Naturally In Harmony – Music for Spiritual Realization

natural living in harmony music spiritual realization2

Naturally, we are attracted to music. For many of us, it plays such a central role in our lives that we listen to it every day, throughout our day, and even while we sleep. Music has a powerful influence on our consciousness and can affect us in very beneficial ways. Many hospitals and healthcare centers nowadays are regularly using music to assist in the health and wellness of their patients. Certainly, our mind can be affected by music in a variety of desirable ways. However, the most beneficial way that we can use music is for spiritual realization.

The music that most of us listen to is made up entirely of material sound. Even nature sounds, like the sound of ocean waves or rain or songbirds chirping, are all material sounds. Although material sound vibrations can be used to create pleasant mental, emotional, and physical states, all these benefits are only temporary. They may help our mind and body to feel calm or happy or energized for a short period of time, but then the effect diminishes. We may listen again, but the desired effect still fades away. If we listen to a material sound or song all day every day, what tends to happen is that we grow tired of listening it.

The reason material sound only brings us temporary pleasure is because it just feeds the mind and body, which are also made of material energy. But we are not the mind and body. In fact, we are made of a completely different energy – spiritual energy.

According to the ancient yoga scriptures and other bona fide scriptures of the world, we are eternal spiritual beings only 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.

Because we are spiritual beings existing within material coverings, and within a world made up almost entirely of material energy, we tend to lose awareness of our spiritual nature. Our consciousness becomes covered by the misconception that we are material and that everything in existence is material also. In this condition, we fall asleep to our true spiritual nature and operate as if we actually are the material mind and body we are wearing. Our life becomes centered on taking care of these “clothes” and we become lost in this endeavor, like a dreamer becomes lost in a dream.

The mind and senses are always agitating for stimulation of some kind and so we are endlessly engaged in running here and there, trying to obtain this thing or that situation in a vain attempt to satisfy them. We do this under the misperception that by satisfying our mind and bodily senses, we will be satisfying our self. But, in fact, it has just the opposite effect. The more we focus our life on trying to appease the mind and senses, the more agitated they become. And, the more we buy into the misunderstanding that the clothes are us, the more empty, bewildered, frustrated, unhappy, and desperate we become. We will find ourselves doing all kinds of unhealthy things in an urgent attempt to pacify the increasing agitation, and in doing so, we drift further and further away from our true spiritual nature.

We become so caught up in chasing things outside of ourselves – in trying to obtain recognition and approval from others, external power and control, wealth, fame, sensual gratification, and whatever else it is that our mind and body agitate for – that we forget who we are and what is actually essential for us to live a rich, meaningful, and fully satisfying life. Without realizing who we truly are, it is impossible for us to know how to be actually happy and fulfilled.

So how can we realize our true nature?

When we look to the yoga scriptures, we find an answer that can easily be incorporated into some of our favorite activities – hearing, singing, and playing music.

The yoga scriptures recommend mantra meditation – meditation on sacred sounds – as the primary means for self-realization in this day and age. A 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.

These sacred yoga mantras can very easily be combined with music of all genres to create a musical meditation that is an incredibly potent and delightful way to practice meditation – alone or with others. Already we have a natural tendency to want to hear and play music, sing, dance, and engage in joyful activities with other people. By making mantra meditation the basis for these activities, they transcend the mundane and become a means by which participants can taste the sweetness of their true spiritual nature.

The more we practice mantra meditation, the more our consciousness becomes purified of material misunderstandings and misgivings. Practicing daily – with or without music – enables us to gradually awaken from the dream of the material self and into remembrance of our actual self. We all have innate spiritual inclinations and activities which become covered when we erroneously take ourselves to be the material mind and body. Through regular practice of mantra meditation, this mirage can eventually be seen for what it is and we are able to resume our natural way of life, in full awareness of our spiritual nature.

In this awakened state of consciousness, we revive our original loving relationship with the Supreme and it becomes very clear to us how to live our lives both happily and in harmony with all of life. In our natural state of consciousness, there is no confusion about what is to be done and what is not to be done. There is no struggle to find happiness or interact peaceably and honestly with others. There is no longer anything subverting our hearts, so we spontaneously relate with others in genuinely kind and caring ways.

We become the friend and well-wisher of all, endeavoring with unwavering compassion to give others the same opportunity that we were given –  to discover the Divine love song that will lead us back to our real self and our highest, happiest, most fulfilling life.

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

Kirtan

Japa Yoga

Gauranga Breathing

Spiritual Life is Happiness

 

spiritual life happiness natural living joyful

Everyone is looking for happiness. We base our lives – either directly or indirectly – upon what we are convinced will bring us the most happiness. The desire for happiness is an innate quality of every living being. It is inseparable from us. We simply cannot be satisfied without happiness. Our desire, our need, for real and lasting happiness is so strong that we will continue to look for it until we actually find it.

The way in which most of us have been trying to find happiness is through material means. And the reason why most of us do this is because we generally go through life believing that we are the material mind and body that we are temporarily wearing. When our mind and bodily senses are agitating for something, we try to fulfill them thinking that it will fulfill us, but it never actually does. Whatever relief or pleasure we experience is temporary, at best. Very soon, again, the mind and bodily senses are agitating for something else and we are constantly struggling to deal with these demands – hoping against hope that somehow we will find a way to fulfill them permanently. Thus, we ardently search for the profound happiness that we long for in material things, thoughts, and circumstances. When we give our entire heart, mind, and life over to the shiny hope of success in material life, we will be heart-broken over and over again, as we will not find fulfillment there, despite our arduous efforts.

Most of us live in a state of deep hunger for something vital that is missing from our lives. We search for it constantly, but finding it is impossible unless we have correct understanding of 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.

If we fully believe that we are the “clothes”, then we will mistakenly seek to satisfy our desire for happiness solely through trying to satisfy our material mind and body. We will try to fill our minds and physical senses with things and thoughts that are pleasing to us in some way, but will never actually be able to find more than temporary and superficial happiness. We cannot experience fulfillment in this way because these thoughts and things only feed our mind and body. They do not touch us – the spiritual self wearing the material coverings. We remain in a state of endless hunger. We can temporarily distract ourselves from the painful emptiness deep in the core of our being, but as soon as our distraction ends, awareness of the emptiness within us returns.

In order to be truly happy, truly satisfied, we need to look for happiness where it can actually be found – through the realization of our spiritual identity and the spiritual life that blossoms from this realization. We need  a process that will purify our consciousness of the material misconceptions we have erroneously taken on and reconnect us with our spiritual Source,  so we can experience the completely nourishing, deep joy of our true nature.

The only process that has the potency to do this is a bona fide spiritual process. If it is a material process that has simply been given a spiritual label and snazzy packaging, but it is not actually a process that comes directly from the Supreme for the purpose of spiritual realization, it will not be sufficient, nor satisfying. This is why it is wise to look to the bona fide scriptures of the world when we are seeking to realize the truth of our self. Material methods will not yield spiritual revelation. Only the method which is truly spiritual in nature will result in the uncovering and blossoming of our natural state of consciousness because our true nature is spiritual.

In the ancient yoga system, the recommended method for consciously linking up with our spiritual Source and cultivating the spiritual love and happiness that will completely fulfill us 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 linking up with the Supreme. This has a profound purifying effect on our consciousness.

Through yoga mantra meditation, we begin to taste the sweetness of spiritual happiness. And with sincere, daily practice, our minds and hearts are gradually purified of material misunderstandings, so that we are able to know in our heart of hearts the deeply fulfilling joy of our true nature and the loving relationship with the Supreme that is inseparable from it.

Spiritual realization is generally a gradual process, but even in the early stages, we begin to feel an incredible joy awakening and growing deep within us. As we continue to practice mantra meditation, sincerely following the guidance of bona fide scripture and learning from the words and lives of genuinely enlightened, saintly people, we experience this joy maturing and blossoming – along with an increasingly clear understanding of our spiritual essence, position, and function. Through yoga mantra meditation, our hearts and minds are freed from living in the illusion of the material perspective, and thus we can resume our naturally happy state of spiritual consciousness.

The true spiritual process takes us on a journey that is joyful from start to finish because the very nature of spiritual life is happiness. In the beginning, the happiness we experience is a tiny seed that we water daily and carefully nurture. If our consciousness is very covered, the seed may be very, very tiny – like the seed of a banyan tree – but it is unmistakably there within our heart of hearts. As the seed sprouts and flourishes, grows strong and tall, flowers and bares fruit, we will know happiness in ever new and wondrous ways. The transcendental happiness of full spiritual realization is something that completely surpasses the very highest happiness that can be had in any material mode of consciousness. The pure, unadulterated bliss of such a state is unfathomable by material means, but as our consciousness transforms and we are able to taste it even a little, it feels sweetly familiar because what we are tasting is our true nature increasingly revealed.

This is real spiritual life. It is never something we do to get something else. It is what we are. It is our natural state of being – our natural inclinations, activities, condition that we return to when we are purified of all that is artificial. Spiritual life is not only the way to happiness – it is happiness. It is pure joy. When we truly find our way into it, we will not give it up for anything because it is exactly what we have been searching for all our lives. We will know for certain that we have found it because we will no longer be searching.

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

Kirtan

Japa Yoga

Gauranga Breathing

 

Yoga Mantra Meditation – A Daily Spiritual Practice Anyone Can Keep

natural living mantra meditaton spiritual practice bliss long
The end of one year and the beginning of the next is traditionally a time to reflect on the current course of our lives and make any adjustments needed to steer us in the direction that we want to go. Unfortunately, what often happens with New Year’s resolutions is that we start out very enthusiastically pursuing our goals, then become bored, distracted, discouraged, and eventually give up altogether.

The same is often true with daily practices. We often find a practice we resonate with and sincerely feel will be of great benefit to us, but then when we actually attempt to practice it regularly, daily, we encounter difficulty and distraction. Our regular practice becomes less and less regular and eventually becomes just another listing on our to do list that we rarely, if ever, get to.

I can honestly say that with every other practice I have endeavored to keep up, this has been the case with me. I would start out very enthusiastic, then my attraction would decrease over time and I would eventually lose interest altogether.

But yoga mantra meditation has been different. It is the one practice I have not only been able to maintain daily for several years now, but the pleasure I experience in it steadily grows the more that I practice. This principle is explained in the yoga texts.

Material activities often start out somewhat sweet, then the more they are repeated, the more tasteless they become to us. We can observe this principle at work in our personal experiences of material things and activities. Take, for example, a song we hear that we really like – we experience pleasure in listening to it the first ten, twenty, however many times we listen, but after listening to it many times daily, we don’t like it so much. When there is no longer pleasure in listening to it, we usually stop listening. The same is true for any material activity or thing that is repeatedly experienced with little or no variation. After a short initial period of pleasure, the more frequently we experience it, the more quickly our pleasure will decrease.

We may still engage in material activities that have little or no pleasure for us because we are hoping that whatever pleasure we once felt will return – or because we feel these activities are necessary or valuable for some larger goal of happiness. However, if we think we can achieve the goal in some more attractive way, we will likely take the more attractive option.

With activities that are truly spiritual in nature the effect is opposite. Some of us have an immediate attraction to mantra meditation. Others do not have much of an attraction in the beginning. But in either case, the more frequently that we engage in this spiritual practice, the more our pleasure grows, as does our attraction. Mantra meditation actually becomes sweeter and sweeter the more that we engage in it because it is purifying our consciousness, thus allowing us to increasingly experience its innate sweetness and the natural pleasure that blossoms from it.

So why do material activities become more tasteless, and spiritual activities become more sweet, the more that we experience them?

Because material things and activities only stimulate the mind and physical senses – they do not actually touch us, the spiritual self that is wearing the material body. Only that which is of our same nature – spiritual – can actually bring us real and lasting happiness.

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.

Because material pleasure is superficial, we grow tired of it fairly quickly. It never actually brings us the deep happiness that we long for, so we are disappointed and grow bored or frustrated with it. However, when we come in contact with something that is truly spiritual, we will immediately experience nourishment from it. If our consciousness is very covered, we may not be very consciously aware of its nourishing affects on us. If our consciousness is less covered, then we will be more aware.

There is a good example of this increase in pleasure and attraction for mantra meditation in the story of my friend’s father. When he first encountered kirtan meditation, he says he was not very attracted to it, but he was very attracted to the food they were serving at the meditation. He would travel many miles to the closest kirtan gathering every week just for the food. But as he continued to attend the kirtan, his pleasure and attraction increased. He grew to love it and has now been very happily practicing kirtan for over forty years.

Because the mantras used in this type of yoga meditation are completely spiritual sound vibrations, they are naturally nourishing to us and also purify our consciousness of the material misconceptions and other artificiality that covers our minds and hearts. Thus, every time we hear or speak them, we experience a very deep level of comfort and pleasure that continues to grow.

There are other yoga practices that go well with mantra meditation and may be supportive of our practice, but there is nothing as supportive to mantra meditation practice as the practice itself. If you are endeavoring to begin a daily mantra meditation practice and encounter any challenges, know that the best thing you can do is to simply keep practicing every day in whatever capacity you are able. If you find one type of mantra meditation (Kirtan, Japa Yoga, or Gauranga Breathing) to be too difficult for you, then practice one of the other meditations that day. If you find chanting the mantra aloud to be too difficult on a given day, then just listen intently to mantra meditation music that day, allowing your mind and heart to simply rest in the sound.

Everything that we need to purify our consciousness of all that is unnatural and realize our true nature is contained within the hearing and repeating of these spiritual sound vibrations. A real 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. When we hear and chant or sing this spiritual sound, we are putting ourselves in the direct presence of the Supreme – thus reawakening us to our loving relationship with the Supreme and the deeply fulfilling, divine joy that is inseparable from it.

The motivation to continue practicing mantra meditation is the pleasure that we experience in it and so when our consciousness is purified to the degree that we are intensely experiencing this pleasure, then no other motivation is needed. When an activity is greatly pleasurable, we do not need an external motivator. We do it because it actually makes us happy. When we experience pure pleasure in mantra meditation, our meditation is no longer a practice, but a spontaneously joyful and completely natural expression of our unadulterated self.

This is what a daily spiritual practice is meant to be. It is meant to seamlessly transition us from a materially-oriented life of artificiality to a spiritually-oriented life of spontaneous, natural joy. Mantra meditation uncovers, awakens, develops our innate tendencies toward spiritual life so that we can experience the deeply fulfilling happiness and love that is our true nature.

 

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

Kirtan

Japa Yoga

Gauranga Breathing

Why Is It Important To Know My Essence?

In Parts 1 and 2 of What Is My Essence?, we discuss scriptural and practical evidence and also exercises to help us realize that we are neither the mind nor the body. Both the mind and body are made of material energy. But we are the spiritual self (atma) that inhabits the body for some time, then leaves it. The atma does not cease existing when the body is left behind. Rather, we continue on and take on a new body according to the condition of our consciousness.

Why is it important to know our essence?

Because who we know ourselves to be is the basis for all the choices we make in life.

If we mistakenly believe that we are the material body, then our entire life will be based upon this fallacy. We will look for happiness, love, meaning, and satisfaction based upon bodily identification and be continuously disappointed and unfulfilled – no matter how hard we try or how determined we may be or how many self-improvement classes we take or professional life coaches we hire. If we think that we are the body or the mind and this is our sole focus for improving our condition, we will discover time and time again that there is no lasting joy or actual satisfaction to be found there. We may find temporary or superficial happiness, but we will not find the deeply satisfying and lasting joy, purpose, peace, and love that we seek in our heart of hearts because it is simply not there on the material level. Material pleasures do not touch the soul, they only temporarily gratify the body and mind. Because we are the non-material self (spirit soul, atma) we can only be satisfied by that which is made of the same energy that we are – by that which is transcendental, or spiritual, in nature.

There are countless incidences of people throughout history with extraordinary material opulence (beauty, fame, power, wealth, etc.) that were extremely depressed and miserable – some even committed suicide. Even though they were successful on the material level, they were devoid of spiritual fulfillment, so they suffered intensely. And in today’s societies, even though many countries are far advanced in material opulence, the citizens are so empty inside that they are miserable, sick, depressed, anxious, addicted to legal and illegal intoxicants, engaging in violent behavior, destroying themselves, each other and the environment. Even people who put themselves forward as being “spiritually advanced,” if they are not actually understanding and applying the knowledge that they are not the material body, then they are still in misery trying to satisfy a thirst unquenchable through material means.

It is one’s actual condition of consciousness that determines whether a person is truly happy or truly miserable – truly full with joy or mostly anxious and fearful with intermittent, fleeting moments of pleasure. Again, who we know ourselves to be determines whether we pursue happiness through material means or through spiritual endeavor.

If we know ourselves by the mistaken belief that we are the body and mind, we will pursue happiness through the body and mind, even if we put a spiritual label on what we are doing.

If we know ourselves as eternal spirit souls only temporarily housed in the body and mind, we will automatically and naturally pursue happiness through actual spiritual endeavor, even if it appears to others that we are just ordinary persons living ordinary lives.

It is the consciousness of the person that makes the difference, not the externals, not the label.

This is why it is so very important to have a real understanding of who we are, of what our actual essence is. Even if we only have an intellectual understanding in the beginning, that is enough to start applying this knowledge to the choices we make.  And if we continue to apply this knowledge in ways which will deepen our understanding, we will then be able to go beyond an intellectual understanding to the level at which we are naturally living it, naturally and spontaneously making our choices from the solid platform of knowing ourselves as eternal spirit souls. This is obtainable by anyone for it is simply a realization of our own true nature – natural living is the truest sense of the words.

To make steady progress in this area, it is recommended to apply ourselves sincerely and humbly, following in the footsteps laid out by great self-realized, saintly persons and the instructions of bona fide scriptures.

In this day and age, the recommended path is very simple and anyone can begin simply by adding to their daily lives the practices of kirtan, japa yoga, and/or Gauranga Breathing. Because these meditations are so transcendentally potent, even a small amount of dedicated daily practice will enable a person to gradually realize their truest nature on the deepest levels and actually become happy and fulfilled.

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.