Frankly, as far as spiritual Awakening goes, 90 percent of so-called spiritual practices are a total waste of time.

When we are beginners, we look for practices that the gurus tell us will lead us to emancipation. These practices may be helpful for a while, but after some years we find that they don’t lead us to the goal of Self-realisation (Oneness with the Absolute).

I spent fifteen years wasting my time with set periods of meditation, which for the most part, only offered temporary relief. Once the ‘meditation’ is over, we are plunged back into the same mentality and attitudes that we had before. I never got anywhere until I realised that meditative consciousness must be continued throughout the day - and throughout life.

Most people are self-consciously ‘doing’ meditation, generally being unaware of what meditation actually is.

You can’t ‘do’ meditation. If one minute of meditation occurs in half an hour of attempting to still the mental traffic, you are extremely lucky.

Meditation is the constant awareness of ‘Being’ - without thought.

One way to achieve this is the refusal to pick up on any thought that happens to flow through the sort of empty space which is your real nature. This doesn’t require any set periods but simply vigilance in every moment. Constantly ensure that you are not caught up in the endless daydreams and thought flow that constantly invades your otherwise silent inner space.

You can spend years doing Hatha Yoga asanas - the postures - breathing techniques, forcing kundalini arousal (the activation of the psychic nervous system), gaining psychic powers and suchlike, all under the impression that these are spiritual practices: but they won’t take you one step nearer to the Self (the yogic term for the Absolute - the Omipresence, the Reality, Allah, Yahweh, God, the Great Spirit) or whatever you want to call it.

Quality of the heart

Of course, you may spiritualise your yoga practice as many sincere practitioners do, by coming from the heart in all your efforts. It’s the quality of the heart, not your mind or intention, with which you do your practice that makes the difference. But the practices in themselves, valuable as they may be for your physical and mental well-being, are not leading you to the Source.

After years of doing other practices and not feeling you are getting anywhere, you will come to realise the truth of what I am explaining.

However, everyone has to start from where they are. If you are unable to grasp the simplicity and yet the profundity of the teachings of Advaita - the highest experience of the seers - then you need to follow heart-based yoga practices. They are all helpful to a degree, for purifying the body and the mental waves over time. But understand that this is the all-round-the-house method.

But even so, no sincere spiritual practice is ever wasted, because it always leaves a subtle impression on the soul. So if you must insist on following all the other practices, then do them while consciously immersed in the feeling of being in the heart-centre.

In that way, the fruit of your sadhana - your practice - will ripen more swiftly.

The truth is always unpalatable to those who are set in their ways, and those who’ve invested a lot in time-consuming yoga practices. So I’ll doubtless offend a lot of people when I say that just going to church, mosque, temple, or synagogue, mindlessly mumbling liturgies by rote, parroting scriptures, lighting candles, waving lights, attending rituals, eating wafers, insisting on wearing a particular kind of headgear or none at all, according to the sect that you belong to; or following the compiled rules and regulations of congregational fraternities - all that, is what is known a religion. And every religion is a sect.

But none of that is spiritual practice. This is merely resting in the herd warmth of your religious comfort zone. It is not taking you one iota nearer to God (or what you consider to be ‘God’ - without any actual experiential confirmation).

When you’ve finally seen through all that and come to realise the truth of it, then what is left?

What is left? Is there really nothing to do?


Many seekers become confused by teachers telling them, “You don’t need to do anything - Thou Art That” - you are the Godness you are looking for: you are essentially the ‘Self’ of the universe.

Yes, it’s true - you don’t have to do anything to be what you already are. But what is required is the constant observation of what you are not.

Once you’ve understood, or at least appreciated, that you are not the invasive thought flow that constantly troubles you, nor are you the psychological sense of ego—the habit you’ve attached your psychological sense of self-worth to - all that is needed is to passively observe the machinations of these two functions without buying into any other their activities.

Simply observe them unto death: until they no longer have any purchase on your consciousness.

This is true tapasya (spiritual practice) and is the final experience of Advaita - the concept of non-twoness, or non-separation from the whole - aka the Omnipresence.

If you are capable of that, then no other practice is necessary.

This is the swiftest path to Self-realisation.


British mystic, author, psychotherapist, spiritual counsellor, mantra yogi, fine artist and illustrator, theatrical set and costume designer. Founder-editor of Gandalf’s Garden magazine and Community in the London Sixties, and 3 years as columnist for Yoga Today magazine, BBC 4 Scriptwriter, author of four spiritual self-development books and two storybooks for children. 

Muz Murray