Guided meditation on the spiritual heart

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Today we offer an audio recording of a guided meditation from our friend Bhuvah of the Auckland Sri Chinmoy Centre published on radiosrichinmoy.org. The first exercise includes relaxation and flower meditation. The second exercise features a meditation on the spiritual heart. These exercises are similar to the many exercises that we teach during our regular classes.

What is a good meditation?

From the book “Meditation: Man-Perfection in God-Satisfaction” by Sri Chinmoy

dog licking faceSeekers often ask how they can tell whether they are meditating properly or whether they are just deceiving themselves or having mental hallucinations. It is very easy to know. If you are meditating properly, you will get spontaneous inner joy. Nobody has given you good news, nobody has brought you any gifts, nobody has appreciated or admired you, nobody has done anything for you, but you will have an inner feeling of delight. If this happens, then you know that you are meditating properly. But if you feel a mental tension or disturbance, then you will know that the kind of meditation that you are doing is not meant for you.

If you are enjoying mental hallucination, you will feel that peace is within and restlessness is without. You are yearning for peace, light and bliss, but outwardly you are feeling a volcanic turbulence. If you are having a real meditation, a sublime meditation, then you are bound to feel peace within and without. If it is soulful meditation, you will feel your eternal existence; you will feel that you are of Eternity and for Eternity. This feeling you cannot get from a mental hallucination.

There is also another way that you can know. If you are actually entering into a higher plane, you will feel that your body is becoming very light. Although you don’t have wings, you will almost feel that you can fly. In fact, when you have reached a very high world, you will actually see a bird inside you that can easily fly just as real birds do.

When it is your imagination, you will get a very sweet feeling for a few minutes; then immediately dark or frustrating thoughts will come into you. You will say, “I studied so hard, but I did not do well in my examination,” or “I worked so hard in the office today, but I could not please my boss.” These negative forces in the form of frustration will immediately come in. Or doubt will enter, and you may say, “How can I meditate so well when yesterday I did so many wrong things? How can God be pleased with me? How can I be having a high meditation?” But if it is really a high meditation, you will feel that your whole existence, like a divine bird, is soaring high, higher, highest. While you are having this feeling there will be no sad thoughts, no frustrating thoughts and no doubts. You will be flying in the sky of delight where all is joy, peace and bliss.

dove on paper decorationsYou can also know whether you had a good meditation by the way you feel afterwards. If peace, light, love and joy have come to the fore from within as a result of your meditation, then you will know that you have meditated well. If you have a good feeling for the world, if you see the world in a loving way in spite of its teeming imperfections, then you will know that your meditation was good. And if you have a dynamic feeling right after meditation, if you feel that you have come into the world to do something and become something—to grow into God’s very image and become His dedicated instrument—this indicates that you have had a good meditation. But the easiest way to know if you have had a good meditation is to feel whether peace, light, love and delight have come to the fore from within.

Concentration on a candle flame

An important steps towards being able to meditate is the ability to focus. In concentration we aim all of our thoughts at a single object. The object can be external, such as a candle flame, black dot or a flower. It can also be internal, such as our breath or our heart-beat. Or it can be one thought in our mind, such as an imagery of a blazing sun or a vast ocean. Concentration enables to be present, to be there with the object of our concentration. It also enables us to identify with the qualities of the object we focus on. For example, when we concentrate on a imagery of peaceful and vast ocean, after a few minutes of this exercise we may feel more peaceful. Most importantly, concentration pacifies the constant chatter of our thoughts and creates an internal space to open to our inner heart and to our soul which we seek in our meditation.

Here is a simple concentration exercise that many people found to be effective.

burning_candle1. Find a quiet space where you can practice this exercise and place a candle there.

2. Take a few deep breaths. Relax.

3. Bring your vision to the candle flame. Start by focusing on the entire candle flame. As the exercise progresses you may wish to focus on even a smaller point, such as the tip of the candle flame.

4. Imagine as if there was a magnifying glass in front of you and that glass took all of your scattered thoughts and brought them to the candle flame.

5. If you feel too tense, almost to the point of getting a headache, relax a bit. Breathe. You can imagine that instead from your head the power of your concentration comes from your heart. Imagine that when you breath out your breath goes from your heart into the candle flame and when you breathe in your breath goes back from the candle flame into your heart. Establish a gentle, yet focused heart-identification with the candle flame.

6. If you notice that you lost your focus and your mind wondered off elsewhere simply bring your attention back to the candle flame. Do not be annoyed at yourself when this happens. Be patient. In the beginning, this can happen several times during a single exercise. As you practice regularly and you get better at the exercise, the number times this happens decreases and your moments of uninterrupted focus extend.

7. To finish the exercise, take a few deep breaths. Take a few moments to internalize the exercise before you go on with your other activities.

Initially, practice the exercise just for a few minutes. As you improve, you can extent the duration of the exercise. Remember, it is the quality of your exercise that matters, not how long you sit there. Practice with inspiration and diligence.

Breathing Exercise

Meditation on the Heart

In many of the meditation exercises that we teach in our classes we bring out attention to the spiritual heart, that is the core of our being where we feel peace, joy and loving identification. Here is a simple technique one can begin with:

When you meditate, please meditate on the heart, and then try to have the peace, light and bliss of the heart percolate through the entire being. In the heart you have peace, and like a flower it has to blossom petal by petal, here, there and everywhere. Then you have a flower of peace whose petals have blossomed in all parts of the being.

from 101 Meditation Techniques by Sri Chinmoy

Breathing exercise

Simple Meditation Exercise – Breathing

  1. Be conscious of your breathing. It should not be forced, but, gentle and relaxed. If someone placed a feather in front of your nose it should barely move.
  2. When you breathe in, feel that you are breathing in solid peace. Imagine that this peace is peculating your whole body.
  3. When you breathe out feel that you are exhaling any tension, worries or anxieties.
  4. Just for a moment, you can hold your breathe after the inhalation. When you hold your breathe concentrate on the absolute stillness and silence. No thought should enter your mind.
  5. The aim is to become fully aware of our breathing. We are trying to identify totally with this simple action. But, it is more than just breathing in mechanically. We are exercising our imagination to feel new life and real sense of peace entering our being.
  6. By focusing exclusively on the relaxing movement of our breathing, we switch off from the usual mental thought processes. By doing this we are able to enter into meditation.

In the beginning, we can practice this exercise for 5 minutes. But, we should try to lengthen the time we meditate from 5 minutes to 10 and then 15 minutes. However, there are no prizes for sitting in a chair for a long time. What matters is not the length of time we meditate, but, how sincere and soulful our meditation is. Don’t analyze your meditation with the mind, but try to enter into the flow of a new experience. If you can maintain real inner silence for just 5 minutes, you will feel a new consciousness dawning in you.

Nine tips for meditation practice

1. Location. Find a suitable quiet place for meditation. If it is very hard to find somewhere quiet, use some meditative music to drown out background sounds. If possible keep a corner of your room reserved just for meditation; this will help build up a meditative vibration in that particular part.

2. Preparation.

  • It is important to meditate with a straight back. If you try meditating whilst lying down, you are more likely to fall asleep.
  • Don’t meditate after eating a heavy meal – you will feel lethargic and sleepy.
  • If possible shower and wear clean clothes before meditating.
  • Try to switch off. If you try to meditate straight after work, you may be still thinking about the day. Try reading some books on meditation to help make the transition from work to meditation. When you start meditating yourself that for the next 10-15 minutes, you don’t have to think about the past or future – just concentrate on the present moment and your meditation. Let go of any tension in your body and try to be fully aware of the present moment.
  • Soulful music. Meditation is a sacred activity. It is an awareness of a divine consciousness. Anything that turns the mind to loftier thoughts and experiences will help us in our meditation. We need to feel an aspiration to grow into something more fulfilling and illumining. Soulful music or writings by Spiritual Masters and great seekers can give us that inspiration to delve deep within.

3. Breathing. Our breathing has a big impact on our mind; if we can quiet our breathing it will help slow down our mind. The beauty of meditation is its simplicity. Just be fully conscious of your breathing, feel you are breathing in peace; if you can do this without getting distracted you will be able to meditate most effectively.

4. Regularity. If we meditate on a regular basis then we will gain an increased meditative capacity. We should not be in a hurry to judge our own meditation. If we feel we have meditated badly and start feeling we are hopeless then we will definitely lose inspiration. Instead we should feel that each time we meditate there is a golden opportunity to feed our inner being. Even if we don’t feel as if we are making much progress, we should remember that each time we meditate, we are taking an important and necessary step to improving our own meditation.

5. But meditation is difficult. Many newcomers to meditation find it difficult to quiet the mind. This is because the mind is so used to thinking that when we try to stop it is quite a shock to the system. But, if we really want to do something we persevere and practice; meditation is no different, the more we put into meditation the more we will get from it.

6. Try a different place – Heart. We are used to living and identifying with the mind. The nature of the mind is to think, judge and separate. These qualities of the mind are the opposite to true meditation, so if you have difficulty quieting the mind, try focusing on the heart. You have to put your whole attention and concentration on this place in the centre of your chest. Try to feel that your whole existence has become your heart.

7. Great power in group meditation. Meditation is about consciousness. If other people are aspiring to the same meditative consciousness it becomes easier for you to be receptive to it.

8. The calm mind. This is the essence of meditation, whatever form of meditation you pursue, they will share this common goal of quieting the mind. It is only when we can have a mind free of thoughts that we will be able to experience real meditation. What happens is that we can quiet the mind we can expand our consciousness. We feel an expansion of our consciousness; when we have a good feeling towards the world.

9. What is a “good” meditation? We can know we are meditating well when we have a good view towards the world. If we feel tension and disturbance then our meditation is not working well. We should have a feeling of simplicity and humility; if we feel proud with ourselves this is not a good sign. Meditation aims to reduce the ego, not expand it.

Silent Teaching – upcoming workshops and lectures in September and October

In September and October we will be holding a series of meditation workshops and lectures entitled “Silent Teaching”. The title is an apt description of meditation practice, our inner journey and spiritual teachers.

Meditation is silence, energising and fulfilling. Silence is the eloquent expression of the inexpressible.

Meditation is the inner language, and the teacher teaches meditation through silence. It would not be easy for your professor to teach through silence, and for the student also it would not be easy to learn through silence. But a spiritual teacher will meditate for five minutes in silence and during his meditation he will offer peace, light and bliss. He can instruct you to meditate either by giving you specific instructions or through his silent gaze. But most of the time the spiritual teacher teaches through silence, because that way is most effective.

– Sri Chinmoy

To practice silence you can try the following exercise:

If you already have thoughts and ideas within you, within your body, within your mind, then you have to meditate like this: be as relaxed as possible. Feel as if you were inside the ocean. Then absorb those thoughts and ideas so they do not have a separate existence. They are lost in the sea. If they are already within you, throw them into the sea. If they are coming from outside, then do not allow them to enter into you. After doing this your meditation is bound to be successful.
– Sri Chinmoy, Meditation: God Speaks And I Listen, Part 1, Agni Press, 1974.