What is devotion to you?
In my perception, devotion is innate to us as humans. We are all devoted to something or somebody! Maybe to a cause, to God / no God, to our values, our philosophy, our family, our partner, our ‘tribe’, our purpose, our work, to knowing, to learning, to simply ‘doing the best we can’.
It feels to me that the spark of this devotion that pours out from our being is love, and without devotion, the universe would cease to exist.
Yogic philosophy defines devotion or ‘bhakti’ as the path, the practice, and the goal or experience. The yogic goal is for us to connect to higher consciousness to realise our oneness with everything, and fulfil our potential and purpose in life in this state of oneness. The path is following your heart to realise this. The practice is to keep connecting with what Ram Das calls our loving awareness.
Bhakti is a relational flow of deeply charged emotion (energy in motion) and consciousness from ourselves to another being or action, only for us to ‘lose ourselves’ in this other being or action, and realise there is only oneness! Our consciousness merges with everything. The Lover and the Beloved merge to become simply Love.
Bhakti is this beautiful dance between separation and unity. Through duality we feel separate, so we practice bhakti, in order to merge back into unity. We fall in love, to realise our love, then forget, and fall in love again over and over! We could say Bhakti is the great love affair between our humanity and divinity.
Swami Satyananda says that the culmination of all spiritual paths is bhakti. That we will be in a state of permanent devotion, as we realise every moment the awesomeness of our existence!
How do we cultivate bhakti? To pour our devotion into serving somebody or something, continually. We are all probably already doing this! If we lose energy or direction or positivity in this process - the key is, yoga says, continue pouring out our devotion - but with awareness, know we are doing it. Then we will merge with the doing again, or in other words, we will ‘find our zone’, and be in effortless flow.
One of my main bhakti practices is singing kirtan. Recently on Mahashivaratri, the ‘great night of Shiva’, where astrologically it is said to be a most auspicious night to merge with higher consciousness, Geeti and I and friends had the wonderful opportunity of singing kirtan in the shiva temple in Minto all evening. I could palpably feel my expression of devotion was expanding - it was such a wonderful experience!
I realised that I felt safe to be total in my devotional outpouring while singing - that at this temple, especially on this particular night, it was culturally appropriate to cry out to Shiva with full abandon! The whole night, six hours of singing, I had never felt as uninhibited, singing at the top of my lungs! (It took my physically several days to recover - but my spirit is still buoyed by that evening!)
That night, I had a vivid dream I was in a past life with a school teacher who really couldn’t handle my brightness, my candour and presence as a student - what she referred to as ‘subversiveness’ and ‘stupidity’! She successfully, by quite dastardly means, turned all my classmates against me, but still I maintained my authentic bright self! I awoke reflecting that wow in between that past life and now - for example, in my present life childhood, I definitely had suppressed the full expression of my personality to ‘keep the peace’. And bhakti yoga has been and continues to be a beautiful way for me to help reclaim that bright spark within me!
And I reflected that wow, so many of us I’m sure have in this and previous lives expressed the fullness of our personalities, but have also suppressed that repeatedly, only to be reclaiming that pure devotional essence of ourselves once again.
Amid all the suffering and chaos that is happening on planet Earth right now, I really feel there is an upsurge of bhakti happening globally that is opening us more and more to expressing ourselves in our fullness and experiencing higher states of consciousness.
Do you feel this to be the case too?
And I’d love to hear about your relationship to bhakti or devotion!
Blessings on your day xxx