In the last 8 days, I have been immersed in a family emergency with my father in hospital suffering from heart failure. It has been one roller coaster ride. My father nearly died and then he miraculously turned around. He just left the cardiac ICU and is in a healing process.
It is in these times that I get to test out my resiliency and my capacities to be with life – to be with what is. In this time, I have been so grateful for my yoga and other practices in which I have cultivated steadily over many years. They have built my energy body and given me a lens through which to contemplate the bigger picture of life while giving me the tools to apply and to be with the smaller details.
There is a wonderful universal teaching in Yoga philosophy that outlines the 5 essential attitudes to cultivate and develop toward ourselves to be whole, healthy and balanced. These attitudes are called the Niyamas in Sanskrit and they are the basis and structure of a work I have created called Radical Self Nourishment when applied to our physical, mental, emotional, energetic and spiritual levels. The 5 Niyamas are: Sauca (Cleansing) Santosha (Contentment), Tapas (Practice/discipline), Svadhyaya (Self Reflection), Isvara Pranidhan (Surrender). These attitudes were my lifeline and anchor which grounded me over these last days and will continue to do so. The necessity to take care and self nourish is necessary for everyone and especially for those of us who are changemakers who sometimes have a tendency to be heroic in assisting others at the expense of their own energy.
To be there for my father I spent some time everyday cleansing myself on an emotional, mental and physical level so that I could be clear and grounded for my Dad the family and myself. Some of my cleansing methods involved the use of sounding to move, express and process my grief as well as dancing and yoga postures. In practicing contentment I chanted certain vedic chants for my father and these chants worked on the mental body and gave my mind peace and an acceptance for the situation. My practices have changed at different times of the day depending on my energy level. Some of the practices have included: breathing practice, meditation, yoga nidra and ceremony. My intention was to be present for my father, my family and with myself. I spent a night with him in the hospital and we stayed up all night talking as he reviewed his life and was trying to make sense of the dying process. It was a real gift and honour to be present in this way for him. My capacity to be self aware and self reflect during this whole process was essential for my nourishment and building my energy. Knowing what to do and when through listening and observing myself moment by moment helped me to discern what was needed and when to take a break and when to ask for support and when to let go and surrender my worries, my fears, my need to know up to the Universe to take care of.
The 5 attitudes (Niyamas) are interrelated and mutually supportive and work together weaving a basket for us to come home to ourselves. They are the foundation to practicing true yoga and to living a balanced life. The ancient yogis have taught this recipe for thousands of years. The key is how to live them and apply them to everyday life though the ups and downs and everything in between.
(Deborah Brodey has been on a journey of uncovering herself through spiritual practice over the last 30 years. It is a journey that has taken her all over the world to study with spiritual teachers and indigenous healers from India, Nepal, Tibet, Canada, Africa (Zimbabwe, Burkino Faso) and Peru. She has created the Radical Self Nourishment Program that is based on Yoga, Sacred Sound, Sound Healing, Earth Wisdom and ceremonial practice. )