Thursday, June 12, 2014

GOAL SETTING IN SPIRITUAL SADHANA by Nityananda Atman

Atman at Babaji's Ashram Haidakhan Vishva Mhadam India
  GOAL SETTING IN SPIRITUAL SADHANA
by Nityananda Atman


FREEDOM, HAPPINESS and COMPLETENESS, are characteristics of our True Nature or Consciousness. We can experience them only when our mind is calm and focused in the center of our existence or consciousness, which is eternal, unchanging and the source of peace and bliss.

Mind introverted focused in its center (consciousness) enable us to be in contact with the eternal source of life (God, Spirit, Consciousness), stops the identification and attachment to the external forms and objects.
This has as result to experience freedom, peace, happiness and fulfillment.

Mind extroverted focused on external objects and forms causes identification and attachment to the external forms and objects, compulsive and mechanical thinking and negative emotions.
This has as result to experience bondage, pain, and suffering, with small breaks of pleasure, and fleeting moments of happiness.

With the aid of spiritual practices (sadhana) the mind becomes introverted and stays firmly focused in its center, the consciousness. When all egoic energies are totally destroyed the abidance of the mind in consciousness becomes effortless and without a break, this state is called Liberation. If we want to be established in our center and live a higher spiritual life it is necessary to organize our daily living properly and follow a well organized daily schedule of spiritual practices.

In order to bear fruits the spiritual practices the practitioner is necessary to have some basic virtues such as perseverance, patience, endurance in hardships and adversity, courage, firm determination, faith ( in himself , in the scriptures and the Masters ). In addition, as I have said the aspirant should do his practices systematically. It is necessary to draw a well- organized program in which will set specific goals and objectives, which will try to achieve by practicing with consistency and zeal.

It is important to be understood that apart from the daily program it is very important the setting of specific goals and objectives. It has been shown that when practice has been associated with the achievement of specific goals is much more effective than the practice which is poorly organized and lacks of goals.


Atman at Sivananda room Rishikesh India
Swami Sivananda since 1935 (when the science of learning had not yet advanced), found through his personal experience that is of great importance the implement of a well- organized daily program, the maintenance of a personal diary and the setting of goals. All the above will enable the aspirant to move decisively to his spiritual journey and achieve self-realization. There are many obstacles and difficulties in the spiritual path therefore it is required a very well organized and honest effort to achieve the final goal which is self-realization. The experience and the guidance of those who already have achieved self-realization make our journey easier and help us to save time and energy and march on with more confidence towards self-realization. 


Read at the end of the essay the instructions of Swami Sivananda about how we can organize our daily sadhana

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF PRACTICING WITH GOALS?

It is important for us to know the benefits of setting goals in our daily practice, because this knowledge will motivate us to set goals and try to achieve them with enthusiasm. Later on when we will get our personal results we will know from firsthand the value of setting goals and we continue to practice with goals with more joy and satisfaction.

The advantages of setting goals:

1. Create greater motivation and interest.

2. It helps us to be more methodical and effective.

3. It helps to have results more quick.

4. It helps us to evaluate our effort and progress.

5. Motivate us to increase our effort and stick with our plan.

6. It helps us find our weaknesses.

7. We become more creative finding new ways and methods to accomplish our goals.

8. It helps us to be more focused to what is important.


When we set goals we must always remember to
  • "Keep it simple"
  • "Be flexible"
  • "Be open minded"
  • "Enjoy every moment of your practice" "Focus on present"
  •  
PLANNING THE PROGRAM

In the beginning we plan a program of daily practice which we must follow with regularity and steadiness. We can make changes if we think it is necessary.

The program must be proportional to our needs and capacities.

We must be attentive and see if we can fulfill this program with regularity.

The first 2-3 weeks we must note if the program flows. We must observe how things go and reflect on them in order to determine if the program is fulfilled and if not, what impede us to fulfill the program.

We must determine if the obstacles are external or internal (our mental or emotional weaknesses). When we determine the nature of the obstacles we must do the appropriate changes in pour program or we must eliminate our mental and emotional weaknesses which impede us to fulfill it regularly.

Every once we must examine and evaluate the program. We must determine if it is appropriate for us and help us achieve the goals we have set. If not we must do some changes. If we do not know what to do or we have doubts we must ask for help. Spiritual teachers, advanced spiritual aspirants and books can help us to do what is necessary. Prayer can help us a lot.

Program and goal setting

Together with the program we set specific goals (with schedule) which we try to achieve with the means and the practices of our choice.

The goals we set can be relative to the program itself or the capacities and the qualities we want to develop (some examples: to apply without a break the program for one month. To increase the time of concentration or to increase the time of pranayama or the session time of meditation. To develop patience, tranquility, dispassion, truthfulness etc.)

Setting goals according the time:
 
  • Short-term goals (the goals of the day or week)  
  • Medium-term goals (monthly, quarterly) 
  • Long-term goals (semester, annual)  
  • The final goal is Self realization 
 HOW WE SET THE GOALS:
  • Write down your goals (this one is very important!)
  • Follow measure and common sense
  • Keep the process of setting goals simple.
  • Evaluate the current level of the skills you want to develop.
  • Set realistic goals regarding the level and time available. Set goals corresponded amount and difficulty to your level. Make goals moderately difficult.
  • Increase the amount and difficulty of goals gradually (step by step).
  • Set goals for quantity the quality and stability.
  • Set specific measurable goals, not abstract. Define exactly what you want to achieve. Use numbers detailing how often, how many, how much.
  • Be flexible and make modifications or change the goal if it is needed.
  • Decide the means and the method to follow.
  • Set a schedule to achieve the goal.
  • Review your progress.
  • Reevaluate goals weekly, monthly, quarterly, annually.
ATTENTION

Do not set too many short-term goals. Many people get bogged down by working on too many goals at once.
Do not set unrealistic goals out of reach of your level and time.
Also, remember to be flexible. Sometimes goals need to be modified, especially if you are new at goal-setting. Changing goals is not a sign of failure; it merely helps you become more specific about what you need to do now, considering information you didn’t have at the time you originally set your goals.

TYPES OF GOALS

1. Relative to the program 


2. Relative to the development of capacities 


3. Relative the development of virtues (patience, compassion, kindness, acceptance, dispassion, discernment, etc.) and the elimination of defects 


4. Relative to the elimination hurmful habits 


EXAMPLES

1. EXAMPLES relative to the program
Sleeping and waking fixed time in order the program to flow.
Doing meditation with the same ritual, in the same place, same time
Doing meditation steadily morning & evening without to fail to do the practice more than 2 times a week

2. EXAMPLES relative to the the development of capacities (quantity and quality)
To extend the duration of pranayama within 6 months from 10’ to 20’ minutes and the duration of meditation from 30’ to 45’.
To stay completely motionless during meditation
To increase the ability to concentrate without distractions
To increase the control of senses and mind.

3. EXAMPLES relative the development of virtues.


We develop virtues such as patience, compassion, kindness, acceptance, dispassion, discernment etc. 

and eliminate defects such as fear, jealousy, envy, anger, impatience, gluttony, lasciviousness, guilty, etc.

–We try to eliminate step by step the expression of defects anger, fear etc. in each particular expression.

4. EXAMPLES relative to the elimination harmful habits: 


Elimination of the habit for: cigarette, alcohol, talking too much, gossip, watching a lot tv or inappropriate tv prodcasts (viz. sex or violent movies), criticizing, etc. ).

When for some reason I don't remain steady in my practice to achieve the above goals, I'm looking for the cause that creates this lack of consistency and I try to find solutions..

When something doesn’t go as we wish, it is not helpful at all to react emotionally (with guilt, sadness etc. )this is also a play of the ego which wants to stop our progress towards happiness and freedom)). If it happens so we do practices in order to eliminate these undesirable emotional reactions. With sobriety we note what is not working with the program and we make the appropriate changes.

Use Your “SMARTS”

Time-management consultant Hyrum W. Smith created this acronym to help people remember some of the most important aspects of effective goal-setting. Keep these things in mind as you create each of your goals:

S = Specific
For example we set as goal to increase the time of japa nama or meditation. We decide to increase the time every month. We will do for example 3 minutes more than the previous one. This is a specific goal and measurable.

M = Measurable – Quantify goals.
Use numbers detailing how often and how much I will do a practice. For example how often I will do pranayama, (every day) how many pranayamas each session or how much time I will do, -15 minutes.

A = Action-Oriented – Goals should imply actions that you need to take.
For example if we want to eliminate a bad habit or a defect (anger) we must decide the practices which we apply with sincerity and enthusiasm in order to achieve the elimination of this defect.

R = Realistic – Make your goals moderately difficult, but reachable.

It is not appropriate to increase the time of pranayama immediately -for example from 10 minutes a day to 45 minutes. It is highly recommended to increase the amount of practice step by step. We can increase the time of pranayama from 10 minutes to 15 minutes or from 30 repetitions to 40 repetitions.

T = Timely – Create goals that you can reach in a reasonable time.
For example we set as a goal to increase the time of meditation at the end of the year from 40 minutes to 1 hour. 
 

S = Self-Determined – Set your own goals, ones that are meaningful to you.

~~~   ~~~   ~~~

The three important formulas 
 of Swami Sivananda

Swami Sivananda among so many other instructions that gave to us in order to facilitate our journey towards Self-realization, he suggested three important formulas, considering them of paramount importance for any aspirant who wants to move successfully the path of Self-realization or liberation.

Swami Sivananda says: By keeping a spiritual diary you can then and there rectify your mistakes. You can do more Sadhana and evolve quickly. There is no other best friend and faithful teacher or Guru than your diary. It will teach you the value of time. At the end of every month calculate the total number of hours you spent in Japa, study of religious books, Pranayama, Asanas, sleep, etc. Then you will be able to know how much time You are spending for religious purposes. You have got every chance to increase the period of Japa, meditation, etc., gradually. If you maintain a daily diary properly, without any fault in any of the items, you will not like to waste even a single minute unnecessarily. Then alone will you understand the value of time and how it slips away. to keep a spiritual diary.

These formulas are:  

1. The twenty important spiritual instructions together with sadhana tattva (or the science of seven cultures for quick evolution of the human being)
Link:http://www.dlsaus.org/DLSA_Docs/ESSENCE%20OF%20SPRITUALITY_Full.pdf

2. The resolve form

Link:
http://www.sivanandaonline.org/public_html/?cmd=displaysection&section_id=565

3. The spiritual diary

Link:
http://www.sivanandaonline.org/public_html/?cmd=displaysection&section_id=566