This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
Spiritual Practices for Daily Living
By Teja Shankara
Author of the memoir The Rita Lila: A Western Yogini’s Journey to Bliss
by Teja’s pen name Rita Ann Shankara
Radiance Rising: Spiritual Practices for Daily Living
Copyright © 2010 by Teja Shankara. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission from the author. Cover design by Gaelyn Larrick, www.book-covers-that-sell.com Interior design by Bram Larrick, www.book-covers-that-sell.com Published by Bliss Press. Visit me on the web at www.yogini-bliss.com Printed by McNaughton & Gunn, Inc.
who showed me the pathways to Bliss.For my little sister L.. Amma and Neem Karoli Baba: by Your Grace i breathe. and for all beings who are willing to watch their thoughts. i write. And for my beloved Gurus. thereby opening to the radiance of their hearts. i practice. Thank You for the unending. . In loving memory of and with deep gratitude for my dearest teacher Basil. ever-increasing Love i feel for You.
Contents Introduction By Raja Yogini Tejaswini ix Raja Yoga 15 Cultivating the Witness 16 Working Skillfully with Vasanas 20 Understanding the Spiritual Process of Expanding and Contracting 26 Meditation 29 What is Meditation and How is It Good for Us? 29 The Basics of a Sitting Meditation Practice 32 Posture 32 The Breath 33 The Mind 34 The Body and the Emotions 36 Setting Up a Place and Time to Practice 38 Meditation Techniques Beyond Basic Sitting 41 Helpful Attitudes for Meditation and for Daily Life 43 Meditation Experiences 46 Jñana Yoga 51 The Spiritual Principles: Studying and Applying 52 Discrimination 56 .
Radiance Rising Gurukulas 57 Suggested Reading List 58 Kundalini Yoga 67 Tuning in to the Chakras 68 Discerning the Energies of the Subtle Body 71 Karma Yoga 75 Ammachi 75 Gandhi-ji 78 Bhakti Yoga 83 Hindu Gods and Goddesses 84 Chanting 85 Kirtan 87 Bowing 89 Understanding and Nourishing the Heart’s Longing 91 Acceptance 92 Puriﬁcation 94 Additional Practices for Transformation 99 Fire Circles 99 Costumes 101 Afﬁrmations While Walking 103 Honoring Our Ancestors 104 Laughter 105 .
Contents Conclusion 107 Glossary 113 Acknowledgments 131 About the Author 133 .
with one’s deepest Self. So. with the essence of one’s Heart. The Raja Yoga Path is ix . The word ‘yoga’ means “union” – Union with God. My dear teacher Basil ﬁrst alerted me to that sutra. with the Truth of our Being. What is a raja yogini? A ‘yogi’ is a male practitioner of yoga.Introduction A n ancient Indian sutra states: The mind becomes that which it dwells upon. and when I really thought about what it means. I could see how true it has been in my life. So a yogini is a woman who performs spiritual practices designed to take one to that Union. I embarked on the spiritual journey of a raja yogini. in an effort to reduce the suffering caused by unhealthy thought patterns. and a ‘yogini’ is a female practitioner of yoga.
Kundalini Yoga. My intention is to provide an inspirational book that in plain language describes basic spiritual practices that anyone – of any religion – can incorporate into their spiritual journey. the path of working with the energies in the chakras and subtle body. and Bhakti Yoga. x . I value all paths that lead people to more Love. I began to see that anyone on any spiritual path could learn the yogic practices and apply them to their lives. the path of selﬂess service. and it includes aspects of four other yoga paths: Jñana Yoga. When I refer to my Gurus or to the Divine. I do spiritual practices from all of those yoga paths. With that in mind. and I am ﬁnding that the more I immerse myself in sadhana (spiritual practice). Karma Yoga. In this book I describe the spiritual practices that I do in my daily life that are helping me ﬁnd more balance and harmony. the path of knowledge. the better I handle life with ease and grace. I do not intend to push my path on anyone.Radiance Rising the Yoga of Meditation. the path of devotion. I offer this book of spiritual practices. As I delved deeper into understanding the Yoga Path.
He advised me to be rigorous with how I held myself. My teacher Basil once told me that he couldn’t cut me much slack because he could see that I had great potential. who is popularly known as the “hugging saint. As we change ourselves and our own inner radiance rises.” gave me the name Tejaswini. my Guru Ammachi. As Gandhi-ji said.Introduction When I really stop and think about why I am doing all of these spiritual practices. because I see that the more my heart softens into that Love. On Thanksgiving Day. Difﬁcult though it is. the more I share that Love with others. ﬁrst we have to change ourselves and be the change that we want to see in the world. beneﬁting everything and everyone around us. which then naturally makes us act more loving and kind with others. xi . November 2008. The whole point of spirituality is to learn how to handle life with more ease. which means “full of effulgence. it spontaneously shines out. I realize that my goal is to merge more and more with the Divine Love that lives deep inside all of our hearts. I endeavor to keep my attention on merging with the highest Light.
Radiance Rising full of light. so that I may radiate that brightness out in service of all. I fully experience the joys and sorrows of life. As we practice watching our thoughts and softening our hearts. Raja Yogini Tejaswini April 2009 xii . we incrementally experience more bliss and harmony in our lives. the more I experience an inner radiance rising. Rather.” With Basil’s high expectations (and my own). and I don’t see that as something that suddenly happens ﬁfty years from now. So. and bright. and the more I practice witnessing all of myself. I offer this book of spiritual practices with a prayer that more beings will begin to experience their own inner radiance rising. radiant. I continue to perform my daily spiritual practices with the intention to become Love and Light. On my journey as a raja yogini. and with Amma’s vision of me as full of light. I see that each of us gradually becomes more loving. my goal or my intention is to become Love and Light.
Raja Yoga The Path of Meditation .
” Of course meditation doesn’t only occur when we are sitting – there are many ways to be in a meditative state.Raja Yoga aja Yoga is the yoga of meditation. and understanding the spiritual process of expanding and contracting. What is meditation? My dear friend Baron deﬁnes it as the practice of “sitting in your being. but ﬁrst I will describe three other very important practices: cultivating the Witness. working skillfully with vasanas (patterns or tendencies). Later in this section I will lay out some deﬁnitions and beneﬁts of meditation. 15 R . as well as explain the basics of a sitting meditation practice. rather than your thinking.
words. The practice is simply watching all of ourselves without judgment – just watching ourselves. because it is such a relief to be separate from the dramas of our lives. and bodily sensations. The more we place our attention on the Witness and identify ourselves with the Witness. Rather than believing that we are our problems.Radiance Rising Cultivating the Witness For me. we become the one who observes the problems 16 . the most important practice – the one that has helped me most in softening my heart – is cultivating the Witness. patterns. I practice cultivating the Witness during my morning and evening sitting meditations. It is a practice in learning to love ourselves unconditionally. emotions. and I also practice it during my daily life. while allowing and accepting everything as it is in each moment. the more bliss we begin to feel. What is cultivating the Witness? It is watching ourselves – watching our thoughts. actions.
and minerals) and to the Divine… because we are 17 . say. the more we experience that the Witness is actually the pure love energy that we really are. Anyone. plants. as we begin to experience that there is Something underneath our stories. We only think that we are separate because we are in separate bodies. The Witness helps us to see all that we are not – all of our false coverings – so that then we can see who we really are… … And we are all really just pure love energy. So what is the “Witness” Consciousness? The Witness is that part of ourselves that simply watches and observes everything we are and everything we think. on any path. feel. but we are all so connected: to each other. to the earth (and its creatures. and do. can tune in to that Witness part of themselves. We are all one continuous web of energy and vibration.Raja Yoga that are passing through us. and the more we tune in to that objective Witness. Step by step we gradually disentangle ourselves from the stories happening through us. That “Something” is the Witness Mind or the Witness Energy or Consciousness.
the practice of cultivating the Witness is resting in watching all that we 18 . which is the same joy and bliss that each of us really is. So the practice of cultivating the Witness is not a practice in psychological processing or analyzing.Radiance Rising one unbroken web of pure love energy. The Witness Energy simply witnesses – it doesn’t judge or blame or shame. and the more I allow my patterns to unfold. the more I get to know the joy and bliss of who I really am. In our busy daily lives. it is a lot of work. Cultivating the Witness is a practice that helps us keep our attention on the Love that is ﬂowing through all of our hearts in every moment. The more I go behind and underneath the story of who I thought I was. Rather. it is so difﬁcult to keep our attention on things that expand us – on things that ﬁll our hearts with love. and this is not always easy. The practice of cultivating the Witness has helped me to really see myself and all my patterns more clearly. but the rewards are well worth the efforts. the more my heart opens. In fact.
The Witness Energy doesn’t label or judge. whether we tune in to it or not. We are not trying to force ourselves to change and we are not trying to improve ourselves. the Witness Energy watches all. accepting. Even though our life experiences and relationships don’t feel equal – some bring much pain while others bring much joy – they are actually all equal in the eyes of the Witness Energy. and allowing all that we are. Just as the sun shines equally on all. The Witness Energy is always watching. As the ancient Indian sutra states.Raja Yoga are – watching. then our energies feed it and it grows stronger and stronger. Over time. but when we do place our attention on it. the mind becomes that which it dwells upon. 19 . So when we place our mind’s attention on our problems. this practice of cultivating the Witness begins to have an equalizing effect on all of the many parts of ourselves and on our life stories. This is the meaning of “cultivating” the Witness. We are simply witnessing ourselves exactly as we are in each moment. and it doesn’t pick and choose what to watch – it watches everything.
The great part about this practice is the Witness Energy is already inside of each of us just waiting for us to tune in to it and cultivate it. then we gradually become that pure love energy. The practice of cultivating the Witness is a gradual journey into the heart. and life becomes more enjoyable. We begin to experience this universe as a joyful playground rather than a serious court of justice. Conversely. “Gradually” is the key word here. it is very helpful if we understand what it is that we are witnessing. we face life’s ups and downs with more ease.Radiance Rising we become our problems. Working Skillfully with Vasanas (Patterns or Tendencies) When we practice witnessing ourselves in each moment. when we place our mind’s attention on the Witness Energy that is essentially the pure love energy ﬂowing continuously through all of us. As our Witness Energy grows stronger. 20 .
but learning how to work skillfully with them. once we feel frustrated. Again. and so on. but ironically. We each have many kinds of patterns encoded in our beings: patterns of behavior. Once we witness these patterns objectively. So the task before us is not only seeing and understanding our patterns. Many of these patterns took a long time to wind themselves up into tight knots in our beings.” Vasanas are strong magnetic-like tendencies that show up as patterns that do not want to let go. A knot that has taken a long time to be intricately wound up cannot instantly unwind just because we see it. of thought.Raja Yoga So many of our thoughts and emotions arise out of what the yoga path calls “vasanas. of personality. of speech. we can then allow them to unwind. with unconditional love and acceptance. This frustration is natural and understandable. 21 . So many of us get frustrated and overwhelmed when we can’t seem to break our patterns even once we see them. this is a gradual process. we block ourselves even more from releasing our patterns.
but they have a magnetic quality that can be quite gripping. we will work with it differently as time passes. Next we need to continually assess what we need to do to address our patterns. my teacher Basil repeatedly explained the pattern to me. We can even forgive ourselves. For example. rather than being whole within myself.Radiance Rising so that we can gradually allow them to release. since I was so wound up in it. I did not understand how big the knot was. I have worked for years to break through an addictive love pattern. With each pattern that we witness. changing process. With that in mind. I say “continually” because this is an ongoing. What that means is I have had a strong tendency to look for fulﬁllment in a being outside of myself. First we need to understand that many of our patterns are not only wound up in tight knots. Eventually I began to see the pattern myself. so I quickly got frustrated with my inability to stop 22 . Over several years. At ﬁrst I couldn’t even see the pattern. so then I started to try to release it. we can be more gentle and patient with ourselves.
but it is actually quite accurate. Thousands of times (literally!) I practiced turning my attention away from the man who I was fantasizing about. We don’t do that because we are bad people – we do that because we are wound up in patterns that are difﬁcult to break free from. I also practiced directing my attention to the Love within my heart. As I practiced witnessing the pattern. We are each longing for that everlasting Love that is good for us. Gradually. but instead we run around seeking all kinds of temporary pleasures that aren’t good for us. So as I witnessed the addictive love pattern and consciously directed my attention toward the Love within my heart. and turning my attention toward the Love inside my heart. I also worked skillfully with the pattern in many other 23 .Raja Yoga looking for love in all the wrong places. At times it felt like training a toddler to focus on vegetables rather than cookies! That analogy of vegetables and cookies may sound funny. I began to understand the pattern better. as I watched the addictive love pattern play through me again and again.
Many times I sobbed my way through deep. soaking my feet in hot salt water. weeping. Other times I wisely took breaks from the pattern to gain fresh perspectives and healing energies. Often I prayed to be released of the pattern. I found it helpful to nourish myself on all levels. Thus. as I worked skillfully with this pattern. dancing.Radiance Rising ways. Once I grasped the Grace at work in unwinding the knots. loud cries. and connecting with friends and family. taking hot baths. cooking. As with any deep inner healing work. I also inspired myself creatively through healing activities such as: chanting (singing). stretching. Over time. laughing. and adequate sleep were essential. good nutrition. gardening. At times I needed to go fully into the pattern and witness its devastating effects. baking. I gradually began to see that it actually was beginning to unravel. Sometimes I wrote my observations in a journal. Other times I talked with friends and counselors. I shifted from “working” with the pattern. regular exercise. when working with the addictive love pattern. long. playing. to 24 .
like the full-on pattern did. Eventually I understood that the magnetic knotted rope had unwound and I was holding the last frayed ends out in front of my heart. the pattern has unraveled to such an extent that its little frayed ends don’t affect me that much. They have lost the magnetic charge. one of the most joy-ﬁlled results is the disappearance of our blockages. with the intention to allow them to completely dissolve at the right time. While I was caught up in it. Those little moments don’t cause any suffering.Raja Yoga enjoying the “play” of the pattern. even as I watch my mind still engage in moments of looking outward for fulﬁllment. In total amazement. Thus I am able to continue the unwinding process with joy. The difference now is that rather than still being a long magnetic rope that has me all tied up in knots. I didn’t even realize how much that pattern blocked 25 . I stand ﬁrmly in the Bliss of feeling whole and fulﬁlled in my own being. I watched those frayed ends for quite some time. Even now I watch those frayed ends. knowing that this too shall shift. As our patterns shift.
our hearts begin to soften. Later I could see that it had blocked my sense of intuition. their associated blockages are spontaneously removed. and my ability to be present in the moment with myself and with others.Radiance Rising in me. It is difﬁcult to fully enjoy our lives when we are blocked by our destructive patterns. The great part about this practice is that as our patterns begin to unwind. but once our patterns unravel. the patterns and tendencies that wind us up and cause all those thoughts and emotions which make us suffer. and we get to enjoy the splendid play of life. which literally feels like heavy weights lifted off of our hearts. So that is the journey of working skillfully with our vasanas. Understanding the Spiritual Process of Expanding and Contracting One of the greatest misconceptions about spirituality has to do with expansions and contractions. Many people think that once they 26 . my creative expression.
open. open. close. open. then they will open. Rather than open. open. the Universe requires us to open. quite honestly. most of our systems are just not ready to open to the Full Bliss of the Universe all at once. That would be really wonderful. Gradually. and eventually we will all reach the open.) So. open stage. open. open. open. open. and life will become blissful all the time. open. (This system seems simultaneously absurdly hilarious and insanely sorrowful. close several billion times before we can begin to practice open.Raja Yoga begin doing spiritual practices. open. gradually expanding our capacity to be in the bliss state. open. Going into the blissful expanded state is actually the easy part – landing again in yet another contracted state is the hard part. we open our hearts again and again. 27 . open. it is helpful for us to understand why we have to keep closing. close. which. but unfortunately the Universe designed things according to Its own plans. Simply put. are not easy to accept. but it takes a lot of internal practice to get there! As we practice opening and closing. close.
There is an art to landing. The thought that I needed to come down from the bliss was so funny to me that I fell on the ground laughing out loud for several minutes. After dancing for a while in a blissful trance with my eyes closed.’ everyone there became happy too. In that conversation. and I suddenly found myself feeling extremely blissful. but landing is another matter entirely. One thing that helps us to 28 . It is easy to expand and go into bliss – and it is enjoyable – but it is hard to land again: we go bumping along the runway. it occurred to me that I needed to ‘come down’ and open my eyes. which applies to the spiritual process as well. and we all sat around the ﬁre talking about expansions and contractions. resisting the landing! So. our task is to learn how to land more smoothly. Rather than judging me as ‘crazy. we came up with this analogy of ﬂying an airplane: it is easy to take off and ﬂy.Radiance Rising Recently I was dancing at a ﬁre circle (I will cover ﬁre circles as tools for spiritual transformation in a later section).
We practice paying attention and accepting whatever comes. We don’t try to change or ﬁx anything. we allow ourselves to witness our thoughts. we gain a fuller understanding of this process. and witness our bodily sensations. but rather we just witness ourselves exactly as we are in each moment. 29 . Over time. as we witness the ways in which we open and close. Meditation What is Meditation and How is It Good for Us? Meditation is simply paying attention to what is happening within us in the present moment. then it isn’t such a surprise when it happens.Raja Yoga achieve softer landings is the understanding that contractions inevitably follow expansions. and we can accept the landing more gracefully. While sitting still and quiet in meditation. witness our emotions. When we are expanding. if we expect that next we will be contracting.
we also gently direct our attention toward a point of concentration. perhaps even thousands of times. I could not sit still for twenty minutes doing nothing – that would be so totally boring. Meditation is simply sitting in our beings and watching our experiences from moment to moment.’ While it is true that we can get into a calm.Radiance Rising While paying attention to whatever is arising. Even after just a few months of practicing sitting 30 . Meditation is an inherent physiological ability that we can learn and practice. ‘They have got to be kidding. Hundreds. and each time we simply notice the thoughts. Quite a few people recommended it to me and each time my internal response was. I am not that kind of person – I need more activity. our attention will sway into thoughts. and patiently bring our attention back to our chosen point of concentration. like dancing or walking. there is something unique to sitting meditation that provides us with amazing beneﬁts. I resisted meditation for years. such as our breath or a mantra. meditative state while dancing or walking.
and the ease of tension and stress. When we sit still in meditation regularly. including: the reduction of blood pressure. go. Current research on meditation is proving that this easy-to-learn skill can provide numerous documented beneﬁts. In our crazy. In the midst of the stress we are immersed in.Raja Yoga meditation for twenty minutes each day. for one thing. help with insomnia. and depression. we are built for it. Why is sitting still so beneﬁcial to us? Well. Many regular meditators also experience increased clarity of thought and more effective actions in the world. I ﬁnd that even when my mind labels a 31 . Our bodies and minds respond quite positively to that natural happy state. we gradually begin to catch glimpses of that natural happy state. Our systems are designed to be able to go into deep states of blissful peace and calm. we have forgotten that our natural human state is one of happiness and joy. many people already begin to see positive results in their lives. anxiety. go from sunup to beyond sundown. most of us go. rushed modern life.
I notice that there is an open. For ﬂoor sitting. Regular meditation creates an inner calm that brings more joy to my daily life. tingly sensation around my head. The important thing is to sit straight with the spine straight. when I stand up to go about my day.Radiance Rising particular meditation session as “not good” because of overwhelming monkey-mind chatter. The Basics of a Sitting Meditation Practice Posture You may sit on the ﬂoor on a cushion. My thoughts may have been racing in over-drive. but since the Witness Mind was watching them. or you may sit on a chair. the meditation has still affected me in a positive way. and a feeling of spaciousness around my heart. Do not lean back on anything and do not lean forward. I was actually still sitting in meditation. many people ﬁnd it helpful to sit cross-legged with their bottom on a cushion 32 . So even after a monkeymind session.
Many people. You can put pillows or blankets under your knees if necessary. I relax more quickly into a deeper state of calm. when I close my eyes. If you keep your eyes open. you may rest your hands folded in your lap or rest them on your knees. The ﬁrst thing to do 33 . especially when you are ﬁrst beginning your practice. sunandmoonoriginals. In my experience. (My favorite meditation cushion is called Cosmic Cushion™ by Sun and Moon Originals.Raja Yoga so that their bottom is up higher than their knees.com) Sitting up straight with your chin tucked under slightly. Let them feel relaxed. Experiment and see which way you prefer. www. prefer to meditate with their eyes closed. palms up or palms down. The Breath The breath is an important focal point for meditation. Experiment with how you are most comfortable sitting. let your gaze be soft. including myself. Some people meditate with eyes open. looking down and slightly forward.
How many of us are driven crazy by the constancy of our busy thinking 34 . Let the breath be natural. It is the mind’s nature to think thoughts. not to change yourself.Radiance Rising once you sit down is to just pay attention to your breath. The thing about the mind is that it tends to control us. and thank goodness for that or else we would not be able to function well in the world. Watch the breath going in. as if it is our master. The Mind While you are watching the breath. The meditation practice should be soft and gentle. It is the mind’s job to think thoughts. and then return to watching the breath. watch them come and watch them go. so that you are allowing yourself to be exactly as you are in each moment. watch the breath going out. When thoughts come. The goal is to watch yourself. your mind will naturally start thinking thoughts. You don’t need to try to control the breath or force it to be relaxed. So you just watch your breathing.
Gradually we begin to notice that there is a pause. that gap widens. Once we make a commitment to a daily sitting meditation practice. the thoughts will eventually settle down. then we can begin to ﬁnd some mental peace. that decision sets into motion a whole range of changes within us. we gradually learn how to become the masters of our minds. between our thoughts. Over time. many thoughts go through our minds while we are sitting in meditation. However. with regular meditation. Initially we witness many.Raja Yoga minds? We wish that our minds would just stop thinking and give us a little peace sometimes! So with meditation practice. If we stick to the regular daily practice. We need our minds to think for us so that we can function well in the world. This mental peace comes through effort and discipline. or a gap. keep in mind that even people who have meditated for thirty years still experience meditation sessions ruled by monkey-mind 35 . but we don’t need them to think for us 24/7. When we consciously decide that we are the masters and our minds are our servants.
in addition to watching our thoughts. When we practice gently witnessing ourselves. we come to know ourselves intimately. but rather it is something we allow. we then relax. When we allow ourselves to be just as we are and we accept ourselves just as we are. we relax. So the funny thing about the meditation practice is that by purposefully not trying to relax.Radiance Rising chatter. This resting is not something we can force. It is helpful to think of relaxation as a skill we develop. So the sitting meditation practice is a journey in gradually allowing ourselves to rest in the gaps between thoughts. Relaxation cannot be forced. but it can be learned and practiced. we also watch our bodily sensations and our emotions. As with the thoughts. Likewise. happiness is also a skill we develop. we don’t try to change the sensations and emotions. The Body and the Emotions During sitting meditation practice. but rather we just 36 . and little by little happiness begins to radiate out from our hearts.
Whatever we feel is okay. praying. Then. we simply breathe into them as best we can. unless we really need to shift our position to be more comfortable. Emotional pains can be worked through in many ways. If anger comes. swimming. As we move to a more comfortable position. With emotional pains. we try to hold still anyway. we allow them to ﬂow. 37 . If we feel overwhelmed by the emotions that come up during meditation. tensions. and so forth. taking hot baths. singing. then those emotions are asking us to work through them and heal them. dancing. If tears come. With bodily pains. tensions. spending time in nature. and discomforts.Raja Yoga simply watch them and allow them to be as they are in the moment. we also notice them and try to breathe into them. doing yoga stretches (“asanas” or body postures). crying. we just allow it and watch it. while holding still and noticing the bodily sensations. such as: talking with a friend or a counselor. and discomforts. we may notice how that small movement feels. so that we can be free of them. journaling.
they begin to unravel. Setting Up a Place and Time to Practice It is helpful to meditate in a particular spot each day. or by creating an altar with special pictures. they will just keep coming out anyway at various times in our lives. How do we deal with these patterns? We witness them and get to know them. because if we try to ignore them or to pretend that they don’t exist. The evening time could be just before dinner or 38 . in their own time. Meditation practice allows us to clearly see our patterns. You can make your meditation area special by lighting a candle or incense. it is generally recommended to meditate early in the morning and/or in the evening. stones. or other meaningful objects. We cultivate a lot of patience. As far as the time of day goes.Radiance Rising Many of us long to be free of our emotional and behavioral patterns. We allow them to be just as they are in each moment. and gradually. We do need to deal with these patterns.
we ﬁnd our own rhythms with the practice. we gradually ﬁnd ourselves settling down more quickly. and after meditating daily for a while. 39 . Once we establish ourselves in the habit of a regular meditation practice.Raja Yoga a few hours after dinner. Over time. If possible. but you can try meditating at any time of day and see how it feels to you. My own appetite for meditation grew incrementally as I stuck with the daily practice. we follow our appetite. we may ﬁnd our appetite for meditation increasing. depending on your schedule. it is best to meditate at about the same time every day. but in the beginning stages many people ﬁnd it easiest to sit for shorter periods. Ideally. we will sit for at least twenty minutes in the morning and again in the evening. Our bodies and minds get into a rhythm with meditation if we practice it regularly. gradually working their way up to twenty minutes or longer. So. Regularly means that we sit every day at about the same time. It is not recommended to meditate in the middle of the day because the world around us is so active then.
at which time I also began sitting in the mornings. I began to enjoy the quality of stillness that comes with morning sitting. “No. I sat for about twenty minutes each evening. Over time.” Since I really believe in the importance of meditation. that thought worked for me. I would say to myself. so I lost the urge to get up and immediately get busy. For me. because of my tendency to start doing things right away. This is the most important thing you will do all day. Now I actually look forward to sitting in meditation.” I have found that sitting still is incredibly interesting. sit right here – don’t move. Far from doing nothing. so I had to re-train my mind. Gradually I noticed that my sitting sessions were expanding to thirty or forty minutes. in sitting meditation I ﬁnd myself experiencing a 40 . Contrary to my earlier assumption that sitting still would be “so totally boring. and I would immediately relax and keep sitting.Radiance Rising For the ﬁrst few years. it was difﬁcult to begin the morning sitting practice. Whenever I wanted to jump up and get busy.
richness of depth that I have longed for all my life.
Meditation Techniques Beyond Basic Sitting
After we become familiar with sitting and simply watching our breathing (and everything else that is going on inside of us), we can try other meditation techniques. Here I will outline just a few: Sound. Some people go into deep states of calm just by paying attention to the sounds they hear, internally and externally. Energies. I ﬁnd it calming to focus on the energies that I feel within myself, within my chakras, and in the environment surrounding me. (I will deﬁne “chakras” in a later section.) Pure Being. Sometimes you can just simply focus on your heart and feel yourself resting in that pure space that is you, underneath the storylines of who you are in the world – underneath your name, family, personality, temperament, etc. 41
Mantra. Some people receive a mantra from a spiritual teacher or guru. Other people just choose a mantra for themselves. A mantra is a syllable, word, or phrase, that when repeated with concentration, can help you to calm your mind and open your heart. An example would be, each time you breathe in, you think, “I am Peace,” and each time you breathe out, you think, “I am Joy.” After several minutes, you might simply think “Peace” on the in-breath, and “Joy” on the outbreath. In India, one of the most potent, popular mantras is “Om Namah Shivaya” (pronounced Oh-mmm, Nah-mah Shee-vyeuh), which means “I bow to Shiva who is Pure Consciousness and Bliss. I bow to my innermost Self, which is Pure Consciousness and Bliss.” Visualization. Some people become very calm when they visualize a river ﬂowing into the ocean or a snow-covered mountain or a lake in the moonlight. Others visualize a candle ﬂame or a ﬁre burning. Some just focus on a tiny dot or a speck of light. 42
Regular activities. Anytime we become fully aware in the present moment, we can realize a meditative state. This could be while we are doing dishes, walking in nature, playing ball with a child, having tea with a friend, or singing in the shower.
Helpful Attitudes for Meditation and for Daily Life
Acceptance of what IS. In meditation we practice accepting our breath, our thoughts, our emotions, and our bodily sensations, in each moment. Then, in our daily lives, we practice acceptance of ourselves, of others, and of the life circumstances we are immersed in. Curiosity about what IS. The more we cultivate curiosity, the more openhearted we become. Approaching the meditation practice with a tremendous sense of curiosity makes the meditation practice much more enjoyable and fulﬁlling. When we sit down to meditate, our attitude should be, ‘Hmmm… I wonder what I will ﬁnd inside my being today?’ Since 43
especially when we don’t get the immediate results that we want from meditation! Some beginning meditators think that they are doing it “wrong” if they don’t immediately feel blissful and calm. Our minds naturally judge. what we ﬁnd inside ourselves in meditation is always fresh and new. and this is helpful to us sometimes. mental. Patience with what IS.Radiance Rising our emotional. We ﬁrst cultivate patience with ourselves. we ﬁnd ourselves in a more relaxed. 44 . open-minded state. but most of the time our judgments harm ourselves and others. we then can begin to question them and to see where we might be able to loosen them up a bit. we ﬁnd that our lives are much more interesting than we previously thought. When we loosen our judgments. In meditation we come to see our judgments more clearly. When we also apply this sense of curiosity to our daily lives. and physical states are always changing. In meditation we practice cultivating patience. which contributes signiﬁcantly to our health and well-being. Non-judgment of what IS. Once we begin to witness our judgments in meditation and in daily life.
then they will naturally settle down. which brings us into a state of increased peace and happiness. when we ﬁrst begin to look inside ourselves. if you feel agitated in your early meditations. The more patient we become. and so we cultivate patience. A Sense of Humor with what IS. all of our emotional knots and crazy thought patterns will present themselves for us to see! If we are patient and simply watch them with acceptance and nonjudgment. This patience then begins to spread into our daily lives. When we take ourselves – or our meditation practice – too seriously. This takes time. Laughing at ourselves is quite helpful. Many people can laugh later about things that they took too seriously when the 45 . chances are good that you are doing it right! Remembering that the primary goal is to witness ourselves. It is really important to cultivate a sense of humor with ourselves and with our meditation practice. we dampen down the joy. the more we begin to unwind the places in us that are wound up too tightly.Raja Yoga Actually. This unwinding helps reduce our stress levels.
and we are all doing the best that we can. Meditation Experiences Sometimes our minds will judge our meditation sessions as “good” or “bad. In meditation. when we feel frustrated with our thinking minds and we just want the thoughts to stop. Practice laughing at situations as they occur.Radiance Rising things were happening. we take a moment to feel compassion for ourselves and for others. We pause and remember that we all have these thinking minds. In meditation practice. Laughter yoga has recently become popular: people join together in the yoga studio and laugh together for 45 minutes! Laughing heartily is good for our health. and see what happens.” This arises out of the mind’s natural tendency 46 . we cultivate a feeling of compassion for ourselves and then we extend that compassion out to others. Current research studies are showing the healing beneﬁts of laughter. Compassion for what IS.
others hear voices. Any and all experiences during meditation are simply to be observed. then we are meditating. In truth. and we incrementally open to the true essence of the Love that we all really are. we naturally begin to shed all of our false coverings. there are no bad meditations. if we are sitting still observing ourselves. as we witness all of ourselves. Each of our hearts is part of that great. There is a vast range of possible meditation experiences. then we can lose sight of the true goal of meditation. Even if our minds will not settle down. Over time. so we are 47 . Whether or not we have these experiences. Some people see colored lights. which is to humbly see all of ourselves.Raja Yoga to judge and label. but those judgments are incorrect. Any time that we spend sitting in meditation is valuable. then we will still reap the beneﬁts of a healthy meditation practice. If we begin to think that our experiences are somehow special. unbroken web of pure love energy. if we sit with the sincere intention to watch ourselves and we try to focus on the breath. and so on.
Radiance Rising all special. Inside of each of our hearts lies a great warm Light which is just waiting for us to discover it and radiate it out to the world. 48 .
Jñana Yoga The Path of Knowledge .
He 51 J . I am asking myself.Jñana Yoga ñana Yoga is the path of knowledge. As I begin to write this section. I think I can see him laughing at me! Sri Ramana Maharshi (1879-1950) was one of India’s greatest spiritual teachers. “What do I really know? What can I really say about the path of knowledge?” I have pulled The Spiritual Teaching of Ramana Maharshi (by Sri Ramanasramam and Shambhala Classics) off the shelf. and even though there is not a full smile in his soft gaze. I am laughing so hard that tears are streaming down my cheeks! After only six years of studying spiritual books on the Yoga Path. and I am staring at Sri Ramana Maharshi’s photo on the front cover.
it is very helpful to understand what it is that we are witnessing. when we practice witnessing ourselves. Thus. studying spiritual teachings has also helped me tremendously. when we are earnestly 52 . It is with deep humility – and a great sense of humor – that I will attempt to express something about the path of knowledge. Likewise. Each person can only truly realize the bliss of their Heart through direct experience. While meditating and singing devotional songs are my primary spiritual practices. The Spiritual Principles: Studying and Applying As I mentioned in an earlier section.Radiance Rising instructed people to seek their true Self through the discipline of self-inquiry. one practice recommended by Sri Ramana Maharshi is to repeatedly ask the question ‘Who am I?’ This process of self-inquiry leads one to True Knowledge of our Oneness with the Absolute Formless Reality.
however. expectation causes suffering. Like all spiritual practices. The whole goal of spirituality is to learn how to face life with more ease. we are open to the changing nature of things. then we can more gracefully accept whatever arises in life. then we can be happy no matter what happens. Through reading spiritual teachings. but until we really understand that principle of impermanence. but to also apply them in our daily lives. we will continue 53 . we begin to not only understand the spiritual principles. We can read many times about how the only constant is change. this is a gradual process. One spiritual principle is that change is the nature of the world. it is very helpful to develop an understanding of the spiritual principles. Thus.Jñana Yoga devoted to our daily spiritual practices. If we hold on tightly to what we want to happen in life. then we suffer many disappointments due to the changing nature of the world. Gradually we learn how to apply the principles in our lives. If. If we truly understand the changing nature of the world and its objects.
and so we needed to shift our plans. no ﬂights were leaving Portland. and we enjoyed our alternative travel plans. last winter my sons and I were scheduled to ﬂy to my parents’ house for Christmas. 54 . which included driving ﬁve hours that very afternoon! Amazingly. As I witnessed myself actually applying the spiritual principles. After reading so many spiritual books. as I likely would have in the past. I remained calm that whole day. After a few hours on the phone and computer. I immediately thought that change is the nature of things.Radiance Rising to allow life’s circumstances to unnecessarily upset us. On the morning of our ﬂight. I felt much gratitude for that Grace in my life. I arranged for a completely new plan. I was ﬁnally starting to grasp what they were saying. Rather than falling apart in tears. Oregon that day. I say “amazingly” because I was so astonished at my new ability to face the changing nature of things with such ease. the airline called to tell me that due to a heavy snowfall. For example.
At that time. as I continued contemplating impermanence. although they were getting a bit anxious to listen to music on their iPods. 55 . Pure Consciousness and Bliss. I seized the opportunity for a teaching moment with my two bright pre-teen sons. the Mother. the Eternal Light. I began to see impermanence as a blissful path to God. When we get tired enough of the suffering caused by the changing nature of the manifest realm. the Great Spirit. In this way. we naturally begin to seek That which is unchanging. the Universe. When I ﬁrst started studying the concept of impermanence. sorrow can lead us to joy. They listened to my talk about impermanence somewhat patiently. the Source. However we conceive of God – as the Unchanging Reality. I saw it as a cruel joke that the Universe was playing on us humans.Jñana Yoga During the long drive that day. However. I felt rather bitter about things not going the way I wanted them to go. the Father. the Divine – the spiritual principle is that God is unchanging. and witnessing how much my expectations created my suffering.
the alternative spiritual principle is that directing our attachment to That which is unchanging brings contentment. We swing back and forth between endless joys and sorrows. However. if we merely watch those things 56 . if we also practice discriminating between the changing and the unchanging. body sensations. we inevitably suffer for it. and states of consciousness are changing. feelings. then we suffer. an important spiritual tool is the practice of discrimination. Thus. The practice of discriminating between that which is changing and that which is unchanging leads to inner peace. or “viveka” as it is called in yogic philosophy. When we become attached to the people and things of this world. behavioral patterns. So as we practice witnessing ourselves. if we take those things too seriously and we become attached to them and identify with them. Conversely. Therefore.Radiance Rising Discrimination Another spiritual principle is that attachment to that which is changing leads to suffering. we realize that all of our thoughts.
as long as we do so with detachment. the task is to renounce our attachment to them. Art. then we can rest more in our connection with That which is unchanging. During that time. It is our attachment that causes our suffering. Rather than renouncing the people and things in our lives. The word “Gurukula” means the house of the guru or teacher. Very few of us are destined to become renunciates clothed in orange robes. This doesn’t mean that we need to renounce everything and go to live in a secluded cave in the Himalayas. Yoga. At the age of eight. and so on. Gurukulas The ancient educational system of India consisted of schools called gurukulas.Jñana Yoga come and go and allow them to pass through us with detachment. So we can still love and enjoy and serve people and things. the student would be instructed in Vedic Knowledge. a student would go to live in a gurukula to study with a spiritual teacher for several years. 57 . Music. Modern Science.
I would have made very different choices in my life! Of course we cannot change what has already happened. but we can begin now to re-train ourselves so that we correctly perceive the events of our lives.Radiance Rising The entire curriculum of those boarding schools was centered on the principle of Self-Realization. Thus. Once we begin to see life more clearly. When they completed that phase of their education. and children. we will make better choices for ourselves and for future generations. at age twenty or so. the students received intense training in the practices and principles necessary for leading a spiritual life. I pause to reﬂect that if I had gone to a gurukula from age eight until age twenty and I had really learned the spiritual principles before entering the worldly life. including a career. Suggested Reading List Here is a list of spiritual books that have particularly inspired me: 58 . they could then go on to pursue a worldly life. marriage.
Hanuman Foundation.. Shambhala Publications. MA.Jñana Yoga Ammachi: A Biography of Mata Amritanandamayi. Bell Tower Publishing. 2005. NY. Bhagavad Gita. New York. Center. 2002. Inc. Berkeley. Baba: Autobiography of a Blue-Eyed Yogi. translated by Eknath Easwaran. Stories About Neem Karoli Baba. Comfortable with Uncertainty: 108 Teachings on Cultivating Fearlessness and Compassion. Mohandas K. NM. Gandhi. Book of Prayers. M. Santa Fe. CA. San Ramon. Shambhala Publications. CA. by Rampuri. by Dada Mukerjee. 1999. Boston. by Swami Amritaswarupananda.A. 1985. Inc. By His Grace: A Devotee’s Story. 2001. 59 . 1994. Berkeley Hills Books.. by Pema Chödrön and Emily Hilburn Sell. Mata Amritanandamayi Mission Trust.
1962. Buddhist. Holy Mother: Being the Life of Sri Sarada Devi. Mata Amritanandamayi Mission Trust. Center. Great Swan: Meetings with Ramakrishna. Compiled and edited by Sushila Blackman. Hollywood.A. Vedanta Press. Wife of Sri Ramakrishna and Helpmate in His Mission. Boston. 1996. 60 . Inc. NY. Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center of New York. San Ramon. MA. by Lex Hixon. 1975. by Shankara. 2003. translated by Swami Prabhavananda and Christopher Isherwood. Tibetan. by Swami Nikhilananda. Burdett.Radiance Rising Crest-Jewel of Discrimination. Shambhala Publications. 1997. and Zen Masters. CA. Embracing the World: Images and Sayings of Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi. Larson Publications. CA. M.. Graceful Exits: How Great Beings Die – Death Stories of Hindu.
Honesdale. CA. Living with the Himalayan Masters. Namboodiri. Maypop Books. M. translations by Coleman Barks. Mata Amritanandamayi Center. English translation by Dr.N. Athens. edited and with an introduction by Richard Hooper. Compiled by Swami Jnanamritananda. English translation by Dr. by Swami Rama.Jñana Yoga Jesus.N. San Ramon. 61 . Buddha. Krishna and Lao Tzu: The Parallel Sayings. 2007. The Himalayan Institute Press. 2007. PA. 1992. 1978. GA. San Ramon. Compiled by Swami Jnanamritananda. Sanctuary Publications. Namboodiri. 2002. Sedona. 1999. Lead Us to the Light: A Collection of the Teachings of Mata Amritanandamayi. Lalla: Naked Song. M. Lead Us to Purity: A Selection of Sri Mata Amritanandamayi’s Speeches 1990-1999. AZ. CA. Mata Amritanandamayi Center.
by Ranchor Prime. (Go to www. CA.Radiance Rising Meditate. by William Buck. Kerala. New Society Publishers.) Ramayana. 1979. by Swami Muktananda. and a Wise Planet. by Swamini Krishnamrita Prana. Mandala Publishing. 2004. 1980. 2005.umya. NY. Albany. India. University of California Press. Canada. Miracle of Love: Stories about Neem Karoli Baba.P. CA. by David La Chapelle. 1976. A Dutton Paperback. Sacred Journey. 62 . the Sacred. by Ram Dass. State University of New York Press. Dutton.com to view the late David La Chapelle’s inspirational artistic works. NY. Ramayana: A Tale of Gods and Demons. San Rafael. 2001. Navigating the Tides of Change: Stories from Science. BC. E. Mata Amritanandamayi Mission Trust.
Hilo. edited by Matthew Greenblatt. Hanuman Foundation. InnerDirections Publishing. “The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success” Video. The Ramayana: A Modern Retelling of the Great Indian Epic. 2005. Hawaii. 1996. NM. CA. based on the book by Deepak Chopra. The Near and The Dear: Stories of Neem Karoli Baba and His Devotees. Dolphin Press. Santa Fe. Sri Kainchi Hanuman Mandir & Ashram. New York. by Tony Burroughs. NY. India. Revised 2007 Edition. by Dada Mukerjee. The Essential Teachings of Ramana Maharshi: A Visual Journey. and 63 . 2003. 2003. Carlsbad.Jñana Yoga The Divine Reality of Sri Baba Neeb Karori Ji Maharaj. by Ravi Prakash Pande “Rajida”. The Intenders Handbook. by Ramesh Menon. North Point Press.
Abrams. Ph. Chopra Media and Frank Productions. CA.. The Third Jesus: The Christ We Cannot Ignore. Harry N. New York.. directed by Ron Frank. Inc. 2007.. by Swamini Krishnamrita Prana. CA. 2007. 2008. Boston. Women of Power and Grace: Nine Astonishing. San Ramon. Wisdom: 365 Thoughts from Indian Masters. Torrential Love. 1995. Inc. by Deepak Chopra. 2006. Santa Barbara.Radiance Rising featuring singer Olivia Newton-John. by Timothy Conway. Three Rivers Press. NY. New York. 1998. 64 .. by Danielle and Olivier Föllmi.D. 2004. the Wake Up Press. The Spiritual Teaching of Ramana Maharshi by Sri Ramanasramam and Shambhala Publications. Mata Amritanandamayi Center. Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment. MA. Random House. Inc. Inspiring Luminaries of Our Time.
Kundalini Yoga The Path of Working with Energies .
Kundalini Yoga K undalini Yoga is the path of working with the energies in the chakras and subtle body. I don’t try to force anything to happen – I simply witness the energies inside of me. I engage lightly with the practices in this section. 67 . Kundalini is the serpent-like ﬁre energy that lies coiled at the base of the spine until it rises up through the chakras in a process that awakens us to our connection with the Divine. Although I have not studied Kundalini Yoga in-depth. Since I am not working with a Kundalini Yoga master. my understanding is that it is best to work with the kundalini energy with a qualiﬁed teacher on that path.
It is located between the pubic bone and the navel and is associated with the color orange and with sensuality and creativity. I have chosen. Really. to simply share a few highlights. location in the subtle body. The Second Chakra. is the root chakra. pronounced SHOCK-ruz. is the sex chakra. are really not so shocking – they are not as weird as one might think. and the colors and qualities associated with each: The First Chakra. From my understanding. It is located at the base of the spine and is associated with the color red and with the earth. and a sense of belonging. they are simply energy centers that vibrate within our bodies. the Svadhisthana. including their Sanskrit name. here is a basic description of the chakras. home. for the purposes of this pocket book. Different traditions offer varying aspects for each chakra. Of the vast body of information available on the chakras. 68 . the Muladhara.Radiance Rising Tuning in to the Chakras The chakras.
Kundalini Yoga The Third Chakra. above the navel. the Sahasrara. The Seventh Chakra. 69 . is the throat chakra. the Manipura. the Ajna. The Fourth Chakra. is the solar plexus chakra. and is associated with the color yellow and with the will. The Fifth Chakra. It is located in the center of the forehead. It is located at the throat and is associated with the color blue and with truth and expression of one’s truth. is the crown chakra. and is associated with the color purple and with intuition. is the heart chakra. the Vishuddha. It is located at the stomach. The Sixth Chakra. the Anahata. slightly above the eyebrows. It is located just above the top of the head and is associated with the color white and with connection with the Divine. love. It is located at the heart and is associated with the color green and with love. is the third eye chakra. love.
grey mass. I practice tuning in to the chakras to see how each of those energy centers feels in that moment. or even the next hour.) Many experiences and sensations are possible. When tuning in to the chakras. It is important to keep in mind that what we ﬁnd when we tune in to our chakras is unique to that moment. buzzing. On any given day. I visualize healing golden light going into that chakra.Radiance Rising Sometimes during my sitting meditations. Through the simple 70 . I have been amazed by the results of doing this simple tuning practice. I notice a wide variety of sensations. (When I sense that a chakra is blocked in some way. we may ﬁnd that some chakras are in balance while others feel imbalanced. including bliss. Occasionally I have had the sense that a particular chakra felt like a thick. we simply practice noticing how the energies feel. and those factors are changing all the time. tingling. and that it might be different the next day. There are many factors inﬂuencing the energies within us. so this practice is an ongoing exploration. and warmth.
we invite each of them to be more awake and to vibrate with more harmonious energy. the mind becomes that which it dwells upon. The important thing about this practice. spinning energies within our ancient chakra systems.” I contemplated that 71 . As the ancient Indian sutra states. and a sense of humor. Discerning the Energies of the Subtle Body My dear teacher Basil once instructed me to “fall back into my Self. Even if our minds don’t really understand the pulsing. then we have to practice turning our attention away from our problems.Kundalini Yoga act of placing our attention on our chakras. openness. as with all of the practices in this book. this practice can still bring us into more harmony. and deliberately putting our attention on the love in our hearts and the energies coursing through our beings. is to approach it with curiosity. If we don’t want to become our thought patterns and habitual reactions.
Again. and skin. we begin to discern the energies of our subtle bodies. organs. the subtle body is that energetic ﬁeld that my physical body is resting in. the more we experience a vast spaciousness within us that is somehow separate from the physical mass of our blood. asking myself. The more we practice sitting still and tuning in to the energies inside of us. ‘What does it really mean to fall back into my Self? How can I really practice falling back into my Self?’ As I sat with those questions. What is the subtle body? To me. so that we can rest more fully in the love of our hearts.Radiance Rising for a good while. This practice helps quiet the monkey-mind chatter. I began to understand that falling back into my Self meant tuning in and discerning the energies of the subtle body. this is a gradual process. 72 . Over time.
Karma Yoga The Path of Selﬂess Service .
2006. The word “karma” means action. Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi. who is an embodiment of pure love and selﬂess service. Many people call her Ammachi. I have been greatly inspired by two beings who have devoted their lives to serving others: Ammachi and Gandhi-ji. It also means the results of our actions. When we take action to selﬂessly serve others. Ammachi In June. 75 . we experience an inner satisfaction. I met my Guru. or “Amma” which means mother.Karma Yoga K arma Yoga is the path of selﬂess service.
universities. and some community members even tried to kill her. Her international ashram.” rose above outrageous injustices to become a Social Worker Extraordinaire: from her birth in a poor South Indian ﬁshing village where her family beat her. popularly known as the “hugging saint. and she has given millions of dollars to relief efforts after the tsunami and other natural disasters occurred in India. she has become a world leader in humanitarian aid. in Kerala. Amma oversees many charitable projects in India and abroad. Amma gave one million dollars to help after Hurricane Katrina hit. hospitals that offer free medical care for the poor. care homes for the elderly. Over the past few decades she has hugged more than 26 million people worldwide. It 76 .Radiance Rising Amma. These residents dedicate their lives to “Seva Bhav. India. including: disaster relief. weddings for the poor. an orphanage. and dozens of other efforts. Amma has given her life to serving others.000 people.” the Spirit of Selﬂess Service. schools. Amritapuri. is home to more than 3. While inspiring others to selﬂessly serve.
Here it means right action or responsibility.Karma Yoga is truly awe-inspiring to watch her embrace people.” She says that her religion is Love. Often she hugs people for ﬁfteen hours or more without even taking a single pee break! I have been blessed to see this myself. She accepts everyone equally. The spirit of service that surrounds Amma is amazing to witness. Amma teaches that if it is someone else’s karma to suffer.) 77 . then it is our dharma to help them. while teaching through her own example that we are “all beads strung together on the same thread of love. So many different types of people – of all different religions – are drawn to meet her. (“Dharma” has many meanings. and for all beings to know God. where her main ashram is located just outside of San Ramon. for violence to end. Amma’s goals are for the poor to have food. California. since twice each year she tours the United States. She encourages people to buy only what they need and give the rest of their earnings to help those who are suffering.
Mahatma Gandhi is another example of a Karma Yogi, a selﬂess servant who worked for the welfare of others. Several years ago my teacher Basil advised me to watch the movie Gandhi, paying close attention to how Gandhiji held his energy and commanded leadership through quiet strength. Recently I did ﬁnally watch the movie, and I was particularly inspired when Gandhi returned to India and someone advised him to go and ﬁnd the real India, so that he would know what needed to be said. Isn’t that the task desperately needed now? Each of us, wherever we live, can go out and discover what is really needed in our communities. What needs to be said? What needs to be done? How can we selﬂessly serve others more? If we can physically get out and serve others with our time and energy, that will bring us much inner harmony. However, if we cannot physically serve others more (due to work and/ or family demands on our time and energy, or 78
due to health issues), we can still give of our hearts through prayer. We can dedicate our spiritual practices to those who are suffering and we can send love from our hearts to those who need it. There are many ways to cultivate seva bhav, the spirit of selﬂess service. The practice of intentionally putting others’ needs before our own brings us more mental peace.
The Path of Devotion
I can’t claim to have an Ishtadev. along with the 83 B . and Lord Ganesha. both paths eventually lead to Union with the Formless Absolute. According to the sages and scriptures. On the bhakti path. because I am equally in love with several Hindu gods and goddesses. Lord Krishna.” or their primary personal deity. many people bow and chant to what is called their “Ishtadev. What are we devoted to? A Jñana Yogi is devoted to ﬁnding the inner Self through direct experience of True Knowledge. Baba Hanuman. Lord Rama.Bhakti Yoga hakti Yoga is the path of devotion. which is Pure Consciousness and Bliss. while a Bhakti Yogi is devoted to merging the personal self with the Supreme Being. I bow to Lord Shiva.
represents devotion. When we chant 84 . courage. the Ramayana. Sita. So the One God takes many faces or forms and is known by thousands of Names. The many Hindu gods and goddesses are historical. mythological beings. strength. So for example. and we can also chant or pray to Hanuman. and Saraswati. Kali. Durga. the monkey god. That One Absolute Truth includes ALL of Existence. Parvati.Radiance Rising Goddesses Radha. so It exists within and without each being. and is still One Absolute Truth. In Hinduism there is One Absolute Truth. Hindu Gods and Goddesses There are thousands of gods and goddesses in the Hindu Pantheon. and wisdom. which in the West would be considered One God. We can read the wonderful history and mythology of Hanuman in the great epic story. and that God has many aspects. Hanuman. and they are also energy states that exist within and without all beings.
and wisdom lives. Each time I sat in a group chanting. Native Hawaiian. Buddhism. including Christianity. I imagined a group of monks shouting out strange syllables. Judaism. and Hinduism. I noticed the same effect: regardless of the 85 . strength. the environment around us is cleansed by the repetition of one of the many Names of God. courage. when we chant Hanuman’s name. and that place inside of us wakes up a little more. Chanting When I ﬁrst heard about chanting. And at the same time. we invoke that energy state within and without ourselves. so I was surprised to discover that chanting is actually beautiful singing. What that means is. I ﬁrst chanted in groups with my teacher Basil.Bhakti Yoga or pray to a Hindu god or goddess. we all sweetly sang songs from many different traditions. While he strummed soothing notes on his guitar. we ﬁnd that place inside where our own devotion. Islam.
hypocrisy. Ages and ages ago. a healing power gets released that affects the people and their surrounding environment. it is extremely difﬁcult to do spiritual practices. One of the many beneﬁts of this daily chanting is that mantra-infused food tastes so delicious! It is said that during this current age. After experiencing the calming effects of group chanting. it was prophesized that in this age the practice of 86 . I wanted to bring that calm into my regular daily life. and now modern research is conﬁrming the healing power of sound vibrations. which Yogic philosophy calls the Kali Yuga. even in this time of density. chanting bhajans (devotional songs to God). and greed. This is because we are living in an age of corruption. Now I chant while driving. and while cooking. is a practice that we can all easily do. During a session of group chanting. while doing housework. People have witnessed this phenomenon since ancient times. after the chanting I felt unusually calm. However.Radiance Rising mood and state I was in before chanting. so I began buying chanting CDs to sing along with.
I have listened to his chanting CDs daily for over ﬁve years. The mantras chanted during kirtan are like medicines that purify the people and their environment. I have deep gratitude for the healing. (www. I have also been blessed to attend kirtans with some very special beings. Recently I attended a weekend kirtan retreat that he led at 87 . and Prema Mayi Dasi. in addition to chanting with my teacher Basil and with Amma and her devotees.krishnadas.com) I ﬁrst listened to Jai Uttal’s music over ﬁfteen years ago. which is often accompanied by live musicians and fervent. Kirtan Kirtan is call and response group chanting. worshipful devotion to God. While I have only attended one live kirtan with Krishna Das. Over the past several years. Jai Uttal. transformative power of his chants. including Krishna Das.Bhakti Yoga kirtan would spread to every village on earth.
jaiuttal. who is the embodiment of Pure Love. (www. a wise bhakti yogini who radiates pure sweetness. I really appreciated Jai’s way of teaching. Through soul-stirring kirtan sessions and hilarious storytelling. Her Ishtadev is Sri Krishna. Prema performs special pujas. the All-Attractive One. Sri Radha. and in those moments my mind stops and I can no longer even sing. I am evergrateful to dear Prema for giving Krishna those 88 . For several minutes I just sit still and enjoy the bliss in my heart. During the kirtans with Prema. I returned home feeling greatly inspired. Jai’s kirtan CDs are also a source of deep inner healing for me. Before beginning an evening of chanting. I have been blessed to attend many beautiful kirtans led by Prema Mayi Dasi. which are rituals for worshipping a deity. sometimes the chanting gets going really fast and the energy in the room becomes quite ecstatic.Radiance Rising Breitenbush Hot Springs (along with a very gifted tablas player named Daniel Paul).com) Over several years. and his Divine Lover. he facilitated an amazing retreat. thus she bows to Krishna.
Wah!. Bowing While I really value my daily sitting meditation practice. and Snatam Kaur. Prema and her sons. Bhagavan Das. along with several other talented musicians. (www. Rasa. the deeper I fall into the radiant Love in my heart. I am ﬁnding that the practices on the bhakti yoga path are the fastest. MC Yogi. transformative power. Krishnadeva and Gaur.premamayi. In addition to chanting. easiest ways to Union with God. Dave Stringer. The more I chant to the Beloved through the Hindu god and goddess forms. Deva Premal & Miten. I also do a lot of bowing on the ﬂoor before images of the Divine.Bhakti Yoga opportunities to steal my mind and melt my heart. recently produced a chanting CD called Sacred Transitions that is quite potent in its healing. It is said that 89 .com) Some of my other favorite chant artists include: David Newman.
When I bow down on the ﬂoor with that altar before me. and surrendering any patterns that block me from living in the Truth of my deepest Heart. Through humility. I am bowing down before my own deepest Self.Radiance Rising merely looking at the holy images of saints raises our vibration. images of Lord Shiva. we receive all that we truly need. and Sri Krishna. we become humble in a way that allows God’s Grace to come through us. what I am doing in that bowing is offering my ego to the Divine. and candles. 90 . The practice of bowing helps us surrender all the false coverings that block the light of our souls from shining forth. When we surrender our personal will and accept everything as God’s Will. Ma Durga. In my living room I created an altar on which I placed photos of my Gurus Amma and Neem Karoli Baba. incense. and ﬂowers.
Bhakti Yoga Understanding and Nourishing the Heart’s Longing What do we truly need? What are we truly longing for? We are all longing for Love. Once we begin to witness our patterns and look beneath the stories of our lives. cars. what we ﬁnd is that the heart’s longing is not for external things. that pure longing for love gets obscured and we begin to think that we are really longing for relationships. the more we can nourish that longing with spiritual practices designed to unite us with that love. We are not only longing to give and receive love. The heart is actually longing to become uniﬁed with the pure love energy that it already is. jobs. but we are longing to become Love. and houses. The more we understand what the heart is really longing for. 91 . Due to our habitual ego-based patterns.
When our chanting and bowing practices enable us to become more surrendered and more humble. Yet. ‘Wait a minute – our true nature is Bliss! So if we are meant to be happy all the time. but we have forgotten that truth because we 92 . it is easier to accept everything as God’s Will. then why am I feeling such miserable sadness?’ Yes. I say this mantra: “This must be exactly what I was destined to experience right now. there is a part of me that says.Radiance Rising Acceptance The way to peace is through complete acceptance of everything that comes to us in life. when I am experiencing sorrow and telling myself that this must be exactly what I was destined to experience right now. And yet. we are meant to be happy all the time.” I like this mantra because it brings me into total acceptance of whatever is arising in the present moment. this is difﬁcult to practice when things don’t go according to our plans and expectations. When life feels hard and I feel challenged to completely accept everything.
Once we ﬁrmly decide to be happy. Of course we won’t feel happy all the time. since we still have patterns that need to be unraveled. It is very important that we take action to help ourselves become better human beings. but if we put forth the effort to be happy. True lasting happiness cannot be found outside of ourselves.Bhakti Yoga have tied ourselves up in knotted patterns that hide our true nature. happiness is a decision – at any time. then we begin to develop the skill of being happy. so we can spread that joy to others. We have to be determined and skillful in our quest to become happy. Fortunately. we can decide to be happy. Accepting everything as God’s Will doesn’t mean that we just lie down and blindly accept everything as fate. we will gradually experience more and more happiness. so we have to practice going into our hearts and experiencing the happiness within ourselves. 93 . We still have to put forth effort.
they give all of their feelings to God. as they can destroy our minds. So our task is to witness our emotions without repressing them and without indulging in them. We simply witness and accept the emotions. When we offer our emotions to the Beloved. 94 . a bhakta (devotee) develops a personal relationship with the Beloved. Once our minds and hearts become pure. and then allow them to move through us. Viewing their emotions as fuel for the puriﬁcation ﬁre. Our emotions do make great fuel for the puriﬁcation ﬁre.Radiance Rising Puriﬁcation The ultimate goal of all spiritual practices is to purify our minds and hearts. Bhaktas offer all of themselves in total surrender to the Beloved. but we have to be careful not to get stuck in our emotions. On the path of devotion. we develop a close bond with God that gradually helps dissolve the granthis (knots) in our hearts. we can then radiate the Light of the pure love energy that we all already are.
congested. This lighthearted feeling occurs when the heart knots are dissolving through the path of puriﬁcation. my heart felt physically heavy. 95 . and tight. In the past year. I have noticed that my heart is feeling physically lighter and softer.Bhakti Yoga About ﬁve years ago. Literally. as I have delved more deeply into bhakti yogic practices. my heart felt so stuck.
Additional Practices for Transformation .
Additional Practices for Transformation hile my primary spiritual practices are chanting. we gather to light a ﬁre in a pit that he thoughtfully created with stones collected from special places. On the Saturday evening closest to the full moon. bowing. one of my dear spiritual brothers hosts community ﬁre circles on his land. meditating. W Fire Circles During the warm months. and cultivating the Witness. Here I will share a few of those practices. I am always open to learning and experiencing additional practices for transformation. Before lighting 99 .
we stand in a circle holding hands and speaking our intentions for the evening’s sacred journey. In India. I attend the ﬁre circles in my community with the intention to transform something speciﬁc within myself. Sometimes we sip hot. I offered the ﬁre my anxiety about work and asked to be empowered with calm clarity of purpose. I pour out my heart. I often recite Lalla poems that I have memorized. One evening. to celebrate. Throughout the evening. to worship. Another time I offered the ﬁre my unresolved attachments to a man who 100 . the drummers begin drumming and the others begin dancing around the ﬁre. people have gathered around ﬁres to visit. Since ancient times. and to transform. Rather than pouring ghee onto the ﬂames. Once the ﬁre is burning brightly. spiced cocoa around the ﬁre. sadhus (holy men) lead purifying rituals called havans in which offerings are thrown into sacred ﬁres amidst the vibrations of Sanskrit chanting. people spontaneously speak from their hearts.Radiance Rising the ﬁre. Others offer songs and chants.
Suddenly I felt the need to sit down. One year when my dear friend Baron and I were a couple. radiant essence. Each time I have given things to the ﬁre. I have really enjoyed dressing up in costumes for Halloween. It is such fun to take on a different persona for a while. we dressed 101 . and I went into a deep meditation state in which I saw a vision of what my true longing was about: I didn’t really want union with that man – I wanted nothing short of pure blissful Union with Lord Shiva. I have noticed incredible transformations occurring within my being. I bow with deep gratitude to my spiritual brother who creates the space for those healing transformations. I asked to be shown what it was that I really longed for.Additional Practices for Transformation I was in love with. Costumes Over the past few years. The gifts I receive from those ﬁre circles are like sun rays awakening my heart to its true. so I did.
After that night. it wasn’t even Halloween. They loved the idea. I felt transformed. I told a few friends that someday I would like to open a costume parlor. which was so totally fun – I had always wished to be a redhead! That night. it wasn’t really me. black leather pants and jackets. During the evening. My friends all commented.Radiance Rising up as motorcycle riders. but I felt inspired to dress up for one of the ﬁre circle gatherings. which I learned can include the ability to act tough when needed! Another time. complete with black boots. I also pinned yellow marigolds in my hair and decorated my body with gold glitter. I also wore a red wig over my brown hair. I thoroughly enjoyed acting really tough. and dark shades over our eyes. silver studded jewelry. so I pulled part of my hair up in a topknot and stuck peacock and other bird feathers through the knot. saying 102 . as a bold biker. but what they were seeing was an authentic part of myself. I felt much more boldly in the power of being my true self. a part of myself that is usually hidden inside. “This looks like the real you!” Well.
If there is a part of us that feels timid. If there is a part of us that needs nurturing attention.Additional Practices for Transformation that they would deﬁnitely come to the parlor to be dressed in costumes. A friend told me that saying afﬁrmations out loud while walking helps to transform the old patterns in our brains. out loud. This ‘practice’ can help us transform in many ways. There is a hidden healing power concealed within costumes. we can dress in the costume of a colorful ﬂamenco dancer. I begin by saying. “I am strong 103 . If we tune in to a hidden part of ourselves that wants to be seen and transformed. Afﬁrmations While Walking The power of positive thinking cannot be underestimated. so on my daily walks I say positive afﬁrmations that I created for myself to build my strength. we can dress in the costume of a cute little kitty cat. we can really have fun expressing that part of ourselves through donning a particular costume.
After repeatedly hearing me afﬁrm that I am strong. mentally. strong. Over time. and awake. yet it is a practice that can be very transformative and healing for us. He asked each of the retreat participants to bring photos of their ancestors. A few years ago my teacher Basil led a spiritual retreat in Hawaii. Honoring Our Ancestors Most of the world’s cultures build shrines to honor the ancestors.” Then I say that all the organs and systems in my body are healthy and strong. alert. many of us don’t think to honor our ancestors. In the busy western world. emotionally. Finally. and spiritually. Throughout the week we took turns showing photos and telling stories of our 104 . I have noticed a gradual transformation happening within me. all parts of me began to realize that truth. aware.Radiance Rising – physically. I say that my mind is healthy. and I have witnessed myself gaining strength on all levels.
and ﬂowers. Some people even create altars on which they place family photos. However we express it. After each person shared. we feel more compassion for them. the value in hearing about each other’s family histories lies in building compassion for each other. incense. In our daily lives we can practice honoring the ancestors by looking at their photos or by sending them loving thoughts and prayers. we sat in meditation and energetically held that person’s ancestral line. When we see how much each person is holding in their energetic structures. I think that laughter is so important that I decided to 105 . candles. the practice of honoring our ancestors can bring us more inner peace. Laughter As already stated in a previous section. As Basil explained.Additional Practices for Transformation ancestors. laughing heartily is good for our health. Each time it felt powerfully transformative.
I took out a funny newspaper. That paper was so funny that I was laughing out loud for several minutes. Laughter is healing and transformative. and suddenly I did not feel nauseated anymore. but I believe it has the power to unite us with the Divine Essence in our hearts.Radiance Rising mention it again. Once. After several miserable hours. I got terribly sick from food poisoning. We might not think of it as a spiritual practice. while traveling in Thailand. 106 .
I felt passionate. Nearly every football and basketball game I yelled so much that I lost my voice for a few days. I was a cheerleader. I have healed myself almost entirely of depression. anxiety.Conclusion uring my high school years. Now I feel so enthusiastic about spreading the seeds of spirituality. blood-warming spirit rising within me. and destructive 107 D . Through sadhana (spiritual practice). As I shouted out the cheers to guide our Tiger team to Victory. migraine headaches. because the spiritual practices that I outlined in this book have helped me so much. insomnia. I hadn’t felt such passion about anything else until I found the raja yogini path and met my Guru Ammachi.
I don’t mean that I am trying to “convert” anyone to the Yoga Path. so Amma gave me a mantra to Durga. one man wrote “Peace. I value all paths that lead people to more Love. but that we actually 108 .Radiance Rising thought patterns. Amma doesn’t expect anyone to believe in God or to change their religion – she advises people to inquire into their own real nature and to believe in themselves. When people ask Amma for a mantra. When I say that I am a cheerleader for Amma. I am a different person than I was six years ago. different spiritual practices are also suited for different people. and we were each given a card on which to write our chosen aspect of Divinity. For example. The important thing about our spiritual practices is not which practices we do. Just as different religions are suited for different people.” I chose the Hindu Goddess Durga. she gives them a mantra suited to their own path. I was with a group of people waiting to go into the mantra line. One woman wrote “Jesus”. before I received a mantra from Amma.
Once we make a commitment to doing our practices daily. they will naturally begin to cling to those practices. we might be tempted to give up.Conclusion do them! It is very important to approach our spiritual practices with determination and discipline. he said that someone once asked his Guru. and they really like to hold onto something. and our practices become part of our habitual routines. Our minds are easily habituated. and to make a commitment to doing them regularly. we will gradually see that the beneﬁts of the practices are well worth the efforts! When I attended an evening of kirtan with Krishna Das. then we don’t have a choice about it. the presence of Grace becomes 109 . In the beginning. but if we remain steadfast in our commitment. before we begin to see the positive results from our efforts. so if we give our minds spiritual practices to hold onto. “How do you know if your spiritual practices are working?” Krishna Das said that Maharaj-ji’s answer was simple: “Through the constant repetition of the Name. Sri Neem Karoli Baba.
creating collages.Radiance Rising apparent in your life. gardening. the more Grace we experience in our lives. I pray to be ﬁlled with divine energy. wisdom. bright Radiance rising in my heart and in the hearts of all beings. purity. one thing is certain: the more we practice opening our hearts to the radiant essence of pure love energy that we are. love and laughter… I pray for a playful. compassion. 110 . courage. love and laughter. in this time of dissolution when things are falling apart everywhere. it is so important for us to develop daily spiritual practices that ground us. patience. or we engage in creative endeavors as spiritual practices (cooking. and love and laughter. strength. harmonious. We need spiritual practices to anchor us to our hearts and to our connection with humanity.” Whether we practice mantra japa (the repetition of a mantra). with the earth. In this changing world. and so on). or we sit in meditation. humility. When I bow down. and with the Divine.
111 .Conclusion I end this book of spiritual practices with the ancient peace prayer that Amma asks everyone to sing daily: Om Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu Om Shanti Shanti Shantihi May all the beings in all the worlds be happy and at peace.
Glossary Amma – also known as Ammachi and Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi – popularly known as “the hugging saint. and the Dalai Lama. Twice each year she tours the United States. the Grand Rabbi of Israel. alongside the Pope. the Archbishop of Canterbury. Amma has hugged more than 26 million people worldwide. India. Her international ashram in Kerala. where her main ashram is located just outside 113 .” Born in a poor ﬁshing village in Southern India in 1953. Recognized as one of the world’s top ten religious/spiritual leaders. is home to more than 3. the Grand Ayatollah. she personally runs many charitable and humanitarian organizations in India and abroad.000 people.
Baba is used as a term of endearment. (www. California. Brahma’s consort is Saraswati. especially for religious ﬁgures. In India.Radiance Rising of San Ramon. Brahman – the One Absolute Existence 114 . there are lineages of babas who have passed spiritual teachings down from Guru to disciple through thousands of years. On this path. devotees cultivate a personal relationship with the Beloved Supreme Being. Also in India. Bhaktas – devotees on the Bhakti Yoga Path. Bhajans – devotional songs.org) Baba – the word can mean father or teacher.Amma. and Shiva is the destroyer. The Hindu masculine Godhead is represented by a Trinity: Brahma is the creator. Brahma – the creative aspect of Divinity. Vishnu is the sustainer. Bhakti Yoga – The path of devotion as a means to Union with the Divine.
is the root chakra. It is located between the pubic bone and the navel and is associated with the color orange and with sensuality and creativity. is the heart chakra. The fourth chakra. is the sex chakra. It is located at the stomach. the Svadhisthana.) Chakras – the seven energy points that exist in the subtle body. is the solar plexus chakra. The third chakra. The ﬁfth chakra. The second chakra. The ﬁrst chakra. (Note difference between Brahma and Brahman. It is located at the heart and is associated with the color green and with love. and a sense of belonging. the Anahata. love. above the navel. is the throat chakra. It is located at the throat and is associated with the color blue and with truth and expression of one’s truth. The sixth 115 . the Manipura. home. the Muladhara. and is associated with the color yellow and with the will. It is located at the base of the spine and is associated with the color red and with the earth. love.Glossary or Reality that is unchanging and One with everything. the Vishuddha. They are like spinning wheels of energy.
Durga – one of the Hindu forms of the Divine Mother. one’s purpose or destiny. It is located just above the top of the head and is associated with the color white and with connection with the Divine. Lord Shiva’s consort is Parvati. including: right action or righteous responsibility. law. 116 . including Kali and Durga. slightly above the eyebrows and is associated with the color purple and with intuition. duty. Dharma – The word dharma has many meanings. It is located in the center of the forehead. is the crown chakra. and Parvati takes many forms. Ma Durga rides a lion and holds weapons in her many hands. She slays the demons of the mind and protects her children with tenderness.Radiance Rising chakra. Devas – divine. the Sahasrara. celestial beings. is the third eye chakra. natural order. the Ajna. The seventh chakra.
used often in Indian cooking. Son of Shiva and Parvati. with an emphasis on preparation for living a spiritually oriented life. Gandhi) – a great Karmic Yogi in India. he is a great protector and the remover of obstacles. In the gurukula. Ghee – clariﬁed butter. Gandhi-ji (Mahatma Mohandas K. Granthis – “knots” in the heart. 117 . Gandhi-ji also led daily interfaith prayer meetings.Glossary Ego – the parts of ourselves that combine to cover up our true essence. Ganesha – the Hindu elephant-headed god. Gurukula – “house of the guru or teacher.” Boarding schools in the ancient educational system of India. students learned all their subjects. who led the non-violent struggle that resulted in India’s independence from the British in 1947.
Son of the wind god. “that which takes one from darkness to light. the Ramayana. Hanuman – the Hindu monkey god. Hanuman is the utmost devotee of Rama and Sita in the epic story. and superhero strength and courage.” Someone who abides continually in a Connected State – He or She has burnt through the veils of illusion and doesn’t do anything out of personal will. and Neem Karoli Baba was fondly called Maharajji. 118 . He represents supreme devotion. Ishtadev – a primary personal deity. Ji – or chi – is added to the end of a respectable person’s name.Radiance Rising Guru – literally. For example. Amma is often referred to as Ammachi. A Guru takes full responsibility for the spiritual awakening of his or her disciples. wisdom. Jñana Yoga – the path of Knowledge as a means to Union with the Absolute Formless Reality.
This is symbolic of her ability to cut through the illusions of maya and free her children from the bondage of their egos. The law of cause and effect states that all of a being’s past actions will bear fruit at some point. Karma yogis and yoginis take action to selﬂessly serve others. Kirtan – call and response chanting. She also is the power of Time. 119 .Glossary Kali – one of the Hindu forms of the Divine Mother. Karma – action and the results of actions. and Parvati takes many forms. often with live musicians and fervent worship and devotion to God. Karma Yoga – the path of selﬂess service as a means to Union with the Divine. She offers protection to those who invoke her. Kali Ma is a ﬁerce Mother who holds many weapons in her hands. including Kali and Durga. Lord Shiva’s consort is Parvati. She wears a necklace of skulls and a belt of the human heads that she has severed.
the Mahabharata. In the great epic. Arjuna. on the battleﬁeld.Radiance Rising Krishna – an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Krishna was a hero and a teacher. Krishna gave advice to his warrior friend. which means “the Song of the Lord. Krishna represents all things attractive – he is the All-Attractive One – and Radha represents His potency.000 years ago. He lived in India about 5. the Bhagavad Gita.” Krishna especially fell in love with a cowherdess named Radha.” Kundalini Energy – the serpent-like ﬁre energy that lies coiled at the base of the spine until it rises up through the chakras in a process that awakens us to our connection with the Divine. Kundalini Yoga – the path of working with the energies in the chakras and subtle body as a means to Union with the Divine. With a peacock feather in his hair and a golden ﬂute upon his lips. 120 . That advice is the famous scripture. he had a following of young cowherd girls called “gopis.
121 . It is believed that she left her husband’s home and wandered about naked singing songs to God. Meditation – the practice of sitting in our beings rather than our thinking minds. 1320-1392. or phrases.” The ever-changing aspect of the physical realm which deludes us into thinking that it is unchanging. mind. the Lord disguises himself as the many beings of the world. a mantra can help us to calm our minds and open our hearts. Mantra Japa – the repetition of a mantra. words. so each of our human interactions can be seen as God playing with God. Mantras – sacred syllables. and body. When repeated with concentration. In the Lila.Glossary Lalla – a mystic poet and saint of North India. Maya – “illusion. Lila – the Divine Play or Theatre of God. Sitting with awareness of breath.
it means. “I bow to Shiva who is Pure Consciousness and Bliss. Many believed Sri Neem Karoli Baba to be an incarnation of Hanuman.” 122 . Literally. and allowing them to pass through without attachment. and relaxing into those gaps.Radiance Rising but not engaging with them. Om Namah Shivaya – the most popular mantra in India – it brings both spiritual protection and material prosperity. A saint in India who was loved by many Indian devotees. Krishna Das. Witnessing thoughts (and body sensations and emotions).” When spoken as a greeting. I bow to my innermost Self. and Jai Uttal. Neem Karoli Baba – fondly called Maharaj-ji – the Guru of Ram Dass. Witnessing the gaps between our thoughts. Several hundred Western devotees found him as well. it means essentially “Namaste” or “I honor the Divine within you that is also within me. No one knows when he was born. which is Pure Consciousness and Bliss. He “left his body” in 1973.
In order to become one with her beloved Shiva. Raja Yoga – the path of meditation as a means to Union with the Divine. India. intelligence. Civilization and culture ﬂowed out of their creative. In Radha.000 years ago. Radha represents Krishna’s heart. Once she attained high levels of consciousness and was an accomplished yogini in her own right. then she was able to sit before Shiva and merge in Love with Him. and creativity. she ﬁrst sat in meditation and did many austere spiritual practices. Krishna found his potency. the embodiment of pure love. She is the goddess of love. including Kali and Durga. sexual union. Raja Yoga is a path of systemic discipline that combines aspects 123 . Radha – one of the Hindu forms of the Divine Mother. about 5. She is the consort of Lord Shiva and the Mother of Ganesha. sexuality. She takes many forms. She was one of the thousands of girls who fell in love with Lord Krishna in Vrindavan.Glossary Parvati – one of the Hindu forms of the Divine Mother.
the monkey god. Sita. Lord Rama’s noble story is recounted in the epic tale. and then Hanuman. 124 . the Ramayana. Ram and Sita symbolize the perfect union of the male and female aspects of the Divine. He lived in India thousands of years before Lord Krishna.) Rama – an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Kundalini. Sanskrit – the classical language of India. and Jñana Yoga Paths. Rama is often referred to as Ram. Sadhana – spiritual practices that lead one to the innermost Self.Radiance Rising of Karma. in which the demon Ravana kidnaps Rama’s beloved wife. that place of Union with the Divine. helps Rama save Sita from doom. Most of the Hindu scriptures are written in Sanskrit. Bhakti. hands-on energy healing system. (Rita Ann Shankara is a raja yogini. Reiki – (pronounced “Ray-key”) – a gentle.
She looks over the arts. ashes. The holy river Ganges. She is the consort of Lord Brahma. sciences. learning. and music. Shiva’s consort is Parvati and their son is Ganesha. Merging in that state of Oneness within and without. ﬂows from his crown of long matted hair. Shiva – the destructive aspect of Divinity. snakes. and skills. and Shiva is the destroyer. and he is most often found meditating in the Himalayas or roaming about with hosts of ghosts and goblins. Lord Shiva is worshipped by many lineages of yogis and babas in India. that you are Pure Consciousness. Seva Bhav – the spirit or “mood” of selﬂess service. She is the goddess of knowledge. Self-Realization – realizing that you are the Self. The Hindu masculine Godhead is represented by a Trinity: Brahma is the creator.Glossary Saraswati – one of the Hindu forms of the Divine Mother. He represents Pure Consciousness and is the Lord of Yoga and Yogis. crafts. He wears skulls. or Ganga. Vishnu is the sustainer. writing. 125 . and tiger skins.
and when we become aware of the Witness. When we strengthen the Witness. The Witness is always witnessing. She exhibited supreme devotion and loyalty to her husband.Radiance Rising Sita – one of the Hindu forms of the Divine Mother. we can strengthen it and cultivate it. emotions. The Witness – that part of ourselves that simply witnesses our thoughts. body sensations. and actions. Captured by the demon. Ravana. She represents the eternal female aspect of the Divine. Sutra – a statement of a Hindu principle. The Witness is One with the innermost Self. she was the wife of Lord Rama. which is the pure love energy that connects us all. 126 . Swami/Swamini – a Hindu honoriﬁc title for learned priests/nuns. in the epic tale. the Ramayana. she was freed by her heroic husband and Hanuman’s monkey army. Sri – title of respect for a deity or holy person. An incarnation of Lakshmi.
they will come out anyway at some point. Cultivating the Witness is. we become happy. joyful. Vasanas – magnetic tendencies that show up as strong personality patterns that do not want to let go. one of the most important spiritual practices.Glossary we become detached from our identiﬁcation with the body-mind. they do unravel – in their own time and at their own pace. therefore. the ancient Hindu scriptural texts. Vishnu – the sustaining aspect of Divinity. We then radiate bliss and we can help others to ﬁnd their bliss. In facing our vasanas. When we put our attention on that pure love energy. When worked with skillfully. and content. Acceptance of What Is. it is helpful to learn three things: Patience. The 127 . If we try to ignore them or pretend that they don’t exist. Vedic – of the Vedas. Our vasanas do need to be dealt with. and that detachment allows us to place our attention on the pure love energy that we are. and Respect for Time.
Yoga/Yoga Path – literally means “union. Vishnu’s consort is Lakshmi. and Shiva is the destroyer. When humans are in trouble and need Divine help. Some of the yogic practices include meditation.” On any spiritual path.” The Yoga Path comprises the practices that lead one to that state of Union – that state of Oneness with one’s highest Self and with the Divine. Yogi refers to a male practitioner. while yogini refers to a female practitioner. and asanas (body postures). chanting. Yogi – one who practices yoga. Vishnu is the sustainer.Radiance Rising Hindu masculine Godhead is represented by a Trinity: Brahma is the creator. Viveka – “discrimination. a valuable tool is learning how to discriminate between that which is changing and That which is unchanging. repetition of mantras. His two most popular incarnations in India were those of Rama and Krishna. Lord Vishnu incarnates in a human body. 128 .
while yogini refers to a female practitioner. Yogi refers to a male practitioner.Glossary Yogini – one who practices yoga. 129 .
and Constance. Jonathan. Quintana. Lorraine. my soul sisters Luna. Ajna. I now call Yogi Shambho. Prema. who. Randi Jan. Gerry. LG. Eliza. Gaelyn. Ramas. KD. Jai. Jill. Helen. Julianna. Joseph. Dana. and my dear family – my brothers 131 . KO. my spiritual brothers Howie. and Baba Rampuri. and Pete (Yogi Sinzapatos). Bram. my beloved sons Benjamin and Joshua. It is with deep gratitude and humility that I acknowledge the following beings for the beautiful support they have offered me: My dear spiritual teacher Basil. Savar. the souls who I have loved dearly: Baron. Britt.Acknowledgments Tuning in to Gratitude and expressing it to others is an important spiritual practice. Karl. their papa Bryan. since he left his body. Hope. Tavis. Monica. Tenabah.
and all my ancestors who made my life possible! And with deepest gratitude. Jai Sri Rama! 132 . I bow to my beloved. Thank You for showering me with Your Guidance and Grace. adorable Gurus. my parents. Amma and Neem Karoli Baba.Radiance Rising and sisters-in-law.
Josh-ji and Benji-ji – she is learning to slow down and ﬂow with what is arising in each moment of life. Ammachi. Then she switched to Judaism for ten years. A mother of two bright boys. and Muslim traditions. Born Catholic.About the Author T eja. and cooking mantra-infused meals. she lives in a cozy little cottage where she enjoys reading. Together with her greatest teachers – her sons. Buddhist. during which time she also studied Daoist. writing. Native American. is awakening her inner bliss through Yogic spiritual practices. named Tejaswini by her Guru. she remained devoutly Catholic until she was twenty-three years old. Teja has always loved religion and ritual. 133 .
yogini-bliss. With an ever-increasing heart openness. an American spiritual teacher who she studied with for several years. and the Yoga Path. social worker. Reiki practitioner. she intends to serve many beings through a myriad of roles. under her pen name Rita Ann Shankara: The Rita Lila: A Western Yogini’s Journey to Bliss Love Soups: A Vegetarian Soup Cookbook Inspired by the Soup Devas 134 .com Also by Teja Shankara. caregiver. Teja ﬁnds that regular chanting and meditating are leading her Home to the Bliss of her true Self. she was suddenly strongly drawn to India. counselor. including author. At that time. spiritual teacher. and cook.Radiance Rising At age thirty-three. www. as a practicing raja yogini. Now. Hinduism. she met Basil.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue listening from where you left off, or restart the preview.