One of the questions that spiritual seekers ask is, “do I have to practice every day?” It’s usually the case that the changes in one’s interiority are so subtle that one doesn’t notice them, and then we become discouraged. People can spend anywhere from thirty minutes to upwards of two hours (or even more) doing their daily sadhana, what’s the point?
Sadhana is any spiritual practice that takes one towards a spiritual goal. It takes 40 days, or a full Mandala, to set a new practice in the body. During that time, the practice should be done twice every day without fail. Once the process has set, we enter the sustainment mode. It’s a little like taking a car from standstill to freeway speed. At the start, it takes quite an effort to get up to speed, but after that, it is all about maintaining momentum. Skipping practice is like taking the foot off the gas – you simply lose momentum. The longer practice is skipped, the more momentum is lost. After a long break, the Mandala period would have to be repeated.
When it comes to physical workout, we know the value of maintaining daily exercise – people go to the gym every day. When we skip a day, we are aware of how that will translate into the body. Sometimes we can even tell how that makes us feel. Spiritual practices act on a more subtle level, and the impacts are harder to discern but they are absolutely there.
One way to help with that discernment is to mark the milestones. After 3 months of continued practice, what are the noticeable changes? Are negative emotions further away? Is there less agitation in the mind? Are there fewer triggers? Have relationships improved? Does the body feel lighter? Has health improved? Are you the same person you were 6 months ago, a year ago? It might be a good idea to keep a journal of internal changes as you notice them, so when the question arises about skipping practice, it can serve as encouragement and a pointer to your positive trajectory.
One excuse people always use is that there isn’t time. But when we look at time from a different angle, we immediately see that it is quite unanimously generous to all of us. We all get 24 hours in a day. It is entirely up to us what we fill that time up with. It’s simply a question of priorities. Are all the hours of sleep a requirement for you? Are all of the activities that fill your day more important than these practices? This is a personal choice, not a function of how much time exists.
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