Archive | meditation

The importance of proper breathing

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A good exercise is to focus on breathing with your diaphragm. Feel your whole stomach gently moving. This breathing will also be very good for the health of your body. “Proper breathing” can help reset the natural strength of the body. When we breathe with the muscles around our heart – we are using those muscles which are supposed to be recruited for emergency situations – ‘fight or flight.’ If we are always breathing in this way it is a sign, we are stressed. Breathing from the diaphragm is more conscious, relaxed and peaceful method of breathing.

If we consciously breathe, it will help to quieten the mind.

One more thing we can do is that when we breathe in feel, that we are breathing in peace and divine energy. If you breathe in properly you can feel like you are breathing through every pore of your body. Also, at the start of the exercise, try once or twice to exhale all the breath. As you do this feel like you are emptying your mind of all thoughts allowing a new clarity to enter. Continue Reading →

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Two aspects of meditation – quiet mind, open heart

Good meditation involves quietening the mind and opening the heart. mind-negativity-rainbow-beauty

Usually our mind is constantly engaged in thoughts and can only experience a limited sense of peace. The first aspect of meditation is trying to quieten and ultimately still the mind.

The complement to silencing the mind is ‘opening the heart.’ As we begin to reduce our thoughts and desires, it enables our inner heart to come to the fore. The spiritual heart is the part of our being which encompasses inner silence and our inner joy. It is the heart that is the seat of the soul – our inner being – the connecting link with God.

When we feel an awakening in the heart, this helps very much to quieten the mind. The heart has its own power and intensity. If we get joy from the heart, it becomes increasingly easier to feel detached from the mind and our thought processes. If stopping our thoughts seems an impossible task – don’t worry, concentrate on strengthening the awareness of the heart instead.

quiten-mind-open-heartTwo aspects of meditation that reinforce each other.

A beginner may start meditation and think – stopping my thoughts is very challenging. And, in many ways it is! We cannot expect to stop all thoughts over night – even after a few years of practise, it is not easy. But, as long as we take our first steps to quietening the mind, we also enable the journey of the heart to begin. Some seekers will make more progress through concentrating on the heart – rather than fighting the unruly mind. Focusing on the heart will make our task increasingly easy.

Even if our mind is not perfectly still, we can still start to have a good meditation by bringing the heart to the fore. In the heart, we will feel an inner cry and a sensation of peace. Continue Reading →

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Personal meditation techniques

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My meditation teacher Sri Chinmoy gave many different meditation techniques, but also suggested that the real secret of meditation was – not just mastering technique – but our heart’s inner cry. If we are satisfied with what we have in the material world, then our meditation will not be very deep. However, if we feel a deep inner cry for peace and joy, then whatever technique we use we will be able to make faster progress.

Nevertheless, these are some techniques which I find helpful and use in my own meditation.

Mantra

During the day, when the outer world is a little more restless, I like to repeat a mantra. I use ‘Supreme’ which is a term Sri Chinmoy uses to describe God in his ever transcending aspect. By repeating the mantra Supreme, I feel it is both meditation and invocation. I try to repeat the mantra in the heart, to try and awaken the heart chakra. It is often recommended to count a certain number of mantras 500, 600, 700. However, although I often use mantra beads, I don’t tend to count. I start off relatively fast, but try to repeat the mantra more soulfully and with more awareness. For me the goal is not to achieve a certain number, but to say more soulfully and without any mental distraction.

Heart

Trying to meditate in the mind is difficult because the nature of the mind is to produce thoughts. If we can move away from the mind to the heart, then we are in a better place to meditate. Whatever technique of meditation, I usually try to be in the heart; there is a good spiritual energy there. If you really concentrate on the heart, you can start to feel your sense of being shift – from the head to the heart.
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Basic steps for learning meditation

In many of my articles on self improvement, I often suggest meditation can be an invaluable aid to alleviating many of our daily problems. I don’t look upon meditation just as a problem solver, I meditate because I enjoy the consciousness of meditation. But, if we can gain real peace of mind through meditation, there is no problem that cannot be helped in some way. These a few preliminary steps for learning how to meditate.

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1. Location

Firstly, find a suitable quiet place for meditation. If it is very hard to find somewhere quiet, use some meditative music to drown out background sounds. If possible keep a corner of your room reserved just for meditation; this will help build up a meditative vibration in that particular part.

2. The basics

  • It is important to meditate with a straight back. (If you try meditating whilst lying down, you are more likely to fall asleep, than entering into a high state of meditation.)
  • Don’t meditate after eating a heavy meal – you will feel lethargic and sleepy.
  • If possible shower and wear clean clothes before meditating.
  • Try to switch off. If you try to meditate straight after work, you may be still thinking about the day. Try reading some books on meditation to help make the transition from work to meditation.

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Inspirational Quotes

Forgive,
You will have happiness.
Forget,
You will have satisfaction.
Forgive and forget,
You will have everlasting peace
Within and without.

– Sri Chinmoy

 

If anyone speaks ill of you,
Praise him always.

If anyone injures you,
Serve him nicely.

If anyone persecutes you,
Help him in all possible ways.

You will attain immense strength.
You will control anger and pride.
You will enjoy peace, poise and serenity.
You will become divine

– Swami Sivananda

“Many people excuse their own faults but judge other persons harshly. We should reverse this attitude by excusing others’ shortcomings and by harshly examining our own.”

– Paramhansa Yogananda

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Is it possible to stop the thoughts of the Mind?

"No matter which path you follow for meditation, the first and foremost task is to try to make the mind calm and quiet. "

Sri Chinmoy [1]

Beginners to meditation find that when they sit down to meditate their mind is akin to a mad monkey; no matter how hard we try, the power of the mind’s thoughts seem to make meditation most difficult. However, it is possible to have a completely clear mind. It is not easy, but there are various techniques that can be used to quieten the mind. These are some techniques that I recommend.

1. The Source of Thoughts.

Whenever a thought appears in your mind, ask yourself – where did this thought originate from? Try to dive deep into the source of this thought. When you follow the source of your thoughts you realise that our real essence is not mental thoughts; there is something beyond thought. This is a powerful technique for calming our mind because we realise there is a separation between what we are and our thoughts. When we feel thoughts as separate from our identity it is easy to stop them completely.

2. Will Power.

Another technique to stop thoughts is to use the power of our will. Develop the determination to stop all thoughts completely. Feel like you are vigilantly guarding your mind. As soon as a thought appears stop it entering. If you like you can imagine throwing it out of your mind completely. The important thing is to not allow any thought, whether good or bad.

3. The Spiritual Heart

A most effective technique for reducing the power is to move our awareness from the mind to the heart. The mind, by nature, invites thoughts, The heart is the seat of the soul; it is in the heart where we can feel an expansive quality, not limited by the mind.

"The mind has its own power, and right now this power is stronger than your present eagerness and determination to meditate. But if you can get help from your heart, then gradually you will be able to control your mind. The heart, in turn, gets constant assistance from the soul, which is all light and all power."

Sri Chinmoy [2]

The nature of the heart is to identify with a meditative consciousness. In the heart thoughts will automatically lose their power. To enter the heart we can listen to the heart beat. We can also imagine a beautiful heart garden. The important thing is to feel our whole sense of awareness leaving our mind and entering into the heart.

4. Mantra.

Repeating a mantra many times creates a meditative vibration. It focuses the mind in a very direct way; the mind gets used to concentrating on one particular thing at a time. When our mantra ends, our mind will be clearer and more receptive to meditation.

5. Aspiration

The real secret to a quiet mind is a genuine aspiration to realise the benefits of meditation. If we are satisfied with what we have and what we are, we will not feel the necessity of diving deep within. However, if we feel the necessity of discovering our inner reality, we will have the motivation and enthusiasm for persevering with our meditation. This is important, because, when our aspiration is intense it brings down a grace from above; it is this grace which makes a silent mind much easier to achieve.

[1] + [2] The Silent mind by Sri Chinmoy

Resources on meditation

Photo and article By Tejvan Pettinger.
Oxford Sri Chinmoy Centre

Video – Meditation Exercises

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Meditation Silence is a weekly podcast of meditation videos. They offer simple guidance about meditation with spiritual teacher Sri Chinmoy

This week is an exercise to try and control the mind. Meditation Silence 7 – The Heart Lotus

"Please try to imagine a lotus inside your heart. Then try to imagine that the lotus is not only inside your heart, but that your heart itself is a lotus. When you look at the lotus or imagine the lotus, try to be deeply absorbed in the beauty of the lotus. It is your own heart-lotus. Then your mind will have no time to roam. "

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