Bhakti Yoga: The Yoga of Love
Bhakti Yoga is the system in which love and devotion are emphasized. There are Bhakti Yoga traditions that do not teach asana, pranayama, mudra or controlled meditation - main practices of traditional yoga. Instead, love of God, love of God in man, and surrender to God's will is stressed in the Bhakti Yoga approach. Some people are naturally inclined by temperament to be devotional and to love God and God-as-the-world. Balance is recommended: devotion balanced with reason, love balanced with understanding.
There are no set ways to perform Bhakti yoga. Some people find that external aids can contribute to a devotional attitude: an altar used during prayer and meditation; pictures of saints to serve as inspiration; chanting or singing; use of mantra or even a simple devotional ceremony to aid in creating a mood as preparation for meditation. Whatever a person's approach, if that approach is useful in the long run, it is perfectly in order for him, even though it may not appeal to another.
Singing the names of God aloud can elevate consciousness, clear the mind and even charge the environment with pure energy. For persons who find it difficult to concentrate during meditation and for whom the approach of calm discernment is too subtle, prayer and chanting can be of value.
It is in our day to day life that Bhakti Yoga is truly practiced. Are we loving, compassionate and fair in our dealings with others? St. Francis is one of the Christian tradition who exemplified the Yoga of love and devotion. Jesus stated the ideal of Bhakti Yoga when he taught, "As you have loved me, love one another." When true love reigns, there can be no barriers; then harmony and fulfillment rule.
Simple, direct prayer is the most effective- just talking with God, then being still. The teaching is that by devotion and receptivity we can open ourselves to the Reality of God and attract God's consciousness into our own. Love and devotion also purifies human nature and cleanses the mind and the emotional field. There can be no hate, dislike, jealousy, envy, fear or prejudice in the loving heart. Truly, blessed are the pure in heart, for they can perceive the Reality of God.
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