31 Dec Sadhana
Each breath invites us to dive inward, layer-by-layer, through every fiber of our being, to come into a place of knowing beyond thought.
The whole world may give you support, but if your own mind shall not support you, you will not be in a position to do anything in life. Your own mind cannot be controlled and guided and give you the support until it is brought to a discipline”. – Yogi Bhajan
Therein lies the jewel of sadhana: a daily practice or discipline designed to achieve spiritual objectives. Literally translated from its Sanskrit origin, sadhana is “a means of accomplishing something”. The something in this case is the wisdom, non-attachment, clarity, and consistency that comes from spiritual discipline.
In the teachings of spiritual traditions, commitment and consistency are an imperative part of self-development. Commitment gives us the strength to sustain ourselves through the waves of life, to keep our focus, our orientation, when direction may become foggy. Consistency is steadiness through time, as time is a wave in and of itself. Each sadhana, each practice, is an exercise in this commitment and consistency to support us in order to transcend the following of ego-based patterns and thoughts of the mind, and to tune into the wise guidance of our highest consciousness.
Opportune at any time of the day, Sadhana is most optimal and recommended in the “ambrosial hours” of the morning – 2.5 hours before the rise of the sun, when the world is still very quiet, before the hustle and bustle of the day. Rising early, while the veil between sleep and wakefulness is thin, the veil between night and day is thin, it is an opportunity to cleanse and purify the mind. My teacher used to say that just as we take a shower to cleanse our physical body, we must do sadhana to cleanse the mind. Spiritual practice cleanses the mind and soul, purifies and energizes the subtle bodies. And what that gives us is the ability to meet our day in the fullness of our capacity, to think clearly, to make original decisions and creative contributions.
We all have very busy lives, playing several roles that all come with different demands and expectations – be it mother, father, sister, brother, child, partner, community member, workforce member, activist, etc. It is very human to feel overwhelmed by the demands of life and the different predicaments and challenges they may pose. We run around quelling fires, dressing wounds, sharing creative ideas and inventions, manifesting dreams, and the list never ends. The question then is: how can we keep our connection and integrity to the thread of self that underlies our participation through these roles? How can we perform our duties, serve our roles and participate in the matrix of relationships through excellence, integral to the dharma, or unique purpose and offerings of our soul? Luckily, as humans, we are born with the unique ability to be conscious of our consciousness. We have the ability, if not the responsibility, to direct how we meet and participate in each role and action. We have the tools to connect to the pulse of our true identity, the one that underlies all the roles that we identify ourselves with in life. In the space of this pulse we tap into the awareness that can guide us to move authentically and intelligently in accordance with our highest consciousness. Revealing this clarity of truth and self definitely takes committed work. This work is called sadhana. The act of commitment to meet one’s self in a very direct and sacred space each day is the foundation for developing the strength of character to cultivate the patience, the humility, and the intuition to transcend the ego based patterns of the mind that lead us into confusion and commotion. Through sadhana we can gain the very concrete understanding of the working of the mind that comes from a place of deep listening within.
Each breath of the practice is a moment of presence in the intimate breeding ground of the Self. Each breath invites us to dive inward, layer-by-layer, through every fiber of our being, to come into a place of knowing beyond thought. It is a time of devotion to the Self within the self, a time of self-reflection. In this time, we build up the cellular experience of resting in that space of self; awareness of the restlessness of the mind and how we can meet it; awareness of the place inside where we understand the choices we have at each given moment, and to build the capacity to choose from that space that will support our journey most beneficially. Sadhana is the organizational principle that connects us and supports us to align with a space of centeredness and self-reliance within, amid the sea of constant change that is life.
The beautiful gift that sadhana can ultimately bring us, is the union of Self and action. With time, the separation between one’s spiritual practice and one’s projection and participation out in the world begins to dissolve. We become aware of the layers of thoughts and pulses that can draw us in different directions, yet there is a sense of home within that supports us to breathe through the distractions and hear the voice of the soul, the voice of the neutral mind that makes choices for the greatest good, that supports us to move and share in accordance with our dharma. The load thus lightens as our inner light brightens.