As we settle into the rhythm of the New Year here are some pocket meditations to carry with us every day. These small reminders can bring quality to our lives and thus help us feel more alive. As the Joseph Campbell quote goes - “I don't believe people are looking for the meaning of life as much as they are looking for the experience of being alive.”
For those practicing bhakti, that means being alive to our relationship with Krishna and others. It’s all about relationship. Nothing mystical in these meditations, but things that can surely, when applied to the practice of bhakti, bring us to mystical experiences.
Always Try to do Things Better
Life becomes interesting when we are aware of what or who we are working with and are asking ourselves how can I do this better, how can I be better. This doesn’t have to be all the time but enough of the time so that we don’t live in a lull - with a sense of comfort, thinking we are all cool or a sense of despair that things can’t be change, can’t improve.
Our life is ours to live and when we serve, when we do things for Krishna, be particularly attentive to quality. And to where our mind is at. These are good places to start when reflecting on how to do things better.
Don’t be Lazy
In a verse in the Srimad Bhagavatam, this tendency to be lazy is grouped with a few other qualities. "O learned one, in this iron age of Kali men have but short lives. They are quarrelsome, lazy, misguided, unlucky and, above all, always disturbed.” SB 1.2.12
We all have it and we should be careful. Where do I cut corners? Where do I give in? Where do I not hold strong because I am too lazy?
Commitments to vows, honoring time and managing it well, protecting what’s important and knowing your own bio rhythms can help keep laziness in its corner. Being lazy about our daily meditation on Krishna’s names is like trying to light a fire with wet wood. Not happening - and neither will any tangible and visceral spiritual growth and experience.
Watch our Words
This meditation is a reminder to do two things - watch how we speak to others and watch how we speak about others. Both can make or break relationships. In the word “namaste”, the well known Sanskrit greeting, is the understanding that we are honoring the Lord in the heart of the other person. We should remember that for the rest of the conversation too!
As bhakti yoga practitioners try to move away from harsh, critical, put-down, defensive and proving ourselves ‘right’ talk. We should watch our words, our tone, and practice kind, loving, trust-giving, and empowering talk. Listen more, don’t over react and don’t take things too personally. I know (personal experience) that this is easy to say and not so easy to do. And remembering that the mind and heart feast on words, spoken and unspoken, we can still make the choice as this Native American story shares:
A tribal elder tells his grandson that inside each of us there are 2 wolves doing battle. One wolf is growling with envy, greed, sorrow, anger, resentment, and arrogance. The other wolf is growling with love, joy, kindness, empathy, compassion, humility, and peace. The grandson asks, “Which wolf will win the fight?” And the elder responds, “Whichever one we feed.”
The practice of bhakti yoga, connecting with Krishna through mantra, study, and service, brings these pocket meditations to life. And the practice of these meditations strengthen our bhakti. It’s a win/win, so keep them close and apply them often.