Rohit Arya_ 3 blocks to motivation in a spiritual process or sadhana

A spiritual process – called sadhana in Yoga – is a fine thing to have and sufficiently common for people to realize it is not easy. Most sadhana is simple, not easy, and as in all other aspects of life, one loses motivation rapidly. I offer what I think are the 3 prime reasons sadhana suffers and what can be done in integral response .

I had been thinking about the motivation problem elsewhere and have written about it on my blog about Work and Success. Great stuff – view here

http://actpersistintensify.wordpress.com/2012/04/29/rohit-arya-_the-3-leaks-to-motivation/

I was then faced with a challenge. If, as I hold, “All Life is Yoga”, then these leaks or blocks to motivation should not be peculiar to the work sphere alone.  A little thought showed me that I was making the mistake of compartmentalizing  life.. The  leaks hold with as much validity in sadhana perhaps even more so. Yet spiritual processes may have their characteristic issues so a further effort on my part may not be amiss.

Tiredness

Bodhidharma was a South Indian prince who took Buddhism to China. The new monks were full of enthusiasm for the new faith but they simply could not sit long enough to mediate.  Bodhidharma taught them a variation of his martial art tradition, Kalaripayattu, the oldest known martial art in the world and still practiced in India, to condition themselves – and also defend themselves from brigands and villains who thought non-violent monks were a gift from heaven. This became Wu Shu, better known as Kung Fu and most magnificently kept alive in Shaolin. But the core issue remains. Most mediation styles require if not effort, at least endurance, for the benefits and grace to kick in. This is one of the most common reasons people fail in sadhana. They say they have no time but actually they get weary long before any dramatic changes occur internally. I speak feelingly, and from personal experience.

Hatha Yoga in fact was invented and designed to correct postural flaws and lack of stamina, the two major impediments to practising yoga proper which is mediation.   In actual fact the asanas or postures arose in meditation as a response to needs of the students; the current approach is to reverse the process but that is a matter for another time. Most people take about ten minutes merely to settle down into a simulacrum of stillness at the physical level. The mind takes considerably longer. At about the 25 or 30 minute mark, both physical and mental processes tend to slow down but the body, habituated to inertia over lifetimes has an inner mechanism that activates approximately around the 41 minute mark. Up to the 48th minute you are in profound discomfort. If you can tough it out to the 50 minute the body usually relaxes and settles into a deep state of grace and flow, but most people are in such agony and they feel so completely wasted that the posture breaks, the mind screams even more than the joints and you ‘fail’. After a few such disheartening episodes, you lose motivation and decide meditation or sadhana is not for me.

Those who practice pranayama may face this problem even more acutely. So much tiredness is released from the stored up inertia within the muscle memory that you think you are tiring yourself instead of releasing weakness. The body is a vital component of success in spiritual process, contrary to the usual belief, so having an instrument that is capable of rigour and stamina is paramount. Absolute stillness requires absolute fitness! An interesting aspect of mediation is that long practice – I am talking years now, not months and at least half an hour a day – causes the body to recalibrate itself into its ideal weight and fitness levels. Significant and even dramatic healing may occur. This requires a commitment to the long haul however, and people are usually too fatigued to stay the course.

Boredom

Till you get to the grace of the still mind, mediation and spiritual processes seem like the most futile waste of time ever designed by a mocking fiend. Since there is nothing to do, and we are all conditioned to believe that not doing is a moral blemish, meditation feels profoundly unnatural at first and above all it is boring. Yes I know you will find endless paeans to the joy and bliss and high of mediation – they are all by people who got to the other side and have now forgotten how bored out of their skulls they were initially.  Unlike boredom in other domains, boredom in sadhana is particularly difficult as you cannot distract yourself, do something different, or employ any of the tricks that work! Boredom in sadhana is brutal because what you are bored with is yourself. This is not a pleasant or a popular realization and is a dangerous cross roads in the path. People prefer to abandon the path rather than accept they may be mistaken about their splendid uniqueness in the world .

There is only you… that is the harrowing part of this. You have to stay with it, accept it, even forgive it if need be, but you are what you are and until you comprehend that and integrate it there is no way forward. Once done, naturally, infuriatingly, boredom ceases! To stay put however requires that you do not get tired. If you are tired as well as bored, the chances of breaking through to any sort of insight or accomplishment go down drastically. The only real help here is faith, and the example of those who have gone before you. They got past it, so will you, if only you stay the course.

Frustration

Frustration flows from thwarted desire. Mediation is supposed to reduce desires but in many cases it merely hones a keener edge to the desire. You seek virtue, but very often people seek excitement. They want grand and significant experiences, especially if others they know are reporting such things. They want to progress faster than they seem to be accomplishing at present. In sadhana, breakthroughs happen in leaps or jumps… they are not accretions which can be visibly measured, incremental measures of gratifying comparison.  The energy builds up, pools and collects itself and then bursts out, explodes to the next level, including the previous level now transcended. It usually happens at a time that is most inconvenient from a personal perspective also!

The optimal attitude to maintain I have explained in the other blog. I quote parts of it here –   “To work you have the right, but not the fruits thereof” Karmanye vaadika raste, maphaleshu kadachana. Now I do not imagine that Krishna would be against success, his entire life was argument enough against that. Nevertheless this was his prescription for integral action.   It is easy enough to say it teaches optimal functioning. If you are always looking at the fruit, the result, you are distracted from performing skilfully the action which will enable you to achieve that fruit. Yes of course.

The deeper wisdom of this too popular verse conveys is that outcomes cannot be controlled as we would desire.  When I grasped this it caused an internal explosion.  Let me hasten to add I have no patience with fatalism – the Niyati outlook, it is all kismet, in the stars. I believe in and practice Orenda, which is the Huron word for the Sanskrit term Purushartha. It implies, in both traditions,  invoking the power of the human will against the aspect of destiny that is ranged against you. It is the awakening of personal strength to alter what the insistence of prarabdha, activated karma, is trying to dole out to you. The direction of fate need not be your docile path. You can consciously intervene. I am Aghora – we refuse to accept the hand that karma has dealt us, but, and this is vital, the result of our response need not be what we desire. It could be, indeed very often it is, better than that we desired!

Yet and I cannot overstate the case, the leaps, the take-off, they occur unexpectedly and suddenly but only because there has been a steady input of sadhana or spiritual process over  time. The wait is part of the process sometimes as the organism may not be ready for a premature awakening, especially in the Kundalini systems of yoga.  Frustration in such a scenario is therefore avidya, ignorance of the process you have entered into. These supposedly arid periods are of vital significance and import; not to know that is tragic; to grumble about it is futile; to abandon practice is idiocy.

Rohit Arya is an Author, Yogi and Polymath. He has written the first book on Vaastu to be published in the West, {translated into five languages} the first book on tarot to be published in India, co-authored a book on fire sacrifice, and is the creator of The Sacred India Tarot {82 card deck and book}. He has also written A Gathering of Gods. He is the Editor of The Leadership Review, a corporate trainer, as well as an arts critic and cultural commentator. Rohit is also a Lineage Master in the Eight Spiritual Breaths system of Yoga

Rohit Arya _ Sacred India Tarot first workshop

The workshop was held on April 21 2012 at The World Trade Centre in Mumbai at the Sunflower hall on the 30th floor. Yogi Impressions are the publishers of the Sacred India Tarot. This is my first attempt at a photo essay type blog

Just before the workshop began, posing with some of the prints from the Sacred India Tarot deck

You can see the Ace Lotuses{cups} the meditating five faced Shiva, and the two bonus grace cards provided in the deck Ganapati and Mahaavatar Babaji

all set

I have never stood next to a poster which was displaying my work before! It is  a great feeling…

My publisher – and great friend – Gautam Sachdeva. He is an author of spiritual books too! This was the poster outside the session room

The camera was acting up so I froze up a bit but still we got a really great shot.

The Wild Card – the Zero card of the Major Arcana… here Rudra Shiva

The Empress – Mahalaxmi

A long shot of the audience during the session – this is the Emperor

The tremendous power that is known as Mahakali. These magnificent illustrations are by an English lady called Jane Ada

The Masculine aspect of the World Card in the Sacred India Tarot is the Ananda Tandava Murthi, the Bliss Dancer better known as Shiva Nataraja. Both Death and World cards are depicted with a Masculine and Feminine aspect, and with two bonus cards they make up a total of 82 cards in the deck!

The Feminine aspect of the World, the Mahashakti. I look suitably eerie and Tantrik here!

After the session with my Guru, Santos Sachdeva, author of the unbelievably awesome Kundalini Trilogy books on meditation. The hat is my trademark!

Iti .. i.e. Finis!

Rohit Arya is an Author, Yogi and Polymath. He has written the first book on Vaastu to be published in the West, {translated into five languages} the first book on tarot to be published in India, co-authored a book on fire sacrifice, and is the creator of The Sacred India Tarot {82 card deck and book}. He has also written A Gathering of Gods. He is the Editor of The Leadership Review, a corporate trainer, as well as an arts critic and cultural commentator. Rohit is also a Lineage Master in the Eight Spiritual Breaths system of Yoga

Rohit Arya _ Shiva, the Bliss Dancer

Dance is an exuberant leap of life towards its source.Just as a tree bursts out of its nourishing soil to seek the sun, so too does the dancer seek out the creative source.

This need not be a conscious process.

It need not be a decision, a desire, a demand, or a destination.

It just needs to be dance.

The child sways to music long before it can talk. Or walk.

The soul never forgets how to dance, though minds and bodies may be ashamed of it.

To dance is to affirm life.

Which means that to dance is to risk.

Risk is not popular; systems that eliminate it are.

With dance you risk – ridicule, unwelcome self-awareness.

But also at risk is stagnant thought and depressing plainness.

When dancing, no one is ordinary.

A system of dance should not be confused with dance and dancing.

“We cannot dance”, means we don’t know a system.

So long as we can move, we can dance.

If this means something to observers, fine. If it means nothing, even better.

Does it mean something to you, something beyond the hotch-potch of clichés and assumptions and social conditioning of what dance is and what it should do?

Don’t enter a state of hot air about “Transcendental experience” and ” Being one with the universe”. A dancer has no time to think and feel such things – dancers are too busy dancing. Dance is not a vehicle for personal expression; dance is about your personality interacting with the world. Hence the importance of dance in cultures across the world, its primacy in ritual and magic.

Movement has its own language which language is usually inadequate to clearly express.

Dance with wit, with idiosycracy, with crankiness even.

Don’t dance in other people’s minds.

Not even in your own mind.

If the body is true, the mind and soul follow. So does the world.

For the world, Jagat comes from Ja – that which is born and Gat – movement.

Jagat is that which is born out of movement.

Dance is movement at its best and its purest – at its worst and ugliest – hence dance expresses the world peculiarly well.

Hindu mythology captued the essence of this insight most magnificently in the Ananda Tandava Murthi better known as the Nataraja, king of dance. But Ananda Tandava means the ‘Bliss Dance’ and Shiva is therefore The Bliss Dancer. The Lord of the World, Vishvanatha  Shiva is also the all-pervading consciousness. The World is thus the Dance of Bliss which is Shiva.

“Dancing gods must come” said Nietzche, unconsciously echoing the Nataraja who is also Nrityashila – habituated to dance. For Shiva like all dancers, not only expresses the personal view of the world but embodies it in the physical form.

Another great form of movement,  the martial arts, shares these insights with dance.

Without humility, there is no pride.

Without ignorance, there is no learning.

Without fear, there is no courage.

To dance is not just about art or craft or skill or dedication and achievement.

It is about the appetite to dare, to be exuberant, and to be yourself.

To dance is to make this moment, now, worth living.

Rohit Arya is an Author, Yogi and Polymath. He has written the first book on Vaastu to be published in the West, {translated into five languages} the first book on tarot to be published in India, co-authored a book on fire sacrifice, and is the creator of The Sacred India Tarot {82 card deck and book}. He has also written A Gathering of Gods. He is the Editor of The Leadership Review, a corporate trainer, as well as an arts critic and cultural commentator. Rohit is also a Lineage Master in the Eight Spiritual Breaths system of Yoga