40-Day Practice
            
    Let’s dedicate 40 days to focus in deeper on this path!  You get to design your own Plan.  
    Write it down.  Then follow it every day.  Do it with a spirit of adventure and discovery.  
    Or rather, let it do you!  Ready?

    Set Your Intention  What psychological, behavioral or spiritual upgrades you want.  What habits
    to cultivate,  what bad ones to drop.

    Choose Your Disciplines  Silent meditations?  Meditations-in-action?  Mantra discipline?   Yoga
    routine?   Diet?  Religious practices or prayers?  Study?  Fasting days?  Attitudes to cultivate?

    Make A Routine   When and how much to do your disciplines.  Any modifications of your daily
    routine.  Things to do, things to avoid.  Then begin!

    Renew Your Resolution  At day’s end look back and see how it went, what needs correcting.  In
    the morning renew your resolution with enthusiasm!  If you break your discipline, just pick it up
    again.  (Don’t get down on yourself.)  

    Review Your Plan   You can modify your plan as you go along.  Keep it flexible and fresh.  Adapt
    to circumstances. “A living branch bends, a rigid one breaks.”

    Life-Style Changes  After the 40 days is over, why not make any good changes a part of your life?

    Remember this: “Even if you have broken your vows a thousand times.  Come along,
    yet again and again.  Ours is not a caravan of despair.”   [Rumi, Iranian mystic poet]

    ~~~
    Serious aspirants (one who aspires to the higher life) should try to follow their disciplines for their
    whole life.  Then why 40 days?  Well, it makes a defined space to make a shift, to focus more on
    certain practices, and thus to affect a deeper transformation.  It is known that Moses went up on
    the mountain and Jesus into the desert for 40 days.  But our 40-Days is like a retreat without
    physically retreating. And that is just as much a challenge as solitude.  Our TIME will be most
    valuable and below are some traditional ideas on how to best use it:

    SITTING MEDITATION  Many masters say to have two sittings per day.  Sitting before dawn in the
    brahma muhurta, the Hour of God, is especially good.  Having a special place, washing up,
    breathing exercises, a short reading or mantra -- all help to set the mood.

    MANTRA REPETITION  Some longer mantras are good for chanting or doing very softly as a form
    of concentration.  You can set a specific number of repetitions or time.  But then if you feel pulled
    into a deeper contemplation do not resist.  If at any point mantra feels strained, finish or postpone
    it.  Get your teacher’s advice on all this.

    MEDITATION IN ACTION  Cultivate mindfulness, compassion, gratitude, love and respect for
    others 24/7.  Return from time to time during your day to your heart, your breath, to the “here and
    now”.  You can do mantra when your activity does not require full engagement.  Some masters say
    to keep the attention in the trikuti behind the eyebrows or at the top of head as much as possible.

    AFFIRMATIONS AND PRAYERS  Back up your affirmations with action!  Put your problems at the
    feet of God.  See the good in ALL.  Bless your food.  Positive thinking is a potent practice!

    YOGA EXERCISES  Every day do some light exercise, breathing, asanas, chi-gong, walking
    meditation or just your work.  Maybe avoid intense work-outs for now.

    STUDY   Read the wisdom of the world or anything worthwhile.  Be careful not to read away your
    meditation time!  Journal your ideas.

    MORAL RESTRAINT AND OBSERVANCES   Review the 10 Yamas and Niyamas.   Follow
    them, including on the psychological level.  [See handout.]

    TRADITIONAL SADHANAS  Some of the old rules can be followed even in prison. You can rise
    early, use a special mat, eat vegetarian, abstain from sex fantasy, talk less, avoid wasting time.

    THE MAIN IDEA  Do both your practices and daily work with a spirit of celebration and non-
    attachment.  Feel you are servicing God and humanity.  Do not seek to impress.  But you can
    certainly share what you are doing with anyone that wants to join in.

    CLASS MEMBERS ALSO SUGGEST TO:
      
    Do “sleep sadhana” upon going to bed
    Find one thing daily to be grateful for
    “I am getting better every day in every way”
    Practice with other class-members
    Avoid bad company and complaining
    Bless ones’ food
    Do random acts of kindness
    Follow your religious activities

    SOME STARTING & CLOSING MANTRAS

    Om Asato mā Sad gamaya
    Tamaso mā Jyotir gamaya
    Mṛtyor mā Amṛtaṁ gamaya
    Om Shāntiḥ Shāntiḥ Shāntiḥ

    Lead me from Illusion to Reality
    Lead me from Dullness to Clarity
    Lead me from Decay to Long Life
    Om Peace Peace Peace


    Sarveshām Swastir Bhavatu
    Sarveshām Shāntir Bhavatu
    Sarveshām Poornam Bhavatu
    Sarveshām Mangalam Bhavatu

    May Auspiciousness, Peace,
    Fullness and Prosperity be unto all.