Spiritual Practice – How much is enough?

I was reminded this Friday during a Spiritual Discussion about Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hour rule in his book Outliers. Gladwell guides that it takes 10,000 hours of intensive practice to achieve mastery of complex skills and materials. Let’s take a look at what this looks for the casual spiritual aspirant and then for the serious spiritual seeker for them to achieve spiritual mastery. In the end, I will look at what other activities we can do to increase our hours to reach this 10,000 hour rule.

First of all, 10,000 hours is a guide. We may have to put much more hours in or we may have to put less hours. It is not that once you reach 10,000 hours, you will achieve spiritual enlightenment and all the secrets of the universe will be revealed in the most majestic fashion. Our honesty, intention, passion and sincerity will matter when it comes to spiritual attainment. So as I go through these scenarios for the casual spiritual aspirant and the serious spiritual seeker, I believe it is best to understand that these people are honest, compassionate, genuine, sincere and have good intentions. They are not fake in any way. To me, faith, devotion, worship and reverence means nothing if we do not have the basic decency of being honest and genuine.

Casual Spiritual Aspirant – 10,000 hours

The casual spiritual aspirant probably spends a couple hours a week. Let’s say they meditate for 30 minutes every day. They may attend a satsang or a spiritual meetup for 2-4 hours a week. They may do the occasional listening to a spiritual talk on YouTube or reading spiritual content for an hour in the week.

  • Meditation – 3.5 hours
  • Satsang/Spiritual Meetup – 2 hours
  • Watching, listening or reading spiritual content via social – 1 hour
  • Studying Scripture or Spiritual Texts –  30 minutes

The total will be 7 hours in the week. In one year, this will be a total of 364 hours. To reach the 10,000 hour level of mastery, it would take the casual spiritual aspirant around 27.5 years.

Serious Spiritual Seeker – 10,000 hours

The serious spiritual seeker will definitely be putting in more hours. Let’s say they meditate for 1 hour every day. They may attend a satsang or a spiritual meetup for 2-4 hours a week. They will most likely study scripture or read a spiritual text for a good 2 hours a day. Like the casual spiritual aspirant, they may listen to a spiritual talk between 1-2 hours a week.

  • Meditation session – 7 hours
  • Satsang/Spiritual Meetup – 4 hours
  • Watching, listening or reading spiritual content via social media – 2 hours
  • Studying Scripture or Spiritual Texts – 14 hours

This would amount to 27 hours in the week. In one year, this will be a total of 1404 hours. To reach the 10,000 hour level of mastery, it would take the serious spiritual seeker around 7.1 years.

These are basic scenarios and it will differ person to person and the above spiritual activities will be interchangeable for example, someone may meditate more or attend more spiritual meetups per week. Someone may be living in an ashram and that can change things dramatically. The below examples may be something they do instead of the activities I mentioned above.

Examples of Other Spiritual Activities

There may be other spiritual activities that I will now mention and can be added into the above examples too. For example, someone may do yoga but doesn’t do meditation.

  • Walking in Nature or Gardening
  • Being aware of the present moment
  • Jap or Kirtan – singing/listening to devotional songs or reciting mantras
  • Yoga
  • Contemplation
  • Volunteer work
  • Retreats – weekend, 3 days or 5 days
  • Writing in a journal like a gratitude journal

Consideration

As I mentioned earlier and I want to emphasize that one’s sincerity, honesty and humility is important when it comes to attaining anything spiritual. Our behavior is transformed and if we are still harboring hatred, if we lack compassion or empathy, I doubt we have attained much spiritually regardless of the hours we put into spiritual practice.

Some may even claim that they have attained the highest in spirituality because of some sacred knowledge and even if that is the case, I do believe there is still a refining process. Plus this individual would always be interested in spiritual activities so this would still apply to them. Spirituality is interwoven into their life.

Death needs to be considered here and our awareness of it. If I know that I can die at any time, then would my outlook change? Would my spiritual practice be more intense hence an increase in hours each day? Our understanding of death has a correlation with the hours we put in. If we believe we can do it in future lives, then we should consider it could take us an eternity. If we believe in one life alone, then how many years can be guaranteed that we will live to? If there is no guarantee, then all I have this moment now – so what do I want to be in awareness of during this moment?

Comments

Let me know your comments on this post below. What spiritual activities do you do that I may have missed? If you want, you can let me know how long it will take you to reach the 10,000 hours.

Thank You and Goodbye 2020

2020 has had it’s fair share of challenges and gifts too. Nobody could guess that a pandemic like Covid-19 would bring the world to its knees and it seems that most of the world hasn’t been able to stand up again.

My mum from the UK was able to visit us in the US and spend time with us. It was before the pandemic and she returned to the UK before the world came to a standstill. It was wonderful for her to see my life here and it was nice to have her blessings! I just wished I worked from home more at the time.

This year has allowed me to move to a new position at my workplace which I am grateful for. My new team is great and I appreciate them a lot. Earlier in the year, I was facing redundancy due to a restructure but my new manager saw my skills and brought me onto his team.

Working from home has allowed me to become healthier, take care of what I eat and has also given me the time to meditate more, read more, exercise more and most of all, spend time with my wife Manisha ji more. We watched films, TV shows together and read (different) books together. We cooked together and I loved those moments, I felt like I was in the first year of my marriage again. It has also allowed us to spend time with our niece, Ekta, who is an absolute joy to be around. Spending time with the extended family has definitely been important for us.

But a bigger shoutout to my wife, who is on the frontline as a nurse. Not only is she working in a critical time, she is also studying for her Master’s and the way she has balanced this is truly remarkable and inspirational. She is an absolute gem and looks after me a lot. She also allows me to be lazy at times, which I definitely appreciate. Most of all, I love making coffee for you in the morning because I see the joy that it brings to you!

I have gained new friendships in this time and strengthened existing friendships . Two new friendships have been one where spiritual concepts are looked into deeply and we try to discover ways to further our spiritual journey. These conversations have been beneficial for me. In fact, overall my friendships have got stronger as we focus on spending time with each other. Before the pandemic, we could be together but our phones would be in the way. This time, I noticed we talked more, we interacted more, it was more personal. I really value all of my friends.

Let me thank you all for reading my blog, reading my work on Instagram, I truly appreciate your support and may this community grow stronger.

But 2020 has had it’s challenges and one of the challenges for me was when my youngest brother in the UK was in the ICU with a rare lung infection, he was on the brink of death. Being here in America, it was tough to not be there with my parents, my brothers to deal with this. Positive thinking did help but I was also ready to face the reality if my brother didn’t make it. I am thankful for the healthcare workers, the doctors that put everything into saving him. Thankfully, my youngest brother is at home and we have weekly catch up calls, which never happened before. So even though this was a challenging time with ups and downs, we made sure that we got the best of the situation. I am so thankful that my youngest brother recovered and is alive and well.

There have been deaths this year, some people I knew personally, some whom I didn’t know but my friends or family had lost someone and I felt the pain of loss that they were going through. This was definitely a difficult year in processing death. Losing people is hard enough but in the midst of a pandemic, we have had to evolve our ways in saying goodbye. I take this moment to pray that anybody that has lost somebody in their family, in their friend circle, may they be given strength and acceptance. I also encourage them to seek professional help if needed and to let go of any taboo that surrounds it.

So as we go into 2021, let’s start it on a powerful note. I started this morning with listening to the Gayatri Mantra and spent some time contemplating on this.

Aum
Bhuh Bhuvah Svah
Tat Savitur Varenyam
Bhargo Devasya Dheemahi
Dhiyo Yo nah Prachodayat

Aum,
Physical, mental and Spiritual existence,
That, which is Radiant Light and most Beautiful, 
I meditate upon That which is Illuminating and Divine,
Enlighten our intellect. 

To understand the above, let’s dwell on it. Aum symbolizes the Ultimate Impersonal Reality – Brahman. So in the beginning of the mantra, this is what we focus on. Then we acknowledge that Brahman has It’s existence on the physical, mental and spiritual dimension. As we contemplate on It’s Fullness, we see That as the most Beautiful and Radiant Light. It is referred to as Tat (That) so it remains Impersonal, it remains Formless. By acknowledging It’s radiance and beauty, we lead ourselves to meditating on That, which illuminates everywhere and is divine in nature. We then ask Brahman to enlighten our intellect so that we can embrace wisdom. It is wisdom that enlightens our intellect and that wisdom itself is Brahman.

With this prayer, I thank 2020 and welcome 2021.

Blessed with a Legacy

It’s been some time since I have written a blog and I must say I have completely been missing it. I have loved sharing my thoughts with you freely and frankly.

I have a couple of guest blogs that will be coming soon. They are amazing reads and if you haven’t read Niharika’s amazing guest blog yet, then click here.

We all have been blessed (or cursed) with an amazing legacy that we look up to, that we admire and what we understand has allowed us to enjoy life to the max. Sometimes, inheritance simply isn’t money but wisdom. If wisdom is inherited then wealth has no power over that. However, wisdom can bring in wealth.

I give a lot of gratitude and appreciation towards my elders for everything that I have today. Somehow, I have learned so much from their stories, their commitment to the Truth and their yearning for a better inner life. Their acute awareness of being awakened in the Truth is what has given me the required path towards the Truth. Not many are as lucky or as fortunate as me.

Sometimes, I can be in our (my wife and I) newly bought home and I feel immense happiness because I understand where it has come from and I don’t know how to express that it is so amazing. Although, at the moment, my work is not on the positive and it is very stressful, I am not letting that affect my happiness as much as it would like to damage. I have controlled that damage and I am sure that whatever doesn’t break you, simply makes you stronger.

Mentors

Having mentors is incredibly important and having had my fair share of mentors, I feel my whole life has been incredibly enriched by them.

It is not always about the lesson that you have learned but more about how you grow and evolve as a person from the lesson. If you have evolved then you know the lesson has benefitted you in many ways and you can continue to grow and enhance your life.

We all want a life that is holistically enriching and we can do this with the help of getting different mentors. You can have one for finance, for health, for spirituality etc. Making sure that you can make your life the best that you can is what will always make you wake up in the morning full of gratitude.

Choosing your mentors has to be a thought out decision because you need to make sure that your mentor will always be there for you to help you grow and see unique perspectives. When someone has your best interests first, you know that they are worth keeping in your life.

I have benefitted a lot from my mentors and some are not alive today, but they have helped me grow so immensely that I cannot think of my life without them. I have learned valuable lessons and this has allowed me to have a broad-mind, filled with compassion and understanding.

Mentors show you the path and walk along with you. This is why mentors have a great positive effect. They are not like role models, where images of their greatness can be shattered. However, a mentor is someone where even their flaws have something of great value about them.

I hope you have a mentor and let me know your experiences with mentors?

Sipping on some coffee

white cup
Photo by Wallace Chuck on Pexels.com

It is one of those days where I get an extra hour of sleep as that is my body’s idea of a lie-in. I enjoy that extra one hour and I contemplate on what I am thankful for and what I plan for the day.

Planning for the day is a structure that I like but I know doesn’t truly exist. The day can bring beautiful opportunities and some crazy distractions at the same time. It is simply dependent on how one interpret the day ahead.

Whatever happens in the day, I find that it is important to keep a cool mind and embrace as much as you can. As always, be aware that nobody or no situation takes advantage of your good self.

Be humble enough to know that you can be wrong and smart enough to know that you can make things right.

I am going back to sipping on my coffee and contemplating.

Hope your day goes beautiful,

Gratitude – 5 things I am grateful for!

affection appreciation decoration design
Photo by Carl Attard on Pexels.com

I was listening to Humble the Poet earlier today and he spoke about how important gratitude is. So I was thinking that today, I wanted to share 5 things I am grateful for. Here goes and in no particular order:

  1. Wisdom – the reason for this is because without wisdom, I wouldn’t be able to discern between right or wrong in most cases. I like to learn and try to implement and as I always say that knowledge with action equals wisdom. In the space of social media – we get so many people say very bland stuff but it comes across as inspirational when in fact, if we didn’t just scroll through or double tap or clicked ‘like’, we could have thought about the true meaning of that quote and seen if it comes from a place of deep understanding or just something that sounds good. Wisdom is hardly a soundbite, most of the time, it is longer than that and a soundbite may only be one part of an awesome but longer piece of writing.
  2. My wife, family & friends – without their support, their presence, I know my life would be incredibly fruitless. The wisdom I have gained, the love that I have been able to share is all because of their attention to me and their kind suggestions that sometimes were in the shape of a lecture. However, in the most trying of times, it is my wife, family and friends that have stood by me and shown me that there is light at the end of the tunnel. It is not just that, they hold my hand and that makes me feel safe. I can’t thank them enough! In fact, if my parents were not so strict on me having a spiritual journey then I probably would lack meaning in my life. On top of that, my wife has been a shining bright light when my whole world turned dark when my Satguru Baba Hardev Singh ji merged into the Formless.
  3. Books – anyone that knows me, knows how much I just love reading books. I will not disclose how much I have spent on books but it is enough for you to know that it is a lot. Reading books takes me to new places of thought, I gain new insights and I use those insights to make my life better. When we read, it is said to be incredibly good for our health. A business insider article discusses it and you should give it a read here. The point of reading for me is that it keeps me feeling young and a learner, which helps to keep my ego in check.
  4. Meditation – the benefits of meditation are aplenty and there is no end to studies about this. However, for me meditation has been a life-saver in many ways. I have been able to feel calm and content on more occasions due to meditation and in fact, gratitude comes a lot easier when we meditate or are mindful. Meditating and observing a mind that projects or perceives nothing is a remarkable experience, a mind that is quiet is a blessing for one’s being. Meditation not only enhances one’s spiritual journey but it empowers one to be strong and determined when the world attempts to get tough at us.
  5. My Satguru – without the presence of my Satguru, my life wouldn’t be the same, I may have never been as spiritual as I am if it wasn’t for my Satguru. My Satguru is the one reason why I meditate, read and honor wisdom so much. I have even improved my relationships by following the wisdom of my Satguru. You see, Satguru means truth and leads you from darkness to light. Although, I am not able to say that I am completely out of the darkness but whatever progress I have made to get to the Light is because my Satguru has always given guidance that enhances my life. You could even say that my Satguru enriches every reason why I am full of gratitude. You can read more about why I need my Satguru here.

Here are my 5 reasons why I am grateful. Please tell me at least one thing you are grateful for in the comments below.

Morning Gratitude

Every morning is made more beautiful when we are grateful to be alive and well. Sometimes we tend to overlook the fact that we have woken up from deep sleep – which is similar to death. For the world you aren’t there to experience it and you are not awake to experience the world.

Why do I love poetry?

keep calm write poetry

My life would be empty without poetry. It adds a certain dimension to my existence on a daily basis. Poetry isn’t always about the words but about the journey it takes you on. It is a journey that speaks of wordless wisdom, a speechless spectacle and a continuing wonder of the world around me.

There was a time when poetry was there for my pains. Those were pains of growing up. Ditching knowledge for earthy wisdom that contained elements of the wisdom contained in the stars. It brings forth a great rush of meditation so that the soul within you becomes still. This stillness contains the mark of the Formless. Oh I love the formless! What would I be without Him?!

Poetry has a certain melody that only a silent person truly finds. Someone attuned to music can find poetry very easily and see the soundless sound behind it. Poets endeavour to try and put words to an experience that leaves them lost for words. It is very difficult but it is the best experience. I wouldn’t trade this for the world.

The Formless and Poetry are the two of the best things in my life. I cannot see my life without either of these two. They add certain dimensions that no other substance can come close to. The intoxication, the high that they bring cannot be found in the marketplace. Such is the wisdom found in the hidden depths of our being.

A little poem for you all to end this:

I do not know if I will love you tomorrow,
I do know that I love you right now.
Time and feelings are transiently flowing,
Love remains devoted to the Stillness.

The wondrous nature of this Vision,
I have made poetry my ambition.
An attempt to explain the Unexplainable,
A route to attain the Unattainable.

Love,
Rahul