Spiritual Masturbation — 99% practice, 1 % Theory
The founder of the school of Ashtanga yoga I practice — Guru Pattabhi Jois’ said “99% Practice; 1% Theory”, a few years ago and back then, it was just another quote for me. Today, my journey has led me to a point where different occasions rise to testify for how true this statement is.
This is the story of my spiritual masturbation — and if I could bet my money, I’d say it’s yours too. Read on:
In this episode titled ‘The Continued Problem With TED Talks’ from Two Guys on Your Head podcast featuring Dr. Art Markman and Dr. Bob Duke (Professors — Psychology, Univ of Texas) , presents a cogent case that listening to the “Self-Improvement” talks will NOT change your lives and/or make your problems go away magically. In case we forgot, they remind us the E in TED stands for Entertainment. They stress on the importance of a regular practice to see results, understanding that progress is not always linear.
They take a pretty simple example of the objective of losing weight, the formula is pretty straightforward , everyone knows it, and it only works when you put sustained effort into it. Same for overcoming depression or achieving other goals — it takes time and effort and a 10 minute talk won’t do it.
I could relate to this talk so much. Before my first 10 day silent Vipassana retreat , I would listen to spiritual leaders such as Sadhguru etc, I mean you can’t avoid them if you are of Indian origin — Our whatsapp family groups of Aunties & Uncles will bombard you with these clips. I used to feel good after listening to them, I even comprehended a lot of it, I’m a pretty smart guy. But it didn’t make a squat of a difference to my anxiety prone , high achieving life. I clearly didn’t have any sort of daily practice to overcome my issues, neither did I know or understand the importance of practice.
After my first Vipassana retreat, where I was meditating 10 hours a day without talking to anybody for 10 days, I came upon a Sadhguru clip, which not only made sense like it always did, but I knew it was the truth because I experienced It! The Vipassana organization founder & great teacher — Sri SN Goenka, talks about that in one of his lectures where he says, without practice all the wisdom you hear/read is merely just knowledge or contemplation. Wisdom you experience is the one that actually changes the chemical structure of your cell & body and begets change. Again, I know this because I have experienced it.
While the videos and articles from calmcoporate are intended to add immediate value to your work & personal life, we are unwavering believers of the importance of practicing mindfulness regularly no matter how brief the practice is because that is where the sustained, measurable & noticeable benefits comes from.
Before starting calmcorporate, I Raja Sampathi would be informally helping/coaching my friends & colleagues in the corporate world. We would have a chat, understand where they are in life, what is it that they are trying to alleviate and I would suggest a practice which best suited their lifestyle and they would walk away in a much better mental shape, for then. Few weeks later , they would come back to me with the SAME issues, of course, having practiced none of my recommendations. How did I know? — If they did, the questions they would ask are different and/or their issues would have presented different challenges. Rinse, repeat, same thing after a few more weeks. I started terming this as Spiritual Masturbation, which I was guilty of in the past with my Sadhguru tapes and excused myself from trying to help them anymore.
At calmcorporate, we are committed to working with clients who commit to themselves. We focus on making mindfulness a habit so that is almost like a reflex. As Dr. Joe Dispenza says — Habit is something you have done so many times that the body knows how to do it better than the mind.
It’s important to understand that the journey to Authenticity is not a straight line: it’s like taking a windy road to the top of a mountain and when you keep driving you get there. I can’t illustrate this better than the image here from Mindvalley. Even after many years of regular mindfulness practice, I cannot tell you how many low days or periods I have had or have. I have no plans of giving my regular practice, rather I double down and increase it where possible or find new modalities. Which is why with calmcoporate, you can be rest assured that we will help you navigate your hairpin bends and curves as well, on your journey.
If you think that it is only 5 minutes a day that you can commit to practising mindfulness, then start there! I love how Arianna Huffington of Thrive Global calls it ‘Too Small to Fail’ practices. My favorite is gratitude — put a PostIt note on your toothbrush holder and/or your monitor ‘What are you grateful for’ and rattle a mental list. Before you know, gratitude will be a habit for you.
While I can help with almost all obstacles you think you have in taking the plunge to a better you, I cannot help anyone who says, “I’m too old for this”. My mother started her self-actualization journey at the age of 65! Her no support headstand, which she mastered only a few months ago (the number of times she flipped getting it right, phew), is the least impressive of her spiritual stripes, making me realize as I write this, that I have to write another article about how she inspires others in their inner journey and how we have morphed into each other’s teachers as well!
So coming back to you…. What are you waiting for? The time is right and the time is now!