Welcome friends! OM Shanti!

People come together in all kinds of ways, what matters is that they get together.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Meditation with Sister Sunshine - Fourth & Jackson Art Space

2-15-11 Workshop #5.  Roland and I got to have some good time together hashing out ideas for future programs and also getting to sync our energies through two techniques of meditation.  I am so blessed for this opportunity to serve.  Thank you.

Six weeks of Meditation with Sunshine #5
Six week workshop designed for the introduction and integration of meditation.
Learn chanting, breathing techniques, and meditation practices.
Come one - Come all. Love all - Serve all.

Om Gum Gurave Namah

What is Meditation?
Meditation is a means of growth - personal and transpersonal. Yoga helps us grow as human beings. The best way to change is to work on yourself from within through meditation. The common core of all meditation experiences is an altered state of consciousness that leads to a diminishing of the ego, the self-centered sense of “I”. The highest goal of meditation is enlightenment, where one can come to know God, while being absorbed in a blissful state of awareness. It is simply being conscious of consciousness. In Yoga, enlightenment is called Samadhi, in Zen it is called Satori, and in the West we refer to enlightenment as cosmic consciousness. It is not definition but the experience that matters. The best approach to meditation is one in which the meditator is free from any desired end. Enlightenment cannot be forced. The goal of meditation is transformation so that we experience “right living”: healthy diet, honest means of income, truthful speech, and kindness and humility with others. The true aim of meditation is to bring the meditator more fully into the world, not to retreat from it. Transformation of consciousness: changing consciousness changes thought, changing thought changes behavior, changing behavior changes society. Personal evolution becomes social revolution!

The Golden Moment
The Golden Moment is the name we give to the two periods of time in a meditation session where you create a nonjudgmental awareness of whatever arises, develops, and subsides in the mind. It is the loving acceptance of the entire mindscape - the thoughts, images, impressions, emotions, memories, and activities that make up your mind at any given moment. Cultivating the Golden Moment neutralizes any non-productive attitude, any feeling that “I” am bad and undeserving of receiving the benefits of meditation. The Golden Moment is a period of awareness of the contents and activities of the mind. Simply remain the silent witness to the mind. There is no attempt to control, guide, or censor the mental activities. Just observe. This helps calm and clear the mind, preparing and enhancing the benefits of the meditation session. It is done twice in a sitting: 1) just before bringing awareness to the object of meditation and 2) before the closing peace chants. Use the Golden Moment to clear and clam the mind for however long you choose. Keep In Mind: If you do a great job preparing for the meditation (Opening chant, Pranayama, and The Golden Moment = preparation) the mind will most likely wander shortly. Don’t worry if your mind wanders. If you could gain and maintain still, one-pointed mind right away, you wouldn’t need meditation at all. No one has achieved unwavering focus from the start.

Distracting Thoughts - Obstacles
Patanjali Yoga Sutra 1.30 Disease, dullness, doubt, carelessness, laziness, sensuality, false perception, failure to reach firm ground, and slipping from ground gained - these distractions of the mind-stuff are the obstacles.

Vikshepa, translated as “distraction” means false projection, scattering, dispersing, and shaking of the mind-stuff. This suggests that the obstacles are symptoms of lack or loss of focus. The obstacles form a kind of chain link reaction, one leading to the next. Every seeker faces them at various points on their spiritual journey.

1. Dis-ease - physical distress, discomfort, or disorder preventing yoga practices from being regular because of fatigue, aching lower back, allergies, headaches, etc.
2. Dullness - stagnant practice, not much improvement can take place with irregularity. Progress acts as inspiration propelling us forward deeper in our meditations.
3. Doubt - Questioning whether this is for me? (Yes! Meditation is for everyone!) Doubt clouds our discrimination, fills the mind with questions with no answers, and it questions our self-esteem.
4. Carelessness - Absentminded or barely paying attention to the sacred ritual of meditation.
5. Laziness - Lord Buddha taught the only sin is laziness. We must strive to better ourselves to improve.
6. Sensuality - Distractions with seeking sensual cravings. The mind becomes bored and looks for distractions, more detours.
7. False Perception - Feeling that meditation is the suppression of natural impulses and emotions, wanting to live out desires.
8. Failure to Reach Firm Ground - Inability to maintain focused attention with firmly grounded practice we grow deep roots keeping us steady and strong.
9. Slipping from Ground Gained - This can be discouraging but we can allows follow the detour to get back on the path. Choose the positive attitude of gratitude.

1. Breath 2. Mantra 3. Visualization 4. Introspection

In this course we have gone over the four different categories of techniques for meditation. Pick one to use regular so you can go deeper within one technique. You can combine two different techniques together to help bring the mind to a place that is peaceful, clear, and one-pointed. For example, breath and mantra, which we will explore today. Whatever you choose, stick with it. A little bit everyday goes a long way. The full benefits of Yoga are experienced on a regular basis. Do something small for your peace everyday and then share it with others. As you wake up in the morning, take at least five minutes (if that’s all you have) to sit quietly and observe the mind and the breath. Try for two 20 minute sessions daily, as you awake and before bed.

Is a Guru Necessary?
The guru comes into existence when the disciple senses the Absolute in or through their guru and is open to receive his or her guidance. The capacity to sense the Absolute in a human being marks one of the most significant stages in spiritual life. It is more about the Absolute within one, then the actual body of a person. It requires refined and deep spiritual vision to be able to perceive this. “When the student is ready, the guru appears.” The guru/disciple relationship functions like a master/apprentice relationship. Apprenticeship is used and valued by serious and advanced students who make a commitment to learn and transform the openness of the mind. A disciple’s responsibility is to come to the guru with an empty cup. Where a student’s relationship is to take in whatever the teacher gives without editing, and then afterwards decide what is useful and not. A disciple chooses out of mutual respect, faith and devotion to follow the guru’s advise and teachings. Rather than “I know something, I just need to learn more,” it becomes, “I’ve tried on my own and I realize that I cannot grow on my own. Please tell me what to do and I’ll do it to the best of my ability.”

Brahmari - humming bee breath. In this technique we will inhale through the nostrils, filling the lungs completely. Exhale and make a humming sound. Listen and feel the vibration on the soft palate at the roof of the mouth, feel it going straight through the head to the crown of the head and out into the cosmos. Brahmari Pranayama tones the vocal chords, creates sound vibration for concentration, and enables us to get in touch with the Pranava (the primordial hum of the universe).

So-Hum Breath Meditation - Begin with normal breathing. Tune into the natural flow and rhythm. Take five deep, slow, and even breaths through the nose. Inhale four counts, exhale four counts. Inhale So, exhale Hum. Concentrate on the breath from the very beginning of the inhale to the very end of the exhale. Feel that it is cool as you inhale and warm as you exhale. Stay with the breath, if your mind wanders, its ok, come back to the breath. Begin to add the Brahmari Pranayama to this meditation. Finally bring a silent mantra to this meditation: So-Hum = I am that I am. Eternal spark within all of creation. Sound that exists already within everything. Listen inside as you breath. Silently say to yourself So (inhale) Hum (exhale).

Mantra Meditation: OM GUM GURAVE NAMAH - Salutations to the Guru.

Mantra literally means to protect the mind. Mantras are sound syllables that represent aspects of the Divine; they are not made-up words used to label objects. They are sound formulas whose fundamental benefits come from their vibration. Mantras are the subtle vibratory essence of things, presented as sounds that can be repeated. Mantras can be practiced out loud, silently with lip movements, and within.

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