Sivananda Yoga FAQ
Q 1: What is the difference between Japa and meditation?
A: Japa is silent repetition of the Name of the Lord. Meditation is the constant flow of one idea of God. When you repeat Om Namo Narayanaya, this is Japa of the Vishnu Mantra. When you think of the conch, disc, mace and lotus flower in the hands of Vishnu, His ear-rings, the crown on His head, His yellow silken Pitambar, etc., this is meditation. When you think of the attributes of God such as omniscience, omnipotence, etc., this is also meditation.
Q 2: Give me a very simple, but very impressive proof for the existence of the soul.
A: You say in daily life, “My body”, “My Prana”, “My mind”, “My Indriya”. This clearly denotes that the Self or Atman is entirely different from the body, the mind, the Prana and the Indriyas. The mind and the body are your servants or instruments. They are as much outside of you as these towels, chairs, cups are. You are holding the body just as you are holding a long walking stick in your hand. You are the possessor or proprietor of this body. The body is your property or possession. The body, the senses, the mind, etc., are not the soul, but belong to it.
Q 3: I am not able to practice meditation for more than ten minutes. After that my mind begins to wander on sensual objects. Do you have words of advice, Swami?
A: When you develop Ruchi or taste for Dhyana and Japa, you will be able to sit longer for Japa and meditation. Before going to bed, also in the morning at 4 o’clock, and before taking meal at noon, you should do Japa and meditation. Just as you take tea three or four times a day, so also, you should do Japa three or four times a day. Do not worry if the mind wanders. By gradual practice, it will come under your control. Do Kirtan when the mind wanders much. Do Nama-smaran while walking and working also — Sri Ram, Sri Ram. If you are not able to sit in Padmasan for long, you can sit on a sofa and do Japa and meditation. It is not necessary that you should sit in Padmasan.
Give up onions and garlic completely. Give it up entirely. Do not prepare it at all at home. If you try to reduce it, one day you will take a little, another day you will be tempted to take a good quantity! A cigarette addict who wants to reduce cigarettes, takes a very few cigarettes on some days, but on some other days he smokes heavily, with a vengeance as it were, and more than compensates for the quantity foregone by him previously. Therefore, give up onions completely. If you give nice cotton seeds and oil-cakes to your cow, it will cease to graze in your neighbour’s fields, it will give up its wandering habit in search of grass and herbs. Now your mind is running after Rasagulla and Peda which it has tasted. But if you give the mind the bliss of Japa and meditation, it will no more run after worldly objects. When you develop Ruchi for Japa and meditation, the mind will give up its wandering habit.
Truth is simple. Truth always expresses itself with the greatest simplicity. – Sri Swami Sivananda
10 – Ekadasi
01 – New Moon
OM: This sacred syllable, sometimes written AUM, is the original mantra. The Sanskrit letter represents the journey of the human spirit towards eternal peace.
ATMAN: The individual spirit or Self.
CHITTA: The subtle energy that is the substance of the mind.
VRITTI: Thought-wave; mental modification; mental whirlpool; a ripple in the chitta.
Use your mind as a filter; watch and do not allow any useless thought to enter the mind. Filter all useless thoughts. – Swami Sivananda