Anyone who was at the Indonesia Residency during its last two weeks had the pleasure to connect and train with Daniel Rama and his partner Shakti Bird. The depth of knowledge they shared was mind blowing, and definitely requires time and work to absorb and integrate into one’s own life. We were super lucky that Daniel shared his top ten tips for staying aligned with his practice while on the road. Here is some of his wisdom…
“Meditation is not something that you do, its somethings that happens.”
1. Your mornings are sacred. Wake up early
The time of God, Brahmamuhurta, is the time before dawn, around 4 AM – 6 AM. All spiritual practices have forever shared one habit: an early wakeup. Start the night before by setting the intention to go to sleep early, limiting alcohol and technology use, and other things that keep you awake. Give yourself time to digest before bed so your body regenerates while you sleep. Be persistent for 21 days and the early wake up will start to become natural.
2. Physicality: Practice of Asanas
Asanas are physical movements so your body can increase its potential to do all the cool stuff you want to learn. Even just being able to sit comfortably for an hour in meditation is a reason to practice asanas. Keep your morning routine simple but consistent – Surya Namaskar A is a great Sun Salutation flow to energize your body and connect it to breath. Remember: Your body is not an obstacle.
3. Pranayama: Kapalabhati and Anuloma Viloma
Daily breath work is a huge game changer. Control of Prana, your life force energy, begins with control of breath. Start with Kapalabhati breathing to overload on oxygen, boost your brain power, and revitalize your system. Once this practice is consistent, aim for 20 rounds of Anuloma Viloma a day. This alternating nostril breath balances the activity of the right and left energy polarities.
4. Dharana: Concentration
The ability to concentrate is a precursor to meditation. Jappa Mala Meditation uses a mala with 108 beads to train single focus of the mind, by repeating a mantra for each bead. (Why 108? There are 108 chakras in your astral bodies.) A basic universal mantra to start you off is OM, or a step further, Om Namo Narayanaya: acknowledging the Divine in every individual.
5. Dietic Discipline
Everything that comes through your five senses feeds you: sound, light, touch, smell and taste. Be aware and mindful about what you let in. The food you eat with your mouth is composed of 3 gunas, each with different qualities which affect physicality and mentality: SATTVA: lightness, intelligence, purity, mental clarity; RAJAS: restlessness, movement, spiciness, heat; AND TAMAS: decay, darkness, depression, lethargy. Avoiding RAJASIC food (especially stimulants like garlic, onion, chili) increases focus in meditation (too much causes agitation). Diets high in TAMASIC food create instability, aggravation and lethargy. The gunas naturally lead to a meat free diet if you stop and think of how long it takes meat to go through your system…
Every body is different so it is important to observe how foods affect your physical and mental well being.
Keep good company in your surroundings. At Momentom we value the power of community and shared breakthroughs. Sure you can progress alone but joint success goes a step further.
Practice daily silence with no communication for a set period of time, ideally in the morning. Observe the contrast between silence and noise, and the quality of what you say and hear will begin to change. Your mind and thoughts will also begin to quiet and you will return to the stillness that is at your essence.
You are self-sufficient and have all the tools you need within. Focus first on your own strength and then you can collaborate with others without dependence or need. Your relationships will thank you!
9. Karma Yoga
Yoga of selfless action in service of something higher than you. The tasks that are no fun still need to be done, for yourself and for your community. Karmic acts help to purify you and are at the foundation of a strong meditation practice.
To objectively see your own progress you have to take a step back. A great habit to track your daily practices and be accountable to yourself is to keep a spiritual diary. What was a positive part of your day? What is something you can improve?
Ready, set, go! Before you overwhelm yourself trying everything at once, begin with one or two practices for three weeks, then slowly add others. The key factor in everything you do is consistence. Sure you can spend a week being the best possible version of yourself, but if at the end of the week you go back to old habits, there really is no value. New habits can be hard to form, but the greater the initial challenge, the greater the benefits.