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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