by Hari Karam Singh
It was one of the seminal moments of my teacher training that I’ll never forget. I had already been attending a group sadhana for some time. I very much enjoyed the experience, the early morning stillness, the candlelit room saturated with a certain spiritual charm, the communing with other souls in a way that transcended likes, dislikes, age, gender etc, the way the sun had a habit of peaking out in the morning even if it were to be overcast the rest of the day.
But this was the Teacher Training weekend where we were to learn what sadhana really is.
It went like this…
Teacher says, “You think sadhana is getting up and doing this and that and feeling like a big important yogi. That’s not sadhana. Sadhana is like this: Imagine you have a rock and you place it on your bookshelf…”
“Everyday for a 1000 days you get up earlier than you normally would, bathe and dress yourself in a sacred way and then turn the rock a quarter turn. Everyday, same time.”
At first there was a confused silence from the 20 of us on the training. In my own head went something like: “Oh that’s easy enough. what’s the big…” Then the first comment was made and I realised I had missed something vital…
A student: ”Wait, but what about when I go on holiday? Can I bring it with me?”
Teacher: “Nope. 1000 days same bookshelf, same room.”
Another student: “But what about Christmas when I go home to visit my parents?”
Teacher: “Nope, 1000 days the same place. They’ll have to come to you.”
Suddenly everyone began muttering their own version of the conflict it would create.
Then the penny dropped: Sadhana is not another hobby you wedge into your schedule. It’s the focal point that your life schedules around. By doing so you create a habit your soul can rely on, a rock of stability on which you can relax even when your world goes a little topsy turvy.
Then there is group sadhana…
Doing the Aquarian Sadhana in a group is an incredible thing – in my opinion, probably the best tool in our arsenal, along with White Tantric Yoga.
Aquarian Sadhana elevates your mood like nothing else. It kills loneliness and isolation on the spot. It relaxes the attachment to your various identities and the relieves the stress that comes with them. It gives you a palpable feeling of universal connection and love. In a short space of time you can completely change your attitude and perspective on life. Do
that enough times and the new and improved attitude becomes the habit.
Group sadhana is also a regular pit-stop to tune-up your habits – a place to tighten up all
the loose nuts in your psyche. It builds Trust by asking you to shift your focus away from
your own desires towards those of The Group knowing that in the process your needs will
be covered as well. It builds Trustworthiness by instilling the habit of always asking “What is required now?” rather than “What do I want?”.
In these last 11 years of sadhanas, I’ve seen the good, bad and the ugly. When it’s good
there is really nothing like it – that sweetness, that coziness and peace of mind, body and
soul. Here’s a few things I’ve learned to maximise the sacredness of the experience…
Important: Showing up on time, i.e. on your mat 5 mins early and waiting for Japji to begin.
Not important: Another 10 minutes snooze round 😉 Don’t worry, it’s all about the PSN
Important: Creating a space that feels sacred.
Not important: Turning on harsh overhead lights so everyone can read (buy a book light,
or some fairy lights).
Important: Making sure people feel welcome, especially newbies.
Not important: Being really rigid and solemn to show people how devout you are.
Important: Being constantly aware of the group dynamic and how you fit within it.
Not important: Extracting every last morsel of Prana out of the air via exasperated
Important: Ensuring that the first words that leave your lips are sweet.
Not important: Ensuring everyone knows how bad for you cows milk and glutton are. If in doubt, silence is very golden at this time.
Important: Making sure everything and everyone is taken care of before you leave, even if you aren’t in charge.
Not Important: Getting out 10 minutes earlier because it “looks like it’s under control”. If
you need to leave early, no worries, just tell the organiser.
Important: Leaving behind nothing but love.
Not important: Burning your favourite incense in an inappropriate venue or not cleaning
up fully because you think it’s covered in the rent. Remember, you stand for something
bigger than just you and others will be painted with the brush you leave behind.
And when it comes time to lead a sadhana…
Important: Respect people’s time by sticking to time.
Not Important: Doing every last minute of every posture in a 20 posture kriya. Don’t rely
on skipping the mantras!
Important: Choosing a suitable, balanced kriya that gets the heart beating a bit.
Not important: Using group sadhana to do special kriyas/meditations you should be doing
in your own time.
Important: Be as silent as possible. Go inward and experience the kriya too.
Not important: Excessive explanation of the postures and motivational coaching,
especially when it’s all veterans. You lead sadhana, not teach sadhana.
Important: Survey who is in the room and ensure what you have planned is suitable.
Not important: Extra gruelling kriyas when there are first timers in the room. Kriyas with
very little movement when it’s cold and people are restless.
Most important of all: TURN UP! Sleep on your mat if you have to, it’s ok, just come.
Yogi Bhajan said that just turning up gives you 80%. If you manage a little shabd to loosen the grip of the ego, even better. And if you manage to move your body and open up your energy channels, fantastic. And if you manage to stay awake through 22 min of Wahe Guru Simran and fully open your heart centre, the world will suddenly be a wonderful place. Not a single time have I come out of sadhana wishing I had just stayed home!
Hari Karam Singh Khalsa is a technology artist, musician and dedicated yogi. He has been practicing Kundalini Yoga for 12 years and teaching since 2007. He also holds a degree in Physics from Princeton. Download his music , see his work, find him on Facebook, or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.