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  1. In Pauri 38 of Jap ji, Guru Nanak Dev ji describes the advanced meditation process using the analogy of a goldsmith. He describes the process as if it were being performed with a bunch of tools. We might read it often, perhaps in the nitnem, but do we really understand what he is talking about? Hopefully this thread will help you to understand this part of Guru Granth Sahib, and will help to put it on the map for your own inner journey. Let's get started - ਜਤੁ ਪਾਹਾਰਾ ਧੀਰਜੁ ਸੁਨਿਆਰੁ ॥ (ਜਤੁ) Ability to Withdraw the Five Senses from the world is the (ਪਾਹਾਰਾ) Workshop. (ਧੀਰਜੁ) Patience is the (ਸੁਨਿਆਰੁ) Goldsmith. ਅਹਰਣਿ ਮਤਿ ਵੇਦੁ ਹਥੀਆਰੁ ॥ (ਮਤਿ) Intellligence is the (ਅਹਰਣਿ) Anvil. (ਵੇਦੁ) Vedas - listening to spiritual texts - is the (ਹਥੀਆਰੁ) Hammer. ਭਉ ਖਲਾ ਅਗਨਿ ਤਪ ਤਾਉ ॥ Blow through the (ਖਲਾ) Pipe (ਭਉ ) the Fear of God, and increase the heat of the (ਅਗਨਿ) Fire. This is called (ਤਪ) Tapasaya. ਭਾਂਡਾ ਭਾਉ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤੁ ਤਿਤੁ ਢਾਲਿ ॥ ਘੜੀਐ ਸਬਦੁ ਸਚੀ ਟਕਸਾਲ ॥ In the (ਭਾਂਡਾ) container of (ਭਾਉ) Love - your heart - (ਤਿਤੁ ਢਾਲਿ) pour in the molten gold - (ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤੁ) Amrit. Amrit needs a bit of an elaboration here because there is no substitute word in English. Amrit means A - non, Mrityu - Death. It means non-death, non-dying. It is referring to the subjective, the qualitative state of eternity. Imagine eternity not as a quantitative state, not as in - "How many years?" - that's quantity. But rather as a qualitative state, as in - "How long is 1 minute?" - that's quality. The word Boredom comes somewhat close. For example, when you are bored in class, the clock seems to be ticking a lot slower. So Amrit is like a sweet, joyful boredom. The clock ticks slower, as if it were eternity. ਘੜੀਐ ਸਬਦੁ ਸਚੀ ਟਕਸਾਲ ॥ (Take this Amrit and pour it into the mould of Love) and mint the Gold coins of your guru's words - his or her instructions. ਜਿਨ ਕਉ ਨਦਰਿ ਕਰਮੁ ਤਿਨ ਕਾਰ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਨਦਰੀ ਨਦਰਿ ਨਿਹਾਲ ॥੩੮॥ Those who are looked upon kindly by their guru, they find out how to do this method. And when they apply the method, they are liberated. It's just mind-blowing how he describes it using hammers and stuff! When you withdraw your senses from world, now you have your inner space, this is your workshop. If you are not patient, you will break/leave this space. So you have to be patient to maintain state in order to progress. Your intelligence is what the spiritual texts must strike on. Your soul becomes the basis for the spiritual texts to have their effect on you. You need to constantly hit your intelligence with spiritual texts in order to make something out of it. You need to have a Fear of God, because this will make your fire hot. The fire he is referring to is alertness/consciousness. The fear of God, as it increases, is like increasing alertness. Why is there fear of God? When you are becoming more and more conscious, the more conscious you become the more God comes in. When more God comes in to you, you will become frightened, because you will now start dying. Your haumai/ego will start dying the natural response of your ego to death is of fear. So when you ego is dying it becomes fearful, and the more fear there is, the better the flame of consciousness. But there can't just be fear because then you'd want to run away. There has to be love for this type of state, otherwise you will be out of there quickly. Your workshop will close down if you are afraid to go in so there must be love, there must attraction towards this process, and towards God so that you stay in and continue hammering away. So in that love, pour in eternity, that is, maintain this state for long period of time, and use the guru's instructions to stay there and experience God, and let him in fully.
  2. Sat Sri Akaal All You must be wondering why I created another topic when we already have a similar very successful topic here with similar heading. Haina? I agree. But let me narrate my experience and this is gonna be a long one. May take days. Please bear with me. I have gained alot from this site and this may be my small pay back. Thanks a tonn @Sat1176. I can't thank you enough for documenting your experience here. M trying to follow you. Ok, about two years ago I started feeling this sweet taste in my mouth. as I searched for its causes on internet, I rather got upset. All it talks about is diseases and I knew I was not unwell. Rather I felt more positive, more happy and may be more active those days. But after reading all those negative things for caution sake i went for a Blood sugar level check up.. Ok my blood sugar was much lower .. then?? I was naturally worried.. Instead of being thankful. I started to get annoyed as that taste appeared and I almost lost it... I got more concious of it, I noticed, there was one very strong relationship between the taste and meditation. As I sat for my paath Or thought about my Guru Sahib or spoke about him, heard his kirtan etc that sensation returned and there was nothing unpleasant about it. Yes, it was rather a nectar. Amrit, Fruit of my meditation. And sat veere has confirmed my feelings Sweet Nectar Taste in Mouth From Simran Am thankful that I found out that I am not alone to get this feeling. Guru Granth Sahib also talks about it as “ Gunge ki Mithiyaayi. “ The sweet for the mute person as he can't express his taste you see.. It was tough.. No one believed as I told them that my saliva tastes sweet… yeah that was stupid and it was better for me to be quiet about it.. Contd... Waheguru!
  3. I hope this doesn't turn into an opportunity for some people to b1tch out over their childhood, but it is an interesting talk.
  4. There are two schools of spirituality - which one do you think sikhi belong to Gyaan marg vs bhakti marg (i) No Symbols of god - he is the universe vs God definitely needs a symbol For sikhs it has become Saroop of sggs and the confines of gurdwara (ii) No rituals are ever needed vs Rituals are a must In sikhi context we have started chavar, akahand paths, jot, sukhasan , prakash , expensive palkis , keep the saroop in AC / blankets (e.g I don't keep my phone in AC which also has the same SGGS in electronic format ) (iii) Meditation is the only way to find him - Pancha ka gur ek dhyan vs chanting or reciting (while mind is wandering in thorughts) or paying others to recite for you (as in outsourced akhand paths ) (iv) No miracles - only laws of nature which do not discriminate against materialistic person or favor spiritual one vs For your worldly needs beseech god - e.g cure diseases, pass exams , success in business etc. (v) No sectarianism - all humanity is absolutely one (Na ko hindu na musalmaan) vs A sect is almost always formed because our ego makes us gel with people who follow same symbolism as us , so now we have sikhi becoming a sect and not much of a way to live a full life and cut the cycle of rebirths.
  5. ੴ ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ No time for intro, let's dive deep into it. How You Pronounce Onkar ਓਅੰਕਾਰ Before I get into the meat of the issue, I want to get one thing off my chest because I see a lot of people making this mistake. Oankaar/O-a-m-kaar have no meaning. This is a modern distortion of the word and symbol. People write ਓਅੰਕਾਰ as Oankar however, the ਅ in ਓਅੰਕਾਰ just a placeholder for the tippi. ਓਂਕਾਰ ਓਅੰ means ਓਂ and is pronounced as such. But since one never puts a bindi or tippi on ਓ, they never wrote ਓਂ. So they wrote ਓਂ as ਓਅੰ. Even today this is the case. ਓਅੰਕਾਰ is Onkar, two syllables not three. ਓ - ਅੰ - ਕਾਰ - incorrect pronunciation ਓਂ - ਕਾਰ - correct pronunciation So ਓਂਕਾਰ is written as ਓਅੰਕਾਰ. It means - one continuous ਓਂ sound. ੴ <------ Try reading this as an action. something you do, something you perform, rather than something you spell out. Like this - ਓਂਓਂਓਂਓਂਓਂਓਂਓਂਓਂਓਂਓਂਓਂਓਂਓਂਓਂ... ਓ isn't pronounced as O, with rounded, squished lips, rather it is pronounced as AU (AO) with mouth wide open and relaxed, as if you are gasping for air. ਓਂ AUM is then split into its three components. ਆਕਾਰ ਉਕਾਰ ਮੰਕਾਰ meaning continuous A ਆ , continuous U ਉ, continuous M ਮੰ A U M ਆ ਉ ਮੰ -These are the three sounds that go into making ਓਂ . Thus ਓਂ is the most primal sound vibration. Now why is that? There are several reasons for this. Onkar ਓਅੰਕਾਰ Comes from Your Mouth When you do not use your lips or tongue there are three sounds you can make with your mouth. Try it, pull back your lips and hold your tongue in place and try to make different sounds with your mouth. Look in a mirror to make sure no movement occurs in those areas. You'll get something like - ਆ ਉ ਮੰ A U M This is the most primal sound to you because it can be made prior to any movement of lips and tongue. Thus ਆ ਉ ਮੰ are considered the most primal sounds known to man. This is the beginning of speech. All other sounds are more complicated like B, P, K,G, J, Y, V etc. they require more complicated vocalization, movement of lips and positioning of tongue. Certain sounds are very hard as they require very precise and sharp speech like this Sanskrit letter - ष, which shows up in Gurbani as ਖ or ਸ/ਸ਼ in words like ਪੁਰਖ, ਮੋਖ and ਵਿਸੇਖ, and ਦੋਸ, because it is complex and noticeably harder to pronounce. But back to Onkar - AUM is such a sound that is most basic and most primitive and most primal. I believe AUM can even be made by those who lack the ability to speak. As long as their vocal chords are functional, they will be able to say A, U, and make nasal sounds. Onkar ਓਅੰਕਾਰ Resonates in Your Body The 'O' sound resonate more in your belly. Than any other vowel. 'A' typically resonates in your chest and nasal M resonates in nasal cavity, nose. Thus AUM is meant to resonate in your entire torso and make it come to life. Onkar is designed to cause your Chakras to activate "Chakras" might sound like woo-woo nonsense but it basically means your "nervous system" in your belly, chest and nose. Chanting Onkar, causes these areas to vibrate as the air is forced out of the lungs through the vibration of the vocal chords. When you open your mouth wide and make this noise it will stimulate your nervous system around your vital organs. AUM resonates and stimulates your nerves in the torso. It stimulates the nerves in your belly, chest and nose. And through this resonation, you can stimulate the nerves in your entire body, including your vital organs, around your cardiovascular system, digestive system, etc. I believe this type of nervous stimulation is actually great for the health of your organs, as it increases the circulation of blood to these organsl. Start with that, you can further attune your attention and focus to the point where you can see your whole body vibrate upon one chant of Onkar. Listening to Onkar ਓਅੰਕਾਰ with Your Ears Not only does Onkar exist in the form of primal human speech and noise-making, and not only does it stimulate your nervous system in an extra-ordinary way but it also exists as the background naad, meaning sound vibration, in your ears. Your ear-drum's resting vibration is the Onkar. Listen to it. When you enter into a silent state of being. In your ears, what you are hearing can ultimately be described as Onkar. Try to listen to this tone in your right ear because your right ear is connected to the left side of the brain. Neuroscientists know that the left side of the brain is more associated with language and recognizing distinctions in the world. The left side of your brain causes you to sense a distinct shape of your body and separates shapes of other bodies so that you may navigate in the physical world. The left side of the brain also has language centers that process words and meanings. So I believe that when you listen to Onkar with your right ear in silence or when you make the AUM sound and listen to that, what you are doing is sending direct signals to your left brain and telling your left brain to quiet down. When you stimulate the left brain with sound, it has to quiet down with regards to its language, distinction-making processes and it must now focus on the sound. When you do this, you will feel very much at ease with life, and you will notice that the inner monologue that is constantly playing in your head will become quiet as it is mostly the product of your left brain. This inner monologue can drain you so be careful, recognize when it is draining and quieten it, to achieve the best results. Overall this will fill you up with vitality and lots of energy for the day. No need for coffee or other stimulants. Conclusion ਓਅੰਕਾਰ is pronounced as Onkar/ ਓਂਕਾਰ It means - one continuous ਓਂ sound - composed of ਆਕਾਰ ਉਕਾਰ ਮੰਕਾਰ meaning continuous ਆ , continuous ਉ, continuous nasal ਮੰ, which in English is - A, U, and nasal sound M Onkar is the primal form of speech, existing prior to other complex sounds like B, K, J, Y, etc. Onkar resonates in the belly, chest and nose and thus stimulates the nervous system around your vital organs, which has multiple health benefits. Onkar can be heard in the ear. It is the resting tone of your ear, which can be heard in silence. Listening to the Onkar, with the right ear, stimulates the left side of the brain, which also has multiple health benefits.
  6. Hello, Im just starting to get more and more into Sikhi and have never really meditated so dont know what to do lol. Is it just and simple as sitting cross legged, eyes close and repeat Waheguru? Can anybody offer any advice/tips/techniques for meditation? Perhaps do's and dont's and just general things that may help. Also how do i stop my mind from wondering whilst meditating like it so often does when i attempt to meditate or do paath and how to sit comfortabtly whilst meditating? Thanks
  7. When we meditate below the eye level and try to activate the six chakras or energy centers, it helps us to gain some remarkable experiences. But they don’t help in raising our awareness at all! We gain a lot of energy and benefits by activating chakras, but they are just meant for this world only. We can’t raise our awareness by those means. Then why put our attention below the eyes?
  8. Hello. I’m 18 now. I have been doing meditation for two weeks now, after watching Sandeep Maheshwari’s basic meditation video on YouTube. When I meditate, I listen to the high frequency type sound ringing in my ears, along with another sound that I can’t really describe. To relate to the best, it’s like the sound of rain. I follow Radha Soami Satsang Beas. Naam Daan is given to sangat older than 25 yrs of age. I was just wondering, should I continue doing meditation without naam daan? I’ve built an interest in spirituality in a short period of time and I’m confused now. Pls someone guide me.
  9. Waheguru ji, During simran, I start hearing my heartbeat as soon as I start Mansik Jaap. I have no idea what to do as this is becoming distracting. Please help..
  10. why does one get dry skin from meditation?
  11. Some people that have been meditating for years don't progress as much as others who see results in months. Could really strong attachment to Maya and money be a really big factor? Or is there a different reason/s. I know past life kamayi is one of the reasons some progress faster. Keen to know more, I've been really curious recently.
  12. Waheguru ji, With Guru Sahib's grace, while doing simran, body feels heavy and it falls back gradually. As a result, my back lies on the floor but my legs are still in "chonwkri", however simran goes deeper in this state. My question is.. Should I resist to lie down or let it go ? Thank you ji
  13. Waheguru Ji With Guru Sahib's grace, during simran abhyaas, I can hear very strong/load buzzing sounds and I feel like going through a tunnel in between my eyes. Some sort of images start to form but as soon as that happens, I kind of lose my concentration and get a feeling of coming back to my body. I try to concentrate on naam dhun, however in those loud buzzing sounds it becomes hard. Duration of those buzzing sounds is gradually increasing over days. Please share your views and experiences. Waheguru.
  14. WJKK WJKF First of all I'd like everyone to know that I'm a Mona singh and I love doing simran. I've always had questions about life growing up and when I started learning more about Sikhi slowly my answers started getting answered! But I have this one question to ask all of beautiful Sikhs on here! It's that everyday I wake up my thirst for God and Naam simran is growing like I can't even focus on anything else in my life from the time I get up at amritvela to the next amritvela I'm so intriguied by God and by the bliss I receive from naam. I'm starting to think this lifes a game/movie and only way to win is do as much simran as you can! But then my peers are achieving alot in the Maya duniya that I'm getting confused and I don't know what to do! Should I find a balance and am I blessed to thinking of God like this day and night!?? Thanks in advance!
  15. My Spiritual Journey Through Sri Japji Sahib - A Mystical Translation of Mool Mantra
  16. Dear friends, I heard someone speaking to me during meditation. Please provide the translation of the word/words "Kalla Lad or Kallalad" into English. Thank you so much!
  17. I have had this problem for a while and the issue is that when my mind becomes very focused my body might flinch. i.e. when it gets to the point where my mind and sound of voice are in perfect union my arm might twitch very hard and I'll lose the state. Many times I even flinch like you would when someone unexpectedly pretends to throw something at you. The longest the union lasts is a few moments. Probably 30 seconds at most. It isn't recently that this has started, it's been a while and I can't maintain the union for more than a few moments so I feel like I'm making a mistake somewhere. Has anyone else experienced this barrier?
  18. Cultivating Concentration (to Support Meditation) If you think that the goal of meditation is to make the mind blank, you have created an insurmountable obstacle to developing a rich, nourishing meditation practice. As Swami Prabhavananda and Christopher Isherwood observe in How to Know God, if making the mind blank were desirable, this condition could be “easily achieved by asking a friend to hit you over the head with a hammer.” It is not the mind’s nature to be blank, and trying to force it into that state is both futile and harmful. A meditative mind is a concentrated mind—a mind that is not blank; it is one which has become stilled by holding an unbroken, one-pointed focus on a single object for an extended period of time. In short, meditation is sustained concentration. (i.e. concentration on WaheGuru Gurmantar) Concentration (dharana), meditation (dhyana), and spiritual absorption (samadhi) are interwoven. At the beginning of the third chapter, the Yoga Sutra explains how one state merges into the next: “Concentration is focusing attention on one object and holding it there. When awareness flows evenly toward the object of concentration, that is meditation. When in meditation the true nature of the object of concentration shines forth, undistorted by the mind of the perceiver, that is samadhi.” Multiplying Concentration Experienced practitioners tell us that concentration is 12 seconds of unbroken attention on one thought wave. Sustain this for 144 seconds (12 x 12) and you have reached a state of meditation. If the mind can maintain that state for another multiple of 12 (12 x 144 seconds, or 28 minutes, 48 seconds), it will have entered the first stage of samadhi. Trying to meditate without training the mind to concentrate is like trying to write a novel before learning to read—it can’t be done. Until the mind is trained to concentrate, it will never flow into a meditative state. Yet we may avoid training the mind to be one-pointed because we’re accustomed to thinking of concentration as a mental effort, like the effort required to analyze a calculus problem. Concentration seems tension-inducing somehow, and not particularly “spiritual.” But the sustained inward focus that is a prelude to meditation is neither stressful nor unpleasant—it is relaxed, focused awareness, a state of mind that is soothing and calming, once you get the knack of it. Making a Start If you doubt this, try the simple breathing practice that follows. It fosters relaxed concentration and is a good way to introduce the mind to the pleasures of one-pointed attention. Sit comfortably, with the head, neck, and trunk aligned and the body relaxed. Close your eyes and focus on the flow of the breath as it passes through the nostrils. Feel the warm touch of the exhalation and the cool touch of the inhalation. Breathe smoothly and evenly. Pay particular attention to the transition between the exhalation and the inhalation because it is here that the mind has the greatest tendency to wander off. When your attention has come to rest on the breath, begin to count your inhalations and exhalations from 1 to 5 and 5 back to 1 again in the following pattern: Exhale 1, Inhale 2, Exhale 3, Inhale 4, Exhale 5, Inhale 1, Exhale 2, Inhale 3, Exhale 4, Inhale 5. Work with this practice over a period of days or weeks—as long as it takes—until you can attend to it for five minutes without getting lost or confused. Notice how relaxed and refreshed you feel. This is the beginning of the one-pointed focus that, with time and practice, merges into meditation.
  19. Really good article worth reading... Enjoy :-) Think we all suffer with this from time to time. Think Meditation Is Boring? 10 Tips for Sticking with It I was arguing with my spiritual teacher, as usual. He had called me aside to discuss my meditation practice, and he clearly didn’t understand what I was saying. Swami ji was insisting that I focus my awareness at my heart center. Since I had recently graduated from a prestigious college at the top of my class, I was surprised that this yoga master from North India failed to recognize that, due to my towering intellect, obviously I should concentrate at my ajna chakra, the center in the brain behind the eyebrows. Barely concealing his exasperation, Swamiji pointed to my head. “That,” he said emphatically, “is yours. This,” he pointed to my heart, “is mine.” I went home and reluctantly sat down on my meditation cushion. The truth was, I didn’t enjoy meditating. It was a tedious chore, one sure way to make 20 minutes drag on for what seemed like hours. I would much rather read about meditation—about its numerous well-documented physical, psychological, and spiritual benefits—than actually do it. It was boring. Unenthusiastically, I tried to bring my awareness to my heart region. It was amazingly difficult. I was so completely entrenched in my head that redirecting my attention even as far downward as my neck required real effort. And when I did manage to concentrate on my heart, the feeling was extremely uncomfortable. Old angers and resentments continuously bubbled into my awareness. My heart felt like a clogged toilet, filled with all kinds of ugly material I didn't want to smell. I struggled on for months, trying to follow my meditation schedule faithfully, resisting the temptation to keep glancing at my watch to see if it was finally time to get up. Even when I seemed to reach a space of quiet clarity, in a nanosecond a thought would arise and I’d lose myself in reverie before I even realized what had happened. Then I’d catch myself, force the image out of my mind, and return to the monotonous drone of my mantra. One day one of my philosophy professors invited me to his home. As he spoke about the Supreme Being, his face began to glow. It surprised me to hear a brilliant intellectual speak of the Divine Mother with such devotion. But that evening as I sat down to meditate, I remembered how in my childhood I would pray every evening with innocent faith similar to his. And for the first time in years I inwardly turned to the Divine Being as if it were a living, caring reality rather than a divine abstraction. It was one of the most extraordinary moments of my life. My heart blew open and wave upon wave of ecstasy swept through my consciousness. I sat in bliss for hours, never wanting to get up. After this my attitude toward meditation completely changed. Sitting became the highlight of my life. I could hardly wait for the twice-daily meditation sessions scheduled at the ashram where I lived, and would slip off whenever I could find a few free moments to enjoy the rapture of inner communion. I was humbled now to realize how insightful my spiritual teacher’s original analysis had been: that I needed to get out of my head, clear the debris out of my heart, and open myself to the stream of divine love. At this point I honestly believed I had made it to “Easy Street,” that from here on all I needed to do was coast effortlessly toward enlightenment! Then one morning I sat down to meditate and, to my utter bewilderment, my inner attunement was gone. My heart felt dry as brick and my mind kept getting distracted. I struggled with this for several days, and then I went to a spiritual mentor and complained, “Overnight, for no reason I can tell, I’ve lost the ability to focus. I was having intense experiences of inner joy, and now they’re gone!” His response surprised me. He explained that ananda (inner bliss) pulsates outward from the Higher Self in waves, and that sincere aspirants must stick with their daily practice during both the peaks and the troughs. He also suggested that perhaps I was becoming too attached to the sensation of bliss, that there are many far higher states, and that I needed to move on in my inner exploration. He advised me to continue cultivating devotion, but not to lose sight of important fundamental techniques, such as breath awareness, to quiet the mind. Over the ensuing years, and through many more ups and downs of meditative experience, I have sought out advanced practitioners to ask what methods they use to get them through the dry periods. I also asked what techniques yoga masters use to inspire beginning students, who, after the initial burst of enthusiasm for practice wears off, sometimes find their meditation becoming lifeless. Fortunately, the yoga tradition offers many techniques for keeping interest high during that challenging period before our practice begins to bear fruit and we can actually see the concrete results of our inner efforts. Punctuality Being regular in your meditation practice is tremendously helpful. At the ashram where I lived, we all meditated together at 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. every day without fail. For the first few weeks I would sit down and consciously regulate my breath. But as the rhythm of regular meditation became a deeply ingrained habit, I found that the moment I sat on my cushion, my breath spontaneously became subtle and my mind stilled. I no longer had to work at entering a meditative state—my body automatically entered that state at the appropriate time. It was as if I had two daily appointments with the Divine Mother. I would walk into the meditation room and she would be waiting for me and sweep me into her arms. I didn’t have to make any effort at all. Asana For centuries, many yogis and yoginis in India have turned to asana, or hatha yoga postures, to prepare themselves for meditation. This helps keep the body healthy, the muscles supple, and the back strong and steady so that one can sit in meditation for extended periods of time. But asanas also have a powerful effect on our mental state, fostering the clear and relaxed frame of mind so conducive to meditation. While aerobic exercises strongly energize the body and mind, giving you the heart-pumping sense that you’re ready to tackle the world, yoga postures energize in a more subtle way, leaving you feeling calm but alert. The first time I experienced this was after a particularly excellent hatha class. I felt so wonderful that I was practically unable to leave the yoga center. It seemed to me that if I stepped outdoors I’d float up to heaven before reaching the parking lot; in fact, it felt a lot like being in heaven already. Then I noticed that, as a result of having performed a series of yoga postures and the concluding relaxation exercise with full attention and in a tranquil and balanced fashion, both my nostrils were flowing freely. I was breathing exactly as my spiritual teacher recommended students breathe before meditation: slowly, evenly, diaphragmatically, without any jerks or pauses in the breath. He called the state where both nostrils flow freely, quietly, and smoothly “sushumna awakening,” meaning the subtle energy channels in the region of the spine are activated in a spiritually charged manner, creating a state he called “joyous mind.” When I got home I sat down and meditated for half an hour, taking advantage of the extraordinary sense of clarity and serenity I was experiencing. Meditators who are drawn to physical practices often find that performing a balanced series of yoga postures automatically puts them in a meditative state. Pranayama When I was first learning to meditate, my spiritual teacher constantly emphasized the importance of breath control (pranayama), much to my disgust. As he launched into yet another lecture on alternate nostril breathing, I would impatiently wonder when he was finally going to give us the real yoga techniques. It took me years to realize that practices like this, as well as diaphragmatic breathing and breath awareness, are the real techniques. In the beginning I never bothered to practice them conscientiously because they were so simple. I just couldn’t believe they would have much effect. But when I finally sat down and began working with my breath, I was astounded by what a profound impact these exercises had on my awareness. As my spiritual teacher often repeated, “breath is the flywheel of life,” giving us direct access to departments of our nervous system usually beyond our conscious control. The late Kashmiri Shaivite master Swami Lakshmanjoo strongly emphasized the importance of maintaining sandhi, “the center between two breaths.” He also said that when the breath becomes extremely refined, flowing equally through both nostrils rather than predominantly through one or the other, mental equipoise is attained. And when this is held with “continuously refreshed awareness (anusandhana) . . . which is achieved through devotion to the Lord,” he continued, one attains real spiritual experience. But “this state of concentration can be achieved only after you have freed your mind of all worldly cares, completed your daily routine activities, and have had your full amount of sleep. . . . Your mind must be serene, free from the forced obligation to meditate, determined with devotion to discover God consciousness.” The Kashmiri master also sternly warned, “If you undergo these practices for one thousand centuries without full awareness and concentration, you will have wasted all one thousand of those centuries. The movement of breath has to be filled with full awareness and concentration.” Smooth, even, diaphragmatic breathing, without jerks or pauses, is the gentle wind that propels the sailboat of our minds into the calm lake of meditation. Satsang The one universally acclaimed method of keeping our spiritual practice enlivened is satsang, which means literally “keeping the company of truth.” The easiest and most effective way to do this is to spend as much time as possible in the presence of our spiritual teachers or other saints. But for those of us in America, where saints sometimes seem to be in short supply, this isn’t always practical. Therefore, here in the West satsang has more often come to mean spending time with our fellow aspirants, so that working together or meditating together or even simply socializing, we can support each other spiritually and keep one another inspired. Even when they’re not physically present, however, there are two ways to keep company with the saints themselves. The first is to keep pictures of our spiritual teacher and the other masters of his or her tradition on our altar or in our hearts. According to the yogis the lineage of teachers is actually a living energy field, and we can contact that transmission of enlightening force when we still our minds and focus on the spiritual teacher within. When we sincerely surrender to the living voice of our yogic lineage, it provides continual guidance and inspiration both in our practice and in the ordinary affairs of our daily lives. The second way to keep the company of saints is to read about their lives and study their teachings. The example of how they lived and the wisdom they shared with those around them constitute their enduring legacy. Reading about great spiritual masters is no substitute for actually having a living teacher or other spiritual elders in our lives, but it will keep the flames of faith and spiritual determination burning when the spiritual teacher is absent. Kirtan An extremely popular way of keeping the level of inspiration high in India is kirtan, singing beautiful bhajans (religious songs) which elevate the spirit. From the haunting Bengali bhajans translated into English by Paramahansa Yogananda and sung at many of his U.S. centers, to the popular recordings of the musicians at Mount Madonna Center near Santa Cruz, to the exquisite chants favored at Siddha Yoga centers, devotional singing has caught on with many Western yoga groups, and is often used as a prelude to meditation. Singing opens the heart and focuses the mind; the mantras and sacred names of God incorporated in many bhajans prepare the soul for going inward. Singing, playing spiritually charged music, or listening to it can dramatically alter our mood and create a sacred atmosphere highly conducive to spiritual practice. Beautiful melodies and meaningful lyrics transport us almost effortlessly into a meditative state. Karma Yoga Too often, beginning yoga students have the sense that when they’re sitting in meditation, they’re doing their spiritual work, but when they get up and resume their external responsibilities, they’re now engaged in “mere” worldly activities. This is not the yogic perspective. In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna strongly emphasizes the importance of karma yoga, or yoga in action. “Fix your mind on the Higher Self rather than the lower ego, and dedicate all your actions to God,” he says. “This will free you from the bondage of karma.” If sitting in meditation represents our inner study, then getting up and dealing with our relatives, our boss, and the entire menagerie of people around us is our practicum. Here is where we are able to see if our practice has “taken,” and to “apply” the sense of serenity and objectivity meditation has given us. Meditation becomes more interesting when we begin recognizing its effects in our daily lives, and using the clarity it brings us in practical situations. Meditation is not something “other” than life, but something that should be carried over into life, helping us maintain a comparatively stress-free state through all the normally stressful events of the day. Bodhicitta An aspect of meditation practice strongly emphasized in Buddhist forms of yoga is the cultivation of bodhicitta, loving-kindness, and Hindus, too, often conclude their meditations with chants such as Loka samastha sukhino bhavantu (“May all beings in all worlds be well”). When we meditate, we’re not merely inching toward enlightenment; much more is happening on subtle levels. Every time we create a space of peaceful clarity in ourselves, we are helping to purify the polluted psychic atmosphere of the planet. When a student asked why the great yoga masters in the Himalayas don’t come down out of the mountains to help humanity, my spiritual teacher insisted that the yogis sitting in their cave monasteries were doing more to protect and regenerate the world than hundreds of activists put together. For students who find it difficult to motivate themselves to sit for meditation consistently, it may be helpful to recognize that their practice not only benefits themselves but is also a form of service to the world. By cultivating stillness and clarity in meditation, and by sending out good wishes to all other creatures in the universe, meditation becomes a selfless gift, our offering for world peace. Bhakti In the early 1970s an influx of influential yogis from India inspired an entire generation to explore yoga. Most of these yogis took great pains to emphasize the scientific nature of yoga, teaching that one did not need to adopt the deities of Hinduism in order to practice meditation. In taking care to respect the religious sensibilities of Westerners, however, the deeply devotional aspects of yoga as it is actually practiced in India were de-emphasized. Some of us launched into yoga without appreciating how important bhakti truly is on the spiritual path. Others of us may even have projected onto our spiritual teachers a level of devotion that might more appropriately have been directed toward God. My own spiritual teacher used to get fed up when would-be disciples fawned before him, and often shouted, “Don’t worship me! Worship God!” According to the tantric tradition, the Divine Being loves us so much that he/she assumes any form we imagine God to be in, and comes to us in that form. Yogis feel that the Divine Being works through the form of Jesus as well as Krishna or Buddha or the Divine Mother, and for this reason they are not interested in converting anyone. In India, however, spiritual teachers often assign an ishta devata, or personal deity, to their disciples, based on the disciple’s history and inclinations. If you are a Westerner, this might be Jesus, Yahweh, Mary, or even Allah. The disciple then cultivates a deep personal relationship with God or the Goddess, in the form of their ishta devata, and regularly engages in prayer and worship. In this way the spiritual path ceases to be an abstract quest for an intangible absolute, and becomes a form of joyous communion with the Higher Self of all beings. Ammachi, a contemporary saint from South India, says that spiritual practice without devotion is “like eating stones,” and many other saints claim that developing a loving relationship with the Divine is the quickest of all spiritual paths. In meditation those who practice bhakti still their minds so they can feel the living presence of the beloved deity beside and inside them. Puja For most of my life there was scarcely anything more deadly dull to me than rituals. As a child, I had sat through too many utterly lifeless (to me, anyway) religious ceremonies to ever want anything to do with this type of worship again. I couldn’t fathom how the swami at our local Kali temple could be so enthusiastic about pujas—rituals in which flowers, incense, grains, and other objects are offered to the Divine Mother. (Yes, there is a real temple to the warrior goddess Kali in my neighborhood. I live in California.) But one day the swami persuaded me to join in a puja with him, and the experience turned out to be remarkable. This particular puja was quite elaborate, involving chanting a long litany of mantras while making offerings to a sacred fire. I discovered that chanting mantras aloud automatically regulated my breath, while focusing on the unfamiliar Sanskrit words concentrated my mind sharply. There was instant feedback: if my concentration slipped I would mispronounce a mantra, and by the end of the ritual my mind was so one-pointed, I was already in meditation. Less elaborate pujas, too, are a valuable way to create a powerful meditative atmosphere. Place a photo or statue of the deity you love, of saints you feel attracted to, or of the teachers in your spiritual teacher lineage on your meditation altar. A symbolic picture of the Divine, such as the crucifix, Sri Yantra, or the word “Om,” will do if you feel uncomfortable with anthropomorphic images. Create a sacred space around the altar by inviting your mind to accept that the Divine Being really is present in the image you’ve selected. Then offer flowers, bits of food, or incense to the living presence of the Divine you feel in the image. You may wish to wave a lighted candle in a circle before the picture or statue, as yogis sometimes do in a ceremony called arati. Finally, sincerely offer the reverence in your heart to the Divine. Then, having established a sense of sacred communion, sit quietly and begin your meditation. In India, orthodox families offer a portion of their meals to the images on their meditation altars before eating. This is said to sanctify the food. Fall in Love with Your Practice Swami Lakshmanjoo used to remind his students never to think of meditation as a chore. “When you are about to meditate you must feel excitement and be thankful to God that you have received this opportunity. . . . Unless you fall in love with meditation and approach it with total enthusiasm . . . you cannot enter the (deeper realms) of awareness.” There is one important point every meditator must understand: if you are bored, you are not meditating. Meditation cannot be boring because meditation is, by definition, intense mental absorption, and intense concentration obliterates not only boredom but even the sense of time and space. Meditation is not only helpful in unlocking creativity and overcoming stress, but it is the key to the inner dimensions of our spirit. By persevering in our meditation practice with determination, devotion, and enthusiasm, we unlock the door to the highest and best part of ourselves, and consciously enter the living depths of our immortal being. https://yogainternational.com/article/view/think-meditation-is-boring-10-tips-for-sticking-with-it
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    Good book on simran abhiyas
  21. I've listened to this discourse in the past, but it's so refreshing to hear it again. Anyone who is interested in real Meditation, tips, how, where, or anything related to Meditation; please listen to this discourse. It's very good. Its long, but its better to argue over unimportant topics:
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    Autobiography of Swami Rama. Excellent read.
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