The Niyamas: Ishvara Pranidhana - Surrender to the divine

by Wessel Paternotte

The Niyamas: Ishvara Pranidhana - Surrender to the divine

The theme of this month is Ishvara Pranidhana, the last one in the series of niyamas. Ishvara refers to God, and Pranidhana generally means self-surrender. Ishvara Pranidhana is the practice of self-surrender in deep contemplation on the eternal source of all.

In the practice of Ishvara Pranidhana, we let go of our thoughts, beliefs and ideas. We let go of achieving, striving, and trying to figure things out, and surrender to the divine. This might sound complicated, but it is not as hard as it seems. One way to practice Ishvara Pranidhana is by chanting God's name like we do in Kirtan in our studios. After reciting the mantra for a while, the monkey mind slowly starts to quiet down until the thoughts fade away, and divine consciousness remains. Another good way to practice Ishvara Pranidhana is silent meditation. In meditation, we surrender our thoughts and sink beneath the surface waves of existence. In the stillness of being, we feel unity with the infinite divine spirit.

I truly believe that we become what we think. As we strongly focus on an object or situation, our mind becomes absorbed in the object or situation until its image is fixed in our mind. Our thoughts and feelings begin to revolve around it. Just like we can focus on getting a new car or a promotion, we can focus on infinite consciousness. When we do so, by practising Ishvara Pranidhana, ultimately our whole being becomes absorbed by it. This absorption in the divine is called Samadhi.

When we go through life focusing on the divine nature of everything around us, we turn the ordinary into something extraordinary. We start to see God everywhere. In a bird, a flower, and yes, also in our noisy neighbour. We bring love and beauty to this world when our heart is open and we practice Madhu-vidya, or 'Honey-knowledge', seeing all is divine. This is the supreme Bliss of the Self.

When we surrender to God-self through Ishvara Pranidhara, we can find lasting happiness. This is what I call the delight of being, and I hope that we will all find it within ourselves.


About Wessel Paternotte

Wessel, born and raised in Amsterdam, found peace in the hustle and bustle of the big city. From childhood on, he was interested in spirituality and martial arts. After years of practice and study, be became Reiki Master in 2006. That same year he opened Delight Studio, a space for healing, meditation and yoga.