Meditation

“The true value of a human being is determined by the measure and the sense in which they have obtained liberation from the self.

Our task must be to free ourselves; by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”

 Albert Einstein, 1954

 

Meditation can move us closer to promoting compassion within ourselves and those that we touch.

Through meditation we become more responsible.  This responsibility lies in the balance we discover by unlocking the synergy of our mind….. our heart….. and our inner spirit. We propose that through a continued and ongoing dedication to a personal meditation practice, great strides are possible for ourselves, our relationships, our family, and our society.  It allows us to subdue the self.  It allows us to “just let go”.  In doing so, a remarkable thing happens.  We do not cease to be.  We do not lose control.  We do not lose self; instead we liberate it.  We find a beautiful place of peace, harmony, and balance.  We now frame the self within a much purer form of loving and nurturing energy.  We begin to see a clearer picture of the world and our place in it.  We learn the art of alchemy in converting passion into compassion.  Our decision making process then incorporates a powerful and far reaching wisdom.  We are in tune within a rhythm of life, our surroundings, and those we touch.

“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.”

 Dalai Lama

A great soul once responded when asked the question, “What is the most important time?” 

The response went somewhat as follows, “The most important time is this present moment.  It is the only time that we will ever have control of.  It is what we do in this present moment that determines the direction of our lives.”

We can use this time wisely and responsibly or we can diminish its value.  Remember this; the value of this present moment is colored by our deepest feelings and subsequent thoughts and desires.  Any decision in life will have their imprint.

 

“There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance. We need to learn to love ourselves first, in all our glory and our imperfections. If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others or our potential to create. Evolution and all hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and open-hearted vision of people who embrace life.”

John Lennon

 

Ask yourself these questions:

Who am I?

Where am I going?

How will I get there?

Who am I?  Where am I going?  How will I get there?

These very important questions take on a very different response when we open our heart to discover its secrets.  Through the act of quieting the mind, we allow the content resting deep within the heart to awaken.  When we contemplate our awareness and again ask these same questions after cultivating the heart, our responses are altered and given a much deeper meaning and significance.

 


 

 

 “Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love.”

Lao Tzu

 A “loving kindness” meditation

After a long day, including some difficult personal encounters we tend to build stress within our bodies and our mind.  Our mind keeps going over the situations reviewing the negative pictures and the emotions attached.

Take the time to brew yourself a cup of tea, preferably green or herbal, sit down in a comfortable and quiet setting, alone by yourself.   

Sip your tea and inhale, filling the lungs while lowering the diaphragm with breath, enjoying the beverage.  Review the day, the good and the bad.  Continue enjoying the tea and the review.  After a few minutes…..close the eyelids…..

Inhale, filling the lungs lowering the diaphragm…..on the exhale…..say the word “listen” quietly on the exhale letting it last as long as the exhale itself.

Inhale, filling the lungs lowering the diaphragm…..on the exhale…..say the word “observe” quietly on the exhale letting it last as long as the exhale itself.

Inhale, filling the lungs lowering the diaphragm…..on the exhale…..say the word “value” quietly on the exhale letting it last as long as the exhale itself.

Inhale, filling the lungs lowering the diaphragm…..on the exhale…..say the word “embrace” quietly on the exhale letting it last as long as the exhale itself.

Inhale, filling the lungs lowering the diaphragm…..on the inhale…..say the word “I”….. then say the word “love” quietly on the exhale letting it last as long as the exhale itself.

“I…….Listen”

“I…….Observe”

“I…….Value”

“I…….Embrace”

“I…….Love

Repeat the above, quietly feeling the impression of each word, surrendering to the emotional impact of each word and each breath.

After a few rounds, just say the word, “I” on the inhale and “love” on the exhale, surrendering to the ebb and flow of the breath.  Start to let the breath find its own rhythm without any personal effort.  Allow the breath to breathe you.  Surrender to its mastery of the moment itself.  Now is when the meditation begins.  Now is when we listen to the breath…..we listen to the awakened heart.  Do not be concerned when you find the mind begin to wander.  This is normal.  It’s what the mind does.  Gently bring the attention of the mind back to the breath, back to the mantra.  The mind is like a young excited child.  Be loving, kind, and gentle with it.  The words on the inhale and the exhale help to still and calm our mind.  The relationship between our awareness and our breath is our goal.  This relationship unlocks the secrets of our heart.  It is only when we subdue the mind can we discover what the heart has to say.  It is as if the mind is a like a pond that has stones cast into it relentlessly.  It is only when the stones are stopped that the surface of the pond finds its calm.  It is then that we can see the beauty hidden beneath its surface.  The breath will guide us.  The heart beckons us upon our journey.  We just need to listen, then observe, then value, and finally surrender and embrace what we find.  In this moment we are open to the very magic of the heart.  Rediscover, in the solitude of your being, the very private and special tenderness that goes before no other soul.  Let this place and this moment embrace you with its wonder.  Let the Love and Grace found within your being expand to every cell, every breath, and every moment.  Breathe Love – Be Love.   Let it last as long as you will.

Upon completion of this meditation, revisit the problems of the day with this affirmation:  “I let go….. I listen….. I love….. I forgive…..  My heart – My love, extends to all that I meet in loving kindness.” 

 What do we hear when opening our heart?

…..Listen to the silence.

What do we see when opening our heart?

…..Observe the stillness. 

What do we find when opening our heart?

…..Value the fullness of this moment.

What do we do when opening our heart?

…..Embrace this moment with the compassion of loving kindness.

Listen to the silence of a loving heart, observe the stillness of a loving heart, value the fullness of a loving heart, and then, embrace this special moment in time with compassionate courage, generosity, and humility born from loving kindness.

 I listen, I observe, I value, I embrace…….I am…….I love…….In thee, I am…….In thee, I love.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.”

Proverbs 4:23

The act of meditation has not the goal of gaining anything.  The purpose of meditation is to surrender, to release, to “let go”; to just listen and observe.  We then value and embrace what remains.

What do we find when we still our mind?

…..Love

 

“Our knowledge of God is perfected by gratitude: we are thankful and rejoice in the experience of the truth that He is love.”

Thomas Merton

When do you recall ever having taken the time to explore the depths of your own heart?

Will the discovery of the secrets lying dormant within your heart alter the direction of your life’s journey?  Have you ever wondered which fork in the road to take?  Have you done all the necessary preparation to make the choice valid?

May we extend this invitation to self examination.  

We are all given gifts at birth.  Discover them for yourself and their ultimate power for personal transformation.  Explore how their cultivation can add meaning to your life and the lives of those you touch.

“I always begin my prayer in silence, for it is in the silence of the heart that God speaks.  God is the friend of silence–we need to listen to God because it is not what we say but what He says to us and through us that matters.”

Mother Teresa


 

A Simple Meditation by Nayaswami Maria, Yogananda, & ananda.org

9 Meditation Tips from Paramhansa Yogananda

“How easy the spiritual path is, if you give even a little time each day to meditation. Meditate intensely, morning and evening. Even fifteen minutes of meditation is better than no time at all.”PARAMHANSA YOGANANDA, FROM CONVERSATIONS WITH YOGANANDA

1.“In meditation, you must go beyond thought. As long as you are busy thinking, you are in your rational mind, on the conscious plane. When you sleep and dream, you are on the subconscious plane. And when your mind is fully withdrawn in superconsciousness, it becomes centered in the bliss of the spine. That is the level of the soul’s existence.”

2.“Do not be anxious if you don’t have meditative experiences. The path to God is not a circus! Don’t even be anxious about such fruits of meditation as inner joy and peace. Everything will come in time. Meanwhile, consider meditation, too, as a form of karma yoga: action without desire for the fruits of action. Meditate above all to please your higher self, not your ego.”

3.Every sincere effort is registered in the Divine consciousness. Your duty…is to accept whatever He sends you — and, for that matter, He doesn’t send. God alone knows what past karma keeps you from perceiving Him right now. He may want you to finish up your karma in this life, before giving you eternal bliss.”

4.“Don’t waste the perception of the God’s presence, acquired in meditation, by useless chatting. Idle words are like bullets: they riddle the milk pail of peace. In devoting time unnecessarily to conversation and exuberant laughter, you’ll find you have nothing left inside. Fill the pail of your consciousness with the milk of meditative peace, then keep it filled. Joking is false happiness. Too much laughter riddles the mind and lets the peace in the bucket flow out, wasting it.”

5.“Meditate regularly, and you will find a joy inside that is real. You will then have something you can compare to sense pleasures. That comparison will automatically make you want to forsake your sorrow-producing bad habits. The best way to overcome temptation is to have something more fulfilling to compare it with.”

6.“Never count your faults. Just think about whether you love God enough. [The Divine] doesn’t mind your faults, only your indifference.”

7.“Many people meditate till they feel a touch of peace, but jump up then and leave their meditation for their activities. That’s all right, if you have important work waiting for you, for it is always better to meditate before any activity, that you may feel at least some peace as you work. Whenever possible, however, sit for a long time after your practice of techniques. That is when the deepest enjoyment comes. Intuition is developed by continuously deepening that enjoyment, and, later on, by holding on to its calm aftereffect.”

8.“[The Divine Spirit] answers all prayers. Restless prayers, however, He answers only a little bit. If you offer to others something that isn’t yours to give, won’t that be a merely empty gesture? If you pray…similarly, but lack control over your own thoughts, that prayer will be without power. Thoughts and feelings, both, must be focused when you pray. Otherwise God will meet your little trickle with another trickle in return! Answers will be doled out to you in a teaspoon. Too often, prayer is more like the halfhearted mumbling of a beggar than the confident, loving demand of a friend.”

9.“You won’t find [the Divine Spirit] by making constant excuses: for example, saying, ‘When I find a quiet place, I will meditate.’ That is not at all the way to get there! If you tell yourself, however, “Right now I will plunge into deep meditation!” you can be there in a moment. When you are really sleepy, you have no difficulty in sleeping no matter where you are. When a person is in love, he or she finds no difficulty in thinking of the beloved; rather, it is difficult not to think of him or her, even to the point of ignoring work. Be in love with God! It is easy to meditate deeply, when your love for [the Divine] is deep enough.”

LEARN TO MEDITATE

Having a daily meditation practice is a powerful tool for a more fulfilling life. Learning this simple and effective meditation technique will ensure you maintain a daily practice.

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An Easter Meditation by Ravi

Life Beyond the Grave: An Easter Meditation from Ravi

2014_Ravi_Easter_Meditation

I was only nine years old when I attended my first funeral. It was my grandmother’s funeral; she was in her seventies when she passed away. For the first time in our home we experienced the pall of death. There were no funeral homes in India at the time so the body was kept for a day or so in the living room and then buried. Suddenly, in the household there was a silent corner. Almost unavoidably everyone spoke in low tones. The reality of death is unmistakable.

I have rather clouded memories of that event but I do remember well the hymn that was sung at her funeral. To this day I cannot explain why, unless it is the power of music to express emotion when ordinary speech fails:

Abide with me; fast falls the eventide; The darkness deepens; Lord with me abide. When other helpers fail and comforts flee, Help of the helpless, O abide with me.

How could I as a youngster process all the sentiments in that verse? As one gets older we find different ways of saying the same thing, as if to soften the harshness of it all: “passed away,” “departed,” “expired,” “breathed their last,” and so on. Even so, the pain still hits the one left behind. It is as if the finality of that one life lives on in the emotions of another.

As even more years go by, moral questions about death emerge: Why did it happen so soon? Why did it happen this way? Why did it happen? Is this really the end?

The question is even more complex when death comes not merely as a tragedy but as an atrocity. I was recently in Newtown, Connecticut, where the savage and heartless killing took place of twenty-six people, most of them small children. Almost unbearable ambivalence is inflicted when the killer then kills himself and the deadly silence of ever knowing the motive or of finding justice envelops everyone. “Did he escape the consequences of the pain he inflicted on others?” “Is that it?”

“Yes” is the answer if naturalism and atheism are true. Everything is final. There is no recourse. The silence that falls is the heart-wrenching echo of a purposeless existence. Death becomes the great leveler, and there is no difference between what awaits one person or another at the end. That is why Solomon cried out that if all were measured “under the sun” (apart from any influence outside of our existence), then “all is meaningless.”

Even more pungent is the belief of Bertrand Russell that life can only build upon a foundation of unyielding despair. Such is the senselessness of life from the silence of the grave when it has been defined “under the sun.” We work, we play, we toil, we struggle, we endure, we debate, we invent, we destroy, and in the end, we ourselves end.

But with death is something else to consider. Yale philosopher Nicholas Wolterstorff writes in Lament for a Son,

“When we have overcome absence with phone calls, winglessness with airplanes, summer heat with air conditioning—when we have overcome all these and much more besides, then there will abide two things with which we must cope: the evil in our hearts and death.”

There you have it; the inescapability of death and of morality are the twin realities for which there is only one solution: that there is life beyond the grave. These two questions give us a hint from the transcending view of eternity rather than being constrained by the temporal keyhole, and point to an answer that comes to us from beyond the sun, found only in the Son.

There is life beyond the grave. Yes, the grave has its tears. Even the Lord of Life wept at the grave of his friend Lazarus. He knew we would feel the pain of loss but because of him it does not need to be a permanent loss. Because of him it is only a temporary loss, a loss like saying goodbye at the train station or the airport, a loss tempered with the joy that one day we will be standing at the “arrivals gate,” receiving the one to whom we had bid a temporary farewell. Only in that paradigm can our struggle with death and evil be explained.

I write this having just spoken at Uppsala University in Sweden. Engraved in stone above the entrance to one of the university’s main buildings is the university motto: “To think free is great, but to think right is greater.” Before we arrived for these open forums, our hosts conducted a survey among the students asking if they agreed with their university’s motto. Fifty-one percent disagreed with it and thirty-one percent said they hadn’t given it a thought. These are future politicians, professors, lawyers, doctors, and parents. I assume that those who preferred free thinking to right thinking believed that was the right conclusion. Or perhaps it simply did not matter, so long as it was their thought. It should be no surprise that apathy becomes the legacy of relativism and reason is crucified at the altar of our egos.

But, if there is life beyond the grave and there is a final day of reckoning, all this cavalier word-wizardry will be exposed for the arrogance and lie that it is. It is absolutely critical that we think rightly about life and death and that we understand the “what” and the “why” of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Life has a defining point. Life has a destination point. Death and separation are the destination halls of sin; hope and life the arrival points of a life that has accepted the personal significance of the death of Christ. The Lord of Life brings justice upon those who rejected his mercy and gives mercy to those who cried out for it and were willing to accept his justice.

Death is either a full stop or a comma. In the Christian worldview, it is a comma. There is for the Christian both the passing of all things and the abiding in Christ’s provision. As the hymn writer wrote,

Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day; Earth’s joys grow dim; its glories pass away; Change and decay in all around I see; O Thou who changest not, abide with me.

The resurrection makes the difference. Jesus’s triumph over death captures my defeat and takes me into his victory. The apostle Paul came to know Christ in reverse order to the rest of the disciples. Knowing Christ from his birth to his life, to his death to his resurrection, the disciples had to await the triumph. But Paul knew Christ from the point of his resurrection—from the point of his triumph—and traced his life back to his birth. And that regressive journey, which is our journey too, imparts meaning to everything “under the sun” when it is seen through the resurrection of the Son. That’s why Paul said, “That I may know him, the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his suffering; being made conformable unto his death” (Philippians 3:10).

Soren Kierkegaard was right when he said that we have to define life backwards and then live it forwards. It is the arrival that defines the reason for the departure. It is right thinking about life that gives freedom its map. It is the resurrection that makes Good Friday good. It is not Bertrand Russell’s unyielding despair; it is the enchanting hope of Christ’s triumph over death that makes this journey what it is. This is the message of Easter.

Justice and grace are the two brightest lights in a dark world. Only Jesus Christ in his death and resurrection upholds them in finality and continuity. What a beautiful truth! May the grace of God dwell in your hearts richly.

Happy Easter to you all.

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