The pareto principle is a well known concept in coaching , optimization & many aspects of improvement in various aspects of life.
What it simply means is that 80% of your results come from 20% of your efforts. The rest is just filler.
The trick is finding out which is which.
That's why it is imperative when it comes to sadhana or even material aspects of life, to get guidance from someone who has already done what you are seeking to do.
Im barely qualified to talk about Mantra Sadhana as some of my peers, but since i do get questions regularly, will share my perspective.
A well meaning beginner sadhaka recently approached me saying they are doing Ganapati Sadhana ( plus 5 other mantra sadhanas ) and not experiencing any results.
I asked if they had asked their Guru who gave them initiation ( which should always be the 1st person you go to ) , and they said they were not always available due to ill health.
As person was in the same Parampara and Sampradaya as me, and i had done the same Sadhana with success, i adviced. They showed me their elephant ivory tusk mala ( which costs upward of $10,000 usd in western countries ) and asked if it would aid siddhi.
Then some rare meteorite stones (im not kidding) and asked how it could be used for Sadhana.
Then their beautiful Panchaloha Murti of Ganapati, which they do puja once a week. Then showed me a Yantra of Ganapati (with Bijas) that they had also acquired.
All of that and i asked how much Japa they had done. 9000.
Do they do minimum daily puja for Ganapati? No.
How do they do japa? is it on a constant time each day on proper asana, at least 500 a day? No.
They sit on their sofa and do it, as and when, with no proper schedule.
In Mantra Sadhana, having a competent Guru , doing substantial mantra japa ( 500 a day minimum for those who are balancing work and other commitments ) , at the same place and time every single day , covers 80% of what's needed.
This means absolute faith in your Guru ( and Guru Parampara ). This means sacrificing sleep if you need to get up early before work.
This means postponing social engagements if it impedes your Sadhana. Discipline in Sadhana is of 2 factors. 1st is doing what you are supposed to do on a daily basis without fail.
2nd is to avoid temptation of another sadhana, another deity , another shiny object, until and after you have done your sadhana fully.
Obviously there are endless other factors in Sadhana. Nyasas, Shapa Vimochan, Purascharana Vidhi , etc , etc.
But focus on what's important and fundamental, and with Guru and Upasana Devata Kripa. You might prove yourself worthy of their attention.
Without that, getting a Mala done from the tusk of Airavata in Indraloka will also not get you any results.
- Karuppar Thunai