Making time for your sadhana: A Hindu family gathers at their home shrine to perform Ganesha worship together
A Daily Regimen of Hindu Practices
Advice for establishing a regular routine of spiritual practice leading to a more fulfilling inner life and a more effective outer life
W E BECOME SUCCESSFUL IN THE world by following a daily regimen of spiritual and material practices. Some people follow only a material regimen. They may achieve physical success, but their life may become unbalanced or unfulfilled over time. The question “Now what?” will begin to lurk within their daily routines, as they have denied a core component of their being, the inner self. Bringing forth success and a higher version of ourself goes far beyond just making more money or having a higher position at work. This success is bringing forth what is deep within us to the world around us—affecting the world around us more than it affects us; in essence, to change the world around us to our will. As Hindus, we are fortunate to have many practices that assist us in a holistic life of success, both material and spiritual.
We all relate to the world around us. There are two ways we do this. Firstly, we are affected by the world. Secondly, we affect it. I have found we can enhance our ability to affect the world by following certain Hindu practices. We can strengthen our aura and willpower, bringing forth a stronger version of ourself to the world, by flowing awareness within Hindu mental constructs, performing daily puja, and using affirmations, mantras and various meditation techniques. This enables us to influence the world around us more than it affects us.
A coloring-book drawing done by Suganth’s daughter Shreya, depicting her father performing his daily practice
A secondary by-product of these practices is that you see the world for what it is, and many of its supposed charms fall away. You become more focused on what you want from the world and how it relates to your inner life and your inner being. You become more successful in the world—but your primary purpose for that success is not just to make gains in the world, but to bring forth the truth of your inner world to the outer world.
Having a strict daily regimen and routine based on sadhanas built around spiritual and material development balances our inner and outer nature. In a holistic life, the spiritual and material are not two separate things. Both must be looked after.
These sadhanas include the performance of pujas and meditations for the “spiritual side” along with eating healthy and exercising the body for the “material side.” The more intense this practice, the quicker and more lasting the results.
For example, if you eat one apple a day and think you are eating healthy, while the rest of your meals come from fast-food restaurants, your practice is not intense and may not produce the outcome you are looking for. Eating every meal healthy and drinking plenty of water, with perhaps the occasional indulgence of a piece of chocolate, is a better practice. The results of a healthier body and clearer mind will manifest quickly. Everyone recognizes this extreme example. But the same is true for spiritual routines (sadhanas).
If you have a five-minute meditation and then go out into the world of work and come home and watch Netflix for an hour after taking care of the kids, you are not performing your spiritual sadhanas intensely. The results will be like eating an apple a day and thinking you have a healthy lifestyle.
So, what should we do?
Creating Your Routine
We should build a daily regimen of sadhanas that strengthen us both spiritually and materially. Each component should serve a particular, clearly understood purpose.
Once you have built some of the components of your regimen, then make it a daily habit. There is strength in routine. The conscious effort of building a daily routine and ensuring that we follow it for a few weeks is the hard part. Once it becomes a routine, we don’t need to think about doing it. All other daily tasks fall around these sadhanas you have set for yourself.
Here are some simple sadhanas you can start with, a balanced regimen that will let you test the waters:
1) Learn and perform a simple puja to invoke the devas and create a higher vibration. This can be as simple as ringing a bell and waving incense or a small flame before the Deities at your personal shrine.
2) Perform a simple pranayama, such as breathing in for nine counts, holding the breath for one count, breathing out for nine counts, holding one count, and repeating.
3) Repeat an affirmation of positivity, while feeling and visualizing the results you want to occur in your life.
4) Walk at least 10,000 steps each day, ideally outdoors.
5) Perform hatha yoga to remain limber and balance your mind by balancing your body.
Prioritizing Your Regimen
We all have priorities. Either we have chosen our priorities or they have been thrust upon us. We may say we don’t have time for certain things like exercise, but what we are really saying is that we have prioritized other things in our life over our health.
So we have to re-prioritize what is important for us. Since this regimen has the power to alter our physical and spiritual life for the better, it is well worth the effort. We should also let others understand our priorities, to avoid conflict with other important priorities. This is especially true when you begin your regimen.
Author Suganth Srichandramohan from Toronto, Canada
S UGANTH S RICHANDRAMOHAN , 38, lives in Canada with his wife and daughter. He enjoys reading and writing about Hinduism. You can see his blog posts at www.hinducorner.com . He runs a nonprofit, the Saiva Dharma Foundation, to help war-affected children in Sri Lanka. Email: email@example.com
For example, if your wife says, “We need to buy milk right now, we ran out.” Your response can be, “Yes, once I finish my puja and meditation. If the store closes, sorry, we will have to do without milk for a day.” Once this happens a few times, you and everyone else around you will understand the priority you have set for your regimen. They will realize that they need to adjust their requirements around your period of sadhana and not the other way around. Going forward, shopping for milk will be planned ahead of time.
If you miss your regimen or a part of it, then make up for it on another day. Don’t let it slip by and give up on your goals. That would be like skipping a class in university. You make up for it by looking at the online lecture or getting the notes from someone who attended. But if you miss five or six classes, either you will need to spend a few days catching up or you will fail the course. The same is true for your spiritual routne. Take it as seriously (or more seriously) as you would a university course.
If part of your sadhana is to do a certain set of affirmations, but you had no time to complete it today, then do it twice tomorrow. Not in a rush, one set after the other, but perhaps once in the morning and once in the evening. You must perform both sets well, just as you would a single day’s set.
Be gentle with yourself. Don’t be a fanatic. You may genuinely need to pause the regimen at times, but don’t simply skip a day and make excuses because you are feeling lazy. For example, my regimen is on hold when I am on vacation or a religious pilgrimage. Otherwise, seven days a week it will be performed—or made up if missed.
When and How to Start?
Start immediately. Start small. Do a simple five-minute meditation and daily reading for ten minutes. Do something. The longer you wait to start, the less likely you will build a strong daily regimen. Then, as your small practice becomes routine for a month or two, watch for the benefits. In the beginning the changes are subtle and hard to see, but they will be evident if you look do a mental review back to the time you began.
Over time, you will feel the need to intensify your regimen. This may not happen for several years; don’t be in a rush. Over the last few years I have intensified my practice. Now I sometimes have an hour in the morning, an hour in the early evening and then some more time in the late evening. I even have a practice in the middle of some days. This may seem too intense for some, but the results have been outstanding.
This was a long and slow process of many years. I only got to where I am because I made the choice to intensify my practice and to shut out many frivolous activities. But there was no sense of deprivation from giving up those activities. They just fell away as I found something better, something more real.