(please see previous article, ABC’s of meditation, ch5, part 1.)
CHAPTER FIVE, Part 2
THE ABC’S OF MEDITATION
How Long to Meditate
Establish the amount of time you want to meditate and stay there for that time. In the beginning ten or fifteen minutes is enough. The better you get at it, the longer you can make your meditation time. Never push it, though. Increase gradually as you feel ready. Remember that it often takes a while to get ‘warmed up’- to calm your mind down before you can actually meditate. This is another reason why the early morning is better. When you come right from sleep there is much less activity going on in your mind.
Don’t eat before meditating. If you meditate on an empty stomach, your meditation will be much better. If you eat beforehand your system is so busy digesting your food that you will feel very heavy. If you are really hungry, have something very light to sustain you until your meditation is over.
If you follow these basic ABCs, the quality of your meditation will increase. Of course, you can build up these steps one by one until you incorporate them all into your daily practice. I guarantee that you will notice an improvement every day if you follow any of these steps. The most important thing is to remember is to have a set place, a set time (morning and evening) and to be regular. As in anything that brings results, willingness, regularity, discipline and determination are the keys.
The beauty of meditation is that it gives you the capacity to develop these very qualities the more you do it. The determination and discipline you acquire, or increase will spill over into all the other endeavours in your life. Meditation will help you reacquaint yourself with your higher self if you have lost touch. All your latent talents will surface, and you may find yourself being amazed at what you can accomplish.
When I first started meditating, I wanted to be an actress. It didn’t take me long to realize that it would not be a good profession for me to enter into at that time. But the love of entertaining never left me. And about a year after I started meditating, I wrote, directed and produced two full-blown musical comedies all about the spiritual life. They mirrored my own experiences as a beginner in meditation. All the performers, musicians and collaborators were my meditation friends in the Centre I had joined under Sri Chinmoy’s direction.
We were in Ottawa, Canada, but we wanted to perform it for Sri Chinmoy himself in New York, since I felt he was the inspiration behind it. He and about 500 people from our American, Canadian and European centres watched the performances. It gave everybody tremendous joy, and they could identify with the story. It told of yearning for something more in life, finding others to share it with, joining a group and not being sure if you are going in the right direction, being pulled at and scoffed at by others who don’t understand what you’re going through, trying to understand the changes that are going on inside you, and finally coming to terms with the fact that it was indeed the spiritual life you wanted. In fact, the play was called ‘It’s the Spiritual Life for Me’.
I was so grateful that I could make so many people happy. Sri Chinmoy told me as he very sweetly handed me a huge trophy for my efforts, “When you make me and my spiritual children laugh, you send me into heaven.” Well, it was mutual!
For the first four years that I was in the Sri Chinmoy Centre I was in university. I studied hard and eventually got two degrees and became eligible to be a teacher at the elementary, preschool or junior high levels. Just after graduation Sri Chinmoy asked me and my husband if we would like to be in charge of a meditation centre. We felt confident we could do it and with nothing but faith, we moved to a new province and city, Montreal.
When one is in such a new situation, it requires tremendous faith to adjust to finding a place to live, a new job, and the task of setting up an organization for which you will be responsible. After four years of meditation, my faith in my teacher and in myself had increased so much that I felt confident that everything would work out. And it did. I found a job in a field I wasn’t even trained for but got because of my degrees – English and Education. I learned a whole new field- teaching English as a Second Language. This offered me a very viable future in a province where the majority of the people don’t speak English but might need to for job opportunities and other reasons.
I never lost my love of children and entertaining, and on a whim decide to learn to be a ventriloquist. This was something I’d always wanted to do as a kid. I got some puppets, learned from a book and for many years I entertained children as a ventriloquist. I even started my own birthday party service from an idea I had as an intuitive flash while meditating one day.
Through meditation I discovered a wellspring of ideas and inspirations waiting to flow out into my life. This book is also an idea I got while meditating. After many years of teaching meditation classes and seeing how successful Sri Chinmoy’s techniques have been in helping people to lead better lives, I wanted to make them accessible to everyone.