Meditation Matters

Welcome to “Meditation Matters” – a weekly journal and podcast published each Thursday, exploring the many worlds of meditation.

Meditation is the gateway to the infinite, the spiritual realm, the reality within us. Meditation can energise our life, transform our outlook, solve all our problems and unlock hidden capacities.

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Everyone can meditate: it’s simple, it’s natural, it’s powerful … and it’s free.

Meditation is self-discovery, self-awareness of all that lies within us beyond the thinking, rational mind. As we go deeper within, we discover that what lies within is also the key to understanding and appreciating all that lies around us as well.

We can read about meditation, talk about meditation, think about meditation – but for the many benefits of meditation, we have to PRACTISE … daily.

“Meditation Matters” will explore the theory and philosophy of meditation, but will mostly focus on the practice; the lived experience of meditation.

We’ll introduce simple, practical exercises that anyone can enjoy at home on a daily basis, and the steps to establish your daily meditation practice: how to incorporate meditation into your everyday life and make it a part of your very living – for meditation has to be a lived experience that flows into every heartbeat, every thought, every intention, every feeling, every breath of our life, to transform not only the way we see and feel, but our very way of being.

We’ll share our knowledge of meditation, our passion for meditation, our experience of meditation and our love of meditation.

“Meditation Matters” will explore all matters meditation: we’ll look at the challenges and obstacles facing someone starting a practice of meditation for the first time, and maintaining that practice. We’ll also explore the many benefits of meditation, and most importantly, delve into the infinite reasons why … Meditation Matters.

344: Do We Need a Teacher for Meditation? (3)

Silence is the air that meditation breathes. Yes, we can be told about posture, breath control and chanting mantras, of the importance of meditating early in the morning – these are peripheral details. Yet the essence of meditation is wrapped in silence, protected by silence and blossoms within silence. Silence baffles us, a language with which we are unfamiliar: how are we going to learn the art of meditation if we don’t know its basic vocabulary?
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343: Do We Need a Teacher for Meditation? (2)

“Did you receive any help in learning the alphabet? Did you require a teacher to help you in mastering your musical instrument? Were you given instruction to enable you to obtain your degree? If you needed a helper to do these things, do you not also require a teacher who can guide you to the knowledge of the Divine, the wisdom of the Infinite? That teacher is your Guru and no one else.”
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342: Do We Need a Teacher for Meditation? (1)

While the finite can measure the finite, only the infinite can know the infinite. Our present limited awareness is like a small magnifying glass, offering us some help in exploring our immediate vicinity; while to discover and claim our larger, higher, infinite self, we need an interstellar telescope, capable of viewing galaxies far beyond our present perception.
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341: The Media of Meditation

Most of our familiar media engages our mind and vital by capturing our attention outward to the externals of our being and our world. Meditation engages our heart and soul by focusing our attention inward to the essentials of our being and our very existence.
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340: Your Heart-Wallet

Our wealth we use to obtain all the things we need for our success, progress, happiness and wellbeing. Our treasures are the things we value most and like to keep close to us – keepsakes, photos of loved ones, items of inspiration or memorabilia. Our protection and insurance keep us safe from the prospect of poverty, hunger, depression, failure and ruin. Our identification shows ourselves and the world who we really are.
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339: Quality – not Quantity

Not how long – not the quantity of our meditation, but how eager the aspiration we bring – the quality of our meditation – is the key to unlock the doorway and gain admittance to our inner palace of peace, light and bliss.
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338: Your Traveling Shrine

The question immediately arises: what if one cannot meditate at the same time or place on a given day or for an extended time? What if you work shift work with varying hours each day? What if you are traveling across time zones, and cannot be at the same place even for two days in a row?
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337: A White Column of Light

So many of our problems and shortcomings arise from impurity in our mind and vital. Lack of purity in our thoughts, feelings and perceptions leads to confusion, misunderstanding and suffering. Yet searching for purity in our mind and vital is a fool’s errand, doomed to disappointment.
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336: The Moon

Of all the phenomena of Nature, none is more mysterious, alluring, captivating and enthralling than the moon. Like the moon, we too cycle through phases of waxing and waning revelation; like the moon, we too have a brighter and a darker side; like the moon, we too are detached from the earth, yet captive to its orbit; like the moon, which is reliant entirely on the light of the sun for the revelation of its beauty, we too rely utterly on the light of our own soul for our very consciousness.
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335: A Rising Sun, a Blossoming Flower

No matter what time of day you are meditating, even if it is in the evening, imagine the rising sun for a few fleeting seconds. Imagine that the sun is rising and radiating light inside your heart. Or you can imagine a most beautiful and most pure flower opening up and blossoming petal by petal inside your heart.
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334: Light Flowing Like a River

Sri Chinmoy advises us to imagine a flow of consciousness or light from our heart of meditation throughout our mind, vital and body. As the flow of a river is constant, continually connecting each part to every other, so must we keep our everyday consciousness open and connected to our higher self.
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333: The Flowing River

When we are able to see ourselves also as not a solid entity, but rather as continually flowing energy and light, like a river apparently the same yet ever changing, then it becomes easier for us to let go of damaging thoughts and unhealthy emotions, releasing them into the flow, and keeping ourselves always open to the inflow of new inspiration, illumination and liberation.
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332: The Sky Inside the Universal Heart

Of all the phenomena of the natural world, the sky has most affinity with Infinity. The ocean is vastness embodied; the grains of sand on a beach countless; the stars innumerable – yet the sky just stretches on and on, and as far as we can imagine it stretching, it leads us always further.
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331: Vastness in Meditation

To raise us from the finite to the Infinite, through meditation our heart’s aspiration strives to extricate our consciousness from its preoccupation and entanglement with small, limiting, binding and belittling thoughts, distractions and emotions, and immerse us in ever higher, purer, liberating realities.
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330: Humility of a Tree

Sri Chinmoy emphasises, that the tree which is laden with the most fruit, bows down the lowest. This is the essence of humility: the greater the inner spiritual achievement, the humbler will be the outer personality.
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329: The Compassion of a Tree

Compassion is not charity. It does not give according to the wants or desires of the receiver, or for the glory and recognition of the giver. Compassion is the unconditional and unreserved self-offering of the giver according to the true inner needs of the receiver.
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327: An Underground River

We each have a beautiful, powerful and ever-reliable underground river flowing somewhere beneath our surface awareness. No matter how bleak, barren and hopeless our outer circumstances, our life-giving, life-nourishing, life-transforming, life-perfecting and life-fulfilling soul flows constantly within.
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326: Colour in Meditation – Inner Colours

As each colour has its own vibration and its own energy, so each colour embodies particular qualities that we may be seeking at one time or another. Just as we get vitamin C from oranges, protein from nuts or calcium from milk, so colours can nourish us in particular ways, each colour offering remedies for specific deficiencies we may have, or infusing us with an abundance of the qualities we need for our progress and success.
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323: Conquering Bad Habits Through Meditation – Short Term

A habit is like scratching an itch. The only way to permanently give up scratching, is to remove the itch. It is impossible simply to discard habits altogether, unless and until we have transcended the underlying needs which habits fulfil. Until then, the most effective way to conquer a bad habit is to replace it with a good habit.
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322: What is a Good Meditation?

A good meditation is its own reward and fulfilment. During and after a good meditation, there is a natural clarity, simplicity, goodwill, optimism and ease. There is no disquiet, nagging doubts or grievance; the question of whether we are doing well or heading in the right direction, simply does not and cannot arise.
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321: Meditating When Tired (4)

Tiredness, like age, is mostly a phenomenon of the mind. More often than not, we ‘feel tired’ because we imagine we are, or think we ought to be tired. We can all recall instances when we felt we were dog tired, then received a phone call, or saw, remembered or imagined something that instantly revived us, after which we continued with surging energy and enthusiasm. If tiredness can so utterly abandon us, we have to wonder: was it real in the first place?
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320: Meditating When Tired (3)

Bookend your sleep with meditation. While meditating for a few minutes before you go to bed, consciously imagine your meditation continuing and expanding the next morning. Promise to your heart that you are taking a brief time-out, and will return to take up and continue where you have left off. Place an imaginary bookmark in your meditation, to “save” the place you have reached.
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319: Meditating When Tired (2)

Imagination has tremendous power: use it to your advantage. Imagine your house is on fire and your morning alarm is a real fire alarm; or a ghoulish monster is coming to devour you if you stay in bed one moment longer; or you will be rewarded with infinite inspiration, satisfaction and bliss if you get up to meditate this very moment.
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318: Meditating When Tired (1)

We know it is essential to meditate every day. And to be sure of meditating every day, it is of paramount importance to meditate at a set time, preferably early in the morning. Yet early in the morning is usually when we are asleep, or just waking up, so it is inevitable that we are all going to face occasions when we feel we are too tired to meditate.
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317: Today

It is said: “Never put off till tomorrow, what can be done today.” More than anything, this applies to aspiration, meditation, self-transformation, perfection and God-realisation.
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316: The Heat of Inspiration

Sitting down, focusing and going through the motions of our meditation practice, is like preparing a meal and placing the pot on the stove. For our meditation to become a delicious cooked meal, we also need the heat of inspiration.
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315: A Window to the Soul

Intuitively, we feel we have a soul – though we only sense our soul as a vague presence, light, power or assurance: we have not seen our soul, and have no direct access to our soul.
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314: My Occupation

Once we launch into meditation and the spiritual life, our all-consuming occupation becomes our ever-climbing aspiration and wholehearted dedication – to the search for inner and outer peace, for happiness, truth, self-conquest, life-transformation, integral perfection and God-satisfaction.
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313: Thoughts in Meditation (18)

God is our highest Self. Whatever we experience, God is experiencing in and through us. If thoughts are bothering us and disturbing our meditation, they are bothering and disturbing God; they are blocking us from communicating and connecting with our God within, our own Source.
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312: Thoughts in Meditation (17)

Thoughts are intermediaries between ourselves and reality; mental instruments we employ to perceive, comprehend and make sense of our jumbled, confusing world. Our minds assume there is no other way of knowing.
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311: Thoughts in Meditation (16)

The most potent disinfectant and protection from thoughts, is the experience of thoughtless meditation. Here is a chicken and egg: to meditate, we need to clear away thoughts; to clear away thoughts, we need to meditate.
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310: Thoughts in Meditation (15)

Thoughts are intimately connected with desire: thoughts and desires both attach us to, and enmesh us in the finite and the unreal. They direct us away from the destination of happiness and fulfilment, our infinite soul, our true self.
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309: Thoughts in Meditation (14)

It is useless to follow a strict diet for 2 hours each day, if we consume junk food for the remaining 22. Strictly disciplining our thoughts during meditation cannot be of much help, unless we carefully monitor and control our flow of thoughts while we are not meditating.
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308: Thoughts in Meditation (13)

On our own, we are no match for thoughts. Only by taking the help of a higher power, can we overcome them. Thoughts have their own astonishing velocity and immense power. To transcend thoughts, we must be faster and/or vaster than thoughts.
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306: Thoughts in Meditation (11)

Once we realise that thoughts are not something we are, but things we have, like clothes from our wardrobe, or tracks selected from a playlist, only then can we imagine existing apart from our thoughts. Once we conceive ourselves as separate to our thoughts, we realise it is not inevitable that thoughts dominate us.
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305: Thoughts in Meditation (10)

If we keep our house spotlessly clean, pests will find no food source and cannot make a home there. Whenever we are bothered by thoughts – either in meditation or any other time – the most effective remedy is to make our minds spotlessly pure and sparkling clean by blocking out, flushing away or sweeping aside all thoughts.
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304: Thoughts in Meditation (9)

It is wise to know one’s enemy. Thoughts in themselves are not our enemy – it is their hold over us, and our helpless attraction to them, which stand as a ruthless barrier to our meditation and inner peace. In our quest to control thoughts, to keep them at bay, it is well to consider the nature of thoughts, and our obsession with them.
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303: Thoughts in Meditation (8)

Thoughts have their own pride. When a thought comes with the intention of disturbing our meditation, if it finds our door is locked, it may knock and try to get our attention. After a while of being ignored and shunned, it will feel unvalued and beneath its dignity to persist wasting its time on such a rude and ungrateful fellow. As it departs in a huff, we are free to meditate in peace.
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302: Thoughts in Meditation (7)

To help extricate ourselves from thoughts, we need to depart from the negative in favour of the positive; to shift the home base of our consciousness from our mind into our heart. So, whatever we choose to focus on must be positive, and imbued with the qualities of our spiritual heart.
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301: Thoughts in Meditation (6)

All our lives, we have been thought-bound, thought-defined and mind-confined. How then can we possibly do without thinking and thoughts? The notion is almost inconceivable, for our thoughts are as much our identity as our own skin.
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300: Thoughts in Meditation (5)

We meditate to enter into, bring forward and enjoy the spiritual qualities of our heart – peace, love, light, joy, oneness. To gain access to our spiritual heart, we have first to calm and quieten our mind. To calm our mind, we must reduce our flow of thoughts. To enter the deepest meditation, we must go beyond the mind’s domain altogether, where no thought can reach.
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299: Thoughts in Meditation (4)

We are familiar with the consequences of not being able to control our thoughts: our thoughts instead, control us. Most of us, most of the time, are guided by our thoughts or emotions, rather than our heart and soul.
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298: Thoughts in Meditation (3)

Every level of our existence below the mind – body and vital – and every level above the mind – heart and soul – exist and operate without thoughts. Thoughts are exclusive to the thinking mind: they are its food, bricks, language, currency, secret service and armed forces.
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297: Thoughts in Meditation (2)

Desperately yearning the comfort and power of knowledge, yet having set itself apart from the infinite Real, and unready humbly to accept the heart’s light as its own, the mind wants to know and possess truth as an observer. It seeks to objectify reality, to section the infinite and define the indefinable, to ‘figure out’ Truth.
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296: Thoughts in Meditation (1)

We identify as “mankind.” The root word “man” derives from the Sanskrit “manas”, meaning: “mind.” Our mind is the principal executive force of our present conscious awareness. We are the “mind-kind.”
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295: Ignorance as Opportunity

Darkness persists as long as light and darkness stay apart, fearful of each other. When we perceive ignorance, weakness and limitations as included in our own greater being – not as external foes – we accept responsibility to care for and illumine them, as our thumb helps our fingers.

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293: Purity as Power (3)

Purity is a most valuable, reliable spiritual currency. As in the desire-life, we yearn for money as a means to acquire all the material possessions, comforts and status money can buy; so, in the aspiration-life, we yearn for purity for all the inner wealth and riches purity opens and reveals to us.
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292: Purity as Power (2)

We know that the more purity we have, the clearer our mind will be, and the better our meditation; the better our meditation, the more purity we will uncover, the clearer our mind will be, and the deeper our meditation. Purity is an indispensable link in this cycling chain of inexorable spiritual growth.
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291: Purity as Power (1)

In meditation, we aim first to clear the mind of thoughts. The best detergent to remove unwanted thoughts, is inner purity. So, to meditate well, or even to meditate at all, purity is of utmost importance.
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288: Newness (2)

Every day, invoke newness before and during meditation. The old, even yesterday’s joy, has not brought us our ultimate fulfillment, so we must forever turn to the new. Newness houses our every goal; only in newness can our fulfillment abide.
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287: Newness (1)

Our goal is always ahead; we are never there yet. To grow into our goal is to eagerly embrace an ever-new being within ourselves, seeing, feeling, thinking, experiencing, imagining, growing, giving and becoming in ever new ways.
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286: Am I Meditating Well?

When we engage in any new activity, we always want to know how we are progressing – are we doing everything correctly, can our technique be improved, are we getting satisfactory results?
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285: Never Go Your Own Way

Going our own way, our ego’s way, in preference to following the subtler, finer dictates of our heart and soul, has not satisfied us and can never lead us to abiding satisfaction. To go my way is a revolving door, leading always back into prison. To go the higher way is to fly free from the ego-prison.
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284: Go Your Own Way

Don’t wait for your friends or family to be inspired to meditate, before starting yourself. If you are inspired, this is your time and you must follow your inner call. Later will be too late.
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283: The God-Hour (2)

The farmer ploughs the field, sows the seed and tends the crop. This is all necessary preparation and yet not sufficient to yield a harvest: the crop must be allowed to grow “all in good time.” Nature must be allowed to take its course. The farmer can – and must – wish, pray and prepare for the result, but also has to wait, for as long as it takes.
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282: The God-Hour (1)

While the “Hour of God” refers to a specific time, very early in the morning, when meditation is most fruitful, the “God-Hour” – or “God’s choice Hour” – can be any time of day: it is the moment when an event or outcome is ripe, ready and meant to occur.
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281: The Hour of God (2)

To meditate at the Brahma Muhurta, the Hour of God, is to sit down to a table already set with a sumptuous feast: we just have to eat and enjoy the meal. Peace, light and bliss crowd all around and within, beckoning; we have only to fall into their arms.
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280: The Hour of God (1)

In the Vedas, the prescribed time for meditation is the Brahma Muhurta, or the Hour of God, around 3 or 4 o’clock in the morning. At this time, it is said the cosmic Gods commence preparing the earth and humanity for the coming day, so it is the best time for us also to start our day’s journey by attuning ourselves with the stirring of the divine creative forces of peace, light and bliss within.
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279: Punctuality

For our best spiritual progress, punctuality is of supreme benefit.
On the face of it, punctuality appears fairly innocuous – how can simply being on time, every time, make such a difference to one’s success and progress?
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278: Regularity

For our spiritual progress, regularity is paramount.

Regularity activates, regulates and liberates. Regularity is the law of the material realm, and gateway to the spiritual realm. Regularity we need to enter time and space, to exist in time and space and ultimately, to transcend time and space.
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277: The Bright Side

For the peace, light and bliss of meditation to grow and blossom in our lives, it is essential always – always to shun the ugly, the negative, limiting and false; and always – always to look on the bright side, the joyful, uplifting and True.
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276: Prayer and Meditation (5)

Meditation houses all the answer to our prayers – the prayers we have already offered and prayers of our inner being of which we are not yet even aware. All that we have sought through prayer, and all we could ever seek, and more – is born, revealed, grows and blossoms in our meditation.
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275: Prayer and Meditation (4)

As deep meditation subsumes prayer, so prayer fulfills itself in meditation. As the prayers of our mind dissolve into the silence-tears of our heart, our prayer-river flows into and loses itself in the meditation-sea.
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274: Prayer and Meditation (3)

Each breath, each glance, each thought, each task, each word, each gesture, each intention, each action can be prayer. The body and vital can pray through dedicated activity, service, exercise or sports: the heart prays naturally through silent tears of intense yearning.
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273: Prayer and Meditation (2)

Any concentrated intent, expression of hope, application of will or practise of discipline to achieve a certain outcome, where that outcome is beyond our conscious control, can be prayer. Prayer can be offered through words, actions, tears or smiles.
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271: Who Is Ready To Play?

Our soul is always eager to enwrap us in peace, immerse us in light and flood us with delight. Our soul has only us on whom to lavish its attention so it waits, and waits for us to heed its call. Our soul shows every move and guides our every step. Our part is only to open the door and allow our soul in, our best, closest friend, playmate, lover, tutor and guide.
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270: Remain Always a Beginner

In our meditation and spiritual life, we need always to feel we are just a beginner. For no matter how much we know, there is always infinitely more that we do not yet know: no matter how much we have experienced or attained, there is always infinitely more we are yet to experience and to attain.
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269: The Challenge of Sleep (3)

In the spiritual life, sleep represents ignorance. Whether we are physically sleeping or awake, whenever we are not spiritually conscious and aspiring, we are effectively enjoying ‘ignorance-sleep.’
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268: The Challenge of Sleep (2)

Sleep – we need it, but how much? If we don’t get enough sleep, we become tired and exhausted, and our spiritual life suffers; if we sleep too much, we become torpid and lethargic, and our spiritual life suffers.
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267: The Challenge of Sleep (1)

Regardless of the amount of sleep we get, the very nature of sleep presents a significant challenge to the spiritual seeker. Spirituality and sleep appear to be diametrically opposed: one a dynamic flow, the other a static repose.
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266: Assimilation

Meditation is food and nourishment for our inner being. Just as we need time after eating a meal to assimilate and digest our food before engaging in strenuous activity, so time and the right environment is needed after meditation to assimilate the peace, light and bliss we have received.
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265: Mix With Spiritual People

The best way to begin to learn how to meditate is to associate with people who have been meditating for some time. These people are not in a position to teach you, but they are in a position to inspire you.
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264: Finding Your Spiritual Path (7)

The obstacles to overcome are predominantly found not in the world around us: they are within, cradled and coddled by our own indulgence. Doubt, Fear, Insecurity, Pride, Impurity, Inertia – all we have built; all we must now dismantle.
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262: Finding Your Spiritual Path (5)

When we see people in the street, strangers whom we have never met or know anything about, there are always some to whom we feel drawn, and some we would rather avoid. There is no explanation or rationale for these feelings, other than a sense of affinity.
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260: Finding Your Spiritual Path (3)

As there are innumerable streams and rivers flowing into the sea, countless tracks and routes to the summit, so are there multiple spiritual Paths to enlightenment. It is said there are as many Paths to Self-realisation as there are souls on earth.
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257: Nothingness-Nectar

Only in nothingness – “no-thing-ness”, the absence in our consciousness of the superficial, ephemeral and unreal – do we find our soul, our true self. Nothingness holds the fullness of satisfaction, the bliss of perfection, the oneness of completion, our source and our goal.
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256: The Forest Pool and the Treasure

Imagine a beautiful, clear pool set in a forest glade. You sit on a bench fashioned from a large, fallen tree, shaded from the sun. A gentle breeze that soothes your brow, leads every leaf, branch and bough in gentle dream dance over a drone of barely murmured pleasantries.
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254: Meditation’s Dynamic Flow

Because we sit in stillness, there is a common misconception that meditation is a static activity. Not so! – just as silence houses all the dreams of the world, so stillness is the starting point of every step, every journey, every ultimate triumph.
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253: The Lead Bird

While concentrating and meditating, we endeavour to clear our mind of all thoughts. Yet some thoughts continue to arise, for that is their nature – so how to deal with them?
Sri Chinmoy’s suggestion that we identify with the sky, while thoughts are passing birds, is extremely effective.
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251: The Eternal Now

In pure meditation, there is only one moment to experience: the Eternal Now. There may be many approaches, many avenues to this moment, it may have many names and attributes, yet once we are there, it can only ever be One.
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250: Inner Messages

When we get a strong feeling that we should make a particular choice or pursue a particular direction, how can we know where the message is coming from? How can we know whether it is a genuine message from our heart or soul, or is just our mind or vital yet again trying to deceive and lead us astray?
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247: To Meditate, Remember (2)

We have all experienced how difficult it can be to maintain these sweet, pure feelings, this expansive, lofty perspective once we enter into the noise, stress and conflict that characterises our outer life.
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246: To Meditate, Remember (1)

Sometimes, meditation comes easily and effortlessly. Other times, no matter how hard we try, we can’t escape a maze of thoughts and distractions. We’re like a bird, which despite running and flapping its wings, just can’t get off the ground.
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245: Where to Find Truth?

Wouldn’t we all like to know the truth? Not just the relative truth about who pulled the trigger, what causes hay fever, or is the earth really flat – but the absolute Truth of all existence.
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