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During my more than 20 years of teaching, the obstacle that people have consistently shared as standing in the way of their practice is time. We have created lives where our attention focuses on the external, gathering data and information, seeking validation through “likes,” and succumbing to intense FOMO (fear of missing out) that makes it hard to turn off the devices that link us to the outside world 24/7. This existence leaves very little room for exploration of our internal landscape, devotion to practice, spiritual study, the things that bring us joy or relaxation just for the sake of our own sanity and well-being.
When we consistently make choices that deny the importance of our inner lives in exchange for the things that are continually changing and not a real source of truth, we keep looking outward for validation and meaning. It’s called distraction, and by succumbing to it, we are giving our power away. All the energy that we possess is being dispersed and wasted in chasing things that can never bring us lasting happiness.
No matter how shiny those distractions are, they are not more brilliant than the eternal light that makes its home within you. Perhaps you have intuitively sensed that there is something more to who you are beyond what you see, that there is a part of you that is vibrant and thriving. Maybe you feel like you’ve lost that part of yourself under all of life’s overwhelming demands. But yogic wisdom tells us that the thriving, vibrant radiance is who we are.
Nischala Joy Devi translated my favorite Patanjali’s sutra 1.36, viśokā va jyotiṣmatī, as saying, “Cultivate devotion to the supreme, ever-blissful light within.” This sutra refers to a light within us that is beyond all sorrow, that is unaffected by our conditioning or life experiences. It is not tainted in any way. It is pure, blissful, and eternal. It was there before you had a name and will be there when you no longer have a body. I believe that part of our purpose in life is to taste this radiance. In many yoga traditions, a light is said to reside inside the “cave,” or deepest recesses, of the heart.
Unfortunately, we give ourselves no chance of experiencing this inner light when our focus is constantly directed outward. It might feel like modern life leaves us no choice but to be externally focused—unless we’re living in a cave somewhere. When we are living the life of a householder, which I define as those of us with duties and obligations to our families, jobs, parents, or pets, it can feel like there is little to no time for practice.
But who said that a “practice” needed to be an hour or 90 minutes to be meaningful and valid? That comes from the commercialization of yoga as a wellness product to be sold and not as a lifelong practice that can lead to spiritual freedom. What if we stopped compartmentalizing and saw the whole of our lives as a spiritual practice?
Redefining Your Practice
No matter how fast life is moving and how many things there are to do, we have the time and space to practice. We can reframe how we see practice and use the myriad opportunities that daily life gives us to do that practice. Life becomes our practice, and we can take refuge at the altars of our hearts. Our practice reminds us that life is sacred, and we can experience the quality of radiance in our daily lives.
Try seeing your practice as a 24-hour cycle. Each breath, mantra, pose, mudra, or contemplation you are able to thread into your day makes up your Householder’s Flow. Your 24-hour practice can flow through all the states of consciousness: waking, dreaming, and deep sleep. Let it become the fabric that supports you as you take care of family, commute to work, prepare for a meeting, do classes online, bathe your children, and prepare for a night’s sleep.
As householders, we can turn every sunrise, every breath, every pause between the breath into a sacred portal into practice. The most potent portals are the moments when you are about to fall asleep and awaken. Plus, you will create a 24-hour flow of practice that can begin to give your waking life a new color—one of presence and grace. You may find your relationship to time and practice beginning to shift, and my hope is that you will then be able to incorporate longer deep relaxation practices too.
7 Rituals to Transform Your Day Into a Sacred Householder’s Flow
1 – Instead of one long practice, try 2- to 3-minute mini practice portals that you can weave throughout your day.
You can set the timer on your phone to remind you when to practice. When you do have a few minutes of space to practice, notice how resistance to resting or practicing may show up. Be aware of what you feel called to do instead. Is it nurturing, supportive, or healing? Is your default mode moving you toward healing or toward distraction and staying stuck?
2 – Use your least favorite chore as a portal to practice.
Chant, sing, or follow your breath while washing dishes, doing your taxes, doing laundry, or mopping the floor. Use your resistance as a way to turn the mundane into the sacred. Any song or affirmation that is offered with devotion will work.
3 – Leave a small space in your home—a chair, your yoga mat, a corner of a room, a closet, or even your car—set up and ready for your practice.
Begin to see every seat as a potential meditation seat or yoga nidra nest.
4 – Acknowledge your obstacles.
Let go of being surprised and frustrated when they show up. Observe the barriers to practice that arise and the obstacles that you place in your own way. Be aware of which patterns keep showing up. How can you shift something to create a new outcome?
5 – Decide what you are willing to commit to.
6 – Connect to the desire in your heart to deepen your practice and let that be what guides you.
Even when you feel like you cannot “do” a single thing, connecting to that longing with a sense of gratitude that the fire is burning within you will support you. Connect to it with gratitude, as opposed to despair and disappointment that the desire has not yet been fulfilled; know that you are moving toward it. Connect with your faith that things can change. Remember the cycles of nature where nothing is permanent. There is a season for everything.
7 – Be creative. Look for the pauses, transitions, spaciousness, and silence.
The day is full of natural transitions: sunrise, high noon, sunset, moonrise. Use these natural transitions to remind you to pause. When you pause, you create a natural void, so place a mantra, an affirmation, a bible verse, or a blessing for yourself in that space to empower yourself. These are the little nidra moments that will change your relationship to the practice.
Adapted from Radiant Rest: Yoga Nidra for Deep Relaxation and Awakened Clarity by Tracee Stanley © 2021 by Tracee Stanley. Reprinted in arrangement with Shambhala Publications, Inc. Boulder, CO.
More about Tracee Stanley
Tracee Stanley, founder of Empowered Life Circle shares teachings that are inspired by more than 20 years of study in the tradition of the Himalayan Masters and Sri Vidya Tantra. The focus of her teaching is yoga nidra, meditation, self-inquiry, nature as a teacher, and ancestor reverence. She is the creatrix of the Empowered Life Self-Inquiry Oracle Deck, and host of Radiant Rest Podcast which celebrates the practices, teachers, and traditions that prioritize the rituals of rest, sacred dreaming, and self-care.
Tracee calls on her understanding of the timeless wisdom of yoga and Tantra to guide students towards the door of awakening to their true nature: one that is full of luminosity, truth, wisdom, and bliss. Tracee’s book Radiant Rest: Yoga Nidra for Deep Relaxation and Awakened Clarity, published by Shambhala Publications, is now available for pre-order.