Daily spiritual practice or ‘sadhana’

Published: 5/23/2016 5:31:02 PM

Before I studied world religions for two years in interfaith seminary, I hadn’t really spent any time contemplating exactly what a spiritual practice is, nor what its purpose may be. But very early on in our program, our spiritual mentor advised us that a daily spiritual practice was the most important element of any seminary program.

So what exactly is a daily spiritual practice? This is where I love interfaith. It’s different for everyone.

For me, a committed, joyful and diligent spiritual practice creates the space to cultivate an inner equanimity and resilience – something akin to how the keel of a boat helps her right herself, after she leans over in the wind. We can’t control the wind, but we can set our sails, harness the power of the wind, and enjoy the ride.

Committing to a regular spiritual practice provides enormous health benefits on all levels – emotional, mental, physical and spiritual. A practice not only helps us to experience our inner joy and peace, but our inner resilience is strengthened and refined, which serves us well as we sail through both smooth and rough waters, and leads us to equanimity.

My own personal practice is about 30 minutes long and is as follows:

1) stating a gratitude intention for my practice – “Thank you for the courage to claim my spirituality in the world.”

2) a breath meditation – three minutes of a Sikh breathing practice to cultivate courage

3) ancient prayers chanted in the language in which they were written – the Lord’s Prayer in Aramaic and Psalm 23 in Hebrew

4) a mantra meditation – I chant along with Snatam Kaur’s rendition of “Gobinday Mukanday,” which is from her album Prem that can be found at /www.spiritvoyage.com/

5) a traditional mindfulness meditation or centering prayer for 20 minutes

6) then restating my intention.

When I met with my spiritual teacher to discuss the composition of my daily spiritual practice (also called a “sadhana’) she sang a few chants as suggestions for my practice. When she got to “Gobinday Mukanday,” tears came to my eyes. It resonated with me so deeply, I felt as though my soul was being tuned like a musical instrument.

I later learned more about Snatam Kaur. An American singer, peace activist and author raised in the Sikh and Kundalini Yoga tradition; she happens to live in the Monadnock region. Snatam received even more international acclaim when it became known that her music was a favorite of Oprah Winfrey.

Over time, I have also learned that my sadhana allows me to connect with my own inner divinity and guidance. Through studying the ancient, Hindu sacred text The Bhagavad Gita, we learned to observe our “humanity” – the story of our very human lives – from our “divinity” – a kind of benevolent, compassionate, and empathetic observing awareness that exists within each one of us. My spiritual practice cultivates this “witness consciousness” or observing awareness, which, in essence, helps to minimize suffering.

I invite you to learn more about the benefits of establishing your own regular spiritual practice.


Rev. Camilla Sanderson lives in Temple and is presently practicing creative nonfiction writing in a low-residency MFA program at Vermont College of Fine Arts. She is the author of “The Mini Book of Mindfulness.”

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