Know Thyself: a spiritual day planner
by Nancy B. Loughlin
Published in News Press on October 28, 2014. Posted with permission.
Early morning (4 a.m. to 6 a.m.): Wake up and study. Practice Jnana Yoga, the cultivation of the intellect, now.
This is the sattvic time of day. Sattva is one of the gunas, one of nature’s three qualities Vedanta describes. It is the purest of all energy marked by luminous clarity of thought. Morning is when sattvic energy is strongest. It’s the time to engage your mind to Know Thyself.
It’s not the time for leisure reading but for contemplative texts, print or video, that address the highest principles of living. Choose a small portion of a text, read it (or watch it) and ruminate. Studying does not mean that you spend these two hours passively reading. About 30% of the time is reading or viewing; 70% is reflecting, questioning, responding to and applying that text to your own life.
Recommendations (in no particular order):
- Bhagavad Gita
- The Fall of the Human Intellect by Swami Parthasarathy
- Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda
- The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
- The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson
- Songs of Innocence and Experience by William Blake
- King James Bible
- Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
- The Essential Writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson
- The Essential Rumi
Daylight hours (6 a.m. to 6 p.m.): This is when rajasic energy is palpable. Rajas, the second guna, is the energy of activity and initiative. Fill these 12 hours with your Karma Yoga practice.
How do you serve? What is your passion? If there is no passion for anything other than the paycheck, your employment isn’t it. As you continue the yogic path of Knowing Thyself, you’ll grow to learn that your body exists to serve selflessly.
These are the hours for action. As you exercise, remember it isn’t to look good. It’s to maintain a strong and healthy body so you can serve. As you clean your home, it’s to be disciplined and organized so you can serve. As you prepare your own food, it’s to be nourished and aware so you can serve.
During these hours, monitor your intentions. Every phone call. Every financial transaction. Every conversation. Every negotiation. Selfless love and service motivate every move your body makes. If ego and selfishness are propelling you, don’t do it.
It’s your karma.
Evening (6 p.m. to 10 p.m. the latest): These are the tamasic hours. This third guna is the energy of stillness and inaction. These are the hours for unloading prior to bed. Try to avoid any rajasic stimulation, and turn off the television and computer at least two hours before bed.
Sit in a chair, and press your feet into the floor. Feel your bones stack. Close your eyes, and place your hands on your middle. Feel your inhalations and exhalations lift and lower your belly. After ten rounds, practice Bhakti Yoga with your journal. Review and reflect on your notes from your morning study. Recount all of your accomplishments from today’s Karma Yoga practice, and, with selfless devotion, make a gratitude list and detail how you will serve tomorrow. Finally, describe all the beauty and love and mystery you witnessed today. When you are finished, retire to your bedroom and sleep. Allow all your intentions to seep into your subconscious.
Now this is a nice day.
Nancy B. Loughlin is a writer and yogi in Ft. Myers. She can be reached at NancyLoughlin@yahoo.com or Twitter @NancyLoughlin