Sri Swami Sivananda explained twenty important spiritual instructions containing the following:
- The Essence of Meditation (Sadhana)
- Deeds (Karma)
- Devotion (Bhakti)
- Spiritual Knowledge (Jnana)
- Yoga to control your Mind and Emotions (Raja Yoga)
You will find the spiritual rules keys to effective development of the mental, moral, physical and spiritual self of humanity. However, they will come to you easily only when you follow them wholeheartedly. Following these niyamas or spiritual rules will lead you to moksa (divinity). Therefore, don’t let your mind be lenient.
1. Wake up between 4 and 6 AM daily
It is called the Brahma Muhurata (time period of the Brahma) – essentially 1 hour 36 minutes before sunrise and ends 48 minutes before sunrise. It is the “The Creator’s Hour” considered an auspicious time to practice your morning meditation (sadhana), practice Yoga, worship or any other religious practice. Remember the time of the sunrise varies each day. Mainly because, of the time of the year or geographical location – therefore please calculate accordingly.
“Think of God. If not God, the Sun, if not the Sun, your Parents.” – Sri Thirumalai Krishnamacharya
Why Brahma Muhurata?
As per Ayurveda the three doshas found in the body – Vata (Air and Ether), Pitta (Fire and Water), and Kapha (Earth and Water) increase or decrease due to cycles of time. The Vata phase occurs between 2.00 am to 6.00 am. Therefore, as per ancient yoga masters this is the most suitable time to meditate. It is during this time your mind is naturally still. If you meditating during the Brahma Muhurata will help you achieve deeper state of being – nearer to the divine.
2. Practice Yoga Poses or Asanas
While you meditate make sure to sit in the following poses:
Face towards the east or north while meditating. Start with half an hour of meditation and gradually increase it to three hours.
Go for a light physical exercise – for example walking.
Yoga and Pranayama (Breathing Techniques):
Practice the Yoga Poses of Head Stand (Sirasana) and Shoulder Stand (Sarvanasana) for good health and Brahmacharya.(Read steps to do both the Poses with Physical and Mental Benefits in our blog)
Do easy and comfortable rounds of Pranayama or Breathing Techniques (Read our article How to do Pranayama and it’s benefits).
3. Japa (meditative repetition of a mantra or sacred syllable or the name of the Lord):
Japa is an integral part of Yoga. You could call is the spiritual food for the soul. It leads to ‘Awareness’ and ‘Realization.’ Chanting Japa helps you attain Peace, Immortality and Bliss.
You can practice Japa by repetition of a Mantra (scared syllable). It is normally used to meditate (Dhyana). However you can meditate with or without Japa. For beginners you should combine both Japa and Meditation (Dhyana). Always understand the meaning of the Japa before you begin.
The kind of Japas can be repeated as per your inclination. Japas are like: Om, Om Namah Sivaya, Om Namo Narayana, Om Namo Bhagvate Vasudebaya, Om Sri Rama, Om Sita Ram, Hail Mary.
You could repeat them for 108 to 21,600 times daily (Multiples of 108). If you follow Christianity you could repeat the name of Jesus or Hail Mary. In case you are a Parsi, Sikh, Mohammaden or Jain you could select a mantra or name from the Holy Zend Avesta, Granth Saahib, Koran or Jinvaani.
4. Dietic Discipline
You aught to eat Sattvic Food (Eating as per Ayurvedic Rules). Give up on eating tamarind, chillies, onion, garlic, sour items, asafoetida, mustard and oil.
As per Sri Swami Sivananda – eat a moderate diet without overloading the stomach. Moreover, eat food only if you can eat it daily, Give it up in case you can eat it once in a while. Basically, eat simple food. If you have milk and fruits it helps in concentration. Consider food as a medicine to keep the life going. It should be a sin to eat for enjoyment.
Give up salt of sugar for a week or two weeks. No pickle please. Eat pulses and rice and bread (roti) is good to live. Moreover, stop adding extra salt or extra sugar for your coffee or tea or milk.
If you are a non-vegetarian and can try giving up on flesh-eating as much as possible. If you can give completely, even better. You will benefit immensely by turning vegetarian.
“Meditation and Concentration are royal roads to Perfection.”
Swami Sivananda lays great emphasis on Meditation. It is concentration that takes you to meditation. Best method is to fix your attention either within or outside you at one object. Now, keep your attention there, for as much time as you can. Practice this daily.
Keep a separate meditation room even if you have to keep it under lock and key.
If you can – give according to your means. Most important is never to fail in this. Keep it up as a habit even if you undergo some personal wants.
“I have learnt that it is the foremost duty of man to learn to give – give in charity, give in plenty, give with love, give without any expectation. Charity is incomplete without charity of disposition, charity of feeling, charity of understanding.” – Swami Sivananda
As per Sri Swami Sivananda – charity is a disposition when you think favorably of others and tend to do good to others. Basically, Charity means a combination of love, goodwill and benevolence. To be kind and loving to others is an act of charity. Even if you simple forget and forgive or say a kind word to someone who is suffering – it is charity.Therefore is it advised to cultivate a feeling of welfare for the whole world.
You should consider yourself unique and privileged if you can serve the world rather than being served.
7. Svadhyaya (Study of the Self)
Savdhyaya means – study of the ‘Self.’
To have pure thoughts Sri Swami Sivananda’s spiritual instructions asks you to follow Svadhyaya (study of the self). Therefore, study systematically the Holy and Learned books like:
- Bhagvad Gita,
- Visnu Sahasranama
- Yoga Vasistha
- Zend Avesta
- Guru Granth Sahib
You should never give up the study of scriptures as that is where you find the sacred truths of wise men. Moreover, you should always remember you are surrounded by materialism in the modern world. Therefore, try not to go slack even for a day. The spiritual literature are your saviours. Always underline the sentences that are in sync with your own life. Take time out to reflect over them. Soon you will find your answers to surmount obstacles. By reading them repeatedly they will be engraved in your heart and become second nature to you.
8. Brahmacharya (Celibacy)
“Brahmacharya or spotless chastity is the best of all penances; a celibate of such spotless chastity is not a human being, but a god indeed… To the celibate who conserves the semen with great efforts, what is there unattainable in this world ? By the power of the composure of the semen, one will become just like Myself.” – Sri Sankracharya
Brahmacharya is a divine word as per Sri Swami Sivananda. It is in reality the sum and substance of Yoga. It is through Brahm (God) and Achara (conduct) by which you attain God (Brahman) – a movement towards Self (Atman).
Celibacy is freedom from any kind of sexual thoughts and desires. You vow of celibacy. As a result, you attain control of all the senses – word, thought and deed.
Mostly it is unknown that the seminal energy preserves the vital force. It contains the secret to health. It invigorates the nerves and your mind. Moreover, it conserves mental and physical energy.
9. Learn some Prayers by Heart
To understand the Power of Prayers – When you were kids you prayed to your parents, elders or guardians whenever you needed them. As a result, you seek their guidance. However, when you grow up and become adolescent you start praying to your own selves. You seek help from your strengths and abilities and try and support our own selves so that we are self-sufficient. However, this prayer has it’s limitations.
When you require something beyond your capacity or ability you resign yourself to God and seek help and guidance from God. As a result, you feel God responding when we are faithful and sincere.
You can do this by surrendering yourself and letting go of your Ego. As you receive the divine grace you automatically exert yourself in the right direction. Always remember, the decision of self-surrender is the highest ‘Object of Human Pursuit’ or Purusharth.
Swami Sivananda highly recommends Prayers. Therefore before you start meditation repeat the prayers by ‘Japa’ and it will elevate your mind quickly.
10. Give up bad Company, Smoking, Alcohol and Meat
Satsanga – literally means – Satya = Truth, Sang = company or people. Sri Swami Sivananda says in his tenth spiritual instructions : “Be in ‘satsang’ constantly. Say no to evil habits.”
Smoking: Often you must have seen smokers justify their evil habits by bringing in some philosophy to support their actions. Smoking causes a myriad of health issues like angina pectoris, shortsightedness, tremors, muscular weakness to name a few. The nicotine gathers in your system and produces deleterious effects on the various organs.
Eating meat brings in ailments like diseases of the kidney, albumiria, tapeworm. Swami Sivananda believes in Ahimsa (non-violence) and says that this is one of the first virtues of a spiritual aspirant. As per Lord Jesus: “Regard every living being as thyself and harm no more.” There is a law of Karma – you get back what you give. Therefore if you inflict pain on others it will rebound. Similarly, when you radiate joy and happiness to others it will also come back to you.
Alcohol and Eating Meat:
Consuming alcohol and eating meat is closely associated with each other. If you withdraw from eating meat – the consumption of liquor automatically dies. For those who cant control their minds by eating meat – it becomes difficult to imply birth-control. It is noticed that cancer mortality is high in large meat-eating countries. For long life you need to be a vegetarian. Pythogoras the great Grecian sage said “Do not kill or injure any creature.”
You will be able to give up evil habits if you feel strongly about giving it up completely and immediately. Establish habits that are healthy by developing a strong will power. Remain in good company (Satsang) so that their energies overhaul your habits. Seek help through Prayer, Japa and Meditation.
11. Observe Fast Regularly
Everyone’s foremost duty is Sadhana (devotion) for the realization of God. In order to practice Sadhana – you need a healthy body and mind. As a result, you require fasting to attain good health. If you see fasting is recommended in all religions for a larger objective – to attain divine life.
Fast and feast – both are blessings! Feast gives you immediate blessings, however, fasting imparts to you a happiness that is long lasting. “Fasting gives a continuous flow of bliss which brings lightness to the body.”
You can avert serious ailment if you fast. Swami Sivananda strongly advises never to eat if you not hundry. Fasting makes your digestive system some rest. The undigested food in your stomach gets digested. The digestive juices secreting in your stomach get back to good quality. Your energy gets conserved because the energy utilized in digestion, assimilation and elimination. This conserved energy brings in good health. Moreover fasting helps you build more resistance and increases concentration.
As per research statistics – people who fast live longest.
Swami Sivananda says -Fast on Ekadasi or just consume milk and fruits. For instance, Christians tend to fast on alternate Sundays and Muslims fast on alternate Fridays.
12. Wear a Rosary (Japa Mala)
As per Swami Sivananda you could wear a Roasary or Japa Mala on your neck, wrist, keep it in your pocket. Not only that, you can also keep it under your pillow at night.
Rosary or prayer beads are essentially used an anchor to focus on meditations. Beads are used to count the mantras so that you can repeat them in sets of 108. Thus, carrying your Rosary close to you will help you meditate whenever you feel like. Importantly, you can take help of this anchor whenever you want to quieten your mind for a certain time period.
13. Observe Silence (Mauna)
Mauna or Keeping quiet is an extremely important practice recommended by Sr Swami Sivananda. Practice silence for at least 1-2 hours every day. While you are maintaining silence be aware and try not to make any kind of noises or gestures.
It is extremely bad to talk randomly. Your mind gets distracted and keeps it in in an outgoing mode. Swami Sivananda says to vow silence once a week because you dissipate your energy when you talk.
“Speech is the fourth ‘foot’ of Mind-Brahman, because it is by means of the ‘foot’ of speech that the mind approaches the denotable objects such as cow, goat, etc. Therefore speech is like a foot of mind. In the same manner, nose is a ‘foot’, because it is through nose that the mind approaches objects of smell. Similarly, the eye is a ‘foot’; the ear is another ‘foot’. This constitutes the four-footed character of the Mind-Brahman” – Chhandogya Upanishad
After practicing Silence (Mouna) you feel peaceful. As a result the energy consumed in speech translates into spiritual energy (Ojas). Make it a practice to observe silence few hours daily.
14. Discipline of Speech
Sri Swami Sivananda encourages to speak the truth no matter what. Speak less, however speak sweetly. When you speak – try and encourage others by doing so. Say no to talks of discouragement. Moreover, make sure to never shout or raise your voice.
Discipline of your speech and tongue happens after you practice silence. Thinks at least three times before you open your mouth. Always bear in mind the power of the words and how it effects the minds of the people who you talk to. They say – you cannot bring back a spoken word similar to an arrow that is shot out.
Remember, if you speak the truth – your speech will come from a clear-heart, making life easier for you.
15. Reduce your Wants
“Have simple living and high thinking.”
If you want to live a life being content – be happy in a contended life. Mentally you should learn to detach yourself to stop worrying unnecessarily. There is no end to wants.
Whenever you want something – think of the millions who do not have even half of what you have. Share and give as much of what you have with others. It will make you feel content with what you have. As a result, you will stop hoarding.
16. Never Hurt Anybody
Anger is the biggest folly human beings can commit. Remember, “Hurt people hurt people”. Therefore you stop hurting when you understand that it can be overcome by Love, forgiveness and compassion. By being kind and compassionate you can heal the hearts that are hurting. Why not start with yourself. Be gentle and kind to yourself. Forgive yourself and move out of guilt – even if you have made a mistake yourself. Vow to not do the mistake or hurting anyone ever again.
This way it will lead you to a loving life through kindness.
17. Never be Dependent on your Servants
Self Reliance in a Virtue that opens the door of power, strength and modesty.
“God loves to help him who strives to help himself.” – Asechylus
Being self reliance is one of the strongest virtues to practice. You will always be happy and successful if you are self-reliant. It is easy to be self reliant if you understand how to use the power that is YOU!
You should be your creator and master – and never depend on others. As a result you become confident and calm. being self reliant person will impart you that vigor and promptness to face challenges.
You will never fear or feel shame to do anything by yourself if you are independent. However, you should always understand that it is not ego. Being independent or self-reliant should be a sign of modesty. It doesn’t mean you start denying help from anyone. Therefore, work as per your own ability. Because – ‘We are the makers of our own destiny.’
18. Keep a Spiritual Diary
A Spiritual Diary is basically maintaining a record of your daily actions.
Maintaining a Spiritual diary is something to you should lay great importance on. It soon becomes your Master or Guru as it throws light on the path to eternal bliss. You will develop the power of self-realization through the practice of maintaining a Spiritual Diary.
Your mind is one of the biggest thief who gives you worries and lands you in troubles. As you will reflect each day by writing in your diary you soon start making fewer mistakes and eventually you get freedom from anger, lust, dishonesty, distraction. You become calm by writing your diary as it helps you in finding your peace of mind and you grow rapidly.
End of the month you can calculate to see if you are following the spiritual instructions and will get a chance to increase the time to maintain silence, meditation or any other spiritual virtues. You understand the power of now and stop wasting time.
19. remember – Death is Awaiting you at Every Moment
Always keep in mind that life is unpredictable, yet death is certain. It awaits you at every moment, therefore fulfill all your duties by the right and pure conduct (Sadachara).
If you have control over or conquer three needs : lust, tongue and wealth – you will never be scared of death.
20. Think of God
Keep the thought of God foremost in your mind – soon after you wake up and just before you go to sleep.
“There is no virtue higher than LOVE, no treasure, no knowledge, no DHARAM, no RELIGION higher than LOVE; because, LOVE is TRUTH, LOVE is GOD. As this world has come out of love, it exists in love and would ultimately dissolve in LOVE. What is GOD? HE is an EMBODIMENT of LOVE. In every inch of HIS creation you can verily understand HIS LOVE and in fact HIS TRUE LOVE. To love man or anything that is HIS OWN is to love Himself. All things are but HIS invention and man with respect to one and all has the option of realizing himself to be the true image of HIS.” – Sri Swami Sivananda
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