For many Yogis, the best time to focus inward is in the early morning, when we engage in Sadhana, a daily spiritual practice. It is the core teaching of Yogi Bhajan, who brought Kundalini Yoga to the west. Sadhana has changed my life beyond my wildest dreams. I did not really “dream,” nor did I “make plans” or consciously ask myself: “what my life should look like?” Professionally, I have always been strongly guided by my values, but personally I lacked vision as to how, where and with whom I wanted to live. In the past, life was something that just kind of happened to me. Fast forward many years, I now live intentionally. To do that I need to focus inward on a regular basis during Sadhana. What are some things we can do in order to focus inward?
Ask yourself how you feel about any given task or situation
How do I feel today? Where in my body do I “feel” an emotion? Does this feel good? Do I feel aligned? Chances are you do not ask yourself these questions. Most of us were never asked how we feel as children, although that was our parents’ job. For example, if you hastily agreed to do a certain thing but now something feels uncomfortable about it. You can rationalize it all you want. We are prone to just ignore our intuition, but we should not. Chances are you said “yes” because you wanted to be polite, you wanted to help, it is “no big deal“…but for whatever reason it does not resonate with you. Allow your feelings to show up, validate them, and let them guide you to say “no”. Investigate your feelings further and get to know your true Self a bit better.
Get a grip on your addictions
We engage in addictions to avoid looking inward. Because that IS scary. Look what happened to me! I had to change my whole life once I started to look inward. I gave up my addictions, as they no longer served my higher Self. Addictive substances help fire up your system when you are exhausted, and they help calm you down if you don’t know how else to regulate yourself. You don’t feel good but don’t want to take a closer look? It is easier to just browse the web and shop for something you don’t need. I’m not very good at relaxing. Most of the time I just keep going. To wind down, a glass of wine (or two or three) did the job just fine. Want to establish a Sadhana practice and get up at 5am to meditate? Forget the drinking. Doing both is not possible. So I got rid of the alcohol by first establishing a promoting habit, Sadhana, and then the demoting one, drinking, gradually became unnecessary. I don’t want to make it sound too easy, it took me years and years, but all the more reason to start looking into your addictions right now.
Spot the distractions and keep them in check
Addictive behaviors become automatic responses to distract you from the world of your problems. You don’t really have a choice whether you engage in them or not until you realize you’re addicted and decide to start controlling your reactions. But there are many distractions coming your way: other people, other peoples’ business, seemingly important projects, travelling…..the list is endless. Carve out time to meditate, to journal, take a webinar, draw, work in the garden– anything! This inward practice is hard even when you are aware and prioritizing it. But if you pick up the phone every time it rings, check every email as it comes in, pack your schedule full of events with barely a day off – you will not focus inward, because you are so very busy distracting yourself with the outer world. There is a reason we do Sadhana first thing in the early morning: No-one else is up yet and distractions are few. If you let everything distract you, then life just kind of happens to you, as it did for me. If you want to live intentionally, you need to take charge, eliminate distractions, and do the inner work.
So what can you do right now?
1. Sit down and scan your body and feel, 3 minutes
2. Think about a promoting habit you want to install in your life and decide when and how to start. Example: Flossing. Do it right now.
3. Take your planner and practice spotting distractions, try to be honest with yourself. Feel free to cancel anything that is not a committment of yours.