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Friday, February 26, 2010

At Ma’s India we meet a lot of people interested in meditation. They usually come into our store after a darshan meditation given by our guru Ma Jaya, full of enthusiasm for the practice of meditation. Some are beginners, some are intermediate meditators and some are more advanced. We have meditation tools available for every degree of practice.

The beginning meditation practitioners want all the tools, and for them, we recommend The Meditation Kit. Contained within this meditation kit is a sandalwood mala, incense with holder, bell, sacred water cup, 4 track mantra CD and a 28 page illustrated guide book. In that guidebook of meditation, there is instruction on breathing, mantras, mudras, and a very complete guide for any meditator.

Devdutt Pattanaik has written a series of introductory books on Hinduism which are of great service to the beginning meditator if they are interested in Hindu lore and mythology; for example: Shiva: An Introduction; Devi: An Introduction; Vishnu: An Introduction and Hanuman: An Introduction. All of these books are written in simple narrative style reducing the complexity of Hindu lore to something immediately understandable and lucid.

For intermediate meditators who wish to learn more about Hinduism and devotion, we recommend to them a series of books such as Gita Wisdom by Joshua Greene, a wonderful readable tale of the relationship of Krishna and Arjuna as it is played out in the journey of the Bhagavad-Gita. Also recommended is Hindu Gods and Goddesses by W.J.Wilkins, a composite of the pantheon of gods and goddesses replete in Hindu literature. If one is looking for a particular god or goddess to offer their devotion to, one might wish to purchase Lakshmi – An Introduction, or Hanuman by Chitralekha Singh, two of the most popular deities in Hindu lore and mythology. Also a wonderful read is the seminal epic book, Ramayana, by the foremost authority in Hinduism, William Buck. These are but a few of the many books on Hinduism represented at Ma’s India.

Some more advanced meditators who perhaps have been meditating for quite sometime usually desire some more esoteric study. We immediately direct them to the most renowned expert on mantras, Thomas Ashley Farrand, in his book Chakra Mantras wherein he teaches the use of mantras in activating our secret chakras. This is truly a seminal book on mantras during meditation. Mudras: Yoga in Your Hands by Gertrud Hirschi is an innovative book telling of how a simple placement of your hands and fingers can allow you to clear space energetically, think more positively, ease tension and even relieve flu symptoms and asthma.

And for the most seasoned and serious mediators truly interested in esoteric books, we recommend Aghora: At the Left Hand of God by Robert Svoboda, a life journey tale of a master teacher into the rare world of Tantrism and Aghora III: The Law of Karma, which brilliantly speaks of karma and how it relates to everyman in his search for truth. These are experiential views into a world rarely seen by western eyes. There are a host of accompaniments to meditation such as the Meditation Pillow Cushion, an extraordinarily comfortable and popular cushion filled with buckwheat hulls to ensure a good meditation. Made with a removable cover, this meditation cushion offers structural support as well to the meditator. As one becomes more interested in meditation, it is interesting to note that the meditator can travel to certain meditation sites or retreats and bring along their Portable Zafu Meditation Cushion which is inflatable, durable and can be easily used outdoors as well as indoors. 

There are many other accompaniments to meditation such as oils, incense, bells and tingshas. The Auroshika Incenses made at the Sri Aurobindo ashram in India capture nature’s finest scents in their incenses. We particularly love Auroshika Sandalwood Indian Incense since sandalwood is the most popular and widely burned incense in meditation practices. 

Topped off with Om Tingsha Cymbals to bring you into a deep meditative feeling, you will be ready to receive that which you desire from your meditation practice.

Om Shantih Swaha!

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Monday, November 30, 2009

Someone asked me the other day was meditation only for so-called spiritual people. I laughed at that remark, thinking that to even think of meditation, one becomes spiritual in that very moment. What it speaks of is a desire through meditation to experience something deeper than a physical reality. It is as it were an effort to climb beneath ordinary sensory awareness into an experience of meditation that some might call mystical. Then the question arises, is this only a practice for mystics? Well, while meditation might in the past have been only a practice for those aspiring to become religious or spiritual, it is now seen as not only having a spiritual benefit, but having physical benefits as well. In fact, the other day I read about meditation being considered as a neuroscience. Apparently brain studies show that the pre-frontal cortex of the brain was especially affected by intentional contemplative practices. Of course, we all know the main benefit of meditation as being able to balance the parasympathetic and sympathetic systems in the body. When one is engaged in arousing the fight or flight system, one increases the outflow of many stress hormones. When one is under stress, the body contracts and constricts thus, in some cases, producing not only heart attacks but also circulatory problems in general. If only producing relaxation, meditation is a worthwhile tool in the progress against stress. In fact, one could consider oneself a true success in meditation if relaxation were the only benefit gained.

However, there are many other physical and physiological benefits of meditation. Many seasoned meditators have claimed to have improved their psychic relationships within their family, becoming more attuned to the wishes and sensitivities of family members.  Deborah Rozman in her book, Meditation for Children, speaks of how meditation creates this close, loving bond amongst family members. 

However, even the most comfortable and harmonious families are no longer insulated by the family unit, but are constantly subjected to the stressful news ever emanating from the television and newspapers. We are not only treated to a constant barrage of stressful news within our own locality, but are forced to encounter and watch stories around the globe. In days past, we could just turn off the television sets and remain relatively insulated, but now hearing about the starvation of one child in Africa affects us deeply and instantly. But the world is moving too fast and we are forced to keep up with it through our engagement. Therefore, for psychological health and survival, one must build a base of harmony and peace to cope with these stressors, and that is where meditation enters.

The Chakra Balancing Meditation with Painting by renowned spiritual leader Ma Jaya teaches that all chakras or energy centers within the body must be experienced and balanced to allow an even flow of spiritual energy.

Another tool for increasing balance and awakening the spiritual energy is Layne Redmond’s Chakra Breathing Meditation CD, guiding you through the seven chakras through breathing exercises combined with movement and music.

Meditation is not just for the hippies or those inclined to be monastic. There are of course, meditation centers where one may retreat to for a time. But there doesn’t seem to be as many opportunities or desires to escape from the world’s problems and just retreat into monasticism or spirituality. Now people are becoming more conscious of bringing a new awareness into the world through meditation. Paradoxically, instead of bringing a desire to retreat, meditation brings about a renewed connection or global empathy towards all. We are awakening to the fact that we are interconnected by virtue of our spirits to humanity all over the world. Meditation then, while enabling us to connect from a deeper place inside ourselves, is also at the same time enabling us to connect to a global empathetic response to the troubles of the world.

Discovering Jewish Meditation by Nan Fink Gefen is a reminder to all that meditation within the Jewish religion was an ancient spiritual practice and not just as is popularly believed, consigned to only the Hindu and Buddhist traditions.

Another example of interfaith meditation is Sufi Meditation by Lex Hixon who shows how meditation is used in traditional mystic Islam.

A true benefit of meditation is the ability to pause before one acts. Instead of reacting mindlessly to an external influence or stress, one realizes a stronger sense of the self that does not wish to engage in harmful reactions. In the past it was always thought that one should be able to express anger and that somehow would reduce stress. I remember reading that the true way to cure ulcers was to express your feelings of anger or dislike to whomever you considered a problem. That was really quite wrong advice. Now as serious meditators we are taught to look within for the solution of our problems with relationships and other matters.

Meditation teaches one to take responsibility and cultivate compassion, and more than that, to be not afraid of taking responsibility. Jean Yves Leloup in his book Compassion and Meditation speaks of awakening spirituality through the love of Jesus and the compassion of Buddha.

The benefit of meditation is that one feels an ever- increasing and emerging strong sense of self. Through meditation one develops a keen awareness of that non-reactive state and is able to see one’s emotions through meditation as if they are actors watching a movie in which they are the main actors and therefore responsible in a more profound way for the way the movie ends. Unlike fundamentalism, which feels that if one does not ascribe to the so-called truths of the Bible, one would lose one’s morality. One finds this to be far from the truth with meditation. When one becomes a serious meditator, one is given the gift of tuning into an ever-present and deep morality, not bound by conventional strictures of a religious belief, but a morality that springs forth by virtue of one’s connection to one’s Self or Spirit. This is the true religion to which meditators aspire. We have heard of stories of people struck by disastrous diseases who through their immobility caused by their diseases were forced to go inside and reconnect with that wisdom which told them what their body needed. Many surprising anecdotal stories of miraculous healings have occurred in this manner. It seems that a number of people who were limited by their doctor’s diagnoses were forced to bypass almost their everyday belief in the doctor’s wisdom to find their own. The body’s wisdom is waiting to be re-awakened through meditation and when one becomes quiet enough, the Soul is waiting to speak.
Lastly, in meditation, there really is no higher or lower self. There is just the Self, which wait with its divine wisdom for us to hear what it has been trying to convey to us through our lives. Meditation is the voice of the free self, unencumbered by conventional thought and desires and speaks the true desire of the spirit.

The Meditation Kit Traditional Tools to Awaken the Soul is for both the novice and experienced practitioner of meditation.  It comes equipped with a sandalwood mala, incense holder, bell, tilak, 4-track CD, sacred water holder and 28-page instruction booklet.  This kit, together with a Meditation Pillow Cushion, will bring an ease and comfort to your meditation practice, no matter where you travel or reside.

Remember, the best way to heal the world is to heal our own spirit and to bring peace to wherever we are.  OM NAMAH SHANTIH KI JAI!

Visit Ma’s India to find other meditation products that will help you in your practice.

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Saturday, August 29, 2009

If one were to think of an American spiritual spokeswoman and advocate for kindheartedness and compassion, one would have to look to Pema Chodron. A long time devotee of the great Buddhist teacher, Chogyam Trungpa, Pema Chodron has found her own voice and place in our hearts as we grapple with the everyday problems of being human while still trying to lead a spiritual life. Coming from a place of humility and every-day ordinariness, Pema Chodron is not ordinary at all, but a true illuminator and clarifier of the complexity of life. She has managed however to compress and simplify complex dharmic Buddhist proscriptions to simple, but never mundane, maxims for us to live and by which to be nourished. Pema Chodron at once illuminates, expounds, clarifies and expresses in true humor the wisdom of Buddhism. Pema Chodron also “walks the walk” as she pokes fun at her own attempts at leading a spiritual life. Pema Chodron is at once readable and profound.

Many of us who practice spirituality in these times cannot help but be overwhelmed and saddened at the ever-present and increasing violence. In Practicing Peace in Times of War, Pema Chodron in her usual clarity explores the origins of this violence and lays the responsibility for it at our feet. Pema Chodron tells us that while we may not be directly responsible for such aggression, that when we too practice a violent way of responding we are contributing to this culture. Pema Chodron further admonishes and instructs us how to respond in these times with compassion and open-heartedness and gives us techniques to forward that purpose. From this book one realizes that the true place of power comes from extending compassion to those who engage in this type of violence and our endeavoring to practice non-violence or ahimsa in our daily lives.

Pema Chodron’s book The Wisdom of No Escape is truly a balm for the tortured soul. While admitting the “no exit” place to which our suffering leads us, she speaks of how it can serve as a vehicle for our awakening into consciousness. When we don’t “escape” from the “messy” situations of our lives, we sometimes fall into the delight that awaits us. Pema Chodron encourages us to open up to the challenges in our lives and develop a soft heart as we encounter them. Taking refuge in the Buddha for Pema Chodron is about reconnecting with our wakefulness and removing the heart armor that covers our wisdom. Pema Chodron gave the talks in this book during a one-month practice at Gampo Abbey.

Pema Children is well known for encouraging us to look at our pain and suffering and not to run from it, but she does not leave us without tools to encounter painful or difficult times. In fact, as we confront our suffering, loneliness and despair, from which we cannot escape, we may encounter a fundamental happiness that lies beneath our fear. In the book, When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times, Pema Chodron has written a manual of instructions for those of us who aspire to maintain an open heart and become compassionate warriors in our life.

Again with a wonderful title, The Places that Scare You, to which we as ordinary people can relate, Pema Chodron welcomes us all into the path of her what can only be termed kind and compassionate Buddhism. She teaches that at the heart of our painful moments in life, we have a nugget of spiritual awareness to extract and that it is ours if we are brave enough to witness our pain and the places of vulnerability that frighten us. Again Pema Chodron reminds us of the basic goodness within us, how humility is our strong suit and why our vulnerability and “soft spots” awaken us. Pema Chodron is truly a spokeswoman of realism, compassion and simplicity in this age of complexity.

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Monday, July 6, 2009

Malas – Buddhist and Hindu prayer beads have long been known as a necessary accompaniment to meditation. The more common and known prayer bead is of course to westerners and Catholics, the rosary. Hindu and Tibetan Buddhist malas are referred to as strings of prayers similar to the rosary and used during chanting and mediation. The word “mala” means “garland” or rosary in Sanskrit. As the lute player fingers his lute, so too the meditator counts his prayer beads. As one’s mind becomes fixed on counting and touching these prayer beads, one lifts one’s thoughts to transcendence and a stillness descends that hopefully transforms the meditator.

Buddha recommended the mala practice as a path to enlightenment for ordinary people. Skull Malas and bone malas and Buddhist prayer beads reflecting the eventual destruction of the body and the starkness of the self are typical of the Buddhist and Tibetan traditions. One’s consciousness becomes rooted into ancient origins and pivots the concept of self into one-pointed meditative awareness.

Malas are usually made from sandalwood or rosewood, or semiprecious stones such as turquoise and coral. Rosewood comes from an ancient tree symbolizing spiritual harmony, kindness and good will. Turquoise, added to prayer beads, cultivates healing, intuition and creativity. This mala promotes self-awareness and initiative and is known to be integrated into protection amulets in ancient cultures. Coral comes from the depth of the sea and reflects the organic wisdom of the ages. The Rosewood, Turquoise and Coral Neck Mala combines these extraordinary virtues and enhancements to meditation.

This unadorned Rosewood Mala is for the serious meditator. The organic simplicity of this rosewood mala stands in stark contrast to worldliness and brings the meditator into a single-pointed focus upon his or her mantra.

The Sandalwood Mala needs no praise. The sandalwood tree is said to scent the whole of paradise with its fragrance, imparting fragrance even to the blade that cuts it. Used in sacred ceremonies and to purify holy places, one needs only to smell the fragrance emitted from these, usually, Hindu prayer beads to bring one into contemplation of the soul. Myth and folklore alike say that sandalwood prayer beads were the malas of the gods.

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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Meditation has been described as a mental discipline by which one attempts to get beyond the reflective “thinking” mind into a deeper state of relaxation or awareness. Meditation has been practiced for over 5,000 years. Nearly every conventional religion has recognized meditation as a spiritual practice. Here at Ma’s India Spiritual Gifts we have a wide range of different meditation tools to help you with your spiritual journey. Meditation tools have been incorporated from many different religions. No matter what you are searching for, we have what you need.

A wonderful meditation pillow can be a great asset in your state of relaxation. If this is what you are looking for, we have the perfect meditation pillow for you. The Meditation Pillow Cushion is filled with buckwheat hulls for a soft and comfortable meditation. This meditation cushion is made with a removable cover for easy care. The “V” shaped design allows for extreme comfort of your thigh areas. This low loft version is available in black, burgundy, royal blue, green and burnt. You can maximize your meditation experience with this wonderful pillow. It is also available at a great low sale price.

Singing bowls are fabulous items for an incredible meditation experience. In Buddhist practice, singing bowls are used as a support for meditation, trace induction and prayer. The bowls are actually a type of bell that gives off fantastic sounds. The sides and rim of the bowl give off vibration when they are rubbed with the tool. The singing bowl that we offer is great for personal meditation use because of its 4 ½ x 3-inch size. You truly have to hear it to appreciate the incredible sound that this singing bowl gives off. Right now this singing bowl is available at a low sale price for your enjoyment.

The Meditation Kit offers you a fascinating way to improve your daily meditation. You will awaken your soul with these easy to use tools that will guide your meditation into another level. This kit is designed for the novice or experienced individual. Eight meditation cards will guide you to your desired state of awareness, relaxation and inner peace. Here is what you will receive in The Meditation Kit:

  • 16 beautifully illustrated art cards, complete with invocation mantras
  • Sandalwood Mala
  • Premium incense with holder
  • Brass offering bell
  • Achman cup (sacred water cup)
  • Tilak (sacred clay)
  • A 4 track mantra CD
  • A 28-page illustrated guide book

    These exciting meditation tools will guide you to unbelievable emotions and relaxation. The experience will excite you and help you achieve a special level of feelings. We also have other meditation tool for you to choose from. You can view all of our meditation items today at Ma’s India Spiritual Gifts.


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