Even though I have never been in a prison, when my mind gets obsessive, it clearly creates one for me. Swami Muktananda, a Self-Realized master of the last century, had a profound message for people who actually were locked up in prison. Although their fate seemed sealed, he viewed incarceration as fertile ground for spiritual growth and transformation:
“Everything depends on your attitude. If you change your attitude about a place, then no matter where you are, that place becomes heaven for you.”
Muktananda assured inmates that their time in prison was not unlike living in an Ashram. Both feature solitary reflection, work routine and the enforced discipline of regular meals, exercise and bedtime. These ultimately lead to a life of self-discipline and service to others. He advocated an inner turnaround, with mantra and meditation as the source. With this pursuit of an inner spiritual life, he promised you will find the divine hidden in the mundane and can trust in God’s plan for the future.
This sure sounds like yoga to me.
In life, you can oscillate between moments of acceptance, and moments of fear and objection. An unresolved tension with a parent or friend, a regret over a past mistake and worrying about the future, all become a prison of your own making. When your thoughts wall you in, you feel separate and small, identified with your pain.
But this is not the end of the story.
According to yoga’s modern and ancient sages, the predicament we find ourselves in is not our fault! Consciousness creates this contraction within its own vastness, by coalescing through multiple levels to become your mind and body. Therefore, your divinity is hidden within you, full and complete, waiting to be revealed. This revelation is the purpose of the science and practices of Yoga.
There are so many ways to access this deeper dimension of your own Self. I was surprised to discover that outer discipline gives me an immense inner freedom – it works well when I eat my meals on a regular schedule, go to bed at the same time each night, chant and meditate the same time each morning and repeat mantra out loud at regular intervals. “Yogify-ing” my life has made my mind progressively quieter, and my heart, full of joy. I more fully embody the very Consciousness that is being me. The Sanskrit word is sadhana: a personal daily practice that is steeped in Grace.
When you apply yourself to the freedom that comes with a yogic lifestyle, your Divine Essence spreads into every nook and cranny of your life. Then what you see inside is what you see outside, for the One who is looking is the Self. And when “Life” happens to you, and things get tough, all it will take is a change of perspective, and repeating mantra, and you’ll be right there: experiencing a Grace beyond all understanding. As Baba says, “Then no matter where you are, that place becomes a heaven for you.”
The prison bars we create are made of string, easily dissolved by the light of Consciousness. This means you can step through those bars in any given moment. Be free, for truly, the only prison is the one you create inside.
OM svaroopa svasvabhavah namo namah