Daily practices in support of transformation

“There is a state beyond effort and effortlessness. Until it is realized, effort is necessary. After tasting such Bliss once, one will repeatedly try to find it again” – Sri Ramana Maharshi

Achieving a state of Being without effort requires effort. This is the case for learning any new skill, such as walking, swimming or driving. At first, learning to coordinate our muscles is physically and mentally stressful. Once we’ve learned, we can execute them without thinking. Effortlessness cannot be achieved without effort.

This practice, this effort, involves doing our practices over a long period of time, without a break – going from strength to strength. Through continued and persistent practice, our experience of being connected with our spiritual heart during meditation practice will slowly begin to seep into our engagements with the outer world. By cultivating love, trust and surrender to our spiritual heart, we will also become embodiments of love.

“The end of all wisdom is Love, love, love, love. When you truly feel this equal love for all, when your heart has grown so big that it embraces all creation, you certainly won’t feel like giving up this or that. You’ll simply fall from secular life like a ripe fruit falls from the branch of a tree. You’ll feel that the whole world is your home.” – Sri Ramana Maharshi

The further we progress, the more we’ll be confronted with challenging situations on our journey out into the world. We can see these situations as challenges and obstacles in our journey, or as an opportunity to practice what we’ve learned from our spiritual heart. By submitting to the universal consciousness, we can be assured that our well-being will be taken care of, and we face situations because we have the inner resources to face and overcome it, breaking the patterns of vasanas collected throughout our lives.

At each of these points, we can always access the Guru’s grace or divine energy. By igniting the spark of divine love in our hearts and nourishing this fire through daily service, meditation and communion with the Spirit, we invite grace. These are essential because without consistent sadhana, there can be no darshan (blessing) or grace. Grace blossoms silently with every dedicated effort we make. It is inherent in sadhana itself.

Finally, it’s our practice that determines the progress we make. The daily practice of meditation teaches us to anchor ourselves in our spiritual heart.

“With repeated practice, the mind will develop the ability to remain in its source. Thus, when the mind remains in the Heart, the Self that is the source of all thoughts will go away, and the Self that always exists will shine forth.” – Sri Ramana Maharshi

Practice involves cultivating a strong conviction, a persistent effort to constantly choose the lifestyle, actions, speech, thoughts, as well as spiritual practices that lead in the direction of our spiritual heart Guru. By taking increasing responsibility for our life choices and the way we use our personal energy, and by focusing on what sustains us, we gradually find ourselves firmly established in our new state of being.

In addition to meditation, the following practices can support us on our journey:



The end product of our journey is a new us. Therefore, swadhyaya (self-analysis) is an important tool for knowing how far we’ve come and where to go next. Our soul, our spiritual heart, communicates with us through silence. Contemplation and reflection give us the opportunity to integrate our learning through language. Reflect, journal and satsang with peers on a similar journey.



Sound is vibration. Vibration is energy. So sound has energy. Sound energy has been used across cultures through objects such as Tibetan Buddhist bowls, bells in Hindu temples, hymns/prayers and words/mantras. It’s no coincidence that key words from one religion to another are based on similar sounds – Amen in Christianity, Ameen in Islam, Om in Hinduism, Buddhism and Sikhism. This commonality of sounds (A, M) reflects the deep understanding that ancient cultures had of this science. By harnessing the energy of vibrations, we can harmonize the energy system within. Singing can be done verbally, producing an audible sound (called Aahata), or even internally, without sound (called Anaahata). The resonance produced by this external or internal chanting is a powerful tool for bringing our bodies back into balance and our minds back to the spiritual heart.



The Sanskrit word Pranayama literally means regulation of our Prana, or vital energy. Our vital energies circulate through the nadis (subtle channels of the body). We live only as long as the vital force of Prana resides in the body. The presence of Prana in a body is indicated by numerous functions such as breathing, digestion, excretion, reproduction, circulation, heartbeat, brain processing linked to the sense organs, etc.

Breathing is one of the main functions of the Prana force, and by regulating it, we can regulate Prana. Breathing provides us with a gateway to harmonizing our vital energies, as it occupies a special position among all the Pranic functions. In scientific terms, we can say that breathing is a bridge between involuntary and voluntary functions – because it is both involuntary and voluntary. The way we breathe has an impact on our well-being. When we’re angry, fearful or anxious, we tend to take short, shallow, rapid breaths. Incorrect breathing disrupts the flow of vital energies through our body and becomes a cause of discomfort. Conversely, when we are relaxed or meditating, if we observe carefully, our breathing becomes deeper. By resuming our breathing in its natural way and rhythm, we can have a positive impact on our emotional and physical well-being. Yogic practices to regulate our Prana through breath regulation are called Pranayama.


The Sanskrit word Asana literally means a sitting position, or, in a broader sense, a posture. Our bodies can assume countless postures. Some of these postures have been identified as “yoga asanas” or yogasanas. These are postures that can take us to a higher dimension or a higher perception of life, and to a state of inner harmony, i.e. yoga in our body, mind and breath. According to the Yoga Sutras, the classic text on Yoga, an Asana is characterized by two features – ‘An Aasan is stable and comfortable’, and to attain this position, one must ‘let go of effort and merge with the infinite’. This applies to the state of our body, breath and mind during these physical postures. When we do asanas in this way, we will notice that we reach a very different state. Our breathing is regular, comfortable and effortless. Our mind is stable, at ease, relaxed, focused on the posture in a state of ease, and connected with universal consciousness. This also applies to our state of being while we’re living life – whether we’re engaged in action or rest, whether we’re moving or at rest, whether we’re fluid or motionless, whether we’re speaking or silent. We live our lives with calm (stability), joy (comfort), ease (effortlessness) and connection (fusion) – whether with the outer or inner world.

Even if we apply interpretation in the narrowest sense, the physical act of performing an Asana is much more than an exercise. It’s a slow movement, like dancing, leading from one posture to another. It’s meditation in motion.



According to Ayurveda, food is what nourishes us physically, energetically and emotionally. It’s healthy and therefore goes beyond the concept of calories and nutrients. It is said that a living being is made up of the food it consumes and that food is therefore an important pillar of physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual well-being. In recognition of this belief, yogic philosophy has named the body ‘Anna’maya’ (‘Anna’ means food). Simply put, we are what we consume.

Many philosophies affirm that food is medicine. We consume food in one form or another, at least 3 to 4 times a day. Everything we eat, whether it’s an apple or a chicken, is assimilated into our bodies, and “becomes us” within 3 days. So food can have an immense impact on our well-being – it can nourish us, or it can cause illness. Several scientific studies have corroborated the impact of diet on our mental well-being (e.g., reduction of aggression in children and violence in prisons thanks to a healthy diet).

We won’t go into the details of what to eat, as this subject is well documented in Ayurveda. In addition to accessing this information, we can begin to be aware of the impact of various foods on our level of alertness and the nature of our thoughts during the day and during meditation.



Especially when we’re in a stressful situation, we need relaxation techniques to calm our overactive minds and bodies. There’s also another approach to relaxation. Just as we send a vehicle in for preventive maintenance, if we practice relaxation proactively, we can maintain our well-being at its full potential.

Each of us has an activity that keeps us going, that makes us forget everything else and that brings us joy – music, art, reading, writing, dancing. By cultivating them, we strengthen our connection with ourselves.

Learning relaxation techniques helps us learn to be intense and relaxed at the same time. For example, yoga practices involve enormous concentration and effort, but the muscles and breathing are completely relaxed. This is an example of relaxation training. A powerful tool for relaxation training is mindfulness, i.e. observing and focusing on what’s happening in the present moment, in a non-judgmental way. Mindfulness is a way of coming back to the present.

Some illustrations of mindfulness in our daily lives : (a) We can focus on what’s inside us – become aware of our breathing, heartbeat and pulse, various sensations in our body (b) We can focus on what’s outside us. Like looking at all the objects one by one.


Namaste Mukeshanand Brahmchari