Our habitual rhythms, choices and patterns of routine have a strong impact on our lives. In fact, in many ways it is these things that define us. There are all kinds of studies that show it take at least 30-40 days to make or break a habit, to strongly promote personal change. Last week I embarked on a new 40 day mission of my own and I will spend this next 5 weeks working to both refine an old habit and introduce a new one.
In yoga this process is called a Sadhana. The word Sadhana in Sanskrit means to accomplish. As a system, it is when one dedicates themselves to a daily practice (of yoga asana or meditation… or hopefully both) and commits time to themselves to turn inward, to reconnect and align with the deepest self, to the heart, to our truths. Master Yogi Bhajan says “Sadhana is a personal process in which you bring out your best.”
At the heart of a Sadhana is a deep commitment to oneself. Self dedication to consistent practice to provide time and space to establishing new patterns, to train the subconscious to release habits that don’t serve us and therefore make room for more things that do. To succeed at any challenge like this we have to harness the will to choose ourselves, to be our own cheerleaders when the challenge gets tough and to let go of all of our old excuses of giving up. To succeed we must have a small measure of self love.
It all begins with making an intention… figuring out what is it you want to do? To change? To give up or release? Or maybe it’s something instead you are looking to cultivate. This doesn’t have to be the intention of a saint… It can be as simple as I want to quit smoking, I want to stop complaining about work because I know it drains my energy, I want to eat healthier food, have more exercise in my routine, or I simply want to find more peace in my life, more joy, more love. It is important to give ourselves space to recognize the things we want to change and to consider the steps we may need to take to get there… This doesn’t happen over night and it won’t necessarily happen after committing to 40 days of making a new habit… But in planting these so called seeds we can expect to see new things, good things, starting to grow.
My person Sadhana right now is based on refinement, and more specifically on moderation, but I’ll talk about that more later… In making intensions for ourselves through our yoga practices (as well as in our day to day lives) it can takes a courageous amount of honesty to be able to identify the things that aren’t working… what are all the elements to the equation? and what are the things that we have to take responsibility for to see change? Yoga is pretty awesome for this. When you spend solid quiet time with yourself like you do on the mat the body, mind and the heart all begin talking to you. Sometimes we don’t want to listen… Sometimes we aren’t ready for what we hear or for the change that may need to come and that’s okay too. But once we decide that we do want to see change in our lives we have to spend some time to honestly decide what the heck the steps might me to see that through.
In truth I have only completed one challenge like this before in terms of a dedicated yoga practice. Based on the model of kundalini yoga you must commit truly and completely to your Sadhana, since the only person you are really committing to is yourself. It took me 67 days to complete my last 40 day Sadhana. I followed the conditions of the traditional kundalini way and when I fell off my practice I had to start from the beginning again. I used that Sadhana and that time to focus on releasing, to find the strength to let go and to learn how to stop trying to control everything in my life. It was a time peppered with financial struggle, career uncertainty and personal loneliness. I used my Sadhana that time to learn how to just be, to let life be sad when it was sad, but to realize that, like all phases and experiences, this too was not definite or permanent. I used my time on the mat to remember that the struggles we go through are a large part of life and that learning to ride the waves without needing to ultimately control them would allow my heart a bit of much needed rest. Sometimes there isn’t anything we can do to make it better, sometimes we just have to learn to accept.. To be with ourselves.
I have chosen to take on this new Sadhana because I know that for me life will be a constant series of learning, refining and practicing moderation. I know I have a lot to learn in terms of how these disciplines may really serve my life. And though I will have much more to say on that topic… for now I will used the lessons of my last Sadhana to enhance the experience of my current on. I’m going to let the process unfold and see how the seeds of change may begin to grow.
Stay tuned 🙂