Tuesday “T” Talk: Sadhana: What It Is and Why It’s My BAE

Good morning. Happy Tuesday, and thank you so much for sharing a piece of your day with me. This is going to be a pretty long post, so I hope you have tea or coffee. I’d suggest a doobie, a bowl or a bong, but most folks have to work where that’s not acceptable. I, however do not, so cough cough, Cookers.

That wake ‘n bake got me like…

You may have noticed I’m no longer calling these “tea” talks. I just can’t commit!!

I’m joking. Maybe.

I do want to be more flexible. I mean, it might be tea I’m enjoying on any given Tuesday morning but I might want that “T” to represent trash or THC talk. Perhaps in November I’ll want to talk turkey. Maybe it’s that label thing falling away, or maybe my joke wasn’t a joke, and I can’t even commit to tea on Tuesday.

Pretty sure we all know I lack commitment in general, and I tend to fall back or run away when certain things don’t work out. Ok. I used to do that. Not so much the past couple of years, but I still have challenges. The latest version of me is rising to meet them and I want to share with you because, well, I also lack the courage to be totally vulnerable sometimes.

There. I said it. I’m working on trust and the ability to open my heart. Still. That means I’m taking risks and ready to accept outcomes that aren’t pre-constructed or “as planned.” Acceptance and self-love are making it possible to rise above any old patterns or “samskaras” (psychological imprints and mental impressions formed by past experiences), and we are meant to burn them away via this early morning process. When we step on the mat, no matter what time of day or type of practice; this begins to take place.

I’ve been mentioning the “Sādhanā” practice here and I speak of it in my personal life as well. I’m sure I’ve also mentioned that I am seeing a therapist for trauma and there are breakthroughs happening. Memories are coming up and being handled. Emotions are being felt and accepted. Realizations are coming to fruition, and “ah-ha” moments are flooding my life. Traditional, non-pharmaceutical therapy in conjunction with yoga are just….well, they’re molding me into someone new. It’s a beautiful and terrifying experience as I outgrow anything that limits me. Including some people, difficult as that is.

These conversations have generated questions that I feel comfortable answering with the help of a few good reads and the experience I have now accumulated.

I’ve completed two rounds of Sādhāna and I couldn’t even say how many I’ve started and then cut short due to that lack of commitment.

The traditional therapy started eight weeks ago and I haven’t missed a Monday. My therapist is the first person I see each week and it’s for the best because I get to start with a clear mind after I unpack any material from the previous 7 days. And, baby, there is always material. Always.

We’re here to talk about Sādhānā and I am going to stay on topic. Yes, I’m going to start sharing some of my therapy work, too. Just not today.

Ok, before I answer this question in any sort of way whatsoever, I have to say that the most important point of this entire practice is that it’s yours!! I’m stating this and emphasizing “yours” because it’s so very important that all who embark on this path know there is no right or wrong. There are thousands of videos, blogs and articles out there that will tell you exactly what to do, but for me it worked best when I designed my own. I would by no means expect most people to follow my practice because I was privileged to have the time available to make it lengthy and intense. I really think it’s important for me to acknowledge that and express gratitude because without the free-time allowed by all this craziness, I may have never fulfilled a few dreams.

To define Sādhānā, I would use the words: “a dedicated 40 days of devotional practice.”

Here’s what Wikipedia says:

“Sādhanā (Sanskrit साधना; Tibetan: སྒྲུབ་ཐབས་, THL: druptap; Chinese: 修行; pinyin: xiūxíng) is a generic term coming from the yogic tradition that refers to any spiritual exercise that is aimed at progressing the sādhaka[1] towards the very ultimate expression of his or her life in this reality.[2] It includes a variety of disciplines in Hindu,[3]Buddhist,[4]Jain[5] and Sikh traditions that are followed in order to achieve various spiritual or ritual objectives.”

The “sādahka” is the seeker who’s purpose is to be the seer, if that makes sense.

In my Sādhanā, I am the sādhaka. The student. The seeker who will someday be the seer. I mean, truth be told I already see too damn much, so I’m actually working to release some of my intuition. I don’t need to know some stuff.

We can practice for as long or as short a period as we like. The first time I tried Sādhanā it was a 20 minute physical set and I used this video to get into a groove. It’s not too long and it does the job, leaving time for meditation. Many gurus suggest 2.5 hours as that is a tenth of our day. See, spiritually we are reciprocated tenfold what we give. So if we practice 1/10 of our day we cover our karma for that day. Make sense??

I try to practice early in the morning. Somewhere between 4:30 and 6, I am on the mat to devote an hour or more (never less) to movement, breath and quiet. This time is devoted to me, as will your practice be, should you choose to give it a go. You don’t have to be up before the sun to practice but it is traditionally understood that the “power hours” are the two hours before sunrise. What that means is that the energy is more viable and your connection to “source” is stronger. It’s also quiet which allows for better focus in meditation, which is definitely part of Sādhanā. This show of devotion cultivates discipline and is said to clear karmic debt.

Whaaattt?? Sign me up!!

So, who am I dragging my ass out of bed in the middle of the night and devoting this precious time to, anyway??

Ahhh, that’s easy and we’ve already covered it. You!! It’s all about you. The universe sees us and she gifts us with abundance and blessings when we demonstrate self-respect and love. Besides, don’t you think you deserve to spend the first hours of your day in peace, before the noise of the world infiltrates?? I promise that it makes a huge difference in how you handle the stress of each day.

To be clear, anything I write here is what I’ve learned from my teachers or my own research and experience. Again, it’s important to remember that this is your practice. Take what works for you and leave what doesn’t.

Now that we’ve established what it is, let us touch on some reasons why we do it:

  • to establish yoga practice and discipline
  • to develop commitment
  • to release old karma
  • for feelings of peace and clarity
  • to tune into earth’s rhythms
  • to broaden our intuition

I won’t tell you how to practice your Sādhanā. I’ll give you a description of mine and offer some tips to get you started. Before we go there, though, I just want to remind us all that practice does not make perfect, as perfection is not attainable. Practice makes progress, and that is all we can expect. I’m not perfect at getting up at exactly the same time each day. My body clock does that for me and I trust it. When it needs more sleep it stays asleep. An alarm doesn’t exist in my waking hour.

Another important tip is that I’d let anyone you live with know what’s going on so they respect your quiet time, and also don’t let what someone else might think deter you from practice. I couldn’t care less if my chants and breaths sound weird to my significant other or the dogs. It hasn’t always been the case and I’ve failed too many times over choosing to be lazy with the fella on weekends or skipping because of what he might think. For the record, I’m pretty sure he likes it and I know he enjoys the after effects. I’m sweet and patient for a few hours at least. The following a description of my practice, but remember; I’m just sharing as a basic guideline. Don’t compare my practice to yours or think that this is what has to be done.

Upon waking I stretch and say a short gratitude prayer. I body scan to find any stuck areas and I breathe to let that shit go. I sip warm lemon water, reflect on my dreams from the night, and journal anything that is significant right at bedside (I have journals everywhere). I then touch my hand to the floor and I rise. Three sun salutations then I make my bed, read my intentions list from the night before and hit the shower ending it with icy cold water. In the shower (this is odd) I imagine the water is gold or glittery and that it is covering me in a protective sheath. I also hang lavender bundles in there so I feel relaxed even in the wee hours of the day.

From the shower I oil my hair and wrap my head. This assists in third eye focus and it contains the energy. Our hair is also a conduit for energy and that’s why many wrap the head to keep out bad vibes and retain good ones.

Oil massage to the entire body using hemp or coconut oil because those cool Pitta energy.

This is followed up by a tongue scraping (27 strokes) and teeth brushing. Some days I use a neti-pot to cleanse the sinuses, and I always put coconut oil in my ears, ghee in my nostrils and rose water on my eyes. Yes, I am an oily yogi and my almost 47 year old skin is pretty silky. Just saying.

I know this all seems like a lot, but it goes quick once you get used to it. I mean, how much time do we spend on makeup and hair?? Ask yourself if your physical appearance is more important than your spiritual health. Exactly. It’s all about perspective and priorities.

From the cleansing ritual, I dress in loose clothes (sometimes all white, sometimes not) and set up for practice by rolling out my mat, lighting candles and incense, and sounding a chime.

We traditionally rub our hands together at the heart to warm up, and then chant, “Ong Namo Guru Devi Namo,” three times. This means, “I bow to the divine teacher within.”

From here I practice a “Kriya” or set of exercises that are chosen with intention. These include breath work and a series of physical postures that move fast and focus on waking the spine and organs. The exercises also help to purge the lymph nodes, which is important because they are not self-cleaning and need our assistance to stay flush.

I include around 10 exercises and they are measured by time or by number of repetitions. If timed, I go for 1-3 minutes. If counting reps I do either 27, 54 or 108. These are significant yoga numbers, folks. I rest between sets and when all are complete I sit and meditate with my Mala.

Mala meditation includes chanting a mantra to the count of 108 beads. I’m quite fond of using and making Malas. It’s really become a hobby and when I create one for a round of Sādhanā, I tend to stay with it longer. There’s power in putting those magical gems and mantra sounds together, especially after opening yourself up with the physical exercises and breath work. Energy just flows and integrates better.

When my Mala meditation is complete, I read and I journal anything that comes up.

Current read as I continue to navigate through sober life…

That’s it. Now my day can begin. Or I can crawl back in my cozy bed and nap.

Really?? We can nap after??

Yes!!

There is no shame in being sleepy if you get up at 4:30 AM. I was up at 3:33 this morning and you can bet your ass I’m napping after I post this and feed my fur babies.

For the record, I don’t leave the master suite of the house until this is done. I have a tiny corner of the bedroom set up for practice because even though I have a large yoga room in the house, I like this done before I step out to greet the day, the dogs, the grind. Before the stresses of life come rushing at me.

That’s a personal rule and it just works. No interaction before Sādhanā. It’s for the greater good, trust me.

My little meditation station…

Now, another full disclosure here; I’m still not perfect. I’m late some days. I don’t always shower and oil and all that jazz before my Kriya set. I don’t always wrap my head or dress in “proper” attire. Sometimes I just need to get it done to the best of my ability. I modify during my moon days to make it less strenuous, but I don’t skip it.

Some guidelines set by the teachers who came before me are as follows.

Once you decide the length of days of your practice, it is imperative that you complete it. If you should skip a day, you start over or do 1008 mala counts (ten times around the necklace) and start again.

Or what??

I don’t know, but the times I didn’t finish I ended up having some not so great events occur. With each finished round I see a new version of myself appear. This practice lifts the darkness and moves the mud so we can bloom like lotus flowers.

It’s important to come to the mat clean. Purification is, after all, the goal. It’s a respect thing.

The most effective hours for practice are 4:30-7:00 AM, 12 noon, 4:30-7:00 PM or 12 midnight. It is also claimed that if you can control your thoughts and actions between 4:30 and 7:00 (AM and PM) you shall never be unsuccessful.

I was taught to begin Sādhānā on the morning of a new moon, so I always have. Something always shifts right in the middle, during the full moon that follows, so it’s a good way to see how it’s working in your life.

As for the benefits of Sādhanā, I think we’ve covered that, but here are a few I really enjoy and notice:

  • better energy immediately
  • less sleep is required after awhile
  • better response to stress
  • radiance and vitality
  • immune system boost
  • physical fitness
  • manifestation results are rapid
  • increased creativity

Now that you have an idea about what this practice entails, are you curious or maybe considering a round?? I’m here if you need any help.

Here is a link to my current sequence if you want to check it out. It also includes a kick ass Kundalini playlist that does not include Mariah Carey (inside joke), to help move us through the practice. Give it a try and let me know how you feel. Maybe I should record it for a free karma class?? I’ll think about that and let ya know!! I’m not committing, of course!!

Until next time, please take good care of you!! You are loved, cherished and appreciated.

Sat Nam, Cookers!!

Much love, Chelle

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