Meditation is a component of most religions, and has been practiced since antiquity. It is not exclusively religious, however. According to Wikipedia, “Different meditative disciplines encompass a wide range of spiritual or psycho-physical practises that may emphasise different goals—from achievement of a higher state of consciousness, to greater focus, creativity or self-awareness, or simply a more relaxed and peaceful frame of mind.”
Eastern meditation techniques have been adapted and increasingly practiced in Western culture. Both religious and non-religious groups have been teaching their particular forms of meditation for many years now.
Devotees of Krishna also meditate daily—and so in Sydney, Australia, ISKCON members decided to share their methods with the public in the form of a Meditation Workshop.
The idea originally came about as a follow-up program for the successful Le Carnaval Spirituel festival tour, which has been enthralling audiences throughout Australia with a dynamic taste of the Krishna conscious philosophy and lifestyle. “The idea is to give people who attend one of these festivals an aspect of Krishna consciousness that they can take home and apply in their daily lives,” explains Pratapana Dasa, who organises both events.
This year, festival attendees were invited to a Meditation Workshop with the tour’s spiritual leader Indradyumna Swami a day or two later. Advertisements were also placed in local newspapers. The results were amazing.
“I couldn’t believe it,” remarked Sri Gandharvika Dasi, who helps with the workshop. “We had to keep getting extra chairs for all the people who didn’t have a proper sitting place. We were not expecting such a large turn out.”
The response was so great, in fact, that organizers soon ran out of Japa meditation beads and had to order more from India only days before the next workshop was due to begin.
During each workshop, Indradyumna Swami explains the meaning and importance of meditation, then takes the group though a guided meditation. The group relax and focus on their breathing and posture. They also do some light stretching excercises, before participating in a soft kirtan meditation led by Tribhuvanesh Dasa.
Indradyumna Swami then explains the meaning and significance of the Hare Krsna Maha Mantra above all other mantras, and shows everyone how to chant using the beads that they have recieved as part of their free meditaion kit. The group chant together for some time before rounding up the workshop with an enthusiastic question and answer session with Indradyumna Swami.
All participants then register their details for upcoming events in the area, and leave the workshop with their free kit to help them introduce meditation into their daily routine.
Paul, who attended the course after going to the Le Carnaval Spirituel festival in Erina said, “I used to do different types of meditation before, but stopped some years ago. This course reminded me of the importance of spirituality throughout our lives, as opposed to something we do if we have time or if we are stressed for some reason.”
Another participant commented as she left: “I never thought it was posssible to feel both relaxed and enlivened at the same time. It was a real experiance!”
“These are exciting times we are living in,” commented long-time festival mainstay Sri Prahlada Dasa. “As devotees who practice the Krishna conscious lifestyle, we have so much to offer people, and sharing these aspects of our culture not only enriches the lives of those we share with, but enlivens us in our own personal practice also.”
The Meditation Workshops started in December 2009 and will run until February 2010. However with hundreds of people registering for more similar workshops, events are expected to be held in the Sydney region throughout the new year.
For more information, please click here.