What personal qualities are needed for success in sadhana?
Swami Satyananda: Yogi Swatmarama is very clear about the qualities needed for success in hatha yoga. These six qualities are listed in Hatha Yoga Pradipika (1:16i):
Enthusiasm, perseverance, discrimination, unshakable faith,
courage and avoiding the company of common people, are the six which bring success in yoga.
To succeed in yoga, enthusiasm, or it could be said, ‘a positive attitude’, is absolutely essential. Constant inspiration and the ideal of attaining perfection generate energy and help to maintain regularity in practice. Every day should seem like the first day of practice. The same zeal should exist between a sadhaka and his sadhana as between a newly-wed couple. Then the sadhana will be invigorating and exciting. This spontaneously generates perseverance.
No matter what happens externally, rain, hail or shine, sadhana must be done regularly. Whether one is afflicted with material losses or acquires valuable possessions, whether there are visible signs of progress in one’s sadhana or not, the effort of sadhana must continue. Even if one has practised for fifteen years, one must continue until the final goal is reached. It may take only one more month of practice, or it may take a whole lifetime. Everybody evolves at a different rate, so it is useless to compare oneself with others. No matter what, the attitude should always be optimistic.
Discrimination is the third prerequisite for success in yoga. Everything that is done and every aspect of one’s life, including the diet, clothing, company, material necessities and conversations, should be conducive to sadhana. If something is going to be detrimental, leave it.
Unshakable faith in guru and the ultimate truth or reality is the most important tool for a sadhaka. If one doubts the guru, how can there be success in what he has taught? If faith is lost in the guru, there is no hope for success in yoga. Absolute faith in whatever he says and does is the only key to unlock the door to higher experience. One may doubt one’s own ability to achieve, but if there is faith in guru and he says you can move a mountain, you will do it. Even if faith in guru and the ultimate goal is the only thing in one’s favour, that person will surely succeed.
Courage is also recommended for fulfilling yoga, courage to face the inner visions and realizations as they dawn. Courage, perseverance and faith go hand-in-hand, not only in the face of internal hardships, but the external ones also. During the period of sadhana it can be detrimental to mix with people who have lower aspirations. At that stage, the less one is involved with others the more the inner knowledge can grow. Of course, a sadhaka should not consider the others to be inferior, but until his physical, mental, emotional and psychic resistance have developed, it is better to stay away from social interactions and negative influences. These six factors can be cultivated anywhere, whether living in a city with your family or alone in a hermitage. A householder should modify them to suit his lifestyle.