Easter is one of the most joyous days of the Christian calendar. It is the day when Jesus arose from the dead and ascended into heaven.The resurrection of Jesus is the Christian belief that Jesus Christ returned to life on the Sunday following the Friday where he was brutally executed by crucifixion. It is the central belief of the Christian
Easter was always my favorite celebration. When I was little living in Montreal, Easter was more special to me than Christmas and New-Year were. Easter meant the end of the long dark and rigorous winter and the beginning of promising longer and warmer days. It was also time to exchange our winter clothes for lighter and brighter ones, to enjoy playing outside. The ban on candies was over and we were allowed to indulge in chocolates and candies at least for that day.
Through the years I have tried to understand what Easter was about, at times I was sceptical of the historical validity of the resurrection, but I always believed in Jesus, one of the most important prophets of all times.
After reading Paramahansa Yogananda’s Autobiography of a Yogi, one of the most remarkable books having been published, it gave me a profound understanding of what it is to live and meditate with Christ Consciousness.
Paramahansa Yogananda tells us that “We can all express in our lives Christ- peace and Christ-love”. Jesus’ central teaching was one of love and forgiveness and to believe that, it is for us a time for liberation, a time for a new life.
We are all invited to expand the limitations of our mind and soul in deep meditation and let the light of Christ permeate our whole being so we can live a renewed life.
Happy, Joyous Easter Sunday!
William James, one of the most famous American psychologists said “The greatest discovery of my generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes”.
Attitudes come from what we say to ourselves. We form our thoughts and feelings from what we say to ourselves. The problem is that we do not always realise what we are saying and we are not always aware of what is going on inside our minds.
But we can learn to direct our thoughts to work for us. We cannot think positively one hundred percent of the time, this is unrealistic and impossible. But great realized beings and philosophers were aware of negative ideas clamoring for attention, but did not allow themselves to be dragged down by them. How can we achieve that for ourselves? How do we learn to be that way? By the regular practice of meditation.
The practice of meditation is the scientific approach to help us reduce stress and provide an inner environment to nurture our mind, body and soul.
If we want to succeed in anything we need commitment. When we are committed it gives us purpose and meaning to our lives and definitively focuses our thoughts.
With commitment we can acquire a sense of control on what is going on in our lives. We cannot always control the exterior elements of our lives, but if we are committed to develop a positive attitude, and an optimistic outlook sustained by faith in a Higher Power, we can positively influence the course of our life.
So starting today we can take a new direction, we can choose again. We can attune our mind to the Heart of God and live with a very positive attitude that will bring peace and meaning to our lives.
How do we approach our own spirituality? Is it a somber, sad, grim set of rules that we follow in order to grow spiritually?
Spirituality should bring us joy, and reconnect us with ourselves.
Sometimes we are reconnected, but we reconnect with pain and sadness. We may be reacting to an incident from our past or to something happening right now.
If we let ourselves feel the pain without asking what’s wrong with us, even if it hurts for a while, we may be healing from toxic beliefs and attitudes we have been accumulating. There might be a lesson to be learned, an action we can take to be at peace with ourselves and others.
When we take time to sit in meditation and listen to our soul, who speaks to us in a whispering yet unmistakably clear voice, we learn what we really need, what are our fears and dreams, our hopes and needs.
When we follow the quiet voice, everything works out, moves forward and evolves. There is an energy to life, a life force that we all can depend on. We do not need to resist, fight and control and sometimes we do not even need to understand. All we need to do is to be, be present to ourselves and others, love ourselves and others.
My dear friends and readers let’s all meet in meditation. None of us is alone, we are all interconnected.
So many times, watching interviews on television or listening to friends I hear: "I Have let myself down, I felt powerless". Sometimes circumstances take us by surprise. It is not what we wanted or liked, or we think that nothing will make us feel better and that there is nobody around who will understand what we are going through.
But in any situation we have the power to love ourselves. Sometimes no matter what we are trying to do to make things work, or to help someone to behave differently at the work place or at home, there are no results. Some people work so hard, but money is never sufficient to keep them worry free. No matter what they are trying to do, they feel stuck in a life that does not resemble them or that they
were not expecting.
They feel frustrated, out of touch, powerless; nothing seems to be going their way. The energy of this particular phase in their life is frustrating and at this time there is no action they can take to change anything in their life. Then what to do?
We can always accept what is, and instead of trying to avoid an unpleasant circumstance, face it, even surrender to it, and stay in the moment.
Acceptance is the beginning of spirituality, and when we start by accepting ourselves, our failures, it gives us compassion for ourselves and others and more meanings to our success. We have to know darkness to appreciate the light, and when all our efforts have been stripped away, we can practice the power of self-love.
In an interview with Oprah, a great psychologist who went to a very dark period in her life, describing herself then as a dead walking person, said that when she looked back at all of the terrible events that had happened in her life, she could see that during that period the Universe was teaching her the ever present healing power of loving herself through good and difficult times.
Meditation is a time to reconnect with our life centre, and to let go. It is the best way to ease up on ourselves. We breathe deeply and it relaxes us. If we feel fear we can see it, feel it, and then allow it to leave. We then become still, and renew our faith in the tremendous love that has always sustained us.
"There is no greater magic than meditation...To transform the negative into positive... To transform darkness into light...That is the miracle of meditation." Bhagwan Rajneesh
What is really happening from the practice of meditation? There is a very long list of some of the amazing benefits of meditation, but for me the most obvious and important ones are clarity and serenity.
There are many reasons for people to adopt the practice of meditation. For some people it is to cultivate ideals like wisdom, love, and compassion. Or it is to slow down a restless speedy or detached mind. To others it is to understand their own behavior or to reconnect the soul, body, and mind and finally for many it is to realize God.
Whatever the reason you can be assured that with a steady practice you will reach your goal.
I attended a spiritual school of thoughts that recognized true meditation as only when you are sitting with your eyes closed, with awareness to the breathing and with a focused mind repeating a mantra. But lately I came across a quote from the great spiritual teacher Thich Nnat Hanh who says, “Every act done in the sunlight of awareness becomes sacred”.
Of course learning a particular meditation technique is very helpful, but we can also find a natural meditative experience as I did in spending time with my little grand-children recently. When I am with them, I feel that nothing is missing and there is nothing else I would rather do or be.
Everyday activities that encourage and cultivate meditative awareness, such as when we are fully attentive to what we are doing are called Natural Meditations, because they help us reconnect to our Inner Self. All we need to do while performing a task is to be completely present, without worries in mind, just loving each moment and feeling that nothing is missing.
Meditating awareness is flowing, ecstatic and not static.
The more we cultivate this way of being, the easier our life enfolds. We do not sleepwalk our life, with brief moments of clarity where we cry out “What the hell is happening here?” This is the price to pay when we don’t pay sufficient attention to what we are doing, entertaining negative thoughts about ourselves and others and wondering why nothing is working in our lives.
So what is the alternative?
Conscious living and alert presence of mind, this is called living mindfulness.
Meditation is an extraordinary practice to develop mindfulness, a way of training the mind to notice causal relations between actions and their effects. Instead of reacting to everything unpleasant that happens, we learn to slow down and utilize our innate intelligence and sensitivity to others. Like a great sage said “Mindfulness helps us smell the roses, but first it helps us see the roses”.
Here is a prayer from the course of Miracles that is so helpful to put the ego aside, so that the Spirit can take over:
"I am here only to be truly helpful.
I’m here to represent You who sent me.
I do not have to worry about what to say or what to do because You who sent me will direct me.
I am content to be wherever You wish, knowing that You go there with me.
I will be healed as I let You teach me to heal."
The ego always wants us to do something or to say something in most situations, but the Spirit teaches how to see, how to have a new perspective, one with compassion, one in asking God for help. In a period of a few seconds we can go from feeling
cut off emotionally, to a more loving mode.
The ego makes illusions seems so real and we get so easily trapped in our personal dramas, fear, judgements, busyness, guilt that we lose sight of what is truly important. And it seems difficult in those moments to feel the presence of God. But we do not need to always feel ready and in our best state of mind to connect with God. Just a feeling of the Presence even without words is enough to let Grace work through us.
Many people think that God is so difficult or impossible to reach, hidden in some unreachable place. This sense of separateness creates unrecognized fears. As long as we think we are separate from God we create more fear. We then feel the need to make ourselves secure, loved and safe. But anything can disturb or destroy this false sense of security when the unpredictable happens.
We might think that our peace of mind comes from the world outside us, and if we can control or change what doesn’t suits us, we will win. But the truth is except in a rare condition, most of the time we need to attend to what is inside, to be at ease with our Inner-Self, to know that Inner-Self intimately.
This Inner-Self is connected to God at all-times, it has nothing to do to the different states of mind that we are in, it is never separate from God, but we have in our delusion forgotten that.
For me, meditation is a time set aside to remind myself of my divine connection with God. Everything in life comes and goes, the good and the bad, but a cloud can never stain the sky . We have to be aware that everything is transient and there is only one Supreme truth, one Reality, the reality of God. Through the power of God we can transcend all of our limitations and attain freedom and bliss.
Saint Valentine’s day is celebrated as an outward expression between lovers, friends, and family. It is filled with hearts, flowers, cards and candy and it never goes out of fashion because at the end of the day what we really want and desire is unfailing love.
True love brings us joy, peace, patience, and kindness. It is more a promise than an emotion. How can we give and receive unfailing love? The illuminated poet and mystic Rumi wrote “ Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it”.
Essentially, from a spiritual perspective, the central purpose of all our relationships is to help us uncover our essential Divine Nature, and to help others do the same. This means that we are to transcend our limited way of loving, and recognize that we are part of the Divine.
When we are able to connect to this core essence of love, we effortlessly transform our relationships from ego-based to spiritually based. I am not a hopeless optimist, the daily give and take of marriage or co-habitation evokes all of our deepest conflicts, our ego issues, our childhood yearnings and traumas that translate into power struggles between couples.
In a spiritual relationship we learn to look at problems as opportunities to learn about ourselves- especially our barriers to love-, instead of getting stuck in conflicts and struggling to resolve the issues. We learn to access our god self essence which is love and to become more centered, more at peace and more loving.
But we need to give time to God every day to lead a spiritual life; time in silence, time in communion with God in the sacred palace of the heart. We can turn any relationship into a heavenly one when we experience the godlike essence that we all possess. Love gives us wings, the poet Rumi said “You were born with wings, why prefer to crawl through life”.
With great love
"Love one Another, this is my commandment, that you love one another" Jesus, quoted in John 15:12
A very important question that a true seeker of God must ask oneself is: How well do I love? Because love is the truth, love is the light.
As we walk the spiritual path we need to come to a better understanding of what love means. It is not simply an appreciation for the way someone makes us feel or of what is beautiful and moving to us. It is an opening of the heart that allows us to be less self-centered, more reliable and in a kind of love that is all inclusive.
Plato explained love by saying “Love is a madness, a divine madness”. All the great Spiritual Masters of all times have thought their disciples to love, serve, and remember God, by loving and serving God through serving others.
It sounds to me so easy when everything is going my way, but what happens when this fails to produce a good feeling? We can then practice conscious love, the kind of love that is inclusive of everything and everyone. This unconditional love is the hardest to cultivate. It is love based on an intention.This intention makes our will stronger and as it takes will to forgive, each act of forgiveness is an act of love and liberation. It frees the heart and mind from excessive burdens and leaves us free to experience anew the present moment.
We pay a terrible price for anger, resentment and hatred. These emotions can affect our physical as well as our emotional health. We all need to be able to forgive, but we also need to remember that we are human beings trying to the best of our ability. There is no need to feel guilty if we do not master unconditional love yet. But we have to try and remember that it is the higher goal a human being can attain.
The way to remember what is really important and learn to express love everyday in various small ways, is through meditation. Meditation reminds us that our inner teacher is walking with us to attain our goal because He is the Goal.
Suggested Reading : "Awakening to the Sacred"
by Lama Surya Das
Carl Jung wrote: "The most terrifying thing is to accept oneself completely". There is so much suffering in self- loathing and in body hatred,... I am too fat, too thin, too saggy, should I have a face lift, try a new diet, have hair implant?... It is hard to escape what the media and society exhort from us, leading us to self-judgement and unworthiness that is so painful, and creating an inner prison that impairs us from loving ourselves and to be able to love and appreciate fully our lives.
This disease of self-loathing cannot be healed in quick numbing fixes,- may it be excessive busyness, overeating or shopping,- that can bring a momentary distraction to what is hurting us, but that can never solve anything, they are just delaying the healing process.
Like any disease, it needs to be recognized, identified to be able to attend to it. It is not always comfortable to look at the part of ourselves that we have rejected and ignored. But it is important to pluck the courage to recognize what is going on, without adding more judgement or more suffering and just allow it to be. It is the only way to reconnect with our true self, not the persona that we have tried to present to the world, but to love and accept everything that is about ourselves, because our true nature is love. Love is always there to support us, even when we do not see it. In it's subtle form it is always there.
When we stop and give up on wanting to be different, real changes occur. Even if we meditate every day, if we do it to numb ourselves from our anger, anxiety or anything we are not ready to face, we end up mutilating an aspect of ourselves and what we are seeking will evade us.
Meditation should be a practice where we let everything and ourselves just be. We want meditation to make us feel more like ourselves, not a desired image of ourselves, otherwise it will become an exhausting practice.
For some time now I have been practicing loving kindness meditation which I find extremely helpful when self-doubt or non acceptance surfaces in my mind. I have shared this practice with many of you and I will do it now for those who never heard of it before.
Whenever you feel stressed out, just repeat those phrases called metta. When repeating it is important to feel profoundly what the metta transmits:
May I feel safe
May I feel strong
May I be happy, healthy and content
May I live with ease
This is a great way to re-connect with love when we perceive a shortage of it. And if we persevere in repeating the metta we will grow in self-acceptance, compassion and kindness.
Until now, my holidays were spent in recuperation from an illness. It was a setback, but on every path we can encounter a puddle, and a disruption in our lives can look like a power shortage at the time, but in the end it can be a great opportunity to redirect our lives in a more balanced and meaningful way.
For many of us who have suffered from flu, bronchitis, pneumonia and other illnesses we might have missed the first of January, but together we can decide that every day can be the first of January starting fresh, a new page, a new intention and declare that we are letting go of the difficulties, the struggles of yesterday and useless habits, and that we are eager to start again, learn with joy and re-discover the lightness of being, a beginner again.
As we have stopped for a while, so many things need to be done and at times it can seem overwhelming to try to catch up with everything we have left undone. But feeling overwhelmed is just a reaction to the situation. If we can just start the day by taking the time to connect with our soul and who we really are through the practice of meditation, we then tap into a field of infinite possibilities and creativity. We are not just a body, a mind and the different roles that we are playing, but a spirit. This spirit is the witness in us, the one who sees what is happening, and it is completely free and unbound.
The task of quietly beginning our day with meditation will help us find our way through everything else. If we have stopped meditating for a while, we shouldn’t feel guilty about it but we just need to start again. The same goes with taking care of ourselves, our family and friends and of all the work that needs to be done.
The simple act of setting to the task simplifies it. Our sense of peace reappears in the magic of the present moment. Fears of being inadequate or failing by contemplating what needs to be done or what might go wrong can be released and replaced by a sense of empowerment and joy.
So let’s keep our hearts open to God, this will transform us, instill joy in us, bring peace, and restore a sense of acceptance and fulfillment in our lives.