How to Perceive the Meaning of Life?
Life is just not about living so as to survive. In fact, life is about perceiving its meaning in the real sense all the way while experiencing it. Now the question arises how one can start perceiving or reflecting on the real meaning of life. It is through constant Sadhana i.e. disciplined and dedicated spiritual practice that one can get to know what is important and what is trivial in our day to day activities.
Different Ways of Sadhana Practice
Religious Connection –
Being spiritual is different from being religious. However, one might relate to having a spiritual connection with the Lord, the one who is omniscient. The most well known religious Sadhana is a mantra meditation that requires immense level of concentration and mind control.
Spiritual Connection – Many people find connecting with nature as a spiritual experience; it makes them feel more in tune with life, and with themselves. The Sadhana helps our ‘ego self’, which is small, limited and detached from the worldly matters, to get allied with the ‘Supreme Self’ which is infinite, unlimited and attached to entirety.
Yogic Connection – Surya Namaskara also called Sun Salutation is a type of yogic asana that is linked to Sadhana. Other yogic kriyas that include meditation, pranayama, asana, mudra, etc. are also various forms of Sadhana.
Environmental, Musical and Scriptural Connections – Broadly speaking, spirituality is more like connecting one’s mind and spirit to something which is virtuous and full of goodness. Now this could be anything like listening to music, engrossed in nature, reading scriptures or performing any virtuous activity that stimulates one’s inner calling like painting, dancing, etc.
Sadhana for Oneself and for Others
It is not always that a Sadhana is performed for attaining moksha (salvation) or spiritual enlightenment. A Sadhana can also be performed for attaining worldly pleasures. Various Sadhanas are as follows –
- Sakam Sadhana – Sakam Sadhana is not directed towards spiritual progress but it is more performed for the attainment of gross and materialistic pleasures. For instance, Ravana and Kumbhakarna were ardent devotees of Lord Shiva. They performed various tapas (meditation) and Lord Shiva ultimately showered his blessings upon them. However, the demon King Ravana and his brother performed this type of Sadhana for attaining power to reign over the whole world.
- Niskam Sadhana – Niskam Sadhana is performed for attaining higher aims in life. It strives towards the attainment of moksha (salvation) and frees one from the cycle of life and death. There are two types of Niskam Sadhana. These are Vyasti Sadhana and Samasti Sadhana.
- Vyasti Sadhana – It is performed for one’s own spiritual upliftment. None else but the person performing this Sadhana benefits from it as it is an individualistic practice.
Examples of Vyasti Sadhana are naamjap (chanting Lord’s name), Karmayoga, Hathayoga, meditation, reading spiritual books, etc. Vyasti Sadhana is extremely beneficial in one’s spiritual progress. It gives one the lower level of spiritual experiences i.e. anubhuti. It simultaneously boosts various virtues in the practitioner, including bhaava (faith), talmal (God’s desire), satvikta and spiritual progress.
It should be remembered that if not done under the vigilance of a guru, it can affect one adversely and result in unnecessary rise in ego, low motivation and lack of spiritual progress, etc.
- Samasti Sadhana – It is performed collectively for stimulating the spiritual progress of not only oneself but of the entire humanity. This form of Sadhana is the highest and most difficult of all Sadhanas.
If performed accurately Samasti Sadhana gives superior level of spiritual experiences i.e. anubhutis and increases one’s love for others on this planet. It transforms one’s mental wavelength from saguna to nirguna. It boosts the same virtues as accelerated by Vyasti Sadhana but collectively in this case so as to benefit a group of people. Examples of Samasti Sadhana are meditation camps, satsangs or any other form of spiritual discourse organised with the aim of disseminating spirituality and enlightenment.
One mistake in performing Samasti Sadhana could result in cascading affect on many and ultimately this could add to the karmas of the performer as part of his sins. Hence, the guidance of a guru is extremely essential for the recital of Samasti Sadhana otherwise it might bear adverse results like unnecessary rise in ego and false attitude.
It should be noted that both the above Sadhanas are interconnected. If one needs to perform Samasti Sadhana, he has to first perform Vyasti Sadhana without which the visualization for Samasti Sadhana cannot be achieved. This is because of the fact that an individual should first enlighten himself spiritually through Vyasti Sadhana so that he can enlighten others by performing Samasti Sadhana.
- Tantric Sadhana – Tantric rituals are mainly known as Sadhanas. Some of the most well known Sadhanas that make a performer invincible and free from worldly desires are –
- Sava Sadhana – Performed by sitting on the corpse
- Panca Munda Sadhana – Performed by sitting on five skulls
- Smasana Sadhana – Performed on a cremation ground
Sadhana Practice in Short Sessions for Better Focus
It is a general belief that a Sadhana has to be for forty days. This is a myth because what matters is not the amount of time but rather the quality of time which you spent while concentrating or executing Sadhana. However, ancient scriptures justify the forty-day time period saying this helps ingraining the new discipline more methodically into one’s life.
How difficult is it to inculcate the practice of Sadhana in daily life?
It should be noted that your mind and ego could play major hindrances while you are trying hard to inculcate the practice of Sadhana in your daily life. Any kind of mental inertia (inability to accept fresh changes) can give rise to several excuses that can prevent you from practicing Sadhana as part of daily regimentation. It thus simply depends on your determination and how much do you want to understand the meaning of life so that mundane things do not affect you from achieving your goals in life.
Small Effort to Change Our Life for Good
Today, we thrive in an era where our material life is moving at a very fast pace where time literally flies. Unfortunately, on the other hand, our spiritual progress is getting stagnant. On the face of it, just a little effort and Sadhana can take us one step ahead on the path of grasping the meaning of life.
Initially, one needs to take out as little as 10 minutes from everyday life to practice Sadhana. And as the famous saying goes ‘we reap as we sow’, this small effort starts showing results eventually when we start realising the in depth meaning of life that prompts us to raise ourselves above all trivialities for attaining oneness with the Supreme Reality.
Life Itself is a Sadhana
Many times it happens that we understand the meaning of life and the importance of spiritual practice to attain our goals. However, mental and emotional fluctuations prevent our growth towards divinity. The truth is we all have weaknesses and strengths, but it is about how determined we are to overcome our weaknesses (fluctuations) by improvising on our strengths and focussing on inner growth through Sadhana.
The Core Benefits of Sadhana
There are innumerable people in India and across the world who perform Sadhana and benefit from this spiritual practice. Of course one needs to be patient before the actual positive results start showing. Actually, the first virtue that a consistent Sadhana ingrains upon its practitioner is indeed the art of being patient and persistent in one’s effort.
Following are the results one gets from everyday Sadhana –
- The feeling of being certain, strong, blessed out, calm, centred, loving, joyful, happy and compassionate from one’s inner self.
- Sifting the layer of mind and body from the spirit/soul.
- More open to positive yet tougher changes in life.
- Better understating of the surroundings and natural beauty.
- Stronger acceptance power for those things that earlier used to annoy you.
- Better equilibrium and equanimity in life.
- Rising above the wrong notion that appeasing the people in our surroundings is the prime objective of our life.
- Faster spiritual progress and achieving a state where you become oblivious to your material surroundings.
- Easy understanding of the fact that change is only constant and nothing is going to survive for ever except our spirit/soul. It is the core duty of the soul to get connected to the Supreme Divine Reality.
- Accepting the fact that it is our sole duty to take every step in life that elevates us spiritually, in one or the other way.