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How to Protect Your Practice

how to protect your spiritual practice
Episode No. 172

Protecting your ability to do sadhana (aka spiritual practice) and integrated practice is paramount if you want the fruit of your practice. But how exactly can you do that? A podcast from Satsang with Shambhavi

Podcast First Words

So today I want to talk about what it means to protect your practice. This is something you’ve heard me say a lot: that we should protect our practice. And actually, that phrase comes from Padmasambhava, the second Buddha, as he is so called. When one of his principle students, Yeshe Tsogyal, was being disturbed by something, she asked him, “What should I do?” She was being disturbed by something external. And he said, “Run for the hills. Protect your practice.”

If you look on the Internet, you’ll see that this phrase “protect your practice” is very common in a lot of Buddhist lineages. And when we say practice, of course, we mean anything that you’re doing to lead you in the direction of waking up. It could be anything from formal seated practice, like mantra, meditation, or something like that, to simply protecting your ability to remain in the state of your practice or to remain undistracted from your real nature.

So protecting your spiritual practice has broad application. Because in our tradition we’re trying to do akhanda sadhana. We’re trying to do unbroken practice. Because enlightenment, waking up, self-realization doesn’t mean something that you only want to have for twenty minutes a day. And then the rest of the time you’re like, “Whatever. Whatevs.”  So you want to enter into a state of natural presence, natural spontaneity, full self-expression. We have to try to do that all the time, not just at some particular little time.

There are two ways, in general, that we have to protect our practice. One is by arranging our lives so that we are saving energy for our practice. It takes energy and a certain quality of attention and awareness to actually even do practice of any sort. Whether you’re talking about sitting on a cushion or walking around just trying to be aware, all of that takes energy and a certain ability to be alert. So if you’re really exhausted, drained, or if you’re ill because of some circumstance that could have been avoided, then your practice is going to suffer greatly.