The Rich Vegetarian

An Examined Life

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Tag: meditation (page 1 of 2)

Meditation & Awareness

As part of the takeover of the Instagram profile abcdyogi, I wrote a short essay on meditation and awareness. Here it is.

In September 2004, I attended a Sahaj Samadhi meditation workshop, taught by Michael Fischman. Mikey was a FANTASTIC teacher who had been meditating for many years. Mikey had such a basic, fundamental take on the practice of meditation… it was just what I needed. “Sahaj Samadhi” means “effortless/simple transcendence,” and initially, I was doubtful. The technique felt too simple, nearly non-existent. I thought, how does this work? Can I do it? It took me years to realize that this was a SIMPLE practice, not necessarily an easy one. It was truly about withdrawing effort, being still, letting go.

“Doing nothing” is how Mikey described it. How does one “do nothing?” I examined the “do nothing” instruction from all angles. Finally exhausted, I gave up, and in that “giving up,” I understood what it meant.

People talk a lot about having a “good meditation.” Honestly, I think that’s missing the point. What I feel is that meditation IS the point. The idea is to be still, quiet and unmoving, drop effort, just be. Whatever follows after (transcendence, dreams, creativity, rage, A-Ha moments) is secondary. Because what we are practising is the art of being still, watching, barely watching, just being. It is this simple, natural and effortless practice of sitting/being that then extends into our daily life and activities. Becoming an observer of one’s body, mind, thoughts and emotions, the world, people, all of it… Observing becomes a fundamental aspect of who we are. To me, this signifies the beginning of awareness, or Pragnya.

I like to think of awareness as a tiny flame. With meditation and observation, it grows larger and brighter, illuminating worlds within and without. This is the real gift of a human incarnation. We can reflect on the world, we can reflect on ourselves, and we can reflect on ourselves reflecting on the world. It is about growing into the Saakshi (witness) consciousness.

I often joke, “One of these days, I am going to write the Lazy Person’s Guide to Spirituality. Just watch.” I really think it IS that simple. Watch the changing, watch the unchanging, watch the one who watches. #abcdyogilakshmi @richvegetarian

Video: How It Began/How It’s Just Beginning

I was invited by Tejal Patel to take over the Instagram profile of abcdyogi for a day and share my Yoga story. It was a fun project, as I recounted the beginning days of my life in the United States, feeling lost and blue in this new country, trying to make sense of my life and me.

Here’s my “Origin Story.”

“I came upon the path of yoga at a low point in my life. Yoga delivered me from pain and misery. It may seem as though the journey started years ago but it also feels that it is just beginning. Despite the many years of practice, the path feels fresh and vibrant, filled with everlasting wonder.”

Unexpected bounty

(Have started on Morning Pages, and this one showed up a couple of days ago.)

There is enough time, there is. Enough breath too – Don’t let your impatience kill the game before it even starts. Build patience – slow, relentless persistence – pace your breaths – make them last. Lengthen the hold – extend from end to end. Practise economy and grace – everything is a resource – use wisely – judiciously – resourcefully. This is beautiful imagery – spontaneous/life. Move from the impetuous artist-creative-writer to the practiced athlete. Pacing, practising, flowing. Breathing like a swimmer, taking it in, letting out slowly, with purpose & deliberation, fully cognizant and aware of the power, purpose and intensity. This is life, this is practice. This is for the long haul. This is about grace and economy. Spare, minimal. Beautiful, not wasteful.

A feeling of energy controlled with intent – not a wild river or a young elephant, but a clear river dancing/snaking down the mountain – unmistaken in its vector – moving, not dashing. Youth is an aspect of its intensity, not movement. It moves surely, slowly, but with purpose, even if it is momentary, yet in the moment, established in the movement and the moment. Surefooted dancers are the best – so are the hikers and climbers. You know where to place the foot. You have spent years seriously considering where to place the foot, and now this knowledge is embodied, embedded – there is no thought, no premeditation – the individual unit has dissolved and there is continuity, system integrity – togetherness – oneness. And it is this flow that we yearn to – we always yearn to dissolve – to let the Big Mind take over.

It takes years and years of effort and practice before we can fully and finally dissolve, and then we do it each moment, every second, next, one after the other.

Oh, Just Meditate!

Imagine the deep blue ocean covered by a thin layer of ice. Imagine a whole world of inhabitants living their life on this layer of ice scarcely aware of the limitless expanse lying directly beneath them. Imagine people looking up into the sky, desiring infinity and wondering how to experience it… when all they need to do is dig a tiny hole in the ice and dive down, inward.

This is as good a description of the meditative state as any and as apt an explanation of the waking state of consciousness.

Meditation is the exercise of diving into the deep blue ocean beneath the icy layer. The ocean is the meditative state of consciousness and no, it isn’t on another continent or planet; it is underneath our daily existence, close and accessible. Which is why, anyone and everyone can meditate. Each one of us can experience the deep blue expanse and dive to its silent depths, marveling at the shiny fish floating by, gazing in awe at the shimmering coral reefs and admiring the massive blue whale that glides majestically.

We use the term “good meditation” rather loosely, although the truth is that no one can tell. The experience of meditation is far beyond what we can perceive through the intellect and the senses. Sure, you may feel pleasantly rested after a 20-minute meditation. You may feel reborn. You may feel like you want to take a nap afterward. You may feel riotously happy. You may wonder how time flew by. You may feel ceaseless thought flowing through the mind. You may question the “efficacy” of your technique.

I have experienced all of the above (except the last one).

I am nowhere qualified to dispense advice of any kind on meditation but here is what I have to share. Who is a good “meditator?” The one who emerges from meditation in a blissful state of awareness? The one who glows with an inner radiance? The one who reports a state of thoughtlessness?

No, no, no.



The only definition of a “good meditator,” if there exists any, is a person who is sincere and committed to his/her practice. The one who sits to meditate every day, gratefulness and sincerity in her heart. The one who perseveres with the practice despite the so-called lack of visible results. “Whenever I sit to meditate, all these thoughts come rushing to my mind!” Yes, battling the doubts and ‘I-am-not-doing-this-right’ suspicions and ‘what-is-the-point-of-this-exercise’ questions and still committing to the daily practice.

That, and that alone, is the definition of a good meditator.

Just meditate, really. All that is needed is a simple intention, a little wish, a basic technique. And the magic unfolds in the mind, in the heart, in your life, in the world, in the heavens…effortlessly.