Marti Beddoe is founder of Designs for Peace, SoulCollage® Facilitator, Peer Spirit Circle Practitioner, Meditation Teacher and leads retreats and workshops to teach practices for sustaining lives of Meaning, Joy, and Beauty.
What is Meditation?
What is meditation? This question could be answered dozens of ways. Meditation is one of those words like “love” that has so many connotations. According to my longtime teacher, Sri Goswami Kriyananda, founder and spiritual preceptor of the Temple of Kriya Yoga in Chicago:
- Meditation is the art and science of getting rid of things, such as anger, jealousy, and other negative emotions that make life painful.
- Meditation removes the obstacles that prevent us from seeing clearly.
- Meditation allows the mind to be calm like the surface of the pond. Then we are able to see beneath the pond’s surface as well as above it.
- The goal of meditation is to make the world around you more beautiful.
My Meditation Story
I came to meditation in 2003, desperately anxious, unable to find peace of mind, grieving my mother’s death and overcome by the news that my younger son was volunteering to serve in Iraq. Anxiety about my son was a familiar dread that began in 1986 when he enlisted in the Army at the age of 17. This time was much worse, and I was so stressed that I feared collapse.
Some wise voice deep in my soul told me something had to change. Since I had failed to change my son (or anyone else for that matter), it became clear that the “something” needing change had to be me! A series of fortunate “coincidences” led me to a meeting with meditation teacher Swami Pranananda. She confirmed that indeed I had the power to heal my pain. She said the solution was quite simple, “Did I want to be right or did I want to be happy?”
Sparked by that compelling question, I pondered all the ways that I needed to change, starting with changing old habitual patterns of thinking. I found practical ways to change with the help of the ancient and yet so contemporary teachings of Kriya Yoga and its meditation techniques. After practicing meditation for several years, I entered the Temple of Kriya Yoga’s Meditation Teachers Training Program and completed my studies in 2008. Under Swami Pranananda's guidance, I went on to teach at the program’s student teaching retreats and currently serve as a Mentor to students in the program.
Practicing meditation has indeed brought me a peace of mind I could not have imagined all those years ago! Meditation allows me an ability to see life clearly, to step up and solve the problems life brings with wisdom and equanimity. Most importantly, meditation has replaced that old underlying anxiety with Joy and Gratitude.
If you have questions about meditation, please go to the Contact page to connect with me.
My primary meditation practice is the “Object of Beauty”, an ancient and universal technique found in most mystical traditions.
Please feel free to download this 20 minute recording of the Object of Beauty Meditation for your own use.
Some basics guidelines about meditating:
- The body and mind like consistency. Choose a regular time and a private place to meditate. If you can, try to meditate before your day gets too hectic. Be sure to make the place clean and quiet.
- It’s important the body is comfortable. No fancy postures needed. Just be sure the spine is straight and the hands are in a relaxed pose on the thighs. Five minutes of closing your eyes and following your breath is a good start.
- Above all, be patient! When students tell me they can’t meditate, what they mean is they haven’t allowed themselves the time and space to quiet the mind. Remember this is a practice. Observe and detach from the mind's habit of expecting perfection or instant enlightenment. Be gentle and patient with yourself.
- The mind loves to wander! Think of your meditation practice as being similar to taking a walk with a beloved three-year old child who, like all children, loves to dawdle and wander and stray off the path. Your job as the meditator is simply to—gently and patiently—steer the mind back onto the path, back to the meditation. Over and over and over and over again. Until one day, there is no effort at all! And until that day, find joy in your practice!
Another resource is my article on the State of Being Called Witness.
Kriya Yoga and My Lineage
Sri Patanjali wrote the Yoga Sutras 1700 years ago. He refers to Kriya Yoga, which is called the yoga of effort. Kriya means “action.” Yoga means “yoking.” Kriya Yoga is yoking the mind to an action in a systematic and disciplined way.
Kriya Yoga is not a religion or a theology or a belief system about how to live your life. It is a series of techniques, which when practiced, enable you to become a mystical scientist, to have a primary experience and discern the Reality directly, for and by yourself.
Kriya Yoga is predicated upon the Laws of Karma (the Laws of Cause and Effect) and upon the principle of Aham Brahmasmi, “I Am the Creative Principle.” This means each one of us is capable of acting to change our circumstances in life. All change starts first with changing our thinking, then changing our speech, and then changing our behavior. Thought is the beginning of all change. Test this out for yourself.
Kriya Yoga teaches many techniques and meditation practices to help attain the states of consciousness of Contentment, Serenity, Equanimity, Compassion, Wisdom and Non-violence.
“Yoga, a philosophy of happiness through spiritual wisdom… is a way to find happiness of all levels of your being: physically, mentally, and spiritually. Yoga is a way to achieve serenity and calmness. There is no mystery or magic in yoga. It simply is an accomplishment through time-tested mental and physical techniques…of self-control through harmonious living.”— Goswami Kriyananda writes in The Spiritual Science of Kriya Yoga.
It is a rare and precious gift to have a living teacher to learn from instead of dry textbooks! I am so grateful to my guru Swami Pranananda who is a disciple of Sri Goswami Kriyananda.
Sri Goswami Kriyananda was a disciple of Sri Shelliji who was a disciple of Paramahansa Yoganada. Paramahansa Yoganada was a disciple of Sri Yukteswarji who was a disciple of Lahiri Mahasaya. Lahiri Mahasaya was a disciple of Sri Sri Babaji, the spiritual fountainhead of the Kriya Lineage.
I am deeply grateful to all the lineage holders of Kriya Yoga whose teachings have brought me and so many others great peace of mind, equanimity and wisdom.