Who Is Krishna?

krsna n cow who is krishna natural living bhakti yoga

If we are interested in learning more about the yoga system, especially bhakti yoga, it is inevitable that we will begin hearing about Krishna. We will hear the name of Krishna being chanted or sung at kirtan meditations. We will hear about Krishna – and Krishna’s instructions to us – from yoga scripture, such as the Bhagavad-Gita. And we will see beautiful pictures of Krishna.

So, naturally, we will want to know – who is Krishna?

Although the name Krishna may be new to us, it is helpful for us to know that Krishna is not a stranger to us. He is actually the person who is closer to us than anyone else in existence. In fact, He is our closest relative and dearmost eternal Friend. He travels with us, in our heart, in every lifetime, in every body – giving us guidance and comfort. We may have forgotten Him, but He never forgets us, even for a moment. His love for us is absolutely unconditional, unwavering, indefatigable. He is always aware of us, of absolutely everything we are going through – and knows our heart, knows us, even better than we know our self. It is Krishna, our dear eternal Friend and well-wisher, who is constantly offering us opportunities to come back into full remembrance of our true spiritual nature, and thus experience real and lasting happiness, peace, fulfillment, and love.

Simply put, Krishna is God, the Supreme Person. He is our original Source and the foundation of our existence. In fact, He is the Source of every person and thing, all that is material and all that is spiritual. Everything animate and inanimate emanates from, and rests upon, Him. He alone has no other origin for He is the Original Cause of all causes. He is the Supreme Friend and Well-Wisher of all living beings. And He is the Supreme Controller, eternally.

Krishna who is known as Govinda is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He has an eternal blissful spiritual body. He is the origin of all. He has no other origin and He is the prime cause of all causes.” ~Śrī Brahmasaḿhitā 5.1

In the yoga scriptures it is explained that out of all the spiritual beings in existence, there is one being who is uniquely superior to all the other beings. He alone is Supreme and all others come from Him, and are dependent upon Him. Krishna is the Supreme Spiritual Being and all other living beings are subordinate to, and dependent upon, Krishna. He is the center and foundation of all life.

The Supreme Person has innumerable transcendental names, forms, and expansions, but Krishna is His original name and form – His supreme name and form. All other names and forms are contained within the name and form of Krishna.

So when we speak of Krishna, all the other names and forms of God are included. Govinda, Gopala, Rama, Narayana, Vishnu, Yahweh, Allah, Jehovah, and so on, are all included within the name and form of Krishna. We can relate with Him through any of His transcendental names, but the name Krishna is supreme and all-inclusive – and also the most intimate and endearing name – so Krishna is the name He is most often called in yoga, especially bhakti yoga. Similarly, we can relate with Him through any of His transcendental forms, but Krishna is His original and supreme form, His most intimate form. Thus, in bhakti yoga, we will see people relating with Him most often as Krishna.

As individual spiritual beings, we are a part of Krishna’s marginal spiritual potency. Although we are eternal spiritual beings, made of spiritual energy, we are always subordinate to the Supreme Spiritual Being. We are eternally individuals and eternally subordinate. The Supreme is always Supreme in every circumstance and situation. We can never become Him, or become superior to Him. Although we are spiritual in essence and have many of the same qualities as Krishna, we have these qualities in very minute quantities. We are always dependent upon and subordinate to the Supreme Person. Thus, we have a natural tendency to want to serve Him and be in harmony with Him. Doing so brings us immeasurable transcendental pleasure and satisfaction.

Our eternal relationship with Krishna is compared in the yoga scriptures to the sun globe and the particles of sunlight which emanate from the sun globe. The Supreme Person is like the sun globe, and each of us is like one of the innumerable, infinitesimal particles of sunlight which emanate from Him. As individual spiritual sparks, we are distinct from the Supreme and He is distinct from us – yet we are eternally, intimately related with each other.

This intimacy of relatedness between ourselves and the Supreme Person actually goes far beyond what can be intellectually grasped from this metaphor. The relationship between the sun globe and the particles of light emanating from the sun globe is impersonal. But the relationship between the Supreme Person and each and every one of us is absolutely personal – and the foundation and essence of these relationships is love.

When we speak of Krishna, we’re speaking of the perfect friend.” ~Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda Paramahamsa

Living in loving harmony with Krishna is our natural condition. When we are again linked up with Krishna in love, in yoga, we experience transcendental bliss (ananda). Yoga means to be united with, linked up with, the Supreme Person in a condition of pure love (bhakti).

When we begin hearing about Krishna, seeing pictures of Him, and hearing and singing His Names, our natural attraction for Krishna is awakened. Krishna literally means “the all-attractive Person.” As the origin, foundation, and center of our existence, as the dearmost, loving Friend of all, Krishna has a special, unique, eternal relationship with each and every one of us – with all living beings. It is this relationship with Krishna that draws us to Him, that inspires us to seek Him, even if we are not consciously aware of this attraction.

Often, in the material world, our attraction for Krishna is misdirected toward things and people of this world. So we may unconsciously look for Krishna, our eternal Friend, Lord, and Beloved, in relationships of this world. But because none of these things or other living beings are Krishna, we are never fully satisfied. However, when we come into contact with Krishna through His transcendental Names, forms, instructions, and devotees, our consciousness becomes purified – and thus we are able to awaken to the realization that it is Krishna who we have been seeking all along.

who is Krishna natural living symasundara-crop

This may be an immediate and very tangible awakening, or a subtle awakening that unfolds over many years, or even lifetimes – but the awakening is there. And because our attraction for Krishna is such a core aspect of our being, because it is so deeply pleasurable and nourishing, we follow this attraction. We consciously choose to put ourselves in environments where we can continue to see pictures of Krishna, to hear about Him, to hear His names, glories, and instructions – and to associate with others who are also knowingly attracted to Him.

When we do this, not only our attraction blossoms, but also our remembrance of Krishna, our relationship with Him, and our love for Him blossoms more and more. Directly, consciously, experiencing this loving relationship with Krishna is the perfection of happiness for the living being. There is no happiness higher than this anywhere, in all of existence. It is the Supreme Treasure of all treasures. The deep spiritual happiness of consciously, lovingly reconnecting, reuniting with our Supreme Friend is the nectar we long for within the very core of our being.

Out of His love for us, Krishna is constantly giving us opportunities to remember Him, and love Him again. For this day and age, the primary method that He gives us to reunite with Him is through hearing and chanting His transcendental Names. In yoga, this is called Mantra Meditation. These Names of God are not ordinary, mundane sound, but are, in fact, Krishna Himself appearing in the form of spiritual sound vibration. Krishna’s Names originate in the spiritual realm and descend to the material platform without losing any potency – having been handed down orally for countless centuries via an unbroken chain of bonafide spiritual masters.

O my Lord, Your Holy Name alone can render all benediction to living beings, and thus You have hundreds and millions of names like Krishna and Govinda. In these transcendental Names You have invested all Your transcendental energies. There are not even hard and fast rules for chanting these Names. O my Lord, out of kindness You enable us to easily approach You by Your Holy Names, but I am so unfortunate that I have no attraction for them.” ~Sri Śikṣāṣṭakam, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu

By first hearing Krishna’s Names through an authentic source, then repeating them, our dormant relationship of love with Krishna can eventually be fully re-established. Names which relate with Him in very intimate and endearing ways, such as Krishna, Gopala, Govinda, Rama, Madana-Mohana, Gauranga are especially potent in awakening the dormant love for God which resides within our heart of hearts. If we want to very deeply, intimately, and directly know who is Krishna, then the best and most essential method is through regularly, daily, hearing and chanting or singing these Names.

Although there are no hard and fast rules for hearing and chanting the Names of the Supreme Person, the most spiritually potent way of practicing yoga mantra meditation is through the congregational hearing and chanting of God’s Names – which is called kirtan or sankirtan. In kirtan, two or more people gather together to hear and chant or sing the Names aloud. Often a call and response format is used, and it is common for the chanting to be accompanied by musical instruments, and even dancing.

Not only is kirtan the most powerful way to awaken our loving remembrance of Krishna, but it is also very easy and fun for people of all ages and abilities to participate in. Naturally, people like to get together with friends and family, play music together, sing, and dance. When we dovetail these natural tendencies for the purpose of coming to know and love God, they become an immeasurably beneficial spiritual activity. Through kirtan, we can all help each other to reconnect with our Supreme Friend Krishna and become truly happy and fulfilled.

The yoga scriptures clearly state that it is only by coming in contact with Krishna’s Names, that our dormant love for Him can be fully awakened. And it is only through loving Krishna, that we can truly come to know Him – purely, directly, as He is.

who is krsna naturally living flute

I worship Govinda, the primeval Lord, round whose neck is swinging a garland of flowers beautified with the moon-locket, whose two hands are adorned with the flute and jeweled ornaments, who always revels in pastimes of love, whose graceful threefold-bending form of Śyāmasundara is eternally manifest.” ~Śrī Brahmasaḿhitā 5.31

For more on Krishna, I highly recommend the article Who Is Krishna by Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda Paramahamsa

And for videos, articles, and more on Kirtan, Bhakti Yoga, and related subjects, I highly recommend visiting: http://wisdom.yoga/

 

Returning to Our Natural Condition of Love Through Yoga

return-to-natural-condition-love-yoga-natural-living-woman-smiling-autumn-leaves-gauranga

Love is our deepest desire and highest aspiration. More than anything else, love is what makes us happy and peaceful, gives our life meaning and purpose, and inspires in us the greatest of qualities and capabilities. Nothing feels more deeply right, true, and joyful for us than when we are able to open our hearts and be genuinely kind and loving, merciful and tolerant, generous and forgiving with others. When we are able to be truly loving with others, we get a taste of our transcendental nature – our nature as spiritual beings.

Each of us is eternally an individual spiritual being, currently covered by layers of material energy.

In the yoga scriptures, it is explained that each of us is eternally an individual spiritual being, currently covered by layers of material energy. The gross physical body is like outer clothes. The mind (subtle body) is like under clothes. Although we are wearing these “clothes,” we are not them. They are just clothes. Just like the shirt, pants, and so on we are wearing at this moment are not us – they are just clothes. The mind and body are also just layers of material energy that we are using for some time, and will eventually discard. We are made of spiritual energy, and our “clothes,” our mind and body, are made of material energy.

Love is our essential nature because it is the essential nature of the Supreme Person. 

It is due to our nature as spiritual beings that we have such a strong desire and need both to love and be loved. Love is our essential nature because it is the essential nature of the Supreme Person. As tiny sparks of His spiritual energy, we are the same in essence as the Supreme Person and have many of His same qualities, but we have these qualities in minute quantities. We are not the Supreme, but we are made of His energies, and He is the foundation for our existence.

We have the inclination to love others – to be loving, kind, caring, compassionate – because this is an innate quality of the Supreme Person. The Supreme Person is the supreme source of love, the reservoir of love, the most loving Being in existence. His love for us, for all living entities, is absolute, eternal, unlimited, and unconditional. There is nothing we could ever do that could make Him not love us. Unconditional love is an inseparable quality of the Supreme Person. By His very nature, He is the eternal Friend and Well-Wisher of all. As we are made of His energies, we also have this innate quality to be unconditionally loving.

Even though unconditional love is natural for us, we rarely experience love in this way because we are currently not in our natural condition.

However, although the inclination to love unconditionally is there within our heart of hearts, we do not generally experience love unconditionally for all beings. Instead, our affection tends to wax and wane according to various external conditions. We may feel we love our family, but we do not feel this love for all families. Or we may feel we love our friend now, but if later this friend rejects or offends us, then this affection dissipates. Generally, we experience love in this world as being conditional. It comes and goes according to various factors. Although unconditional love is natural for us, we rarely experience love in this way because we are currently not in our natural condition.

Our innate spiritual tendency to love unconditionally has become suppressed, distorted, due to the ways we are conditioned by our material environment and materially-centered ways of living. Even though we are not our material mind and body, because we have become so closely identified with them, our consciousness has become altered. Even if intellectually and intuitively we recognize that we are not our bodies, habitually we live as if we are. We are very heavily influenced in our life by the mind and body we have – so much so that we cannot, by our own efforts, disentangle ourselves from this influence.

Material conditioning alters our consciousness in such a way that we cannot, solely by our own efforts, change it back to its original state.

The conditioning effect that material life has our consciousness is compared in yoga scripture with how milk becomes yogurt. When milk is conditioned in certain ways by bacteria, it becomes yogurt. Once the milk becomes yogurt, we cannot change it back into milk. Similarly, once our consciousness becomes conditioned by material life, it becomes altered in such a way that we cannot, by our own efforts, change it back to its original state.

This is why no matter how hard we try, we cannot, by our own efforts, cause ourselves to revert back to our original spiritual condition. And why – even though it is our true nature to love all beings unconditionally – we cannot, by our own efforts, cause ourselves to unconditionally love every person, all the time, in every circumstance. Sometimes we feel more loving, sometimes not very much, and sometimes not at all or even quite the opposite. This is the situation we are in. It does not mean we are bad or broken. It just means we are not in our natural condition – and almost no one here is.

But although our current condition is problematic, we are actually in a most fortunate position if we have the humility to recognize that we are not in our natural state – because this gives us the opportunity to do something about it. While it is true that we cannot return to our natural condition of spiritual consciousness solely by our own efforts, it is possible for us to do so through linking up with the Supreme Person.

Through consciously linking up with the Supreme Person, we can return to our original, unadulterated state of being.

Unlike us, the Supreme Person is not bound by material laws of nature. On the contrary, He is the original Law-Maker, the Cause of all causes. Although turning yogurt back into milk is not possible for us to do, it is easily within the power of the Supreme Person. And although returning to our original state of spiritual consciousness is not something we can do alone, it is possible through linking up with the Supreme Person.

In order to assist us in returning to our original state of consciousness – to our original joyful and unconditionally loving nature – the Supreme Person has given us the yoga system. Yoga is often misunderstood in modern times as a system of physical exercises to promote health and fitness. But, actually, yoga is a complete system of spiritual realization. The physical postures (asana) are only a minor aspect of the entire system and, although beneficial in many ways, are not an essential practice.

In the yoga system, the primary method for linking up with the Supreme Person is Mantra Meditation. 

For each age or yuga, there is a process given in the yoga system for returning to our original condition of spiritual consciousness. In the current age, the primary yogic method for spiritual realization is hearing and repeating the Names of the Supreme Person. In yoga, this is called Mantra Meditation.

The Names of the Supreme Person are not ordinary sound. They are the Supreme Person in the form of spiritual sound vibration. The Supreme Person appears in this world as His Names out of His love for us, and offers us this method of consciously linking up with Him. Whenever we hear, chant or sing the Names of the Supreme Person, we are relating directly with Him – and it is this intimate association with our Supreme Friend that purifies our consciousness of the influence of material nature. Through regular, daily, contact with the Supreme Person via His Names, our consciousness is gradually restored to its original condition. It is like the yogurt being turned back into milk.

Daily practice of Mantra Meditation gradually returns us to our natural condition of love.

Because material ways of thinking about our self and life have become very deeply ingrained within our consciousness, it is most beneficial to practice yoga Mantra Meditation daily. By doing so, our progress can become steady, and we will increasingly experience a dawning of genuine spiritual understanding and spiritual love.

As we gradually return to our natural condition of consciousness, we will actually experience love for others spontaneously growing within our hearts. It is not something we have to try to conjure up – or that we even have the ability to conjure up – it is simply the inherent result of our returning to our original, unadulterated state of being.

In our natural condition, we experience unwavering, unconditional love for the Supreme Person and for all beings. Not impersonal so-called love. But very personal, very real, deeply affectionate love for each and every living being. Motivated, moved, by this love, we are naturally compassionate, kind, tolerant, merciful, selfless, generous, forgiving, and so on. Our every thought, word, and action arises from this love, and our life is a glorious expression of love. This is spiritual love, purified love.

Although this extraordinary love may seem very far away from us at the moment, if we sincerely, humbly, apply ourselves to the process given to us by our Supreme Friend, we can and will find this sublime love growing within our own hearts and lives. By following the instructions of the Supreme Person, by practicing yoga Mantra Meditation daily, we will experience the most wonderful inner transformation. We will find more and more that love for others comes easily, joyfully, causelessly, of its own accord – that it fills the emptiness in our hearts with sweetness and light, and illuminates the lives of all it touches. Through following the path of yoga, we can return to our natural condition of love, and inspire others to do so, as well.

For information on specific types of yoga Mantra Meditation, simply click on the links below:

Kirtan

Japa Yoga

Gauranga Breathing

If you would like to learn yoga Mantra Meditation, I highly recommend this wonderful video class:

Yoga Mantra Meditation Class with Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda Paramahamsa

Knowing God As Our Best Friend

knowing God Best Friend Natural Living bhakti yoga woman lotus flower-crop2Everyone is searching for a best friend. We long to share our life with another person, to have the shelter, intimacy, and happiness of a close loving friendship. And so we spend our lives searching for the perfect person, the perfect friend. This longing for a best friend – to be engaged in a deeply loving relationship with another person – is common to us all because it originates from our eternal spiritual nature.

Every bonafide scripture in the world tells us that we are not material beings – but, rather, that we are eternal spiritual beings temporarily living within the material body. Both the gross physical body and the mind (subtle body) are layers of material energy that cover us, like clothes. As spiritual beings, we remain always distinct, separate, from our material coverings. Although we can become so enamored by our external trappings that we may erroneously take our self to be the material mind and body we are wearing, we never actually become them. This is simply a case of mistaken identity. We are constitutionally, eternally, spiritual.

As eternal spiritual beings, we long for a friendship that is also eternal and spiritual in nature. Specifically, we long for a loving friendship with the very source and foundation of our existence – the Supreme Person. God, the Supreme Person, is our closest relative and eternally our most intimate Friend. In truth, no one can be closer to us than Him. We come from Him, are made of His energies, and our very existence rests upon His existence. Our eternal relationship with Him is compared to the sun globe and the particles of sunlight which emanate from the sun globe. The Supreme Person is like the sun globe and each of us is like one of the innumerable, infinitesimal particles of sunlight which emanate from Him. As individual spiritual sparks, we are distinct from the Supreme and He is distinct from us – yet we are eternally, intimately related with each other.

This intimacy of relatedness between ourselves and the Supreme Person actually goes far beyond what can be intellectually grasped from this metaphor. The relationship between the sun globe and the particles of light emanating from the sun globe is impersonal. But the relationship between the Supreme Person and each and every one of us is absolutely personal – and the foundation and essence of these relationships is love.

Constitutionally, we are so intimately related with, and dependent upon, the Supreme Person that we cannot actually be separated from Him. However, we can – and do – fall into the illusion that we can live separately, independently, from Him when we come into this material world. The separation that occurs is not a factual separation – rather, it is a separation of consciousness. We have the experience of being estranged from the Supreme Person due to the clouded condition of our consciousness.

When we come into this material realm, we are immediately covered by layers of material energy. Our spiritual form is covered by a material form – a material mind and body – and our consciousness, our awareness, is covered by a thick fog of forgetfulness (avidya). Immersed in such unnatural and bewildering circumstances, we forget our spiritual nature and what our life was like before coming into this material dimension. And thus divorced from our true identity, we fully believe we are the material bodies we are wearing and define our life in these very limited and misconceived terms. We forget everything about our spiritual origins, including our Supreme Friend.

Although the Supreme Person is our closest relative, dearmost Friend, and the very Source and foundation for our existence, we forget Him. Sometimes we are so bewildered by the influence of our material environment, that we do not even acknowledge His existence. And even if we do acknowledge His existence, we forget what He is like. We do not remember His qualities, what He looks like, the sound of His voice, the beauty of His smile, what it feels like to be loving Him and to feel the sublime sweetness of His love for us. He is eternally our dearmost beloved Best Friend and our most intimate companion, yet we do not remember even the smallest details about Him.

Not only do we forget everything we know about Him and our eternal relationship with Him, but we fail even to see or sense His presence in our lives, in our very hearts – even though He is always there. Each person experiences this clouded condition of consciousness to different degrees, but, in general, our memory of the Supreme Person – and the vivid details of His form, character, qualities, pastimes, relationships, and so on – become lost. This is the immensely powerful covering influence which material nature has upon us.

However, even though our awareness becomes so thoroughly subverted by the influence of our material environment that we forget our spiritual identity and relationship with the Supreme Person, our original spiritual qualities and tendencies remain. They are covered, hidden, suppressed, dormant, but they are permanently situated in the core of our heart. In our heart of our hearts, we experience an unquenchable longing for our forgotten relationship of loving intimacy with our Supreme Friend – and it is this innate spiritual longing that inspires us to continue searching for this lost love until we find it.

When we try to satisfy our innate spiritual longing for the Supreme Person through relationships with other embodied spiritual sparks, we are frustrated, disappointed, and heart-broken time and time again, lifetime after lifetime. This is not to say that we cannot have sweet and genuinely affectionate friendships with other living beings – but if we are looking for the supreme spiritual love that we are longing for in our heart of hearts with anyone other than the Supreme Person, we will be inevitably disappointed. Even the sweetest, most kind and caring friendships we may be so fortunate to find in this world with other embodied beings, cannot satisfy our innate spiritual longing for loving relationship with our Supreme Friend. It is an altogether entirely different category of love and friendship than is possible with ordinary living beings.

So how can we recover our memory of our spiritual origins and revive our lost relationship of loving friendship with the Supreme Person?

Fortunately, our Supreme Friend knows our predicament and gives us invaluable instruction in the bonafide scriptures of the world. In the ancient yoga scriptures (the Vedas), in particular, we are given very clear, detailed, and practical directions that we can immediately begin applying to our lives in order to rectify our situation. We are told exactly how we can consciously link up again with the Supreme Person, realize our true nature, and actively cultivate a very tangible, personal, intimate, sweet and loving friendship with Him.

The method prescribed by the yoga scriptures for this day and age is called Mantra Meditation. Mantra Meditation is the hearing and repeating of the transcendental Names of the Supreme Person. This simple yet immeasurably potent yogic practice is the essence of all yoga practice. And it is the only means necessary to achieve full spiritual self-realization and God-realization in this modern age. It is completely accessible to people of all ages and abilities – and if we earnestly, faithfully engage regularly in this yoga practice, we are assured by the Supreme Person Himself of ultimate success.

Although the Names of the Supreme Person may, at first, seem like ordinary material sound vibrations, they are not. Rather, they are the Supreme Person directly appearing in this world in the form of pure spiritual sound vibration. The Supreme appears in this world as His Names in order to allow the living beings in this world the opportunity to remember Him – to consciously reconnect with Him and reawaken to our natural condition of conscious loving relationship with Him.

Through regularly, daily, welcoming Him into our hearts by hearing and repeating His Names, our consciousness gradually becomes purified of material influence. As the coverings of material forgetfulness that cloud our hearts and minds are steadily dissipated, our original spiritual condition is revealed more and more. We begin to remember our dearmost Supreme Friend and experience the familiar sweet joy of His presence in our hearts.

With this growing remembrance, naturally, we become happy in affectionately relating with Him, and eager to have Him fully back in our lives. This happiness and eagerness continues to increase in intensity and eventually blossoms into the most blissful, sublime, and wondrous of friendships. Our hearts are at last able find the complete rest, joy, fulfillment, and perfect friendship we have been longing for in loving relationship with our eternal Friend.

Existing in a state of deep and abiding love for the Supreme Person is our most natural condition. It is upon this foundation of spiritual love with the Supreme that our entire life becomes an expression of unconditional love, and all relationships we have with others become expansions of this love. When we consciously know and love the Supreme Person as our Best Friend, then naturally, we relate with  our spiritual siblings (all living beings) as friends. Thus, we gain, not only one lost Friend, but the ability to genuinely become a loving friend to all.

For more information on specific types of yoga Mantra Meditation, simply click on the links below:

Kirtan

Japa Yoga

Gauranga Breathing

The Yoga System – Divine Guidance For Our Happiest Life

 

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Naturally, if we are interested in spiritual life, we will be interested in receiving guidance from God. Obviously, there is no better person to guide us in our life than the Person who is the Supreme Source of our life, the very foundation of our existence. No one knows us in the way that the Supreme Person knows us, and no one loves as completely as He does. He is our Supreme Best Friend and eternal well-wisher. His love for us is unconditional and His ability to guide us in our absolute highest welfare is infallible. If we at all understand the nature of the Supreme Person, then it is easy for us to accept that He is the best Person for us to look to for the guidance that we need.

So how can we put ourselves in contact with the guidance of the Supreme?

We can do this through following the path of yoga. The system of yoga that is described in the Vedas is actually the direct instruction of the Supreme Person. It is His guidance for us, for all of humanity. It has been given to us, handed down through disciplic succession (parampara), and written down in a specific way to keep the knowledge intact and pure. The yoga system is a practical instruction manual for realizing our true nature and life’s highest purpose, given directly by the Supreme Source of all life. Moreover, it is a living instruction manual.

Inseparable from the instruction of the Supreme is the means by which these instructions can be personally realized and applied to our lives in the most intimate, meaningful, and practical of ways. It is not simply intellectual concepts, and it cannot be understood simply on an intellectual level. The instructions of the Supreme must be lived to be understood – they must be personally realized by us to be fully embraced. This is what it means to actually be divinely guided.

Placing ourselves under the care and guidance of Supreme Person involves being engaged in a real relationship with Him. We cannot truly understand His instructions if we have no understanding of Him. Blind following and mental speculation will not get us very far in the yoga system – their results are shallow, insincere, and do not lead to mature revelation. If we want to fully understand and apply the guidance of the Supreme Person, we must develop a close, personal relationship with Him. We must sincerely endeavor to have a loving friendship with Him. When we do this, when we actually come to know Him as our Friend and well-wisher, we will feel confident placing ourselves in His hands. Cultivating this loving friendship is the central activity of yoga.

God gives us many different ways of knowing Him, but the primary method in this day and age for cultivating a relationship of loving friendship with Him is through the hearing and repeating of the His transcendental Names. (In yoga, this is called Mantra Meditation.) In truth, we already and always have a relationship with the Supreme Person. He is our closest relative and Supreme Friend eternally. However, due to the strong influence of the material world, our awareness of our natural relationship with Him has become covered.

When we hear and chant or sing the transcendental Names of the Supreme Person, our consciousness becomes gradually purified of these material coverings – and thus, our awareness of our innate loving friendship with God can return. The Names of the Supreme are the Supreme Person Himself appearing in the form of spiritual sound vibration. The Supreme is always the Supreme regardless of how or where He chooses to appear. Thus, when God appears in this world as His Names, these Names remain purely spiritual in all circumstances. They are never diminished, influenced, or contaminated in any way upon coming into contact with matter. On the contrary, God’s Names have a purifying effect on the consciousness of all living beings who hear them.

Through sincerely hearing and chanting God’s Names – especially those Names that address Him in endearing ways, such as Gopala, Govinda, Rama, Madana Mohana – all that inhibits our remembrance of Him, or in any way dampens our love for Him, is dissipated. All the misguided beliefs, fears, misconceptions, and so on that we have taken on through living under the influence of material nature are eventually erased from our hearts. Thus, we can again become free to wholeheartedly love God, to resume our naturally loving relationship with Him as our dearmost, beloved Best Friend.

The more we come to know God in a close and loving way, the more we are able to realize the guidance that He makes available to us. When He sees that we are sincerely wanting a friendship with Him again, and are eager to hear and follow His instructions, He will support us in this. He will increasingly reveal Himself to us and give us the intelligence to correctly understand and follow His guidance. This will happen in exact proportion to our actual desire for this kind of relationship with Him. Inseparable from God’s unconditional love for us is His respect for our free will. God never forces His instructions, nor Himself, upon us. Rather, He offers us the opportunity to receive Him. He gives us the means by which we can remember Him, and hear, understand, and apply His instructions – but, ultimately, He leaves it up to us to choose whether or not we want to utilize the gifts that He offers us.

So, if we truly want our lives to be divinely guided – and thus experience the deep joy, peace, meaning, and fulfillment of being aligned with our highest path – then we will invite the Supreme into our lives, and into our hearts, by earnestly engaging in meditation upon His transcendental Names. We will hear and chant or sing His Names regularly, daily, as often as we can. By doing so, we put ourselves in the best position possible to directly realize the guidance that the Supreme Person gives us from within our own hearts – and also the guidance He gives us through authorized scripture (sastra) and the great self-realized, saintly persons.

The yoga system, itself, is divine guidance. It is God’s own perfect process of divine realization. Every time we engage in yoga Mantra Meditation, we are placing our self under the care and guidance of the Supreme Guide. There is no safer, happier, more sure path than being under His care. Irregardless of our current level of purity or piety – even if we feel ourselves to be very low and fallen – we can take shelter in the ability and the willingness of our Supreme Friend to guide and assist us into the full realization of our true nature and highest potential.

The most gigantic banyan tree begins its life as the tiniest of seeds. Similarly, when we sincerely invest any amount of daily effort in this yoga process, our investment will continue to grow over time, and eventually we will find a magnificent tree thriving where once there seemed only barren ground. Through yoga, we can return to our natural life of joy and harmony, of complete safety, peace, and love in the sweet embrace of our dearmost Friend. It is the path we were born to walk, the perfection of our existence, and the absolute fullest, highest, happiest expression of our being.

For more information on specific types of yoga Mantra Meditation, simply click on the links below:

Kirtan

Japa Yoga

Gauranga Breathing

Creating A More Compassionate World Through Yoga

As living beings, we have a natural desire both to love and be loved. This is an inseparable aspect of our true nature, our spiritual nature. This is why it feels so amazingly good and right in our hearts to be relating with others in a truly loving and compassionate way. And why it feels so horrible to be relating with others in a non-loving or hateful way. It is not that only some people are like this due to their character or upbringing. All living beings have this innate loving nature. We love to love and we love to be loved – this is what makes us happier than absolutely anything else.

However, when we come into this material world, we are immediately covered by layers of material energy and become forgetful of our true spiritual nature. Instead of knowing that we are eternal spiritual individuals only temporarily wearing the material mind and body like clothes, we believe we are the ”clothes.” Convinced we are material, we take the total reality to be only the tiny section of it that we can detect with our material mind and senses. Thus, we look for fulfillment, happiness, and love only within the limited realm of matter. We fight and compete endlessly with others over things we think we need to be happy, trying to fill our hearts with mental and physical objects of this world. But because we are spiritual beings, made of spiritual energy, none of it can fulfill us. Our hearts are left empty and cold. It is ironic that the very things we are fighting over so mercilessly with one another, can never actually make us happy. All that fighting just leads us further away from the happiness we seek, further into darkness and ignorance.

Because we are spiritual beings, we need to be consciously linked up with our spiritual source, the Supreme Person, to be fulfilled and revive our true loving nature. As parts and parcels of the Supreme, each of us (every living being) is a tiny spiritual spark of the Supreme. We have the same essence and many of the same qualities as the Supreme Person, but we have them in minute quantities. When we are intimately linked with the Supreme, our spiritual qualities are manifest – just like sparks within a fire glow with the heat and light of the fire. But when we leave the close association of the Supreme, these spiritual qualities fade – in the same way that sparks grow dark and cold when they leave the influence of the fire.

This conscious linking up with the Supreme Person is called yoga. Oftentimes people misunderstand yoga as the physical postures (asana) and breathing exercises (pranayama) that are just a small aspect of the complete yoga system. But, actually, the word yoga means “union” and specifically it refers to our natural condition of loving union with the Supreme Person. The yoga system is designed to return us to this natural condition in which we are linked up with God in such an intimate way that our heart, our mind, our entire being, are immersed in divine love – our love for the Supreme Person and His love for us. Our every thought, word, and action become expressions of pure unconditional love for all beings. A person who is established in perfect yoga is so completely and utterly full with love, that there is no room anywhere within his entire being for selfishness and greed. He literally is the embodiment of unwavering love and compassion for all.

This transcendental love is what we need in order to truly have harmonious relationships with each other. The conditional love that we have for our child, but not for the child of our enemy is not enough. Material so-called love that is here today and gone tomorrow, that comes and goes according to our current mental or physical connections with each other, is not enough. What we need is unconditional love – love that emanates from the very core of our being, from our spiritual nature, and motivates us to genuinely care about the welfare of every living being. It is this divine love – and the joy that comes of it – that can give us the determination to work and sacrifice as much as is necessary so that everyone can be benefitted in the highest way possible. Without real love for each other, it will be impossible for us to ever work together and sacrifice together in the ways are necessary for all of us to be happy. It is only love that can heal the hurt of the past and carry us into a brighter future.

The unconditional love that we so urgently need may seem very far away at the present moment, but actually the seed of this love is already there within our hearts. Due to our forgetfulness of our true spiritual nature and subsequent identification with matter, this seed is mostly dormant within the people of this world. But it can be awakened through the hearing and chanting of the transcendental Names of the Supreme Person.

The Names of the Supreme Person are no ordinary sound – they are the Supreme Person Himself in spiritual sound vibration. Out of His causeless love for all of us, the Supreme Person appears personally in this world as His Names in order to give us the opportunity to come back into full awareness of our original spiritual nature. Simply by hearing and chanting or singing God’s Names, we are putting ourselves in His direct presence. This has a profound purifying and enlivening effect on our consciousness. As our minds and hearts are purified of the influence of matter, our true spiritual nature shines forth more and more.

When we consciously link up with the Supreme Person through His Names, we again begin to manifest our true divine nature. Through hearing and chanting or singing His Names on a daily basis, we are able to revive our forgotten relationship of loving friendship with Him. And, as our hearts blossom with love for our Supreme Friend, this love naturally extends to all His children – to all living beings. God wants us to be happy. And He knows that we will only be truly happy when we are in our natural condition – when we are truly loving Him and loving all of our spiritual siblings. Motivated by this love and joy, we will naturally relate compassionately with others and use our life for the highest welfare of all.

In the yoga scriptures, it is explained that the hearing and chanting of God’s Names is the highest welfare work we can perform. Not only does it free us of material misconceptions and awaken unconditional love for the Supreme and all beings within our hearts, but it has this same effect on every living being who hears them. So by hearing and chanting the Names of the Supreme Person aloud so that others can hear – and by encouraging them to do this also – we are directly creating a more loving and compassionate world.

The happiness and harmony we long for in our heart of hearts is entirely possible. If we sincerely want a better life for ourselves and others, we will have the determination and make the effort to actively be part of the solution. We cannot just sit back and blame others for our problems or depend on others to fix them for us. The Supreme Person makes it very easy for all of us to take part in His perfect solution. All we need to do is be humble enough to take advantage of this immeasurable gift and earnestly apply ourselves. The more loving and compassionate world we desire begins with us.

In the yoga system, meditation upon the transcendental Names of the Supreme Person is called Mantra Meditation. For information on specific types of yoga Mantra Meditation, simply click on the links below:

Kirtan

Japa Yoga

Gauranga Breathing

Some nice quotes on Love and Compassion to inspire you:

“The day the power of love overrules the love of power, the world will know peace.” Mahatma Gandhi

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”   ― Martin Luther King Jr.

“We do not need guns and bombs to bring peace, we need love and compassion.”  ― Mother Teresa

When I say it’s you I like, I’m talking about that part of you that knows that life is far more than anything you can ever see or hear or touch. That deep part of you that allows you to stand for those things without which humankind cannot survive. Love that conquers hate, peace that rises triumphant over war, and justice that proves more powerful than greed.” ― Fred Rogers

“If someone thinks that peace and love are just a cliche that must have been left behind in the 60s, that’s a problem. Peace and love are eternal.” John Lennon

“The only thing we really have to work at in this life is how to manifest love.”    George Harrison

Living Naturally – What’s Karma Got To Do With It?

Live Naturally Happy Good Karma Beyond Karma is a term that is commonly used these days – but very few people have a true understanding of what it means and how it affects our lives.

So what it is karma? Karma means action – and when we refer to karmic action and reaction, we are specifically referring to action that is governed by the laws of material nature. According to these laws, every action undertaken in material consciousness will have an associated material fruit or result. As you sow, so shall you reap.

From a material standpoint, karmic action and results are seen as “good” or “bad.” If we have at least some understanding of the effects of karmic action, we may strive to engage in pious and charitable activities with the intention of reaping a desirable outcome – either in this life or in a future life. Similarly, we may try to avoid doing harm to others because we understand that whatever harm we do to others will result in us having to experience that same harm upon ourselves. Desirable action and effects are commonly referred to as “good karma” and undesirable as “bad karma.” Many of us strive to improve our current or future lives through karmic action. However, from a spiritual perspective, all karmic action and reactions are seen as undesirable.

Why?

Because the end result of engaging in karmic action is that we will remain in material consciousness – in the illusion that we are the body and mind that we are wearing – and so never actually be able to experience the complete fulfillment and pure joy of our true spiritual nature.

So how can we be free from karmic action and reaction?

There is only one way – through fully awakening to our true identity as spiritual beings. We must transition from our current level of materially-centered consciousness to a fully spiritually-centered one. To do this, we must understand what is material consciousness, what is spiritual consciousness, and what is the correct process for moving from one to the other.

Material consciousness is founded on the mistaken belief that I am material. In this condition, we believe that we are these temporary bodies we are wearing and also that we are the material mind that produces thoughts and emotions that urge us to engage in action.

The material mind and body can be compared to a set of clothes that we are wearing. The gross physical body is like outer clothes and the mind or subtle energy body is like under clothes. Just as we are not the clothes we are wearing, we are not the material bodies we are wearing either. We are the individual spiritual beings that temporarily reside within the mind and body.

But in material consciousness, we operate under the misconception that we are our body and mind. Thus, our actions are centered on satisfying our mind and physical senses. In this condition of mistaken identity, we are caught in an endless cycle of karmic action and reaction – inevitably experiencing tremendous suffering without ever be able to reach beyond the karmic cycle to where actual happiness and fulfillment are possible. We are compelled by the demands of our mind and body (that we think is us) to engage is both pious and impious actions and so are subjected to various degrees of suffering sprinkled with the occasional superficial and fleeting moments of material pleasure.

As long as we remain unaware of our true identity as spiritual beings only wearing the “clothes” of the mind and body, we cannot awaken to our true blissful and eternal nature. We simply move from one body to the next in a covered state of consciousness, like a sleepwalker in an endlessly uncomfortable series of dreams.

Spiritual consciousness is realization of our actual identity as eternal spiritual beings. It begins with awareness that we are not the material mind and body, but does not end there. After realizing who we are not, the next step is to realize who we are – our true essence, position, and function. We have talked in some depth about our true essence in earlier articles and will discuss position and function in future articles, but it must be understood that the realization being referred to is not just an intellectual understanding. It is good to have some intellectual understanding of who we are, but that is not direct realization. Intellectual understanding alone does not provide for a transformation of consciousness. For a transformation of consciousness to take place, we must be able to directly perceive the truth of who we are. It is not enough to just read about it – we must seriously and sincerely engage in a bona fide process of self-realization.

The yoga scriptures are very clear in their recommendation of mantra meditation as the process for self-realization in this day and age. Through sincere and regular practice of mantra meditation, we can gradually come into the direct realization of our true spiritual nature. In spiritual consciousness, we are no longer acting in any way whatsoever for the satisfaction of our mind and body. We fully know that we are not these coverings and so do not follow their directives. Instead, we follow the directives of our fully awakened spiritual heart.

In this state of fully awakened spiritual remembrance, we naturally seek only to benefit others – not so that we can prosper in any way, but because we truly love and care about them. Motivated purely by love, we seek to know and follow the highest directives, which are those of the Supreme Person. Our actions are not materially motivated, so they do not incur karmic reaction – “good” or “bad.” In this way, our consciousness becomes free from the influence of material action and reaction, free from the harsh and onerous demands of material nature. Thus, we at last come to rest, joyfully, in our spiritual nature.

Although mantra meditation is very simple, it has the potency to transition us from a materially-clouded consciousness to a fully purified, spiritual consciousness. A true mantra is not something anyone makes up. It is the Absolute Truth in sound vibration. This spiritual sound vibration descends from the spiritual platform to the material world without losing any of its potency. In mantra meditation, a person hears and chants or sings this spiritual sound and thus is directly relating with the Supreme.

Through this direct association with the Supreme, our natural spiritual inclinations and activities are gradually uncovered and we are eventually completely relieved of the unnatural influence of material nature. The more we associate with the Supreme through mantra meditation, the more we remember the deep happiness and fulfillment of this most essential relationship. It is like the sun rising within us. Our hearts become full with love, and our lives become full with golden warmth and vibrancy. Our actions naturally become filled with this spiritual radiance, which touches the lives and hearts of others, helping to bring us all back into our original state of harmony with the Supreme and so all of life.

In this way, we can become freed from the karmic cycle and thus live happily and naturally in the deepest sense of the words.

For more information on specific types of yoga Mantra Meditation, simply click on the links below:

Kirtan

Japa Yoga

Gauranga Breathing

 

The Joy of Clarity

Finding Clarity Natural Living meditation yoga woman river
We are constantly faced with choices throughout our lives. There are smaller choices like what flavor of jam to buy and larger choices like what will be the focus for our lives. Sometimes we can become so overwhelmed by the amount of choices we face, or the possible consequences of these choices, that we become confused and don’t know what to do. We want always to be making the choices which will lead us to happiness, peace, and fulfillment, but when our minds and hearts are so conflicted and bewildered that we cannot clearly see the best path, what can we do? How can gain the clarity we need to navigate the choices in our lives for the happiest possible outcome?

The key to success is in knowing who we are. If we know very clearly who we are, and thus what our true purpose is, we will naturally be able to discern what is the best and happiest path for us.

So who are we?

When asked to describe our self, most of us will immediately look to the features of our body and mind. I am a woman or a man, with this color hair and eyes, a particular body type, age, ethnicity, social class, economic status, and occupation. I am artistic, intellectual, clever, witty, energetic, ambitious, creative, generous, easygoing, passionate. But all of these labels are not who we really are. They may be characteristics of the mind and body that we currently possess – but they are not who we are.

According to the ancient yoga scriptures and other bona fide scriptures of the world, we are not the material body or the mind – we are eternal spiritual beings temporarily wearing the material mind and body. The gross physical body can be compared to outer clothes and the mind or subtle energy body can be compared to under clothes. Just as we are not the clothes we are wearing, we are not the material bodies we are wearing either.

When we erroneously take our self to be the body and mind that we are wearing, then we unknowingly put ourselves in a position of inevitable misunderstanding. We will believe that we are basing our choices upon who we are, but in actuality, we will be basing our choices on the “clothes” we are wearing. We will strive to fulfill the demands of our mind and senses, mistakenly thinking that this will bring us the deep and lasting happiness that we long for, but it never does. We may experience some superficial physical, mental or emotional pleasure, but it is fleeting, at best. It never lasts and never fills the emptiness in the core of our hearts. When the foundation which we base everything in our lives upon – our understanding of who we are –  is faulty, nothing about our lives can be rightly understood. So no matter how strenuously or diligently we strive for clarity, for happiness, for fulfillment, they will remain always just beyond our reach.

Because we are not the material mind and body, we cannot find true happiness and satisfaction in treating them as the foundation of our lives. This is not any more possible than treating the pants, shirt, underwear, etc. that we are wearing at this moment as the foundation of our lives.

In order to be permanently situated in happiness, we need to fully understand the actual foundation of our lives – our eternal identity as spiritual beings. We have innate spiritual tendencies and qualities, but they have become covered through misidentifying with the mind and body. By engaging in a genuine process of spiritual realization in direct association with our spiritual Source, our consciousness can become purified. As the material influence on our consciousness is dissipated, our true nature – our spiritual nature – becomes revealed.

In the ancient yoga system, the recommended method for spiritual realization and consciously linking up with our spiritual Source is mantra meditation. A true mantra is not something anyone makes up. It is the Absolute Truth in sound vibration. This spiritual sound vibration descends from the spiritual platform to the material world without losing any of its potency. In mantra meditation, a person hears and chants or sings this spiritual sound and thus is directly relating with the Supreme. This has a profound purifying effect on our consciousness.

Through mantra meditation, we begin to taste the sweetness of spiritual happiness – and with sincere, daily practice, our hearts and minds are gradually purified of material misconceptions. As it becomes increasingly clear to us who we are and thus what our true purpose is, it becomes increasingly simple for us to discern what is actually in our best interest and what is not. The clarity we gain through mantra meditation allows us to steadily navigate our life in a way which brings us into an ever greater and deeper state of happiness and fulfillment.

The confusion that comes from mistaking ourselves for the material mind and body can only be cleared completely through engaging in a bona fide method of spiritual realization. Although many different processes are employed in the whole of the ancient yoga system, mantra meditation is the most essential and recommended method for this day and age. It is the only yogic method of spiritual realization that is practical for people to follow in modern times because it is so simple and easily accessible to any person. We do not need to have any special qualifications or skills. Simply through engaging in mantra meditation daily, motivated by the sincere desire to realize our true nature, we will find ourselves steadily transitioning from the darkness of material confusion into the clear and joyful light of spiritual realization.

For more information on specific types of yoga Mantra Meditation, simply click on the links below:

Kirtan

Japa Yoga

Gauranga Breathing

 

Here are some quotes on Clarity to inspire you:

For me the greatest beauty always lies in the greatest clarity.
Gotthold Ephraim Lessing

That inner voice has both gentleness and clarity. So to get to authenticity, you really keep going down to the bone, to the honesty, and the inevitability of something.
Meredith Monk

In the kingdom of glass everything is transparent, and there is no place to hide a dark heart.
Vera Nazarian

When people will not weed their own minds, they are apt to be overrun by nettles.
Horace Walpole

Clarity is the most important thing. I can compare clarity to pruning in gardening. You know, you need to be clear. If you are not clear, nothing is going to happen. You have to be clear.
Diane von Furstenberg

 

Finding Real Happiness

be yourself natural living yoga wisdom

We are all searching for happiness. Every step we take, every choice we make, is with the hope or expectation that it will bring us happiness. There is never a time when we choose with the hope of finding suffering. Always, we are seeking happiness. It may be instantaneous happiness that we are focused on, or future happiness, but always we are wanting the end result of our efforts to be happiness.

Moreover, we are not just wanting a little bit of happiness here and there – happiness that is tepid and superficial. We are not just seeking happiness that lasts for a few moments, a few hours, or even a few years. We want happiness that completely satisfies us to the very core of our being and never fades away. We long to be immersed in happiness that is so all-encompassing that there is no way for us to fall out of it. What we truly desire is to be perfectly and permanently situated in happiness.

But how can we expect to find such happiness when we take instruction on happiness from those who do not know where to find it either. So many people want to instruct us on happiness – parents, relatives, teachers, friends, social network acquaintances, celebrities, advertisers – even our own minds want to instruct us on happiness. But who amongst them have actually found the pure and boundless happiness that we seek?

If we are sincerely wanting to know how to be established in real and lasting happiness, we need to look to the bona fide scriptures of the world. For it is in these scriptures, written by and about saintly persons who are actually permanently situated in perfect happiness, that we will find instructions on how we, too, can realize this level of perfection.

In the Vedic scriptures it is clearly explained that the reason we are constantly frustrated in our attempts to find perfect and permanent happiness is because we are looking in the wrong place for it. We are attempting to obtain this perfect and permanent happiness in terms of material objects and situations, but everything that is made of material energy, by nature, is imperfect and impermanent. All things material must come to an end sooner or later – even the bodies that we wear – so we can never find perfection and permanence through material objects or situations.

So then where can we find the happiness we are seeking?

To understand the answer to this question, we must first realize that we are not made of material energy. Our minds and bodies are made of material energy – but we are not our mind and body. We are eternal spiritual beings that are only temporarily wearing these coverings. The gross physical body can be compared to outer clothes and the mind or subtle energy body can be compared to under clothes. Just as we are not the clothes we are wearing, we are not the material bodies we are wearing either.

When we are convinced that we are the material “clothes” we are wearing, then we search for happiness and fulfillment within the material concept of life – within the realm of the material mind and physical senses. We relate to people, objects, situations, anything we encounter – even our own self – in terms of how they are perceived by our mind and physical senses. When we do this, we do not see or relate to anything as it is, rather, all that we encounter is reduced to that which is within the very limited and inherently flawed perception of the material mind and senses. In this distorted state of consciousness, we completely miss the actual purport of our existence. We do not experience the incredible richness and sublime sweetness of our true calling – and we cannot engage in life with the deep understanding, reverence, joy, and love that is possible when we are actually in full knowledge of our spiritual identity.  

If we want the life that we long for in our heart of hearts, then we must seek to understand ourselves in terms of our spiritual identity. We have innate spiritual tendencies and qualities, but they have become covered through living under the influence of material nature. By engaging in a genuine process of spiritual realization in direct association with our spiritual Source, our consciousness can become purified. As the material influence on our consciousness is dissipated, our true nature – our spiritual nature – becomes revealed.

In the ancient yoga system, the recommended method for spiritual realization and consciously linking up with our spiritual Source is mantra meditation. A true mantra is not something anyone makes up. It is the Absolute Truth in sound vibration. This spiritual sound vibration descends from the spiritual platform to the material world without losing any of its potency. In mantra meditation, a person hears and chants or sings this spiritual sound and thus is directly relating with the Supreme. This has a profound purifying effect on our consciousness.

Through mantra meditation, our hearts and minds are gradually purified of material misconceptions, and we are able to increasingly taste the divine sweetness of our true nature. With sincere, daily practice, materially-distorted perceptions gradually fall away and our inherent spiritual nature is revealed. The more we awaken to our spiritual identity and the loving relationship with the Supreme that is inseparable from it, the more we naturally return to an existence that is in complete harmony with all that is.

To be in complete harmony with the Absolute reality is our natural condition. When we are situated in our natural condition – perceiving, and relating to, all beings and all situations from the platform of fully realized spiritual consciousness – we not only are established in happiness, but we radiate it from our very core. It is only when our consciousness is entangled in material misconception that we are away from our true nature and so cannot experience this innate, radiant joy. However, when our consciousness becomes purified through mantra meditation, we are reunited with the Absolute truth and thus are re-situated in the boundless wonder, beauty, and pure unadulterated bliss of our being. This is real happiness – and it is our natural condition.

For more information on specific types of yoga Mantra Meditation, simply click on the links below:

Kirtan

Japa Yoga

Gauranga Breathing

Joyful Gauranga Breathing

gauranga breathing2

Gauranga Breathing is another type of yoga mantra meditation. Like kirtan and japa yoga, this meditation uses transcendental mantras to gradually purify your consciousness, allowing you to more and more experience the peace and joy of your natural condition, of your natural loving nature.

Gauranga Breathing can be done either alone or with others, as part of a daily practice and also whenever you are feeling anxious or disconnected and want to be more in a calm and connected state of mind and heart. The benefits of Gauranga Breathing increase and deepen with regular practice, but any amount of time you dedicate to practicing this beautiful meditation is invaluable in helping you to realize your true nature.

Sit comfortably in a chair or on a cushion, with your back supported if possible. If you can comfortably sit cross-legged, this is a good position for meditation – just make sure you are comfortable and your back is supported if you need the support. Close your eyes. Touch your thumb and index finger together and place the backs of your hands on your knees, palms facing upward. This is called chin mudra and it helps to relax the body.

Become aware of your breath. Breathe naturally, deeply, in a relaxed way without forcing the breath Draw your mind away from all other thoughts and focus on the feeling of the breath as it enters and leaves your body. When you find that your mind becomes distracted onto sounds or thoughts, don’t fight with the mind, just be aware that it has wandered and very gently bring it back to what you are doing.

On each outward breath, allow your body to relax. Feel relaxation spreading throughout your entire body as you breathe. You may, if you like, focus in your mind on relaxing each of your body parts, or just allow your body to relax as a whole.

The inward breath draws prana or chi into the body and rejuvenates you. Feel your entire body being rejuvenated, refreshed by the inward breath. Focus on the effect of the breath on your body, feeling it expanding with each inward breath, relaxing with each outward breath.

When you feel relaxed and your breathing is coming naturally and deeply, you are ready to begin the Gauranga meditation. (It is not totally necessary to do the pre-meditation breathing relaxation before you begin the Gauranga Meditation, but most people find it helpful.)

Now you will begin to meditate on the Gaur-ra-ang-ga mantra. Inhale deeply – and as you exhale,  chant/sing aloud “Gaur-ra-ang-ga” – drawing the mantra out over a long exhalation. Allow your mind to become fully immersed in the sound of the mantra, feeling the vibration throughout your body as you chant. Continue to feel this vibration as you inhale slowly, deeply. On the next exhale, again chant/sing aloud “Gaur-ra-ang-ga” – drawing the mantra out over a long exhalation. Repeat 10 – 20 times.

After you have stopped chanting the mantra, keep your eyes closed and be fully aware of your relaxed body, your calm and focused mind and the mantra resonating thoughout your entire being. The Gaur-ra-ang-ga mantra is the focus of your awareness and meditation.

To come out of the meditation, slowly open your eyes and bring your awareness to the feeling of peace and rejuvenation throughout your body, the feeling of calm and warm happiness in your heart. Continue breathing naturally, deeply. If you like, you can bring the palms of your hands together in prayer mudra (anjali) over your heart, allowing yourself to feel thankful for wonderful gifts of this meditation and the opportunity to recover your natural, joyful state of being.

I highly recommend watching this very short demonstration before you begin practicing: Gauranga Breathing Meditation video

Gauranga Breathing can be practiced anytime. It is very nice to practice first thing in the morning, helping to bring you into a relaxed, rejuvenated and connected state of being, which you can then reconnect to throughout the day. It is great to do after work and will help relax, rejuvenate, and center you after a stressful work day. It is calming to do before bedtime and will help you to de-stress, relax and have a more restful sleep. It is also an excellent way to end a physical/asana yoga session and many yoga practitioners do Gauranga Breathing meditation during or just after savasana pose.

Gauranga Breathing is a wonderful gift, freely available to any person with the willingness to accept and use it. May it help you to realize a more fulfilling and harmonious life – the life of freedom, love, meaning, harmony and joy that you long for in your heart of hearts.

P.S. You can also sing the Gauranga mantra to music or use it as a mantra for kirtan and japa yoga.

Deepening with Japa Yoga

Japa yoga natural living

Kirtan was my first introduction to mantra meditation and I was immediately attracted to it. Japa yoga was a practice I started about five or six months after I came to kirtan because it was so highly recommended. At first, it was pretty difficult for me to do. I had a hard time sitting and focusing my mind for any significant length of time. And often, I would start feeling very sleepy as I practiced the meditation.

Then a friend introduced me to walking while chanting japa (japa walks) and that was much easier for me. I would chant in rhythm to my arms and legs moving as I walked and that would keep my mind more focused on the mantra. It also helped motivate me to do it every day because walking every day was also something I wanted to do. I would wake up just before dawn and would walk into the golden light of the rising sun – feeling a golden light rising in my heart and mind as I walked. Regardless of the mood I started out in, I would almost always return refreshed and revitalized, happy and ready to face whatever tasks or challenges presented themselves for the day.

There were occasionally times when I could not go out walking, either because of rainy weather or injury or some other reason. On those days, I practiced japa while sitting and found it to be much easier than it had been when I first started. I had developed more control over my mind and also a taste for japa meditation through the japa walks and so it did not matter so much whether I was walking or sitting. In fact, I began to prefer sitting while chanting japa because it allowed me to go much deeper into the meditation. While I was walking, I would have to pay attention more to my surroundings in order to keep my body safe or would be distracted by people or things that I encountered. But when I practiced japa yoga at my house, sitting in solitude, I could completely relax into the sound and feel of the mantra as I chanted it. This opened up a whole new world for me. I began to have (and still do) the most amazing and joyfully sweet experiences while engaged in japa yoga and it keeps getting better and better. It is funny because it is the most simple meditation, yet over time, it has become one of the most profound  practices of my life. I practice every day – sick, well, busy, super busy, vacation, work, happy, sad, any condition and every condition.

I almost always wake up and chant japa first thing in the morning because I know if I wait until later, it is easier for other things to get in the way. I have never before been one of those people who gets up before the sun rises in order to meditate, but now I am one of those people. Not because it is easy, but because it is worth it. If you stick with it long enough, you will know this, too.

Here’s how to practice japa yoga meditation:

Using the mantra: Haribol Nitai-Gaur, Nitai-Gaur Haribol 

This meditation can best be practiced sitting in a comfortable position with your eyes closed, although some people prefer to walk along the beach or in a park.

Using a set of japa beads, the method is to repeat the mantra while holding or touching one bead at a time. Japa beads are a set of 108 small beads, plus one large bead (called the head bead). They can be purchased or you can make your own.

Take your set of japa beads and start with the first small bead on either side of the head bead. Hold it between the thumb and middle finger of your right hand. As you hold this bead, softly say the mantra and then move your fingers onto the next bead and repeat the mantra again. Remember to chant loud enough for your own ears to hear the mantra, and try to pronounce each syllable clearly. Continue chanting the mantra on each bead until you come back to the head bead. You have just completed one round of japa.

As you softly repeat each mantra try to keep your mind focused on the sound and gradually you will experience more control of your mind, as well as a welcoming sense of inner peacefulness and joy.

It is  recommended that you allocate a certain number of rounds to complete each day. Each round will take approximately four to five minutes to complete. Start with two to three rounds, then gradually increase the number of rounds to six or more as your ability to focus improves.

I chant japa for at least one hour every day. I find this is a good amount of time for me as I can steadily maintain it on a daily basis and have been able to do it for years now. Not struggling, but not super easy either with my very full schedule. Sometimes I chant more, but never less. It is good to start with a smaller amount of time – maybe 15 minutes and maintain it daily for at least a month. Chant longer if you like, but never less. Then gradually increase the time, but not for more than you can maintain realistically on a daily basis. Most important is that you be able to practice steadily and daily. After many months, you will likely find your sweet spot and will be able to maintain your daily time or number of rounds for years and hopefully for the rest of your life.

Whatever you do with your senses affects your consciousness. Therefore, the senses should be engaged in ways to help a person remember their real identity. Through japa yoga, the senses can be redirected and utilized to purify your mind and heart, thus helping you to realize  your natural, joyful state of being.