At the beginning of a new relationship we are excited and everything is wonderful and we want to spend all our time with our new beloved. We're so happy that we want to shout it for the roof-tops. We wonder why everyone isn't in love - it's such a wonderful state to be in. This is the honeymoon phase.
Suddenly, it's not so exciting. There are challenges. We need to learn to work with the challenges and use them to strength the relationship but it's hard and takes work. For some, too much work. There's no doubt that the honeymoon is over. This is usually the time when people begin to long for the honeymoon bliss and they begin to think that maybe their beloved isn't the right person for them. Then someone new catches their eye and the bliss of the honeymoon phase begins again. For a while anyway and then the real work of being in a relationship begins and again - discontent sets in and cycle begins again.
Some folks however, work through the challenges, they continue to love their beloved even when it gets hard and not so exciting. They may think back to the honeymoon phase and smile knowing that even though that phase has passed they have something better. If they are lucky, they reach a phase where there is ease in the relationship. They can relax because they know that no matter what challenges they face - their beloved has their back. Their beloved knows all their faults and loves them anyway. Now that's unconditional love.
The cycle of relationships is the same with the relationship to our sadhana (spiritual practice). We begin a new sadhana and we are excited and we feel blissful and wonderful and we shout it from the roof-tops "Hey, I found the best practice ever!" We want to spend as much time as we can practicing. We are in the honeymoon phase and everything is perfect.
But wait. Suddenly, the sadhana isn't so exciting anymore. There are challenges. You begin to experience some unresolved emotions and they aren't pleasant. Perhaps, our practice is bringing to light some things about ourselves that we need to work on. Where's the bliss we felt in the honeymoon phase? We begin to think maybe this sadhana isn't the right one for us. After all, we've been practicing for months and we haven't reached enlightenment. This is usually the time when another technique or another tradition catches our eye. We begin a relationship with another sadhana and the honeymoon phase begins until we reach the point where the real work is required and then cycle continues.
Consider, for a moment, what the benefits would be in sticking with your sadhana even when it gets hard and you are tempted to explore the wide array of practices available to you. Can you love your sadhana even when it's hard and not so exciting?
In my humble opinion, if we can learn to work through the challenges we face in the practice, we can strengthen our will and we can move forward in our spiritual evolution. It's hard and takes work. It's not so exciting to get up early and roll out the mat when it's dark and cold outside. It's hard work to look at ourselves through the mirror of sadhana but the reward is far better that the bliss of the honeymoon phase.
When we approached our sadhana sincerely, systemically and with sustained enthusiasm for many, many years, if we are lucky, we reach a state of contentment. We feel a sense of ease with life. We are content in the knowledge that no matter what challenges we face - our beloved sadhana has our back. Our beloved - the Divine - knows all our faults and loves us anyway - Now that's unconditional love!
I must admit that I am tempted to explore and wander about checking out all the various sadhanas that are so abundant these days. During those times I remember the analogy of digging a well. If I dig a little here and dig a little there I'll never find water. The key is to pick a spot and keep at it.
There is nothing better in this world than settling down in the comfort of my sadhana. There is a comfort in knowing that after all these years of practice, I have successfully moved from the honeymoon phase and I'm working on using the challenges I face to strengthen my will and move forward in my spiritual evolution. I can relax in knowledge that the Divine has my back.