A Day In My Life Of Sadhana
My alarm goes off most mornings at 3:10am. I place my feet slowly on the ground into the cozy, furry white rug by my bed, ready and usually excited to go to sadhana. This hasn't always been my routine, but something new in the past 3 years.
I find my way through this dark, magical time of night to my bathroom. Lighting a candle, I find my clothes all laid out from the night before to make it an easier morning routine.
Brushing my teeth, scraping my tongue, moisturizing my face, dry-brushing my body, almond oil abyhanga (self massage), nasya oil (nose) and then a cold shower; the typical ayurvedic rituals of the a.m. to help me awaken the energy inwardly, digestively and externally.
Dressing usually in my Kundalini whites, I walk to my dressing area and try not to forget putting on my tantric mala for that powerful Z energy and protection it provides. I feel naked without it. Maybe a little lip balm for all the chanting coming up, too.
Walking over to my dresser, hair pinned up, I find my sparkle cloth to turban my head. Sometimes a more formal turban if I'm not too sleepy but most usually tying it like a casual scarf around my head. We cover the head out of respect and to honor the sacred space of the practice.
Letting my faithful companion, Scooter, out of his bedroom (my office), we walk downstairs. He darts right into his downstairs bed (as if saying, why are we up?) as I mosey into the kitchen to start my hot water.
Lemons cut, squeezed into my travel mug, sometimes with some ayurvedic herbs like brahmi or ashwaghanda, I wait for the water to boil while thumbing through Facebook. I only allow myself to enjoy this time. NO looking at emails or work.
Alarm set, grab my purse & travel mug, sadhana bag already packed and in the car. Makes sadhana easy. That's the key.
As I back out of the garage the starry, mystical sky beckons me. It's so quiet. Sometimes a deer or many deer shadow me along the way. The moon glows from afar, guiding me to my second home, Karma Yoga. A short ride later, playing one mantra or another in my car, I arrive.
Usually there are 2 - 7 of us (or 2,000 when at Summer Solstice) magically driving through the night to gather during this auspicious time. Two and a half hours before the sun rises is the most powerful time for spiritual practice.
Sadhana, simply defined, is the technique of disciplining yourself. It is a practice, particularly when performed during the Amrit Vela, which resets your cycles and patterns to the rhythm of your ultimate aims, your Soul and the heartbeat of the Universe.
It is this time of each day when the "veil" of the ego (limited self) is thinnest and so we can mindfully observe all the negative habits that lead you away from health, physical stamina, wholeness and higher consciousness and neutralize the desires underlying those habits one by one. Sadhana is a conscious activity to access the unlimited potential of your life through relating to and embracing the most mysterious aspects of our deep self - encountering the Knowable UnKnown and the UnKnowable Unknown.
It is during the Amrit Vela, the 2 1/2 hours before sunrise, that prana concentrates and cleansing on all levels is more easily accomplished. Simply being aware,vertical and leaning in the right direction at this time has profound effects as the subconscious, which is usually tucked away and suppressed through tensions in the physical body, is right there on the surface and in our conscious awareness. [From http://www.amritvela.org.]
I get out of my car in the dimly lit parking lot and make my way to Karma's front door. Quietely taking off my shoes in the lobby, I softly step into the candlelit room. Placing down my mat, sheepskin and cushion, I wrap myself in a cozy blanket and prepare for the first shabd (longer mantra); Japji.
Japji is the prayer for the soul; a universal prayer for all. It actually describes the "structure" of creation as we emanate from Infinity. There, Guru Nanak frames the most practical concepts on how to unite with that sacred wholeness. You can listen to it and then eventually you learn to read it and say it out loud. I've found after 3 years, it's now "installed" in me. I actually don't need the book anymore. One day I forgot my book and couldn't believe how it was just coming out of my mouth without thought.
After Japji we do a yoga set from the Kundalini tradition and then prepare for a 62-minute meditation made up of chanting 7 mantras. Many lie down and sleep while others stay up for the whole thing. Anything works! Just get there and you will receive the magical benefits.
It's -14 degrees out, 20 inches of snow, dark until 7am and I'm there. It's 75, the sun rising by 5:30am and I'm there. It's a habit that built over time, not overnight. The soul was called to do this practice. It doesn't feel like a choice; it's just part of my path.
It used to be challenging to convince my mind to get out of bed at 3:10am, but it no longer is. I'm used to it now. Some days I "sleep in" til 4:30 or 5am and then do my sadhana if I'm needing more rest. Some days I have to catch an early plane, so I do a modified version. The key is just do it; I show up for me. For the most part I've switched my "clock" and it doesn't feel odd anymore. It feels SO divine.