Have you found yourself in a space where stagnant thoughts or feelings seep in as though you have become a victim of life’s circumstances? Maybe life has become dull, repetitive, and undesirable. You’re not alone.
Along her journey, Ericka has uncovered the seven arts of establishing harmonious oneness aiding in her shift from being a victim of life’s circumstances to living an intentional life full of purpose. This journey will encourage awareness of the body, mind, and the spiritual being that resides within through the practice of journaling and meditation. Give yourself permission to release what you’ve been taught and shift into a space of surrendering to the arts of life.
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The Art of You
"Deep within us, there is something profoundly known, not consciously, but subconsciously; a quiet truth, that is not a version of something, but an original knowing. What this absolute truth [identity] is may be none of our business ... but it is there, guiding us along the path of greater becoming; a true awareness. It is so self-sustaining that our recognition of it is not required. We are offspring of such a powerfully divine force – Creator of all things known and unknown."
— T.F. Hodge, From Within I Rise: Spiritual Triumph Over Death and Conscious Encounters with "The Divine Presence" Ericka Brian
You hold the strength of the mountains and the tranquility of the sea. As you explore the art of you, I encourage you to release any perceptions that you've cultivated of yourself. Your perceptions of yourself have heavily influenced your experiences through your thoughts and choices. Give yourself permission to dive into the art of you. Find the foundation in your value and purpose as you shift into your higher self.
"Higher self" is an expression that I will use to describe you in the purest form of yourself — the one who leads with an open heart and a kind mind; the one who is aware of the influences of the emotional mind or the world yet mindfully chooses to live a life full of intention and purpose.
Finding your value can be simple. You are a child of a creator. Whether you want to limit your existence to the physical senses of this world or beyond into the spiritual realm, you have been created to exist in your own creative way. You have unique talents, abilities, and passions that no one else has. It is your responsibility, as an awake being, to share your unique talents, abilities, and passions. There are things in this world that only you will be able to do. Nature, including the people of this world, has waited for your arrival. Yes, you are that magnificent! Therefore, don't waste your life energy on distractions that keep you from expressing your unique gifts or manipulate your physical form hoping to be noticed. Know that in this moment, you are enough. The world is awaiting for you to shine your light.
Some known distractions that might be in your way: watching pornography, overindulging in physical objects, accumulating without giving, holding on to experiences, and/or being dishonest.
Following the Ten Commandments and the eight limbs of yoga by Patanjali has guided me to shift into a higher state of myself and to explore my value and purpose according to the wisdom of the commandments and limbs. Each person is precious in the eyes of his or her conscious creator, so we have been given the tools and guidance to live lives full of value and purpose. I understand that there are many people who struggle with the concept of believing in a God or creator. Give yourself permission to release any ideals you have developed over the years and take time to reflect on each commandment and limb. When you can release ideals you have developed, you give yourself space to reflect. Then ask yourself these questions: What does this mean to me? Can I see myself benefiting from this commandment or limb?
Below I will list the commandments and eight limbs of yoga giving you my reflection on each one.
The Ten Commandments
As a Mormon, I use the version of the Ten Commandments found on www.LDS.org, which is a great resource for finding doctrines, spiritual talks, and music to fill your soul.
1. "Thou shalt have no other Gods before me"
In church, we are told that our God is a jealous God and that we must only praise him. That didn't resonate too well with me. Therefore, I began to explore this understanding and what it meant for me. I learned that by believing in multiple gods, I was becoming spiritually exhausted. I was praising all that I had come to know, yet I felt the need to continue to seek because something within was not complete. I found myself in spiritual discontentment and formed an unstable foundation. With an unstable foundation, I was more likely to cave to temptations that would lead me away from the purest form of myself.
2. "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image"
When making graven images, we become distracted by what has been created. For example, we may be distracted by the sex or the perceived nationality of the image created. We should look within through prayer in order to connect with the source of all that is.
3. "Thou shalt not take the name of the lord thy God in vain"
It's important we never take any name in vain or use harming or derogatory language. When I've used a derogatory expression, it has felt empty or fueled with negative emotion. We have the responsibility, as conscious beings, to respect all that is for what it is. Use your precious words wisely. May your words and expressions be fueled with love, compassion, and understanding.
4. "Remember the Sabbath Day, to keep it holy"
Taking one day out of the week to intentionally be spiritual has been a blessing. I was once working seven days a week. I had very little time to fill my spiritual cup, which was compromising my foundations; I found myself weak when I came face-to-face with temptation. Taking the day off from work to practice my faith and be with my family has given me a beautiful perspective on life. I choose to slow down and enjoy time with my family. I do my best to try to infuse the understanding of Sabbath to all the days of the week, encouraging me to slow down and be in the light of my heavenly Father.
5. "Honor thy father and mother"
Honoring those who gave us life gives us the gift of humility. There were times I didn't agree with my parents or the choices they made. My grandmother would tell me, "Love them anyway." "Love them anyway" were words I lived by for all encounters. See if you can forgive and love those closest to you; then you can forgive and love those who come and go.
6. "Thou shalt not kill"
For obvious reasons, we don't ever want to cause anyone pain or death, no matter what they have done to us.
7. Thou shalt not commit adultery.
Oh adultery, a pain that can last a lifetime once inflicted. I know this pain all too well and would not wish it on the meanest person I know. I really don't see the point in engaging in such acts. What I do know is a person who does commit adultery is feeling desperate. One significant other shared that the reason why he cheated two times was because he needed validation that he was attractive. The third time was because he fell in love, but that love, unfortunately, only lasted two weeks. As much as I wished to help him with my words and body, I knew that the level of sadness and desperation lingering in his soul was not of my doing. This was bigger than me, bigger than our relationship.
In every relationship, we have the responsibility to verbalize what our needs are. If we don't, we will become desperate. Unfortunately, desperation has led to plenty of unnecessary suffering. Love and respect yourself enough to speak your needs, for you do deserve what you desire. Love those who choose to be in your life, for they too deserve what they desire.
8. "Thou shalt not steal"
We should never take anything that is not our own without permission. The feelings of guilt, shame, and dishonesty will be overwhelming; never allowing us to truly enjoy what is now in our possession.
9. "Thou shalt not bear false witness"
As a child, to cope with the pain of my life events, I would begin to fantasize about living a different life with different people around me who couldn't hurt me. I've come to know the blessing and the curse that goes along with this coping mechanism; the blessing is that you create a happy place emotionally, but the curse is that you will never truly learn from your experiences if you are not completely attentive, which means the experiences will continue to repeat themselves until their value is learned. Also, the more we fantasize, the more illusions we create. I noticed that I would try to replicate people I loved who hurt me by attracting other similar people to me, hoping they would treat me better. However, I only created an unrealistic expectation they would never meet.
10. "Thou shalt not covet"
In our society, it's very easy to think there's no need to get married. In fact, getting married a second time didn't even make financial sense to me. I had much more investments than my significant other did. Why would I jeopardize all that I had created for my two kids and me for another relationship? A relationship can fail, after all.
Here is what I know: Being married has blessed the lives of many that I know. Being married decreases the temptation of risky or promiscuous behavior, which would decrease sexual transmitted disease and unwanted pregnancies. Also, there is something sacred about having a life partner. Working in a hospital setting for many years, I've witnessed some patients with spouses and others without. I can say that watching couples hold their love ones' hand during their last days is heart breaking but comforting to know the sacrifice and love shared over the years.
I found being in a relationship and not being married it's easy to give up and not continue to work through the turbulent times. It's also easier to become easily persuaded by others. There were a few men who dated many women prior to meeting me, and it was easy for them to jump into something more convenient. By following this commandment, I have spared myself unnecessary heartache, faced my demons, and found a deeper level of love.
Eight Limbs of Yoga
Now let's look at the eight limbs of yoga by Patanjali.
1. Yama — ethical standards.
a. Ahimsa — practicing non-violence.
Ahimsa relates to commandment number six, "Thou shalt not kill." What I love about this ethical standard is that like the commandment, we may not kill. However, partaking in a violent act, whether through words or actions, is easier to do and is also forbidden.
b. Satya — speaking truthfully.
Satya relates to commandment nine, "Thou shalt not bear false witness." Do your best to be truthful. If you can't in the moment, then perhaps you should embrace silence.
c. Brahmacharya — exercising appropriate sexual control.
In today's world, it's very easy to indulge in sexual deeds. Sex is exploited, and somehow that makes a lack of sexual control acceptable. However, not being in control of sexual desires can lead to getting a sexually transmitted disease or having an unwanted pregnancy. There is a different level of intimacy when you wait until you truly know someone before you give yourself completely. I highly recommend you wait until marriage.
d. Asteya — being honest.
When dishonesty is embraced, its residue will linger in your mind. You have the choice to travel light, without carrying any residue from your actions or the actions of others. Chose to be honest and travel light.
e. Aparigraha — generosity.
In the Bible, we are taught to give 10 percent of our earnings to the church. It's our way to tithe. However, our generosity should not stop there. In every experience, there is an opportunity to expend our unique talents and skills. Show the world your gifts, talents and skill sets. It can be as simple as sharing your beautiful smile or donating money. Whatever it may be, just do it.
2. Niyama — spiritual standards.
a. Saucha — purity.
Travel as the purest form of yourself. Before doing so, partake in acts that contribute to your feeling pure. For example, the things that help me function at the purest form of myself are going to church, praying, meditating, dancing, and practicing yoga. When I take care of myself, I can function as the purest form of myself, nourishing my experience to the best of my ability.
b. Santosha — contentment.
Being in a state of contentment is a quality we all possess, but not many of us practice it. We are a society that seeks. Being in a constant state of seeking means we will never be content. Instead, choose to be content. Still create a list of your desires, but move away from seeking. Be clear on what you want, simmer in the field of contentment, and watch the magic unfold.
c. Tapas — discipline.
What I love about being Mormon is that we are very disciplined in how we conduct ourselves and how we contribute to the world. I lived many years without this discipline. I easily settled for temporary pleasures, gave up too easily, and didn't feel worthy of much. While coming to know my heavenly Father's love for me, I learned that it would take work to become disciplined so that I could receive his blessings. Having this understanding has changed my life. I no longer struggle with life events I can't control or waste my life energy on things that don't serve me.
d. Svadhyaya — study of the sacred scriptures and of one's self.
I must admit that it took me a while after making the intention to commit to scripture study, because I did not know the blessings that came from it. When I finally engaged in it, my thoughts became clearer and more nourishing, I came to understand our heavenly Father more, and I came to better appreciate the love he has for us. Most of the answers to my prayers came through reading my scriptures or listening to conference talks from Mormonchannel.org.
e. Ishwara-pranidhana — surrender to the divine.
I have learned the hard way that we can't do everything on our own. We are not asked to. In Matthew 11:28, Jesus says, "Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest." Please know that you don't have to hold the heartaches, regrets, or anger. Surrender them to your heavenly Father, and do the work that you were sent here to do.
3. Asana — seat.
Become aware of the flow of energy moving through your body through the art of yoga. I continue to evolve my self-practice in yoga because it makes me feel young and limber.
4. Pranayama — life force.
Pranayama is the energy of breath moving through you. Breath is very powerful. There are many types of breaths you can embrace — breaths to invigorate the body or breaths to relax the body.
5. Pratyahara — withdrawing from the senses of the world to listen to the inner voice more clearly.
Your inner voice will never compete with the distraction of the world or with the ego. Give yourself time to separate from these distractions to connect more deeply with the conscious being who resides within you.
6. Dharana — mastery of attention and intention.
Where you place your life energy is where you will enhance in your life. Dr. Deepak Chopra said "attention energizes and intention transforms". Be careful of where you place your life energy, whether it's a thought, image, or experience. What you choose to focus on, you give it existence in this world.
7. Dhyana — development of the conscious being.
Come to know the conscious being residing within you — the internal companion who has been with you since the first day of your existence, that still small voice within you.
8. Samadhi — oneness with all that exists.
Samadhi gives us the understanding that we are all one and that we all come from the same source. Whatever you believe in, nature or a higher power, we are all a reflection of ourselves in different life experiences. Meaning at one time or another we have all felt sadness, lost, regret and alone. We are the same and desire the same things; peace, love, laughter, joy, acceptance and success. The only differences between us are the ones you choose to believe.
Words of Wisdom
According to the law of the Words of Wisdom in Doctrine and Convents Section 89, 1-9, we are encouraged to not consume wine, strong drinks, tobacco, and hot drinks. In Ayurvedic medicine, which goes hand in hand with the yogic lifestyle, we are also encouraged not to partake in anything that would disrupt the natural cycles in the body. For example, the properties of caffeine increase the heart rate, giving us a temporary perception of "an energetic rush." The reality of drinking a caffeinated beverage is that a disruptor is increasing the body's heart rate and revving up all the body's systems.
Once I began to incorporate these teachings into my life, I found a great number of similarities between the Ten Commandments, the eight limbs of yoga, Words of Wisdom, and Ayurvedic medicine. Both lifestyles have provided me a great wealth of guidance in how to behave with integrity, love, and compassion. In today's culture, it is easy to gossip, judge, or be promiscuous. Reflect on your example and contribution. Whatever you permit in your environment, you promote. Be conscious of each choice you make. If you are having a difficult time deciding, ask yourself, "Is this choice nourishing me and those around me? Is this choice aiding in my evolution or encouraging stagnation in my life"?
Excerpted from "Pause, Shift and Refresh"
Copyright © 2017 Ericka Brian.
Excerpted by permission of Balboa Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Acknowledgments: Meet the Muses, ix,
Introduction: The Journey, xi,
1: The Art of You, 1,
2: The Art of Intemperance, 27,
3: The Art of Ambiguity, 35,
4: The Art of Surrendering, 45,
5: The Art of Conscious Choices, 57,
6: The Art of Transitioning, 65,
7: The Art of Self-Preservation, 73,
8: Establishing Harmonious Oneness, 79,
Meditation Exercises, 85,
Quick Guide to Arts and Mantras, 87,
About the Author, 89,