Establishing a Daily Practice
“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built.” Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī
The focus and nature of one’s personal path can create dramatic differences in the range, structure and scope of a daily practice: it’s important to construct a series of rituals that make sense to you, complement one another and can be built on easily over time. As the process of self-realization begins to unfold, guiding you inward, you may begin to experience a deep shift in the way you perceive the world and its challenges.
“You have the right to work, but never to the fruit of work. You should never engage in action for the sake of reward, nor should you long for inaction. Perform work in this world, Arjuna, as a man established within himself – without selfish attachments, and alike in success and defeat.” The Bhagavad Gita
Fundamentals of basic daily practice:
- Tracking progression: as transformation is incremental and subtle, a journal is essential to reflect upon your gradual development.
- Consistency and discipline: a daily practice can seem difficult to maintain in contemporary life: the key is to start simply and stick to it. Rather than attempting to begin with an hour of meditation each day and failing, start by aiming to meditate for five minutes at a time and embed it throughout your day.
Sadhana: the Sanskrit word Sadhana means “conscious spiritual practice”. Unlike a fitness routine, deepening your yogic practice involves a dedication to learning and spiritual growth. Thus it should be about more than individual gain: ensure that in each of your actions and rituals you are clear on the intention you are setting out in the world and attend to the relationship that you, as an individual, bear to the collective.
There are many different traditions that can provide a starting point for your own daily practice. Here are two examples from different systems to draw inspiration from, demonstrating the ways in which a practice can be woven into the fabric of everyday life. Knowing where to start can be complex and challenging, but selecting two or three of these individual actions to attend to every day can provide a good basis for developing your daily practice.
Daily Yogic Practice:
- Morning Asana (20-30 min): adopt a morning asana (physical postures or movements) sequence from a chosen school of yoga as a basis to practice each morning.
- Pranayama (5-10 min): cultivating breath control to access the subtler dimensions of prana (life-force) is a central part of yogic practice and has many benefits, including pacifying the nervous system, purification, relaxation and overall well-being. Samavritti Pranayama is a good place to start but consider what your body and mind needs and adjust accordingly.
- Morning Meditation (20 min): there are many methods and aids to meditation, such as focussing on a mantra or observing the breath without judgement. You may use mala beads to help you count mantras. There is no such thing as good or bad meditation: the most important thing is to start and to sit down everyday.
- Sacred Ritual (5-10 min): ending your seated meditation by creating a space to set your intentions for the day ahead and to honour the sense of something greater than yourself is very powerful. Make a loving offering of flowers, food, water or light to honour the divine, or follow a practice of attunement into the qualities represented by the four cardinal directions.
- Tongue Scraping: before brushing your teeth, Ayurvedic medicine suggests one should scrape the tongue to remove toxins and improve digestion.
- Blessing Your Food: Ayurveda teaches that how we eat is as important as what we eat. Take a moment before eating to give thanks and bless your food. You may hold your hands with the palms facing down above your food, bringing your awareness to the pranic connection between the meal and your breath.
- Evening Meditation (20 min): continued meditative practice is best achieved through frequency; it is both important and rewarding to settle the mind with an evening session of meditation.
- Gratitude: cultivate stillness, gratitude, surrender and love – the path of devotional or Bhakti yoga – as the final act of your day. Practice a short heart-opening asana sequence, or chant a devotional mantra, or take a seat with your hands in Anjali Mudra (bring your hands to prayer position at the heart center and lightly press your thumbs into the sternum) and allow gratitude to arise within you.
Daily Magical Practice:
- Open and Close Magical Space: before and after meditation utilise the invocation and banishment rituals of the pentagram and hexagram as described by the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.
- Morning Meditation (20 min): as with other traditions meditation is key – it is the first practice one undertakes, because without concentration of thought, there is no magic.
- Daily Tarot: upon completing meditation, keep the eyes half-closed and draw a single card from the deck to guide your day.
- Offering: at your altar, light a candle and make a simple offering with a cup of water.
- Book of Shadows: make time before taking breakfast to add a few reflective notes to your journal.
- Pause and Contemplation: during the day, take a moment to pause in silence and observe the natural environment around you, whether it’s appreciating the sun or walking in a nearby park or forest. Renounce in your mind the words we have ascribed to the natural world and contemplate anew the environment around you.
- Study: serious dedication to practice requires regular study of a range of subjects. Set aside a small amount of time for your chosen path of learning.
- Prayer: make time at the end of each day to dedicate your energy to the divine, bearing in mind that the communication of love has tremendous power.
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