I grew up in an average home, in an Indian residential township in Durban. Due to the political situation in the country at that time, during my early childhood years I had encountered many challenges, that normally occur in most low socio-economic communities e.g.poverty, domestic violence ,alcohol and drug abuse etc.
My parents played a very active role with doing their level best in supporting us during my childhood years. They did all they could, given with what they had in terms of knowledge, skill and finances, to ensure that we would be most equipped to deal with the real world. Much respect and gratitude goes out to them for doing their best ,especially so, with the little that they had at that time.
It was also in the early years of my life that I ventured into this big real world and moved up to Johannesburg. My adult life had begun after me starting a job, sharing and apartment and having heaps of friends, daily around me. My busy life seemed to have continued ,with lots of partying, booze and good times.
My expectations at the time were not much, I just fell into the ups and downs of daily life especially that everyone else seemed to be okay with, this had to be okay and normal. To me then, this seemed to be all, and I went along with satisfaction at that time.
However after many years later, reality started to surface, and I had heaps of unanswered questions about life and my years ahead. I became aware that there had to be more to my life and, it was then that my journey for self satisfaction begun. Both my parents were religious and growing up at home, helped me to understand and believe in a higher power. Prayer and fasting were the ongoing things we would follow as kids and this also gave me fulfilment at that time.
Carrying this belief with with me all along, was what gave me guidance and I always felt a sense of protection from the higher powers.
Feeling more stressed, frustrated with no direction in life at a that time, I started going through various experiences, lacking a sense of being was my first negative major encounter. I very quickly became aware of how many people around me were living this same lifestyle and accepted this a “normal”.
It was during this time ,that I came across a flyer from the Sri Chinmoy Centre that offered free meditation classes. Trusting myself and sincerely taking this message from the universe I put all faith into contact this meditation centre and followed through by doing the free classes that they offered.
Although there had been a slight concern of doubt about myself doing this, I put all faith and sincerity to this new experience. During the time of doing these classes,I recall having feelings of enthusiasm, eagerness and belief. Committing to complete all these classes I put my most trust into the practice of what I had been taught, and along the time of doing this, that’s when the real effect of mediation started to happen.
Feelings of confidence, trust, and belief were some of my strong experiences encountered. This then gave me a huge boost to continue through. And as this progressed I started getting a sense of relief and understanding in my daily life. A sense of stillness started to reflect in a joyous, warm and comfortable feeling. I started getting more of an enjoyable, and peaceful feeling, towards things I did in my life, with now more of an understanding and purpose. I decided to become a student of Sri Chinmoy.
10 years later
That was 10 years ago. I am happy to say that I have I am still a student of the Sri Chinmoy. My meditation practice has blossomed and now I seem to feel deeper feelings of joy, peace and love to name a few. An element of constant stillness has become a real new friend in my life and this has helped me so much in life, giving me an deeper understanding of others and how to manage difficult challenges.
So how did some of these new experiences help me in my daily life. Just to relate on some:
Joy – having a good moment in my daily duties. Be this my work,helping someone else or just for my own growth. Sharing this feeling with loved ones.
Peace – with the situations one goes through daily be it the traffic, government , or even being let down by friends, partners or colleagues.
Love – no matter what their situation is, just having an abundance of love for all mankind, and all other living beings. Sharing this love with no expectancy.
Living in peace and balance has become more normal for me, even so that others around me started noticing and very often started complimenting me on this. With all the above and more experiences becoming a dominant part of my life I am able to pass this on with no expectations, and get tremendous joy in doing so.
Meditation has also made me a totally optimistic person, and without a shadow of doubt, I can strongly say that anyone, taking their first steps to start doing meditation, following through, hanging in there with their daily practice would most definitely encounter these similar or even more, of these wonderful experiences. Meditation is something that anyone from any background, age, creed or colour can conquer.
Be open to becoming a student of meditation, follow though, hang in there and then enjoy the wonderful experiences.
When I was about 7 or 8 years old my Mom and I had a bit of a disagreement. I had been studying the piano under Mrs. Thompson, who lived around the corner, for about two or three years and I had got to grade two practical and grade three theory in music. But the problem was that I had now decided that only sissies did music and that I should stop practicing. Also we lived on a 4 acre plot in Bulawayo in Zimbabwe and had no neighbours so there was always something interesting to do outside – riding bikes, exploring the bush, shooting pods with my pellet gun, going for a swim, making wire cars and the about a million other possibilities. Mom said that I would regret it and I said that I didn’t care. Essentially that was the end of that and I didn’t go any further with my formal music training.
Abhijatri aged 9 with a pellet gun
But fast forward about 20 years and I found myself learning to meditate in Auckland, New Zealand as a student of Sri Chinmoy. Anyone who has practiced meditation will know that there are days when you feel like a block of wood and hard as you try you feel like you are getting nowhere. What I now discovered is that music is a short cut that can help you at those times and at other times. In my first meditation classes I was quite surprised that we learnt some meditation songs in the classes. Sri Chinmoy composed over 22,000 songs for meditation. Actually in my third meditation class two girls who were students of Sri Chinmoy did a singing performance while we were meditating and suddenly something happened. I felt a deep peace inside for the first time, something so beautiful that I just didn’t want my meditation to stop. I remember being quite sad when the exercise stopped and my friend Jogyata, who was giving the class, started talking again.
What I found out is that you can also sing yourself as a way to soothe your mind and bring your spiritual heart forward and the deep peace that you feel in your heart. Sri Chinmoy’s songs are particularly powerful in that regard. It is almost 20 years since I started to meditate in Auckland and I still love singing Sri Chinmoy’s songs. They are a short cut that can cure me of my mind’s dryness, a way to bring forward the heart and feel your real self. There are some songs that are like old friends, when you sing them it is if you have renewed your deep friendship.
Nowadays I am part of the Sri Chinmoy Centre in Johannesburg and I often have the opportunity to teach songs to people who come to our free meditation classes. Sometimes I get the feeling when we encourage people to sing in a meditation class that there is a kind of fear that comes forward – many of us have not sung since we were in assembly at school and quite a few years may have passed since then. But when people get over that hurdle then they find that the music is a like a balm that soothes them and helps to wash away the turmoil of the day. After singing it is easier to meditate and the chances of feeling something in your meditation are significantly improved.
Some of Sri Chinmoy’s students have found such an affinity with music and meditation that they practice singing for a few hours a day. I wish that I could say that I was one of them but somehow it doesn’t always seem to happen. I am just grateful that I love spiritual music and singing and when I have time it is always there to lift me up.
When I came back to South Africa there were no “good” musicians in our Centre at the time so it forced me to resurrect my keyboard skills. I didn’t go back to the piano but started playing the much more portable harmonium. The harmonium is a small hand pump organ like instrument that is quite common in India. As long as it is not too difficult a song I can read it off the music but I could be much better. I should have listened to my Mom all those years ago…
If you are interested in experimenting with music and meditation then one thing that you could try is singing along with Ananda. They are a group of very talented musicians from the UK who did a CD specially to help beginner meditators a few years ago. You can download the sheet music and recordings of them singing each song for free from their website, www.anandamusic.co.uk. There is also all sorts of meditation music on www.radiosrichinmoy.org and www.srichinmoysongs.org.
Or if you live in Johannesburg then you are very welcome to come to one of our free meditation classes – we always cover music and meditation in the classes and give you a chance to have a go yourselves. Info on our current class program can be found at www.johannesburgmeditation.co.za. If you are not from Johannesburg look for a Sri Chinmoy Centre near you. They all do music in their meditation classes!
Once the great Mughal Emperor Akbar asked his minister, “Birbal, for a long time I have been thinking of one question. I am sure that you will be able to answer it. We see everything clearly in the sunlight but, is there anything that cannot be seen even with the help of the sunlight?”
“Yes, Your Majesty” Birbal replied. “There is something that cannot be seen in the sunlight. Even the sunlight fails to illumine it.”
“What is it Birbal?”
“Your Majesty it is the darkness of the human mind.”
Birbal’s answer is absolutely correct. The only question that Birbal may not have been in a position to answer is whether there is anything that can show us the ignorance of the human mind and illumine it. We illumine the dark, unlit, obscure, impure mind by bringing to the fore our inner sun. Our inner sun, which is infinitely brighter than the physical sun, will dispel the ignorance night of millennia.
Excerpt from “Wings of Joy” by Sri Chinmoy
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