‘Sadhana becomes a part of your life.’
At the beginning of my spiritual journey, I heard this over and over again. I assumed that meant sadhana was given priority space in your life, that time was set aside and dedicated to it. I didn’t realise that it would literally take up space in each area of my life. Literally, every area. It came to influence who I spent my time with and how we spent that time, it changed the way I interact with my peers at work, it even changed the relationship I have to myself and my family.
It’s not that sadhana becomes a part of your life. It’s that it becomes a part of every aspect of your life. When I reflect back on the last few years of having a daily Atma Kriya Yoga practice, I cannot fathom going back to a life without it. Yes, it has become a part of everything. No, I would not have it any other way.
But sometimes the way it shows up isn’t in the oh-so-sweet, “spiritual” way may think. Sometimes it’s a little strange, especially to the people around me. It shows up in the little habits that seem to have appeared from nowhere.
Finger Counters Everywhere
To be clear, I am not someone who typically has the habit of having things, saving or collecting things, or in general, buying things because I can. I am not someone who has things for the sake of things. Clutter stresses me out. I’ve spent the better part of the last five years thoroughly believing that everything I owned had to be able to fit into the back of my car and still leave me room to sleep in it. If it didn’t fit, I didn’t need it. And yet, despite all of this, I have managed to collect countless finger counters. Even stranger, I’m okay with that.
In all honesty, I’ve lost track of how many finger counters I have stashed around. Sometimes, I find them in weird places too - like the travel bag I use for my toiletries or the pocket of a coat I rarely wear. I can almost guarantee that in any given moment I have one in my coat pocket, my day bag, in my desk, by my bed, and stuffed somewhere in that one bag I only use sometimes.
The simple act of counting (whether it is on a japa mala or a finger counter) helps me to stay focused on the mantra. The finger counters became a tool that I could utilize in situations where a mala wasn’t feasible or realistic.
Having the finger counter while I am driving or have a busy day makes focusing on my japa so much easier. Some days I’m just moving from one thing to the next too fast to get through a full round on the mala and counting on the counter helps me stay calm, grounded and focused.
I don’t know when the counters started to pop up the way glitter does after a birthday party, but they are there and like glitter, they’re not going anywhere any time soon.
The Big 3 is now the Big 4
You know the morning rush right? That point when you are halfway out the door, patting down all your pockets for your keys, wallet and phone? And as long as you’ve got those three things then you figure you can at least make it through your day without too many bumps and anything else forgotten can be dealt with?
Well at some point, my mala bag hit that list. The morning rush is still there, the patting down of pockets and searching through my bag for cellphone, keys, wallet and now, japa mala. I won’t leave the house without it. I feel uncomfortable and even naked-ish without it.
Japa is my saving grace. The act of chanting by itself makes me feel grounded and at peace. But to chant with my fingers rolling over the little tulsi beads is akin to something even greater. Sometimes, it feels like the difference between reading an e-book and a physical book. The e-book will never feel as right as the real, paper copy, especially on cold days in a cafe or curled up on the couch. A finger counter will never feel as right as the beads moving between my fingers.
Holding mudras in meetings
Let me jump right into this by saying mudras are amazing. Truly amazing. They work with the five elements that make up your own body and help you bring everything into balance. Different mudras work with different elements and create different results.
Need a mudra to help you concentrate? There is a mudra for that.
Need a mudra to help you feel more grounded? There is a mudra for that?
Feel so grounded you might be beneath the ground? There’s a mudra to help you rise up a little.
There are even mudras to help you open your heart to God or to help you be more childlike or to help you let go and forgive someone or yourself. Have a migraine or headache? There is a mudra for that too.
I started holding mudras in meetings at some point. Different mudras for different meetings. More often than not, I hold Jyaan mudra because it helps with focus. Personally, I have a lot of trouble sitting still and focusing at the same time. Other times I’d hold Prithivi mudra to help me feel more grounded. This one is especially nice if I am running late or rushing into something.
Sadhana has this sweet way of entering your life and taking up residence there. I’m pretty sure this is exactly how it is supposed to be. And what I mean by that is, sadhana isn’t something that begins and ends on your meditation cushion. It is not twenty minutes in the morning and evening. Sadhana becomes a part of you, it becomes a part of how you live. Sadhana is spirituality in action.
The fact that my sadhana carries itself into my days in these little and strange ways shows me that by some Grace, I’m managing to internalise some of it, that it is supporting and guiding me on my path to Divine Love. If it didn’t, I wouldn’t be practising it.