Being an Atma Kriya Yoga teacher at Shree Peetha Nilaya, and part of the Bhakti Marga Sadhana International Department, many residents and guests ask me what my sadhana routine looks like. They ask almost as if I know a secret they don’t. They know I have a good relationship with sadhana in general, and they may wonder where my enthusiasm for sadhana comes from.
Sometimes it feels like I should only respond by saying that I practice 2 hours every day and that I do sixteen rounds of japa and so on and so forth. It feels like there’s a bit of an expectation that I am some ‘big-shot’ sadhana guy who practices like crazy. It also feels like people might think I am some master deep-meditator.
The truth is, is that I’m really not anything like that. Well, I can say that I have a pretty good relationship with sadhana in general -- for various reasons -- but mainly, I just do my best every day to practice a moderate amount. Though you know, my lifestyle is busy but somewhat routine. My schedule actually looks probably quite similar to what most of your schedules look like. So with that in mind, what do I tell these people that ask me these kinds of questions? Well, firstly, I confirm that I have a good relationship with my sadhana. This is key. It's more important than to do a ton of rounds of whatever technique in a bad mood or distracted by other things. Keeping a good relationship with your spiritual practice makes it a figurehead in your life. It makes the practices maintain their value in your mind. And like any relationship, in troubled times, you will feel more like spending time with people you have close relationships with -- where you feel comfortable and supported. But these kinds of good relationships come from developing through both positive times and negative times.
How did I cultivate a good relationship with sadhana? By cultivating. That means I take time out of every day to cultivate, to grow a relationship with it. I don't push myself too far into discomfort with my practice. I didn’t drown myself with expectations of 2-hour practices twice a day. At first, I just wanted to become steady in my practice. This meant that even if I don’t feel great or enthusiastic about practicing, I at least practice a little bit. Not the minimum, but also not even close to the maximum allowance.
I try my best to have a focused practice and to feel and hold onto the blissfulness during and after practice. It took a long time to cultivate a good relationship with Atma Kriya Yoga for myself. I really had to give it time and struggle through my laziness and insincerity.
As a result of all this, I have a very regular practice which stands as my lighthouse on my spiritual path. It is my guiding force and keeps me in check and uplifts me so that I do not fall. My method behind this cultivation is “just do it”. No matter the day, or situation, I make sure I do my minimum. I make sure I don’t say ah, one is enough (even if it is). Instead, I say to myself, if my mind is telling me this, then for sure I need to do the opposite, and I will then proceed to do “one more” round, a few more minutes. If we understand what sadhana actually is, it’s the Divine itself. If we treat it that “one less is okay” then we reinforce a poor attitude with the Divine. Instead, we should try more to have the thought “I need one more”. More divine, not less. Try to enjoy, not write it off and justify laziness or disinterest. Even if there is insincerity, just doing it actually works. Because it's the divine, it ultimately will NOT disappoint nor fail. The divine always supports, is beneficial and positive.
I think largely it is about giving more and more opportunity for Grace to operate. It’s about giving space and freedom for the sadhana to do what it needs to, and to cultivate patience and ultimately a relationship with sadhana, with the divine.
So that’s what I do, that’s my secret. Paramahamsa Vishwananda told me in my first interview with him, “don’t forget to practice”. And I don’t. I just keep going, and as a result, I have the opportunity to really enjoy, respect, and love my practice. Over time I look back and see how it has shaped me, how I respond instead of react. I see how my aim has shifted more towards love and service instead of worry, self-interest, and drama.
This is what I share with everyone about my path, about my sadhana. In case anyone else wonders what is my mystery recipe -- it’s just about doing it. Go for it and let the practice do what it does. I am no magician, I am no one special. The sadhana is special, the sadhana is like magic. It transforms you with time and steadiness and often without you even noticing what it is doing! If you do not practice sadhana, try it. If you do practice -- keep going. Just Love and Just Practice!