I have not yet researched where the Sanskrit word sadhana might have first appeared, even though I tend to enjoy etymology. I was first exposed to the word in reading Iyengar’s Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.
Sadhana has come to be associated with “a spiritual practice.” I prefer Iyengar’s definition of a methodical, sequential means to accomplish one’s aim in life.
I define sadhana as the things I do intentionally and with regularity right now to be the best me, tweaked over time — my beloved scientific method applied to myself.
My yoga practice is not my sadhana. It is simply part of my sadhana, right now and for as long as it serves me.
There are no short-term goals associated with my sadhana. It is simply the system I follow with the ultimate goal being able to look back and say I am content with the man I became.
It is a practice. The practice is not about achieving any level of success but simply doing the things I’ve set out to do. There is no audience to perform for here. It is just me and my practice.
Here are some aspects of the current state of my sadhana:
An intention to do yoga daily. I have both an Ashtanga yoga practice and a very healing, meditative Hatha yoga routine.
An intention to read daily, if only a snack of a paragraph or two. Hopefully I find something I find profound to note or share.
An intention to write an essay every 10 days or so based on whatever comes to mind.
Being intentional about not only spending time with, but being present with the ones I love and lead. My mantra for this is prioritizing humans.
I practice not responding immediately to any information that elicits an uncomfortable emotional response. I then check my motivations for responding, and respond only if necessary.
I attempt to maintain a tidy home. This is a struggle for me as my brain tends to live elsewhere in the problems I’m trying to solve.
Maintaining sobriety is always a practice.
Most of these things take a relatively small amount of time, yet can feel like fighting a battle to adhere to my own intentions.
But if I could do it all perfectly, it wouldn’t be called “practice.”
As always thank you for letting me share.
1000 days sober.
In a small town in rural Georgia in the 80s, I learned drinking straight whiskey was a rite of passage, mental health issues were a moral failing or a hoax, and the only way I could be saved was by repeating some words at the end of church.
My takeaways? Being drunk was normal yet I was broken and someone else would save me.
For so long I waited, wanted, needed someone to save me. I waited damn near 30 years.
But my truth is in addiction:
Your parents can’t save you
Your aunts and uncles can’t save you.
Your brother nor your best friends.
Your therapist, yoga practice nor Jesus.
Only you can save you.
The best anyone can do is help you understand you have a problem, give you comfort and maybe guide you.
You may rationalize and deny there’s a problem. You may even think you deserve it.
But until you admit there is a problem and are willing to change, your struggles will remain.
When you finally admit it, people can help you. But they can’t save you.
You have to do the work.
When people see you working to get better, they will show up to support you.
In my mind, I was always screaming for help. I would use more. Drink more. Cry more. Surely someone would notice and do something.
Some noticed – most didn’t – but people are struggling to navigate their own reality.
1000 days ago, I decided to admit I had a problem and deal with my own suffering.
Driving home on Christmas, I learned my grandfather’s death was attributed to his alcoholism even though he had been sober for over a decade. It was time to stop drinking.
Almost three years later, it’s still hard. Friday, just hours after counseling a young person about sobriety, I sat with my head on the steering wheel at a red light, fighting the compulsion to drive to a bar and let that familiar, false comfort wash over me.
After letting Brea and Walker know, I came home, meditated, and cried.
The effort is worth it. So many things I thought impossible have come true. Everything I chased came to me tenfold what I imagined.
My relationships with my parents and friends are better than ever.
I lead and work with teams of brilliant people.
I have love in my life like I’ve never known.
And I am grateful for the entire journey.
When I first decided to get completely sober, I also started writing. In the last months of daily drunkenness, it was noticeable I would lose words and find myself unable to complete sentences.
I was embarrassed to be so educated and working in a technical field and have such trouble communicating. For years, I would describe my ability to structure sentences to be akin to “Me Tarzan, you Jane.”
This self-conscious deficiency in speech played a large role in my decision to stop drinking. I researched how alcohol abuse affects a person’s speech for months.
I knew I’d not only need to stop drinking, but also retrain my brain.
I have never considered myself a good writer. I do not consider myself a good writer now.
I was inspired by a book I picked up, The Daily Stoic. Here I learned of the benefits of controlling one’s own mind, but more importantly, I learned that one of the most powerful humans to ever walk this earth experienced doubt and anxiety, and he used writing as a way to mitigate and understand his world. See Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations.
I decided when I stopped drinking I would start writing publicly. It was three big fears wrapped up into one giant challenge:
Who would I be if I stopped drinking?
What would people think if I shared who I really was and the things I think about?
Had I destroyed my brain, and could I remold it?
I have a method. Write every 10 days. No more than 2,200 characters. The cadence forced the commitment. The character restriction helps me stay on topic and reshape sentences.
So I wrote, and I wrote.
I wrote until Day 970, and I could not bring myself to write. I would just write on Day 980. I did not write.
I don’t know why I didn’t write.
I am not disappointed with myself.
There is a lot of change in my world right now I am navigating.
Maybe I just need space to be and observe.
After 990 days of studying, writing and rebuilding my mind, I have ideas that aren’t quite ready to share but are baking in the silent moments of my days.
Maybe I am afraid to share my ponderings. Maybe I am avoiding writing the book swirling in my mind.
Or maybe just being happy and healthy for once is enough.
If you aren’t careful to read this you may get the wrong idea. It would be natural to expect this modified chaturanga as the before that led to the jump back above it. When in fact it’s the exact opposite.
The “after” is me today in modified chaturanga. This is part of my practice I don’t want you to see.
My ego has kept me hurt and unwilling to do what I needed to do to take care of myself. I finally surrendered and came back to my practice. Humbled yet again.
I have tendonitis in my right elbow and a sprained big toe, yet I l’ve refused to modify my practice. The need to progress and perform fed into my fear of being less than.
I was willing to continue hurting myself rather than appear weak.
The pain made it harder to show up. Made it easy for my mind to say, “not today.”
My need to perform also reared its head at work; a natural mindset in our culture and one I believe amplified in tech companies. This mindset coupled with my need to help and be a hero drove me into a wall.
I was in a quandary. I felt too tired and too broken to do the very thing that heals and give me strength.
All I could do was surrender and go back to the foundations of my resolve. i would just show up every day and do the best I can. For me. Not for anyone else.
I might view this as a step backwards, but the fear of being perceived as going backwards is exactly what stopped me from going at all.
In our world of constant progress, it may seem odd to take a step back.
But a step back is exactly what I need to recover and take care of myself.
Funny thing is I felt stronger showing up this week with the modifications I need than I ever did jumping back.