Types of sādhanā

Rasa Ravi, 2020

Haṭha techniques

These techniques introduce the adept to his or her own body ‘from the inside.’ Isolated haṭha techniques, unless they are linked to visualizations and other advanced methods, fall into the category for beginners.

Prāṇāyāma

Prāṇāyāma is the footing of all meaningful sādhanās. Prāṇāyāma without counting and observation of the pathway of breath is not prāṇāyāma but an ordinary breath exercise. Why are skin divers not the most celebrated masters of yoga?

Attention

Attention is giving our mental effort to the task in sādhanā. In other words, it is controlling (or trying to control) the though-flow with variously defined boundaries of various widths. Concentration is a type of attention about which we can say that it has narrow boundaries and is, ideally without interruptions, directed precisely towards the desired position; however, this position can be systematically shifted in time or in other respects, and it can be changed as well. Every sādhanā consists, to some extent, of some kind of attention.

Mantrajapa

Mantrajapa is continuous cyclic repetition (japa) of a given mantra for a long period of time. It has the ability to ‘quick-charge’ the adept to an elevated spiritual condition, although if the mantrajapa recitation ends, it tends to slowly ‘discharge’ and gradually dissipates. Joint recitation of mantras is a rewarding engagement in spiritual groups, having the capability to anchor the common path. It uplifts people and harmonizes their endeavor.

In high practices mantras are components of the programming language of the śikharin.

Visualization

Without visualization there is no high practice. In the West, where rationality and logic are over-represented at the expense of feelings and metaphors, people tend to accept that they are not capable of doing it. It is not true, everybody can learn it to some extent.

Mālā

Everyday practice with a mālā or rosary is a basic grounding, without which it is hard to imagine any systematic spiritual labor. Mālā-practice can have many advanced levels, from a simple repetition to a complex version, where prāṇāyāma and breath-counting is involved, as well as observation of the inner space while pushing the beads with the fingers, application of mudrās, visualizations, etc. It can achieve as the same level of arduousness as the maṇḍala.

Maṇḍala sādhanā

It is a very complex sādhanā. It interconnects prāṇāyāma, attention with strict boundaries, visualization, categorization with the help of mantras, and of course, it is based on a map of the microcosm defined by a maṇḍala.