The second obstacle for yoga is excessive work (See here for Obstacle 1: Overeating). Its name in Sanskrit is prayasha, meaning “effort” or “hard work”. We, the human beings, in the name of development, progress, modernity, and business expansion have deviated from a natural way of living. We all work, but for what? Our life is twenty-four hours a day. Nothing more. How do we spend these twenty-four hours, and how much money do we really need? Why do we strive to have more money, when having more brings us problems?
Should we work or not?
We should work, but we need to be clear about how much we need. In reality, our needs are little, but our greed is too much. We must understand our wants and put a restriction on them: “This is enough”. The masters say that human wants and desires can be compared with a foot and a shoe. If our shoes are either too small or too large for our feet, will it be comfortable? Similarly, having too much or too little can also be uncomfortable. How much we work is always associated with our dreams, desires and expectations.
How much should we work?
We need to be active; spiritual people are never lazy. But if your work is making you greedy or tired, how can you meditate if you are too exhausted or have no time? We should live a life of moderation. Lahiri Mahasaya had a job and family duties, and he still meditated every day. He advised disciples to divide each twenty-four hour day into three parts:
  • 8 hours for your job
  • 8 hours for looking after yourself and the family
  • 8 hours for your spiritual practice
These days it may not be possible to spend eight hours on your spiritual practice or family each day, but if you allocate more time to it on a weekend, and then divide the total time by three, it should average out.
How do we escape the excessive work trap?
Look after your own needs - but enjoy your work. Work is worship; it is medicine; work is not burdensome. It is refreshing; it is not tiresome. If you can enjoy it, work is not an obstacle. In the yogic lifestyle, especially in Kriya Yoga, every work you do, do it in love for God.
Be moderate, plan your life and see how much you need.  We live in a society, where desires and problems are amplified. If you have to work, then bring moderation in your work.
The "Overcoming Obstacles" series is an excerpt from a transcript of
Paramahamsa Prajnananandaji speaking at the 2014 Sydney Residential Retreat.

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