Gurugram February 2014 | Preface
Om Namah Sivaya
By the grace of God, both India and Bahamas are in full swing with high season activities now, while other Centres and Ashrams elsewhere in the Organization are all busy with well attended new courses and classes. 2014 seems to be a year where Sivananda staff are eager to work hard in bringing the teachings of Master and Swamiji to the public.
The 2013’s issue of Yoga Life magazine can now be found in pdf format on sivananda.org. A quick link: https://www.sivananda.org/publications/yogalife/yogalife2013/YogaLife_Summer_2013.pdf There are many beautiful uplifting articles can be found in this issue. There is a feature many of you have been patiently waiting for, on Page 18, which lists the current staff at Sivananda Ashrams and Centres worldwide …photos, too.
This month the GURUGRAM begins a Swami Vishnudevananda Instructions on Meditation Series, with excerpts from book The Sivananda Companion to Meditation (2003).
We thank you all for your continued support and encouragement. May Master and Swamiji’s blessings be with us always.
Asato Ma Sat Gamaya Tamaso Ma Jyotir Gamaya
Mrityor Ma Amritam Gamaya
Pranams to all.
Regular meditation alone can give true happiness. – Sri Swami Sivananda
Swami Vishnudevananda Instructions on Meditation Series
Swami Vishnu-devananda would say that it is not possible to teach someone how to meditate, any more than it is possible to teach them how to sleep. Sleep overtakes us only when we detach our mind from its concerns. Meditation also cannot be forced, but unlike sleep, it is a conscious state. We need a degree of willpower to remain in the state of heightened awareness that occurs when we meditate. However, at the same time we need to relax, letting go of all expectations and desires. This subtle balance between the effort needed to sustain concentration on the one side and detachment from all distractions on the other is the art of meditation. We learn to focus the mind without struggle, yet maintain enough control to avoid a drift into reverie. To attain this state of relaxed awareness we need to prepare ourselves, and there are several steps that will help us. It is important to reiterate that meditation is a process, and as such, takes time. Be gentle and patient with your mind; do not expect miracles. The more care and attention you give to the preparation, the more positive the results.
We start with basic guidelines for the beginner, in the section ‘Starting Out’.
1 – THE PLACE
It is best to have a special room for meditation, but if this is impossible, as it is for most of us, try to separate off a portion of a room, reserving it solely for your practice if you can. Maintain it as a space to be used only for meditation, clean and tidy, free from distracting vibrations and associations, and allow only those who respect its sacredness to enter.
The place of focus
Set up a little table as the focal point of the room, with a candle, or better still, a small oil lamp, light being a potent spiritual symbol. Gazing at the steady flame before you start your meditation practice will bring concentration and introversion of the mind. This gazing is actually a concentration exercise in its own right, as explained later in the book. A flower or vase of flowers will enhance the atmosphere and fill the mind with joy. Burning incense in the morning and evening has a strongly purifying effect on the energy of the space. Use natural (not chemical) incense such as sandalwood, with its calming and cooling effect on the mind, or fragrances such as rose or frankincense. If you are of a religious nature set up an image of an uplifting spiritual symbol, such as the OM symbol, the Cross, or the Star of David; or a picture of Christ, Krishna, the Divine Mother, or Buddha. Choose what
speaks to your heart and soul and helps your mind to turn within, away from worldly concerns. The powerful vibrations from repeated meditation practice will remain in the room, creating a magnetic aura, and within six months the peace and purity of the atmosphere will be quite tangible. In times of stress you can sit in the space, practice for half an hour, and experience great comfort and relief.
Which direction to face Sitting on a clean mat (a folded woolen blanket or cotton mat are excellent for this) in front of the table, face north or east to take advantage of favourable magnetic vibrations. These directions are considered to be the most conducive to spiritual concentration.
Meditating in nature It scarcely needs mentioning that natural environments are much more favourable to the practice of meditation than cities, where pollution from noise, traffic, electronic machinery, and the high stress levels of many of the people around can make it difficult to concentrate. If you can, try to take advantage of any opportunity to meditate in nature – on a beach facing the ocean, on a peaceful river bank, under a tree, on a mountain, with the rising or setting sun. You will find the meditation qualitatively different. If like most of us, you have to meditate in the city, you can still create a protected and sacred environment and it is certainly better to meditate in a city than not to meditate at all.
Next month…when is the time to Meditate?
Excerpts from The Sivananda Companion to Meditation (2003) – The Sivananda Yoga Centre; Gaia Books, New York.
The Inner voice speaks unto him who has annihilated his ego/false personality. – Sri Swami Sivananda
Bhagavad Gita Quote
Chapter IV: The Yoga of the Division of Wisdom
IV.36. API CHEDASI PAAPEBHYAH SARVEBHYAH PAAPAKRITTAMAH;
SARVAM JNAANAPLAVENAIVA VRIJINAM SANTARISHYASI.
(Krishna speaking to Arjuna)
‘Even if thou art the most sinful of all sinners, yet thou shalt verily cross all sins by the raft of knowledge.’
COMMENTARY: One can overcome sin through Self-knowledge.
IV.37. YATHAIDHAAMSI SAMIDDHO’GNIR BHASMASAAT KURUTE’RJUNA;
JNAANAAGNIH SARVAKARMAANI BHASMASAAT KURUTE TATHAA.
‘As the blazing fire reduces fuel to ashes, O Arjuna, so does the fire of knowledge reduce all actions to ashes!’
Pure Consciousness is Brahman/the Absolute. Pure Consciousness is the same as Pure Bliss. – 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