Understanding the meaning of Sanskrit words and knowing the context in which to use them can be helpful. The word “Sadhana” is widely used in modern-day teachings of yoga and meditation and can be found in spiritual Hindu and Buddhist teachings as well.
But what does Sadhana mean in the context of meditation? And what is the difference between those two when both seem very similar at first glance?
Sadhana is a daily spiritual practice or lifestyle that involves meditation but extends much further. Sadhana refers to how you live your life as a whole, whereas meditation is an activity you do for a specific time.
Therefore, sitting down to meditate once a day is not Sadhana but could be a part of it. In this article, we’ll discuss further what Sadhana is, and the role meditation plays in it.
What is Sadhana?
Sadhana is a Sanskrit word that means a “methodical discipline to attain desired knowledge or goal,” or “go straight to a goal.” However, the easiest way to describe it is a daily spiritual practice. Sadhana is an ancient Hindu and Buddhist Tantrism practice, but it can include disciplines from any culture. Because of this, Sadhana serves as a powerful journey of self-discovery and spiritual growth in the 21st century.
The practice of Sadhana is not just a daily routine or ritual that you do to nurture your mind and body, but rather the way you spend your day and how you act in every area of your life. Moreover, it is about detaching from your ego to live with unconditional love and compassion for all beings and thus, experience liberation. As Sadhguru says, everything can be Sadhana, from the words you speak to the food you eat to the posture you hold.
Sadhana in Meditation
Although they are two different things, Meditation and Sadhana share some similarities. Both Sadhana and Meditation are about living in the present moment with awareness of yourself. However, when we do this as Sadhana, our intention is to be mindful at all times, not just for 20 minutes.
In Tantra teachings, meditation is said to be one of the four stages of Sadhana. The first stage is Murti Seva (idol worship), the second is Japa and Stuti (chanting), the third is Dhyana Dharana (meditation), and the fourth is Brahma Sadhana (self-realization).
Sadhana in Yoga
Modern-day yoga classes focus heavily on the physical movement and the alignment of each posture (asana). However, yoga is about much more than how your body feels while holding these shapes.
Sadhana and yoga share close similarities as they are both methodical disciplines. You presumably know that yoga is good for your body and mind, but you need to commit to a daily practice to reap these benefits. Thus, by disciplining yourself to do your yoga practice, you will see yoga as an integral ritual that nourishes you, just like a Sadhana practice.
Sadhana in daily life
The purpose of Sadhana is to attain detachment from material things. One way to achieve this is to perform selfless service without expecting acknowledgment or reward. Spiritual guru Deepak Chokra says that Sadhana is about breaking free from the ego. Therefore, when we live our Sadhana, we are not doing good things expecting anything in return, but purely out of love and compassion.
How to start a Sadhana practice?
The best way to start a Sadhana practice is by incorporating spiritual activities into your day.
- Starting your day with yoga will help you slow the thoughts in your mind so you can connect to yourself on a deeper level.
- Meditation and prayer can help you find a connection with the divine.
- Mindfulness practices can prompt you to observe your thoughts and emotions and detach from them, reducing the ego’s control.
Sitting in stillness and silence every day is essential for your spiritual and personal growth journey. As you become aware of how you feel and what you are experiencing through your senses, you will become more present, allowing you to act with awareness and make conscious choices.
Other ways to build a Sadhana practice include eating a clean, nutritious diet that does not involve the suffering of any animal and avoiding toxins like tobacco and alcohol. Finally, you can practice selfless service (Seva in Sanskrit) by doing random acts of kindness for others without expecting to receive anything in return.
Is meditating multiple times a day beneficial?
If meditation is part of your Sadhana, you may wonder if meditating more frequently will help you build a better Sadhana practice. This is not the case as your Sadhana involves every part of life, both internal and external, so there is no need to focus solely on one aspect like meditation.
Therefore, having a Sadhana practice does not mean that you have to fill your day only with meditation, yoga, and other spiritual exercises. On the contrary, as long as you are doing these things with the attention to advance in your spiritual journey, everything you do in life, including your work, will start to reflect your Sadhana.
However, that’s not to say that meditating more often than you are currently doing will not benefit you. There is no set amount of time that you should meditate as it is a personal practice. For some people, once a day is sufficient, whereas for others, meditating two or three times can help them stay more in control of their minds and emotions.
Meditating multiple times per day can be beneficial if you are combining different types of meditation. For example, in the morning, you practice visualization or loving-kindness meditation, during the day – mindfulness, and in the evening – relaxing Yoga Nidra.
There are no known negative associations with meditating multiple times a day, nor can you get addicted to meditation. So if you have the time to meditate more and feel an extra session will benefit you, there is no harm in trying.
That being said, if you are new to meditation, don’t overdo it. Start with one short session a day and slowly build up the duration. After a while, you can consider adding in an additional session to deepen your practice and enhance the benefits further.
Sadhana is a spiritual practice or discipline that someone commits to following in all aspects of their life. Meditation is just one way to practice Sadhana, as it helps you build self-awareness and break away from the ego. It is believed that by consciously pursuing Samadhi in your daily life, you can attain the state of Samadhi (enlightenment).