Be Still Challenge

This challenge is designed to help your intention at the start of the year and to get into a routine each day by spending time in prayer and on your mat.

Each day of the month will have a NEW meditation and we invite you to participate each day starting on January 1st.

WEEK 5 – DAY / MEDITATION / POSTURE

Day 29 / Christ and the 8 Limbs Continued, The 2nd Limb / YogaFaith's Tree of Life

Michelle Thielen

Meditation:

Christ and the 8 Limbs Continued, The 2nd Limb

YogaFaith’s Tree of Life

The second limb of the eight-fold is Niyama, or personal observances. They are more intimate and personal than the first limb. Practicing these disciplines are more about living from the soul. The five observances include how we relate to ourselves (inner world), self-disciplines, and spiritual observances.

First observance is Shaucha, which means cleanliness of body and mind. Yoga postures cleanse and purify our physical bodies, breathing techniques cleanse our lungs and bodily systems, meditation on the Holy Spirit cleanses us through and through, inside and out. This discipline is being free from junk, whether physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and relational. We must cleanse our body and minds daily. Our hearts must be cleansed of hatred, unforgiveness, anger, bitterness, and any other negative emotions. It is always an “inside job”. God always begins within us.
First wash the inside of the cup and the dish, and then the outside will become clean, too. Matt. 23:26
Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what
God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will Prov. 12:2

The second observance is Santosha, which is defined as contentment, and being satisfied with what we have. This is about being happy with what we have and what we do not have. This discipline is about having joy no matter what circumstances surround us. Yes, I’m calling it a discipline because having joy amidst trials does not always come naturally. As Christians we know that all things work together for the good for those that love Him, so we count everything towards His glory. He promises us to give us double for our trouble! So, we can rest at all times, knowing that He has it all figured out. Isn’t this wonderful news?

All we [ever] must “do” is rest and trust.

You satisfy me more than the richest feast. I will praise you with songs of joy Psalms 63:5

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do James 1:2-8

The next discipline is Tapas: which means to discipline the use of our energy. It relates to austerity and is associated with body and mind discipline. Tapas refers to keeping a sound mind as well as keeping our body fit with physical activity and proper nutrition. This is a discipline of controlling our inner urges so the exterior shows our disciplined lifestyle and ultimately glorifies God.

No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening-it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way. Heb 12:11

The fourth observance is Svadhyaya, it relates to any self-study or self-examination. To know God and the soul, leads to a great awakening of how God created us to live. Sometimes we simply need a checkup from the neck up! It is important to know what’s going on internally. If we don’t check in and find resolution, we eventually explode, quite often toward the people near and dear to us.
Daily renew your mind and “check in.” Make an appointment with yourself to get quiet and find solutions to anything that may be brewing or unresolved.

Wake up, my soul, wake up, lyre and harp! I will awaken at dawn. Ps. 57:8

Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? 1 Cor. 3:16

The last observance is Ishvarapranidhana, the very definition means to lay all your cares at the feet of God. It is an act of surrender to God, surrendering everything, all of it. Give all your cares to Him.
I’m speaking in a human way because of the weakness of your corrupt nature. Clearly, you once offered all the parts of your body as slaves to sexual perversion and disobedience. This led you to live disobedient lives. Now, in the same way, offer all the parts of your body as slaves that do what God approves of. This leads you to live holy lives. Rom 6:19 (God’s Word Translation)

Give me your heart, and let your eyes observe my ways. Prov. 23:26

Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. Heb. 10:22-23

Day 30 / Christ and the 8 Limbs Continued, Limbs 3-5 / YogaFaith's Tree of Life

Michelle Thielen

Meditation:

Christ and the 8 Limbs Continued, Limbs 3-5

YogaFaith’s Tree of Life

The third Limb: Asana, defined as seat, and used interchangeably with posture and pose. It refers to any of the postures used in yoga for the purpose of achieving balance, promoting physical and spiritual health, and attaining mental calmness.

FOR IN HIM WE LIVE AND MOVE AND HAVE OUR BEING. ACTS 17:28

Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that
the Spirit of God lives in you?1 Cor. 3:16

Or didn’t you realize that your body is a sacred place, the place of the Holy Spirit? Don’t you see that you can’t live however you please, squandering what God paid such a high price for? The physical part of you is not some piece of property belonging to the spiritual part of you. God owns the whole works. So let people see God in and through your body. 1 Cor. 6:19 The Message

The fourth limb is Pranayama defined as breath, or life force. There are many breathing techniques that improve our overall health and well-being. We can practice these for specific ailments to cleanse our bodily systems or calm our anxieties.

And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given. Gen. 1:30

This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.?” Ex. 37:5-7

The fifth limb is called Pratyahara, defined as withdrawing or retreating. This is a withdrawal of the senses, or a control of the senses, and directs our attention internally. It implies that anything that does not nourish our senses we should pull away from. We should withdrawal from external distractions and attachments and in doing so, we conserve our focus and energy towards a higher calling. Without unnecessary distractions, our center, senses and emotions become keenly sharpened and we become more aware, allowing us to properly discern things in our lives, spending more time focused on the things, people, and circumstances that pertain to our destiny.

The practice of pratyahara allows us to objectively observe our habits. We become aware of the daily habits that serve us and those that no longer serve us. We can then begin to prioritize our daily activities and habits. If they no longer align with our destiny, we do not make them a priority or we replace old, unhealthy habits with new habits that serve our purpose. Ask yourself, “Is what I’m doing drawing me closer or further away from my destiny? Why am I doing this? What is the purpose of this activity?” Even if the thing you’re doing is a good thing, it can distract us from our true destination and ultimately be a waste of precious time. When was the last time that you withdrew?

Examine me, God, and know my mind, test me, and know my thoughts Psalms 139:12 (ISV)

Early in the morning, well before sunrise, Jesus rose and
went to a deserted place where he could be alone in prayer. Mark 1:35

After He had dismissed them, He went up on a mountainside by himself to pray.
Later that night, he was there alone. Matt: 14-23

Day 31 / Christ and the 8 Limbs Continued, Limbs 6-8 / YogaFaith's Tree of Life

Michelle Thielen

Meditation:

Christ and the 8 Limbs Continued, Limbs 6-8

YogaFaith’s Tree of Life

The sixth limb is called Dharana, which is defined as an immoveable concentration of the mind. It means to focus, dwell, meditate, and to think upon a singular thing. This is meditation at it’s deepest level. To be completely engrossed and focused on one thing, not several fleeting thoughts at one time. B.K.S. Iyengar states that the objective is to achieve the mental state where the mind, intellect, and ego are “all restrained, and all these faculties are offered to the Lord for His use and in His service”. Here there is no self, only self-less. The ego dissipates and you allow space in the inner most parts for the Holy Spirit to consume you. Exhale you, inhale Him.

Whatever is true, whatever is worthy of reverence and is honorable and seemly, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and lovable, whatever is kind and winsome and gracious,
if there is any virtue and excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise,
think on and weigh and take account of these things [fix your minds on them]. Phil. 4:8

I do not consider myself to have embraced it yet, but this one thing I do:
forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead Phil. 3:13

This level of meditation will take time to conquer. It is difficult to set aside a few moments each day let alone many and focus on only one thing. The one thing is God and Him alone. Allow everything else to melt away as your cares are consumed by the Spirit. This observance is when ultimate freedom and healing will take place so that we can move from our past hurts and failures to the abundant and victorious life that God has already predestined for us.

The seventh limb is Dhyana, it means worship, or profound meditation. Simply put, it is perfect contemplation. Practice the previous observance of meditating on one thing, but here we will dive a little deeper into meditation. The seventh observance is the truth and knowledge of the One Christ that we have been meditating on. We seek to understand His ways and truth. This can be called deep and profound meditation. It is an uninterrupted flow of concentration or dwelling on the Lord. Here we can be keenly aware without focus. Our mind, with its anxious thoughts, our heart with its many worries, all become quieted. It is in this stillness, where few thoughts exist, and Christ can pierce our hearts, minds, and spirits. In this space, His spirit speaks to our spirit.

But they delight in the law [the instructions] of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. Psalm1:2

They are constantly in my thoughts. I cannot stop thinking about your mighty works. Psalm 77:12

Known as Samadhi which means absorption, bringing together, or merging, the eighth and final stage of ashtanga is described as a state of ecstasy as our mind stays aware and conscience, while our body and senses are mostly at rest. During this stage, we can truly transcend “self” and completely connect with God, does this give you a new definition of ecstasy or what?! This is where you will find inner peace with yourself, others, and all living beings, and the [true] peace that passes all understanding!

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding,
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus Phil 4:7

In YogaFaith, we set our heart, mind, and spirit on the Lord. We never “empty” our minds out, as you may have heard of a yoga practice that attempts this, to empty the mind is not even possible. This can be a difficult task to still and quiet everything down to let go of intellect and any distractions. However, as we let go of “self” and be enveloped in the Holy presence of our Father, we can experience truth, peace, and joy on the highest possible level.

No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us,
and his love is brought to full expression in us. 1 John 4:12

For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit. John 3:34 (No limit!)

For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. 2 Peter 1:4

You love Him even though you have never seen Him. Though you do not see Him now, you trust Him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. 1 Peter 1:8

Congratulations on being still for 31 Days!

We thank you for coming along this journey-you will never be the same! When you set aside time to seek and pray, God shows up and parts the Red Sea for you and your family!
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