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Where should the Mantra come from?

Mantra means - when we chant, when we repeat, when we contemplate, when we experience a mantra, then that mantra will release its energy and that energy protect us. That is called mantra. We all need protection in the external world. External world is full of different types of forces which are acting upon our psyche, acting upon our body and acting upon our systems continuously. If you see carefully, every minute different forces are acting upon us. There may be negative forces, there may be positive forces, there may be forces which are giving positive energy, and there may be forces which are draining away energy. So that prakrati, the nature, or the environment is continuously influencing our energy field either in a positive way or negative way. When we go to somebody, we experience that energy field.

In order to protect ourselves we chant mantra, say Gayatri Mantra. So from where the Gayatri mantra has to begin? From where? Smile! Then the Gayatri will express herself. So the Gayatri mantra starts with a beautiful smile, an innocent smile, the smile full of love, full of concern and full of feeling. If you smile like that, let me tell you it releases such powerful positive energy, that energy is going to cure all your diseases. You need not do anything. The smile itself will cure your mental, physical and spiritual problems. You need not chant Gayatri mantra or any other mantra. You find out whether you are really smiling from your heart and from your intellect. The receptionist will give that intellectual smile. Don’t get into that kind of smile. It has to come from within. Have you seen the great masters? When you go to a true master, he would never speak lengthy statements. He would ask only one or two questions, but will full of smile. A smile is enough to transform everything, only a smile nothing else.

I have seen families, on ordinary days they will be smiling but when a festival comes there is tension, anxiety, irritation and frustration – probably you will be expecting a lot of things from other people on these days and you will be under tension. On these days we require to perform puja and chant a number of mantra as taught by purohit. So on the festival days we are supposed to smile. Otherwise what are we celebrating the festival for? But only on that day, the smile disappears! Everybody is serious. We also start thinking why is this festival coming and bothering us? The mood of festivity disappears on the festival days. Of course now-a-days laughing clubs have come where people go in the morning and laugh for 10-15 minutes. When they come out of the field, they are again serious with everybody. It has become a ritual to them to go there, laugh, come back and be serious. Don’t be ritualistic in smiling, but smile from heart. Learn to smile, start smiling – this is the first lesson even before chanting any mantra.

With yogic fragrance
Sri Pattabhiram

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Can a child do yoga? (Part 2)

In last issue we discussed how Yoga can be taught to Children who belong to Standards I & II (i.e. for the age group of 5 –6). Now let’s see how to approach Children from Standards III to V.

Children in standards III to V are bit grown up, both physically and psychologically. We can slowly introduce yogic principles without directly imposing upon the young minds. Since yogic practices are very static in nature, children do not take to asanas with great enthusiasm in the beginning. They should be prepared first for it. The following sequence of gradual progress is found very effective:

(a) right attentive mood
(b) loosening up exercises
(c) moderate activities
(d) yogic practices.

Setting the mood: Right attentive mood is the ground for any deep learning. As the yoga class starts, the children either sit quietly in any meditative posture or lie down in Shavasana for some time. This slows down the activities of the children. This creates space in the mind. Then, as a second step, the children are asked to listen, without straining themselves, to all kinds of sound coming from outside. This indirectly improves the quality of attention. Then they are asked to watch, observe and feel what is going on within them. This makes them more observant about themselves.

Loosening up exercises: After the children settle down to an attentive mood, they are put through different loosening up exercises which involve all kinds of movements. The speed of movement is slowly increased to the maximum, maintained for some time and then decreased to the minimum. After each exercise, they stand in a very relaxed way, drop all the voluntary motor activities and watch the disturbed bio-rhythm and the raised metabolic activities like raised heart-beat, hard breathing, rapid blood circulation, increased temperature and so on. They not only observe but also experience how the dis-turbed rhythm comes back to normal homeostatic state. This observation and experience intensify their aspiration to know about their inner world more deeply – how they work, how the stamina can be improved etc.

Moderate exercises: After the brisk exercises, a medium speed exercise like Surya Namaskar is taken up. Here the children not only watch the lowered speed in the movement but also experience the rhythmic sequential movements of Surya Namaskar, staying in each position for some time. They see the difficulty of maintaining a position and how it creates a conflict between two aspects of the personality, viz. (1) desire to stay in the position; and (2) inability of the particular organs and various parts of the body to stay still. This observation develops in them an understanding about the shortcomings of various parts of the body, the subtle conflicts in new adaptations and how to cope with them. This intermediate stage is a stepping stone for asanas.

Yogic practices / Asanas: Usually asanas are misunderstood as exercises. There are distinctive differences between Asanas and exercises. We will see them in next issue.
With Yogic fragrance
Sri Pattabhiram.

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Questions on Spiritual Practice...

Q: I have heard that you should meditate facing the sun – East in the morning and West in the evening – but that facing North is the best. I feel unsure of the best direction to face for meditation. Can it be changed in the evening and morning, or should it always be the same?

A: While sitting in meditation in the morning and evening, facing East and West, respectively, is considered to be good, but for a true meditation, directions, do not mean much. Meditation is a technique that leads one beyond the sense of time, space, and causation, as well as the sense of direction. A comfortable and steady posture should be practiced regularly; it should not be changed again and again. Your seat should be a firm cushion or folded blanket. Sitting on a heard chair or the floor is not healthy in the long run.

Q: Is it helpful to have a mantra for meditation, and why? Can one use so ham or should he have his own mantra?

A: It is very helpful to have a mantra, for the mantra is a guide, and the mind spontaneously starts meditating on it. It is a necessary means in the journey that helps one to fathom the many subtle levels of consciousness. Breath awareness is important for making the mind one-pointed and inward, and you can coordinate so ham with your inhalation and exhalation if you want. Remembering your mantra according to the instructions given to you by your teacher is more helpful than any information you can gain through books.

Q: Can you explain how meditation is not just for Hindus? My family is very orthodox and thinks I have left the church. Are there passages in the Bible and in Jewish literature that refer to mediation as a sanctioned method of worship?

A: Meditation is for all human beings and not for Hindus only. It helps one gain control over the roving habits of the mind. For peace of mind and happiness, meditation is very beneficial. Meditation is not religious, and it does not op-pose any religion or church. In the Bible, it is said, "Be still, and know that I am God" (Psalm 46:10). To sit down in a calm and quiet place, steadily and comfortably, is called stilling the body. To calm down the breath is also necessary. These two preliminary steps help you to still the mind, and then center of consciousness will reveal itself to you.

Q: When one is stuck on a "blah plateau" in one’s practice and does not seem to be advancing, should he just wait it out, or are there methods he can use to progress further?

A: Sometimes it is natural for students to think that their progress is at a standstill. Patience and sincerity toward one’s practice are two essential and preliminary steps. Sometimes desires interfere and distract the mind. One should learn to watch one’s actions, speech, thoughts, emotions and desires; then there will be not obstacles.

Q: Is there such a thing as a healing prayer or a healing touch? What happens? Can anyone do it for anyone else? Is love all that is required? What is the "energy" they speak of as the healing power? How can we become healers, and can we heal ourselves? Are there special ways or should you just try your best and see?

A: All human beings are fully equipped with healing potential, and prayer definitely helps. With the help of prayer, one can heal oneself. If you are very selfless and have compassion for the people whom you want heal, they definitely will be benefited. Unconditional faith is one of the important qualities you should develop in your heart, and love is the mother of all energy and all healing powers. You are already healing yourselves, and when you become aware of this fact you become a self-healer. There are many methods of healing, but strong faith in God within is the highest of all.

Q: How can we repay our parents in terms of karma for all the good they have done for us?

A: Serving one’s parents is the only way to express one’s gratitude and repay our debts. Blessed are those who serve their parents and enjoy doing so.

(Excerpts from Inspired Thoughts of Swami Rama)

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"That which liberates you is true knowledge", declare the Upanishads.

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