I'm one week back from India, emerging from immersion in the heart of sound. Our group spent over 100 hours studying and practicing mantra, nada yoga, Tantric philosophy, asana, Hindustani classical music, and more, each day soaked in sacred vibration.
Am I a more spiritual being?
I feel more awake, more alive, more aware, but how can I be "more spiritual," especially when I admit to my cravings of the past weeks?
- I want to take a warm shower and wash my hair.
- I want to wear a sports bra – as a top – with no regard for modesty.
- I want a pedicure for my dirty, tired feet.
- I want to drive my car.
- I want bacon and eggs.
Every day during this course, our group rose before dawn to meet on the ghat – the wide steps that lead right down into the holy river Ganga – for silent japa meditation. I held my mala. I watched the lightening sky reflected in the water. Sometimes I felt peace; sometimes I felt restless. Twice I cried: once out of pure joy and once because I felt overwhelmed. Not sad, not frustrated exactly, but overwhelmed with the enormity of this journey, both physical and subtle.
Some days I felt a ringing freedom, a rush of exhilaration that lasted the entire time I sat on the chilly concrete steps. It was like flying a kite in an open field on a perfectly breezy day – effortless, soaring, giddy magic. On other days it felt like trying to fly a kite on a crowded street with no wind at all. I just couldn't seem to get going, and things kept getting in the way.
Aum Namah Sivaya. Hey, cool bird. Aum Namah Sivaya. I'm hungry. Aum Namah Sivaya. My butt is cold. Aum Namah Sivaya. What is that smell? I wonder what's for breakfast. Aum...
Like I couldn't get up enough momentum to leave the ground much less soar, hampered by my busy thoughts. My mind threw up obstacle after obstacle, and I didn't feel any flow. I'd check my mala for progress... and groan inside.
But still, I was out there, morning after morning, seated in meditation... or whatever. Doing the thing, or at least trying to do the thing as best I could.
This was and is my morning sadhana, my daily practice. It is not a singular great effort; rather, it is a thousand thousands of tiny drops that eventually fill the bucket to overflowing. Which drop matters more? The perfect, easy flowing drops? Or the hard-squeezed, reluctant drops?
Every drop counts.
I think of my sadhana as brushing my spiritual teeth. Not glamorous. Not cover photo worthy, although there are loads of magazines dedicated to "the right meditation for you," "finding your perfect practice," "top tips for beginning meditators," et cetera.
Here are my tips:
- It will suck sometimes. Do it anyway.
- It will be awesome sometimes. Enjoy.
- Your mind wandering is a sign that you are indeed a human being with a functioning brain. Keep going.
- Keep going.
- Keep going.
It's called a practice, not a perfect. Keep going.
This is tapasya, the burning of spiritual fire. Fire burns. Fire destroys. This is a good thing, because ultimately, fire cleanses. You will be uncomfortable. You will sweat and protest. Do it anyway. You will make excuses. You will want to give up. Keep going, because sometimes you will have a really, really good time.
Tiny stitches, one by one, create a beautiful tapestry. Follow the thread. Pick it up when you drop it. (And you will drop it. It's okay. Really.)
Know in your bones that success is inevitable when you dedicate your whole heart to yourself. And just. Keep. Going.
I am not "more spiritual" now than I was before – I cannot be – because I have always been wholly spiritual, as have you.
Through regular practice, I am discovering my own kind of everyday divinity: a little more connected each day to the deep, quiet spirituality inherent in all beings.
I invite you to join me. Let's practice together. I'll write here, and I hope you'll write back when you feel so moved. Put your email in the box below for sweet updates so we can keep the fire going.