Holistic Living - Through Sadhana and Beyond
by Harshada David Wagner
Over the years, I have found a way to work with the essence of discipline and weave it into my life as a householder.
I’ve been practising sadhana since 1988 (I was 16) and now earn my living as a meditation teacher and writer here in New York City. I thought for this piece I would focus on the role of discipline in my life. My life has a healthy amount of discipline, but the discipline is loosely held in many ways. I have spent years being very zealous and strict, and years being totally unchecked in every way. The years of zealousness were important because they trained me in the various disciplines of yoga and put some reins on my out-of-control American senses. The unchecked years were important too. I got to experience my senses and exhaust my curiosities. Today, I feel like I strike a good balance.
I believe the essence of my sadhana is so much deeper than what I eat or who I spend time with, but none-the-less I think it’s worth sharing some of these facets of my life today.
Diet: Basically, I enjoy a vegetarian diet. I grew up in an entirely non-veg family, and have experimented with both veg and non-veg diets in my sadhana years. As for now, I enjoy the lightness of a vegetarian diet, and also feel good about the vibrational quality of vegetarian food. With any industry there is some kind of pollution and violence, but somehow I feel that eliminating animal flesh from my diet lessens my karmic footprint. I love animals, and it feels good to spare them from my plate. Many of the people in my spiritual community are non-veg, and I have no judgment against them, but I am happy to observe this one restraint on my diet.
Good company: Of all disciplines – I find this one to be essential.
I try to spend time with people who uplift me, and who are on some kind of evolutionary track. Of course, I interact with all kinds of people, and try to love them all, but I do relish the chance to have a good satsang connection with another.
Exercise: I used to be an avid practitioner and teacher of hatha yoga. These days, I do a mild asana practice and occasionally attend a class at the Iyengar Institute here in New York. I enjoy walking and try to do that as often as possible. We live nearby the grand and exquisite Central Park, so I have a perfect place to enjoy this mild exercise. The walking practice is also a kind of moving meditation for me. I walk by the trees, I watch my breath, I move my body. I try to laugh as much as possible too!
Nature: I find it essential to spend time in nature. I lead retreats every month, and they are usually in natural environments. But as often as I can, I like to go into the forest section of Central Park, and just be with the trees and animals. Nature has a way of realigning me with my own essential, original, primal Self. Time in nature is a non-negotiable aspect of my routine. Wherever I go, I like to seek out the most untamed place available, and be there with it. Sometimes, it is only the sky in a crowded city, or a seashore, or a tree in a public park.
Practice: My spiritual practice is something that always evolves and changes. When I was younger, I was a staunch practitioner. I chanted, recited sacred texts, meditated, performed asanas, did mantra japa, karma yoga, and contemplation regularly. My practices are now much more spontaneous and casual. I do whatever I feel like I need to keep me connected to the “inner pulsation”. Often, this means sitting quietly for meditation. Sometimes, it means silently repeating the Hamsa mantra. Sometimes, it means reading something written by a master or contemplating a passage from a sacred text. Most often nowadays, my practice is one of remembrance. I try to keep myself aligned with the original pulsation of my heart, and try to notice when I have forgotten it. I try to experience it in others and in the universe, and act accordingly.
Some days this is easier than others. Some days, this alignment comes after a long meditation session. Sometimes it just comes. More and more I am learning to just trust and let go and Be in my Awareness – rather than trying to wrestle my mind into it or force my heart to reveal its sweetness.
Harshada Wagner lives in New York City with his wife, Anushri. He is a meditation teacher and the founder and director of Banyan Education