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The Leap Year Discipline

By Michael Ketterhagen

I am proposing a new commitment for all of us spiritual seekers…a year of spiritual disciplines. Don’t worry! I’m not advocating severity. I am just focusing on the practical aspects of our life and the little changes we can make that will dramatically alter our spiritual life.

This is really a training program for our will powerful, “Sankalpa Shakti” in Samskrit, that will use the wisdom of the Yoga Tradition and the sacrificial aspects of Christian spiritual practice.

Yoga believes that we are a unit of body and mind that is driven by our spiritual nature. We are a not segments, but a wholeness. That means that if we make one change in our body or in our mind or in our spirit, we will change the other dimensions of our being. When I walk more, I will have a clearer mind (the mental benefit) and feel more connected to my body and the meaning in my life (the spiritual benefit).

Changing little behaviors in our daily life for an extended period of time—like for the magic number 40 days of the Yoga and Christian traditions or 100 days in the Taoist Tradition—will re-orient our entire life, physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

Choosing just one of these examples would be considered a spiritual practice, if done with that intention. You could commit for the next month or two—40 days—

  • To tell the truth at all times. This would include not exaggerating or attributing to ourselves what we heard another say, misleading a person to think that what we said was our belief or idea.

  • To pause before we eat anything, even candy or a snack to thank God for this coming nourishment.

  • To wake up at the same time every morning without using the snooze alarm, but immediately pulling yourself out of bed to begin your day.

  • To establish a morning routine that would never change for the first 30 minutes upon waking, without listening to the radio, television, or looking at our social media.

  • To eat only three meals a day at the same time in order to establish some regularity in your life.

  • To not eat in the car or while driving.

  • To eat without watching television or listening to the radio, but instead

  • focusing on the food that you are eating – its taste, texture, service to your body.

  • To walk for 10 minutes every day at the same time of the day—morning, noon, or evening.

  • To fast from 7 pm to 7 am every day, even on weekends.

  • To sing a song of joy every morning upon waking—thanking our Divine Mother of Life for the new day.

Any one of these little commitments will take discipline and may even take you an entire year, an entire leap year, to complete the required period of time (40 days), because if you miss or skip one day before you reach 40, you have to start all over again in order to complete the 40-day commitment.

This year might be a great year to experience a tremendous spiritual change in your life by making just one little change either in your physical behavior or in your mental attitude. I pray that you think of changing just one little disturbing action in your life or one little way of thinking that you don’t like for 40 days and see how your whole life might change.  In completing such a commitment will allow you to develop the discipline and strength to make your meditation practice much more beneficial.

I bow to the divinity within you!

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