“Beloved AD, I read the post and understand that sticking to the sadhna and not mixing other practices with existing sadhna is the way. However some confusion.. What u mean exactly is that we should not mix spiritual practices. right? …but what about other activities like sports etc and also sometimes i enjoy doing yoga (asanas). Is chanting omkara is spiritual practice? Please guide. Yours – AC”
It is a relevant question and I am sure this answer will help others as well.
There is difference in spiritual practices and activities-methods adopted in day to day life for well-being and keeping yourself physically active and fit. While some spiritual practices (like tattva Shakti Vigyaan Sadhna & associated personal mantras etc in this case) might have unavoidable pleasant side effects like improved physical strength, enhanced self-healing capacity, upped ability to relate deeply with people around, reduced stress, stable emotional state etc. however these processes are directly aimed at improving the quality and amplitude of vibrational energies (responsible for raising your consciousness) within you. This acts as a vehicle for your consciousness to rise higher and experience those realms which are out of bounds for otherwise lukewarm energy states.
So when i say do not mix-up spiritual practices – it essentially has to do with something which has been told to you to for specific purpose of spiritual ascension and purification. Other things like outdoor games, yogasanas and even guided meditation etc. have not to be mistaken as spiritual practices.
HOW DO I RECOGNIZE SPIRITUAL PRACTICES
Now the question comes how do I recognize whether I am into any spiritual practice. This definitely needs some elaboration for many times people come to take initiation from us while they are still practising something that they learnt from their previous teachers/Guru. Many guidelines have been already provided in our scriptures in this regard so I will not dwell upon this situation much albeit one clear suggestion is that if you already have a teacher, please take his/her permission before you add or subtract something to the given practices… there is much more to it but for now let me briefly tell you how do identify a spiritual practice.
- Practices where you have been given any mantra (except mantras received in your family tradition as you are duty-bound to take them forward).
- The yogic (or breathing) practices (given by teacher of self learnt) where chanting of specific mantras (in those where mantra happens to be pranava or aumkaara it is a borderline case) are incorporated.
- Any true meditation technique (e.g. Breath awareness, vipassana, third-eye, heart, oneness, forgiveness, sahaj, chakra etc.) given to you or self-learnt is a spiritual practice anyway.
- Some religious (or ritualistic) practices running in family tradition that require deity worship or sun worship may also qualify to be called spiritual however for that one will have to tell what the practice is all about.
- Last but not the least – most important and crucial indicator of any spiritual practice (even if it does not include mantras etc.) is that it starts with bowing down to your teacher and conscious connection to Master and lineage.
You may wonder that I have excluded guided meditation from a spiritual practice.. Yes, but this is except for cases where a practitioner is guided by his Guru/teacher. Otherwise it is not.. just like following instructions from a hypnotherapist on a couch is no spiritual practice rather some sort of relaxation exercise.
CAN I CHOOSE MY OWN PRACTICES?
Well, sometimes this too happens but isn’t it like a patient asking “Can I choose my own medicines?”. Of course not! Your teacher/Guru is the in-charge here for he can see more deeper in your psyche than you. He knows how to strike a balance in your body, mind and energies being before you can come in touch with “Self”. In fact there are possibilities of you receiving certain very elementary practices from your teacher as you begin your journey with him. As a teacher he is obliged to monitor your progress and obstacles on regular basis and thus such a teacher would unfailingly introduce desired processed in your regime even without you asking for it. Give him that liberty and try to be an obedient student for a change.
The miserable condition of modern seekers is the result of their teacher’s apathy and lack of monitoring (it is impossible if you happen to initiate thousands of people at a time). Such post-initiation monitoring and guidance is not available in the first place and if it is in cases it doesn’t come from the Guru himself rather some so called senior practitioners! When people feel lack of this element of personal guidance and monitoring from their teachers mostly they are found resorting to ‘self-medic(t)ation’. You should not add such self-chosen practices at all even if your so called ‘intuition’ tells you. Consult your Guru.
In case you wish to add some practices – Do it off the sadhana (meditation) mat. Try to be more aware of your emotions. Practice forgiveness. Develop empathy. Engage in service and charity. Regulate your diet. Spend some time daily in contemplation and compile your thoughts in your personal journal. Monitor your progress objectively. Aren’t these a full-time practices that would help you more?
I am sure you can now review your activities (you are talking about) and shall be able to choose what to add or what to drop. Any hitch?
Blessings from Masters..
– Ach. Agyaatdarshan Anand Nath