By Shameem Akhtar
Want to practice daily sadhana but can’t bring yourself to do it? here is a practical way of overcoming it
There seems to be a huge proportion of people who have great difficulty practicing yoga on their own or fear they are unable to maintain a discipline of personal sadhana. Often, I am asked to help my students or readers here. This is one zone where I feel completely at a loss since why each person chooses not to practice daily or with some discipline varies. Unless each person realizes precisely why he or she has decided not to practice for that particular day, this problem can never be addressed completely.
I also firmly believe that why you decide to skip your practice for that day really has nothing to do with the decision of the moment. It has nothing to do with “I have no time, I had something more important” etc. It has to do with a cluster of reasons that run into your past or may be anticipated in the future. Let me elaborate some more on this topic since it is a particularly important and knotty problem that has never been fully tackled by the tons of books or scores of yoga teachers being churned out.
There is a Taoist saying: no disease short life, one disease long life. Since I have had a huge problem with bronchitis, I have been spurred by a discipline of daily yoga practice to keep it off. So my discipline here has no congratulatory reason but is due to a dire need. Usually, when there is a physical weakness or ailment, it never entirely goes off, but like a circling hyena keeps a watch on you, for the moment of weakness when you slack off. That is why I have found that students who have cured themselves of severe pains, or have controlled degenerative ailments like high BP or diabetes, often suffer relapses when they slacken their practice.
Why does this slackening happen? Some practitioners complain that they don’t have the time. But that is simply not an acceptable reason. If Anil Ambani or Narayana Murthy, who are probably among the busiest people in business, can bestir themselves at 4 am to do their workouts or yoga, so can you.
I fear the simple reason lies in the cloudy haze of emotional reactions (samskaras) that you accumulate over a lifetime. When you wake up to be confronted with the choice of doing yoga but turn over to sleep, it simply means that you feel you do not deserve or merit that discipline. This may sound harsh, but is true: you feel that you do not deserve to do yoga. I believe it to be true because I only missed my practice on days when I have felt low. Often, this awareness would have passed me by but for the fact that I meditate and am therefore trained to watch the games my mind plays, often at my own expense! And I have observed how my mind and its emotional knots can trip me by churning up bluffs that make me feel good about making a wrong choice, such as lack of time, a busy schedule and so on.
It is a scientific fact that people who have high self-esteem are also comfortable being disciplined. So, the next time some reason rolls off your tongue to skip your practice, examine it carefully to analyze the hidden reason behind it. Choose to do your sadhana despite the mind’s little games. And feel good about having scored yet one more victory over Mara, the demon god, who lurks in each of our minds.
The Discipline Methodology
Meditation is an important tool when it comes to maintaining one’s discipline in any area of life. If you wish to cultivate a discipline in your daily sadhana, I suggest you do a five-minute meditative ritual that is simple and uncluttered. It can even be the ten-minute shavasana you do at the end of your practice. Or it can be a five-minute breath-watching ritual. Just before winding up this meditation practice, create a clear image in your mind, where you see yourself joyfully doing your sadhana. Create the atmosphere in your mind, adding details: the play of sunlight, the feel of breeze, all those elements that your senses can capture in real life. Try and see the inner expression as you imagine yourself doing your yoga: Are you smiling? Do you enjoy the fluidity of the moment? Get a clear, happy, fluid image of yourself doing your sadhana. Do this visualization regularly at the end of your meditation session. Soon, your sadhana will stop being an imagined joy but become an experienced reality.
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