Santa Rosa Meditation Group

Experience the life enhancing benefits of a regular meditation practice

Stay Open

A purposeful life is like a great steamship coursing through the waters of the world. Although it’s path is straightforward, the journey is marked time and again by course correction. Every new encounter can expand our awareness—if we are willing to learn. Staying open is being willing to learn.

Live Well Now

Forget the past, for it is gone from your domain! Forget the future, for it is beyond your reach! Control the present! Live supremely well now!
~Paramahansa Yogananda

A steady meditation practice brings unexpected benefits. As we become extremely aware of the thoughts that arise and fall away in our mind, we learn to direct energy away from those that are not useful. As we continue to experiment with this ability, we realize that we can control our experience in the moment and let fears of the future or regrets about the past fall away. We begin to live in the freedom of an expansive present and the universe mirrors our joy.

Dwell in Gratitude

Gratitude comes when we let go. When we cease fighting what is, the glory of what can be emerges. Dwell in gratitude and your mind will be calm, your heart will open, and joy will overflow. "Thank you" is a powerful mantra.
~Yogacharya Ellen Grace O'Brian

Our mind becomes calm when we stop trying to fight what is. There is a teaching from the east, in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. It says, "Be content now and realize unshakable happiness." Contentment comes when we are grateful for what we have, for what we see, for what we hear, for what we experience. When we are content, we can see past unhappiness and grief. When we look around us, we can find many things to be grateful for.  A practice of gratitude will bring us that peace and contentment that we seek. It is a deep peace and joy that is unshakeable. Dwell in that place of gratitude.

The Doorway to Delight

Delight

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.

Stillness of the Mind

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

The pathway to all the transformative benefits of meditation involves stillness of the mind. A powerful way to quiet the mind is to focus on the breath, which naturally slows as we reach a sustained level of concentration. Mind follows body and body follows mind. As we focus on the breath it slows and our body moves into a progressively more restful mode. In its own time our state of consciousness moves from concentration into meditation and we can just be there, dropping all technique. When you observe you are again distracted by thoughts, sounds, or sensations, just play this little game. Gently watch your awareness of the distraction. You may find that the same way it arose, it may just fall away and leave you in stillness.

Choose to Be Happy

Choose to be happy. Happiness is not dependent on external conditions. It is your innate state of being to freely express.
~Roy Eugene Davis

Often we look at our life and we think "If only this happens I would be happy." Or "If only I had that relationship then I would be happy." Or "If only I had that (material item) I would be happy."  Why wait to be happy?  Why depend on outside forces in life to make us happy?  At the core of our being we have everything that we need. We are already happy. When we allow it to express, it is a feeling of deep contentment. It is easy to latch on to negative thoughts and emotions, but thoughts and emotions change. Through the practice of meditation we quickly learn that we are the observer, observing our thoughts and emotions. We are not our thoughts and emotions, otherwise how can we observe them? When you feel sad or unhappy, observe that. Recognize that it is an emotion that will pass. Allow it to pass by, like the clouds in the sky. Don't look to some outside person, thing or event to make you happy. Remember that you can choose to be happy.  Choose that.

Fulfill Your Potential

Attachment to particular outcomes prevents us from fulfilling our potential.
~Yogacharya Ellen Grace O'Brian

A steady meditation practice makes us very aware of the contents of our mind. It also permits us to affect what happens there and reach a better level of control over our actions in the world. The concentration practices of meditation help us set worthy goals and then we develop an enhanced relationship to the outcomes of our actions. Paradoxically we gain a new freedom when we learn we do not have control over these outcomes. When things go as planned, we can take this in stride and when things do not, we can be ready to learn from the feedback which the universe has provided. We fulfill our potential when we learn from both success and failure.

Our Breath is the Connection

Conscious awareness of your breath can guide you to peace in a moment.

~Yogacharya Ellen Grace O'Brian

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As you know, the simplest technique we teach in our classes is to focus on the breath. Why? Because it is always there with us, so easily accessed and it is not complicated. Also, it is very powerful. In Sanskrit, the breath techniques that can be used are called pranayama. Prana is the life energy that flows through us; the energy that sustains the body. Ayama translates to extend or draw out. Pranayama is breath control.  It is taught that the breath is our connection to our soul — that place within that is peaceful, content and wise.  Our meditation practice teaches us to notice and rely on our breath to calm the myriad thoughts in our mind.  Throughout our day, as we notice that we may want to react instead of respond to a situation, one conscious breath can transport us to a calmer state of mind. Take the time to take that breath. It only takes a moment.

Concentrate to Meditate

Concentration is the act of directing the attention to one point. This flowing of attention can be quite effortless, as long as there is a steady flow of attention and no diversion is allowed to interfere.The secret of controlling life experiences is tied up in the proper understanding of concentration. A person who knows how to concentrate, can accomplish more, in a few hours, than the average person can accomplish in many days or weeks.

~Roy Eugene Davis

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Meditation practice begins with interiorization: we shut our eyes and direct our attention inward. Next can come concentration on a single point of focus such as the breath or a mantra. The practice of concentration quiets the mind and and allows meditation to occur, that restful state where boundaries fall away and we reach the deep peaceful bliss that is our true nature. Concentration is useful beyond our daily meditation practice. It allows us to finely direct our energy during daily life and realize our worthwhile goals. Resolve to enhance your meditation practice today.

Change Your Mind

We can improve our attitude, outlook, health, sense of well-being, energy levels, and happiness by changing our mind.
~Yogacharya Ellen Grace O'Brian

Our mind is not who we are. We are greater than our mind. We know that because we can observe our minds. Our meditation practice teaches us to observe our thoughts. In the philosophical teachings of yoga, thoughts are described as fluctuations in the mind-field. Through our meditation practice we become more aware of the thoughts we have and become aware that we have the power to change them. When we observe thoughts that are disturbing, we realize that we can change our minds and entertain thoughts that are more pleasing and beneficial to our body, mind and spirit. We can calm the fluctuations.  A calmer mind allows us to sleep better and make better choices for our health. A calmer mind allows us to have better relationships. A calmer mind allows us to live a more peaceful, more content life.
Another quote from Yogacharya— Change your mind-change your life.

See the Beauty

When the mind is calm, how quickly, how smoothly, how beautifully you will perceive everything.
~Paramahansa Yogananda

When we meditate regularly we get control over the contents of the mind and can bring it to a single point of focus using the breath or a mantra. This ability to focus opens our awareness to deeper levels of insight where we see the harmony and beauty of everything in the world. We can live in a state of gratitude and effortlessly be of service to others. That gratitude overcomes our feelings of despair, anger, and negative thoughts. Consider beginning or enhancing your meditation practice today.

Relax Into Meditation

When meditating stay alert and attentive. Don't strain or struggle to have results. Relax into the experience and let your innate qualities and knowledge of higher realities be revealed.
~Roy Eugene Davis

Often, when we begin a meditation practice we find it difficult to stay focused on directing our attention inward. We may find that we struggle with the practice and often that leads to abandoning our practice because of the struggle. The state of meditation is natural for us. All we need to do is arrange conditions to let it happen. Find a technique that works for you, practice that and allow yourself to just relax into meditative awareness.  Remember that we are not meditating to meditate, but to improve the life that we are living, so look for the results of meditation in your daily life.  Allow yourself to experience those qualities of calm, contentment and joy that are the truth of who you are.

Nurture Continual Mindfulness

Maintain an inner, meditative awareness, even in the midst of activities and you will discover a centralizing principle within you that will rightly guide all your activities.
~Yogacharya Ellen Grace O'Brian

Once we have a steady daily meditation practice we can begin to nurture mindfulness throughout the rest of the day. Walking meditation can help because it fosters meditative awareness with your eyes open. Begin with pleasant walks in nature, stepping slowly in a heel-toe manner, conscious of each foot-fall, while maintaining silence or reciting a mantra. What better way to begin the new year than with the continuous joyful awareness that prepares us to follow the intuitive flashes of wisdom that guide our decisions and allow us to serve life in the highest way.

Amazing Peace

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We clap hands and welcome the Peace of Christmas.
We beckon this good season to wait awhile with us.
We, Baptist and Buddhist, Methodist and Muslim, say come.
Peace.
Come and fill us and our world with your majesty.
We, the Jew and the Jainist, the Catholic and the Confucian,
Implore you, to stay a while with us.
So we may learn by your shimmering light
How to look beyond complexion and see community.
It is Christmas time, a halting of hate time.
On this platform of peace, we can create a language
To translate ourselves to ourselves and to each other.
At this Holy Instant, we celebrate the Birth of of Jesus Christ
Into the great religions of the world.
We jubilate the precious advent of trust.
We shout with glorious tongues at the coming of hope.
All the earth's tribes loosen their voices
To celebrate the promise of Peace.
We, Angels and Mortals, Believers and Non-Believers,
Look heavenward and speak the word aloud.
Peace. We look at our world and speak the world aloud.
Peace. We look at each other, then into ourselves
And we say without shyness or apology or hesitation.
Peace, my Brother.
Peace, my Sister.
Peace, my Soul.

~ Maya Angelou

The Conscious Life

Before acting, to simply inquire “Am I sincere?” is powerful. We know the answer, if we only stop and ask. This makes conscious living, and the joy that it brings, possible.

~Yogacharya Ellen Grace O'Brian

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Besides the physical and mental health benefits that we receive from meditation, one of the greatest benefits of meditation is how we begin to live our lives consciously. This means that we can act, think and speak from a higher awareness.  We are more easily able to let go of negative thoughts, negative speech, worries and fears. We become aware of the good that is all around us. When we live consciously we are able to step back and self-inquire and act, think and speak from the peaceful place at the core of our being, rather than react from a  restricted way of being. Living consciously is a more joyful way of living, a more peaceful way of living. Living consciously is freedom. Meditation is key.

The Joy of Mantra

When inhalation occurs naturally, mentally speak a chosen word, such as "God," "peace," "joy," or any pleasant word. When exhalation occurs, again mentally speak the word. Feel that the sound of the chosen word is blossoming in your mind or your field of awareness. Do this without effort and without anxiety about results. When a state of conscious, calm awareness is experienced, discontinue listening to the word. Be still, letting that meditative calm persist for several minutes until you feel inclined to conclude the practice.

~Roy Eugene Davis


Using a mantra is an excellent way to calm the busy thoughts in your mind. You can also try the Sanskrit words "so-hum". This phrase means "I am that which I seek", yourself at your highest human potential. Say "so" on the in breath, and "hum" on the out breath. As your meditation session unfolds, you will find that you no longer have to make a conscious effort to repeat the words and that they come naturally with each breath. They will repeat themselves. When the mantra takes you from concentration onto the deep peacefulness of meditation, you can let go of the mantra.

The Power of the Universe

Learn how to cooperate with the power that runs the universe and surrender to its impulse to express through us.
~Yogacharya Ellen Grace O'Brian

There is a power that runs the universe and we are all a part of it. It is a power for good. We see that good all the time in people, in nature, and in circumstances in our lives.  But the problem is that we can forget that we are a part of that flow. We can try to swim upstream with difficulty or we can "go with the flow". Our meditation practice calms our mind and body and opens us up to the awareness of good. When we take the time to sit in the silence, we become aware of the messages that the universe is offering to us. We are more observant of the good that is around us. When we do, we can live our lives in the highest way. Cooperate with that power and see how much easier your life can be. Allow that power of the universe to express through you.

No Effort Is Ever Wasted

Meditation proficiency can be acquired by practice. Curiosity about possible outcomes of meditation practice, aspiration to experience clear states of consciousness, devotion to practice, and the application of time-tested procedures such as regulation of breathing rhythms, prayer, and directing the body's vital forces upward to the higher brain centers, can be helpful.
~Roy Eugene Davis

Sometimes, even after years of meditation practice, it is helpful to go back to the basics. Approach each session with delight and curiosity because you really never know what to expect and aspire to go deeper each time. Begin with focus on the breath or a mantra, waiting for that switch from concentration into the peacefulness of meditation itself. Imagine your breath moving through the spiritual eye, that point between and above the eyebrows so as to move energy to the higher brain centers. Then return to the point of focus each time you notice a distraction. Gently end your time of meditation with gratitude, knowing that your practice is the highest form of self care and that no such effort is every wasted.

Notice Radiance All Around

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We live in a radiant, illuminated sea of spirit.
~Yogacharya Ellen Grace O'Brian

Our regular practice of meditation opens up our eyes and our heart. Whether we believe in God, or Spirit, or Higher Power or not, as we feel more peaceful and less stressed the beauty of life is more and more apparent. As we walk down the street we are more aware of the simple things that make this life beautiful — the flowers, the birds, the kindness of the person in line at the grocery store who has a basketfull and you have only two items and lets you go ahead of them.  Neuroscientists tell us that our brains are hardwired to focus on the negative. Isn't so much nicer to focus on the positive? As we do, we can change that hard-wiring. Notice that we live in that radiant, illuminated sea of spirit. There is so much to be thankful for.

Peaceful Moments

By the practice of meditation, you will find that you are carrying within your heart a portable paradise.
~Paramahansa Yogananda

When we first begin a meditation practice, it requires some discipline to calm the mind using a technique like focus on the breath. After we have continued to meditate every day for several weeks, peaceful moments of quiet open up and then begin to occur more and more often. Then when we are not trying too hard and least expect it, we sink into a deep peacefulness that is transformative. Here we meet our true nature, which is a deep, unchanging contentment. These occurrences then draw us to our daily practice and change our experience of life. Intuition is sharpened and we find the universe responds positively to all our truly useful endeavors.