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A life of conscious action

  • Published at 02:04 pm May 25th, 2018
A connection of body, mind, and breath Photo: BIGSTOCK

Sadhana could bring more happiness into our lives

In Arabic, ibādah means service; ibādat is its plural form. In Bangla, we translate ibādat into the word sadhana. This translation is wonderful. Here is why.

When the heart and the brain connect, the brath, the body, and mind focus exclusively on the moment -- this is perhaps what we call sadhana

It is not just concentration. It is active consciousness supported by the communication between all that the brain has to offer, and the chambers of the heart. 

Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, who studies the roots of happiness, says if we introduce more flow into our lives, our level of joy will increase. 

According to Csikszentmihalyi, flow occurs when a a person’s capacity to do a task and the scope of challenge are equal. According to Csikszentmihalyi: “The best moments in our lives are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times … The best moments usually occur if a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.” 

How related are these experiences, flow and sadhana (ibādat)? The state of flow is focused on performance that leads to joy. Sadhana is grounded in action, but it is also a gradual deepening of the mind, a sort of energetic offering to self, community, and the divine, which may lead to freedom. Flow may be a peak level of sadhana, but it has no religious undertones.

In 1990, Csikszentmihalyi’s studies on happiness futher described flow as “a state in which people are so involved in an activity, that nothing else seems to matter; the experience is so enjoyable that people will continue to do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it.”  

In his essays on sadhana, Rabindranath agrees: “This joy of life, this joy of work, in man is absolutely true. It is no use saying that it is a delusion of ours; that unless we cast it away we cannot enter upon the path of self-realization. 

“It will never do the least good to attempt the realization of the infinite apart from the world of action.” 

Reading Rabindranath Tagore’s pieces alone (prose, poetry, novels) brings us to the understanding of ibādat, but we can certainly be there on our own through a little practice of sadhana

For every action:

Be aware of breath (heart)

Be aware of body

Be aware of mind

Connect breath, body, and mind to what you are doing.  

For more information on Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s The Concept of Flow, please see: http://eweaver.myweb.usf.edu/2002-Flow.pdf

Shireen Pasha is Berlin Bureau Chief, Dhaka Tribune.