Before I dig into what is sadhana, how it shifts your life and where to begin…..
I want to invite you to my September Sadhana retreat in southern Nicaragua. We’ll study, explore and observe sadhana in a concentrated and idyllic setting. This is truly the way to step wholeheartedly into your sadhana. bobbipaidel.com/retreat 👈
So here we go, the first solo episode (and blog post) of season two and it’s a topic I’m such a keener of because of the importance Swamiji impressed upon us for sadhana. This information is directly for you if your spiritual curiosity has led you deeper into the desire for truth, freedom and liberation in this lifetime. Let’s get right into it – what is sadhana, how we “do it”, and how it has a profound effect on our quality of life.
What is Sadhana?
The basic definition in India is disciplined and dedicated practice. When I first started coming to the ashram and hearing Swamiji teach 9 years ago, I heard so much about sadhana, sadhana, sadhana. And I haven’t stopped hearing how important it is for the jigyasu (the one who inquires). If I want deeper truth and knowledge about what this whole human being, waking state experience means then I have to really dig it. This is where the sadhana comes in.
When you’re on this path the sadhana is a kind of road to walk, although you’re really not going anywhere. You’re simple directing the life in a way which reveals the divinity that is already there waiting for you. The sadhak (one who practices sadhana) experiences everything as close to you, because you’re close to God, to your Source. The knowledge is also a road, the bhakti, the karm or action is also a kind of road – but the purpose is to understand – WHO is the one on the road?
Ask yourself – who is practicing?
Is it you as a man or woman with a name you picked up and took as true, is it the yoga teacher or nurse or engineer that’s practicing? It’s actually you who has the every present sense of I AM, no matter your age, location, or association. Sadhana gets us closer to the Truth of I AM.
It’s the practice each day of checking where your awareness is focused. If you believe and practice to only be the physical, mental and emotional person with your identifications and qualifications and future-driven motives then you will be the donkey with the carrot on the end of his nose, continually chasing a sense of satisfaction derived from the external.
What does Sadhana mean for my life?
You become nothing when you do sadhana, and everything…wait what?
Your ego, personality, and identification, become so insignificant that you can realize you’re already inherently a part of everything. You’re not some small little me that the sun might shine on if you’re lucky for a sunny day. You’re actually the power that shines the sun and the rays which shine without preference…they simply illuminate the whole life. ☀️
This does not mean that one negates the human being – NO! The opposite in fact. When we can recognize, and treasure the human form as divinely offered for the purpose of self realization then we take complete care and responsibility to be healthy, supported and contributing to society in a way that expresses oneness, love and inclusivity. Practicing with each and every person and relationship, situation and circumstance as your own self and you will naturally flow towards a more loving, accepting state of being.
Grow so much that your presence expands and becomes so big that the mind and its problems become absorbed in your greatness. In Advait vedant (non-dualism), you’re seeing that it’s not about doing sadhana to get somewhere, but recognizing that you’re already That which you seek. And the inner contentment or santosh is unfolded in the heart of that divine source which you are.
Join the upcoming Sadhana Study Group on July 9th! Living Yoga and Cultivating a Daily Practice 🙏
Where to begin on my Sadhana path?
If you start with “doing” you’ve already missed the point.
It’s about redirecting the mind, ego, and intellect into the state of BEING. Everything is sadhana and the true sadhak recognizes that sadhana doesn’t just happen in those early morning moments – although it’s a great place to begin, but the sadhana flows outward, from your center point.
Like the analogy of digging for a water well; if you really want water, you find one spot and dig deep. You wouldn’t go around digging little holes here and there. You do your research, you make the necessary explorations to find what sparks you, what really lights up your curiosity and inspiration and then you go all in for your freedom. No one can do it for you. Practically selflessly means without ego, it means knowing the magnitude of the whole universe is there behind you inspiring your action.
“If you practice you’re perfect. If you don’t practice you won’t get it. Try any means possible. And remember you can’t understand it with the body and the mind. You’ll only get more ideas and bondage.”
His point is that the purpose of sadhana is to get to the heart of who you are which is beyond any intellectual point.
It’s not something that you check off your list and finish. It carries on like the river that continually flows into the ocean of the Self.
When we think of yoga as it’s known in the west, we can say that the asana, the meditation and pranayam, the scriptures and study, the service, the satsang….all the practices are the guideposts on the road of sadhana.
When you’re heart is in it, you’re never going to get it wrong. Swamiji said that 3 minutes or 3 hours…it doesn’t matter as long as you practice something.
On a practical level, you can take inspiration from the scriptures or your teachers, but really it’s whatever medium brings your awareness to unite with the Self which is practicing. Uncovering who you are before you became an identified separate, small, individual ‘I’.
The teacher, the scripture is the signpost but you don’t go up the pole and say you’re self-realized, you look in the direction the signpost is pointing and discover the Truth for yourself. As the sadhana matures, the sadhak realizes there’s nowhere to go, there is no road, there is no path, there is no sadhak, there’s only God ever present Truth, Existence and Bliss.