"Actually," he replied, "I figured it was Prozac."
Ha! This was the joking response of a guy I do some work with when I asked him, "How do you think I stay pretty much happy almost all the time?"
He was adding up the total hours in a year that he figures I spend on my morning sadhana (spiritual practice/yoga practice). "That's like over 400 hours a year!"
Yup. But it's not a chore. It's love. Sure, there are teachers who've told us we should make it all seriousness and rigor. That we should commit to devoting a certain percentage of our life to spiritual practice.
Wikipedia--a resource I use only very carefully and with a critical eye--has a fairly good definition of the traditional translation of Sadhana:
The term "sādhanā" means spiritual exertion towards an intended goal. A person undertaking such a practice is known as a sadhu or a sadhaka. The goal of sādhanā is to attain some level of spiritual realization, which can be either enlightenment, pure love of God (prema), liberation (moksha) from the cycle of birth and death (Samsara), or a particular goal such as the blessings of a deity as in the Bhakti traditions.
Sādhanā can involve meditation, chanting of mantra (sometimes with the help of a japa mala), puja to a deity, yajna, and in very rare cases mortification of the flesh or tantric practices such as performing one's particular sādhanā within a cremation ground.
Anthony de Mello, an Indian orphan who became a Jesuit priest and founder of the Sadhana Institute in Pune, India, wrote a book of Christian meditations with the title Sadhana: A way to God.
Traditionally in some Hindu and Buddhist traditions in order to embark on a specific path of sādhanā, firstly a guru may be required to give the necessary instructions. This approach is typified by some Tantric traditions, in which initiation by a guru is sometimes identified as a specific stage of sādhanā. On the other hand, individual renunciates may develop their own spiritual practice without participating in organized groups.
IT'S ALL ABOUT LOVE
I get all that. I respect all that. But my daily Sadhana is just about love. That's it. It's about me taking some time to love myself so I can continue to try to be of service to the world.
It's not about restriction. It's no about saying 'no'. It's about honoring the deepest part of me that asks to be let free.
It's the best damn way I've found--and I've looked a lot--to help make the world a better place. Because all change starts within.
It makes me happy.
And, lo and behold, those 'prove it through the scientific method or bust' scientists have discovered a regular spiritual practice has a whole lotta benefits!
The latest issue of Chatelaine magazine featured this little ditty:
For centuries, yogis have believed that the route to inner peace begins on the yoga mat--and now science backs them up. Boston University researchers investigated the effects of Iyengar yoga...on the brain and found that three 60-minute classes per week can help treat depression. The study, which used MRI scans, is the first to show that yoga spikes the brain's production of gamma-amino butyric acid, a natural antidepressent linked to better moods and less anxiety.
The April issue of Oprah mag included this:
We know Tai Chi has all sorts of benefits, and here's one more: In research conducted at UCLA, 61 older adults took tai chi classes three times a week, while 61 others attended health education classes. At the end of four months both groups received a dose of the shingles vaccine--and the tai chi group achieved twice the level of immunity. "It's likely the meditation component that is causing the effect," says study author Michael R. Irwin. "Which means it's possible other forms of meditative exercise, like yoga, would lead to a similar boost."
Hurray! They're finally catching up.