The Buddhist monk, Godo Nakanishi, once spent several days sitting quietly on a snow-covered mountain. The birds living there noticed him, but fear of humans kept them a safe distance away. As the monk continued to meditate, he became more and more absorbed in the inner silence. Gradually, the wild birds lost their fear and accepted Godo’s presence because of the wonderful peace he emanated. A few birds, apparently attracted to the serene monk, landed and perched on his motionless body.

The greater the yogi’s calmness, the more he lives in unitive consciousness. Notice how calmness intensifies perception, as you read the following visualization. Read each paragraph, then close your eyes and see its imagery in your mind.

Imagine your mind as a pristine lake… encircled by mountains. See how the lake’s surface reflects its surrounding environment—the mountains, trees, and sky.

Now… picture your thoughts as restless winds that ripple the lake’s surface. These winds prevent you from seeing a clear reflection of the mountains.

As your thoughts slow down and the breezes cease… you once again see the image of the mountains reflected perfectly in the lake of your mind.

When the lake was disturbed by restless winds, it couldn’t reflect the mountains clearly. However, when the lake was calm—mountains, rocks, trees, and sky—were perfectly imprinted on the lake’s surface. This is true also for the calm human mind.


Communing with Life

The birds landed on the Buddhist monk not because his body was a convenient place to perch, but because the birds were attracted to his aura of peace. Interestingly, this monk later founded Japan’s Wild Bird Society for the protection of native birds.

“Deeply felt silences [are] the core of our Kofon religion. During these times, the nature within ourselves found unity with the nature of earth. This is not ‘closeness with nature’ but rather an immersion in the common nature which pervades all life.” (Prince Modupe, West Africa)

The “common nature” that pervades all existence is: AUM; God’s loving presence vibrating throughout creation. There are many accounts of Himalayan animals being attracted to the sound of yogi’s chanting AUM. Hearing these stories, I decided to see if any animals at Ananda Village would respond to Cosmic AUM.

Downslope from where I live is a rock outcropping that local coyotes trot past every morning and evening. After my morning meditation, I walked to a large boulder, sat down and began chanting AUM. After five minutes, four ravens, in tight formation (like Blue Angel jets) flew low over my head. I had never seen ravens fly so close and choreographed before.

Hoping to attract a mammal, I kept chanting and after a short time, I happened to glance to my right and saw—standing thirty yards away—a coyote listening to the AUMs.

Seeing my head turn, the coyote trotted under a nearby tree, calmly laid down facing me, and listened intently to the AUMs for three or four minutes. The coyote then rose, circled in front of me, and again listened attentively to Sacred AUM, before going on its way.

Experience Stillness

“All worthwhile things in life are evolved in the stillness,” said Paramhansa Yogananda. “The calmer you grow, the more you will see the reflection of the universe within you.” I wrote the following A Lake Is Like the Mind meditation to help make stillness more real to our consciousness.

A Lake is Like the Mind

A saint once asked his disciple to meditate whenever he saw an expanse of water because it would remind him of the vastness of his soul. To practice A Lake Is Like the Mind, find a tranquil pool of water in a stream or pond. Ideally, the pool should be small enough to give you a feeling of intimacy and serenity.

The pool of water should be at least eight inches deep. Collect six stones about the volume of a duck’s egg. If the pool is tiny, gather smaller stones.

A lake’s surface—like the human mind—is always changing. Sometimes the lake is calm and serene, and other times a breeze, falling leaf, or splashing fish might ruffle its surface. In every case, the lake’s placidity is disturbed by something external to itself. Meditation strengthens the mind so that passing phenomena won’t disturb it, just as the lake’s deeper water remains unruffled no matter what happens on its surface.

To begin the exercise, find a comfortable place to sit that overlooks the water. Place your six stones beside you and gaze at the water, letting its placidity calm you. Stay in the present moment as best you can.

Every time you notice you’ve become distracted and are no longer grounded in the here and now, cast a stone in the water. Carefully observe each stone’s splash and the ensuing ripples spreading outward, and how the water (representing your mind) is disturbed and no longer mirror-like. Note the impact inattentive thoughts have on one’s awareness.

It’s normal to have thoughts during meditation. The trick is to let the thoughts pass by without seizing and embellishing them. When the stone’s ripples start to dissipate, feel yourself letting go of all thoughts, and delight in the joyful serenity that comes from living in the present.

Keep gazing at the water until all the stones have been thrown.

God communion requires stillness of mind, just as the surface of a lake must be completely calm to reflect the sky. Only in stillness can you discover the hidden depths of your spiritual nature.

Blessings of light,

Nayaswami Bharat


  1. You have wonderfully accomplished the result of making stillness more real to MY consciousness! This ‘mind picture’ of a still lake to the rough waters of windy thoughts is a God send. Thank you!

  2. Thank you for sharing this, Bharat. I just took time from working in the office to read & I feel rejuvenated and full of Peace! Blessings, Supriya

  3. Thank you for a wonderful visual representation that I can easily practice to further my ability to find stillness.

  4. Thank you Bharat,
    The imagery is excellent. I have seen how even a small whisp of a breeze can send a ripple across a mountain lake. This is a good one for me.

  5. I liked the meditation! Thank you!
    Yes, animals respond to sacred sounds.
    Last week I lost my cat (my baby) who used to join me for Compassion Buddha meditation.She loved Om Mani Padme Hum so I recited the mantra for her as she crossed on the other side.

  6. You’re message came when I was having a difficult day and
    my mind was filled with churning thoughts.
    Thank you for your message.

  7. Thank you, Bharat! The story of the animals at Ananda and the sound of AUM is etched indelibly into my heart.

  8. It is written wonderfully. I recollect a book “Siddharth” written by Herman Hess. Thank you.

  9. + the importance is in not interfering, but adapting and managing with ‘what is’
    just accepting that nothing can change what has already been decided as we’re just left to play the part in a drama that has already reached its completion.


  10. A very beautiful article. Wish we could keep our minds still the whole day.

  11. Thanks for sharing, Bharat! I have used AUM many times in freeing trapped animals, comforting injured animals, and once in a bear encounter. Nothing works better. Yet I aspire to the stillness you describe…

    1. Paul, I would love to hear your stories about chanting AUM to animals for a new book I’m writing. Could you email your experiences to me?
      Blessings, Bharat

  12. Very interesting read, I have been wondering just what is the correct way to intone just the right sound. It is spelled AUM and some OM. I have listened to several recordings and don’t quite get the right sound. Your intonement seems to be right , sense you are able to attract the birds and coyotes. Maybe you should make a CD of your AUM sound .

    1. Dear One,
      I keep swami’s AUM chanting in my car all the time. It keeps me safe and calm in the traffic – and now I live in Mexico City, DF.

  13. Thanks Bharat,
    I hope you are well.

  14. Dearest Bharat, Thank you for this wonderful piece on stillness. I too am continually looking for new ways to deepen my meditations and this is a practise I am looking forward to experiencing! Blessings, Brindey

  15. Thank you for this beautiful and uplifting story and visualizations

  16. Bharat,

    Thank you for this beautiful & very helpful article. I really enjoyed it.

    Blessings to you and Anandi,

    Scott and Marion

  17. Hi Bharat,
    My 7 year old daughter and I greet her 4 fish in their tank each morning with the sound of aum. The fish come out of hiding and line up at the front of the tank and look at us, as if to say we hear you! When we walk through the woods, we often encounter deer and we chant aum … instead of running from us, they stay to listen! Thank you for a wonderful essay.

  18. Dear Bharat, Years ago I experienced your Sharing Nature with Children workshop in Ft. Collins, CO. Sooo, you are still bringing nature to us in at once simple and profound ways to help bring us closer to God. Thank you, Bharat.

  19. My dear Swami,
    Simple and beutiful…calmness,stillness and peace attract souls. Story proves that ‘AUM’ even attract mammals…one of the reflections of the universe.

    1. This is a great article !
      I think we all would like to read more such articles , which seek to redefine how we look at our lives, what values we adopt, how to spend our precious, allotted span of time !

      If that sounds ponderous— sincere apologies, but I stand by my words

  20. The lake imagery with the surrounding mountains is absolutely fabulous.Thank you so much Nayaswami.

  21. It is very useful thought remembering the “Pathanjali yoga sutra”. The first sutra telling the same thing. Thank you so much to give the old thought in new way.

  22. This beautiful presentation atonce took me in the lap of nature and gave me such a peace of mind and I read it again and again to reap the benefits. I think it has some positive vibrations. Thank you Bharat for sharing this with us.

  23. Aum in all we do.
    Thanks dearly for the reminder.
    Expect Miracles ~ Live at Ease

  24. What a wonderful meditation! Fortunately Just across the road and down the way a bit from my little hermitage there is a pond where I can try this.

  25. The comparison of the mind to a lake and our chaotic thoughts to stones is so beautifully apt. Thank you so much.

  26. thanks. It reminds me that when my mind is still I see the inner blue light in the third eye.
    love and light

  27. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Your story took me there to that place of peaceful stillness & joy.

  28. Thanks for the beautiful presentation of the idea of stillness.

  29. Beautiful knowledge shared in simple yet profound way…. Thanks a lot for sharing. There is a great need to control the ever chattering mind!!

  30. Wow just when i needed to understand “stillness” to leave. aside human worry. VERIY PROFOUND
    Thank so much i do enjoy every email you send me

  31. This article is very enlightening and inspiring.It is profound learning about
    calmness and stillness of mind.

  32. Thank you so much for this beautiful article. Stillness is the answer to all problems.
    Wonderful meditation and visualisation.

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