We experience Déjà vu every year when we get excited about our new resolutions. We take up resolutions to make ourself better in areas that matter to us. We stay committed to such resolutions for some days and then we are back to square one. We may have different ambitions of health, wealth or spirituality but they all boil down to one thing, following daily practices. Unfortunately, we lack the will power to stay committed to practices on daily basis.
Unless you are very fortunate, health and wealth cannot be achieved overnight. We have to start rolling the snowball which will become a big one over a period of time. For health, daily exercise and following diet are a must. Similarly for wealth, following financial disciplines and working on side hustles is critical. This is no new revelation and we all know about it. The problem is how to follow these practices on daily basis.
In spirituality, we call these daily practices as Sadhana. This word has a very high meaning and importance. Sadhana is normally being transferred from Guru to a student in the right ambience. If you are truly committed to your spiritual growth, then these practices become very part of your daily life. I have found myself committed more to the practices of spirituality compared to that of health and wealth. Let us look at some of the reasons why Sadhana works and how can we apply that to other daily practices.
Creating Right Ambience — Sadhana is transferred or initiated in a form of a seed. Just the way a seed needs the right soil to grow, we need right ambience for any daily practices. Your mind co-operates when you keep the same surrounding every day. For, e.g. doing the exercise at the same time and in the same place every day.
When you put yourself in the same atmosphere, your mind does not resist and this helps in strengthening will power. You may add some music to your ambience or you may get into a quiet place. Creating an internal atmosphere is more important than the external ones. A calm and focused mind is more involved in the practices. You may create a small ritual like chanting or meditation before starting the daily practices.
Falling in love — We cannot stay committed to something we are not in love with. Any physical exercise will feel like torture if we are not in love with perfect health. For me, it is the love of the highest truth that strengthens my commitment to spiritual practices and develop my will power.
There are no steps to fall in love. In the highest reality, love is our true nature. However, we are only able to express it to a few areas or with few individuals. Ask yourself if you really love the idea of perfect health or Financial Independence. If the answer is yes, then other things will fall in place on its own.
Like your life depends on it — Have you ever noticed the conversation that goes in your mind when you are about to skip the practice? Your thoughts make you believe that it is ok to skip and nothing wrong will happen. This might happen as well, as you will not see any immediate impact of skipping the practice and this becomes your daily routine.
Many times students ask Guru, is it ok if I skip the Sadhana as I am sick or I am travelling or I have a wedding to attend. Guru will always say No. He is aware that this is not an emergency but the lack of will power. Guru does not go easy on his students as he understands the mechanisms of the mind. You should consider these daily practices as your life depends on it. Once you do that then there is no excuse enough to skip the practices.
Not expecting immediate result — Just follow the practice, Guru will say. Many spiritual seekers expect that they should get enlighten within few months of practising Sadhana. If they don’t see any changes, then they think that the Guru might not be knowing enough.
In the modern world, we are always looking for an immediate result. Once we do a few days of exercise, we expect our tummy to get slimmer by a few inches. Similarly, by following a few months of financial discipline, we expect a fortune. In this sense, Spiritual practices are more challenging to follow as we cannot measure the progress. Still, a true seeker will not get disheartened and stay committed to his Sadhana. Once you are sure that particular practice will help you achieve your goals, you should stay focused without worrying much about short term results.
Don’t sacrifice, change the focus — Most of the practices would require you to make some changes in your life. For, e.g. you may have to let go of the chocolates or cut down on shopping bills. Similarly in spirituality, a seeker needs to give up his lower nature. One should not look at this as some sort of sacrifice. You just need to change your focus from compulsions to wonderful things in life.
If you have to climb a mountain, then you will not carry unnecessary items like party wears or a home theatre. You will only keep items of utmost importance for the journey like oxygen cylinder or medicines. You need to look at any goal as a mission and surround yourself only with what is required to fulfil it. When you change your focus, you will not get the feeling that you have made a sacrifice.
Don’t give up sweets, develop the love for perfect health. The freedom you experience when you achieve the required corpus is much greater than spending money on Starbucks coffee. The purity of the mind gives more joy and benefits compared to compulsions.
Attention on practices and not on thoughts — While practising pranayama, your thoughts might run into some movie scenes. A seeker of truth should not give attention to thoughts. His entire focus should be on the practice. For, e.g. in case of pranayama, the attention should be on the movement of breath.
We will not be able to control the thoughts but we can choose to not give any importance. It might be difficult in the starting, but slowly you will be able to keep the entire focus on the practice. This will also increase the efficiency of the practices as we will be able to notice what is working and what is not. You do the justice to something only when you are completely involved in it.
Above are some of the ways that have helped me in staying committed to my practices or Sadhana. I am sure they will help you as well. There are no secrets of success but to show up every single day to follow daily practices.