“This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine, let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.” The teaching of the ancient yogic sages say there’s nothing “little” about the light of your being. Deep inside each human being radiates a light that is brighter than the sun. It is the source of the universe itself, ever pulsating, ever existent, illuminating your mind, heart and soul.
Far beyond what your mind tells you, this inner light is what’s guiding your thoughts, actions and sense of Self in the world. Yet it’s not always easy for you to recognize this. Fortunately, the practices of yoga specialize in revealing your inner illumination, teaching you how to live everyday in the light of certainty and freedom.
The source of your being is not your mind, but that which your mind is made of: Consciousness-Itself. Your inner Essence is vast, eternal, all-knowing. You existed before you were born, and will continue to exist after your body dies. Who you are is both subtle and profound, like the silence between the roars of ocean waves or the stillness of a mountain. Swami Nirmalananda says that you will only bring this depth of being into your life when you have cleared the pathway of your mind. And one of the most powerful ways to do this is with self-Inquiry, which we call “vichara.”
Even though I meditate daily, and repeat my mantra, my mind can still loop around itself and get tangled up! And the more I try to figure something out, the more confusing it gets. But there is an inner knowing, beyond the mind. Vichara is a way to question my own mind by opening it up into a non-judgmental spaciousness.
Whether I’m facilitated by a trained Vichara Therapist, or doing it on my on with pen and paper, vichara begins with asking, “What am I aware of?” As my thoughts unspool, the questions, “How so?” and “In what way?” shine the light of Consciousness through my mind. It’s never about finding an answer, but more about unmasking my reactions and objections. It’s like rearranging stacks of boxes in the basement, and finding a shaft of light streaming through a window I’d forgotten was there. I am always amazed at how much lighter and happier I feel after dissolving unrecognized mental patterns.
Your inner light is always shining, it is your own Self, the Source of Life-Itself. Yoga turns your awareness inward; Shaktipat gives you the experience of your own Divinity. But because of inner resistance, you have to meet your mind, again and again, with a question or two: “How so?” and in “in what way?”
All of yoga’s techniques are to help you quiet your mind, so you open the doorway to your own Self. You can then learn be free from the landmines your mind used to lay for you. Not only do you gain greater clarity and understanding about your “small-s” self and your life, but ultimately the goal is freedom Mantra and meditation reveal the fullness and truth of who you really are: Consciousness-Itself. Self-inquiry helps you bring it into the world.