06 Mar How to keep up your Sadhana
What is Sadhana?
In Sanskrit, the word Sadhana means “an effort exercised towards the achievement of a purpose”. It is the association of the self with God. Sadhana is considered as a spiritual practice to move towards liberation and finally achieve it. It also serves to overcome our limitations which are in the form of Kleshas like ego, lack of wisdom, fear of death, attachments, aversions.
In Yoga Sutras, Patanjali has described the Foundation of Abhyasa in Chapter 1, Sutra#14.
This means that sadhana should be practiced uninterrupted (Nairantarya) and should go for quite a long time with complete faith. When these conditions are fulfilled, abhyasa becomes firmly established. Sadhana is generally done through prayers, yoga and meditation. But Sadhana can also be considered as doing anything that aims at the well-being of your true self.
The best time to do Sadhana is Brahmamuhurta – between 3:45 AM and 6 AM. You will feel more fresh and serene after your sleep.
How to build a Sadhana
Sadhana cannot be built in one single day. It requires slow and consistent practice over several days, months or years. Don’t be in a hurry. Go to your limit but not beyond. It is always good to journalize all experiences, after every practice. The experiences differ each day. Journaling helps to understand ourselves better and watch the progress. Continue doing the practice every single day, soon it will become a part of your routine and will be difficult to stop.
A Sadhaka (one who does Sadhana) should have a witnessing attitude (Sakshi bhava) towards Sadhana. It needs honest involvement by dedicating ourselves to true practice. The aspirants should continue the sadhana until he is able to achieve something concrete and essential. They should also have complete faith in the sadhana they do which in turn will help them to achieve the goal. True Sadhana does not involve any compulsion and it has to be done with purity, respect, and devotion. The practices can produce desired results only if they are done with love and attraction.
Obstacles which hinder Sadhana
According to Patanjali, the distractions that hinder the aspirant’s practices are:
- Vyādhī – Sickness
- Styāna – Lack of mental disposition for work
- Saṃśaya – Doubt
- Pramadā – Indifference
- Ālasya – Laziness
- Avirati – Absence of renunciation
- Bhrānti darśana – False knowledge
- Alabdha Bhumikatva – Failure to attain continuity of thought
- Anavasthitattva – Instability to retain the concentration
According to Hatha Yoga Pradipika, the ultimate yoga happens when there is a union between the pranic and the mental energy in the body. Generally, these two forces do not operate simultaneously. Through true Sadhana, we can balance these two forces thereby bringing both physical and mental equilibrium. Hence, while doing Sadhana, one must avoid doing any activity that wastes energy and distracts your mind. Another hindrance to your Sadhana is overeating. When you overeat, you feel lethargic, your mind becomes dull and your body will produce toxins. This will be a hindrance to your practice. Many of our true yogis have said that the stomach should be half-filled with food, one quarter with water and the remaining one quarter with air.
A sadhaka should also avoid overexerting his body and mind. Overstraining produces an imbalance between the pranic and mental energies, disturbing your practice. Over talking is another cause of wasting your energy as well as time. Social situations and unwanted discussions distract the mind of Sadhaka. When there is a physical, mental and emotional imbalance, the energy is dispersed and the bodily system becomes unstable. Try to avoid all activities that are time-consuming, energy-depleting and useless.
Benefits of Sadhana
- Build discipline in your deeds. It will help to get rid of ego and figure out what you need to make yourselves as a positive individual. To find a true intention or resolve.
- It helps to understand our growth as an individual. Sadhana makes us feel that each day is better than the previous day. It helps to progress day by day creating a motivation to become a better individual each day.
- Sadhana keeps us calm, positive and healthy and gives us the foundation or base of your practice.
Overcoming the obstacles in Sadhana
- Commit to your Sadhana every day. Try to understand what motivates you to do Sadhana.
- Find out a nice, calm and neat place to do your Sadhana. Try to stick on with the same place for your Sadhana. Lighting a ghee lamp is an element of pure (Sattvik) vibrations and keeps the atmosphere more sacred.
- Come up with a comfortable time to do Sadhana. Yoga recommends Sadhana during Brahmamuhurta – the time period between 3:45 AM – 6 AM is very appropriate. The atmosphere will be predominated by Sattva and your mind will be fresh and calm during this time. You feel more spiritual and devotional. How to accommodate Sadhana along with your present urban needs is a challenging part. Here are a few tips for that:
- Go to bed before 10 PM. Stay away from gadgets, TV and other works after 10 PM. This will help you to get good sleep.
- Wake up early in the morning with the determination that you are starting your day positively. .If 4 am or 5 am is too early then find a time which you can stick to on a regular basis. Practice on an empty stomach is very effective for asanas and pranayama especially.
- Focus on the positive impacts of doing Sadhana than ending up with the need for doing it.
- Learn to appreciate positive and negative feelings that you come across while doing Sadhana. Try to journalize what you felt before and after doing your Sadhana.
Light on Yoga by BKS Iyengar.
Hatha Yoga Pradipika by Swami Muktibodhananda
Four Chapters on Freedom by Swami Satyananda Saraswati.