Question: I believe in the teachings, and try to apply them, but I am not very regular in the formal practices. This causes me pain. Should I make more of an effort to do formal sadhana or should I consider the pain to be a part of my spiritual practice?
Sri Gurudev: Well, it is part of your sadhana. Almost all the devotees of God felt the pain of not doing enough to reach Him. That pain is a helpful thing. It reminds you of where you are. If you don't feel bad about it, if you just say, "Okay, Swamiji said to take it easy, if I don't meditate it doesn't matter," then you will not grow. When you are not doing the right thing, you should really feel pain. That will help you to change.
At the same time, you should know your situation in life. If you are a wife and the mother of three children, you have certain family responsibilities also. If for that reason you cannot follow all the disciplines, getting up at a certain time and meditating for an hour and doing everything, you should not feel bad; but if you are not practising due to your laziness then you should feel hurt. If your responsibilities don't allow you to do everything you are excused for that, because you still have your first and foremost responsibility as a wife and a mother. You have to take care of the children. That is also part of yoga. So you should ask yourself, "Am I not following everything due to my laziness, or due to my other responsibilities?" Then make the other responsibilities part of your practice also. For example, if you are all alone as an individual you may clean your altar and shrine room and decorate everything and sit and meditate. But as a mother every morning you have two, three deities to decorate. Pull them out of the bed, wash them, give them a nice bath, dress them well, feed them. That is the offering that you are giving to God. They are living gods in your home until you see them off to school. If you ignore them and go and sit and close your eyes and meditate, then God says, "What is this? You offer a piece of fruit on the altar, but I am here in your home in the form of your child and you ignore me."
Om Shanthi, Shanthi, Shanthi