Isn't it much more relaxing when you organize your day-to-day chores into routines? If you don't, well, you may never remember when you need to fold your clothes or pick up groceries or do the dishes.
Everything would be chaotic around and you'd feel like you keep running around without getting anything done.
So, a daily routine helps.
It helps you get your life in shape and do the things you love (or don't love) much more efficiently.
Now, let's try to apply the same principle to spirituality.
So, you got chores aligned and your tasks in order. That's great for your physical world's well-being and prosperity.
But how about your spiritual goals?
Our minds are filled with chaos just as our material worlds are unless we learn to align our thoughts and walk towards a steady goal.
If you already have a spiritual bent of mind but you're just not going anywhere with it, it may be time to align yourself to a daily routine.
But this time, the routine is not about organizing your chores or the things you do to keep yourself alive in the material world but it's more about adhering to a stream of activities that incline your mind, body, and spirit, yes, all of them together, towards the higher consciousness.
And with that thought, let's begin our today's discussion about Sadhana.
What is Sadhana?
Okay, now that we've established that a daily routine is essential to achieve your spiritual goal, let's see what sadhana is.
Sadhana is nothing other than that daily routine itself. It is something you do every day, without fail, to keep yourself active on the spiritual plane. Much like how you eat every day to keep yourself alive on the material plane.
Sadhana can be anything, any activity that feeds your soul and takes you one step closer to understanding your higher self.
It can be something as well-known as meditation. Or it can be something rare, such as reading spiritual scriptures.
The important thing is that it's carried out consistently, no matter how bad your day is or how urgent your other life plans are.
Sadhana is your activity. It's personal. It's something you create, develop, and practice at a convenient time of the day.
Although most people benefit from practicing sadhana early in the morning, before the demands of the material world start breathing down their neck, it doesn't have to work that way for everyone.
Interestingly, sadhana can also be practiced in a group. A good example of this is mass prayer or Satsang, which in Sanskrit means a good company, where spiritually like-minded people gather and practice sadhana together.
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What is Sadhana Meaning?
In Sanskrit, sadhana means realization. In broader terms, it means realizing the divinity within yourself through sustained and disciplined practices.
Since thousands of years ago, sadhana has been considered as one of the most doable approaches towards reaching spiritual goals.
Ancient scriptures in both Hinduism and Buddhism talk about different ways to go through this path of realization. These include practicing sacred gestures, uttering sacred sounds, visualizing sacred images, so on and so forth.
So, how does all of this relate to us in the 21st century?
Well, you'd be relieved to know that when it comes to realizing our union with God and fellow creatures of the universe, not much is different in the current times.
The century-old practice of yoga has handed down the same tools that were used in near-mythical times. And these are the tools that help you create your daily spiritual routine, in other words, your very own sadhana.
Practices such as chanting, pranayama, yoga asanas, and meditation help you to create a consistent channel through which you can ultimately think about reaching your highest spiritual goals.
What's interesting is, a lot of people think sadhana is a spiritual goal. But in reality, it's just an unwavering path that leads you towards the divine consciousness.
How Many Stages of Sadhana Are There?
If your goal is to become a piano player, you don't just jump into playing Mozart's tunes on the very first day, right?
First, you learn about the keys. Practice them for a few days.
Then you learn about chords. Then you discover how to read the staff, and so on. You must master every step before you reach the next one.
And then, one day, if you've practiced all the stages thoroughly, you can string tunes together and call yourself a piano player!
Well, sadhana to reach your spiritual goals is something similar. You've got to take it one stage at a time to reach the higher consciousness. And stages make your sadhana complete. Let's see what they are.
1. Stage One: Murti Seva
Murti in Sanskrit means idol and Seva is worship. So, in a way, this stage involves idol worship. But don't be alarmed. This has nothing to do with what religion you follow.
An idol can be of anything. It can be an idol of a divine image, or a saint, or someone else you look up to.
Idol worshipping every day can be an excellent sadhana practice if you're new to this.
2. Stage Two: Japa and Stuti
Translated from Sanskrit, Japa is chanting and Stuti is incantation. Remember the idol you worshipped during stage one? You can use that idol's name or any other sacred word as your mantra in stage 2.
You could practice Japa and Stuti by either saying out the name aloud or uttering it in a low voice.
The highest step in this stage is when you can consistently say the name or mantra silently, in your mind. This step requires quite a bit of self-awareness.
3. Stage Three: Dhyana Dharana
Now we come to the deeper practices. Dhyana, or meditation, is the stage where you finally get to reach that place of absolute calm in your mind.
Within the depths of your soul, meditation helps you reach closer towards the state of super-consciousness, one day at a time.
4. Stage Four: Brahma Sadhana
Few people can reach this stage and it requires years of practice and dedication. Brahma sadhana means cosmic ideation. It's the stage where you finally realize your higher self and begin to connect with the divine powers.
40 Day Sadhana Benefits
Alright, now you're probably thinking, "Well, I'd love to do all of that but I simply don't have the time to go through all these stages of sadhana for years until I begin to realize my spiritual goals!!".
Well, the good news is, you don't have to!
With regular and diligent practice, you can see positive changes in your life in as few as 40 days.
Why 40 days?
Well, it could be longer. It ideally should be a lifetime. But 40 days is the minimum you should practice sadhana to get into the gear for the rest of your life.
As we talked about before, sadhana is a journey, not a destination. And this journey begins to take you to higher realms only after a minimum of 40 days.
So, what are some of the benefits of a 40-day sadhana? Let's find out:
1. Reducing Daily Stress
Practicing sadhana even for 10 minutes every day brings stress levels down. And you can begin to notice subtle but positive changes within you in 40 days.
2. Developing Commitment
Practicing sadhana every day at a specific time no matter what makes you feel committed to your ultimate spiritual goals. If you've stuck to this commitment for 40 days, chances are, you'll do it forever.
3. The Scriptures Say So
Ancient sages and saints across religions used the 40-day approach for their self-realization. You've got to trust those old, wise fellows, now, don't you?
4. Evolution of the Mind
Every day you practice sadhana, you change your life just a little bit. Of course, for the better.
You start to get rid of old habits and develop new, healthy ones. In 40 days, the changes begin to take shape and become noticeable.
5. Balance in Life
Without a daily routine for your spiritual practices, you can get stuck in the daily demands of the material world and lose the harmony between your body, spirit, and mind.
When you create a sadhana for 40 days, that balance tends to get restored.
6. Foundation for the Bigger Picture
Spiritual realization is like any other worldly project. You've to lay the foundation before you see it grow into its full strength.
40 days of sadhana allows you to build that base for a lifetime of realization of the higher consciousness within yourself.
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How To Start Your Personal Sadhana
We know by now that sadhana is something personal. Yes, you can perform it in groups but you're likely to attain more peace through it if you go at it alone.
And because it's so personal, it'll also work best if you create your daily spiritual practice for yourself, instead of downloading a template from somewhere.
Here are a few things you can include in your daily practice. The duration of these pieces and the order are best designed per your level of spirituality.
Sit quietly somewhere where no one will disturb you. Focus on your breath going in and out. If convenient, you can even focus on a mantra or a sacred sound.
2. Yoga Asanas and Pranayama
Certain yoga postures such as the Surya Namaskara (sun salutation) can help you get into a daily routine. Pranayama techniques such as alternate-nostril breathing can also be something you do every day.
3. Love and Compassion
Not every sadhana has to be carried out in a silent corner of your room. Simply being loving and doing something compassionate for others every single day can also be a great way to create your sadhana.
4. Being One with Nature
Make it a routine to get up in the morning and go for a walk among nature. It's best if you can walk barefoot on the grass to ground yourself and rid yourself of all the negative energies.
There's a creative person in everyone. Maybe you love to sing but have only sung in the shower. Don't worry.
Take some time out to sing out loud, just for yourself. You can also engage in other forms of art such as writing, sculpting, sketching, dancing, and so on.
Fix a time of the day to write down your thoughts. It could be at the beginning of the day when you begin to note down the things you'd like to do.
Or it could be before you go to bed and all you're doing is writing about the things that you're thankful for.
The Consistent Path To The Higher Self
Sadhana is a journey filled with dedication and warmth. No matter what tools you use to create your sadhana, ultimately, it's about going down a road that can uplift not just you but also those around you.
Beginning a daily routine can be challenging for some, because, oh well, where's the time?
But once you've gone past those initial hurdles and set up a schedule, you'll get so addicted to your sadhana that you won't be able to believe you haven't been doing this for so many years of your life.
And although the ultimate goal is the union with the higher consciousness, sadhana, by itself, can change your life in many ways. With sadhana, it's more about the journey than the destination.
So, think about how you want to proceed with your daily spiritual routine, create your sadhana, and most importantly, be consistent with it.
Joy or sorrow, sun or rain, prosperity or wretchedness, in all situations, keep your sadhana going and discover a calmer, more balanced version of you.