Welcome friends! OM Shanti!

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

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Meditation with Sister Sunshine - Fourth & Jackson Art Space

2-22-11 Class #6/6 First time running the mediation program and it has been successful by showing me how to improve my lesson plans and deal with real questions coming from other people.  It is amazing.  Thank you for this opportnity to serve.

Six weeks of Meditation with Sunshine #6
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.

Asato Maa Sad Gamaya
Lead us from unreal to Real.

Tamaso Maa Jyotir Gamaya
Lead us from darkness to the Light.

Mrityor Maa Amritam Gamaya
Lead us from the fear of death to the knowledge of Immortality.

Meditation Theory and Techniques
Meditation is a branch of yoga that helps an individual connect to the peace within. In a non-dogmatic way it brings an individual to a state of mind that is peaceful, clear, and one-pointed. Meditation is the art of staying completely present with unwavering awareness. It brings clarity and calmness to the entire mind-body, which have lasting effects, even after just one sitting. Through regular practice and non-attachment we can gain control over the endless track of the mind. Four main techniques for sitting meditations include: 1) breath, 2) sound, 3) visual, and 4) introspection. You may choose any object for meditation as long as you like it and it is uplifting. The techniques prepare the mind with concentration which leads to stillness in meditation.

Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra 1.33 By cultivating attitudes of friendliness toward the happy, compassion for the unhappy, delight in the virtuous, and equanimity toward the non-virtuous, the mind-stuff retains its undisturbed calmness.

“Four locks and Keys,” as named by Sri Swami Satchidanada - the locks are the puzzles or challenges we face daily and the keys are the solutions to keep the mind calm. There is no fear when we feel oneness, only joy, love, and peace. We are a reflection of the mind. When joy, love, and peace are reflected in the mind, it is a true reflection of the Self (who is the same in all - Divine Consciousness). We are not told what to do but how to be, how to ensure that we are in the best condition to make the proper assessments and choices.

1) Happiness to the Friendly, 2) Compassion to the Unfriendly,
3) Delight in the Virtuous, 4) Equanimity in the Non-virtuous.

Traits of Successful Meditators
By identifying the personality traits of successful meditators , we can cultivate and develop them. Traits are cultivated by repeated thoughts and actions that done regularly, for a long time and with enthusiasm, can become ingrained in us. There are six traits to consider: Fervor, Humility, Generosity, Fidelity, Creativity, and Patience.

Fervor: the constant longing for a goal that we have set, a sense of not be fully at home
Humility: the challenge to be humble and accept the simplicity of meditation
Generosity: putting aside selfish desires to embrace a generous spirit to help others
Fidelity: continued loyalty to a person, cause, or belief
Creativity: a state of mind free to imagine what might be; inspiration & resourcefulness
Patience: preparation, alert and receptive awareness, appreciation of the journey.

Distracting Thoughts
What is Pratyahara? Pratyahara is also a branch of yoga which involves sensory withdrawal. When you have a desire it is registered through the senses. Then, a discriminative faculty jumps in and asks, “do I need this?” Finally, there is a third voice that jumps in, the ego, the voice that hears the good/bad sides and still choices to do whatever it wants. Through meditation we are slowly letting go of the control that the ego has over the mind. Just simply taking an extra second to react to a thought, thinking about acting in harmony with all. Perfection in action is an action completed by harming none and bringing some benefit to at least one.

Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra 2.54 When the senses withdraw themselves from the objects imitate, as it were, the nature of the mind-stuff, this is pratyahara.

Pratyahara brings attention within by withdrawing attention from ambient senses. The senses are portals through which the mind perceives and understands the world. Perception can only take place when the mind is engaged and joined to the senses. So without the union of the mind and the senses, no perception can take place - this is pratyahara. In doing so, the mind may resume to its natural state of peace. Without sensory awareness, the mind is able to consider more subtle aspects of mental awareness. Controlling the senses is developed by redirecting the mind towards something more elevating.

Benefits of Meditation
1. Freedom from the feeling of pressure in day-to-day affairs
2. Avoidance of the “tired feeling”
3. Minimal recurrence of chronic nagging pains such as headache, arthritis, sinusitis, indigestion, and colitis
4. Reduction of insomnia, coffee and tobacco dependence, and general use of drugs
5. Greater tolerance and love for others
6. Greater satisfaction from your religious affiliations (meditation is a nondenominational - perhaps the one practice common to all religions)
7. A greater desire to be helpful, either in public service or in your own private life.

Kapaalabhaati - the skull shining breath - In this breath, only the abdominal area will move, the chest and shoulders remain still and relaxed. Kapaalabhaati is rapid diaphragmatic breathing using a series of rapid expulsions. After each expulsion the air will naturally fill the lungs so you are ready to continue with another expulsion. These expulsions are to be done in rapid succession, first slowly and then picking up the pace. Inhale deeply into the abdomen and begin the first expulsion by contracting the abdomen, snapping it in, and the air will naturally be released through the nose. Then the abdomen relaxes between the expulsions and the air flows back in on its own. Continue for a few rounds, each with 15-20 breaths.
Nadi Suddhi - alternate nostril breathing - Begin with five deep breaths through the nose. Inhale four counts, exhale four counts. Form Yoni mudra (right hand - thumb and index join) and Vishnu mudra (left hand - peace sign touches third eye with thumb on right nostril and ring and pinky fingers on left nostril). Breathe normally through both nostrils and begin with an exhalation on the left. Inhale left, switch and close off left nostril, exhale right. Inhale right, switch, exhale left. Continue several rounds and end with normal breathing. Observe. Mind is calm.

Mantra - 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.

Sounds have the power to soothe or agitate. Mantras are sounds that calm and strengthen the mind. The vibratory essence of the sacred syllables have the power to enhance the meditative experience. The sound of the mantra itself calms and focuses the mind. Mantra repetition is a portable form of meditation that can be done anywhere, even during other activities.

OM Shanti, Shanti, Shanti!
OM, peace, peace, peace!

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