A young man learns to meditate (A story on the benefits of meditation)

When I was a young man I had a family – my mother and father, my wife and two sons and a little daughter.  My wife’s parents also lived nearby.  We were what you might call ‘close knit’.  Our house was not very large and it was hard to get away from other people.  Indeed if one tried to do that others might ask:

“What is wrong with you today?  You are not talking to anyone.  You are looking grim!” and so on.

I have always been a person who enjoys my own space.  Certainly I wanted my children to be happy.  Of course I wanted to please my wife, but I would find the pressures of all these conversations expected of me too great.  I needed time for myself.

One day I took myself for a walk just to get a bit of peace.  With all the hustle and bustle of the city this is somewhat hard to do.  However there is always peace to be had at the Temple.  As I was taking my shoes off before entering, I noticed a man sitting cross legged and looking very peaceful beside the line of shoes.  He was not paying any attention to all the comings and goings.  I could see that his eyes were open but that he was looking at nothing.  He looked perfectly contented.  I have occasionally had my shoes stolen from outside the temple so I wondered if I dared to disturb him to ask him to watch my shoes.  I became quite agitated trying to make the decision.  He continued to look ahead, a benign, peaceful expression on his face.  His eyes did not turn to me although it must have been clear to him that I was there and that I wanted to speak.  I decided to risk leaving my shoes without his protection.

I entered the temple.  It was calm and quiet inside, but my mind was still in turmoil.  How long could I allow myself the luxury of this quiet place?  Would my shoes be stolen?  Would my wife be cross with me when I got home?  Had I forgotten to do some little chore for her?  Would my mother chide me on my return for some act of omission on my part? And so on. After twenty minutes or so I went out into the busy street again.  The sounds of the traffic and the people assailed my ears.

The meditating gentleman was still there, looking calm and beneficent as before.  I found my shoes and left.

On my way home I hatched a plan.  I would tell my family that I was going to become a yogi.  Not in a big way.  I was not going to strip down to a loin cloth and go and live in the mountains.  I was going to become a yogi for twenty minutes a day, at home in my own bedroom.  No-one must speak to me during that time.  Whatever they wanted it would have to wait.  I was going to learn to sit still and quiet until I could feel on the inside what that old yogi at the temple showed on the outside.

My family thought it rather a strange that I would want to do this, but as it is not unheard of in our country, they accepted my desire to meditate.  It took me a while to learn how to do it.  I did take some advice on the subject.  I just thought about my breath and the ‘prana’ or energy flowing into my body every time I breathed in. Gradually I learnt to notice when I was not thinking about my breath.  I began to recognise ‘other’ or distracting thoughts, and having recognised them, I stopped thinking them.  My mind gradually became calmer.  This calmness overflowed into my daily life.  I felt less pressured by all the people and the demands of life and work.  My sense of humour returned.  My wife said I wasn’t bad tempered any more.  My boys started to have proper conversations with me instead of always whining and asking for things.  Even my mother in law smiled indulgently at me and called me ‘our guru’.

It wasn’t until much later in my life that I started thinking about the state of my body, and how yoga could address that problem as well.  But at least working on my mind through meditation had given me a sense of peace and balance, and in fact my wife decided to meditate too and our family life was immeasurably improved.

Grey Wolf is Given a Bride – A story to illustrate the ‘third eye’, for age 12 to adult

I have written a series of stories which illustrate the uses of the seven main energy centres of the body. The subject of this story is the Brow centre or Third Eye. The stories have come to me from Calling Horse, a Spirit Guide.

Grey Wolf is Given a Bride

Many years ago when my people were settled on the plains, during a quiet period when there was peace between all the tribes and it was a land of plenty, there was a wise old chief. You may not believe this but his name was Chief Thunderbird! He had the name before your people got hold of it!

Now Chief Thunderbird was a very astute old man. Whenever he wanted someone to do something for him or for the tribe, he would somehow make that person feel as if it was his own idea in the first place. He would arrange his request in such a way that the person would find themselves suggesting what he, the chief wanted, as an answer to a problem.
However after many years of doing this, people got wise to the wiley old man, not that anything he ever asked for was out of order, or in any way harmful to the giver or to the tribe. It was just that people began to resist this manipulation, almost like a game.

On one occasion he asked a young brave, Grey Wolf by name, if he would take care of a certain family whose father had been killed in a hunting expedition. Now Grey Wolf, although he saw the need for a protector for this young family, was not so sure if he wanted to become a substitute father so early on in his life. Although he had no particular young lady to whom he was attached, he had given no thought to the young widow in the past, naturally as she was already spoken for. However the chief could see that it would be an ideal match and wanted Grey Wolf to see this too.

Chief Thunderbird prayed to the Great Spirit to give Grey Wolf a vision which would convince him that Morning Star would be a good wife for him and that he could care for the two little boys like a good father. The next evening as Grey Wolf was sitting by the camp fire after the others had retired to sleep, as he stared into the flames, he saw a picture of himself with his arm around Morning Star and the two little boys sitting one on each of his knees. It was a very happy scene. Above the little family he saw the Great Spirit radiating light over the group.

Grey Wolf sat until the vision faded and then walked over to the teepee where Thunderbird’s family was based. He asked to see the old man and told him of his vision, and said he would be very honoured to take on the young family. The next day there was much celebrating. Grey wolf took the little boys swimming in the lake and Morning Star watched confidently, knowing that now all would be well again, both for her children and for herself.

Grey Wolf has a vision

Grey Wolf has a vision

It is through the third eye which is situated in the centre of the forehead that we can receive visions.  This ability has been lost or ignored by most people in modern times but it was very important to many ancient peoples.  It can be activated by meditation in appropriate circumstances and indeed many people today are learning to use this natural human ability.

The Crown Centre. A story to illustrate the use of the energy centre at the top of the head.

This story came to me when I was asking in meditation for stories to show an understanding of human energy centres by Native American Indians.  The spirit guide Calling Horse gave me this story.

THE CROWN CENTRE, A STORY FROM CALLING HORSE

When my people became restless the chief would be sensitive to their feelings and desires for a move, but he would always try to move camp at a propitious time. If we were careless about it, we might find that another tribe was occupying the area which we had planned to go to. We might find that food was scarce in the new place. We might encounter disease and pestilence. A move had to be carefully planned and the Great Spirit played a full part in this.

The chief would go into retreat for two days. During this time he would meditate. He also required the elders to do the same. They would also fast so that they would be more ‘clear-seeing’. Some of them would use the fire as their oracle, seeing pictures in it which told them what they needed to know. Others would meditate on the clouds and others would make contact with the tree spirits. One elder I knew would collect beautiful stones, akin to your crystals and would place them on his body as he lay on the ground in his teepee. There he would stay until he had his answer.

All of them were making contact with the Great Spirit through their crown centre,  the spiritual energy centre at the top of the head. Through this the Gods would give them visions and answers to their questions. They would ask specific questions about the place they planned to go to. They would ask about the predicted weather, about the buffalo and its whereabouts. They would ask about the abundance of small animals and about the types of medicinal plants available. They would ask about the presence of other tribes and whether the place would sustain our tribe as well, if another group were already present. We also needed to know if the other group would be agreeable to our sharing the area with them or if they would be hostile. If hostility was predicted we had to decide if we could frighten them off easily, or if they would stand their ground.calling-horse-crown-chakra1

Sometimes it would take the medicine man (who was the chief) and the elders up to a week to find answers to all these questions. Usually they were right but if they had been consuming some of our special brew which contained certain drugs, then their answers would be dubious. Our chief always tried to eliminate the possibility of this happening by banning it’s consumption during these times of decision making, however this was not always obeyed.

There was one old man who found it hard to resist the stuff and who had his own secret supply. He was in charge of ascertaining whether tribes were going to be hostile. On one occasion he confidently predicted that all would be well and we went ahead and moved to a beautiful valley three days journey from our present camp. The incumbents were so enraged at our intrusion that we had to beat a hasty retreat back to where we came from. The elders had to consider all over again the prospect of a move. That particular old man was retired from the job and another more sober individual was trained in his role.  He already knew how to meditate, but he was given a sequence to follow whereby he could call up the appropriate guides who knew about the tribe under consideration. Through his crown centre the answer would come. He would feel the movements of energy at the top of his head and he would know that his thoughts were not his own imagining, but that they were God inspired and therefore to be trusted. If however peoples’ motives were not of the highest order and they were seeking power or possession for its own sake then their answers may have lead to confusion and danger. That was the penalty of having the wrong motives, but a good chief would always see to it that this was not the case.

So through the Crown Centre our lives and movements were regulated. We did not need the sophisticated instruments of the late twentieth century. We had our ‘energy centres’ and the Great Spirit.

Mother’s Quiet Time (a story about the importance of meditation) for age 12 to adult

The Seventh Limb of Yoga: Dhyana,Meditation from my book Yoga Philosophy for Young People – 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).