Definition - What does Sadhana mean?
Sadhana (Sanskrit: साधन) is a Sanskrit term used to refer to a daily spiritual practice. Sadhana represents a disciplined surrendering of the ego, in which the practitioner uses tools such as asana, pranayama, meditation and chanting on a daily basis.
Anything that is practiced with awareness, discipline and the intention of spiritual growth can be considered as sadhana, but it must be practiced alone and for the sake of the individual. As such, it does not need to be a physical activity; even daily self-study of yogic or spiritual scriptures is a form of sadhana.
Sadhana is also a means of forging a ritual connection with God or universal energy. It encourages the practitioner, known as the sadhaka, to use self-discipline in order to achieve power over the ego and maintain connection with universal oneness. With regular daily practice, the practitioner continually realigns his or her inner self, slowly progressing toward the very ultimate expression of consciousness known as samadhi.
Yogapedia explains Sadhana
The term sadhana comes from the Sanskrit root, sadhu, meaning “go straight to a goal”. Routinely applying mind, body and spirit in the pursuit of a spiritual goal is the most natural and efficient way to surrender the ego, to find relief from suffering and to attain peace.
For this reason, sadhana is the cornerstone of the discipline of yoga. Yoga provides a huge variety of tools for this purpose, ranging from physical practices, such as asana (postures) and pranayama (breathing techniques), to more introspective applications, such as svadhyaya (self-study) and meditation.
With intention, awareness, discipline and daily practice, almost anything can be considered as sadhana. When formulating your own sadhana, it is important to choose practices that work for you, in order to provide the best conditions for you to stay committed with ease. It may be useful to vary the practices used for sadhana from time to time, so as to keep the practice from becoming an automated or obligatory routine. Ancient Hindu and Buddhist texts, such as Sadhanamala, offer suggestions for hundreds of sadhana practices designed for various results.
Discipline is arguably the most important facet of sadhana, so it does help to practice at the same time each day. The time of day itself is not important - for some, practicing sadhana soon after awakening helps them to keep up the practice without distraction or excuses, whereas for others, evenings allow them more focus or concentration.
Although sadhana is centred around an ultimate spiritual goal, the practice itself should be undertaken without any specific goal in mind. Sadhana should be practiced for the sake of maintaining the practice, and as a means of cultivating discipline. To focus the mind on a goal during sadhana will bring ego into the practice, rather than the sense of surrender that is required.
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