Sometimes the simpler something is, the more satisfying for the one experimenting. This is true for me and meditation. I was introduced to a meditation practice called Raja Yoga when I was living in Ethiopia. Initially, I thought it had something to do with physical or hatha yoga. I was mistaken. In fact, there are no special postures, no special breathing techniques, no strain, and its free. The first session went something like this:
- Sit comfortably. Take a nice easy breath in. Keep your eyes open. Gently focus them on an object near you – a candle, a window, a plant.
- Now pull the energy up from your feet and hands to a point in the center of your forehead. Focus that energy there and feel the coolness at this point.
- Now imagine linking yourself with a divine source of energy beyond this world. Spend a few moments in this linkage.
- And when you’re comfortable, come back to this space and return to your day.
It was so simple, yet I felt the power and energy that this first experiment in Raja Yoga meditation gave me. I made it a practice that I could do anywhere, anytime. I received the benefits of concentration, reflection, and fresh perspective. I created a regular practice, first thing every morning and the last thing at night to clear my head before going to sleep. I would also set several ‘alarms’ on my phone throughout the day, so as to do it when I was in the middle of something. I would recharge and offer fresh energy to my task.
This was an individual activity. The power of meditation can grow when done collectively.
Then, several years ago, we began doing a once a month meditation on Main Street in Antigonish for World Peace as part of a worldwide program. The World Meditation program was set up to reach as many people as possible from 6:30-7:30 PM on the third Sunday of every month. Groups in every time zone encircling the globe, contribute vibrations of peace from their meditation to the world.
We were blessed in Antigonish with free space, the Alaya Centre, right on Main Street to come together for this special meditation. Thank you to Gary and son, who offered this meeting space and are no longer with us. May your souls rest in peace.
During this time, we would send out an invitation to people we knew, and they would bring people they knew. We were always a small but powerful group. Sometimes there were two or three of us, sometimes up to 20. The intention for world peace was always strong and each, in their own way, offered a silent reflection and meditation for peace in areas of tension and conflict in the world.
Then COVID-19 restrictions were introduced, and we could no longer meet at the Alaya Centre. We did not stop. We knew the power of collective meditation. We continued on Zoom. Getting together, often in silence, on zoom can seem strange, but we could feel the benefit. The groups around the world, who had been meditating together, also kept going. Group-by-group around the world they started gathering on Zoom to continue the practice of meditating together for world peace. And we still are!
Some are meeting every Sunday now, as we do, same time, given the distress people are feeling in this time of COVID-19. Its helping. As individuals, the time spent in easy Raja Yoga quiets the mind and helps each one find calmness in the center of their being. As groups, we know others who care and are sending compassionate thoughts out to other people and places on the planet. As people in each time zone, we know we are fulfilling our part of a world-wide contribution to peace and harmony.
During this time of COVID-19, the meditation itself and the commitment to World Meditation Hour every Sunday has been the foundation of my stability in a time of uncertainty.
[Debbie Castle is a part of People Development Limited (PDLTD), a Canadian consulting firm specializing in people-centered, customized program design, process facilitation, and social change initiatives in countries around the world. Debbie’s greatest joy is inspiring teams of facilitators to recognize their strengths and virtues and give their best to their communities, organizations and nations - to bring renewal, relevancy, and effectiveness toward shared vision.]