An Obsessed Exerciser Finds Self-acceptance: Sadhana
I was given a mantra from the Ganapati Upanishad, “Om Gam Ganapataye Namah.” This mantra, a petition for the removal of obstacles blocking our path to success, is also invoked such that we can merge ourselves within Ganesha’s supreme knowledge and peace. It was recommended that I use a mala to chant this mantra 108 times. At first, I did not understand the significance of this auspicious number—I thought, “Why 108? This seems awfully long and drawn out!” But after research, the significance of 108 repetitions helped to solidify my practice and draw forth meaning. Amongst other reasons, there are said to be 108 earthly desires within mortals, 108 human delusions or forms of ignorance, 108 energy lines converging to form the heart chakra, 108 feelings (with 36 related to the past, 36 to the present, and 36 to the future), 108 stages to the soul, and perhaps 108 paths to God. Grounding myself in a consciousness that will (hopefully) lead to the elimination of duality began to help me understand my lack of true knowledge better. My attachment to my body—and not even just my physical appearance, but my body as a complete whole—proved to be a manifestation of my spiritual ignorance. As Rolf Gates writes in his book, Meditations from the Mat, “The fear that drives us away from ourselves is rooted in our spiritual ignorance—we do not know who we really are. If we did, we would realize that there is nothing to fear. We would know that we are everything we have always hoped we would be but never believed we could be.” My sadhana practice proved to be a great starting point for understanding my connection to the divine; through this connection, I began to appreciate and respect my body rather than view it as inadequate.
 Gates, p. 148.