Peace

We’re all searching for peace in some way but what does that mean?…

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What is peace?

We’re all searching for peace in some way but what does that mean? When we look around we don’t see peace offered up like a commodity. We can’t buy it in a store. There are no peace vendors, so to speak. So, how do we acquire this ethereal concept that we all want but can’t touch?

Most of the time peace is defined by the use of negation. In other words, what peace is not. Peace is the absence of war and violence. Peace is freedom from disturbances; from antagonism, antipathy, enmity, hatred, hostility, unfriendliness, alienation, breach, divorce, estrangement, rupture, schism, scission, severance, dissent, dissidence, anarchy, disorder, disturbance, strife, turmoil… all things that peace is not.

But peace can be defined by affirmative qualities, too. Harmony, compatibleness, unity, cohesiveness, affinity, serenity, empathy, connection, tranquility, sweetness, empathy, understanding, love… factors that are peaceful or that lend themselves to a peaceful state of being.

Peace is a state of being.

Peace remains an ethereal quality. But it is dependent on certain factors. Truth, non-harming (ahimsa), compassion, empathy, harmony, all formless qualities, yet they are absolutely necessary in the formation of being a peaceful soul. And this is where we hit the nail on the head. Peace is an inner quality. In the end, there is truly no place to find peace except within one’s self.

While peace remains formless, non-peace can take on physical qualities. Dis-harmony brings about tension, stress, loneliness, anger, hostility, disease, all qualities that mire us with outward, mental anguish. And these manifest physically; we turn to drugs, alcohol, unhealthy eating habits, excessive shopping, inappropriate sexual behavior… we are negligent of our bodies, our vehicles, all physical things we use in an attempt to substitute for our general dis-harmoniousness. When we are disharmonious there is no space to explore our inner being, so we turn to external, physical ‘remedies.’

It has well been said many times by great advocates of peace that peace can’t be bought, nor brokered. It can’t be negotiated or contracted. Peace isn’t something you vote for. Peace is ONLY an inner quality of being. And I think peace is only attainable when we learn to live in a state of AWE. I saw a bumper sticker the other day that said it all:

“If you are not in AWE you are not paying attention.”

Our souls are mired in the everyday experience. We completely loose sight of the miracle of our existence. Our separateness conditioning is the chain that binds us to our physical form. We seem to forget that life on earth is the only life we have found in the universe (to date). We look upon life as commonplace and we find no peace in that. We find peace when we pay attention!

Meditation is a door opener to peace. In the practice of pratyahara, we withdraw our physical senses from our immediate attention so that we might bring awareness to the qualities that foster inner peace. Meditation is about heightened awareness. It’s NOT naptime. We develop a state of awe. We recognize the miracle of our existence and we tap into the infinite, the timeless. We make peace with life, with the universe.

Because we are a part of this universe, by the definition of Unity, singularity, we always have been and we always will be.

Our being began as a spark in the ‘big bang.’ Everything emanated from that singular impetus. It’s comforting to know that the universe and we are one. Life is not just biological. The universe is life. We are universal beings. And we are peace.

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An Interview with Vamadeva David Frawley

We must change our value systems from an outer view of life as enjoyment to an inner view of life as an adventure in consciousness…

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Vamadeva David Frawley Interview

With Sujantra, founder Pilgrimage of the Heart Yoga

 

Sujantra: We are honored to have Vamadeva David Frawley here with us today. He is the author of over thirty books on Indian philosophy and Vedic studies. He is the founder and director of the American Institute of Vedic Studies in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He has been instrumental in bringing Eastern teachings to the West though his life and writings. His books have helped me innumerable times to unravel many of the mysteries of Indian thought. We caught up with him while he was journeying through India.

VamadevaThank you for joining us!

Vamadeva: It is my honor to be with you and to have a sharing of the teachings with your important audience. There is much we can learn from the dharmic traditions of the East, if we take them as our own and discover them as part of our own deeper awareness.

 

Eastern Teachings Impact on the West

Sujantra: You have authored and lectured on Indian philosophy around the world and written over 30 books. Are you optimistic about Eastern teachings having a significant impact here in the West?

Vamadeva: Eastern teachings have had a significant impact in the West for many decades now, though sometimes from behind the scenes. Many of the most important new insights in healing and spirituality have been rooted in eastern dharmic traditions. Insights in ecology, physics and biology have occurred as well. Millions have adopted eastern practices such as asana, pranayama, mantra and meditation.

“We must change our value systems from an outer view of life
as enjoyment to an inner view of life as an adventure in consciousness.”

Yet we in the West are still overall too caught up in the outer world, personal fulfillment and the pursuit of desire. Our culture as a whole remains alienated from statuesuch dharmic approaches to life. This needs to be rectified. We must change our value systems from an outer view of life as enjoyment to an inner view of life as an adventure in consciousness. Then such teachings will become even more relevant and transformative for us. This is bound to happen over time.

Sujantra: You have written on all aspects of Indian philosophy. What do you think is the most accessible aspect to people in America?

Vamadeva: Most important for us is to understand the world of nature as a manifestation of universal consciousness, and our own individual minds as reflections of the cosmic mind. It is not an issue of a foreign philosophy, culture or ideology, but of Self-knowledge and understanding the nature of existence. For this we should forget about being Americans, Westerners or anything else, and learn to experience our own lives and minds more directly. We can begin with honoring ecology. We must recognize that there are powers of consciousness in all of nature that can guide us to a higher truth. Our country has wonderful landscapes that can help us in this process and Native American traditions that are aware of these.

Yoga

The Explosion of Yoga Asana in the West

Sujantra: Based on your knowledge of the various aspects of the individual’s spiritual journey, how do you explain the explosion of Yoga asana in the West?

Vamadeva: Yoga has many dimensions and is essentially a tradition designed to draw us into deep meditation as our way of life. The physical side of Yoga is clearly the most accessible for those of us in the western world, as we are very physically minded. But it can lead the student to the deeper dimensions of Yoga if the student is receptive and uses the asana as part of introspection, as originally intended in classical Yoga.

We need to approach all the other limbs of Yoga with the same energy and interest as we are doing with asana today. I believe that will happen in the decades to come, but such cultural changes take time. Let us remember that asana is part of a sacred and spiritual practice for developing higher awareness; then our asana practice can lead us to the transcendent, but not otherwise. Deeper yoga practice is a way of meditation on an individual level, not an en masse class. We should not forget this either.

goddess

Sri Aurobindo’s Offering and the Flowering of Eastern Philosophy in the West

Sujantra: You discovered the Vedas through the writings of Sri Aurobindo. My teacher, Sri Chinmoy, studied at the Sri Aurobindo ashram from 1944-1964. How would you describe the relationship between Sri Aurobindo’s offering and the flowering of Eastern philosophy in the West?

Vamadeva: Sri Aurobindo was a spiritual and intellectual giant of the highest order. It will take decades for the world to properly appreciate his work. He could understand the most ancient Vedic teachings and at the same time had an unparalleled vision of the future evolution of humanity at the level of consciousness, which modern science still has only the most vague intimation of. If you try to read his books, his sentences are longer than most paragraphs, his paragraphs go on for pages, and he discusses all sides of a topic before coming to a comprehensive understanding and way forward. You need a strong dharana or power of concentration to connect with him, which is rare today in the era of quick information bites.

Aurobindo pioneered the whole concept of Integral Yoga, brought out the importance of life as Yoga, and created a Yoga for the modern world that we can incorporate into our work and daily lives. Simultaneously his Yoga has deep dimensions linking us beyond time and space to the very fountains of creation. It is hard to put this many-side vision into words.

Aurobindo also wrote directly in the English language, explaining the higher teachings in concepts we can grasp today, so no translation is required. In addition he wrote on philosophy, psychology, poetry, art, politics and all aspects of life and culture, so each one of us can find some angle of access to his work.

One Book for World Leaders

Sujantra: If there was one book you could get the leaders of the world to read what would it be?

Vamadeva: Reading is not enough: the mind can filter anything according to its conditioning, biases and opinions. It would be better if world leaders could go out into nature and enter into a state of deep silence and peace and surrender to the unknown powers of existence and the cosmic mind. For this they would have to give up their concepts of being leaders or even being in the world, and embrace infinite space as their true identity. We need to empty our minds first and go back to our core consciousness in the heart. Then we can truly benefit from great books, for which I would recommend the Upanishads, particularly the shorter texts like Katha, Kena, Mundaka, Mandukya, Svetasvatara, Isha or Taittiriya.

Ramana Maharshi

Ramana Maharshi

Sujantra: Ramana Maharshi had a profound influence on my life. His writings cleared up many of my misconceptions and his photographs touched something deep in my heart. How is that possible? I never personally knew him yet he changed my life?

Vamadeva: The great gurus exist beyond time and space. They have transcended the human mind to the deeper dimension of consciousness that is behind our own state of deep sleep and forms our core awareness. We can always contact them within, if we know how to look within. Our true identity is in consciousness. Mind and body are but shadows. Ramana Maharshi reflects our own true Self-nature that is one with all. You can see that in his eyes, if you meditate upon his pictures. Through his picture you can contact the immortal self in all.

A Last Bit of Advice

Sujantra: Finally, what one bit of advice would you like to offer our readers?

Vamadeva: Develop patience, introspection and turn within. The world in any case will not disappear if you forget about it for a while and contact your timeless Self. Do not be a slave to your body, mind or senses. Stand up for the eternal within you and stop running after fleeting desires. Before sleep shut off the media, let go of the world and dive deep into the ocean of the heart. The outer world is but the shadow of an unlimited divine light and delight.

Sujantra: Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and inspiration with us!

 

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Finding Peace

So much of our time is spent being distracted from peace. We are constantly bombarded by input. We have ‘busy’ lives, or so we say, and our minds are constantly…

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We need to find peace!

So much of our time is spent being distracted from peace. We are constantly bombarded by input. We have ‘busy’ lives, or so we say, and our minds are constantly in flux. Sometimes our minds are so in flux that we mistake busy for simple, mental chaos. And let’s not forget our relationships. Our relations demand our attention. Our relations demand our time. We really find little time for ourselves. Then there’s sleep. We fall into bed dog tired without even a simple moment of prayer. The link above lists ten ways to discover inner peace. Good words.

There’s no time for peace?

 

Make the time!

I’ve written several essays about creating a meditation space. Meditation requires your presence. It requires you to be somewhere. Unless you have been meditating for years and have established a ‘perpetual,’ meditation mindset, then it’s best to have a personal space where you can peacefully seclude yourself and remain undistracted. It’s so important to be able to disconnect from the outer, ever changing mind/world. Your meditation space will become a desired place of peace, stillness and refuge (as your practice deepens). You will want to be there.

Finding Peace

 

I Need Motivation!

Make setting up your meditation space a mini-project. Enjoy it. Anticipate it. Go on a quest. Find meaningful artifacts to populate your meditation space. Consider the work you will be doing in your space while you are setting it up. Begin to think of the sacredness of this endeavor. Start the growth process. Make creating your space personal and meaningful.

 

New to Meditation?

Make meditation an adventure. Forget about the mystic behind meditation. It’s just a tool. What’s important is that you slowly build a simple, evolving, poignant practice. Think about peace. Think about calm. Think about centeredness. Think about your internal qualities. These are desired results. Consider them and their impact on your future (we still haven’t started meditation yet).

 

Make your meditation practice simple.

Your practice should be an easy event. It should not be tedious or inconvenient. It need not take too much time. Ten minutes every day is much more effective that one hour a week. In fact, a one-hour per week practice likely won’t work. You’ll quit, because it’s too long and is not routine. I’ve found (through years of personal experience) that ten minutes, first thing in the morning works very well. You are there. You are ready to begin the blessings of a new day. And the rigors of sensory input hasn’t reared its head yet.

Finding Peace

 

Time to practice:

Sit down. Get comfortable. Take some comfortable, deep breaths. Focus your awareness on your breath. Breath awareness is initially challenging because we are not used to it. Our bodies breathe themselves. So, focus your awareness. Controlled, slow breathing is the center of your practice. As your focus shifts from external input to internal breath awareness your mind becomes calm and tranquil, peace starts to manifest. Slow the breath. Notice how the breath slows in response.

 

More breathe work. Feel your Heart:

Try this. Take a fairly deep inhale and hold your breath. Feel your heart beating. It may take two or three attempts. Once you feel your heart beating, gently return to your slow, steady breathing while keeping the awareness of your heart beating. Then, expand your heart awareness so you can feel your heart pulse radiating outwards to your arms and hands, your tummy, your legs and feet… even to every cell and corpuscle. Make heart awareness your priority. Become inspired by your heart.

These two techniques are the start of something magnificent!

These two simple awarenesses are the beginning of a meditation practice centered around peace. Peace is already there within you. Your practice is about rediscovery! It’s about awakening. Turn your attention from external mental noise to the calm, internal peace of breath/heart awareness. It’s that simple. If your mind wanders, take a peaceful breath and return to your heart. This is the beginning.

A few minutes each day is all it takes. In a short amount of time you will find ease in your growing practice and a new peace that has been trapped within by a chaotic mind/world.

Peace is not an external object that we can possess. It is already within us, waiting to be rediscovered.

“Begin where you are.” —B.K.S. Iyengar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Peace Run Children’s Art Exhibit

Paintings for World Harmony – San Diego City Hall – On Thursday March 26, two friends and I set up an art display at San Diego…

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Paintings for World Harmony

San Diego City Hall – On Thursday March 26, two friends and I set up an art display at San Diego City Hall. The display featured ‘Paintings for World Harmony’ by prolific artist Sri Chinmoy, founder of the Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run, and drawings that we collected from children around the world where the Peace Run visited this year.

Peace Run Jharna Kala Exhibit SD photo 1 Peace Run Jharna Kala Exhibit SD photo 7 Peace Run Jharna Kala Exhibit SD photo 6

Sri Chinmoy

Sri Chinmoy was an artist, poet, musician and athlete who dreamed about a oneness–world through inner peace. His art work such as ‘Peace Feeds the Children’, ‘Serve Humanity’ and ‘Imagine Peace Here and Now’ makes us reflect on the inner peace that exists within us. His art work has been displayed in prominent locations throughout the world such as; The Victoria and Albert Museum in London, The Louvre in Paris and The United Nations in New York City.

Peace Run Jharna Kala Exhibit SD photo 5 Peace Run Jharna Kala Exhibit

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The Children’s Art

The children’s art work are beautiful masterpieces with the theme of ‘Peace’, ‘Happiness’, ‘Nonviolence’ and ‘Recycling’. The children – ages 5-15 – remind us of their hopes and dreams for a more harmonious and peaceful world.

SD Administration Bldg

City of San Diego

We would like to thank the City of San Diego for their support and I would like to personally thank the founder of Pilgrimage of the Heart Yoga Studio, Sujantra McKeever, and the Peace Run for making this exhibit possible.

Santiva

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The Benefits of Meditation

Why Meditate? – The benefits of meditation are undeniable. Meditation calms the mind. From the moment we awake and open our eyes…

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Why Meditate?

The benefits of meditation are undeniable. Meditation calms the mind. From the moment we awake and open our eyes until we put ourselves to bed, it’s typical to have a stream of thoughts flowing through our minds. This is why we practice yoga and part of yoga, as a whole, is meditation. When the mind is calmed by meditating we can balance our emotions, quiet our thoughts and create a higher level of self-awareness.

How to Meditate

There is no secret mystery to meditation. Just like learning to ride a bike or drive a car, meditation takes some basic, initial instruction and then it takes practice to enjoy the benefits. Anyone can meditate. Meditation is free. Meditation can be done anywhere. Meditation can be done anytime. You can take a class at a meditation center or a yoga studio if you’d like to have a personal guide. Pilgrimage Online offers great, free resources for meditating you can find HERE.

Avoid the Pitfalls of a Newbie Meditating

Try meditation and then try it again and again. Don’t be concerned that you aren’t doing it right. At first, it may seem odd to to take no other actions outside of sitting and breathing. The stillness may be uncomfortable, initially, as most of us have zero experience with quiet time in our day. You may find that sitting quietly highlights just how active your mind is and that might be uncomfortable. The odd discomfort of being new to meditation is only temporary. It’s normal. Remember: you’re trying something new so give yourself some space to learn and grow.

Getting to Know the Real You

When you meditate, you take time to just be you. Not the you that has a name that was given at birth. Not the you that wears clothes in the style that is acceptable to society. Not the you that has emails to read and to-do lists to complete. In meditation, you see you for who you really are: the being, or soul, some might say, that is behind the thoughts. Your thoughts and who you are, are two separate things.

Letting Go

When you see yourself, sitting quietly and letting go of the racing mind, you will feel a sense of contentment and calm. You will see that all there ever is, is right now. Yesterday and what will happen in the next hour don’t exist when you are in the right now, being you. In fact, meditation prepares you for the future. People who meditate regularly are more innovative on average. Meditation also helps you heal from the past. Taking that time to sit quietly helps you release what you’re holding onto: thoughts and emotions about the past.

A New Practice

If you are new to meditation or renewing your interest in meditation, I invite you to meditate for at least 3-5 minutes this week, then again next week and so on. I invite you to start a regular practice of meditation and, in turn, gain the most valuable of benefits: a higher level of self-awareness.

If you found this information helpful or have any questions, let me know in the comments below.

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How you can set an intention for your yoga practice

What does setting an intention mean? – You may have heard your yoga instructor invite you to “set an intention” at the beginning of class…

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What does setting an intention mean?

You may have heard your yoga instructor invite you to “set an intention” at the beginning of class. Setting an intention isn’t an ancient practice. It’s not one of the 8 limbs of yoga. You won’t find it in the Bhagavad Gita. So why does your teacher mention this in class? What does it mean to set an intention?

Set Out Into Life with an Intention

Setting an intention is a reminder that what you do for an hour on the mat is preparing you for the 23 other hours of the day when you’re off the mat. Most of the day you are dealing with life – work, school, relationships, money, traffic, parking, the list is endless. When you head out into your life without an intention, things can get fraught with difficulties.

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If you set out into life with an intention, such as: peace, love, acceptance, or patience, the incidences of your day are seen through a sort of intention filter. Like a pair of sunglasses that you put on and it changes the way you see things. If you can’t find parking and you’re running 5 minutes late for an appointment, the whole situation looks and feels differently if you have the intention of acceptance and patience.

Other People’s Experience

 Other people’s experience of you will be colored by your intention as well. Rather than being stressed and angry after arriving 5 minutes late, your intention has you focused and calm. Nothing has changed, life didn’t suddenly get easier, but your intention allows you to cruise through the big and small battlefields of life with less resistance and more ease.

Begin Your Day with an Intention

Try setting an intention at the beginning of your next yoga practice. Something that you would like to cultivate more of in your life off the mat. As you breath in, image that you can draw into your lungs and body the essential qualities needed to create that intention in your life. As you exhale, breath those qualities out into the room, the people around you, into your city and ultimately into the world.

What intention are you setting for your life while on the mat? How is it changing your life off the mat? Let me know in a comment below. 

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