A few asked me how to best become spiritual, so thought I'll share with wider audience what I told them. Here’s what I found to be most useful in my spiritual path:
- Vipassana meditation camp for 10 days. You need to sit in the same pose on the floor for 1 hour at a stretch. Should go to the camp only after practicing this. I sit in vajrasana at home and office (yes! on the office chair) when I work on my laptop, usually in stretches of 45 mins – 1 hour. I do the meditation I practiced there, or on the mantra I was initiated into, by a different guru, whenever possible.
- Chanting mantras, exercising as much lung capacity as possible. I feel the vibrations in my lungs and chest. The shortest mantra, “OM” chanted consciously, experiencing the vibrations of A-U-M in the Abdomen, Upper-trunk, and Mind has the most impact, so I do it 3-5 times every day. I by-hearted and chant pancha suktas including Rudram and Vishnu Sahasranama whenever possible, usually multi-tasking with household chores and previously, cooking. Here's the playlist containing my rendering of these timeless chants: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vp2tk4Emj14&list=PLrbG5zg_L7VJ0v0ixryfF09a3SkloUez2 and https://soundcloud.com/vishnupendyala
- Reciting stotras silently in mind. Over the years, I by hearted a lot of them. I recite them in my mind when I drive or bike to work, when doing yoga, or when jogging or exercising on fitness machines.
- Various Yoga asanas for 45 mins, when I don’t get sleep or 3 asanas for 10 mins every day. It takes me 2-3 minutes to recite Hanuman chalisa in mind and I do it in a handstand posture (Adho Mukha Vrksasana), using the support of the wall. Handstand asana should never be done alone, so I precede it with my version of the Uttanasana Asana and follow it with Setu Bandha Sarvangasana or my version of Halasan. I do the former reciting “OM” aloud and the latter, reciting silently in mind, Aditya Hrudayam along with a few other Sri Rama slokas.
- Simple life style. Visiting places of worship, donating time and money to good causes, eating mostly unprocessed food, frugality, and spending a lot of time learning. When there are no parties or outside food, my diet in a day mostly comprises of a banana, an apple, half-cup nuts, and a small processed snack. For the last several years, I sleep on a sleeping bag on the floor and don’t remember buying shirts or pants or anything expensive for myself. I’ve been an enrolled student for 35 years. I go to office at least one day in a week on a $100 bicycle I bought in 2004 in Toys-R-Us. I visited almost all the major temples in the cities I visited and a lot of cathedrals in USA.
- Scriptures. When I was preparing for my PhD prelims, a professor told us that reading any 100 pages from a 1300+ page big fat book is good enough to pass the exam on this subject. I think that applies to religion as well. Read any 100 or 200 pages from any scripture. It will transform you enough, if you start applying it in your life. For me, in spite of reading a lot of religious books and scriptures, the simple story of Lord Rama has been the most useful scripture. I seek solutions to every problem in that story and try to align with Sri Rama’s decisions. Of course, I’m in no way bestowed with the abilities of Sri Rama, so I take the readings from the story only as guidelines.