In light of this global pandemic, this year’s celebration of Easter epitomises the entire idea of faith over fear.
The oldest historic reference to the currently worldwide celebrated Easter is the celebration of the Jewish Pesach. In the old testament of the Bible, we can read about Exodus. After centuries of enslavement by the majestic Egyptian civilisation, the Jewish people set themselves free. This new-found liberty was embarked upon a journey through the desert in search of the ‘promises land.’
In Western Europe Easter is mainly celebrated following the traditions of Christianity. However, many of our Easter activities come from a complete difference historic background. The Germanians had several spring rituals from a time before Christ that still determine our Easter celebrations today. With their respect for the powers of nature they held huge bonfires, which were believed to chase away the spirits of winter and to celebrate the welcoming of spring and fertility. Even our Easter egg hunt stems from these traditions, where eggs were hidden in the fields as symbol of fertility.
As Easter has approached, we’re reminded how we are living presently through the richness of the tales from our own ancestral traditions, and the deep meaning with the learning and devotion that are present. Easter provides us a stark reminder of letting go, just like Jesus accepted and succumbed to his fate without the greed for the rich rewards.
The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, which is the fundamental text giving birth to entire yogic philosophy, tells us that to sustain a stable peace of mind, the basis is :
Practice – referring not only to the physical aspect of Asanas but also the mental Asanas
Letting go – rooting from the impermanence nature of everything in this world. We should let go of everything we no longer shall need in order to rise towards our highest consciousness.
We should recognise our thought pattern, and work constructively on forming positive emotions. You can read our previous blog for few such tips. The more we focus on positive thought processes, the more we shall be able to maintain our peace of mind.
Religion and toolbox philosophy go hand in hand whilst discussing a few fundamentals of life :
- Giving few guidelines for how we need to treat others and ourselves (Yamas and Niyamas)
- Different moves and poses, like even when we’re praying, specifically the posture of sitting (Asana)
- Move into breathing and withdrawing the senses from distracting us and not giving into sin and gluttony (Pranayama and Pratyahara)
- Move onto holding a focal point in one’s mind chanting religious scriptures and meditating (Dharana and Dhyana)
- End with an ultimate salvation state, a calm, enlightened state (Samadhi)
Spiritual along with religious traditions all over the world point out this simple truth. And Easter isn’t merely over these holidays. Actually, according to the liturgical church calendar, the celebration of Easter is almost 50 days long. “Eastertide” which is another name starts on Easter Sunday which we usually celebrate and hence goes until Pentecost Sunday which is 50 days later. In contrast, Lent is 40 days long, not including Sundays, which makes it 46 days. We ideally should be celebrating Easter as least as long as we celebrate Lent. Fifty days of celebrating life over death shall hold true value for redeeming ourselves. If we somehow manage to treat Easter like we treat Lent? Lent is marked by days fasting and meditating, which can be co-related to Ishwarpranidhan (Bhakti Yoga).
Ishwarpranidhan is a Sanskrit term implying surrendering ourselves to the Lord, for he was crucified for our sins and it comes upon us to worship him. Ishwar is also mentioned as the God residing within us.
‘If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciple, and you will know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.’
It is this truth we seek through yoga, to come into peace with ourselves and surrender ourselves to the Lord. When we shed alight at the Eight Limbs of Ashtanga Yoga and ponder upon the celebration of Easter, we shall realise what we hold inside our minds shall be…
Focusing on our own lives and the empty tomb, we would meditate becoming one with Christ’s resurrection in our lives, being mindful, kind and embracing life to the fullest.
Patanjali notes, as we Jesuits used to say – go against the grain; strive to deflect those fixed activities of the mind that distract from the goal; cultivate what leads us to our goal.
How we shall reorient our lives, so that we can actually pray, with intensity that fills our lives with gratitude and love.
Let the resurrection joy of Easter lift us from fear, negativity, despair, and toxic lifestyles to receive the blessings, gratitude, and happiness of life.