Hidden Powers and Approaches to Meditation

Boy pouring water over meditation singing bowl

Finding your groove in meditation can be a bit like searching for a treasure in a darkened room.  The treasure holds the promise of greater inner-freedom however, and you’ll sift through less idyllic objects as you blindly sweep the floor with outstretched hands.

Fortunately, your search for the optimal meditation method can be distilled down to one of three primary categories. These categories range from the most passive to the most elaborate:

  1. Mindfulness.  In simple terms, mindfulness is the act of being fully present to whatever task, experience, or thought you happen to be having. This is one of the most recognized techniques because of its obvious universal application and ‘non-metaphysical’ demure.
  1. Self Reflection. Other techniques ask you to focus on a particular construct such as the fabled utterance “Aham-Brahmasmi” or “I am divinity itself.”  While the mantra itself possesses some potency, the real power of this method comes from the necessary self-reflection and the conviction that life is composed of more than ego-perspective.
  1. Kriya.  Kriya means a ‘method’ or ‘procedure’.  These procedures systematically blend various forms of imagery, colors, sounds, and associations to curate a particularly energetic and psychological reality in the practitioner.

    Unlike the universal approach of mindfulness, kriyas invoke a specific experience to suit the exact needs of the aspirant based on their current life circumstances and how they wish to evolve.  These practices, derived from tantra, are much more dynamic.

    One may presume that kriyas entail an element of “imagination” or “pretending” to tap into an alternate reality.  The more that I’ve studied and practiced yoga, the more I’ve come to see and appreciate it’s metaphysical perspective.

    The Universe has more dimensions than length, height, and width and the vast, vast, vast majority of it exists outside of the limited field of our senses. We only see .03 percent of that available light spectrum that emanates from the sun, as an example.  I’ve come to recognize kriya as a porthole into a pre-existing plane of existence, outside of conditioned existence.

Meditation to Increase Shakti is a simple example of this kind of kriya. It also is the consummate practice for our May Meditation Series. Shakti means power or force, she is the inherent and presiding force of manifestation itself.  Without Shakti, there would be no life.

Kriya then is the systematic method by which one can enter into the awareness of this presiding force. It invokes the living presence and power of Shakti and most sublime attributes.  With continued practice, the meditator gradually assumes these qualities.  

Just as every seed contains a unique kind of plant in it – be it an oak tree or a rose bush – different forms of meditation will breed and awaken a different visceral reality inside of you.  Despite their aura of universal spirituality, different meditations will awaken a unique attribute of your soul and psyche.

When choosing an optimal meditation method, the most important thing is to get started.  Reflect on which of these three is most appeals, seek guidance, and most importantly just get started. Any of these approaches will help you to see yourself more clearly and help you discern its unique value and attributes.

The Healing Mantra

Woman practicing a yoga pose

The rhythm of our culture has changed in response to COVID-crisis. For some, the mandated isolation has been the source of angst and others relished the chance to slow down. And we should also recognize the toll on human life across the globe, God rest their souls.

Personally, my response has been to offer a meditation class to the general public as a way of bringing peace and empowerment into people’s homes. As part of that class, we recite the mahamrityunjaya mantra, also known as “the healing mantra”.

For those who may have been attending the class, or those who may have an interest in the larger scope of yoga, I wanted to elaborate on the significance of the mantra.

Mahāmṛtañjaya Mantra
Om tryambakaṁ yajāmahe
sugandhim pūṣtivardhānam
urvārukamiva vandanān
mṛtyor mukśīya māmṛtāt

We worship Thee, oh sweet God of transcendental vision,
Giver of strength, who liberates from death.
May we be free from the bonds of death,
Like a ripe fruit dropping from the tree.
May we never again forget our immortal nature.

For the skeptic, it may seem a stretch that chanting would somehow translate into healing. How then does a mantra correspond to healing? Is it simply based on sentiment or are there other factors involved?

To answer this question, let us view the mantra from its indigenous perspective, which is very distinct from our modern, science-based world view.

Firstly, the healing mantra comes to us from a different time and paradigm quite unlike our own. In days gone past, people lived in the center of the natural world. They were much more attuned to her forces, rhythms, and currents.

Early yogis saw subtle, vibratory patterns woven into the fabric of the creation. These pre-manifest fields of energy are the preliminary force underlying Sanskrit mantras. Mantras are the vocal equivalent of these forces. Of course, they can be chanted silently as well. Through their recitation, our body and psyche align with these greater vibratory patterns. The resonance of the healing mantra is one of healing benediction.

“Its resonance is that of healing benediction.”

Secondly, mantras are embedded in mythology. In the case of the healing mantra, Lord Shiva, “God of transcendental vision”, rescues a teenage boy from a fated death and grants him immortality. The boy’s plight is not unlike our own. All of us are destined to pass, and yet, through the power of yoga, we can discover our immortal essence, the timeless atman or soul.

In India, as with many cultures, the lines between “mythology” and the material world are blurred. Parables, such as the origin of the healing mantra, are imbued with archetypal forces indelibly written in the hearts and minds of a culture. These stories are further brought to life by festivals and sacred places of pilgrimage – a living mythology you might say.

“These stories are further brought to life
By festivals and sacred places of pilgrimage.”

Thirdly, yogic wisdom places a premium on interior life; subjective experiences, particularly more expansive states of mind, have a validity unto themselves. Our felt-motivation behind our actions shape outcomes differently, even if it is the same action. Mom’s casserole, cooked with love, is much more satisfying than the store-bought variety, even if they are made with the exact same ingredients.

Similarly, our felt connection to or faith in the mantra will also shape its effectiveness. Some people readily embrace faith while others remain skeptical, which will result in different outcomes. Regular yoga practice, which may include mantra, increase one’s faith, either in themselves or the greater creation-equation.

In summary, yoga is an ancient system for total wellbeing and integration born out of the revelations of ancient sages who looked deeply into the patterns of nature and directly perceived the voice of mantra. Many of their discoveries and teachings were chronicled in the form of archetypal myths. In part, these myths come to life through faith and reverence. Mantras, such as the healing mantra, help us to attune to forces greater than our finite intellectual understanding.

Hatha Yoga Meditation Class
Taught from the serenity of my ‘yoga basement’ this class will emphasize the direct practice of tantric hatha yoga meditation, more so than theory or explanation.

Forty-minute class format:
– Intro and asana
– Candle lighting and Mahamritunjaya mantra (for personal and collective healing)
– Dedicated pranayama practice
– Guided meditation
– Closing mantra (Shantipath for peace)

Dates and Times and Location:
W/F | April 22nd to May 1st | 7:30am – 8:15am
Zoom link provided upon registration. = No charge =

Hope to see you there.

Yours in Peace,

Signature of the lead teacher for the Denver Yoga Underground.

REGISTER ON UNION

Repetition in Meditation

Visual representation of repetition in meditation

First, a word of thanks to all of those who extended their good wishes, food, and prayers after I broke my leg some three weeks ago.  I’m happy to say that the force of healing is alive within me and I make noticeable progress each day. In part, I attribute this healing to repetition in meditation.

As an offshoot of that healing process, I started to offer a free, online meditation course on Wednesday and Friday mornings, 7:30-8:10am. The class consists of a brief asana practice, opening mantra, followed by pranayama, then meditation proper, and a closing mantra. Admittedly, it starts abruptly to ensure we cover these synergistic practices. We don’t discuss theory so much as, well, just get started.

So, I want to give a little context and share one simple idea underlying our practice.  That is simply this, “repetition in meditation”. Repetition is integral to any discipline; whether it be learning the violin, fostering a loving relationship, or advancing spiritual growth. The journey of 1,000 begins with the first step.  And then the next step. And then the next step…. repetition.

There is a fairly well-known expression within meditation circles:

“Better to dig one deep well than many shallow holes.”

For this reason, the repetition in meditation technique I present remains the same for the remainder of the series. My hope is that we get enough of a footing on the method that it becomes a part of us – to give it a fair chance to positively shape the way we view ourselves and our world.

Adopting a single technique for forty days is a common benchmark to get acquainted with a technique.  After those forty days of repeated practice, you can adequately assess if you wish to continue, or not.  There is an overwhelming chance that you will see the benefit and want to continue, you will have seen the value of repetition in meditation.

At the same time, we live in a culture obsessed with variety, innovation, and distraction (largely for commercial purposes). Methodical repetition is antithetical to the pace of modern life (though that seems to be on hold for the moment). However, to develop mastery, or better yet, to develop mastery of your mind, body, and character it takes more than one try. With persistent effort, you will discover the benefit.  The meditation class is here to support you to develop that skill. Of course, I’d encourage you to practice outside of class as well.

“The beginner has many options, the master very few.”

The beginner has many options, the master very few.  As you develop your meditation practice, I invite you to embrace repetition.  Through repetition in meditation, gradually clear away the dust and grime that obscures the inner-mirror. This inner-mirror aids you to see yourself more clearly, to dismantle fear and anxiety and reflect greater peace and joy back upon you.  But it doesn’t all happen by itself, it requires repetition.

Dates & Times:

  • Present through May 1st, 2020
    (May extend depending on interest)
  • Wednesdays and Fridays, 7:30-8:10am.
  • Online Zoom entry-link provided with registration

= Free of Charge =

ADDITIONAL DETAILS HERE