This is my latest realization - faith is a powerful tool, but I have struggled with it for a long time.  I grew up in Soviet Russia, and religion was not in my life in my formative years.  I was baptized when I was 14 - just in case there is a God, but I myself was not convinced.  But that is not the kind of faith I am talking about, even though my past is now a contributing factor.

Now as my Yoga practice has matured, I am facing one of the Yogic covenants - Isvara pranidhana, or surrender to the divine force.  Yogic teaching does not require us to believe in God, nor does it mention what God to believe in.  Besides, the word itself, God, is laden with so much meaning to different people that I would not use it to describe the sense of belonging that one experiences as a result of meditation.  Isvara pranidhana is, in other words, an acknowledgement that there is a higher purpose and order to life, that we don't have all the answers, and faith that everything we are given will help us on this path of Self-transformation.

All the gifts of Yoga come from walking the path towards the Self that dwells within.  One does not even need to ask.  Everything is given.  Faith can be such a relief from doubt, which plagues me often.  The Sanskrit word used in the Sutras is Shraddha (Y.S. 1:20).  It is one of the tools of Yoga to help bring peace to the mind.  Shraddha has a rich, high meaning of being supported by one's belief and having confidence that is based on one's faith.  Like a mother, it is a source of nourishment and support.  Not having a supportive relationship with one's mother while growing up can make it difficult to know what that's like.

Believing that everything happens for a reason, that it is all for the best even when the circumstances are not what is "supposed to happen" is a difficult choice for those of us with a large ego and the need to control.  Relinquishing that control is an important step towards mastering the ego, and towards a steady, quiet mind.  Humility in the face of adversity is a valuable life lesson for me.

My affirmation today is to have faith, Shraddha, to not want it, but to believe that my practice will deliver it to me, just as certainly as the Sun rises and illuminates everything.