Sadhana: Accept a daily challenge for spiritual growth
by Nancy B. Loughlin
Published in News Press on March 3, 2015
In “Wild,” author Cheryl Strayed committed to walking 1,100 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail alone. Her goal was communion with self.
Strayed’s daily walk became a form of sadhana, a daily spiritual practice.
You may walk the dog every day. You hopefully shower. You religiously hit the gym. But these daily activities are not sadhana. Sadhana is not performed out of duty, personal necessity or the ego. Sadhana has a single purpose: spiritual evolution.
In sadhana, you endeavor to Know Thyself. Every day is an opportunity to triumph over distractions, to triumph over the ego and to triumph over time. Your chosen sadhana is both small and tremendous; it is a dialogue with your life, the meaning of which you endeavor to decipher.
When Strayed placed one foot in front of the other through every frustration, pitfall, emotional collapse and bout of impatience and completed her three-month pilgrimage, she wrote that she had finally come to understand what it all meant. She thought her journey was a way out of her life when actually it was a way in.
And your sadhana doesn’t have to be as grandiose as hiking the Pacific Crest Trail.
Get creative with your sadhana ritual, or try one of my top five:
Chant the Gayatri Mantra every day 108 times. A string of mala beads will help you keep track. At the end of one year, you will have said it 39,420 times. Click on the online edition to watch Anna Withrow of Yoga Bird chant the Gayatri. (I confess that some days I only did nine, but I did do it every day.)
Get a copy of “The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson,” and read, contemplate and journal about one poem during the sattvic morning hours each day. You will finish the collection in 1,775 days. (Many mornings I tackled more than one.)
Fold origami paper cranes, one each day for 40 days. Use colorful paper and string them together. I never made it to the traditional 1,000 paper cranes which are allegedly good luck, but you might.
Fasting is a common practice in many religions to purify not only the mind but the body for spiritual contemplation. Try fasting for five days drinking only hot water with lemon. The first two days are brutal so I recommend support, but I felt incredible by day three.
Download the Insight Timer to your phone, and meditate for ten minutes each morning for 40 days. Focus on the breath and add the mantra “So-ham” which means, “I am that.”
Enjoy the journey inward.