When I left university and a beautiful girlfriend at the age of nineteen to join a full time monastic training ashram in order to learn mindfulness, I took to it like there was nothing more important to me in this lifetime. And now over 30 years later, I still feel the same. One thing ten years as a full time monk in a Bhakti Yoga ashram taught me is that we are so full of mind but seldom ever mindful.
The training was rigorous, where not only did I renounce all worldly possessions, clothes and hair on my head, but I also donned the saffron robes and joined the other monks in the “Bhahmachari Ashram” or celibate student training college. In other words I underwent the traditional brahminical training of a priest in India under the Gaudiya Vaishnava Sampradaya (lineage). This is Vishnu Bhakti as opposed to Shiva or Kali or any of the other manifestations of the demigods or devas. It’s not Buddhism although is related since Buddhism and its various offshoots all originate in the Vedic Sanskrit culture of ancient India. The practice may be similar though there may be some subtle differences of philosophical interpretation of reality. Altogether I spent the ten years solidly practicing and training among others in the ashram, some of the time in India and some back in my home town at the local ashram under senior teachers in the order.
And so it is very hard to impress me with esoteric insights because I have heard and trained under the real thing for a decade. I need to hear that you are repeating some information from an authoritative source, and not your mind because, as we know, the speculative mind is ironically often the obstacle to mindfulness.
Fortunately the ancient techniques for attaining mindfulness are still practised by temple and ashram students and monks today, and in order to rise above the mind, the ashram training was based on one secret technique to really maintain heightened mindfulness, and that was ROUTINE. Of course the details of the routine are also crucial, but the technique which worked for me and which is the most recommended for yogis, is to perform what is called in Sanskrit “sadhana” or a daily practice of a fixed routine.
It is, after all, the body/mind that will occasionally be overwhelmed by the lower modes of nature and fall into bad habits, like sloth or lethargy, just for example. But if one surrenders to a daily routine, then it allows for far less leeway in which the mind can make excuses to avoid the really important priority of life, namely one’s state of mindfulness or lack thereof.
The next ten years of daily “sadhana” were like military training but for the yogi. The primary part of the daily practice was the two hour “japa” meditation, which is the technique of using “mala” or chanting beads upon which to count while reciting the mantra softly to oneself. The string of 108 wooden beads on a string is a popular and common one among various traditional spiritual cultures, like Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim or Catholic. This is because it is an ancient technique from a previous time and because it works.
This is where speculation is thrown out of the window and tried and tested techniques are applied to directly train the mind and intelligence, in this case by capturing two of the five senses, namely the ear and the tongue as one recites and listens to your recitation of the mantra as it is repeated for the two hour meditation session. When so many diverse cultures all practice the same technique, despite hundreds of years, thousands of miles or volumes of books worth of difference in their details, it acts like confirmation that the technique is legitimate.
Besides that, timing is also everything in the subtle art of training to be a yogi and for using one’s life to raise consciousness via mindfulness. Nothing is random because life is a science as well as an art. The body/mind is a machine and functions at its best when steered according to the natural flow of life’s cycles. We all know how healthy it is to rise with the sun and retire to bed relatively early for best Circadian rhythm and good health. Well, the yoga tradition teaches that the best time for meditation is called the “Brahma muhurta”. A muhurta is a time slot in the 24 hour cycle of the day. Each muhurta is about 45mins long and they are all especially favored for various different practices in the daily routine.
The digestion, for example, is at its best when the sun is highest up in the sky, or between midday and 2pm. Therefore this is the best time according to Ayurveda, to take one’s main meal of the day. Well, for meditation the best time is 90 mins before sunrise onward. So as a result all monks would be obliged to wake up at 4am to begin the daily practice, seven days a week, all year long. That is the real standard practised by serious “sadhus”. And these are the kinds of techniques required to really rise above the pitfalls of the mind and evolve in the art and science of mindfulness.
Although I’m more relaxed and spontaneous now and not as rigorous in my practice, those ten years of solid training have instilled in me a foundation that will always be there upon which to evolve and grow still further in mindfulness and in self-realization or consciousness. So if you want to make a success of this human form of life and cultivate the mindfulness required to leave the body in a good state of consciousness at the end, then there is nothing more important than a daily routine of meditation practice, of whatever sort you are familiar with.
Personally though I recommend using sound vibration, even softly, to help harness the attention and the state of mind, lest it wonder. Some prefer silent meditation. It’s up to you, but meditate you must if you want to make progress. So good luck to you on the path of daily practice. Therein lies the key to endurance, and ultimately results. It’s not about being goal oriented, it’s about the daily practice in the moment because that’s all there is.
Mindful posts worth celebrating this week (Curation by @riverflows)
Vibration or frequency is affecting us on subtle scientifically measurable levels, just like certain barometric weather patterns can also sometimes make people feel uneasy, of electromagnetic static in the atmosphere before a lightning storm can make one feel irritable. It’s the frequencies around us, the vibration and pressure of the atmosphere. Life is a science and nothing happens out of context. Even our feelings of joy or distress can be affected by external circumstances without any knowledge thereof on our part.
Through life times, we have connected with lots and lots of people and we have had all sorts of relationships with them. Relationship of love, hatred, fear, anger, give and take and may be much more. We have had partakes with these people and those are getting carried across lifetime, never ending, never getting closed. The Energy of the past experiences have deeply rooted in the Energetic body and it keeps coming back because it has not been cleared. These energetic patterns keeps us stuck and makes us experience them again and again. Unless we are able to remove and release these blocks they will be stuck within us taking us through the same experiences. Energetically we have attached chords with these people and with the same pattern we also start attaching chords to other people where the experiences are similar and getting into a never ending loop. When you start attaching chords to other people or other people attach it with you, then you are almost mimicking them. That's the reason most of the time it is said, what you see in others is a reflection of your own self, your own character.
The theme of my meditation experience was definitely tranquility. I didn't set out with any set goal, just to be with breath and see if I could still my thoughts. Guided by the very accomplished @bewithbreath, we flowed from body scan into breathing meditation. It is at this point that I found what I really needed, a strong escape from my busy thoughts. Throughout the 10 -15 minutes of focusing on the breath flowing in and out of my nose, my mind drifted several times to thoughts that are stress triggers for me. But each time @bewithbreath seemed to have plugged into the collective unconscious, as his prompts to return focus to breath came just as my 'monkey mind' started to take over.The final 5 minutes of the breathing section flowed by in a complete stillness for me. That quiet mind feeling is like paradise, that's the most accurate way I can describe it. Especially with my day to day mind state being quite prone to stress and fight/flight reactions. When I find these brief times of nirvana, it is just that... nirvana. It's kind of like sleeping but with bodily awareness, nothingness within and without. The sound of passing buses, police sirens and all the city life just melting away.
And in other news...
There's been a few changes in the Discord channel for those who are in there. There's so many channels we thought it might be confusing, so we streamlined it a little. You can find your graphics under #freegraphics channel, but you might also notice the new banner below. Feel free to continue using the old one!
And don't forget we have group meditations on Wednesday and Saturdays. If you're interested, go check out @bewithbreath's blog or register your interest below. He usually sends a call out to remind us which is super appreciated.
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