Have you taken a deep, conscious breath today? If you aren't sure, take a few deep, yogic breaths now............ Okay, now we can talk.
I could have used a reminder myself today. By the time I left the office this afternoon I felt like I had spent the day in a pressure cooker. It wasn't until I stepped outside and noticed the cool breeze and the warm sun that I realized just how tense I was. I get into my car and roll down the windows. Turn up the volume on the CD player. I sing along to the ancient mantras set to modern upbeat music. (David Newman was playing today)
Driving home, I daydream about how nice it would be to have the time to meditate outside before dinner. But that's not in the cards for me, at least not at this point in my life. There's always so much to do and never
enough time to just be still. There's always someone who needs something from me. As I make dinner, I silently repeat mantras, and breath deeply. Preparing dinner is my sadhana (spiritual practice) tonight.
I read a story once which I will paraphrase for you here: Once upon a time there was a yogi who would spend all of his days singing to Lord Krishna. One day Krishna appears to him and the yogi says I must be your most devoted disciple. Krishna tells him no, actually it's a guy in the next village over. Of course, the yogi gets insulted and he asks Krishna "what makes that guy more devoted than me". Krishna takes the yogi to the next village and they silently watch this householder go about his day. He wakes early and offers a quick prayer to Krishna before preparing breakfast for his family and then he spends the day laboring at work, then returning home to prepare dinner for his family and get the children to bed, then he did household chores. (I can't remember but I think his wife died). After a very long and difficult day the householder fell into his bed and offered another quick prayer to Krishna before falling asleep.
What?! That guy is your favorite devotee! How can that be?! He only spend a total of 10 minutes of his day in worship. I spend my entire day writing you songs and singing your praises!!
The moral of the story was that the yogi used his devotional singing as a way to get out of doing any work. He also sang just as much to hear his own voice as he did in praise to the Divine. The householder, on the other hand, remembered Krishna even as he did his duty of taking care of his family and responsibilities. His final thoughts after his exhausting day were thoughts of the Divine.
I forget sometimes that even though I don't have as much time as I would like for a formal sadhana, I can make everything I do a sadhana. Even the work I do at my job can be done as a sadhana. What makes ordinary work a spiritual practice?? Intention. The intention is to do what you do in service to the Divine.
Make everything you do a sadhana. Breath and prayer are the release valves on the pressure cooker. Breath and pray and offer everything you do up to God.