Sri Karunamayi in Melbourne

Sri Karunamayi is an avatar, a manifestation of Shakti who is born enlightened or fully self-realized.
For many people the Individual Blessing is an encounter with the Divine in the form of a human being – a saint, a teacher, a spiritual guide, a loving mother. Great peace and inner silence comes easily in the presence of our beloved Amma.
I received an individual blessing on October 21, 2017 at St Kilda Town Hall.

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Meditation

My experience of meditation involves a self-inquiry that promotes clarity of knowledge (jñana) in a controlled setting to prepare for conscious total absorption with the self. Mental clarity and acuity are related to well-being and health, and affect interpersonal relationships. Thus, meditation offers the means for change and adaptability.

My intention is to use meditation to explore our own nature, which is to be at peace with daily life, and to be able to deal with the stressors in the activities of everyday life. “Yoga” (union) represents the union of one with the guru, the union of husband and wife, the union of one with community, the union of one with nature, and the union of one with God. Simply put, to study Yoga is to study the self and its relationships.

Self-inquiry is a reflection on the subject that is personal identity, referred to in Sanskrit as asmitā (I-am-ness) or ahaṃkāra (I-maker).

Although the range of self-inquiry tools and techniques is broad, the effectiveness of the tools and techniques depends on the person, how well he/she responds to visualization, sound, movement, etc. Yoga meditation practices can include yantra (symbols such as mandala), mantra, chanting, prayer, bhāvana (visualization and intention, e.g. focus on material wealth, or strength and vitality), bandha, conscious breathing, sound, nyāsam (gestures such as bringing hands close to the heart centre), shanmukhi mudrā (gesture of withdrawing from the senses).

In designing a meditation practice, it is a good idea to keep the practice simple (and non-confrontational), pace its steps to flow appropriately from the start to the finish, incorporate physical postures and breathing exercises that add meaning to the objectives of the practice, and invite possibilities for creative expression that provide a conduit for mental absorption.

Yoga meditation trains the conscious mind to experience absorption (samādhi) without stress or exertion, by focusing the thoughts (dhāraṇā) on an arbitrary object, and engaging the creative outlet of contemplation (dhyāna). Samādhi results in optimal cognition, which is indicated by more pronounced, ecstatic brain activity in the frontal lobe, and by the vital effects of the brain’s creative faculties and memory, as the thoughts fly freely.

Some might consider meditation a profound revelation (likened to forgiveness and salvation), but the same processes of unravelling the mind occur naturally and unconsciously as lucid dreaming during deep sleep, which human beings need to function well and to maintain their sanity. Meditation is simply the conscious engagement of the cathartic processes of the parasympathetic nervous system, to deal with attachments, so that they do not become afflictions in our lives.

On Dhyāna

Sage Patañjali prescribes eight limbs (aṣṭānga) of Rājā Yoga in the second pada of the yoga sūtras: yāma (restrictions), niyāma (observances), āsana (postures), prāṇāyāma (breath work), pratyāhāra (sense withdrawal or non-attachment), dhāraṇā (concentration or mindfulness), dhyāna (meditation), samādhi (realization of the true Self or Ātman). The combined practice of dhāraṇā, dhyāna and samādhi constitute saṃyama, the kinetic and spontaneous flow of attention and energy in the object of meditation.

Whereas dhāraṇā involves binding thought to an object, such as a candle flame, dhyāna involves meditation without the object in a state of trance that leads to an heightened awareness of one’s connectedness with the world, samādhi.

Dhyāna is a tool to gain self-knowledge, creativity and ability to concentrate. The practice of dhyāna frees the mind to explore creative variations and maintain adequate energy levels in the body throughout the day.