The Seventh Limb of Yoga: Dhyana,Meditation from my book ‘Yoga Stories from Guru Guptnanda’ – a collection of stories and guidance.

Many people in the West think that meditation is very weird indeed; something done by religious fanatics and those who have cut themselves off from normal society.My story is to show you that meditation can be a part of normal life. The story is told in the voice of Guptananda, an old Indian Guru.

Mother’s Quiet Time

When I was a child and my father worked in the temple, my mother, my brother, my sister and I would be at home. Mother had several servants who helped with the work in the house and garden, and who looked after the animals. Every day mother would have a meeting with the servants before they started their work. We children would still be in bed, but sometimes if I got up early I would see them all sitting down outside in our courtyard.

Mother would greet them all with “namaste” and bow her head and they would also bow, then they would all sit in silence for a few minutes. They would close their eyes and no one would speak. The silent period would be ended with the ringing of a little bell, which my mother always had with her.It was the same bell she used to summon the servants when she needed help. After ringing the bell my mother would tell each person what she wanted him or her to do that day and would ask if they had anything to say. Sometimes they brought up problems they were having with some aspect of the work, but usually they would just bow and smile and thank God for being healthy and strong and for the gift of another new day. Thus it was in our house, peaceful and contented.

However, one week when my mother’s sister came to stay I remember Mother decided not to have the morning meditations. Her sister was about to give birth and had come to us for her confinement. Mother told the servants briefly what to do at the beginning of each day and listened to their problems, but had no quiet period before the start of the working day. What a terrible week that was! Everyone seemed to be arguing with everyone else. Nothing was going right. My mother forgot to buy the dahl (lentils) at the market so we all had to eat nothing but chapatis (bread) and some tired vegetables. Mother was so preoccupied with her sister that she seemed to forget about us. This was to be my Aunt’s first baby so this was a very big event for her. Meanwhile my brother fell off the horse and broke his arm and my sister nearly fell down the well! Two narrow planks of wood, which had been carelessly placed over it, saved her. She was very shocked. Mother blamed the servants for not covering the well properly, but I knew it had been me. I was to blame. I had been watering the animals, drawing the water up with a bucket when Raja had bolted. I hastily threw two pieces of wood over the brick work hole and chased after my horse.After several days everyone was extremely irritable and exhausted and my father couldn’t understand what had come over his family.

“Surely your sister is not so important that she be allowed to upset all the family and servants with her new baby, which isn’t even born yet?”

Then my mother explained how she had stopped organizing a quiet period at the beginning of the day because of being so busy.

“Ah, I see the problem now,” said father. “Everyone thinks they are so busy that they have no time to sit and reflect on the day, on their work and on God’s gifts. Well you see what happens when we don’t spare ourselves just a few minutes of peace – we get chaos. Surely we can find five or ten minutes at the beginning of the day to be calm and thoughtful and to ask the Lord what it is that we need to know and do each day? In future let my family return to its previous ways and the baby will be born into an atmosphere of calmness and contentment rather than one of anger and chaos!”

The baby was born two days later and she was named Shanti (Peace).