Running in the spiritual life

On October 2, 2017 20 members of the Sri Chinmoy Centre in Seattle in various fashion ran ten miles to celebrate the 40 Anniversary of the first public race sponsored by the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team (SCMT).  The Marathon Team was founded by Sri Chinmoy, the noted artist, poet, musician athlete and spiritual figure both to encourage his students to increase their physical fitness as an aid to their mediation practice, and to offer sports events and a new kind of service to the running community.

The first public race hosted by the Marathon Team was the Sri Chinmoy 10 Mile Race in Connecticut on October 2, 1977.  About 50 runners participated in this race.  Under the direct guidance of Sri Chinmoy, himself a decathlete champion in his youth at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry, the running races of the SCMT evolved to a structure of one to two mile loops with the goal to provide maximum support and encouragement to the runners.  Very quickly the schedule of events grew so that in a few years time the Marathon Team was sponsoring marathons, 13 mile, 10 mile and 5 mile events as well as a 24 hour race.  By 1985 multiday events were added on an annual schedule as well as triathlons, and ultra long distances such as the 1,000 and 1,300 mile races…oh, and weekly 2 milers for the rest of us!  The theme of the races followed Sri Chinmoy’s philosophy of “self-transcendence”—that by going beyond one’s self perceived limits one can discover new sources of energy and capacity that can give us real life satisfaction.  He says about the nature of competition that we do not compete to defeat others but to bring to the fore our own best qualities, and surpass our previous accomplishments. .He commented

“Our best capacity comes forward only when there are other people around us.  They inspire us to bring forward our utmost capacity, and we inspire them to bring forward their utmost capacity.  This is why we have competitive sports.” 

— Sri Chinmoy, The body: humanity’s fortress, 1974


Back to the anniversary run…we all have jobs requiring different hours to be at work, so some race the day before October 2 and some the day after—early mornings, evenings and even in the dark with headlamps.  The two mile loop we ran offered additional inspiration to us as the trail passes before the bronze statue of Sri Chinmoy, entitled “Sri Chinmoy, Dreamer of Peace”.  The statue was dedicated in 2010, 3 years after his passing, and it honors his lifelong work for peace, athletics being one expression.  The statue conveys a peaceful smile and the two arms lightly hold and offer to visitors to take hold of the Oneness-Home Peace Run Torch to pause for a moment of silent reflection and offer their heartfelt prayers for peace.  On the trail bicycles and runners pass by just a few feet before the statue, while on the far side ships and rowers glide quietly past on the Ship Canal which connects our fresh water lakes with the ocean.  Stopping here after a run or during a quiet moment, it is as if the visage of the statue is smiling its approval of the dynamic nature and pioneer visage of our region.

Most of us doing this anniversary run had learned of Sri Chinmoy as we were seeking guidance in the discipline of meditation.  Or maybe we were searching for a sense of inner peace, or a feeling of being grounded and a sense of purpose and gratitude in our life.  Little did we know that  along with setting up a daily meditation practice we would be helping to set up races, preparing food for the runners, counting runners laps throughout the day—sometimes at night at 24-hour and multi-day events…and even more surprising still, finding ourselves training and succeeding at marathons, triathlons and ultra marathon races!  These events now seem like a natural progression for our lives as seekers, trying to discover our lives’ Truth, and they were not accomplished instantly.  No, our running careers started out one mile at a time, gradually building up, incrementally, our strength, fortitude and patience..  These physical undertakings along with the aspiration within our meditation practice brought to the fore a gradual understanding of the power we can access when mind/body/spirit work together to face challenges.    Oh, the JOY to discover a new part within yourself that can be dynamic, disciplined and poised!  Mixed with a fair share of sweat, sore muscles and running shoes.

Gratitude for the 40 years, Sri Chinmoy, and may we all inspire each other to keep walking, running, biking and swimming in this game called life!

Daulot & Stota Fountain

Seattle

Meditation Adventure

Some years ago I got fed up with life and felt that there really must be something deeper. I had a faculty position in Thailand and the material aspect and outer adventure were interesting and substantial, but inside, well, there was not much.

nayakmonkI made friend with the monks in Thailand and decided to give that a go. I became a monk for four months, studied meditation intensively, and, well, it made a big difference. I mean, it made a really big difference. It made a difference in how I felt, how I perceived others, how I viewed my opportunities, and so on. I could not then or now describe what meditation was doing for me. Who can put feelings into words?

I returned to the United States, and my wife and I, both having meditated, wanted to continue. We tried various groups, and I do recommend that people do that. How many of you buy your clothes at the first shop? It takes a little shopping to find what fits.

I did my shopping and I was privileged to see a great spiritual master, Sri Chinmoy, in one of his public meditations in New York. You could feel something, I did, and I let the magnet of soulfulness, sincerity, simplicity purity, and so on, tug at me.

nayaktriI studied with Sri Chinmoy for a very long time and I continue with his inner guidance as a member of the worldwide Sri Chinmoy Centres. The emphasis is on meditation and service. Find what you have and share it. Discover your capacity and use it.

The marvelous thing about meditation is that it is an extremely simple practice, and just practicing meditation gets the elephants off your shoulders, and you rise and rise. I call it the soul, your real guide, and you can get to know it. There are a million more aspects to meditation and you can discover them, one by one, and you never get tired of it.

I hope that you have the blessing of giving yourself the privilege of learning to meditate.

 -Nayak

My meditation class experiences (by Abanna)

Hi, I’m Abanna, from the Seattle Sri Chinmoy Meditation Centre. I would like to warmly welcome you to our website. We are so glad you are interested in learning how to meditate. It is very precious to aspire to grow spiritually and begin a meditation practice. We hope you will find inspiration and encouragement here!

My own meditation journey officially began more than 17 years ago with a free introductory class offered by the Sri Chinmoy Centre. My children were young and my husband watched them so I could attend. I remember the class like it was yesterday!  I was charmed by the woman who taught it, a long-time meditator and student of Sri Chinmoy. She had a lovely demeanor and shared some of her personal history. She showed us how to set up a shrine (sacred area) in our home for meditation. She led us through several different concentration techniques, including meditating on a candle flame, meditating on a flower, and meditating on a recording of flute music composed and performed by Sri Chinmoy. The music was beautiful and haunting and I felt it travel up and down my spine. I was entranced. The instructor said Sri Chinmoy teaches that world peace begins with each individual’s peace, and that the way for each individual to achieve peace is through meditation. It made total sense. I bought a recording of the music we had heard in our class, “Flute Music for Meditation,” and I bought a book by Sri Chinmoy called, Meditation: Man-Perfection in God-Satisfaction.*

A very short time later, I was invited to take part in a free, month-long follow-up meditation workshop. I was excited by the opportunity and I couldn’t get over that it was free. It was explained that according to Sri Chinmoy’s philosophy, it is every person’s birthright to learn how to meditate, and in keeping with Indian tradition, there is never a fee for any classes offered by Sri Chinmoy Centres worldwide. This continues today.

During the workshop, I experienced how helpful it is to meditate as part of a group. Each person brings something unique and special to the gathering and we all inspire each other consciously or unconsciously. I realized the group meditations supported my individual meditations at home and vice versa. I also learned the importance of regularity: regularity in my daily meditations and regularity in attending group meditations. Meditation is like a muscle that must be used regularly to build its strength and if not used it will lose its strength. We learned quite a few meditation techniques, read poems, stories and writings by Sri Chinmoy, sang soulful songs composed by Sri Chinmoy and watched a video of Sri Chinmoy. The instructor, also a long-time meditator and student of Sri Chinmoy, was friendly, experienced, and encouraging. The classes were so enjoyable. There was a nice sense of camaraderie and support as we discussed meditation questions and experiences as well as our favorite flavors of ice cream.  We learned ways to help increase the power of our meditations and how to lead more spiritual lives, including adopting a vegetarian diet, being physically active, abstaining from alcohol and drugs, and more. I purchased a number of books written by Sri Chinmoy and devoured them. The more I understood of Sri Chinmoy’s philosophy, the more it resonated with me.

At the end of the month-long workshop, there were decisions to be made. We were all encouraged to continue meditating. Some of us might to continue meditating as individuals on our own, without the support of a group; however, it was noted that many people find it challenging to maintain regularity without the support of a group. Another option was to explore various meditation groups in our area and continue meditating with one of them. Or, the third option: Those of us who felt a connection with Sri Chinmoy and his philosophy could continue meditations with the Sri Chinmoy Centre as a student of Sri Chinmoy.

I did not hesitate: I wanted to continue! The classes made me happy. I became a student of Sri Chinmoy and have been meditating with the Sri Chinmoy Centre ever since. Meditation continues to increase my sense of well-being. It helps me start my day with a smile and a glow in my heart. I like myself better as a person.

Meditation can transform your life! It all starts with a meditation class.

 

*Books and CDs are available for purchase at: http://www.heart-light.com/