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Tips for Staying Awake During Meditation
April 16, 2015
I would like to ask if there are any tips you can suggest to keep myself awake during morning meditation.
In my case, I wake up, cleanse my face and mouth in the morning, sit to meditate but at times feel so drowsy that I’ve to shorten the meditation or at times i fall asleep while meditating. I feel that if you can suggest tips of staying awake, I will be able to meditate on the duration i set myself on.
There are things that you can do to help you stay awake during your morning meditation.
Paramhansa Yogananda created a set of 39 simple exercises which are called The Energization Exercises. He recommended to practice them before sitting for meditation. These exercises will recharge your body with energy, help focus your mind and fill your soul with joy.
(You can purchase the Energization Exercises DVD here. If you have an iPhone, you may also find the Energization Exercises app very helpful.)
So after you wash up in the morning, practice these exercises, then sit to meditate. Make sure that your meditation room has good air circulation and that the temperature in the room is on the cool side. You can wrap yourself with a shawl to stay warm. Here are a few breathing techniques you can use before meditation—start with them you meditate.
Once you learn the Energization Exercises, it will take you 12–15 minutes to practice them, and you will be awake and ready for your morning meditation.
Blessings on your practice,
I'm Seeing Symbols; What Do They Mean?
April 6, 2015
Greetings of joy! ive been seeing a lot of astral symbols and I don’t always know the meaning. ive learned the meaning of some and im eager to know more. these astral symbols appear before my awareness bright with a similarity close to caricatures on a monopoly board. I know these symbols are meant to guide me and affirm whats going on with my consciousness at the time. Also I see numbers and Id like to know the meaning. please inform me of any informational resources. Thanks. Joseph
Thank you for your greetings and joy to you also! Are these symbols and numbers coming to you as a part of your meditations? If so, then they are probably gifts to you from God to encourage you to go yet deeper into your meditative life.
As to their exact meaning, it would be hard to say unless I could know exactly what they looked like. If you want to e-mail me personally being more specific, I will try to answer back more specifically. You can write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
But in general, it is probably best for you to pray to God/Guru to be given the answers to your questions about symbols and numbers. They are being given to you personally and thus, their meanings should be give to you personally also, from the Divine Source where they came from, if at all possible.
They best way to do this is to pray deeply at the beginning of your meditation, that the answers to your questions will be revealed to you. Then set aside the questions and go ahead with your regular meditation practice calming your breath and mind.
Try not to think of these things, but meditate with peaceful assurance that your questions will be answered in the right time. At the close of your meditation, ask again and sit quietly to see if it is revealed to you. If it doesn’t happen immediately, then go on with your life and have faith that the answers will eventually be offered to you at your next meditation or at some later time.
Often answers come to us in very unexpected ways and at unexpected times, especially when we sincerely pray for divine guidance.
I Saw an Oval Shadow in Meditation
April 6, 2015
today I was trying to meditate (it must be the 4th or 5th time I try to do it in my life) and something intrigued me: during the meditation I saw an oval shadow and thought of the word 'oblongata'.
I googled it afterwards and saw what it was. I heard about it once but never thought of it again.
with your experience, could you help me in understanding if it was some kind of message or if it was just a subconsious suggestion? it brought me mixed feelings
thank you very much
Dear S in Portugal,
When we meditate, many things can appear to us. Some are important and some or not. Some are messages from our higher Selves or God and some are just the meanderings of the subconscious or conscious minds. To determine the difference is not always easy, but we can try.
First, I would encourage you to keep meditating regularly, every day! If you don’t know how to meditate, then learn the techniques of meditation which will help you keep up a steady practice. We can help you with this.
Then at the beginning of the next meditation, pray that if this shape is to have a special meaning for you, then the meaning will be revealed to you at the close of your meditation or at some later time.
The word oblongata has a special place in Yogananda’s teachings — it refers to the medulla oblongata or as Yogananda calls it, the "mouth of God." It is where prana or life-force enters the body and is very important as a part of the techniques of meditations from his path of Kriya Yoga. Perhaps this is a sign to you that this is your path to follow. It is a very good path, indeed!
In recent weeks I have had my concentration shattered during meditation. Many images and sounds appear in my mind. The strange thing is that they are extremely clear and detailed as if I was seeing and hearing physically. Several times during the meditation I have to bring my attention back and avoid these "lucid dreams".
My meditation used to be quiet, but now it is disturbed by voices , images and faces of people I’ve never seen before.
What can I do?
When you have a regular meditation practice, you will probably encounter a number of disturbances of various kinds during meditation over the years. It can be disconcerting to have this happen, but it doesn’t necessarily signify that something is wrong. It does mean that during these times you will need to put out more energy in your meditations to concentrate and to continue to push these images away — as you are already doing.
The most important thing to do at times like this, is to steadily continue on with your regular meditation routine. This is usually the way out of such disturbances. Your regular practices will act as a calming influence on your mind and lead you forward — even if at the time it can feel as though you are in the middle of a battlefield!
The other more subtle aspect of having these things happen, especially when you describe them as being “extremely clear and detailed, as if I was seeing and hearing physically,” is to not encourage them by continuing to give them energy. You can do this by not continuing to think about them, and mulling them over in your mind.
Why do things like this happen? Well, it can be from a number of causes. No matter what the cause, it does present a good opportunity to look at what the rest of your life looks like. Is there anything that you are doing that could be causing such disturbances? It might be things such as associating with old friends, family troubles, the movies you watch, the daily news, trouble at work, etc. These are just some ideas of the kinds of things that could be disturbing your meditations.
In addition, these kinds of disturbances could be caused by your own past karma. Actions done either in this life, or previous lives, are all registered in the subconscious mind. The energy from these actions travels with us through all our lifetimes, and is only resolved completely when we are spiritually liberated. In the meantime, this karma can come up and affect us in various ways in our present lifetime. Paramhansa Yogananda referred to these happenings as “karmic bombs.” These can go off at any time in our life given the right circumstances. Again, the best way to deal with them, is to continue your meditation practice, keeping it strong and focused, and not keep these disturbances active by thinking about them too much. The disturbances are there, and the way out of them is to look to the light, not to focus on the disturbance. If you have a guru, then the other important thing to do, it to pray to him/her for help, guidance, and grace (spiritual power) to move beyond them.
I hope this will help you in what you are dealing with.
In divine friendship,
Ears Feeling Hot During Meditation
March 2, 2015
hello. I’ve got anxiety disorder, on meds. I’ve noticed when in meditation, sometimes intense unpleasant heat is generated in parts esp near ears. harder I try to concentrate hotter it gets. Ive noticed it is associated with an unfocussed mind. Medically they call this psychosomatic symptoms. But when strongly focused on my Guru, it dissapears. Is this me unable to channel energy properly? I’d like to know your take on this. Thank you.
Since you have specific health conditions which are being treated by a health care professional, I must be cautious in my comments. If you are having good results by concentrating on your Guru, this seems a good and safe course of action. As to whether your symptoms are the result of an unfocused mind, that is a much broader question and could be as much related to medical conditions as to the mind itself. There’s nothing wrong with developing your concentration skills. Any one can benefit from doing THAT, whether during meditation or by engaging in specific mental concentration techniques.
During meditation, it is always good to avoid concentrating so "hard" that tension (and heat!) results. Think of something that you enjoy doing where the need to concentrate doesn’t exist because you enjoy doing it! That’s how meditation should be. Swami Kriyananda, in his popular book, Awaken to Superconsciousness, describes meditation as "upward relaxation into superconsciousness." Always emphasize RELAXATION first in the art of meditation. From devotion and sincere yearning for God, Guru, or inner peace, concentration becomes natural and not a strain upon the brain or the mind.
Approach, therefore, meditation with joy; with devotion; with sincere love. It would help you, I think, to practice some hatha yoga before sitting. Certainly, to practice some pranayama as your guru recommends. Paramhansa Yogananda commented that "Chanting is half the battle." This can include mantra also. So, try chanting both as part of meditation and part of daily life.
Remember: RELAXATION IS THE KEY!
How to Be Aware of Breath in the Nostrils
March 2, 2015
Can you give me tips on becoming aware of the natural breath in the upper nostril area?
Dear Sanjay, The best way to become aware of the breath in the upper part of your nostrils is through learning and practicing daily Yogananda’s Hong-Sau Technique of concentration/meditation. In the Art and Science of Raja Yoga, Swami Kriyananda, while carefully explaining this technique, includes the following information about breathing in different parts of the nostrils:
"Begin by mentally watching the breathing process: the movement of lungs, navel, and diaphragm; gradually only, as you grow calmer, shift your attention to the breath itself. At this point, feel it as it enters the nostrils. And even here you may find it natural to go through a transition from physical to more subtle awareness. That is, as the breath becomes finer, feel it gradually higher and higher in the nasal passage. In the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna gives the counsel to concentrate on nasikagram, 'the beginning of the nose.' Commentators often interpret this passage to mean 'the tip of the nose,' since agra means 'front' as well as 'beginning.' But no subtle chakra, or nerve plexus, exists in the tip of the nose. It is at the other end of the nose that yogis concentrate. Here is the seat of spiritual vision. Normally, to make it easier to locate, this seat is spoken of as being located at the point between the eyebrows. But where the breath is considered as part of the concentrative process, it is more appropriate to think of this seat as being located at the origin of the nose. In fact, the real center is situated in the frontal lobe of the brain. The breath, as it enters and leaves the nasal passage, passes very close to this point. To visualize the breath passing this point helps to stimulate this center. As you watch the breath in the nose, then, feel it becoming gradually calmer until you can feel it at the point between the eyebrows."
In addition, you might try feeling/experiencing the coolness of the air as you inhale and it passes through the nose up into the sinus area, then in turn, feel the warmth of the air as you exhale and as the air passes back out of the sinuses into the nostrils.
In the beginning of this process, try placing your right index finger horizontally under your nose and feel the gentle sensations of coolness and warmth being created there, as you inhale and exhale. When you have a good sense of these sensations, move your finger away and transfer the feeling into the lower nose, then up into upper nostrils, and finally into the area of the sinuses and the point between the eyebrows.
What You Are Experiencing Is the Astral Body
February 18, 2015
during my spiritual practice i.e when i do my spiritual work i suddenly feel cold sensation on my whole body it’s like not too much cold but when it occurs all of my hairs on my hands stands up i.e become erect and also it starts from lower to upper body it ends at top of my head i.e above my head and at that point i feel like something is floating above my head i can feel it but can’t describe i hope you can understand please tell me what is it??
What you are experiencing is yourself — but on a more subtle level. Yogananda explained that we inhabit three bodies simultaneously: physical, astral, and causal. Our physical body tends to dominate our awareness. It’s what our senses reveals to us as we see, hear, taste, smell, and touch.
Our astral body is more subtle. It is pure energy. It is also larger than your physical body. As you meditate more deeply you will become more aware of the astral body. One’s awareness of the astral body often begins with sensations such as you describe. What you are beginning to "feel" more consciously are the subtle energies of the astral body that exist within and around the physical body. Some people can "see" the astral body as an aura.
Our causal body is yet more subtle. It is pure thought. Sri Yukteswar said we are primarily using our physical body when sensing, our astral body when visualizing or willing, and our causal body when thinking deeply.
Your experience of your astral self is positive. Don’t be surprised if it changes as you meditate more. Part of the joy of meditation is experienced as a fountain spray of astral energy up the spine. But don’t be satisfied with just pleasant sensations. Go deeper. As you go deeper you will eventually find yourself saturated and expanding in the sea of Bliss Itself.
Puru (Joseph) Selbie
Finding Inner Calmness Through Meditation
February 17, 2015
I have been meditating for about 6 months now and I love love it. However, I have not told anyone and am afraid to because a lot of people make fun of meditation. Also, I have a really hard time meditating on my own without a guided mediation. I can’t get myself to calm down or my mind to shut up on my own. I also need motivation to meditate. I just want inner calmness. Any support that you could give at all would be so much appreciated! Thanks so much in advance. Love and peace to all!
So glad to know that you love to meditate! That’s half the battle — never let go of that love and feed it in any way you can.
Don’t worry about not telling anyone that you meditate. You are right that most people wouldn’t understand anyway. But it is hard to do things in a vacuum, so it might be good to find other meditators in your area that would "speak the same language" so to speak — look at Find Ananda Near You for details. Being around other people who meditate and meditating with them as often as possible is a huge help. If you live in an area where this is impossible (or even if you don’t) I’d strongly advise you to join our online Ananda Virtual Community. On-line group meditations may be a big help to you also!
Guided meditations can be very helpful, especially in the beginning of your meditative life. But here is an important point to remember. Meditation comes in two parts: the "getting there" and the "being there." Every meditation should have elements of both.
Getting there involves all the technique you use to help you get into deep, silent, sitting meditation. Guided meditation can be a part of getting there. But always leave time for being there, that is, sitting silently and being as calm and inward as possible. Even if you feel restless, do it anyway, for at least five minutes. It will get easier as time goes on. But to neglect the "being there" part of meditation is like fixing a delicious meal, but not taking time to eat it. What is the "there" part of meditation?" Superconscious bliss and oneness with God and with all that is. You'll definitely recognize it when it happens.
Much of meditation involves creating good habits. Meditate at the same time, same place, every day without fail, even if it’s only for five to ten minutes. Build up the length of time as you feel to. It’s infinitely better to meditate just a little bit, than not at all.
If you fail to meditate on any one or more days (it happens to everybody), at least notice that your daily life is affected — life is so much better when you meditate than when you don’t even try! Noticing this is an excellent motivator!
God watches the intentions of our hearts and will know that we are trying — and thus will offer us the grace to keep going, no matter what. Calming the restless mind is what we all struggle with. Don’t say you can’t. Just say you have not yet succeeded.
Having the right techniques of meditation (watching the breath, a mantra, etc.) are a huge help. If you don’t know these techniques yet, be sure to learn them in our online Learn to Meditate course as soon as possible.
Finally, please remember that you already have inner calmness. It’s just a process of learning to find where it is within you. Blessings and joy to you always!
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