Santa Rosa Meditation Group

Experience the life enhancing benefits of a regular meditation practice

Inner Wisdom is Revealed

When the mind becomes still, inner wisdom opens and is revealed.
~Yogacharya Ellen Grace O'Brian

After as little as eight to ten weeks of daily meditation practice, we can begin to experience the benefits. Because we gain increasing control over the contents of the mind, stress diminishes and our ability to concentrate improves. We spend more time experiencing joy since we find this is our core state of being in the depth of meditation. The unexpected surprise is that we are more attuned the graceful arrival of deep insight and solutions to problems the previously eluded us. We experience the world as innately supportive feel a deep sense of freedom despite circumstances.

Use Your Own Map

Comparing oneself to others is like driving down a road trying to find your way while using a map from another city.
~Yogacharya Ellen Grace O'Brian 

We have all had experiences of comparing ourselves to others. We wonder why they have something we don't have, why they have accomplished something we haven't, or even thinking that they must be better meditators than we are. Yogacharya is telling us that we are all unique, with different ways of living our lives. Comparing ourselves to others isn't useful because we each have our own characteristics and our own experiences that shape us into who we are. We only cause ourselves suffering when we compare. We can't live someone else's life. We can't get to our goal using someone else's map. Our goal should be to live our lives as the best person we can be, in the highest way, using our own unique gifts and talents. Our meditation practice quiets our minds and allows us to experience the fullness of who we uniquely are, allowing us to then offer that out into the world with grace, joy and love.

Gain Frequent Bouts of Contentment

While we are training the mind to be still, we reap numerous benefits from our practice —our stress level is reduced, we become more peaceful, our ability to concentrate improves, and we notice more frequent bouts of contentment.
~Yogacharya Ellen Grace O'Brian (from her book The Jewel of Abundance: Finding Prosperity through the Ancient Wisdom of Yoga)

When we begin a daily meditation practice, it can be discouraging to notice for the first time how busy our mind wants to be. However, after as little as eight to ten weeks of daily practice for twenty minutes or more, we begin to reap the benefits. Our default mental state becomes more peaceful and it takes more external stress to knock us off balance. We notice thoughts of anger or fear as they arise and can more easily deflect our attention to a more positive place. One of the nicest benefits at this stage is enhanced intuition. We notice serendipitous little mental breakthroughs that open our consciousness to solutions we may have missed before meditation. We are on the path to contentment and freedom.

Everything We Do and Say

Every thought is a prayer. Every word is a blessing. Every action is a meditation. When daily meditation and conscious activity work together in our lives, the line that separates them disappears. Our life becomes our meditation
~Yogacharya Ellen Grace O'Brian (from Living for the Sake of the Soul ~ Ellen Grace O'Brian)

Our daily practice extends out from our meditation chair to everything that we do, say and think. This is the goal of meditation. Meditation and conscious living are key components to our well-being.  Our interactions with others—our way of being then comes from that place of peace and love at the core of our being. Our life is our meditation. It is all One.

The Glory of What Can Be

Gratitude comes when we let go. When we cease fighting what is, the glory of what can be emerges.
~Yogacharya Ellen Grace O'Brian

Often in our lives things don't go the way we planned or we wish things were different in some way. Maybe we wish that things in our past were different and if they were, our lives would be better now. Or we may think that if a circumstance or relationship were different  then we wouldn't be unhappy now. If we look at life from a grateful viewpoint, we can positively change our thinking. When we are able to do that, we let go of trying to fight something that we can't change and see the good around us we can more easily move into the flow of blessing, rather than fighting what is. Life is full of ups and downs and we can learn to align ourselves with the positive flow of the energy of the universe.

Inner Happiness

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Although happiness depends to some extent upon external conditions, it depends chiefly upon conditions of the inner mind. 
~Paramahansa Yogananda

Our daily habit of meditation gives us control over the contents of the mind. Just our practice of concentration - which precedes the peace of meditation - allows us to let thoughts fall away which are not useful. We bypass recrimination about past events and avoid wasting energy by worrying about the future. We gain the mental strength to retain equanimity when events do not go as planned, and can learn from this helpful feedback. In the depths of meditation we reach that true happiness which we call bliss and experience as our own inner nature.

In Remembrance of Roy Eugene Davis

Roy Eugene Davis 1931-2019

Roy Eugene Davis 1931-2019

An enlivening power is nurturing the Universe and we can learn to cooperate with it.
~Roy Eugene Davis

Roy Eugene Davis passed away on March 27, 2019.  He was the one of the last living direct disciples of Paramahansa Yogananda and was still teaching meditation and spiritual living principles up until a few days before he died. Read about the lineage of Kriya Yoga teachers here.  He taught for over sixty five years. He is also the revered teacher of Yogacharya Ellen Grace O'Brian who has been studying with him for over 40 years. He has been an inspiration for our work here in Santa Rosa. 

We dedicate this week's inspiration to this devoted teacher. 

"The highest good we can have includes enlightened spiritual awareness, psychological and physical well-being, harmonious relationships, prosperity, and circumstances that enable us to most easily accomplish purposes that are of value to us and to others and to the environment."  ~Roy Eugene Davis

Freedom from the Yoke of Attachment

Attachment is blinding; it lends an imaginary halo of attractiveness to the object of desire
~Paramahansa Yogananda

Our challenge is to use mental discipline and wise habits to escape attachment to the allure of objects and to the outcome of events. When we notice we are attracted to a material object, we can ask if acquiring it will satisfy ego or serve a higher good. The steady practice of meditation and attention to the results of actions in our own life can lead us to mastery of non-attachment. Not to be confused with lack of concern, this practice helps us separate our intentions from the outcome of our actions. If we carry out a task to the best of our ability and the results are as expected we easily see the benefit. If the results are not what we intended, life has presented us with an opportunity to learn. Over time we come to realize that we are not in control of outcomes but that our pure intentions are often rewarded. This practice leads to freedom from attachment.

One Transforming Moment

Sweep away negative and self-defeating thoughts with a conscious out-breath. Welcome happiness back into your heart and mind with a conscious in-breath. It only takes a moment. One transforming moment.
~Yogacharya Ellen Grace O'Brian

Using the technique of observing our breath we become aware of how the breath is a powerful tool to help us in calming our thoughts and clarifying the mind. We always have this tool with us. When we are going about our daily life and we notice moments when we are becoming anxious or angry, before reacting, we can take just one conscious breath. We can touch that place of happiness within us. This is how we learn to control our thoughts, rather than have them control us. We can be transformed in just one moment.

The Radiance of Life

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Want to feel radiantly alive? See the miracle of your life unfolding right now.
~Yogacharya Ellen Grace O'Brian

Spring is such a wonderful reminder of the radiance of life. We see it all around us as nature wakes up from its winter slumber. We see it in the flowers bursting into bloom, in the radiance of the daffodils greeting us each day. We hear it through the birds singing their sweet songs. Each day as we look around, we can offer gratitude for this life unfolding. Each day even if we think there is only gloom in our life, we can be grateful for the air that we breathe, for the sunshine that nurtures life around us and for the beauty that is nature. Our meditation practice calms our minds and allows us to slow down and see those miracles. That is the miracle of our life and it is unfolding all around us and within us.

The Joy of Meditation

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When you sit in the silence of deep meditation, joy bubbles up from within, roused by no other stimulus. The joy of meditation is overwhelming.
~Paramahansa Yogananda

Meditation brings many levels of benefits. When we begin meditating, we learn to become more aware of the the contents of our mind. We watch unhelpful thoughts or emotions arise and fall away. As we persist, we find a new kind of rest in meditation as thoughts are stilled. Beyond thought we discover that our underlying inner state is joy. We find that we can touch up on this during normal activity with just one conscious breath. Persist in your meditation practice and discover that your own nature is joy itself.

Four Stages of Meditation

Meditation is easy and natural. We can make it difficult by trying too hard, having unrealistic expectations, or approaching it haphazardly, but at its core, meditation is simply being awake and aware—mindful.
~Yogacharya Ellen Grace O'Brian (from The Jewel of Abundance: Finding Prosperity through the Ancient Wisdom of Yoga)

For those who are new to meditation or even if we have been meditating for a while, it is good to remind ourselves that meditation is a natural state of consciousness that we have all experienced. The tools and techniques that we learn help us to create the conditions for meditation to happen, just as we create the conditions for sleep to happen.  It is good to remember the four stages of meditation practice: 
Foster- Create an inner and outer environment that is conducive for meditation to occur. First, find a quiet private space. Then, with an upright posture so that we can remain awake and aware of what is happening, we become aware of the breath and we internalize our attention.
Focus- Use a technique such as focusing on the breath or a mantra to focus our attention on a single point.
Flow - We allow ourselves to let go as we move into the flow of meditation.
Finish - We end our meditation consciously taking a few moments to feel the peace we have experienced in our bodies and our minds.  We take a few moments to have appreciation for this time of renewal and to send this peaceful energy out into our day and to others.
(adapted from The Jewel of Abundance: Finding Prosperity through the Ancient Wisdom of Yoga by Ellen Grace O'Brian)
These four stages are the foundation of our meditation practice and will support us in letting go of expectations of what happens when we sit and opens us up to to the awareness of the benevolent power of the universe. 

Listen to Your Intuition

Meditate on your intuitive ability. Where does it come from?
~Yogacharya Ellen Grace O'Brian

This is one of the great gifts of meditation, our intuitive ability. We quiet our minds in our daily practice. Even after a few weeks of regular meditation practice, the quietness of the mind continues into the rest of our day. When the thought waves are calmed, our deeper knowing, our awareness of our intuition becomes more acute. As we get used to observing our minds we begin to trust our intuition more and more. That inner knowing guides us into doing the right thing, saying the right thing or maybe not saying anything when it is appropriate. Decisions that we need to make are guided in the right direction. Listen when you hear that still small voice. It is quiet and it is powerful. Listen and be guided.

Stillness of the Mind

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Stillness of the breath is stillness of the mind.
~Yogacharya Ellen Grace O'Brian

Our primary practice as we sit to meditate is to focus on the breath. This helps us direct attention inward and provides a single point of focus. It becomes easier to overcome distractions from thoughts, sounds and sensations. As we sit the breath slows and when our attention becomes entirely focused we move from concentration to meditation. The mind grows quiet and the breath can become very still. We can reach freedom from the tyranny of mind.

Intend To Be Grateful

Fault-finding can be a habit, but so can approaching life with gratitude. We need only intend to be grateful and then train ourselves to look for the good. Soon, we notice more to be thankful for.
~Yogacharya Ellen Grace O'Brian 

The practice of gratitude supports us in leading a life that is content, peaceful and filled with joy.  It is easy to find fault with ourselves, with others or with situations. Our daily practice of meditation teaches us to observe our mind. When we notice those negative thoughts or maybe we are around people who are complaining about something, we can notice what we are feeling. When we notice negative thoughts, we can pause and decide to change our thoughts. When we notice fault finding, we can change those thoughts by looking at what we are finding fault with and either find something to be grateful for in that situation or person or turn our thoughts to something completely different and be grateful for that. As we do that more and more it becomes a habit. We begin to feel better about our life and those around us. Intend to be grateful. 

We Are Not Defined by Situations

Situations don’t define us. We define them.
~Yogacharya Ellen Grace O'Brian 

After we have been meditating regularly for a while, we acquire a good deal of control over the contents of our mind. First we become aware of the thoughts that arise and fall away, then we are able to choose those we nurture. We can look at life in a more positive way, choosing to define how we want our life to be.  This is the path to freedom.

The Flow of Meditation

Meditation is easy and natural. We can make it difficult by trying too hard, having unrealistic expectations, or approaching it haphazardly, but at its core, meditation is simply being awake and aware — mindful.
~Yogacharya Ellen Grace O'Brian from The Jewel of Abundance:Finding Prosperity Through the Ancient Wisdom of Yoga.

We often hear students say that they are frustrated with their practice because they can't seem to turn off the thoughts. Others may ask what is meditation supposed to feel like. Many think that they can't meditate because of the myriad thoughts that keep them distracted while they are sitting and they quit trying. As we sit in meditation on a regular basis and stay alert and aware, we begin to notice that we don't need to struggle to keep our attention on our point of focus. Watch for the shift from concentration into meditation. Yogacharya O'Brian tells us "When attention becomes steady, it begins to flow; no effort is required to hold it on point....Awareness flows, and expands, in a steady stream. It is peaceful and effortless." 

Our Life Becomes Our Meditation

When daily meditation and conscious activity work together in our lives, the line that separates them grows thin. Our life becomes our meditation.
~Yogacharya Ellen Grace O'Brian

The choices we make during the day influence our meditation practice and our practice is reflected in our life experience. We can harness the tools of discipline and focused intentionality to improve both and benefit from this virtuous cycle. Life becomes more fulfilling as we curb the randomness of unconscious desire with joyful choice.

Cultivate Your Inner Fire

Daily meditation builds an inner fire of spiritual energy that grows stronger as it is tended. This inner fire burns away the dross of laziness, restlessness, and confusion.
~Yogacharya Ellen Grace O'Brian

Our life energy grows stronger with our daily practice of meditation. We are guided to do, think and speak in ways that are supportive of our own lives and to the lives of those around us. We feel better about our life. Our inner peace and contentment grows and radiates out from us.  Positive people and circumstances will be attracted to us. We are more positively energized and are able to cope more easily with life's difficulties. Our laziness, restlessness and confusion fall away. Look around you and become more conscious of the positive effects of your meditation practice. Enjoy!

Cultivate Awareness of Joy

When cultivating awareness of joy becomes a regular practice, joy will arise later in the day on its own. Like rays of the sun breaking through the clouds, you’ll find joy shining through your heart and your mind, radiating through your smile.
~Yogacharya Ellen Grace O'Brian

Our essential nature is joy, and a regular meditation practice can provide access to this joy when we meditate daily for as little as eight to ten weeks. We begin with short glimpses of peaceful joy and as time goes on we can return to this with just one conscious breath. Let your consciousness expand with gratitude and joy throughout the day because like attracts like. Don't waste your energy dwelling in the negative. Live in joy and share that with others.