(Anmol: I am very happy to present to all of you the very first Guest Post on this blog by the wonderful spiritual blogger and yoga teacher Kara-Leah Grant. Her perspective and insight is refreshing, inspiring, honest and full of wisdom and humor. I am sure you will all greatly enjoy and benefit from her teachings. To read and learn more from Kara-Leah do visit her beautiful blog here: The Yoga Lunchbox.
If you would like to be a guest author on Master of Meditation and Yoga, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org).
Why It Takes Just 11 Minutes a Day to Master Life
By Kara-Leah Grant, The Yoga Lunchbox
Kara-Leah Grant – Namaste Pose Variation
It’s an honour for me to write a guest post for Anmol. I’ve been following his blog for years now and his wealth of freely accessible information has made a huge difference to my life.
In fact, I can say that one of the biggest turning points for me on my yoga journey came last New Year’s Day when I decided to do a forty day sadhana and picked a kriya from Anmol’s website – Sodarshan Chakra Kriya.
It was back to the beginning of the forty days, and after a couple of false starts, I eventually did my forty days in a row 94 days into 2009.
That daily practice shifted my mental and emotional self in an extraordinary way. One of the most remarkable changes in my day to day life as a result of doing that sadhana was that I started to feel relaxed. Truly relaxed. I’d never realised before that sadhana how often I was in flight or fight mode. Literally all the time – I was either fighting against the experience of life in that moment, or I was running away from the experience of life in that moment.
This new sense of calmness was such a relief when it came to being with people – I didn’t feel the need to defend myself, or to push my views and ideas forward anymore. I was able to listen more deeply to people, and in doing so was amazed by what I heard and saw.
It truly was a watershed that launched a Brand New Me.
Best of all, this enormous shift in self only took a commitment of 11 minutes each day.
That’s nothing. It’s like two songs. No matter how busy your day, anyone can get up 11 minutes early to do a sadhana. It proved to me that daily, consistent practice is the most powerful thing we can do along our spiritual practice.
Due to the Internet, we now have access to such a huge wealth of information that as we seek to learn, to know and to grow, many of us tend to become dabblers.
We try this here and that there and a little bit of that over there… always looking for some magical fix, something easy to do that will just make everything hunky dory and a-ok. It’s especially true for those of us working without a teacher. We don’t have that consistent guidance to keep us on track and make sure we don’t just wander off to look at the pretty flowers all the time.
Often, we try something out, and just as it starts to get a little bit hard (usually because it’s starting to work), we switch it up, or walk away.
The beauty of committing to a sadhana is that it blows all this wishy-washiness out of the water and it gives the mind zero opportunity to take advantage of our weakness and talk us out of the very thing that’s going to take us to amazing places.
When we commit to a sadhana we make a decision from the heart that this is what we’re going to do, no matter what. Forty days. Once a day. Eleven minutes. No. Matter. What.
And then we do it.
Prior to doing this sadhana, I had been practicing yoga pretty much daily for a few years. But what I practiced shifted and changed all the time. Some days, I had a lot of internal resistance to even getting on the mat, and it was easy for my mind to talk me out of practicing, or talk me into only practicing a little bit. I was slowly making gains, but the up and down, left and right nature of my practice meant these gains were sporadic.
My practice of Sodarshan Chakra Kriya showed me that daily, consistent, practice of the same thing over and over and over again generates huge benefits. Plus Sodarshan Chakra Kriya is extraordinarily powerful – of that I have no doubt. I saw the change in my ability to witness my thoughts and emotions, and thereby choose my responses to situations. It wasn’t easy – I had to learn to accept myself as a whole person, which meant I had to understand the nature of duality.
And I do.
I get it.
Except in the moments when I forget, and get sucked into the drama of life, and forget. In those moments, I don’t get it at all.
But because I practiced the sadhana every single day, the length of time that I dropped down in the drama and got swept away by my emotions and thought patterns became shorter and shorter. I was almost able to observe the descent, and just that observation gave me the nano-second required to shift away from reacting back into observing. Then I could begin the ascent back into clarity. Instead of reacting to life, I was learning to create life.
A year later, I scarcely recognise the person I have become; yet I always knew this person was who I truly was.
Now I’m Day 9 into ninety days of another sadhana – Ganpati Kriya.
Why ninety days? Well a forty day sadhana allows us to embody new experiences or increased capacities. This was what happened to me last year.
The forty-day sadhana helped me to see how much of my life was being governed by the subconscious, by long buried thoughts and emotions. But a ninety day sadhana works to clear our subconscious and build new habits. This is where I want to go now – I want to dig deeper and get clearer. I’m also leaving it open to consider extending the ninety days – once I get there – to 120 days. A 120 day sadhana helps to realize that awareness in our daily lives.
And who knows? Maybe, just maybe, once I get to 120 days I’ll make the ultimate commitment to continue on to 1000 days. That’s almost three years without missing a single day (or you start again). Practicing a sadhana for 1000 days means we experience self mastery and confirm our consciousness, beyond every change of time, space and circumstance.
Powerful stuff indeed – and available to each and every one of us who dares set aside just 11 minutes a day to work on our selves.
Who doesn’t have 11 minutes spare to work on mastering themselves and mastering life?
Kara-Leah lives in New Zealand where she is grateful every day for the beauty of the world, and the abundance of love in her life. She writes about yoga on her yoga website, The Yoga Lunchbox, and teaches yoga whenever the opportunity arises. Most of all, she strives to live her yoga in every moment.