Whatever is happening is our practice
Have you ever attended a workshop or retreat and been inspired to rededicate yourself to your sadhana practice? You go home with plans to set up a peaceful meditation space, with a comfortable cushion to sit on, perhaps with images of gods and goddesses or a simple yet elegant arrangement of flowers. So peaceful….
In your relaxed state, you know you’ll be able to deal with your life calmly, mindfully, with awareness. It is wonderful to be so inspired – and it does help. You may very well find yourself responding to others – and to yourself – with more patience and kindness – until something happens that trips you up and you’re back to your old ways. It’s okay. It happens. The question is what do you do then?
If you mess up, it’s not the end of the story. The peace you experienced while you were at the retreat came from within you. In fact it’s your natural state, and you can come back to it.
Failure is the foundation of success. We learn how to achieve success by failing in our efforts. The main thing is not to stop the effort.
In the spiritual path what are our expectations? What do we mean by “I failed”? Probably we want to be on the top of Mount Everest with very little experience in climbing. But if we go on climbing, we can achieve success.
Pay attention. Are your thoughts and actions leading to harmony and connection or are they leading to separation? If there’s stress, anxiety, irritation or any other variant on the “I’m not happy” continuum, you can consciously choose to change direction. It’s not easy because we become blinded by our strong feelings. At some point, though, you may realize how unhappy you are in your aloneness, your separation from your loving heart. When you recognize how miserable you feel, you can choose to take a step in the direction of compassion, starting with yourself. With practice, you can do this pretty quickly. It’s really not fun being miserable.
Aim is the most important thing.
Q: How can one transcend reaction to situations that bring up anger or frustration? Are there any techniques to use at that moment?
A: It needs practice of developing awareness at all times; otherwise a person goes blind when there is anger and loses all discrimination. We have to watch our thoughts and their causes.
Life does not give us exactly what we want all the time; if we don’t want to be angry or depressed about it, we can reach for the practices we’ve been given. Everything is an opportunity for practice. Whatever is happening is our practice.
Our formal practice is important because it builds the foundation of our lives. Our habits are built by repetition. This is true not just of our negative habits but our positive ones, too. If you work on yoga, yoga will work on you.
Start the day with formal practice; even a brief daily meditation practice has an effect. You may be tired and want to sleep longer, but you can discipline yourself to get up anyway
The mind always makes excuses for not doing sadhana. “Oh, I have work to do. Last night I went to sleep late and I should sleep longer. I am tired. Not today, tomorrow for sure, etc.” These excuses never end.
It is always difficult to do sadhana because the mind seeks comfort. In doing sadhana one needs to sacrifice comfort. So you should kick yourself to do sadhana early in the morning.
Sadhana sets the tone for the day, recognizing that spiritual practice extends beyond the time we spend on our meditation cushion and asana mat. Practice is all the time.
What do we really want in life? In all our relationships we can practice developing positive qualities like kindness, tolerance, compassion, contentment. We can keep coming back to the question of what’s most important to us. In order to focus on what’s important, we need to slow down and notice how we respond to what shows up in front of us. Once we become aware of our reactions, we can choose how to act instead of being driven by our old habits .
If we are not aware of ourselves, then we can’t progress.
Q: How does an impure mind purify itself? How can a confused mind gain clarity?
A: Impure mind is when mind dwells on negative thoughts. When negative thoughts are removed, it’s called pure mind. When positive thoughts are also removed, that is samadhi.
Always remember your aim, which is to attain peace (God).
Develop good qualities in your actions and thoughts, such as honesty, compassion, and love,
Perform selfless service such as helping the poor, old, sick or orphaned.
Faith, devotion and right thinking are the foundation of spirituality. Contentment, compassion and tolerance are the walls. When you have built this room for yourself you are safe and in peace….God is already with you.
Wish you happy.
Contributed by Sharada
All text in italics is from writings by Babaji
Sharada Filkow, a student of classical ashtanga yoga since the early 70s, is one of the founding members of the Salt Spring Centre of Yoga, where she has lived for many years, serving as a karma yogi, teacher and mentor.