Meditation Chat 8 October 2013 * combining techniques 1

This is a most current Chat rather than posting them from the past (though I will keep posting the earlier ones, too).


blessed day to you.

Meditation... such a wonderful fountain of strength, riches, comfort, light, peace and bliss.

Last week we focused on a lovely Sanskrit affirmation: "Lokah Samasta Sukhino Bhavantu". I shared a bit about how we have the creative power of manifesting what we speak with feeling, conviction and intent, and how this ancient affirmation is used so widely. I do hope each of us will consciously speak to better ourselves and our world. "Bless all the dimensions of being with peace & joy, love & light!"

I would like to talk today about combining meditation techniques. This has been brought up before in general, but I would like to focus in on it a little closer today.

Some techniques that we often use are: focusing on the breath; gazing at a candle flame or yantra (sacred geometric pattern) or lovely image; repeating a mantra; etc. Each of these techniques is perfect. We can do any of them and they work to get our mind one-pointed and take us to the meditative state. But we need to find something that "works" for us. In the Bhagavad Gita Krishna gives a list of approaches saying, well, if this doesn't work, try this one, and if this one doesn't work, then try it this way. And in his Yoga Sutras, Bhagavan Patanjali gives us a list of things to meditate upon, and then says to pick absolutely anything uplifting that works for us.

The message here is that we really can make up our own approach, and we should. Find what you like and what works for your mind. Try an assortment of approaches. Note what is comfortable and effective for your mind. And as you keep practicing, you will find that your awareness and consciousness become ever more subtle. As that happens, you may find yourself drawn to new things. Your mind will be able to use different things. Perhaps you will notice more subtle things and be able to use them to move you more quickly or easily into the meditative state.

I find that rather than one technique, a combination is what I am usually drawn to. For instance, when I gaze at the flame or yantra it focuses my attention wonderfully. Then I notice my breathing and find that as I give that attention it does not move me aware from my awareness of the flame, but lets me focus on it even more intently. Then I begin to hear the mantra that I repeat throughout each day. All of these are working together to engage and occupy my mind. They blend into one practice that I find very comfortable and effective to move me into that state of meditation.

There are lots of ways to combine techniques. I think that it happens for us quite naturally. Being open to that can be quite useful, rather than thinking that once you start a technique, anything else is an interference that will disrupt your practice. But is it worth noting that the mind can shift between techniques, and that such shifting will not serve you well. This is different from that. This is a blending of techniques that actually serves to engage the mind and keep in on track, taking it to the one-pointed place you are aiming at even more effectively.

Let's say you are watching the breath. This is the technique you are using. You start, and find it useful to do the breathing more deeply so that it is easy to focus upon. You might use ujjayi (squeezing the throat just enough to feel and hear the breath moving through it) to make it even easier to watch. Good, you are able to focus on the breathing. But as you continue, the mind begins to quiet and your breathing is naturally quieting, too. That more forceful breathing, the grosser level of practice, moves toward something more subtle. This is good. You are moving inward, disengaging from external sensual attention. But... it is more challenging to stay focused on the breath. Thoughts may come in and distract you, engage you in something that has nothing to do with focusing your mind and settling into your meditation. Your thoughts can wander randomly. So, as soon as you note that happening, you bring the attention back to the breath. This it Concentration... bringing the mind back to what you have chosen as the focus of your meditation. But, you want to stay with what you have chosen, which is Meditation. So, try adding mantra japa to your breathing. Now you mentally repeat your mantra in sync with the breath. Or you may find that the breath actually can take shape to the mantra. You might coordinate the inhalations, pauses and exhalations with parts of the mantra, but that is not a requirement.

What I mean is that you might inhale while repeating "OMMMMMM", pause while repeating "SHANTI", and then exhale while repeating "OMMMMMM", and repeat this with each breath. This can make bring the mind into a truly focused state and keep it engaged without getting distracted.

Another approach is to simply use the mantra repetition to keep the mind attentive as you observe the breath, and just let the mantra and the breath both flow as they will – not amking any effort to coordinate them. This, if the mind accepts it, can be very relaxed and comfortable, while still keeping you totally alert and engaged in what you are doing. This second approach has the advantage that you can get ever more subtle without trying to "think" about doing it.

Since it is time to stop now, maybe we can go over a number of combinations next week, too.

Blessings and love,



Meditation Chat 14 March 2013 * The Hurrier I Go

Please note that the earliest Chats are at the bottom of the page with the later ones resting above the ones before. You are welcome to read them out of sequence but some of them "follow" the one before.

Good morning.

I would like to share a little something... Lewis Carroll shared a lot of wisdom in his Alice tales. One that has always spoken to me, and which I think is so needed in our times, is: "The hurrier I go, the behinder I get."

I have often heard this mis-quoted as "The 'faster' I go...". There really is nothing wrong with going quickly, even fast, as long as there is no sense of hurry.

Whenever we find ourselves feeling hurried it is good to remember what Lewis Carroll said. That hurry will not move you forward toward your objective more quickly, but actually keep you from getting there in a timely manner and a useful state of mind.

It is so useful to become aware of that sense of hurry. When we yield to that it shifts our state of mind to a place where we feel anxious. We feel that we might be late. We can get angry. And we are out of touch with our power. When that happens, when we feel that we must hurry our mind actually creates the lateness that we are trying to avoid.

I invite you to join in this experiment... For the next week, refuse to hurry. In fact whenever you notice yourself hurrying, slow down. Walk slower - see what is around you, and enjoy the moment. Drive slower - not to disrupt the traffic flow, but definitely relaxed and not trying to get past the others.

You will notice your body relaxing, your mental state becoming easeful, too. Not a promise here, but often you will actually get to where you'd like on-time, and in a positive state of mind. You will do you work more effectively, be more pleasant for those around you, and actually enjoy. Try it and let me know how this works for you. Remember: " The hurrier I go, the behinder I get."

Let's look for a moment at the wisdom of Lewis Carroll's teaching that we just went over. It is really inspired. And that is what I would like to look at for a moment with you: inspiration. So often we are struck by the wisdom and insights that appear to us in what might seem like unlikely places... things that actually moves us and awaken us to "the Truth." It can be in a fiction novel, or a pop song, or a drama or comedy. It can be a talk that someone is giving to the group or just a comment that someone makes, or even something you say or write. These things can be so useful. Sometimes they transform lives for ages to come, or become teaching tools to guide others.

Did Lewis Carroll realize the wisdom of what he was writing? He may have. But he may not have. Did the Beatles have any idea that their songs and music were going to impact the world as they did? They recognized that it was happening, but I don't think they felt like what they were doing initially was likely to move people all over the world so powerfully.

Often Truth simply flows through us. We are inspired. Sometimes we are aware of it. And sometimes not. But being inspired often comes when we have moved into a meditative state.

People sometimes think that a meditative state should be described as having the mind empty and the body totally still. But note that the mind is rarely empty, and even a still body is always shifting and adjusting (see the book "The Posture of Meditation" by Will Johnson - great book, be sure to read it!). Yes, our "formal" meditation practice may have us sitting still and then working to get our mind one-pointed. To those just looking at someone doing this, it may appear catatonic. But it is actually a focused, clear-minded effort after getting the body settled in a comfortable, relaxed posture - nothing at all catatonic about it.

There are two things here I would like you to consider. One is that our formal sitting is to bring us into a meditative state that will eventually become our normal way of being, so that we actually do everything in a meditative way. That meditative state is to econtinue as we do everything we do. We can be totally active, in conversation and wresting with mental problems, and do all of it with a meditative state of consciousness. This is different than meditating. Meditating is when we are making efforts to come into that start. Admittedly, the word is also used for when we are in that state - but please distinguish between the two here.

The other point I would like you to consider is how getting the mind one-pointed takes us into that meditative state. Patanjali instructs us to select something we find uplifting and focus our attention on that while our body is comfortable and steady. At first we need to make the effort to bring the mind back to what we have chosen to focus upon. This is Concentration, or Dharana. But then it actually does rest upon our object and become one-pointed. this is Meditation, or Dhyana. And then effort ceases and we move into that place of union, or yoga. This is Samadhi, or Absorption.

We often naturally move into a one-pointed state when we focus upon something that is engaging us. It may a book we are reading or a story we are writing. It may be some work we are doing either physically or mentally. It may be while dancing or performing. When our mind becomes one pointed we are in that meditative state where divine inspiration is active. It is at times like these when the wisdom teachings pour forth.

So don't hurry. So focus on things you love. Have fun.

Love always,


Meditation Chat 7 March 2013 * comfortable, pleasant, special

Good morning! om om om om om om om

Please let me know if you have any meditation questions or things to share today.

Last week we started to look at how getting set for your meditations can help your practice tremendously.

Getting your meditation space comfortable and pleasant, and keeping it a little special will help a lot.

Comfortable.... yes, you actually want to sit comfortably. A blanket or cushion, or both, can make your sitting easier. Much of the hatha yoga practice (working with the postures) is designed to get your body conditioned to sit comfortably, without becoming a distraction while you meditate. The hatha yoga practice also clears the energy channels and works to settle and strengthen the mind. So, do what's needed to make it comfortable for you to sit. Though sitting cross-legged does give some special benefits that aid in your meditations, it is fine to sit on a chair if sitting cross-legged is uncomfortable for you.

You may find that a shawl or blanket helps you feel more relaxed. If so, use that. Be careful to not have the space too hot. Excessive heat is not only uncomfortable, but can agitate the mind.

Now, pleasant... make your space a place you like to visit and hang out. Some people like an open, uncluttered setting. Some enjoy a place that has lots of little items about. Whatever you enjoy, try to do your meditations in such a place. You can easily do a few things so that you enjoy your space. Make it so you find it a delight to spend time there.

A singing bowl or ringing a bell can also be a nice way to get set for your meditation practice.

Also, special... if you make the place where you sit for meditation "special" it will help in a number of ways. It will signify that you are doing something different, helping you open up to something new. It can move you into a sense of awe... very useful to open you for what meditation has to offer you. You might keep fresh flowers there. Put a beautiful shawl or pillow or blanket that means something to you.

Do respect your practice and your practice space. Commit to your regular meditations whether you "feel" like it or not, whether everything is just right or not. Be regular. Keep your space clean and neat. It is a reflection of your mental state. Hatha yoga can help you learn how to be steady in your effort while remaining comfortable while you do it. In fact, one way to understand the word “hatha” is “ha”... sun and “tha”... moon. The sun is the effort that you make. It takes effort to accomplish things. But the moon reflects and is cool. Hatha has us making a comfortable, steady effort. That should become how our approach to everything. It will help in your meditation practice, too. Comfortable, but steady.

Start with some nice deep breathing. Make it deep, but totally comfortable. As you do this you will find that the body releases and softens and expands. Your posture will actually improves as the body opens up. Hips, shoulders, jaws, lower back, chest will all release. The mental state will quiet and become centered. This deep breathing is very useful for your up-coming meditation practice. If you continue for a while comfortably, you will begin to store up the vital energy, the prana... charge up your battery fully before your meditation. It will also begin to draw the attention inward, especially if you all the ujjayi breathing with it. Ujjayi is when you squeeze the throat just a little so that you can feel the air passing through the throat on both the inhalations and exhalations. You can also hear it inwardly (you don't want to be doing it so forcefully that it makes an external sound and demands a lot of effort). Ujjayi will naturally direct your senses inward establishing you in the 5th limb of Raja Yoga, Pratyahara (controlling and directing the senses inward), which Patanjali tells us prepares us for meditation.

Of course there are many other Pranayama practices that can be useful in a number of ways. But be sure to make this deep breathing part of who you are. Its benefits are limitless. Perhaps we can spend some weeks talking about Pranayama in the future. In any case, if you have the time, you will find it so useful to do some Pranayama at the opening of your meditation practice. Of course, watching the breath is one of the most effective and used objects for meditation, too.

If the mind is in a Rajasic (busy) mode, you will find that as you begin the deep breathing it may not be so deep. But it will deepen as you continue and then the mind will let go of that Rajasic frame and quiet down. If the mind is in a Tamasic (dull) mode you won't want to even do any deep breathing. But if you do, through your disciplined habit, it will begin to pick up some energy and gently shift out of the dullness and become alert and energized. And when the mind is in a Satwic (balanced) way, the breath will become a focal point and draw attention inward and move you into an expanded awareness. So... breathe.... deeply.... often.

This is the end of this morning's chat. Thank you for being part of it.

May you be ever blessed and a blessing.

Love always,



Meditation Chat 28 February 2013

February 28, 2013

Good morning... how was your morning meditation?

Any questions at this point? or things to share?

Last time we went over some of the experiences you might encounter while meditating. Before that we spent some time talking about mantra repetition. Until there are any questions today I would like to talk a bit about how the "little things" have a big impact.

My Gurudev would tell us that the getting ready for your meditation really shapes the experience. We will go over this a bit some, too.

Getting ready...

Have a nice space that you like. Put a few of "your favorite things" around or on your altar. That will start to turn your mind in a nice way as you come to your meditation area.

Robin:   I have a question. Lately, I find that the exercise practices in my daily life, like resistance training and running have become the most compelling meditative practices for me. Do you have thoughts or tips on other daily life happenings that can coincide with mindfulness/meditation?

Hi, Keshavani Maa! That is great to have your active practices draw you into the meditative space. It is worth noting what really works for you. The book of Swami Satchidananda's essential teachings is called "To Know Your Self." ( I highly recommend it to all. ) You are asking how to use other "normal" activities so that they draw you into the meditative state as well. Correct?

This may be a little unfair, but if you can start your day with a quiet meditation moment include a sincere offering of your self to the Divine and then dedicate your day to That (the Divine, the All, Nature, Love... however God/Goddess is most comfortable for your mind). Once you sincerely dedicate your day, then all of your activities become service and love. It may take little while, but not too long, for your mental patterns to adopt this perspective on things. And it will require a daily habit of making your life an offering. But once this settles into your way of approaching things then you will find that everything can be a fun meditation.

Certainly some things will shift into this way before others... like your active physical practices have already. For instance... if you are living as service then it is important to care for your self so you can be well and strong and clear-minded, and you can take advantage of the opportunities that present themselves to you in your life. Then feeding yourself is both meaningful and fun – even a meditation. Everything becomes fun.

You brought up a very useful concept... mindfulness. It is true that anything done mindfully is meditative. You can wash the dishes, bathe your body, prepare the food, eat the food, clean the house, drive, listen to others, observe MINDFULLY. This approach is in itself a meditation style that is very fitting for many.

The question you asked me is one you need to ask yourself, since you know the daily activities that you regularly engage in. Ask Seek Knock and you will find what you are looking for, it will be given to you and doors will open for you. How often do we ask something from a deep inner urge and hungrily look for that only to find that the answer to our inquiry begins to manifest all about us? You overhear a conversation that speaks directly to what you were asking. You open a book and a perfect paragraph or phrase almost jumps off the page giving you just what you need. Or something more subtle but just as appropriately revealing comes to you... a thought... a movie scene... someone asks you a different question and as you answer you find yourself expressing exactly what you needed.

Victoria:   Years ago I was able to focus but as I aged I lost something. I believe my biggest problem is shutting everything around me out and my mind races on everything but what I want it to when I try meditating. I believe my biggest problem is during the day I have the TV on even when I am on the computer. I put it on when I go to bed, so when I turn it off to meditate I just have all of that TV stuff rolling around in my head. I am doing a year and a day wicca course and I am having a problem with the days that I have to meditate and connect with the maiden and mother Goddess I can't seem to connect with her.

Art: Glad to see these posts! Appreciate the suggestions and reminders for meditation and preparations for it. Thanks!

Hi, Art! (are you going to SG Re-union this year? I'm hoping I can).

Art: Hi, Jayadeva! Most likely not; no excuse, just not much impetus to attend. Currently in the middle of the woods by a warm wood stove watching the snowflakes wend their way earthward past snow-covered branches. Well, that and checking out Facebook, of course.

Thanks, Art. So nice to be connected. All love. Hey... did you see that snow flake there!

Hi, Victoria.  Victoria, this may sound whackie, but if you have already set up the TV thing, rather than trying to shut it off to meditate, try just leaving it on softly. That is the atmosphere you are used to. When I lived in New York City one of the people living at The Integral Yoga Institute with me decided to get away from it all and go out into nature. She only lasted one night away. She came back and said that is was just too noisy at night! It is true that there are plenty of night sounds out in nature, but the City had a lot, too... just different ones that she had become used to so that they no longer demanded her attention. Maybe the TV being on can simply become background noise, part of the OM. Of course, you might wean yourself off the TV being on all the time. TV news and shows and ads tend to be fairly negative influences in our lives. It is better to spend some time reading or listening to some lighter things. Lighten up! Get enlightened. And have fun.

I love the Goddess, but that's me. Do you have a picture of the diving Feminine that you really like? If so put that in front of you and simply enjoy that. Spend some time in these meditations admiring what is feminine... the list is huge! All of the power of being... the softness... nurturing... mother... even the masculine is just part of the feminine (no such thing as a YY being... XX is female... and male, XY, is part female, too)... community.... etc. Enjoy!

Let connecting with the Goddess be something you hunger for. Then you will find that hunger itself is a connection with Her... like a kiss from the Goddess. If you really do hunger for this, She will come to you in many ways. It is good that you are seeking this. Be steady and focused, determined and patient. She will come to you and manifest in ways you may not now be imagining. Have fun.

There are wonderful Yantras (geometrical designs) that are totally feminine). Find one of these that moves you and let it be in front of you when you meditate. Gaze at it - this is a meditation technique known as Tratak. And don't be trying to get anywhere or anything. Just do your practice. Don't be concerned about the TV sounds or lack of that, or the thoughts that are running. Just gaze and consider whatever you find interesting or notable about the feminine. This can be a very powerful meditation. If you continue even when your mind is busy, or when you are struggling with keeping your mind attentive to what you have chosen to focus upon, the mind will eventually quite down and get focused for you. Don't quit. Great things await you and will be happening in your life long before your meditation experience may become all still and filled with light - but that will happen, too. It really is worth the effort. So don't be upset that it will take some effort.

Victoria: Thank you for this info. I will try all of the suggestions. I understand about the noise in the city and difference. When my son was about 5 months old I use to work at my parents bar on the weekends. They had bands and the bar was on the highway. My children use to sleep upstairs while I worked. We stayed there on the weekends and when I took them home it was quiet and I could not get my son to go to sleep I realized it was too quiet for him. Funny how we get programmed to our surroundings. My husband and I were out one time and there was a train that went by. I said would it be nice to live near that and he reminded me that we did. I guess you just get so use to things you forget that it is there.

Ok... have to go teach a class now.

Thanks for joining in today. Love Light Laughter





Meditation Chat 21 February 2013 * Meditation Experiences

February 21, 2013

Good morning.. ommmmmmmm

Are there any questions or comments about meditation?

We have been talking about mantra japa the past few times.

Perhaps we can talk about the meditation experiences some today.

There really is not any particular type of experience, or experiences, that you should either anticipate or be looking for. But there are some that may be fairly normal (strange idea... normal), or that are often experienced and may be useful to talk about.

One word of caution... which I have mentioned before... One of the common hindrances to our meditation practice is that whenever we have a moving meditation experience, it feels so "right" that we then begin to try to duplicate that experience, which keeps us from it. We did not come to the experience the first time by looking for it, but by simply doing our practice.

What kinds of experiences do people have? (would love to hear from you).

Certainly one of the most common reports that you hear from those just beginning is that they cannot meditate, and they are sure of that because when they try they find that their minds just won't still. I love hearing this because it shows that they really are trying, and the fact that they have noticed that their minds are running here and there is real evidence that they are meditating. Their minds were always running around, but now they have become aware of it. Ahhh... meditation is working. Just keep at it and there will be lots of experiences as you start to still the mind.

Some people hear sounds. Some see lights or patterns. Some have other sensual insights, such as smells or sensations. All of this is fine. It can sometimes be quite wonderful, sometimes unpleasant or even frightening.

You may experience becoming as tiny as a gnat, or even smaller, or become as huge as an elephant or a mountain. You can feel very dense and heavy, and the entire planet being impacted by your weight and presence. Or you may begin to hover, float or be able to fly.

You may hear someone else's thoughts (this could be simple imagination; or what someone might think, or actually tuning into and really aware of someone's thoughts).

You could tune into the consciousness of great sages or saints, or your guru. In fact, this one is actually something to choose as the focus of your meditation. Sit and seek out the consciousness of such a being. Though you coulsuch a being, it is better to actually have someone specific  selected whose consciousness you feel would be worth tuning into. In the Bible there is wonderful scripture in the Gospels, Matthew Chapter 7. A S K... Ask and it shall be given you. Seek and you will find. Knock and the door will be opened unto you. This is really true. So if you do ask, seek and knock to tune into such a consciousness it will come to you.

There is also stillness. Sometimes when you meditate you get to settle into a lovely stillness. Consciousness, when there is stillness, expands beyond what you can imagine. In stillness it is likely that the breath will become quiet, too. It may simply stop. If that does happen, welcome it rather than being surprised or starting to breath out of habit. Enjoy that perfect awareness. Interestingly, in the stillness you may find that you are inclined to explore or play, though that is certainly not needed at all. But know you are free to explore or play if that is your inclination. As long as you are in that peaceful place of stillness, everything is perfect.

Another experience which might happen is that issues you have been wrestling with will come to mind with some insights or clarity that is fresh and helpful. Though this "thinking" about things actually is not meditation, it is a beautiful, useful by-product. If you have made a pledge to be still then just let that insight be with you without trying to remember it (which could engage the mind and pull you out of your meditative state). Trust that such an insight can return to your mind after your meditation time. Then continue with the focus of your meditation. However, you can have a pad and pen handy if you have noticed that this happens often. Then simply write it down. Let go of it and continue on with your focus for your meditation. Be careful not to shift your meditation time to seeking these insights and solutions. It is fine to sit and do that, but be true to your mediation focus and practice. You must let those times be clear and one-pointed.

Sometimes our experiences are frightening. There is a common, very good experience of floating which at first can be disconcerting because because we lose our "grounding" and feel uncertain about what is happening. And even more so is that experience of leaving the body.

Sometimes you may experience ugly thoughts or images... a murder or demon, or someone you know (or don't know) very angry with you. These things may come to you during meditation as a distraction for you to move through. Usually, just facing them will have them simply disappear. Sometimes they may remain, but if you face them, the fear will leave. They might then be something noteworthy. Ask to understand why that is there for you now. You may get some clarity, or you may simply find that you were just to note it. It will serve you somehow in the future. But the fear will be gone.

So begin your meditations with some bravery, some delightful opening and wonder for whatever might come your way.

Once again we have used up our time together today. Feel free to send any comments and questions that you have. Some may be answered during the week, or will shape next week's chat.

Love always.

As Master Sivananda encouraged us all... serve, love, give, purify, meditate, realize!




Meditation Chat 7 February 2013 * Mantra Japa 1

February 7, 2013

Love and blessings (why wait until the end for this...).

Good morning. I'd like to share about mantra japa today. And, of course, welcome any questions or sharing from you.

Yogis and sages for ages have told us that everything takes form through sound. Even the physicists now say that all is made up of waves... sound. Scriptures express that OM, or AUM, is the primal sound, the basis of all being and form. So when we are working with sound we are dealing with the primal source and substance of our being.

Choosing a mantra... It is important to note that if you are using a mantra to get the mind one-pointed and to come to an enlightened state of consciousness, every mantra works. And there is not one better or more powerful than any other. Some are short. Some are long. The important thing is to find one you are comfortable with, mostly with the way it feels, but you should also enjoy its "meaning." The meaning is not as important as how it feels when you are repeating it. Do you resonate with it? Can you find a way to do it so that it just rolls? Is it comfortable and pleasant. These things are more important than the "meaning." Since this is something you want o be doing a lot throughout the day and in a whole variety of settings and circumstances, it is useful if you enjoy how you feel doing it. And it is good if you like the "meaning" of it, so that you are comfortable using it. For a moment let me explain why I keep putting "meaning" in parentheses. The meaning of a mantra is much more than a translation... in fact most mantras do not actually have translations, only a sense of what their energy is and does. But even here you should be careful not to give that too much attention. It is best not to select a mantra to try and shape the world and your life in any specific way. For instance, if you are struggling with financial issues you might be told that a Lakshi mantra is what you should repeat to bring abundance in your life.

It is true that Lakshmi is the essence of wealth and abundance and prosperity and sustenance. But note that I had a typing error and wrote her name without the "m" above. Some would say that by mispronouncing a mantra you risk great problems. That can be true IF you are trying to manipulate the world to your will and trying to use the power of sound in such a way. But Master Sivananda explained that as long as we are using our mantra for Self-realization, doing it to come into an enlightened consciousness, then there is no issue about pronunciation. Just chant it as you do and put your heart into it.

Hopefully, this helps with the second issue as to why to repeat a mantra. Do it to come into the fullness of you being. By the way, if financial issues are a concern, repeating any mantra will move you into a sense of fullness and then abundance will naturally take shape in your life. Any mantra will work. Sometimes, if you have found a teacher inspiring you and guiding you on your spiritual walk to enlightenment, you can ask him or her to give you a mantra to use. If that is the case, use the one you are given. With the teacher's blessing you will move even faster using that mantra and it will keep and enhance your connection with your teacher.

One nice thing about mantra japa is that it can be done in almost any setting. You can repeat your mantra in bed when you first wake up. You can repeat it in the shower, while dancing, while jogging, while waiting for something to download on the computer, while taking a walk, while chewing your food, while driving... almost anytime. How wonderful is that... one of the most effective spiritual practices, and you can be doing it in almost every part of you life. It is easy to do. There is much more to share as far as techniques and ways to focus the mind and games to play with mantra japa, and I will try to go over those with you in our future sessions.

Have fun.

Love always,


Meditation Chat 31 January 2013

January 31, 2013

Blessed Day to you.

Have you ever spent time with Chapter 6 of the Bhagavad Gita? Where Krishna explains meditation... what, why & how?

Krishna explains that once we have our minds well-trained we can live in a steady state of enlightened awareness with nothing shaking us out of it. He says that we should continue to work at steadying our mind until we actual master it.

Arjuna hears this and points out the the mind it very hard to master, that it is like trying to control the wind. To master it seems impossible.

Felicia:   I sing my boys to sleep every night. I sometimes think it would be a great time to sneak in some meditation. Do you have a suggestion for a mantra that I could sing to them?

Hi, Felicia. What a great thing to do. Certainly that time of lucidity as one is falling asleep is a special clarity that we too seldom experience. Chanting any mantra is sweet and powerful. Of course, singing any lovely thoughts will have a deep impact, too. If you are familiar with the Gayatri Mantra, and sing/chant it with love, it will (1) be sooo soothing, (2) bring the benefits of the Sanskrit alphabet resonating to awaken all of their chakra petals so that they have an even fuller experience of themselves and life, and (3) prepare them for meditation. The Gayatri Mantra is particularly used to help one be ripe for meditation. But you can really chant/sing any mantra or song with a loving energy and that will truly serve them. Do they see you taking time to sit and meditate? If so, they might tune into your energy when you are doing that and be drawn to join you. Last week we spoke about letting them create their own sacred space if they would like to, and then invite them to do as you do. This is a great way to introduce them to meditation. Then they would easily grasp the idea of moving into a meditative state while going to sleep along with your singing.

A little more of Bhagavad Gita 6, The Yoga of Meditation.... When Arjuna tells Krishna that the idea of stilling and mastering the mind is almost impossible, Krishna actually agrees with him, telling him that indeed the mind is a real challenge to control, but that with steady practice it will come under control and mastery, and that it is vital to do this. Krishna then gives him guidelines as to how to go about that. Krishna tells him to set up a nice space to practice. Make it comfortable, a little off the floor or ground... a little insulation to keep you from being affected by the energy from below, but not too high up - you still want to be grounded. Then put some cushion and insulation for your seat, and finally something clean that you can remove and keep clean so that your seat can be fresh and pure for your sitting.

He tells Arjuna to sit upright avoid looking around. Keep the eyes focused on one point, which can be either external or internal. Here Krishna tells Arjuna to focus on the tip of the nose, but don't get stuck on that one place. He later gives him another focal point for the eyes' attention. The real point is to use that focus to quiet and steady the mind.

Once set up and settled, Krishna says to sit... which means spend some time in this endeavor. He says to have a high intention ("Think of me and only me." - be after the Divine, the Absolute and nothing else!) be calm and fearless. Actually make a vow to sit for some period, but don't over do it. When you make a commitment, keep it. So, do not make it too difficult. Perhaps a few minutes, or repeating your mantra for a mala, or chanting through a chapter of a scripture, etc.

Saraswati:   Dearest Jayadeva, may I ask a question about the use of crystals/gemstones during meditation? Do you use them for their special properties or keep them on an altar?

Saraswati Maa, good question. The answer is Yes. What I mean is that it is both useful to have them on your altar, especially if they move you to see you space in a nice way, and you can use them for their special qualities, too. Having anything that you feel good about there makes your altar space special and a nice place to spend some time. And if you enjoy some special gemstones, seeing them on the altar will feel good. If you know that they have some special qualities that you are looking for in your life or to enhance your state of mind and the atmosphere about you, feel free to use them on your altar with that intention. It is ok, too, to use them for those purposes by placing them on the body, if that is something your are familiar with and inclined to do. Keep it simple. Remember why you have an altar and what you are doing there. But if you are familiar with a gemstone's qualities and “powers,” and that feels right for your meditation space, then certainly welcome that to your altar. In fact, by noting it as you sit to meditate your mind will enhance the effect so that the gemstone(s) can have a lovely effect for your benefit. Their energy may help to draw you into your meditative state even more easily. For others reading this who may not be familiar with gemstones 'effects” but simply enjoy their beauty and how they feel, that is fine. There is no need to worry about having something strange taking place because there are gemstones there. They will only bring positive influences. Relax and enjoy.

Time is up for this morning. Feel free to submit questions at any time. I will try to address them during the week or at next week's chat.

Love always,



likhit Ganesha sm.jpg

Meditation Chat 10 December 2012

December 10, 2012

I lead a weekly Facebook Meditation Chat, and am posting some of the chats here. Enjoy. Comment. Ask questions. Share your own experiences.

Greetings. Any questions or sharing from your meditations?

Just in case one is tuning in or checks in later, here is a little something worth noting... mantra japa. Repetition of a sacred sound formula is actually so easy that it can be done in most settings, and even when lots of other things are going on. That makes it practical, so accessible, but what is most wonderful is how it works. Like a beautifully cut diamond mantra japa has so many facets. It will affect your life in a number of ways on many levels and throughout all the dimensions of your being.

Hopefully you have found a mantra you enjoy and are using it regularly. My Gurudev would tell us that once you choose a mantra, if you don't take time to repeat your mantra during the day, no matter what else you did, you've wasted the day. More to come about some of the ways mantra japa benefits your life....

Mantra japa... once you begin to repeat your mantra regularly the way you perceive things changes. Your priorities shift because the mantra repetition keeps you connected with and aware of the Divine and progressing with your journey on your path to the fullness of your being. The anxieties that could carry away, though they might still raise their heads, just can't hold you as they di in the past. Those anxieties that used to carry you away lose their grip on you. This is one of the benefits of your mantra japa practice. As you repeat the mantra regularly the energy of your being shifts so that the people and places around you are vibrated with your new energy. It affects them. And your mental patterns shift into more positive, constructive, contented patterns. Since your thought patterns shape your life, you will find your whole world changing for the good... to support you on your path. You will also be naturally directed toward those things and people that resonate with you. There are so many other wonderful benefits to regular mantra japa, but maybe this will help you understand why Swami Satchidananda told us to never let any day pass without repeating our mantra.

Sharon:   For a few years now I have periods of time when it is actually uncomfortable to meditate with my eyes mind is actually easier to quiet with my eyes open...with a downward gaze. Any idea why that is?

No, but I do know that there is no need to meditate with the eyes closed. Many traditions actually suggest that meditation is best when done with the eyes open, or half open. Each of us has some natural tendencies, and needs to become familiar with ourself, accepting ourselves as we are. Only then can we begin to move into our own fullness.

It is a mistake to try to do it like someone else. While it is ok to see what works for others and try that, it is important that we recognize that what works for someone else is exactly that - what works for them. We each need to find what works for us. Accept that and use it.

One very powerful meditation technique is Tradak - gazing. There are two types of Tradak, one for cleansing (where you keep the eyes focused trying to not even blink, and let the eyes water some), and one for meditating (which is a more relaxed gazing where you gaze steadily, but allow the eyes to blink. When using Tradak for meditation you gaze at the item for quite some time, and then shut the eyes and look to see it in the inner mind's vision. It may take a few times before you begin to see the inner image, but it will come. It initially appears in negative colors, but over time you will see it in positive. If you do Tradak on the same image (or statue, candle, etc.) day after day for quite some time, then that inner mental image will become ever available to you. The mind will have created a deep groove and the image will ever be present and help to hold you steady in your meditative state..

Sharon:   Thank you. I love candle light meditation. I have had teachers instruct me to work through the uneasiness I feel with my eyes closed...that it is something I need to train my mind to do because I am holding on to a fear...a fear of stillness. I haven't had much luck.

Dear Sharon,  though there might be some "fear of stillness," it is also possible that mental stillness can come for you without the body being so still. That is not rare at all, and completely ok. Walking meditations are just the thing for some folks. Another very wonderful practice (and one I have found just the things for periods of my life is patha, or recitation. With this meditation approach you become completely one pointed by focusing on reciting a scripture. As with most meditation techniques it is best to recite the same scripture everyday. With this, though it is important find a way to get the body settled and comfortable so that you can be steady with your recitation, you are still moving  and turning pages and reading and chanting aloud - even offering incense and doing some movements along with some recitations. So you become very engaged using many of your senses - sight, sound, touch, mental attention, and heartfelt devotion. It is quite different from trying to have the body held without any movement, eyes closed, not saying anything (or even repeating the same thing as in mantra japa), etc. Yet, everything is all focused on the same objective.

A very wonderful, powerful, useful meditation technique.




Meditation Chat 24 January 2013

January 24, 2013

I lead a weekly Facebook Meditation Chat, and am posting some of the chats here. Enjoy. Comment. Ask questions. Share your own experiences.

Good morning, Meditators! any questions or meditation tales to tell?

OK... here is a tale. Many years ago I was in upper state New York taking a stroll in the wood and came upon a bluff with a wild pear tree. I sat down munching a pear looking out over the bluff. Then I noticed a large bird that was simply coasting on the currents... way up there! It was so lovely. The bird just floated. I was awed by how the wind held it. Every now and then it would lose the wind and need to flap just a few times to catch it again. And then just continue sailing. Though it seemed effortless, I realized after watching for about 30 minutes that it was super attentive, making little adjustments to stay with the current and then quickly finding it each time it lost the flow. It was so good at it. We, too, can ride the current, stay in the flow, but need to keep focused on it and ready to flap our wings a little more actively each time we fall out.

Last week we spoke some about pranayama, how useful pranayama is to help still the mind and build the energy needed for a meditation practice, and how it can serve as the focus of your meditation to focus and still the mind. Also, when the mind is still, which often occurs while meditating, the breath stops in a neutral space (not held in or held out). This is known as kevala kumbaka, and is actually one of the ultimate goals of a pranayama practice. Though it happens very naturally when our mind becomes still, we tend to disrupt it whenever we note that the breath has stopped. "Oh! my breath has stopped!" - then an inhalation, and the mind starts to move again. O well... But if we practice that some and become familiar with looking at our mind and breath during kevala kumbaka, then, when it happens, naturally we simply recognize it, enjoy the delight of the still space and enlightened consciousness, and hang out there with it.

Here is a little exercise you can do to become familiar with it... get into a nice, comfortable sitting posture and begin some deep breathing that is totally comfortable. Then lift your hands in front and play this imagination game... Hold an imaginary needle in one hand and an imaginary thread in the other. Now lick the thread and put it gently through the eye of the needle. (Stop reading for a moment as you give this a try it – Go ahead. Try it.). Once you've done this ask your self how you were breathing as you threaded the needle. The breath was completely still, not held in, not held out, but in the neutral place, and the mind was totally clear and focused. The is kevala kumbaka. Become familiar with it. It will serve you well.

Sabrina:   Which moment is best to practice? When calm or in turmoil?

Dear Sabrina, interesting question. It is certainly easier to practice when calm, but surely important to practice whenever in turmoil. One of the benefits of setting up a regular practice is that you create a pattern that assists you. You practice because that is what you do, not due to how you feel or what is going on. You simply practice.

A little more Sabrina... like the bird in my story.. those times when you are in turmoil can be like losing the current. Then it takes more effort searching for that sweet lift of the current to hold and carry you. Some nice things to do that might assist you in the turmoil times are to do some deep breathing, chant out loud for a while and then quiet the chanting and move the attention more inward, and even ringing a bell at the start of your seated meditation can be useful by breaking the mind out of its current thought patterns.

Any other questions?

Sabrina:   Thanks for these precious advice and teachings. Mantras and Ravi Shankar's music do help me to calm down a bit. The bell.  The bell, oh yes, interesting, how it can help... A chanting bowl also maybe?

And how can I initiate my 5 year old who's sometimes so agitated but, in the same time, real interested in yoga and meditation.... Though I know children do meditate more "naturally" and instinctively than we do.

Sabrina, yes a chanting/singing bowl is also very nice, but functions a bit differently. Ringing a bell will clear the air, sort of shattering the thought patterns you came in with and open things to the new. Also, ringing the bell can be a call for the devas to join you. The bowl will then help to still the mind and draw you into a beautiful inner awareness. Once you sound the bowl just listen as long as you can hear it. This will be a great place to start your practice. Do some prayers, some pranayama, and continue to move inward. "Inward" is such a strange word for this because when not meditating "inward" has  a sense of being a very restricted space, part of the physical dimension. But "inward" while meditating brings you to the infinite, where you are free to explore, sail or simply be.

Sabrina:   Again, what an infinite generous lesson ! I' m grateful for this, thank you!  I am going to try all this, to help me focus on my inner strength and take back my path to my paintings and inner peace. I will let you know how your words helped me.

As far as initiating your 5 year old into meditation... there are a number of things that might help. The most important is to be the good example. When children see their parent(s) meditating that speaks much louder than any words you can use. So meditate regularly. Have a steady, daily practice. Your son, as well as you, will notice that meditation helps to make you more easeful with everything, lighter in how you go about your day, and even better with how you relate to him. So be steady in your practice. Next, if you have set up an altar where you sit to meditate, he will be interested in that. You can explain that you have created a space with some things that you find lovely and that you enjoy, so that when you sit there you feel happy and enjoy that special space. He may want to create his own. Let him do that. Though you can assist him by helping to clear some space that he chooses, maybe getting him a cushion, pillow or blanket to sit on and offering to get him a bell or bowl like yours, if he'd like, do not suggest how he do it at all - and accept whatever he wants to put there with absolutely no judgment, just appreciation and love (you might get to know some new things about him, too). Let him create his own special meditation space. If he happens to need to move, acknowledge that. Know that mediation can be done with movement, and some people find that when they move, their minds quiet and get clear. So be open to that, too. Yes, there are some nice practices he can use while moving. But ask me about that if it seems what he likes. I hope you both have fun.

Sabrina:   Again thanks for your time and luminous help!

Buddy Katz:   When meditating I get into a deeper practice with my eyes closed but I get such warmth to gaze at my alter with the lights twinkling off the deity and the glow. So both help with my practice but I don't know which I should do or in which order. ???

Dear Buddy, how beautiful! It certainly seems that you need to create an approach that uses both. There is a practice known as tratak... gazing. this seems like it may be just right for you. Once you get settled (after whatever things you may do to get the space clear and pleasant, and your mind and body still and comfortable), then simply gaze at your altar with the lights twinkling off the deity. Really look at it in a gently loving way, but steady. Enjoy. Sometimes your mind will be busy with thoughts. sometimes it will simply be still and only your visual experience will dominate. That it fine. So gaze for a while and then shut the eyes and see if you can find that image in the mind's eye. For a number of times it may be difficult to find it. But after gazing and then closing your eyes a number of times you will start to see it. At first your inner image may be in negative colors. That is fine. Stay with it. And when you you are gazing at the inner image stay focused, again delighting in that. After a while the inner image will become a positive and be exactly the same as the external visual. And then it will hold you steady and your inner meditation will go even deeper than ever. If you stay with this practice that inner image will become ever present for you even when you have your eyes open and are speaking with someone. You can give it your attention at any time and become steadily established in that beautiful meditation experience.

I did tratak on a picture of Swami Satchidanda (before I knew of tratak) everyday for many years, and that image is ever available to me - even now as I type away here.

Love always,



Meditation Chat 26 November 2012

I lead a weekly Facebook Meditation Chat, and am posting some of the chats here. Enjoy. Comment. Ask questions. Share your own experiences.

November 26, 2012

Cynthia: Ok I will a beginner, I find it so difficult to slow down my mind. What's the first step in learning to quiet my mind?

Jayna:   I have trouble quieting my mind. Do you suggest mantra Japa or just concentrate on breathing?

Dear Cynthia and Jayna let me get something written here for you.

Cynthia... there are lots of steps that you can take to help quiet the mind. But even noticing how active the mind is shows you are progressing. Everyone's mind is active and jumps from one thing to the next. Here are a few things to do... breathe slow and steady. Make sure your breathing, though deep, is very comfortable - comfortable is more important that how deep it is. If you do it comfortably, you will eventually find it deepening and slowing down... when the breaths slows down, the mind will slow down, too. Being clear about what you are trying to focus upon is also important. For instance you can watch the breath... initially breathe a little deeper so that it is easy to focus upon, but then, once you are finding it easy to watch, let the breath become more subtle. This will bring your attention to a more inward place and heighten your awareness. You could also use a mantra.

Dear Jayna, these comments will speak to your question as well as Cynthia's.

Repetition of a Mantra is a particularly wonderful and easy practice. Once you have found a mantra that you enjoy repeat it regularly... what I mean, is that you want to repeat it daily, and in many situations: at your "formal" meditation time; while lying in bed before sleep; upon waking; while showering, or driving... or almost any time. The more you repeat it, the more you will begin to vibrate with it and find it easier and easier to sort of "ride". It will carry you, keep your mind calm, start to change your thinking patterns so that they are calmer and and more constructive... and even create periods of sweet stillness for the mind.

Cynthia: How do you choose a mantra? Please know I really AM a beginner.

Choosing a mantra... there are a lot of mantras... some short... some longer. When you are getting started it makes sense to play with a number of mantras for a while and see how they "feel" for you. You want to choose one that you enjoy. So initially you may use a number of mantras, but eventually pick one that you like and commit to repeating that one everyday - without fail. It is fine to still explore and get to know and even "use" other mantras, but do that along with repeating your chosen mantra - not instead, and not shifting from one mantra to another.

Buddy:   Do you need a Mantra that a Swami gave you or can you pick one that resonates with you? Do you switch them at times? Do you constantly use the Mantra or do you like the stillness of the mind?

Buddy, no, you do not need a mantra that a swami gave you. You can pick one that resonates for you. But please note.. it is useful to stick with whatever mantra you have chosen (it is fine to try a few until you find one that you like, that resonates for you, but then pick that one). It takes steady repetition of the same sound formula for you to start to resonate with it, and for it to begin to reveal its qualities for you. Then you will start to resonate with it easier and more fully. It will begin to shape your life experiences and your mental state will more easily settle into that groove. This can only take place when you stick to one sound formula (mantra) and stay with it regularly for a long time. And Patanjali tells us that we need to do it with feeling as well if we want it to "happen." Next, please note that getting a mantra from a swami is something different. What you are talking about is known as mantra initiation. This really is more like a marriage with your teacher. So do not simply look for a swami to give you a mantra, better to pick your own. But if you have found a teacher who works for you as a guru, then it would be wonderful to ask for a mantra from your teacher. If the guru initiates you with a mantra, two special things take place... first you are able to get into the groove with the mantra more easily and quickly, and secondly, the mantra keeps you intimately connected with your teacher - both good. Hope this was helpful.

Cynthia, I hope this is useful. Don't worry about understanding everything. Just use anything that seems useful for you right now. Know that the Divine, the Universe is completely supporting your urge to come into Yoga (union). Trust the guidance that speaks to you. As you make use of it, more will naturally flow your way, along with the means to understand it and do it. Whatever seems not to speak to you at the moment, just ignore that for the time being. Have fun. It is important to ask your questions... then the guidance comes.

Any more questions at this point from anyone?

Saraswati posting here! We have a question from twitter for Jayadeva: Can you recommend any sounds for meditating I've tried some apps but not impressed! Don't have gongs etc.

Are you looking for specific apps to use or suggestions for the types of sounds that can be useful. Let me speak to both briefly...

a wonderful app for meditation is the Insight Meditation app.. not the free one (which is ok) but the one you pay a little for. It gives you a number of gongs/bells that are quite beautiful. You can choose how long and how often the sound and create a schedule of them sounding to assist your meditation practice.

***Saraswati posting*** I think they are interested in general sounds that would assist one in their practice.

I love to ring a singing bowl to start my meditations - one that I actual have at my altar (not an app). It took me a while searching until I found one that resonated for me in a way that really took me deep within and so naturally stilled my mind. But once found, it works great. I ring it when I start and it quiets my thoughts and draws my attention inward. Then I begin my chosen practice.

I also ring a lovely bell when I first arrive at my altar to meditate. This sort of clears the air, creates a lovely vibrational atmosphere in the room,and stops my mind from whatever it was doing before coming to the altar. Then, after lighting some incense (I like incense and it, too, lets me know that I am about to settle into my meditation - and then when I smell incense anywhere it reminds me and draws me into the meditative state), I then ring the singing bell, do some pranayama (breathing practices) and start working with my object of meditation.

It is ok to play some music if it doesn't stir up the mind or draw your attention outward. Be sure to see what the effect is... is it moving you inward and helping to still the mind? helping to create an open space for you to focus on whatever you have chosen to focus upon? or, is it drawing your attention outward and keeping you form going withing - remember, the kingdom of heaven is within - and once you find it within, it transforms your "outer" world into that kingdom.

Certainly some of the best use of sound, is mantra japa... you doing the repetitions is better than listening to it being done by others - though that creates a delightful and useful energy when you are not doing your meditation practice.

And here are a few useful tips before we close tonight...

Be steady... a daily practice is key to making meditation a part of who you are.
Until you are really established in a meditative state of mind, it is important to commit to a daily “formal” meditation practice. Do it everyday for sure, even just a little bit is fine – but make it part of you everyday way of being.

Keep meditating. Have fun. May you be ever blessed and a blessing in this world.

Love always,