Finding and following a routine is the secret to success. Let’s talk about worship, introspection, affirmation and scriptural study.

By Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami 

 A number of years ago, during a seminar with a group of Hindu university students, I asked the question, “What is the goal of Hinduism?” They answered,“To realize the Self.” This, of course, is the correct answer. I then asked, “How much progress did you make yesterday toward that goal?” The group grew silent. This lofty attainment, which takes many lifetimes, hardly relates to most people’s daily life. Clearly, a more reachable goal is also needed. A good immediate goal is to achieve steady spiritual progress in each lifetime.  

Spiritual progress relates to the ever-deepening experiences of our soul nature, known in Sanskrit as the atma. The first experience of the atma is as a consciousness that is content, kindly, creative and intuitive. A deeper experience is awakening compassion and divine love for all beings. Still deeper is seeing a brilliant inner light and the possibility of visions of Deities and rishis. And the deepest experience of the atma is to find ourself immersed in endless inner space, pure awareness—and ultimately realize the Self, the transcendent source of that awareness.

A comparison of Hinduism to Hindu classical dance, such as the Bharatanatyam style, provides a helpful way of understanding how to achieve spiritual progress. In this tradition, the goal is to hold your first public performance, called arangetram. What is needed to accomplish this? The answer is universally understood: practice! It can’t be done simply through reading books, attending the dance concerts of others or participating in a weekly dance class. In fact, students typically undergo rigorous training in dance techniques, repertoire, music and expression, combined with dedicated daily practice, for up to ten years or more before they are deemed ready to perform their arangetram.

In Hinduism, dedicated repetition of spiritual disciplines over an extended period is called abhyasa. One who performs abhyasa is an abhyasi. It’s not about sporadic efforts but sustained commitment, acknowledging that spiritual growth occurs incrementally, with each session, each meditation, each mantra contributing to one’s progress.

In his Yoga Sutras, Sage Patanjali states that progress in yoga is achieved through abhyasa, emphasizing that such repetitive practice must be cultivated uninterruptedly and with devotion for a long time. Clearly this is parallel to the efforts needed to achieve an arangetram. Both require consistent daily practice over a long period—dance taking many years and Self Realization taking many lifetimes.

For Hindus wanting to adopt a daily practice, unless your family is following a strict tradition it is hard to know where to start. To provide guidance at the beginning, I have developed a ten-minute daily spiritual exercise that can be performed whenever time is available and does not require initiation. It includes four areas of yoga disciplines and daily practice, or sadhana. I suggest it be taken up around age fifteen, which is the traditional age that Hindu youth commit themselves to some form of daily spiritual routine. At that age a young person is mature enough to sustain the practice and not give it up after a few months. I also suggest that after all schooling is complete, the routine be increased to half an hour. We have named this ten-minute daily routine “Spiritual Workout.” The concept of physical workouts is widespread in our modern world. An effective routine includes different types of exercises and must be done regularly to maximize the benefits. The same principles apply to one’s spiritual workout. 

The monks have designed an app that includes all of the above. It is available from both the Apple’s App Store and Google Play. “Spiritual Workout” is also available at: The app’s description gives this overview: “While today nearly everyone appreciates the need for daily exercise to stay fit and healthy, many don’t realize the need to maintain a balanced spiritual life through daily practices. The ‘Spiritual Workout’ is designed primarily for Hindus who would like to maintain a daily spiritual practice, but who might not have much time to give to spiritual well-being. The app has four main areas: worship, introspection, affirmation and study. Together they provide a well-rounded set of Hindu practices that can readily be performed daily.” 


The purpose of a devotional routine is to deepen our connection to the Deity. The first practice given in the app, lasting two minutes, is to verbally or mentally chant the mantra Aum Gam Ganapataye Namah nine or more times, ideally while offering grains of rice to a Ganesha murti or picture with each repetition. 


The purpose of the introspection routine is to calm the mind and raise our energies into the refined, spiritual part of the mind, moving awareness into the higher chakras. The practice, lasting two minutes, is to chant the mantra Aum nine times with eyes closed. Breathing exercises are included.


The purpose of the affirmation routine is to help us become more positive and self-confident, making us more successful in everything we do. The initial practice, done for one minute, is to repeat nine times the affirmation “I’m all right, right now.”


The purpose of the study routine is to increase knowledge of our faith and catalyze insights into Hindu philosophy and practices. The initial practice, lasting five minutes, is to read a sacred Hindu text that awakens new understanding and insight.

For those wanting more advanced disciplines, the “Spiritual Workout” app gives a number of options. In the worship section, the advanced option is learning a full home puja to Lord Ganesha. The app includes recorded chants for each of the puja’s sections to help in learning the correct pronunciation. For the introspection section, a basic pranayama is given. Ten-minute guided meditations on inner light, inner sound and inner self are the advanced practices. 

Individuals taking up a daily practice can expect some challenges. My guru, Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, spoke of the challenges that one faces in establishing a daily practice. “When you first begin your daily sadhana, it is likely to begin in an awkward way, and you may come to know yourself in a way that you don’t want to know yourself. Don’t be discouraged when the mind runs wild as you sit quietly and are unable to control it. Don’t be discouraged if you find that you are unable to even choose a time to sit quietly for one half hour on a regular daily basis. If you persist, soon all this will be overcome and a firmness of mind will be felt, for it is through the regular practice of sadhana that the mind becomes firm and the intellect pure. It is through the regular practice of concentration that awareness detaches itself from the external mind and hovers within, internalizing the knowledge of the physical body, the breath and the emotions. Concentration of the forces of the body, mind and emotions brings us automatically into meditation, dhyana, and into deeper internalized awareness.…Sadhana harnesses and transmutes the instinctive-intellectual nature, allowing progressive spiritual unfoldment into the superconscious realizations and innate abilities of the soul.”

Ten minutes a day is a good start, but this ideally is increased in the same way that 5,000 steps might be a good start for a daily walking routine in which the eventual goal is 10,000 steps. Having matured in the ten-minute Spiritual Workout, a jump to half an hour is suggested for young adults who have finished their education. And that can be further lengthened, such as to an hour, for those who consider spiritual progress a high priority. Retirement is an excellent time to significantly increase one’s daily spiritual routine. My advice for the retirement years is to double the amount of time you spent earlier. In fact, I know retired individuals who devote two hours a day or more to their daily practice—qualifying themselves as true abhyasis.