Question: What type of general habits should one follow in normal life?
Here are a few principles one should adopt:
Try to rise early, around 4 am daily. This time is the brahma muhurta, a period extremely favourable for spiritual practices. During this period from 4 am to 7 am spiritual practices give quick and maximum progress.
Sit peacefully in padmasana and recite the Hare Krishna maha-mantra during this early morning time period.
Take sattvik food (pure food which does not increase one’s passions). Give up chillies, onion, garlic, and excessively sour or spiced foods. Observe moderation in diet. Do not overload the stomach.
Systematically study the scriptures such as Bhagavad Gita, Ramayana, Srimad Bhagavatam, the Upanishads, etc., from half an hour to one hour daily.
Memorize some powerful prayers and recite them before you begin meditation to elevate your mind.
Do charity every month according to one’s means. Never fail in this. If necessary forego some personal wants but keep up this charity regularly.
Give up bad association, smoking and liquor entirely. Try to associate with like minded spiritual people. Do not develop evil habits. Try always to develop positive virtuous qualities.
Fast on certain days of the year by eating only milk and fruit (such as ekadashi day twice a month).
Keep a japa mala and wear it around your neck or keep it in your pocket. This will remind you of God. Twirl the beads in your leisure hours and just before going to sleep. Chant your mantra on each bead.
Observe silence for a couple of hours each day.
Practice to speak truth. Always utter encouraging words.
Reduce your wants. If you have four shirts, reduce it to three. Lead a happy contented life. Avoid unnecessary worry. Be mentally detached. Live simply and develop high thinking. Think of those who do not even have one tenth of what you have. Share with others.
Practice Love. Never hurt anybody. Be compassionate and forgiving.
Have self-analysis. In the evening just before sleeping reflect over the mistakes you made during the course of the day. Keep a daily spiritual diary and self-correction register. Draw up a routine of daily activities and follow it.
Never fail to fulfil your duty.
Think of God as soon as you wake up and just before you go to sleep, and at all other times. Repeat His name always, it should ring in the mind continuously.
Develop the following qualities:
Serenity, Regularity, Absence of Vanity, Sincerity, Simplicity, Veracity, Equanimity, Fixity, Non-irritability, Adaptability, Humility, Tenacity, Integrity, Nobility, Magnanimity, Charity, Generosity, Purity.