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Purify your consciousness to reveal your true identity as a spiritual being.
When we hear the word ‘yoga’ most of us initially think of the physical side of the practice, the postures. However, although physical health is an important part of living, the postures are just one very small aspect of yoga. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali teaches that the deeper practice of yoga transcends the physical & aims to neutralize the emotions & energize psychic centres. This awakens your inner guru & spiritual insights where the real transformation lies.
Yoga Meditation includes:
Open your heart & free yourself from the prison of your own problems.
Mindfulness is the key to Buddhist meditation practices that help meditators cultivate core values of awareness, tranquility and insight. In the Dhammapada, Buddha teaches that when we are truly in the present moment we can work with our actions & reactions in a way that leads to the well-being & happiness of ourselves & others. And the more we appreciate the importance of cherishing others, the more we experience compassion & love in daily life.
Buddhist Meditation includes:
Harmonize with the spirit of nature and achieve immortality.
Qigong combines Traditional Chinese Medicine and Taoist philosophy to harmonize the body, breath, mind, spirit & energy. The Four Canons of the Yellow Emperor teaches that we need to bring the emotional mind into balance with the wisdom mind. Qigong also has preventive & restorative benefits that improve your overall health & maintain the flow of ‘qi’ (life force energy) through your meridians & acupoints, increasing energy & vitality, balancing yin & yang.
Qigong Meditation includes:
Awaken your divine power within to heal yourself and others.
Reiki has its roots in Buddhism and Pranic Healing. Literature from Mt. Kurama Temple in Japan teaches that Reiki is an intelligent living energy of divine origin that unites the heart and mind with love, wisdom and compassion. By opening the crown chakra Reiki increases the flow of ‘ki’ (life force energy) into the mind & body, and reawakens your inner guru & self-healing ability. This stimulates your natural healing process, relaxing & harmonizing your mind, body & spirit.
Reiki Meditation includes:
INTRODUCTION TO MEDITATION
Meditation traditions of the world are centred on the quest for relaxation, freedom from sorrow, liberation and enlightenment. The practice of meditation requires mental training to purify the mind and body, with the intention to turn the mind inwards with techniques that assist us on a journey of self-exploration, self-discovery and self-realisation. This has a profound effect on the way we think, speak and act. It peels away the veil of delusion revealing the true majestic nature of our innermost Self in all its glory. Love, compassion, generosity, dispassion, caring and friendliness all naturally blossom in everyday life. The fruit of meditation is inner peace, happiness and complete harmony with the rhythm of nature.
Meditation is a way to see the world directly, as it is, without any judgement or mental conditioning. It is awareness. It is silence, stillness in the mind; its natural state of being. This is when the mind ceases its constant vacillation between worry over the future and regrets of the past, when the whole awareness returns to the present moment. Such beauty and fullness is found here!
Also termed by athletes as ‘being in the zone’, this natural state of awareness accompanies peak performance in all fields of human endeavour. This presence is stillness inside, alertness, clarity of mind and peace, even in the midst of dynamic activity. Thus, the human nervous system is far more effective, responsive, and action far more powerful.
Meditation masters recognise that every human being evolves in a different way according to temperament and capacity. They advocate everyone to emphasise the practice of certain healing techniques over others, depending on individual requirements. They taught me how to combine meditation with different forms of yoga. This, they said, all helps to make the purification process deep-rooted and ensures a healthy body, mind and spirit, a prerequisite on the path to inner peace and happiness. These instructions have been firmly rooted in this book.
TEN BENEFITS FROM DAILY MEDITATION
1. Meditation can transform your life in a positive way.
2. Meditation can help you to understand and experience what real happiness is and to truly enjoy life.
3. Meditation can energise you, filling you with vitality and strength.
4. Meditation can reduce stress and anxiety.
5. Meditation can help you to sleep better.
6. Meditation can help you to become patient and to remain calm in any situation.
7. Meditation can help to develop your intuition, your sixth sense.
8. Meditation can increase wisdom.
9. Meditation can help you to understand the nature of impermanence.
10. Meditation can help to reveal your true nature and attain enlightenment.
MEDITATION IS AWARENESS
Observe the changes that take place in your mind under the light of awareness. Even your breathing has changed and become one with your observing self. This is also true of your thoughts and feelings, which, together with their effects, are suddenly transformed. When you do not try to judge or suppress them, they become intertwined with the observing mind.
From time to time you may become restless, and the restlessness will not go away. At such times, just sit quietly, follow your breathing, smile a half smile, and shine your awareness on the restlessness. Don’t judge it or try to destroy it, because this restlessness is you yourself. It is born, has some period of existence, and fades away, quite naturally. Don’t be in too big a hurry to find its source. Don’t try too hard to make it disappear. Just illuminate it. You will see that little by little it will change, merging, becoming connected, with you, the observer. Any psychological state which you subject to this illumination will eventually soften and acquire the same nature as the observing mind.
Throughout your meditation, keep the sun of your awareness shining. Like the physical sun, which lights every leaf and every blade of grass, our awareness lights our every thought and feeling, allowing us to recognize them, be aware of their birth, duration, and dissolution, without judging or evaluating, welcoming or banishing them. It is important that you do not consider awareness to be your “ally,” called on to suppress the “enemies” that are your unruly thoughts. Do not turn your mind into a battlefield. Do not have a war there; for all your feelings-joy, sorrow, anger, hatred-are part of yourself. Awareness is like an elder brother or sister, gentle and attentive, who is there to guide and enlighten. It is a tolerant and lucid presence, never violent or discriminating. It is there to recognize and identify thoughts and feelings, not to judge them as good or bad, or place them into opposing camps in order to fight with each other. Opposition between good and bad is often compared to light and dark, but if we look at it in a different way, we will see that when light shines, darkness does not disappear. It doesn’t leave; it merges with the light. It becomes the light.
A while ago I invited my guest to smile. To meditate does not mean to fight with a problem. To meditate means to observe. Your smile proves it. It proves that you are being gentle with yourself, that the sun of awareness is shining in you, that you have control of your situation. You are yourself, and you have acquired some peace. It is this peace that makes a child love to be near you.
RELEVANCE OF MEDITATION TODAY
The enlightened masters of the Himalayas teach that being spiritual is not about locking ourself away on a mountain top for thirty years, chanting and eating nettles. The path to enlightenment is mindfulness; being aware of the present moment and living a higher consciousness lifestyle with our families, friends and enemies, in our home, at work, in the community and environment. It’s about creating love and compassion in our normal everyday lives, working together, playing together and meditating together.
As Bhodidharma, the founder of Zen Buddhism, taught, “To find Buddha (awakened mind), you have to see your nature. Whoever sees his nature is a Buddha. If you don’t see your nature, invoking Buddhas, reciting sutras, making offerings and keeping precepts are all useless. Invoking Buddhas results in good karma, reciting sutras results in a good memory, keeping precepts results in good rebirth, and making offerings results in future blessings – but no Buddha.”
Being spiritual simply means, being in the present moment and mindful that our thoughts, speech and actions are pure, untainted and filled with love. But as cool and romantic as it may seem, meditation and being spiritual is not about wearing hippy clothes and jewellery from India, or hanging cosmic mandalas in our living-room, sitting cross-legged and tuning in, turning on and dropping out. Meditation takes place on the inside and requires regular, diligent practice with patience and determination before results are noticed on the outside.
Buddha believed that the mind is our greatest resource, and that meditation is the method that develops the mind correctly to bring about clarity of understanding. This is as relevant today as it was thousands of years ago. Meditation helps us now, as it did then, to begin to understand ourselves better, which in itself is a great achievement, because it is our misunderstanding of ourselves that leads us to disharmony.
Meditation is an ideal way of performing a self-examination, working through unknown obstacles that are disturbing our life on account of which we are unable to progress. This requires effort, just like anything we set our heart on to achieve cannot be attained without struggle or effort from our side. The struggle is for the perfection of one’s thoughts, words and deeds. The effort is towards attaining balance in the different facets of one’s personality.
Sri Swami Sivananda of Rishikesh taught, “To live harmoniously the mind, body and spirit must develop in a balanced way according to individual temperament and capacity.” This means that the head, heart and hand must synchronise if we want to realize our goals, whether they be material, spiritual or both. Meditation provides a suitable environment for this metamorphosis to take place. A place to accept inherent weaknesses and blemishes, change our outlook and opinion, and improve ourselves.
WHAT IS HAPPINESS?
All of us seek inner peace and happiness because this is what we lack in our lives. William Hart writes, “We all want to be happy; we regard it as our right. Yet happiness is a goal we strive toward more often than attain.” At times we all experience dissatisfaction in life, agitation, disharmony, and suffering. Even if at this moment we are free from dissatisfactions, we can all remember a time when they afflicted us and can foresee a time when they may reoccur. Eventually we must all face the suffering of death.
Geshe Kelsang Gyasto asks, “What is the ultimate supreme goal of human life? What is real happiness? What do you wish for, strive for, or daydream about? Do you want material possessions, such as a large house with all the latest luxuries, a fast car, or a well paid job? Or is it reputation, good looks, power, excitement, or adventure? Do you try to find the meaning of your life in relationships with your family and circle of friends?” All these things can make us happy for a short while, but they can also cause us much worry and suffering. They can never give us the perfect lasting happiness that all of us, deep in our heart, long for.
Bhodidharma taught, “Once you stop clinging and let things be, you’ll be free, even of birth and death. You’ll transform everything.” However, our ordinary view is that I am the centre of MY universe and that other people and things derive their significance principally from the way in which they affect ME. It is this view that is the source of all our selfish intentions and suffering. It is this view that prevents us from letting go.
We need to free ourselves from the illusion that we are nothing more than this physical body and mind. When we are free from the illusionary sense of self that governs what we think, say and do, we free ourselves from the fear that is the consequence of this illusion. This also frees us from the suffering we unconsciously inflict on ourself and others.
Geshe Kelsang Gyasto answers, “The only thing that will never deceive us is the attainment of full enlightenment.” This means living a higher consciousness lifestyle, with love, wisdom, compassion and non-violence at the centre of our thought, speech and action. Only then will we be free from desires and delusions, faults and distractions, and possess the qualities necessary to help all living beings. Through this understanding we can clearly see that the attainment of enlightenment (higher consciousness lifestyle) is the real meaning of our precious human life. The path of meditation allows us to reach this supreme goal.
OPENING THE HEART
Mother Teresa said, “Everybody today seems to be in such a terrible rush, anxious for greater developments and greater riches and so on, so that children have very little time for their parents. Parents have very little time for each other, and in the home begins the disruption of peace of the world.”
Opening the heart, cultivating love and kindness, and awakening the compassionate spirit inside our self is the key to inner peace and happiness and the essence of spiritual progress. Love is a natural occurrence in the world, but bringing it to the forefront of our daily thought, speech and action involves cherishing others more than we cherish ourself. This can be achieved through the regular practice of compassionate meditation. Here we can control our ego, eliminate self-importance and selfishness, and consider the happiness of others throughout our daily activities.
S. N. Goenka believes, “When one experiences truth, the madness of finding fault with others disappears.” We all need to heal our life, to understand our sickness, or to heal past traumatic experiences, for example – family, romantic partners, teachers, and other important relationships. Meditation is the ideal place where we can examine these experiences and attitudes, and replace negative attitudes with more positive ones.
Swami Satyananda Saraswati wrote, “Self-exploration though regular meditation allows us to recognise that the faults and failures in our daily life are not in the difficult situations that confront us, or in the people with whom we have to interact. The problems we face arise from within. Circumstances only act as a catalyst to bring them to the surface.” This means that everything we feel, think, say, or do is coming up from deep within. Meditation gives us the chance to reflect on this, and apply the necessary changes to take place within us.
By letting go of our ego’s reactions and practising forgiveness and acceptance we begin to experience pure and perfect love. We learn to gladly allow the energy of love to circulate and shine through, unobstructed by fear, pain and hatred. Erich Shiffmann wrote, “The deeper we explore, the more we come to realise a very simple truth: Loving thoughts feel good, and unloving thoughts feel bad. Unloving thoughts are like self-inflicted poison darts, whereas loving thoughts are the natural response to reality when it is clearly perceived. This simple understanding will initiate a natural change of mind that will culminate in the most important theme of yoga and meditation: Learning to love and be loved.”
In this way we can begin to discover that suffering is our greatest teacher, and that the suffering in everyday life gives us many opportunities to live the ideal way. When we experience our own suffering it is a difficult time, and we tend to become overwhelmed with grief. But this is also a great opportunity to become stronger, adapt and evolve. In the depths of our suffering we can learn from the past, accept the difficult present and become stronger for the future.
However, when we help others to feel less suffering, less distress from the inevitable negatives of life, the tragic losses and frustrations, the moment we do a positive thing for others without thought or concern for ourselves, in these moments suffering and enlightenment are one. This teaches us not to live apart from the world, but to live a real and active part of it. We discover that enlightenment is not some great cosmic peace trip for monks in caves; it is actually found right in the midst of our daily existence, and that the ultimate ideal of universal compassion can be approached in small ways, not just as all or nothing.
JOURNEY OF SELF-DISCOVERY
T.K.V. Desikachar wrote, “The journey of self-discovery through meditation takes each of us in a different direction.” As we go deeper and deeper into meditation, we begin to discover our own truth, our own experience of the soul, life, creation and the cosmos, and eventually it will bring us to the ultimate truth and divinity of all things. And this is the happiness, freedom and enlightenment that we all seek.
This book has offered limited explanation on the actual experience of meditation. This is because everyone is different and will have a different experience, different thought patterns and interpretations. As Bruce Lee said, “I cannot teach you, only help you to explore yourself. Nothing more.” This is the journey you must make yourself, your own discoveries, your own realisations, your own Truth.
When we begin our journey on the path to enlightenment it is important to re-evaluate our lifestyle and the direction we are heading with our life. We should examine all activity as it happens, and how our mind observes and perceives its thoughts, speech and actions, how it responds, creates and reacts according to different outside or inside stimuli. It is important to slow down the mind and actually be in the present moment, focusing fully in the here and now.
Robin S. Sharma wrote, “In the midst of everyday activities, the mind is kept continually distracted with details. People move from one thing to the next without a pause. Even at the end of the day when the mind could take some time to reflect, most people fill their leisure hours with structured activity. Daily tension and stress does not have any way to release or disperse. They continue to build and store up within us.”
Stillness in meditation directly relaxes the mind, releases tension and stress, and awakens it to the potentials that are present in each and every person. In meditation we discover how thoroughly our life is shaped by our thoughts and the way we interpret what’s going on. Every thought, feeling and emotion manifests itself in one form or another in our body and in our life. We notice this with surprising clarity as we become more sensitive to the inner feeling of who we are. When we open our mind to meditation, change becomes possible. Problems dissolve and deeper wisdom emerges.
Meditation carries us directly to the depths, steering through the continuous flow of conscious thought, navigating into calm seas, and revealing reality in its crystal-clear reflection. Meditation helps us to experience emptiness and undergo a profound transformation of our experience of the world. It is a firsthand method; nothing can substitute for the personal exploration of our own mind. By regularly practising we can delve into our own consciousness with meditative exploration and come to our own profound and meaningful understandings. As Sir Isaac Newton once said, “To myself I am only a child playing on the beach, while vast oceans of truth lie undiscovered before me.”
After the regular and diligent practice of meditation considerable changes begin to take place in the mind, brain and nervous system. New nerve-currents, new cells, new vibrations, new avenues and new channels are formed. The whole mind and nervous system become remodelled. We will have a new mind, a new heart, new sensations, new feelings, new mode of thinking and acting and a new view of the universe. Diligent practice and persistence with meditation produces results that are permanent and abiding.
The greatest minds of our time, including Gandhi, Osho, Paramahansa Yogananda and Einstein, have all emphasised that the journey of self-discovery and spiritual evolution is man’s greatest adventure, and should be pursued as the ultimate supreme goal of human existence.