and now is mainly for flexibility.
In Indian however the 8 limbs of Patanjali is known as a systematic process for taking an individual to a state of enlightenment. Patanjali noticed that as consciousness develops a natural process occurs.
It’s incredible to see it clearly.
Be in the Present Moment
Many spiritual teachers throughout the ages tell us this important fact.
Why? Well, the typical human mind has about 100,000 thoughts per day. That’s a lot of thinking! This is called Chitta in Yog – it’s the monkey mind where your thoughts have full control over you, your life and lifestyle. Thoughts are pondering on the past or the future generating all sorts of negativity – worry, fear, regret, anxiety, judgements, etc.
As you go deeper and deeper into the spiritual practice of Yog you observe your thoughts and re-write the negative to something positive.
For me, this started when I was researching Positive Psychology. There is a myriad of scientific research that has proven the health and well-being benefits of having a higher positivity ratio than negativity.
Patanjali’s 8 Limbs of Yog give us guidance for how to start practicing being in the present moment, personal development and spiritual development.
YAMAS: He suggests Yamas which are ethical rules for how you treat others. These are Ahimsa (not harming other living beings), Satya (truthfulness), Asteya (not stealing), Brahmacharya (marital fidelity or sexual restraint), Aparigraha (non-possessiveness). By practicing these one starts to become more aware of thoughts, attitudes and actions. With this awareness, for example, you start to consciously feel how bad thoughts towards others affect how you feel in your body. You then want to feel good and so choose to treat others with respect, kindness and integrity. This sends a rippling affect throughout your entire beingness getting it ready to shift to a higher consciousness state. Each stage seems to be interlocked and affect the others.
NIYAMAS: Niyama’s are used for a similar purpose of increasing awareness in the present moment and lucidity in the now. Niyamas are how one treats the self. It stipulates an importance on personal development and getting to know oneself and the matrix of thoughts, beliefs, attitudes and feelings one carries this lifetime. I wrote a book and an accompanying workbook on the importance of this stage, as it became a necessity in my own personal life. Click here to learn more about my personal development book(s) Healing the Planet from Within.
The Niyamas include Shaucha (clean body and mind), Santosha (contentment, accepting others), Tapas (self-discipline, perseverance), Svadhyaya (self-reflection, thought awareness, emotional intelligence), and Ishvarapranidha (contemplation of the Cosmic Consciousness you are). Each one of the Niyama deepens knowledge of self and encourages one to steer all thoughts, feelings and beliefs towards a higher purpose.
Asana and Pranayama
The third limb of Patanjali is ASANA, which has the sole purpose of staying relaxed and motionless for a period of time. The most important Asana, as we learned in the 200-hour Kundalini Yoga Teacher Training course in Rishikesh India, is the seated posture. That’s the only Asana that is necessary on the path to enlightenment. Any posture that causes pain or restlessness is not a yog posture.
The 4th Limb is Pranayama which is the practice of consciously controlling the breath. Again, we can see that all steps of the 8 Limbs of Patanjali are focused on bringing attention to the present moment.
Pratyahara and Dharana
The 5 limb is called Pratyahara which is the process of shifting one’s focus from the external world to the internal world where one is an infinite being of cosmic consciousness. Number 6 is Dharana is developing the ability to concentrate and focus the mind on one point. This is not all that easy as the mind is usually jumping from one place to another. Putting these two practices together one feels great relief and deep relaxation.
Dhyana and Samadhi
The 7th mention from Patanjali is Dhyana which is contemplation and reflection without judgement. It is flowing awareness of one aspect or subject without the distraction of other thoughts hindering the flow. It is extreme lucid awareness. The 8th is Samadhi where the meditator becomes one with all as a supreme being of cosmic consciousness. At this stage the thought processes have stopped and there is a feeling of great light and expansion.
As you can see the 8 limbs of yoga are all focusing on how to develop your awareness in the present moment and increase your personal development. Each step along the way expands your conscious and uplifts your energy vibrations. Doing these techniques is on the path to self realisation.
I know in my heart how powerful personal development tools and techniques are to uplifting the energies on the planet. That’s why I wrote the books Healing the Planet from Within (READER) and the WORKBOOK where you can easily get actively involved in personal development. It’s the beginning of the journey to a life filled with happiness and satisfaction.
To apply them in every day life is as easy as turning on a light bulb. I recommend reading my book Healing the Planet from Within and definitely purchasing my personal development WORKBOOK because it’ll talk you through some of the stages.