Sadhana is a Sanskrit word that translates as “spiritual practice,” more specifically a daily spiritual practice. Throughout history, the sages and seers of India have emphasized the importance of having a daily practice, and claim that it is essential for spiritual growth.
In my own experience, I have learned a lot through having a daily practice. One of the things I have learned most is just how difficult it can be to maintain it! I first began my Sadhana several years ago, but it has been far from a daily practice. At times, I would go weeks or even months without practicing.
My initial struggle was simply laziness, not wanting to get out of bed in the morning, or not wanting to go against my familiar daily habits, as well as creating excuses for reasons not to practice—not having the time being a major one. If I was able to overcome my laziness, then I would struggle with impatience. For some reason, I just couldn’t get myself to relax and tune into myself and my practice. Instead I would rush through my practice, or even give up on it because I was anticipating the rest of my day and the things I had to do after my practice. As Eckhart Tolle said, “Most humans are never fully present in the now, because unconsciously they believe that the next moment must be more important than this one.”
Through this inner struggle to stick to a daily practice I have been able to observe a lot of my habitual patterns and the inner stuff that I need to work on. It has been a process of stepping out of my comfort zone, and creating new, more harmonious patterns for myself.
Overcoming this initial struggle, I have been able to stick to my practice more or less every day, and each day I am reminded of exactly why I do it, and why it is so helpful to have a daily practice. Some of the many benefits I have observed through having a daily practice are:
Making time for yourself each day. Our lives can be busy, filled with responsibilities and obligations we need to fulfill, filled with people that we interact with and spend large amounts of time with, filled with information coming to us from many different mediums—phones, computers, radios, televisions, billboards, advertisements, etc. If we don't ever take some time for ourselves, we can easily get lost in all of this worldly activity. Taking some time each day to tune out of the activity of the world, and to tune into yourself and your own inner state of being is so valuable. It allows us to check in with ourselves, see how we are feeling, what we are thinking, and to make sure we are on the right track. Taking time each day for yourself is so necessary for your peace, and the more you cultivate your inner peace, the more peace you bring into all areas of your life.
Improving your health and well-being. Having a daily practice is an act of self-care, and through daily practice we create positive habits that nourish our mind, body, and soul. Everyone has a different preference for what they practice, but including some sort of activity—whether it is yoga, breathing exercises, working out, running, going for a walk, some light stretching—can be really beneficial for your physical and mental well-being. The body needs movement to be healthy, so taking the time each day for some movement practice improves your bodies health, as well as your mental health, as the two are intimately connected. Taking some time for meditation and self-reflection, or even writing in a journal, can also have some great benefits when it comes to maintaining a calm sense of being and feeling well in your daily life. Through having a daily practice that focuses on nourishing your body and mind, you begin to feel a sense of vitality and health that is almost addicting. The better you feel, the more you want to continue doing what makes you feel better, and avoid what hinders that feeling of health and vitality.
It puts your life into perspective. Taking even a few moments out of the day to just pause and check in with yourself can help you to make sure that you are happy with the path you are on, or are at least working toward a goal that will put you on that path. Our life is like a stream that is constantly flowing, and when you meditate, you allow yourself to sit on the banks of that stream and observe where the current is taking you. If you aren’t happy with the direction the stream is flowing, you can always change its course. However, if you never take the time to check in and observe your life-stream, you’ll never realize where it is taking you.
Expanding your awareness. Through having a daily practice, you become more aware of your habits, more aware of your mind, more aware of your body, your breath, your life essence. A daily practice should include bringing more awareness to your activity, and like a muscle, as you strengthen this habit of bringing your attention to your activity, you expand your capacity of attention, bringing greater awareness and understanding of life.
Self-control. By becoming more aware of yourself, and by exercising your will to commit to a daily practice, you gain more control of yourself and have a better ability to say yes or no, rather than being a victim of habit or external influence. It is so important to know what is and what isn’t good for you, and to have the will to make the right decisions for your well-being and spiritual growth.
It is rewarding. Completing a task, no matter how small, provides us with a sense of fulfillment. It is actually a part of how our brains are wired. Each time you complete a task, your brain rewards you with certain chemicals and hormones such as dopamine, and serotonin, giving you a good feeling and sense of accomplishment. The more you stick to your practice, the more rewarding it is, and the better you feel. Then you can carry this feeling into the rest of your day.
It sets the foundation for a good day, and thus a good life. One of the greatest benefits of a daily practice is that you start your day off on a positive note, focusing on your health, your wellness, your spirituality, and doing what makes you feel good. When you start your day off in this way, it carries over into the rest of your day, helping you to make better decisions, to feel more relaxed, confident, content, and happy, and it improves your overall state of being, and therefore your relationships. And since life is relationship, it starts to improve every area of your life. If you take some time out of your day to cultivate peace, wellness, and positivity, you are most likely going to have a better day. If you have better days, you’ll have better weeks, better months, better years, and ultimately a better life experience.
It can be challenging at times to get ourselves to commit to a daily practice. But keeping in mind an intention for why you do it, as well as the benefits you feel each time you do it, can really help you to stay committed to it.
Also, don’t see your daily practice as a chore or something you have to do. It is something you choose to do. You can choose to honor your body, your mind, and your soul. You can choose to act in a way that improves your quality of life. You have the awareness to realize that you have that ability to choose, something that surprisingly many people lack who are stuck in a victim mindset or live their whole lives consumed by thoughts, operating almost as if they were on auto pilot.
Rather than seeing it as discipline, or as something challenging, tough and rigid, see it as devotion, see it as something you love to do because it nourishes you, because it makes you feel good, because it improves your life and the lives of all you interact with. This shift in perspective can make it such a joyful thing to have a daily practice to start off your day.
It might be difficult at first to create a new pattern, one that goes against older, much more deeply ingrained patterns, but if you can just stick with it, the pattern will become a habit, and it will be much easier to do it each day.
I hope this has inspired you to start, or stick with, your daily practice. I am certain that you will be able to realize the benefits of maintaining a daily practice, and all of the amazing things that it can do for your life.
Wishing you nothing but peace and love in your daily life.