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Archive for August, 2014

Launching Lazy Guide Books

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 I have been away for some time, working on a new idea.

My idea involves writing a series of short pretty, highly visible, books for adults, called Lazy Guide Books.

There will be a few of them, and they will be written for those of you who flick through tons and tons of material- including this blog, in search for little hidden gems of wisdom.

So be on the lookout.

The first one, The Lazy Guide to Meditation will be launched on the 2nd of October.

If you want to find out more just click into the link below

 “The Lazy guide to meditation” is available for pre-order in the Kindle Store. It is available* for customers to pre-order here.

HOW DO I START MEDITATING? SHOULD I DO IT ALONE OR WITH GROUP OF LIKE MINDED PEOPLE?

Ok, so here is the thing, you have the theory. You understand the 4 Essential steps. You know all about

  • Preparation
  • Correct Posture
  • Correct breathing
  • Effective mantras

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It’s in the bag….Right?

Wrong …wrong… wrong… the old cliché rings true here

The way to hell is paved with good intentions

I don’t know about you but when I am left to my own devices I slip into bad habits very easily. It’s a very common problem apparently and this is why Korko suggested, that a group of us could meet at least once, if not twice a week to help us with our practice.

He also gave us the guidelines below to read out to help us stay focused and to help anyone who choose to join us, on any particular day.

Guidelines, allow the people gathering for meditation to have a very clear understanding of what this meditation is all about and how they could organise themselves to do it.

Note to self

Yup, these guidelines are great- Thanks Korko 

If you are reading this blog and if, like me you need discipline and routine to get moving, why not print the guidelines out  for yourself, get a few friends together, and see how it goes

Some guidelines for those who come to meditate:

Korkoniyas Moses SJ( Swami Sarananada)

Please read out these Guidelines at the start of each meeting.

We would like to welcome you to our _____Meditation group.

We will all begin again with a beginners mind with our meditation which will start at ___ and will continue until ___

The purpose of coming to meditate together is to

  • Support one another in our spiritual pursuit so that we are not over taken by the inhuman and materialistic values which can be prevalent in today’s world
  • Energize one another, helping us with our spiritual awakening, or to acquire higher consciousness, not just for relation or to enjoy good health

The Silence type of meditation or contemplation that we try to practice in this gathering is in fact beyond religions. It is to connect us with our inmost self or the Supreme Self beyond name and form.

So any body, of any religion or of no religion can join this.

Religious practices, Sacred Scriptures and the teachings of mystics can be a good starting point, but at certain point we have to leave them behind as we leave the boat in order to land on the other shore.

While reciting a mantra one may choose the name of one’s deity for repetition; but a time comes when one has to leave that name also to come to complete silence.

We honour the good things in all religions and the mystics of different traditions keeping in front of us the books and emblem of different religions.

We respect and tolerant each one’s religion, leaving us open to learn from each other

Content of meditation:

To start with one should keep in mind that the Meditation we have come to do here is not a time to

  • praise God
  • ask for some favors from God for yourself or for somebody else,
  • reflect on the Word of God
  • examine and correct oneself
  • decide on how best to live one’s life
  • make a decision for your life

These are perfectly OK in a discursive meditation but not for our meditation here.

The Meditation we have come to do here is basically to sit in silence with our inner most self; the method we follow here to come to this silence is:

  1. Awareness of body, sounds, breath, deep breathing and equalizing the breath, 
  2. Visualizing Jesus or an enlightened master in the heart and repeating his/her name while breathing in and OM while breathing out or just reciting OM itself
  3. Remaining silent, fixing the mind at the centre of the forehead – in the centre of wisdom/ the inner most self
  4. Sending peace to all the people, living beings and to the whole universe and ending by chanting Om Shanti (peace).

The meditation practice

  • Start the meditation with about minutes of relaxation, or loosening of the joints.
  • Then with hand joined on your chest you may, if you wish, read the following:

Become aware of your body, part by part from your head to feet;

How does your body feel today?

Is there any pain or discomfort in any part of the body?

Just become aware.

Become aware of the ground in which you stand; realize that you are standing on Mother Earth.

This Mother Earth is providing you with food, water and all your needs.

This Mother Earth is a symbol of the Lord, who holds you in the palm of His hands.

He is the rock, the most reliable one.

Tell yourself

I am rooted and grounded in the Lord. I am well protected; all my needs are met even before I ask for them’

Imagine Lord Jesus the Guru (or an enlightened master) before you,

 Greet the Lord,

Surrender yourself to the lord, body, mind, thinking, actions, words,

Surrender past, present, future and present concerns.

            Ask the Lord to take your hand and lead you in His path,

            That you may walk in His light and reach your destination

            Which is union with the Father.

 Duration: 

Recommended time for a group sitting is approximately 30 minutes or less.

Posture

You may sit on a chair or on the floor with a cushion but the important thing is;

  • The body should be relaxed,
  • Spine should be erect,
  • As much as possible no movement of the body.
  • It is for this purpose we do some relaxation exercises or gentle stretching exercises before starting the meditation

 Reflection and sharing

 After the meditation the members could sit for a while to read some relevant passages from Scriptures

After reading, those present can share what they understand by it and enlighten one another with their insights.  

It is also helpful to share with one another on how we are trying to live our spiritual life.

 Closure

We may if we wish, end the meeting with any of the following

  • deep bow -as a mark of respect for one another
  • moments silence
  • spiritual uplifting song

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Meditation: Effective Mantras is the Fourth Essential Step

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A mantra is a single word, sound or phrase which is repeated over and over again until the mind becomes still.

Words such as, Peace, Love or The Name of a Compassionate God of your understanding is great for a mantra.

The word Om is considered to the most powerful Mantra because it symbolises unity in all things.

Korko in his book Yesu Nama Japam states that
‘The word Mantra is a combination of two words ’Man ‘and’ tra’. Man refers to the ‘mind’; and ‘tra’ means crossing or liberation so mantra is supposed to take one beyond the mind.’( pp96)
Note to self
That is so interesting what Korko has to say.
Constant repletion of any word fills our thoughts with these words.
So when we repeat the words such as Peace or Love or Compassion over and over, our lives will become more peaceful loving and compassionate.The scary thing is…. I guess the opposite is also true!!

But staying with the positive the next burning question is this..
What does that mean if we use God’s name as a Mantra?
Hindus believe that the constant repletion God’s name :
• purifies the minds,
• focuses all thoughts on God
• unites us with God.
Hinduism is one of many religions. I am a Christian my friend is a Buddhist, and my neighbour is a Muslim.Yet, there is only one God and we of different religions call him by different names.
Is that OK?
And..
does it affect the potency of the Mantra?

Korko says…

‘Every name of God is potent with power. Whichever name we choose and we repeat it constantly we can attain the quality and power of that name.
What we think of we become.
So if we think of God constantly we will attain God – consciousness and realize God’

Therefore, take your time deciding what mantra you want to use. You can change your mind as often as you like, relax, and see what word sits best with you and try it out. When there is no effort involved, everything works out perfectly.
When you have found your mantra, pronounce it slowly and with great concentration so that your mind can hear it. Keep repeating the mantra over and over again, so that it rises above the sound of your own thoughts which will try to resist the practice.

Gradually allow your mind to settle on the repeated sound.

When your attention wanders away from the practice, gently bring it back to the sound of the mantra until the mind is completely still.

Allow the mantra and breathing to slip way, as you becoming aware of the stillness and center of your forehead – your third eye.

Rest in the stillness time you set aside for the meditation is finished. Usually it is best to allow 30 minuets for the meditation practice.

Finishing the Meditation

After a designated period of time, bring the practice of meditation to a close, by taking a deep bow.

Bring to your awareness anyone you are not in harmony with, and/or who are not in harmony with you and bless them.

Bless all beings everywhere.

Send your blessings and wishes for peace out into the world

Resume your normal activities.

A comforting Note to Self
Korko assures me that even the mind of the most experienced meditators wanders.
This is a comforting thought.

Mediation is not a goal that needs to be reached; rather it is a lifelong process that helps us to connect to all that is good in life.

This process changes all the time, sometimes the mind becomes serene and still and sometimes we need to keep bringing back into the moment by focusing on the breath. It does not matter. All that matters is that we have a deep desire to be still and Meditation will help us to achieve this.

A final Note to self
It appears to me that meditation is an awakening, a subtle transformation that closes off the chattering mind and opens awareness to the present vibrations and wisdom of the universe. And yet, I find myself asking why is it that I am always to rushing around and being busy: I mean
• Where am I going?
• What am I seeking?
• Is it truly possible that this miraculous search is a journey back to God and meditation is the key to help us do this?
As the famous writer and theologian Mark Twain says
‘Meditation shatters the illusion that we are separate from God, and each other and our world’

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Correct Breathing is the Third Essential Step of Meditation

Correct Breathing is the Third Essential Step of Meditation

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Deep gentle, slow rhythmical breathing

  • focuses the mind,
  • fills the body with oxygen
  • aids relaxation,
  • allows us to sit in silence with our Innermost Self
  • is a basic requirement for meditation.

Note to self

When  devotees  of Sri Ramala Maharshi asked if ‘it is hard for westerners to withdraw inward and be still.

The Sad Guru replied’ Yes, Western civilization are rajasic  or mentally overactive and we have to learn how to be quiet .

And  one way to do this is to practice focused  breathing as follows:

  • When breathing, count the breaths: inhaling 1.2.3.4.& exhaling 1.2.3.4.
  • Do this without any effort ten times.
  • Then slow the breathing down by inhaling 1.2.3.4. & slowly extending the exhalation down until it reaches 1.2.3.4 5.6.7.8.
  • Do this at least ten times.
  • Continue to concentrate on the rhythm of the breath in and out until the mind slows right down.
  • Gradually, when you are ready, imagine a beautiful light, a radiant form, with deep compassion and love vibrating, shining, pulsating outwards from the center of your heart
  • Then  with great reverence introduce the  mantra sound, slowly, reverently and with great devotion.

Note to self

I  will tell you about the mantras in the next post and in the meantime just keep practicing the focused breathing as its importance cannot be overestimated.

Posture is the Second Essential Step of Meditation.

Posture is the Second Essential Step of Meditation.
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There are several misconceptions about postures for meditation and many associate it with the Full Lotus position practiced by experienced Yogi.
Gentle stretching exercises during the day will build up strength in your body that will enable you to sit comfortably without moving.
It does not matter whether you sit on a chair, on a mat or the floor. The most important thing of all for good meditation is a straight back.
If you sit on a chair resist the temptation to lean back into it.
Note to self…
Our posture is an excellent indicator of how we are meditating.
The body tends to stoop when the mind wanders.
When this happens just smile – without comment or any self reproach whatsoever, and gently bring your attention back to your breathing.
Keep an eye on your posture and correct it as soon as you notice that your head is not erect and/or your spine is not straight.
Correcting your posture is a signal to recommence meditation. Concentrating on the breath is an excellent way to bring the mind back from attention wandering. Start this reconnection by focusing on the gentle rhythm of inhalation and exhalation, which in itself allows the mind to become peaceful and calm.
A note on Hand Positions
Hand positions can be symbolic or ritual gestures used Buddhism, Hinduism. They are also used in Indian dance.

The Hands are a powerful means of communicating intent, for example
 when the index finger is placed under the thumb, it symbolises the intention to place the mind –the index finger under the will of God – the thumb.
 When the left palm up rests on the right palm and the thumbs are touching, the left hand symbolises the person and the right hand symbolises God. When the left hand rests in the right hand this symbolises the person resting in the palm of God. Both are united through the touching of the thumbs.
Note to self.
The hand two positions are in the photograph above.
Please excuse that I have left the most important steps- breathing and mantras till last.
It was not a decision that I took lightly.
I really believe that a straight back is the key to a good meditation practice, because it allows that lovely free flowing energy from the universe to travel up and down you spine.
I will continue to post over the next week and cover breathing and mantras in the meantime don’t forget to stretch, do the deep relaxation and whenever and where ever you think of it draw your shoulders back and consciously straighten the spine….. well that’s the plan anyway, as for me I’m not quite at Korko’s level of yoga-asana yet!!

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In the meantime it is ..
Onwards
and
Upwards
My friends
The priceless Gift of Serenity is worth it

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