Santa Rosa Meditation Group

Experience the life enhancing benefits of a regular meditation practice

Live Each Moment Completely

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Live each moment completely and the future will take care of itself. Fully enjoy the wonder and beauty of each moment.
~Paramahansa Yogananda

This advice from Yogananda does not advocate an indulgent approach to life, but is based on this powerful truth: when we live mindfully and make rightly guided decisions, we act in harmony with all of life. Fear of the future and regret about the past can fall away. Our daily meditation practice gives us the tools to let thoughts arise and fall away which are not useful. We can come to live in the joy which is our true inner nature and enjoy the freedom of a peaceful life.

Be a Part of the Universal Good

There is a great universal good now unfolding, and you are a part of it. Everyone is.
~Yogacharya Ellen Grace O'Brian

In this day and age when we are bombarded with bad news, divisive news and angry news we think that is all there is going on in this world. But there is so much more good in the world. We can each accept our responsibility to be a part of the universal good. We can each be attentive to small kindnesses that we receive and to offer those small kindnesses ourselves, each day. Our regular meditation practice calms our minds and opens our hearts to the good all around us. Poet Danusha Lameris said "What if they (small kindnesses) are the true dwelling of the holy, these fleeting temples we make together when we say 'Here have my seat.' 'Go ahead, you first.' 'I like your hat."*
Be attentive. You are a part of the universal good.

*Lameris, Danusha, Moons of August, Autumn House 2014

Rest in the Heart of Stillness

Notice the way attention moves from thought to thought and sometimes, in-between thoughts, comes to rest in the heart. Look there.
~Yogacharya Ellen Grace O'Brian

Scripture reassures us, saying we are not alone in noticing that the mind is as restless as the wind. When we use the technique of focusing on the breath to quiet the mind, it can help to watch for the space between breaths. As we enter the time between the inhalation and exhalation, there is the peacefulness of no thought, just deep stillness. As we continue this practice, this time of stillness lengthens and we can drop into the heart space of peacefulness. This is our natural state of meditative awareness, free of thought. Later when we notice that this stillness is interrupted by thoughts, sound or sensations, we can always pick up the technique again. Rest in the heart of stillness.

The Solutions Are There For Us

To experience the real solution to a problem, enter the temple of spiritual Truth beyond words and thoughts. Sit in the silence, receptive to your soul’s inspiration. It will come.
~Yogacharya Ellen Grace O'Brian

At the core of our being is a quiet peaceful center. At that center lies the truth and knowing of all. We often call that intuition. We have all experienced it, whether we have followed that intuition or not. We know what the way forward is. The answer to a problem is there for us when we are quiet and listen. Sitting in meditation, allowing all of our busy thoughts to settle, paves the way for our inner knowing to reveal itself. We will know it is right because we feel at peace with the answer. It just feels right. With practice we learn to trust our intuition. As Roy Eugene Davis says, "Do what you know you should do."

The Promise of Inner Peace

The person who has inner peace can abide in this state even in the midst of outer discord.
~Paramahansa Yogananda

When we begin a daily meditation practice, we get short glimpses of inner peace that are not dependent on outer circumstances. This deep peacefulness is our true nature. As we continue to meditate this peacefulness expands and starts to last longer each time. After some time we can access this peace even outside of meditation by taking just one conscious breath. We develop helpful habits like using silent mantra to calm the mind in challenging situations. As our practice becomes steadier, we are happily surprised to become the level headed one in times of discord. This promise of inner peace turns out to be the one true thing we can really count on.

Grief is the Doorway

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Grief is a doorway to greater love, if we will go through it and allow it to change us.
~Yogacharya Ellen Grace O'Brian

The devastating news of the past weeks, the mass shootings in Gilroy, El Paso and Dayton has left many of us feeling at such a loss to know what to do and how to feel. We feel frustrated, angry, and deeply sad for those who have lost their lives, for their families and for our country, no matter what our political persuasion. What can we do as individuals? Some of us are inspired to action and some of us don't know what action to take next. One important action that we all can take is to spend some time in silence. When we can take time to calm our minds, we can rest in the peace that is innate to us all. When the thought waves are calmed, we can discern what the next right action is to take. When the thought waves are calmed we can get in touch with the compassion and love that is at the core of our being. That love and compassion is energy that is passed on like ripples on a lake. We each can be the presence of peace and love in our families and in our communities. As more and more of us are the peaceful presence and act from that place instead of from anger, it will change us and change the world around us for the better. Take time to experience your grief and allow your practice of meditation to support you in moving through it. Let the deep silence speak to you and support you in being the presence of love and compassion in the world.

Give and You Will Receive

Whatever you give out, you will attract in kind.
~Paramahansa Yogananda

The law of attraction states that like attracts like. When we allow our mind to be pervaded with thoughts of lack, what we are looking for will most likely elude us. The first miracle of meditation is that we can become exquisitely aware of the contents of our mind. Once this takes place, we can let those thoughts and emotions fall away that are not useful. This gentle form of control, based on meditation, allows us freedom from regret about the past or worry about the future. Freedom comes from awareness and internal self discipline.

Gather Up Your Peace

When thoughts settle in meditation, we naturally experience inner peace. Be conscious of that experience and take it in. Notice it and feel your awareness expand into it. You can take it with you wherever you go. Here's how: After meditating, take a few minutes to inwardly "gather up" that peace and intend to share it with everyone you meet.
~Yogacharya Ellen Grace O'Brian from Living for the Sake of the Soul

Paramahansa Yogananda told us that our peace is portable because at the core of our being, our peace is always with us. Our meditation practice quiets our minds enough so that we experience the peace that is innate to our being. It removes the obstacles that get in the way of us experiencing that peace. Even if we think that while we are sitting our mind has been too busy, there are moments of quiet that are extremely powerful. As we end our time of sitting, it is important to take a few moments to be conscious of that peaceful energy and send it out into our day ahead and send it out to all those we encounter. Our intention is our blessing for all.

Open the Doorway

Even-mindedness is the doorway to real enthusiasm and compassion; it’s our entryway to delight and to play.
~Yogacharya Ellen Grace O'Brian

We can experience our lives as delightful! In the teachings of the spiritual practice of yoga, we are told that there are four spiritual goals in life: to live our life in the highest and best way, to have pleasure in life, to have the prosperity that we need to live in the highest way and the fourth goal is to be free. Even-mindedness means we are not worried, angry, or expecting praise for work that we have done. It means we are content with our life and have faith that the choices we make and the actions we perform will bring us what we need and want and will ultimately serve the highest good. Our daily meditation practice, when practiced with intention and a smile, will bring even-mindedness and delight to our lives.

Affirmation: A New Way of Seeing

photo by Jacqueline Hayes

photo by Jacqueline Hayes

To bring forth abundance and experience the fullness of life, we start by accessing it within us. We change our thoughts. We change our internal conversation. We change our speech. And we change our viewpoint —our way of looking at the world and interpreting our experience. Affirmation gives us a new way of seeing.
~Yogacharya Ellen Grace O'Brian quoted from the Jewel of Abundance: Finding Prosperity Through the Ancient Wisdom of Yoga

When we combine meditation with the practice of affirmation we can change our experience from one of lack to one of abundance. Begin with gratitude after meditation each day. Voice out loud or silently all the things you are grateful for. Then choose an affirmation such as: 'As I make wise choices, all my needs are met on time and in abundance'. Then be receptive to the ways the universe supports you. As we work with the affirmation we will begin to experience new and positive opportunities.

Dedication to Your Practice

Nothing takes the place of daily, disciplined, surrendered meditation. Dedication is even more important than technique.
~ Yogacharya Ellen Grace O'Brian from The Jewel of Abundance: Finding Prosperity Through
the Ancient Wisdom of Yoga.

www.ellengraceobrian.com

A daily meditation practice is the best thing that we can do for ourselves. Our practice influences everything else in our lives. It improves our physical and mental health, our relationships and our understanding of ourselves and those around us. Meditation also affects our ability to make wise choices. There is no aspect of our lives that our meditation practice doesn't affect. It doesn't matter what technique you use to quiet the mind, just the dedication, the discipline of getting to your meditation chair or cushion and using that technique is what works. Your dedication and discipline to bringing yourself back to your technique whenever you notice that you have become distracted is also important. This action is teaching us to become more aware and conscious of our thinking mind and what is happening there. In the spiritual text, the Bhagavad Gita, it says that no effort is wasted. Finally, let go of thinking that you should accomplish something during your time of meditation practice or let go of what you think your time of meditation should be like. Let go and let meditation reveal itself in whatever way it will happen. Just trust that it is healing, even if you aren't perceiving what you think the outcome should be. Surrender to the process. It is all good.

Let Go of Hurry and Worry

Let go of hurry and worry. Let your thoughts settle. Allow wisdom to arise.
~ Yogacharya Ellen Grace O'Brian

One of the great blessings of a meditation practice is that it gives us control over worry about the future and regret about the past. We learn to objectively watch thoughts and feelings arise in the mind and can let those fall away that are not really useful. As our practice deepens, we sense a harmony in the flow of events and can tune our actions to them without being caught up in negative drama. We experience a supportive universe as we follow our enhanced intuition. Life can be a flow of harmony in freedom.

Lift Your Gaze

Wayfarer’s Chapel, Rancho Palos Verdes

Wayfarer’s Chapel, Rancho Palos Verdes

In meditation, lift your gaze above the inner horizon. Seek the light of wisdom at the third eye center as one waits for the sun at dawn.
~ Yogacharya Ellen Grace O'Brian
www.ellengraceobrian.com

A basic tool used to quiet your mind when you sit to meditate is to focus on the quality of your breath — feeling the quality of the air when you inhale, feeling your chest and abdomen rise, then feeling the quality of the air as you exhale. We often teach the technique of imagining that you are breathing through the third eye or the spiritual eye, that point just above and between the eyebrows. In the philosophy of Yoga, this is an important energetic point in our subtle body, the sixth chakra. The sixth chakra is associated with wisdom and intuition. In her book, the Jewel of Abundance Yogacharya O'Brian says "Lifting our awareness to these centers (higher chakras)....encourages vital force to flow upward and contributes to being more awake, aware, and open to inspiration." You can practice this any time during the day, just by taking one conscious breath with awareness at the third eye. Lift your gaze and seek the light of wisdom.

You Are the Observer

Take a step away from identifying with changing mental states by discerning the dominant quality in the mind such as peace, passion, or inertia. You are not the quality; you are the Seer, the Observer.
~ Yogacharya Ellen Grace O'Brian 
    www.ellengraceobrian.com

There are three qualities that imbue all of nature including our mind. The first is the uplifting quality of peacefulness or harmony. The second is passion, activity or restlessness. The third is inertia and is often associated with negative thoughts. Our meditation practice shows us that as the nonjudgemental Observer we can moderate our mental states and when overtaken by inertia  we can use activity or passion to move us away from inertia. Then we have the freedom to make those useful choices that move us towards balance and harmony where we can a positive support both ourselves and others. Observe your mental state and exercise your innate freedom to take full control of it.

Sit in Meditation

Sit in Meditation

Sit in meditation.

The door of the heart opens to the inner world.
After that, 
nothing is ever the same.
The knots around your life, 
all the reasons for doing and not doing,
loosen and fall away.
Then, there comes the glorious choice.
Some close the door and try to go back 
to an anxious way of pretending they don't know.
Others leave the door wide open and
walk through it to a new life,
full of wonders,
only now perceived.
Sit in meditation.
The door of the heart opens to the inner world.

~ Yogacharya Ellen Grace O'Brian from her book of poetry One Heart Opening
www.ellengraceobrian.com

Burn Through Obstacles

Self-discipline is fiery energy that can burn through obstacles and light up your path. ~Yogacharya Ellen Grace O'Brian

Many of the obstacles we encounter in life are self created, and our meditation practice teaches us the skills we need to avoid and overcome these. We become intensely aware of the thoughts that occur in our minds, so we can let those fall away that are not useful. Meditation is simple but not easy. Only self-discipline enables us to sit until the chatter in our minds quiets and we encounter the deep peacefulness that is our true nature. When we exercise the discipline to turn away from arising anger, a mental heat is generated that gives us the extra energy we need to persevere when encountering serious problems. Our freedom is forged in the fire our meditation practice both when we sit to meditate and when we act in the world.

Root Out Anger

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Look to the root of anger to find the desire it springs from. Trying to dissipate anger by venting it is like blowing dandelion seed in the wind. They will take root and spring up again. Use the trowel of discrimination and pull out the root.
~Yogacharya Ellen Grace O'Brian

Our meditation practice quiets the thought waves in our mind. As we become more aware of the observer, the consciousness that is non-judgmental, observing ourselves meditating, we also become more aware of the observer during the day. When we notice ourselves becoming angry about something we can thoughtfully discern what is causing the anger. Discovering the cause can then allow us to discern the best way to pull out the root of the anger. Get rid of the anger once and for all!

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.