September 1, 2020
We are embarking on what I see as a time of beginnings and endings, a time of heightened change. In the Southern Hemisphere, winter is turning to spring and the season of warmth; in the Northern Hemisphere, summer is becoming autumn and leading to a season of cold and quiet. So, whether we live north or south of the equator, September is a time when the natural world is noticeably transforming itself.
For me, this change of seasons is an apt metaphor for sadhana, for the spiritual path on which we transform ourselves through the steadfast practice that opens us to our inner being. Recently, I wrote a poem about this phenomenon:
This tiny island
has a barrier reef
but the tide
Let this spot turn back
and melt into
Through sadhana, Siddha Yogis experience that our egoic identities soften and melt, and we begin to merge into the divine reality that is larger than our minds—into the greater Self. This merging leads to a lasting transformation.
Over the years, inner transformation has been one of the prominent themes of Gurumayi’s teachings. From the beginning of my spiritual journey, I’ve seen that Siddha Yoga meditation is more than sitting quietly—it is about a thorough and beneficent renovation of our lives that enables us to perceive and experience ourselves and our world in a more brilliant light.
I am struck by the ongoing nature of this deep inner metamorphosis as I continue to study and implement Gurumayi’s teachings in my life. September, this time when nature is changing in so many ways, offers us inspiration to take stock and reflect on how we have transformed and to chart our course for the rest of the year.
Just think about what’s been happening so far this year. For many, many people, the current pandemic has introduced a great deal of change and created an atmosphere of fear and uncertainty. In this time, I’m exploring how to deepen my equanimity—to exchange anxiety for a more continual awareness of the greater Self throughout my day. I greatly appreciate Gurumayi’s reminders to us in the “Blessings to Treasure” videos to drop our negativity, to breathe deeply, and to give generously and from our hearts in this time of trouble. I imagine that many of you are also experiencing gratitude for these practical and compelling teachings that have come at the end of the “Be in the Temple” satsangs, which are live video streams by the SYDA Foundation from the Bhagavan Nityananda Temple in Shree Muktananda Ashram. Each of these satsangs is a great gift from Gurumayi that supports us in remaining focused on the spiritual path and in refining what we have learned so that we, too, can shine light into the world.
When issues come up in life, as they always do, the first thing that helps me regain my equilibrium is noticing that I no longer have it. Often, I notice that I’m breathing in a constricted way and that my posture is no longer open and expansive. Just returning my awareness to my posture and breath is an initial step to regaining my sense of calm—to turning my attention back toward the ongoing peace of the Self that resides beneath the waves of the mind. This is one of the ways I am practicing Gurumayi’s Message for 2020:
Ātmā kī Prashānti
Peacefulness of the Self
In order to practice this Message, I need first to be aware of my state.
In this month of transformation, we have a joyful teaching and learning event to explore.
Meditation Sessions 2020 via Audio Stream
September brings us Session VIII of Meditation Sessions 2020 via Audio Stream, which Gurumayi has titled “Ocean of Joy, Ocean of Peace: Sukha-Sāgar, Shānti-Sāgar.” What promise it holds! An ocean of joy, an ocean of peace! It seems an ideal topic to conclude this year’s Meditation Sessions. Meditation Session VIII will be available beginning Saturday, September 19.
Please note that if you have not yet participated in the Meditation Sessions this year, you can still register for the entire series and have access to all eight sessions for eighteen months after registering.
Pitru Paksha—September 2 to 16
Pitru Paksha is a fifteen-day period that is set aside in India to honor the ancestors with holy rites and offerings of food. It begins around the time of the first full moon after Ganesh Chaturthi. During Pitru Paksha we can express our gratitude for all that we have inherited from our forebears. This is also an auspicious time for us to express gratitude to others who have passed on and have had a beneficial impact on our lives: teachers, friends, neighbors, co-workers, and the many other people whom we honor in our hearts and minds.
During Pitru Paksha, which falls this year from September 2 to 16, I plan to express my appreciation by dedicating my chanting of Shri Guru Gita to my mother. As I was growing up, Mom nurtured me in so many ways, helping me to grow not just physically but also intellectually and creatively. Perhaps you, too, may feel inspired to express your gratitude to your forebears by dedicating to them the fruits of your spiritual practice, whether it be meditation, svadhyaya, namasankirtana, dakshina, or offering seva. In this way you can send them your heartfelt blessings. After observing Pitru Paksha in earlier years, I became inspired to begin my meditation session each morning by connecting with my heart and sending love and blessings to the people in my life. It’s like giving them a present—a subtle present. In my experience, such intentions have a sweet power to touch both the one who holds them and the one for whom they are intended.
Recently, I’ve been focusing on how daily life offers so many ways to rediscover the Self within my own being. For instance, each afternoon my wife and I take a long walk along a quiet road near our home. Sometimes we talk; sometimes we simply stride along energetically. The pace is often fast enough to increase my breathing rate, which in turn reduces how much I can converse. When this happens, my attention turns more consciously toward my breath. As if I were in meditation, I find myself naturally repeating the mantra Hamsa as I breathe in this deeper way—ham on the in-breath, and sa on the out-breath. My mind becomes quiet, and I begin looking up at the sky more frequently, feeling an inner and outer sense of expansion as I experience that the space inside my own being is like the vast blueness I see in the sky. Even as I remember this experience, I feel my breathing deepen and my awareness expand into that calm inner space….
So, I encourage you during this month of transformation to find ways to explore your own unique means of experiencing the spaciousness of your Self. Often, these doorways to the Self are simple, and your delight in them will deepen and sustain your sadhana—and your life in general.