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Questions and Answers About Meditation, Yoga, the Spiritual Life, and More

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Sumukh Hegde
India

Question

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.

Nayaswami Hriman

Nayaswami Hriman

Ananda Seattle

Answer

Dear Friend,

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!

Blessings,

Swami Hrimananda

sanjay
india

Question

Can you give me tips on becoming aware of the natural breath in the upper nostril area?

Nayaswami Savitri

Nayaswami Savitri

Ananda Village

Answer

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.

ruchit
india

Question

When i’m calm and meditate i can hear some sounds and there’s an starting sound like piinggg is what i experience i kept wondering about that sounds after sometime i came across to an expert he said that it’s really very good if i can hear those sounds he said when you are calm and again when meditate try to hear those sounds from your right side he also said on following those you'll reach omkar'AUM'source of all creations but i’m pretty much confused

Nayaswami Seva

Nayaswami Seva

Ananda Village

Answer

Dear Ruchit,

The sounds that you hear when meditating or when very calm are the sounds coming from the chakras. The chakras are vortices of energy at seven points along our spine, actually they are deep in our astral spine. But for most of us we can think of them as along our spinal column. There are different sounds coming from each chakra, and the one you may have heard is from the third chakra, the manipur chakra. All these sounds are good. They are all part of the raising of the Kundalini, which when fully raised to the 7th chakra, you become enlightened.

To know more about this subject you should purchase the following books from Ananda India. The teachers of our path of Raja Yoga have clarified the esoteric teachings of yoga. If you are finding unusual sounds or unusual colors before your vision, you need to get clarity. Do either go to an Ananda center, if one is near you, or purchase these books, as both will help you greatly.

The books are The Art & Science of Raja Yoga, which is a complete book of meditation, philosophy, affirmations, and more that encompass the whole of the teachings of Paramhansa Yogananda. The other book is on the chakras called, Chakras for Starters. These books can be purchased through anandaindia.org. It is essential to have them as they will help you understand all that your expert was explaining to you.

Listening to these sounds on the right side is correct as the right side is the positive side of the body. But if you hear these sounds, just listen to them in the calmness of your own self. Eventually you will hear them more deeply. And if you keep your concentration calmly at the Spiritual Eye (the sixth chakra), the energy in your spine will go upward toward that center and you will hear other sounds and eventually the all important sound of AUM. You will also be drawing the Kundalini up to this center. Keep your concentration at the Spiritual Eye as much as you can during your meditations and eventually you will realize your goal — one with the Divine.

Blessings to you, Seva

Why We Need to Pray
March 2, 2015

anniebasent
india

Question

Does prayer change your fate and karma? From last 6 years of my experience, it is not. If like that then , why do we need to pray ? Why do we need to waste time? We can do many good things with that time?

Nayaswami Parvati

Nayaswami Parvati

Ananda Village

Answer

Prayer is about your relationship with God. It is not about what you receive, but what you give. Praying is a way to open up to the presence of a Higher Reality in your life. Some people call this God, other people have other names for it. Whatever name you give it, asking for help from a source that is higher than your own small self is a necessary first step on the road to a fuller life. This is one of the reasons why people pray. They have reached the end of the road with trying to find their own answers in life, and they are seeking something greater.

When you pray, you are asking a higher consciousness to come into your life and help you. To do this you must quiet your mind so that you can truly receive what is being given to you. That is why prayer is about giving first. If you don’t make the effort to quiet your mind, you won’t be able to “hear” the responses to your prayers.

I think many prayers are answered, but people are not listening in the right way for the answers that come. A quiet mind is essential to prayer. For this reason, we strongly suggest that people offer prayers at the end of their meditation.

Another big block to answered prayers is that you don’t want to hear the answer that is being given you. Many people pray saying, “Please, God, give me an answer to this problem in my life, and let it be this answer.” If you are praying in this way, then no answer will be able to come to you. You simply won’t be able to hear it. So we must pray with an open mind to what might come to us. And we must be willing to accept the answer and to give it a try. In fact it has been found in studies done on prayer, that the most effective way to pray is to offer your prayer saying, “Thy will be done, Lord.” In prayer, this is how you will achieve the best results.

So, quieting the mind, listening inwardly, and being receptive are three essential elements for effective prayer. Using these you should be able to test prayer in your own life and see what results you receive. Your own direct experience of prayer will be the proof of how effective it can be for you.

Lila
INDIA

Question

In Yogananda’s article, Who and What Is Satan, he says, "... Satan has created restlessness, fear, selfishness, anger, and sorrow." I am recovering from a decade of physical, emotional, and mental abuse in my marriage and sometimes I feel sad. I meditate and pray to Guruji, but I sometimes am overcome with sadness and grief. Behind everything, I feel God’s love and Master’s love, but in my daily life, I experience this trauma. Is it Satan?

Kristy Fassler-Hecht

Kristy Fassler-Hecht

Ananda Maine

Answer

Dear Lila,

Anything that takes us away from our Divine Reality is Satanic in nature. You are praying and feeling the presence of God and Guruji as you heal from your past traumas and this is helping you go forward with faith. Thus you are responding to the memories in a positive way.

On the other hand, the more you live in the memories of your traumas, the more your consciousness will be drawn downward. Life is a battle and we are all warriors on the battlefield between light and dark forces in our consciousness. Consistently replace those dark memories with visions of Master in your mind and ask for his help in overcoming all things that take you away from your Divine Reality. Offer anything that takes you away from the calm peace of your soul into the Light at the point between the eyebrows and ask for guidance in responding appropriately to the agitation you feel.

In Divine Friendship,

Kristy

shiffali
india

Question

Namaste,

you all have been very kind and generous in answering to our questions,so thank you so much.Now that i am regularly practicing meditation,i feel relaxed mentally,more calm and composed believing in god that everything will turn out to be good but physically,i feel some aches in my arms while meditating.Also i am not able to digest spicy foods now which i happen to eat earlier.how to deal with this?thanx

Nayaswami Seva

Nayaswami Seva

Ananda Village

Answer

Dear Shiffali,

You may be finding that the techniques of meditation alone are not enough. What is important along with meditation is learning to relax the whole body. This can be accomplished by doing yoga postures and breathing techniques that are needed to meditate properly. Ananda has a system of yoga postures that is helpful to those who want to go deeper into meditation. The Art and Science of Raja Yoga, a book by Swami Kriyananda, contains philosophy, meditation techniques, breath techniques, yoga postures to calm the mind and body for meditation, affirmations, healing and more. It is an invaluable resource and can be purchased through anandaindia.org (in India) and crystalclarity.com (in the US).

Also there are classes offered on-line. Ananda India is now beginning on-line classes and Ananda US has been doing them for years now. It is very helpful to have ongoing satsang with these classes and with the virtual community.

I saw a deep mediator use a pillow to rest his arms on during his meditation. Pillows and other props are sometimes needed to help the body relax. Experimentation and creativity is very helpful to bringing you to a place where you can feel the flow of joyful energy.

When you are in a more calm state, you may find that the old habits drop away. It seems for you that the habit of having spicy foods is one of them. Spicy foods tend to heat the body, making it more difficult to meditate properly. It may be hard for you in India not to indulge in "hot" foods, but do keep in mind your real goal that of calm, joyful meditations. Not only are spicy foods difficult to ingest, but also eating meats cause a heaviness and heat the body. So most of us at Ananda are vegetarians.

Do keep your practices going, be creative so you can continue, and be joyful, calm, positive and loving.

Joy to you,

Seva

ruchit
india

Question

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??

Puru (Joseph) Selbie

Puru (Joseph) Selbie

Ananda Village

Answer

Dear Ruchit,

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.

Warm regards,

Puru (Joseph) Selbie

Emma S
USA

Question

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!

Nayaswami Savitri

Nayaswami Savitri

Ananda Village

Answer

Dear Emma,

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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