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Serenity. Regularity. Absence of vanity. Sincerity. Simplicity. Veracity. Equanimity. Fixity. Non-irritability. Adaptability. Humility. Tenacity. Integrity. Nobility. Magnanimity. Charity. Generosity. Purity.
The song of the 18 ities was written by Swami Sivananda (1887-1963), a doctor and a yogi. The song consists of 18 notions, or virtues of concentration, solicitude and courage for the development of one spiritual life. Swami Sivananda said ‘Virtue is strength, power and the key to peace’. These notions are to be contemplated upon, cultivated and practised daily in order to help you develop your relationship to your spirituality. These words, used like a mantra, will help you focus on your goals and the deep understanding of their meaning will help you reach them.
The idea is that you will choose a word and you will consciously be aware and mindful of its meaning. You will meditate on it and try to incorporate it in your daily life for a week, or more if you want to. Swami Sivananda recommends following them chronologically.
A word per week could be your New Year resolution!
Calm, acceptance and peace: imagine the surface of a still lake on a windless day. Take deep breaths regularly throughout the day and feel the benefits.
Regularity is the foundation of any spiritual practice: it is the best way of taming an agitated spirit. Try to wake up every day at the same time and to meditate at the same time. By creating those habits, you will be free from worry, fear, anxiety, and it will become easier.
Absence of vanity
Do not boast of your position, possessions, qualifications or spiritual attainments. Stop comparing yourself to others and go beyond the ego. Praise others. See good in all. Treat even the lowliest creatures as your equal and with respect.
This is a challenging one… Speak and act in agreement with your thoughts. If something bothers you, say it, with honesty and respect. Drop the mask and be sincere with yourself.
To give real service you must add something which cannot be bought or measured with money, and that is sincerity and integrity.- Douglas Adams
Being simple means coming back to the basics. Simplicity and clarity take us to what is essential. What is the most important thing for you today? Make it your priority. Everything will fall into place. Be simple in your speech, in your dress, in your food.
Be truthful and stick to your promises. Do not exaggerate and do not twist the facts. It is all about honesty: if someone asks you a favour and you do not want to do it, say so, in a friendly and respectful manner. Speak sweetly and offer to do it later or another day.
Another tough one… Equanimity is about equality in mood. Do not let yours be affected by the circumstances: do not be elated by praise, success or pleasure; and do not feel down from insults or failures. Equanimity is being aware that after the rain will come the sunshine and after the sunshine the rain will come. Enjoy the sunshine while it lasts and enjoy the rain as much as you enjoy the sunshine. Sadness is a part of life. Be calm and patient and do not let anything disturb your inner peace. Remain loving and open.
Ask yourself what is your objective? What is your ultimate goal? Hold it in your mind and never let it go! Focus on it with love at every moment. Fixity is a powerful quality to help you structure your time and your life.
“Courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow.”― Mary Anne Radmacher
Irritability is the precursor of outbursts of anger. Watch carefully for those disturbances in your mind and stop them there and then. Do not let them assume greater proportions. It is not worth it. Your peace of mind is much more important. Accepting your negative emotions and your anger and being in control of them will give you the sense that you are in charge and you will get much less angry.
Try to understand the nature of people with whom you come into contact. Adjust your mode of approach to them. Adjust yourself in such a way as to be pleasing to them. Joyfully bear with the eccentricities of others. What do they need? What does this situation need? See if you can offer it to them or to the situation. React in a harmonious manner. However, how far can you adapt and follow others? It is good to know your limits as you do not have to adapt to something you disapprove of. You can simply say without any judgement ‘I don’t like it, I stop here’.
Respect all and consider none as inferior to you. You are not inferior to anyone either. Remember what you felt when you saw a gorgeous landscape last? You probably felt humility then. You were an element of nature, a part of the cosmic chain. Remember that we are one.
Tenacity is the friend of fixity. Once you have chosen your goal, stick to it. Life is not a highway: it is a sinuous path, full of challenges. Do not let those difficulties discourage you; see them as strengthening your tenacity. Be faithful to who you are and to who you want to be. Never compromise on your fundamental principles.
Develop an integral personality. Tie all the loose ends of your character. Become a man/woman of high moral principles. Lead a life of righteousness. Integrity is an internal virtue visible on the outside. Give coherence to your personality. Let your actions be in accordance with your words.
The true nobility is in being superior not to another man but to your previous self. ~ Hindu Proverb ~
This ity is quite obvious after the previous one. It is about seeing the positive in others. So, never look into the defects of others and always appreciate the good qualities of everyone. Preserve yourself from hypocrisy and pettiness. Be respectful and benevolent; encourage and congratulate those around you. Start with yourself and show the way.
Take a broad view of things. Ignore the faults of others. Be great and noble-minded in whatever you do. Avoid silly talk and childish prattle. Let not the mind dwell on little things and insignificant things. Here is an example of magnanimity: when Nelson Mandela was in jail, he was allowed to cultivate a little kitchen garden. He not only gave vegetables to his inmates but also to the prison guards who made his life difficult. Later, he wrote in his autobiography that even during the worst times in jail, he always saw some humanity in his guardians.
Give, give and give. This is the secret of abundance. You can make a donation to a charity if you wish but charity here is much broader and encompassing. Radiate thoughts of goodness and love. Share what you have with others. Disseminate spiritual knowledge and kindness to one and all. Use the material wealth, knowledge and spiritual wisdom that you possess as a divine trust. It goes both ways: when you receive a present, accept it with gratitude whether you like it or not. It is the intention that matters.
Generosity is a sister-virtue of charity. It is also the fulfilment of charity, magnanimity and nobility. Being generous is not necessarily about giving a lot; it is about giving with a large heart. Consider yourself the manager of your possessions, not the owner. It will become easier for you to give them to those in need. Take delight in the joy of others and in making them happy.
Eradicate lust, anger and greed. Be pure at heart. Be pure in your thoughts. Think of the well-being of all. Be pure in your words; never utter harsh or unkind words. Be pure in your body. Keep it clean and healthy. Your surroundings should also be clean. De-clutter. Observe the rules of physical, moral and spiritual hygiene. Purity contains all the other ities, just like the colour white is made of all the colours of the rainbow.
Generosity is giving more than you can, and pride is taking less than you need.-Khalil Gibran
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