In the midst of the COVID 19 crisis, we are all being asked to physically distance. This allows us to “flatten the curve” by keeping ourselves and our communities safe. However, physical isolation takes its toll. It is during stressful times that we most need to feel connected. One way to connect and to sustain connection is through our sadhana: our daily spiritual practice.
Our spiritual practice is something that we commit to doing every day that fosters greater connection to ourselves, others, and Source. Ideally, we will feel a sense of joy when we go to do our practice. There may be days that we don’t feel like doing our spiritual practice. That is okay. Sometimes we are busy, sometimes we’re not feeling our best… all of this will impact how we approach our sadhana. However, overall, it is something we look forward to. If we find ourselves dreading our practice, it may be time to freshen it up!
Cultivating deeper connection through spiritual practice.
Our daily sadhana is a living practice that grows and changes as we do. Sometimes we get attached to our practice, even when it is not serving us. Signs that we would benefit from tweaking our practice a bit include, but are not limited to, boredom, not making time for our practice, guilt for not wanting to do our practice, feeling like our practice should be done a certain way, or feeling more disconnected from ourselves, others, and Source after having completed our practice than we did before!
Yoga Sutra 1.12 encourages us to do our daily practice without concerning ourselves with the outcome of our practice. Sometimes we feel like we should “get’ something from our practice. For example, if we do our practice, we will reach Nirvana, cure our anxiety and chronic stress, and manifest a substantial boost in our bank account. All of those are perfectly valid goals, but the Yoga Sutras suggest if we are judging our practice on outcome, we are missing the mark.
Our practice is a present-moment experience. It works from the inside-out, not the outside-in. Our daily sadhana is a transformative experience. For a time, we set aside our ego, the persona we use to interact with the world, and connect to our Higher Self. Regular connection to our Higher Self informs how we live our lives. We are able to think more clearly, make wiser decisions, notice the interconnectedness of all things, and, ultimately, live more peaceful lives.
During this time of greater stress, anxiety, and physical isolation, it is critical that we stay close to our home-practice. A daily sadhana allows us to better cope with the challenges we are facing, personally and collectively, and build resiliency. Beginning a daily spiritual practice need not be complicated. It requires surprisingly little time and effort, but it does require some. Remember, the point of spiritual practice is to open up the connective channels between our ego-selves and our Higher Self.
To begin a home-based spiritual practice:
- Create physical and mental space. Designate a particular area of your home for your practice. Returning to the same spot to do practice every day gives our psyche a signal that something important is about to occur. Try to find a place where you will not be disturbed for the duration of your practice. Your space for practice does not have to be fancy. It could be a room of your home, a corner of a room, or even a shelf on your bookcase that serves as an altar. An altar is a fun, creative element of your home practice. Place items that are significant to you on your altar: candles, crystals, sacred jewelry, and pictures of spiritual figures are some great ways to get started! Your altar is an outward reflection of your practice. What you place there should have meaning FOR YOU.
- Create a practice that allows you to feel your innate connection to Source. We are always connected to Source, to our Higher Self. However, we don’t always feel connected. When we feel connected to Source, we feel most alive! We are connected to Source when we feel inspired, creative, or vibrant. We are happy to be where we are at doing whatever it is we are doing, and everyone around us benefits from our deeply connected state.
What allows us to feel our connection to Source is very personal. Some feel more connected through meditation, others are served by the asana practice, and still others cultivate connection through chanting mantra. That is why the yoga practice as outlined by Patanjali gives so many options for how we might practice yoga! Incorporate the components of spiritual practice that leave you feeling most connected into your daily sadhana. Then you will look forward to doing it every day, and making time and space won’t feel like a chore.
- Creating a daily ritual. A ritual has a beginning, middle, and end. Our daily practice is a ritual. We often think of our practice only in terms of what happens in the middle, whether it is meditation, chanting mantra, contemplating sacred texts, or any other practice. However, the beginning and the ending are just as important. The beginning of our practice cues to our psyche that something important is about to happen. We might light a candle, invoke a deity, and/or bless ourselves with water. It is important to set an intention for our practice at this time. Our intention is an uplifted thought that we are devoting our practice to. Many yogis use the intention, “May all beings be happy and free and may I contribute to their happiness and freedom.” Our intention is bigger than our own individual selves. It is in service to the highest good of all.
The middle of our ritual is the “fun” part! This is where we do the practice itself. The middle of our ritual is where we actually sit for meditation, do the asana practice, chant the mantra, read the sacred text… or a combination of as many as we like!
Just like the beginning of our practice cues to our psyche that something important is about to occur, the end of our practice is the signal that something important has ended. After the transformative experience of doing our practice, we are ready to live our lives from our deep connection to Source.
- Things to keep in mind: Keep you practice simple. Do not judge yourself or your practice. If you miss a day, that is okay. Simply return to your practice the next day.
Your practice does not have to take a long time. Lighting a candle, sitting for five minutes of quiet meditation, and snuffing the candle when you are finished is a wonderful way to begin a daily sadhana. Like a yoga pose, your practice needs to fit YOU. Not the other way around.
Try to do your practice as soon as you wake. When we do our practice early, we are better prepared to meet the challenges of the day with mind that is more calm, focused, and steady. Some people like to do their practice before bed. That is great! Do both. (Hey, no one says you have to do just one!)
How to use Zoom for EHY.
Even though we can’t be together Live at this time, Eternal Health Yoga is continuing to offer online classes and workshops to support you in maintaining and sustaining your home-based practice. Our classes and workshops are being offered through Zoom. If you’d like to join, here’s how!
- Register/Sign up for the class you wish to attend through the Website, MindBody or EHY App, as usual. You must register at least 30 minutes prior to the start of class.
- 15 minutes before class you will receive an email inviting you to the class. Follow the prompts in the invitation to download the Free Zoom App for your device and join the meeting (yoga class).
- Your class will begin at the designated time.