There is a single solution to every problem we face in life. Whether a challenge of health, attitude, or outer circumstance, the inner light experienced in deep meditation is the supreme fixer.
Why? Because deep concentration on the inner light calms our emotions, and raises our consciousness to a state where we are able to receive intuitive guidance, understanding, and healing.
May it be a light to you in dark places, when all other lights go out.
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring
People often come into East West and comment on the smell, the dreamcatcher, or just the peaceful ambiance. As an employee, however, it becomes easy to take the beauty of our store for granted. The other week, however, I had the opportunity to visit California for a spiritual pilgrimage with some friends. California is where the great Indian swami Paramahansa Yogananda first made a headquarters for his new church. We went to Encinitas, where I visited the gift shop at Yogananda’s Hermitage. The effect of entering into a space such as that was tremendous. The lighting, the architecture (the building is a cluster of circular rooms) the statues of gods and incense, and the wood furniture – it all combined to create a place that is distinct from the outside. I finally had an understanding of the immediate effect a place as mundane as a store can have on a visitor.
During my high school years and all the way through college, I considered myself an agnostic at best, and an atheist at worst. I wanted to believe in a higher power, but my outlook on life was so dim that it didn’t seem possible for a loving, intelligent deity to exist behind the suffering we see every day. It wasn’t until I went to India that my perspective began to change.
I began to see the possibility of my higher self, the possibility that there could be more to life than capitalism. So forceful was my experience in India that it was no longer a question of believing whether or not something was out there, but a question of understanding what that something was.
My first fumbling attempts at creating a regular meditation practice took place aboard the USS Jason in the South Pacific in 1980. A quiet place for introspection wasn’t an easy thing to find onboard a navy ship. Climbing into the privacy of my rack, a cot-like bed stacked four high, I would close the curtain and meditate in a horizontal position. I couldn’t sit upright because I only had about two and a half feet of head space available. As any meditator can tell you, meditating while laying down usually leads to sub-conscious rather than superconscious states. With all my meditations quickly ending in sleep I soon gave up the practice.
I have been practicing yoga for nearly 30 years and currently teach adults. Most recently however, I participated in a kid’s yoga camp as a teacher for ages 6-8. What the heck, I thought. Yoga has proven useful in many aspects of my life, a valuable tool, let’s see what it does for children. First of all, it was a joyful, playful experience, creatively energizing and exhausting as well. Children tend to move quicker than adults; most children will move into a yoga posture faster than you can say the name, especially if they have practiced yoga before.