How can a single individual living in San Diego help the world achieve peace? It seems like a dauntless task with every contribution being so small compared to the world’s challenges and conflicts. To create lasting world peace far beyond fleeting negotiations, truces and treaties, people need to value peace in their minds and feel peace in their hearts.
“There is no peace in the world today because. There is no peace in the minds of men”.
~ Secretary General U Thant of the United Nations
A single heart-meditation
~ Sri Chinmoy, Seventy-Seven Thousand Service-Trees, Part 50, Agni Press, 2009
The experiences we have on an individual scale parallel the experiences we observe on a world wide scale. If we feel animosity towards a neighbor or coworker, no matter how many outer agreements we make, this inner malice will manifest in some way causing conflict and hostility. Peace between men and peace between nations cannot last until peace is experienced and treasured inside every individual.
Meditation with the spiritual heart is a direct means to that end. When the qualities of unconditional love, compassion, forgiveness and oneness are discovered and nurtured through meditation a more powerful connection can be made with others, and creative clear intuition and insight can be cultivated to resolve conflicts. Everything we imagine, plan, create and offer to the world grows, blooms and manifests from our state of consciousness. If we feel deep within divine peace our outer actions will reflect this and those who come in contact with us and our offerings will feel that sublime harmony.
When he meditated on light,
Inside light he saw peace.
When he meditated on peace,
Inside peace he saw
The liberation of the world.
~ Sri Chinmoy, Twenty-Seven Thousand Aspiration-Plants, Part 8, Agni Press, 1983
It truly is our own inspired meditations on divine peace that spreads the aspiration for peace within from person to person. This spreading of heartfelt peace is the everlasting solution to world peace.
The San Diego Sri Chinmoy Centre not only offers free meditation classes to teach people how to achieve inner peace, but we also host the Peace Run every other year as they carry a torch for world peace throughout the world. In North America the peace runners follow a route through the US, Mexico and Canada for four months and run through San Diego in early June. They offer ceremonies at local schools and a chance to run with the torch for world peace. To find out more and to join in go to peacerun.org.
San Diego has some of the best places to meditate out in nature. San Diego also has some of the best weather for sitting and meditating on its assortment of spectacular views. The purity, beauty, vastness and harmony we can enjoy meditating in these spectacular spots around San Diego County can inspire us to rediscover our own natural balance and poise within ourselves.
With over forty miles of beaches and cliffs looking out into the ocean there are some very secluded spots in San Diego to find your perfect place to sit, calm your body, clear your mind and bring to the fore the splendor and measureless expanse of your spiritual heart. Here are but a few of the most inspiring places to meditate:
- If you are looking for a long flat uninhabited stretch of sand with rolling dunes and estuary behind, the south end of Seacoast Drive in Imperial Beach stops at the very end of development along the U.S. pacific coast. You can walk south for nearly a mile before the warm sands meet the mouth of the Tijuana River leaving you at a very secluded spot with still over a mile of open beach to the boarder. You are also bound to find a deserted stretch of sand with a short walk from either end of the Silver Strand State Beach parking lot.
- Sunset Cliffs Boulevard provides a number of spots to either walk out onto the cliffs or down to a beach that can be quite deserted at different times of day or seasons of the year. At the south end there is a staircase that leads down to the water and at low tide you can easily jump onto a quite beach or stay along the top of the cliffs to find a place to sit without residences behind you.
- From Bird Rock to La Jolla Cove there are public access spots that lead you to secluded coves and rock points. Because most of the shoreline along this area has small to medium cliffs it is very easy to find a secret place to sit and meditate on the various sea life and birds as they drift by. Calumet Park, Bird Rock Avenue and Sun Gold Point are three of the best spots to venture out along the coast especially at low tide.
- Of course you can’t beat Blacks Beach and Torrey Pines for perfect views with perfectly placed benches and long stretches of unpopulated soft warm sands. But there is a little known short collection of trails called the Torrey Pines Extension that you can enter from the top of Del Mar Scenic Parkway or the end of Mar Scenic Drive that provides some stunning views of the ocean on the upper west side.
- South of the San Elijo State Beach parking lot there are quite beaches protected by cliffs that provide for a secluded meditative atmosphere. The San Elijo Lagoon State Marine Conservation Area provides trails starting near the ocean that wind east out along its lagoons that are very peaceful. If you follow the trail along the south side you can also pass below the freeway and wander quite far surrounded by water, birds and other wildlife.
- In Carlsbad, where the Palomar Airport Road hits the Coast Highway there are some wonderful places above and especially below the cliffs to find a private spot to meditate on the vastness of the pacific.
- If you are heading farther up north you can walk out onto some very quite locatoins in the San Onofre State Beach or Crystal Cove State Park that have expansive undeveloped beachfronts perfect for an uninterrupted ocean meditation.
Inland in the San Diego County there are some genuine natural treasures with secluded views, forest and desert terrain, rivers and mountain peaks. Below is a partial list of some of the larger parks with a few hints as to where to wander off the more crowded trails to meditate in private:
- The Lower Otay Lake is very peaceful. Best to drive out to the Otay Lake County Park and stroll out from there to find a place to sit and look out on the waters.
- Lake Morena County Park has peaceful lake views, beautiful trails and green fertile meadows where the water used to cover over years ago.
- Cowles Mountain has one the best views of San Diego and surrounding areas. Perfect for a morning sunrise meditation or an evening meditation looking out onto the sunset.
- Mission Trails Regional Park winds through the rugged terrain between Mission Gorge Road and the 52. Many secret spots can be discovered out along the Father Juniperro Serro Trail and its offshoots in both directions.
- Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve has trails that wind under shady trees along the conyon that stretches over five miles all the way to Sorrento Valley.
- Lake Miramar has a popular road for walking and biking that goes all the way around, but along the east side, starting just east of the parking lot, there is a lesser traveled dirt path right along the water that provides for some very quite nooks to find some solitude.
- Iron Mountain and surrounding trails have some nice rock ledges to sit out on for deep meditation and contemplation. Not much shade out there so bring a hat.
- Rancho Bernardo Community Park is a great destination to drive out to for long clear trials around Lake Hodges. Plenty of beautiful view points to call your own.
- The areas and trails throughout Julian, Cuyamaca, Mt Laguna, Laguna Meadow and Palomar Mountain hold some real hidden jewels for meditating in nature.
San Diego also has a few beautiful gardens set aside just for meditation. The Japanese Friendship Garden is one of the nicer spots to meditate in Balboa Park. The Self-Realization Fellowship in Encinitas maintains exquisite grounds with streams, koi ponds and astonishing views of the Pacific. And finally the Sri Chinmoy Centre has a small meditation garden on Adams Avenue at Arizona Street in Normal Heights with a statue of Sri Chinmoy meditating, artistic landscaping and benches to sit, meditate and contemplate.
Sri Chinmoy has written about meditating in nature in a book entitled A Galaxy of Beauty’s Stars:
“The best way to appreciate nature’s beauty is to sit and meditate with nature. If you take a tree as nature, then sit at the foot of a tree and meditate. If you take the sun as an expression of nature, then look at the sun and meditate. If you feel the ocean or sea as nature, then sit in front of the water and meditate. While looking at the tree or the sun or the ocean, try to feel your oneness with it. Anything that you consider as nature or nature’s beauty, you should try to become one with.
Again, if you want a particular thing from nature, you have to go to that thing. If you want to have vastness, then just go out of the house and look at the sky and you will enter into vastness. If you want to have a very vast, pure consciousness, then stand in front of a river and meditate on the river. And if you want to get height in your life, then go to a mountain and meditate there. So whatever you want, you have to stand in front of that particular thing and invoke it. You have to invoke the spirit of nature or become one with the soul of nature. That is the best kind of identification.”
Even a short trip out into the beauty of nature can afford us a deeper contemplation and inner peace. Find that quality time to head outside of your usual routine and consciously rediscover the beauty that lies within everything around us.
Whether you live in San Diego or are just visiting, you can’t beat this place when it comes to finding a great place to run and meditate at the same time.
Because of the moderate climate, any season is a good time of year for running in San Diego, This, coupled with the beautiful but varied terrain around the county, puts San Diego among the top running cities in the world.
For those who like to practice “inner running” while physically churning out the miles, here are some tips…
5 Ideal running spots
You can incorporate meditation into your run no matter where you choose to do it, but following are five top spots where the natural beauty will no doubt inspire your spirit.
1. La Jolla Shores at low tide—The flat-packed sand is perfect for a barefoot run, and you’ll see why this area was named “the jewel.”
2. San Elijo Lagoon in North County—Run along dirt trails while enjoying the scenic beauty and bird calls of this nature reserve.
3. Cowles Mountain—You might need to walk some of this uphill trek but what a view, and all within the city limits of San Diego!
4. Sunset Cliffs in Ocean Beach—This short but breathtaking trail along the cliffs is guaranteed to remind you that life is good.
5. Lake Miramar—Enjoy the scenery and friendly athletes on this flat, winding 5-mile loop on asphalt (mostly free of traffic) around the reservoir.
Techniques for combining running with meditation
• Chant a mantra while running up a hill. When the going gets tough, invoke a higher power to give you some assistance.
You can repeat a simple mantra such as “peace” (or shanti, the Sanskrit mantra for “peace”) or you can create a phrase that feels personal to you—for example, “I have infinite energy.”
The power of a mantra is its ability to focus your mind on one image or intention—very helpful when your run gets intense.
• Visualize. In a wonderful booklet of aphorisms titled Meditate On, spiritual Master Sri Chinmoy gives some visualizations for creating specific emotions and experiences. They’re phrased as a back-and-forth conversation. Following are three of the visualizations well suited to running…
What do you want?
I want speed.
Meditate on a deer.
What do you want?
I want inner strength.
Meditate on climbing flames.
What do you want?
I want power.
Meditate on the indomitable waves of the ocean.
• Cool down with meditation. Many people like to listen to pop or rock music while running. This makes sense, as the upbeat tempo helps runners find the energy to churn out the miles. To get even more fulfillment from your workout, try this: Toward the end of your run, play some meditative music. Then, once you’ve stopped running, sit down for a few minutes to meditate.
This is an excellent way to wind down and to experience gratitude for your health—and for spending time in a place as wonderful as San Diego!
“There is only one perfect road
And that road is ahead of you
Always ahead of you.”
We’re all familiar with the practice of seeking happiness through acquisition of material possessions or through attainment of success in the “outer” world.
The irony of this pursuit is that all too often, these things become obstacles to happiness. Our true self, our most natural state of being, is ever-joyful. This truth we can discover through the practice of meditation and a simple, soulful way of life.
Three key practices can guide the way…
“True inner joy is self-created. It does not depend on outer circumstances.
A river is flowing in and through you carrying the message of joy.”
Key #1: Spiritual Perspective
In order to access the abundance of inner joy that lies within us, we first have to acknowledge its presence. While there are many paths and traditions of meditation—both modern and ancient—they all embrace the concept that each human being embodies a soul and each soul is a spark of divine joy, love, and light.
When we take this approach, we recognize that we are never disconnected from our divine nature—it’s there within us at every moment. By remembering this simple truth through the countless activities of daily life, we realize that every experience is an opportunity for greater self-knowledge and spiritual growth.
Key #2: Conscious Living
A routine of daily meditation is an essential component of discovering and maintaining one’s inner joy. Why? Because each time we sincerely meditate, we bring forward the light and wisdom of the soul—which in turn fill our being with peace and equanimity.
But meditation alone is not enough. What about all the other hours of the day? A conscious lifestyle will help to bring about happiness in body, mind, and spirit. For this, it’s important to spend one’s time and energy on enjoyable activities. These will be different for each person, but can include such pursuits as music, laughter, exercise, creativity, nature, healthy eating, meaningful work, and the company of enjoyable people.
Another key aspect of conscious living is to limit (and eventually eliminate) those influences in one’s life that cause undue stress, sadness, anxiety, or dissatisfaction.
Key #3: Self-Transcendence
Self-transcendence is the art of challenging oneself to constantly improve. It’s a natural, integral part of the human experience and it’s a proven way to discover and maintain one’s inner joy.
From our earliest years, we’ve been reaping the benefits of self-transcendence: learning to crawl, then to walk, and finally to run at top speed. Every time we learn something new, achieve a significant milestone, take on a challenge, or otherwise strive to become a little more perfect, we experience this feeling of accomplishment, satisfaction, and transcendence.
Self-transcendence can take place in any and all aspects of our lives: increasing one’s discipline, conquering anger or another negative emotion, showing compassion, reaching a personal goal—and on and on.
When we seek to transcend our previous achievements and current capacities, we automatically turn our attention inward in order to gain strength and determination. This natural human instinct can and will lead us toward a lasting happiness.
“Our philosophy is progress. In our self-transcendence is our tremendous joy.” —Sri Chinmoy
Finding time to meditate at work can be a powerful boon to both your inner peace and outer satisfaction during the day. The poise, patience and intuition in handling both negative and positive situations that comes from a practice of meditating is rewarding in many ways. A successful regular practice at your work place can be established in a few easy steps.
The most important step in the beginning is to realize that taking the time; even 7 minutes of your workday to engage in a seemly non-work related activity will reap benefits to both you and your productivity.
Most problems and challenges in life continue to remain so simply because we are caught in a mindset that does not allow for new creative understanding of the situation. The simple act of clearing the mind and reaching to a deeper part of your inner awareness for peace, calm, and inspiration can clear out unproductive emotions, habits and thoughts that lead you into experiencing the same frustrations over and over again. In contrast thinking harder about a problem quite often leads to stress, insecurity, self doubt, and repetitive thought processes that result in a closed minded vantage point. Regaining clarity and focus through meditation is a fresh energizing restart to the whole work day allowing for spontaneity, enthusiasm and creativity.
Taking a break to calm and relax the body as you meditate can have many health benefits as well. Slowing down the breath, heartbeat and overall rhythm of the body reduces stress allows the physical to operate with a deeper sense of wellbeing. Scientific study has shown that stress reduction achieved through meditation directly helps alleviate many chronic injuries and pain.
Most importantly, though, is the rejuvenation of your inner light and aspiration. Our contribution to our line of work is a manifestation of who we are. When our offering to the outer world comes from an inspired higher inner consciousness we create more harmonious world around us. This becomes apparent in both our output and attitude at work. Energy, enthusiasm, intuitive insight, creative problem solving, patience, poise, confidence, detachment, and ability to see everything from a higher vantage point all evolves naturally through meditation.
So, where, how, when and how long does one meditate at work?
There are basically three options for places to meditate. The first one is obviously at your desk. If possible place a picture of something that inspires a sense of peace or inspiration on your desk. Do not use a picture on your computer screen, but an actual photograph of nature, or an inspiring spiritual figure. It can help to have a small flower in a cup or small vase as well. Keep this area of your desk reserved only for this secrete shrine for meditation. A beautiful energy will envelope that small area. Or find a secluded area in the workplace that you can sit alone and uninterrupted for an allotted time. An empty meeting room, storage room, balcony or rooftop often makes for a perfect place to sneak off to for a meditation. If you are lucky enough to work near nature such as a park or other beautiful vista then taking a little extra time to walk to a special secluded spot can be very rewarding.
Start your meditations with concentration to focus and clear the mind. Even if you only have a few minutes to meditate it is important to first quiet down the work mindset and release any tensions that come with it.
This can be done by focusing on and slowing down the rhythm of your breath, releasing all attachments to thoughts with each exhalation and then drawing in clarity with each inhalation. Another technique is inwardly repeating an inspiring quality such as peace, love or light and powerfully envisioning that quality entering into you and flowing out into your entire consciousness. If you have something simple and beautiful to look at such as a flower, river, lake or the sea, pick out one small aspect of it and enter into that part of nature’s creation becoming one with its life energy.
Bring the focus of your mind down to one simple task or thought for 30 seconds to a minute. Do not worry if your mind temporarily follows another train of thought, simply refocus on your point of concentration once again, and concentrate a little longer and deeper. We really can improve our concentration by practicing it making it a very practical skill to use in our inner meditations and achieving outer goals.
To enter into meditation make sure to sit up straight either with your eyes closed or looking at your picture or a beautiful part of nature. Even if your eyes are closed, if you are sitting up straight no one will think you are sleeping and will usually respect that you are focused within. Place your concentration on the middle of your chest where your spiritual heart center is located. Imagine a warm golden light or your favorite flower slowly expanding inside. Completely immerse your awareness on this beautiful energy as if you yourself are sitting inside your heart. Allow this harmonious peaceful energy centered and emanating from the middle of your being to eventually immerse your entire body and awareness. Finally allow that beauty light and harmony to permeate your entire workplace cultivating peace, harmony and oneness.
There are many other visualizations you can do that only take a few minutes. Each week at our free meditation classes we explain and practice a number of them. Please do join us and find ones that work best for you.
You may not have the liberty to choose when you can take a break to do a short meditation. If this is the case then set aside some time to meditate in the first part of your scheduled break to make sure you are not rushed or forced to skip it altogether. If you schedule is more casual then find a regular point during the morning where you have enough energy to focus and stay awake and can utilize the benefits from your meditation of more peace and poise throughout the day. Noon time or right at the beginning of a typical lunch break is also a very powerful time to meditate. Confidence, dynamic energy, and more intense focus can be developed by meditating at this time.
If you are inspired and focused then five to seven minutes can be enough time to meditate at work. If you have the luxury to go longer all the better but make sure that work related thoughts do not creep back in compromising the quality of your meditation. It is always a good habit to allow a minute or two more to contemplate afterwards and allow the benefits of your meditation to soak in before rushing back to all your tasks.
Creating a meditation practice at work not only benefits you but really does offer a spark of light to everyone in your workplace. Consistency is important enabling you to make progress going deeper within and eventually revealing and manifesting this light in everything you do throughout your job. Most people who stick with it eventually find meditating at work one of the most rewarding parts of the day.
“He only works and works.
She only meditates and meditates.
But only a life of both
Work and meditation
Can hope to achieve
A world of perfect harmony.”
Sri Chinmoy, Twenty-Seven Thousand Aspiration-Plants, Part 96
Just as music has a powerful sway over our emotions and outer energy, it also has the capacity to inspire our deep meditations. Listening to music that was composed and performed in a high state of consciousness gives us the opportunity to aspire to that state as well. We are able to resonate, in our own unique way, inside that height of inner divinity. Sri Chinmoy writes:
Feeds the vital of mankind.
Serves the heart of mankind.*
All creativity originates from the type of energy the artist is experiencing within. If we are cheerful than everything we create, everything we offer to the world carries that cheerfulness. When we are able to raise our consciousness and create art or music from a high, sublime and aspiring awareness of our own inner divinity, than that contribution to humanity has the capacity to manifest and inspire as well.
During our meditation it can be of great help to set aside some time to listen to music by a genuine spiritual master. Feel what they are conveying through the medium of the music. This helps to draw a direct link to the same realm of divine inner peace that is present inside all of us. Allow the mind to experience the music without thinking about or judging it. Allow the body and vital to be at rest and flow with the harmonious expression of the performance. And most importantly allow the spiritual heart to open and dance inside the blissful reality of a creative soulful offering.
Performing spiritual songs written by a meditation master also raises our consciousness. By focusing on and becoming one with the particular expression of a soulful song while learning and singing or playing it allows a deeper identification with its divine source. When the performer adds their own inspiration they are able to multiply the spiritual manifestation of the original inspired piece in their own unique way.
The Sri Chinmoy Centre provides a great resource for music written by Sri Chinmoy and performed him or his students: http://www.radiosrichinmoy.org/. And they also publish thousands of his devotional scores at: http://www.srichinmoysongs.com/. Sri Chinmoy’s music can also be purchased on iTunes as well.
*Sri Chinmoy, Ten Thousand Flower-Flames, Part 94
There is only one good way to get better at meditation and to receive more benefits and that is regular as well as punctual practice. There are no short cuts.
Here are some tips that will help you build a daily practice into your busy life.
1. Choose a good time – first thing in the morning – where you can set aside 15 minutes to be calm and quiet. Be realistic, choose a time that you are actually going to be able to get up and give it your best effort – every day. Yes that does include Sundays.
2. Create a beautiful space where you will practice your meditation. Arrange flowers and candles there. Place some images of nature, something vast and beautiful, or a spiritual teacher. Keep some inspiring and spiritual books within easy reach, preferably written by a genuine spiritual master. Set up a sound system where you can play spiritual music. Make it a sanctuary where you will want to spend time. Only use this space for your meditation, spiritual reading and reflection.
3. Make sure you shower or at least wash your face to refresh and wear clean, light and loose fitting clothing for your meditation practice.
Those three important steps will help provide an environment that is conducive to a more fulfilling inner experience. Below is one good morning routine. Going to group meditations and reading spiritual books will also give you some techniques to practice in the beginning as you learn to quite your mind and meditate with the heart.
1. Gently close your eyes. Focus all your attention on your breath. Observe if it is shallow or deep. Is it fast and superficial or slow and relaxed?
2. Begin to slow your breathing down. Work on filling and emptying your entire lungs. Concentrate on filling your lower lungs by expanding your belly then fill your upper lungs by expanding your upper rib cage and back ribs.
3. To ensure you fully exhale collapse your upper chest emptying that part of your lungs and then contract your stomach by drawing your belly button toward you spine. Imagine that these breaths cleanse you of built up tension and stress. Repeat steps 2 and 3 for at least 5 minutes.
4. Now draw your attention to your body and consciously relax all the muscle groups beginning from the tiny muscles in your face, back of your head and neck. In rhythm with each breath choose a muscle group or part of your body to soften and release tension. From your face and head work on down your neck, shoulders, chest and so on, all the way down to your toes.
5. Gently open your eyes just enough to let light in. Rest them on either a candle flame or a flower that you have in front of you. Don’t think about anything just allow you attention to be focus on the object in front of you.
6. Feel you are breathing in the quality of the candle flame – light or the flower – beauty. With each breath feel that quality entering into you.
7. After 3-4 minutes gently close your eyes and imagine the flame or flower inside your heart. Feel these qualities of light or beauty radiating out into your entire being.
8. Finish by slowly chanting 7 times a quality which you would like to increase in your life and share with the world. Here are some suggestions “Peace,” “Light,” “Beauty,” “Love,” “Joy.”
Join us in our weekly classes to learn more about expanding and building your practice of mediation.
In addition to a routine of daily meditation on your own, you will likely find that regular participation in a group meditation will help you considerably in achieving your spiritual goals.
Meditating with a group of people who have similar aspirations and beliefs can offer you a very powerful experience. There’s an intensity generated by the group that isn’t always attainable in one’s own individual meditation. It’s a similar experience to singing in a group vs. singing on your own—you can’t help but feel a heightened sense of joy and unity in the collective atmosphere.
Another reason that group meditation can enhance your spiritual practice is that this large-scale activity is typically done in an atmosphere designed specifically for the purpose—complete with candles, flowers, incense, and imagery to elevate the spirit and focus the mind.
An inevitable result of group meditation is the experience of “fellowship” or “community”—a key tenet of virtually all spiritual philosophies around the world. By spending time with other people who share your values and goals, you’re able to learn from others, share your own knowledge and experiences, and apply your spiritual inspiration to different aspects of your life: social, recreational, and more.
Ideally, group meditation should be done in addition to a regular routine of individual meditation rather than serve as a substitute for it. These dual disciplines can quickly offer a spiritual seeker very tangible progress towards his or her spiritual aims.
Is the freeway a Parking Lot?
Travel the inner highway. Take a deep breath. Heck, take two or three! Breathe in deeply through your nose and out through your mouth. Let each breath become gentler and gentler until you can hardly tell the difference between the in-breath and the out-breath.
Just relax. Like walking barefoot at the beach, feeling the tide go in an out between your toes, pay that kind of attention to your breath and let it calm you. How powerful and peaceful the breath! How completely it washes away all frustrations, all anger and sorrow. Like a tide, breath carries everything away and leaves behind a sparkling peace.
When – The best time to meditate during the day is first thing in the morning, just after you get up. Make sure you set your alarm to get up 15 minutes earlier than usual. Another excellent time to practice meditation is right before bed. You will find it easier to go to sleep and you will have deeper more fulfilling rest.
Duration – For beginners to start with 10 minutes is more than enough.
Where – Find a spot in your living space that you can set aside for meditation. Make it really nice with inspiring photos of nature or a spiritual figure you identify with, find some fresh flowers and perhaps burn some incense or essential oils. It is best if this space is used only for meditation – that way it will serve as an outer reminder for your new found inner discipline.
Music – The right kind of music can be really helpful in creating an atmosphere conducive to meditation. Try some different types and artists to find what you like. My favorite is “Flute Music for Meditation” by Sri Chinmoy. http://www.radiosrichinmoy.org/wp-content/uploads/media/the-life-river-flute-music-by-sri-chinmoy-420/76-1-1.m4a
Posture – Make sure you are sitting in such a way to ensure your spine is erect and comfortable. Don’t try to meditate lying down – you’ll just fall asleep.
How – The easiest and most effective method to begin meditation is to focus you attention on your breath. Try this exercise below for 10 minutes:
Make your breath very slow, deep and relaxed. Your breathing is intrinsically connected to your thoughts and your emotions so by calming your breath you inherently calm your thoughts and emotions.
Start by consciously relaxing your entire body. Using the rhythm of your breath to release the tension around your eyes and face, soften the muscles in neck and shoulders, relax your chest and back. Feel your spine lengthening. Using your breath to relax and soften the remaining muscle groups.
Imagine you are breathing in peace and breathing out any worries, anxieties and tensions you may have accumulated during the day.
Spend the last 3 minutes trying to become aware of your heart beating while still breathing in peace.
Don’t get discouraged – Meditation is very simple but is not always easy. Learning how to quiet your mind is a lifelong process so don’t expect results overnight. Regular, punctual and sincere practice will definitely produce profound benefits to your life.
Join us for our free classes to learn many different techniques for learning and improving your meditation.
Typically we aspire to increase our capacity to meditate as we begin to appreciate its benefits. At times we reach a certain height or depth in our meditations but find that our progress does not meet with our inner hunger for more light, peace and bliss.
One of the most important factors in increasing our capacity to meditate is self-transcendence in other aspects of our lives. Making improvements in our diet, health, friendships, rapport with coworkers, family relationships, and self discipline can all help increase our receptivity to peace and light in meditation. The simple act of setting and achieving small goals in one aspect of our life really does carry over to our confidence and inspiration to do the same in everything else that we do. An aphorism by Sri Chinmoy reads:
In every way.*
In this way our outer life becomes more dynamic and focused allowing receptivity to higher energies within. Our focus and concentration increases, bringing our natural intuition to the fore and leading us to experiences that offer deeper satisfaction.
One of the best qualities to focus on and increase inwardly is gratitude. Increasing our gratitude for anything or everything in our lives also increases our oneness, purity, humility, sincerity, and awareness beyond ourselves. Sri Chinmoy writes:
In the spiritual life there is a special way to increase our capacity every day, every hour, every minute. It can be done through gratitude. When we offer our soulful gratitude to God, our capacity for receptivity immediately increases. Our receptivity is like a vessel. This vessel can be enlarged. Naturally, the larger the vessel the more it will be able to hold of God’s Light and Delight.*
Once we achieve a higher state of mediation the flood gates of progress can open wide in every aspect of our lives setting the stage once again for more receptivity to light within.
*Quotes by Sri Chinmoy from: Seventy-Seven Thousand Service-Trees, Part 18 & My Rose Petals, Part 4
The experience of being nervous!
We have all experienced nervousness at one time or another when facing a new or challenging endeavor. There are any number of situations that can bring nervousness to the fore including public speaking, performing in front of a live audience, competition, meeting new people, resolving a conflict with friends or coworkers, talking to the boss, or for many simply trying something new. When approaching these situations there is some part of us that really does want to perform well and speak perfectly to accomplish our task, but nervousness quite often gets in the way freezing our thinking, muddling our clarity and making us clumsy, awkward and ineffective.
Sri Chinmoy approaches the solution to nervousness in the most clear and simple way:
The Only Solution
The only solution to your nervousness
Is found in your heart’s oneness-song,
And this oneness-song
Is immediately followed
By your life’s fulness-dance.*
The Strength Of Fulness
Nervousness is quite often
The fear of newness.
Newness is quite often
The multiplying strength of fulness.*
The key to transcending nervous and experiencing “life’s fullness dance” lies in our heart’s oneness and realisation that newness is something that is healthy, bringing forth our “strength of fullness”. Not only do we want to act powerfully and confidently, but so do the hearts and minds of our audience want to experience this with us as well. If what we have to offer comes from the deeper more illumined part of our being, people around us will naturally respond offering their inner encouragement and oneness.
Clear and focus the mind
Thinking more about the upcoming challenge has not, cannot and will not conquer your nervousness. To quickly and powerfully bring clarity and focus to our nervous thoughts and vital energy, just for a few moments, concentrate one pointedly on your breath.
Typically when nervous our breath is fast, erratic and shallow, but when confident and relaxed it is deep, long and rhythmic. Simply by taking longer, deeper and rhythmic breaths our consciousness will follow suit. When thoughts arise exhale them, releasing them from your awareness and then focus more deeply on your breathing.
Once you have calmed your breath, with each inhalation use your imagination to draw into your heart peace, tranquility, harmony and a deep feeling of oneness with the divine in everything around you. Establish your “heart’s oneness song” with the higher more receptive part of your surroundings. With your exhalation relax and release your nervousness, tension and anxiety freeing yourself of any obstruction to the flow of peace entering into you.
Sometimes it can help to imagine something tangible to breathe in like the fragrance of a flower, the smell of a pinewood forest or the mist of gentle breaking waves. Identify with the qualities of these objects or surroundings such as the purity, simplicity, quietude, or vastness, and let them enter into your heart.
Confidence in the fullness of newness
Finally, indentify with the fullness and strength of creating and offering something new. Once you have achieved a sense of calm and clarity through concentrating on your breath intuitively feel the deeper essence of the truth you want to offer. This is your positive manifestation and offering to the world. Anything from the most mundane of subjects or achievements to the most sublime offers something for everyone to grow and learn from. Use this new found feeling of poise and tranquility to guide your actions, bring forth your intuition and allow you to navigate a new or important challenge.
Let each and every new or demanding situation be an opportunity to expand our heart’s oneness and life’s fullness.
Your Powerful Nervousness
Your brave determination
May or may not enable you to conquer
Your powerful nervousness,
But your soulful oneness
With God the creation
Will definitely enable you to conquer
Your unthinkably torturing nervousness.*
*Sri Chinmoy, Ten Thousand Flower-Flames #4146, 3979 & 5340
Don’t count sheep, count your breath. Lying relaxed on your back, take your mind off the world and yourself. Just breath in on “one” and out on “two.” Imagine that out-breath disappearing into infinite space above. Follow it all the way to infinity and then back. Follow the in-breath as it disappears into the infinity within your own self. No thinking! Just feeling and letting go. Count up to twenty and back down to zero again. Do it twice or three times. Don’t be in a hurry, you’re not going anywhere. Breathe very, very slowly and don’t expect to go to sleep, just let it happen.