Bhakti yoga is the expression of devotion to to Divine, both as our higher essence and in our expereince of everyday life. Bhakti can be expressed through any action and through most forms of Yoga. With Bhakti Yoga we cultivate devotion through respectful ritual in which we honour our divinity and as a more inward honouring in meditation.
A daily worship can be expressed in a multitude of ways and does not necessarily need to have any religious connections. A devotional act of worship can be as simple as giving thanks for the food we eat or to smile with gratitude for a beautiful sunset. Singing devotional music and dancing are creative expressions that can more easily connect us to our hearts and we can also transform our yoga practice into a devotional gesture by the use of prayer and ultimately by surrendering our egoic approach to our practice.
At Satya Loka we love chanting Bhajans (devotional songs) and dancing ecstatically to sacred mantras. For us Bhakti Yoga is a natural foundation for all that is offered here. Everything is infused with this aspiration and devotion to truth. Infusing Bhakti into our daily life helps us to manifest a more heart centred approach to life..
Compassion is a heart felt response to the suffering of others, regardless of species. When we are compassionate we allow ourself to be moved by the suffering of others, and experience a natural motivation to help. Qualities of compassion are patience, wisdom, kindness and the will to be of service.
The great Tibetan traditions focus very much on compassion and have various techniques to cultivate this way of being. In Satya Loka we integrate daily the practice of compassion through the fundamental understanding that when we take time to free ourselves from our own suffering, and come to recognise our natural state of being, then naturally and effortlessly we help others, both through activity and also through our presence.
Here are two valuable techniques that we use in the school to cultivate compassion and to help others through our practices.
Meta is an act of sending the merits and good wishes of our practices to others. This can be done in a number of ways, and is more commonly done at the end of the session. You can send Meta in the following ways:
- By sending love from the Heart to individuals, animals, situations or to groups of people
- Meta can also be expressed with words such as, “We dedicate this practice for all benefit of all sentients beings, may it be a drop in the ocean of the tireless work of all the Yogis, Buddhas and Saints.”
- Or by chanting a mantra such as, Lokha Samastha Sukhino Bhavantu (May all the beings in all of the worlds be happy).
In the practice of Tonglen, one visualizes taking onto oneself the suffering of others on the in-breath, and on the out-breath praying for and offering love, light and peace. There are different ways to practice Tonglen here we practice the meditation through the Spiritual Heart as experienced in the Hridaya meditations.
There is an initial stage of this meditation where we perform the meditation on ourselves to promote self love and compassion; we can then offer this compassion as we use Tonglen for close friends and family. Eventually with the fruits of the meditation one will comfortably be able to perform the meditation to any one or group of people.
In doing this meditation one changes the attitude of seeing oneself as more important than other beings; one will come to consider others as more important than oneself. This is the ultimate aim of spiritual accomplishment to diminish the ego. This style of meditation can sometimes arouse concerns that by doing the practice they will have to lose happiness and experience suffering. However whatever happens to oneself is solely a result of one’s karma. So by offering this meditation we will only bring good to ourselves and others.
The practice of Tonglen involves all of the Six Perfections; giving, ethics, patience, joyous effort, concentration and wisdom. These are the practices of a Bodhisattva. The gifts of the practice are to reduce selfish attachment, increase a sense of renunciation, create positive karma by giving and helping and to develop and expand loving-kindness and Bodhicitta.
The ultimate Bodhicitta is experienced when all one’s thoughts are calmed; one’s clinging to dualism assuaged; one just rests in the state of peace, of meditation. One dissolves into emptiness and just rests in the true nature of the being.