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The Power Of Group Meditation

I remember when I first learned Vedic meditation. There were only a few of us in the class and yet I still remember the meditations in class being significantly more potent than when I did them on my own. The day after my course finished I attended a group meditation with about 20 people and I was absolutely blown away to discover how much more powerful it was!


How could this be so? How could a group of individuals, sitting quietly with eyes closed, all gently repeating different mantras, cause my meditation to feel so much more deep and profound? Surely this was impossible? And yet, it was a visceral reality. I distinctly remember the paradigm shifting moment when the lightbulb switched on and I realised that I clearly didn’t understand the world nearly as well as I thought. It opened my eyes and my mind to the possibility that there was something extraordinary going on with this meditation that I couldn’t yet comprehend, and it sparked my curiosity to find out more.

Being of a scientific disposition, I retained a healthy scepticism and decided to return for several more group meditations to see if it really was the case. Did the experience bear the sort of consistent repeatability that would transform this experience from remarkable curiosity to discernible phenomena.

In the ten years that have followed this life changing juncture, I have been able to verify and articulate the many reasons why this is so.

It’s not to say that my first instinctive reaction that the psychology of investing time to come to such an event and surrendering to the experience didn’t play its part. Clearly it did and continues to make a difference for all those who attend our group meditations. We all know that creating space in your day for a true experience of internal surrender tends to have a more deepening effect than the more psychologically distracted approach of ‘squeezing it in’. But we can prep ourselves for a super fine meditation at home and it may or may not be any more exquisite as an experience. However, doing it in a group (provided we’re not super self conscious), always seems to deliver.

So it was with great delight that I discovered the work of the good people at heartmath.org who have found a very significant foundation for why this reality is experienced by all.

It transpires that there is a one foot electromagnetic field around our brains, and an eight feet field emanating from our hearts. How cool is that? Even more remarkable, is that the wave patterns of our hearts influence the brain patterns of those within our event horizon (the eight foot field). So if I’m in a calm state, and my heart is harmoniously and gently beating away, then my internal state of harmony will begin to have a soothing impact on all the people who come into my range, by calming down and soothing their brain sates. Even to this day, with all that I know, I still find this absolutely mega!

Like all field effects, there is an inverse square law at play whereby the closer people come to us, the more this effect becomes amplified.

Another one of my favourite factoids is that we each emit a six foot cloud of hormones around us at any one time. At any given moment we are in a certain neurological and physiological state that causes neurotransmitters to be racing around our bodies at al times. Curiously, some of these neurotransmitters are released through our pores and into the atmosphere around us. Now, when we’re agitated, not only does our heart frequency become distorted and racy, but we start to emit a cocktail of stress chemicals like cortisol and adrenaline which pollutes the atmosphere around us and starts to be ingested by anyone within our hormone horizon. We are sharing molecules with each other all the time, and they are entering the neurotransmitter receptor sites of the people in our orbit and creating chemical messages within their systems that are not coming from their brains!

The only real question we need to ask ourselves is; Are we emitting stress chemicals or endorphins? Because if we’re emitting endorphins, then we help give people a feel good factor that goes even beyond the feel god factor of our calm and tranquil heart states.

So next time you’re going on a date, maybe get some meditation mojo rising and increase your pulling power!

Of course, when we’re in a  group of people who are all optimising their heart states and their neurochemical profiles, we find that we are all contributing to a smooth and harmonious heart field that we are all a party too. This has a calming and soothing effect on each other’s brains. There is then a feedback loop that calms the heart states of each participant even more, and that then adds further juice to the meditative effect and activates even more release of yummy neurochemicals like serotonin, oxcytocin, and dopamine (the bliss chemical named after the sanskrit word for bliss).

In addition, there is also a strong scientific argument for their being a field of consciousness that is even more subtle than the electromagnetic field. Now this is more speculative, but when you’ve spent the last decade of your live becoming familiar with this field, it imbues you with a certain confidence that this theoretical field truly does exist. If that is the case, then if the laws of field theory also apply to this consciousness field, then by individually putting ourselves into a more expansive state of consciousness, then we are collectively enhancing our ability to access this field when we meditate together.

Another very noticeable and tangible phenomena is when there are advanced meditators in the room. When I do advanced mantra courses, the power of the regular meditators is noticeable – as you practice more, the power of your field effect increases. When they start using more powerful mantras the group meditation we have on the second session of the course is really very powerful. Indeed, in the interests of full disclosure, I no longer notice the effect of group meditations, even when there are 35 people in attendance. But if there are 10 advanced meditators in the room, I really notice it and absolutely love the juiciness of it!

It’s the same when people have done retreats. It kicks up their state of consciousness and imbues them with more power. And when peeps do the The Veda Course, the power of people’s field effect goes up exponentially. Interestingly, I recently completed a very advanced course called the Siddhis, and although there were only three of them on the course, the group meditation we shared during the course was as powerful as a group meds I have done with three hundred people! That’s how much we can scale up our personal power and by doing so, have a hugely positive influence on all he people around us

So if you want more juiciness in your meditations, here are our top tips for achieving more from your daily practise:

 

  1. Attend group meds regularly. Not only will they keep you on track, you will learn more about the subtleties of meditation and tricks for integration and further personal development. The extra depth from the group effect will put wind in your sails for a few days at least. There are 24 a month of these now, so no excuses not to attend some from time to time! Feel free to pop your name down for a group meditation anytime here.
  2. When meditating every day, do the best you can to set up a non-stimulated, non-rushed approach to your meditation. That means; no staring at phones before your morning med; giving yourself a bit of space around the meditation so you’re not sweating about time; psychologically preparing yourself to let go of your cares and nonchalantly surrendering to whatever is about to come.
  3. Attend a retreat and learn the technique of rounding which will allow you to self generate the same sort of power as a group meditation, in the comfort of your very own home!

 

Within You Without You


To Continue our Sgt. Pepper theme in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the album’s seminal release, we felt it apt to consider their most overtly spiritual and Indian influenced track, Within You Without You.

The track itself was George Harrison’s second attempt to capture the magic of Indian raga music and the essence of its philosophical and spiritual underpinnings (the first track being Love You Too). It was inspired by his six week stay with his mentor Ravi Shankar in the Autumn of 1966. It was recorded without the other Beatles playing on it, instead using Indian musicians to play the tabla, sitar and dilruba. While in India, Harrison found that the ancient Vedic teachings coincided with the mind-expanding experiences he had had on LSD. His time in India showed him that these experiences can be matched and indeed exceeded through the clarity of meditative techniques and organic methods of enhancing consciousness.

The opening lines of the track were inspired by a conversation Harrison had had with long time Beatles collaborator Klaus Voorman, about the space that exists between us all. There are all of these unseen forces connecting us all. Yet most people only tend to see the separation between us, when in fact the space between us all is the very medium which connects us!

He then goes on to talk about all the people who hide themselves behind the wall of illusion. In the Vedic worldview this surface level reality (maya) is one of three main phase of reality, all of which can be experienced if we can find ways to transcend the limiting beliefs of our conditioned minds. The easiest way to do this is through medicinal herbs and drugs. However, these can be dangerous, unpleasant, and difficult to integrate. Indeed, most herbs and chemicals will only help you arrive at one strata or another, and render you somewhat dysfunctional. In contrast, deep meditative practises can help you sustain those experiences and integrate them more effectively into everyday life.

The next layer down from this surface level reality is the one of love and celestial experience. The layer below that is one of total unity with all forms and phenomena of life.

Unfortunately, many people in both east and west have translated the word maya – describing the surface level reality – to mean ‘illusion’. This is highly unfortunate as it is somewhat derogatory and condemnatory of the most expressed value of life. The irony being that any one of history’s greatest masters would have gently chided them for their ignorance. The word in actual fact means ‘appearance’ ie the surface layer of life appears to be everything, but is in actual fact only some of it.

Dear old George wasn’t to know this at the time. He was only beginning his journey with ancient Vedic knowledge and it doesn’t in anyway invalidate the sentiment behind the song. George was also somewhat cynical by nature – not surprising given his experiences of the Beatles – and so this translation will have probably resonated with him quite well.

For those of us taking inspiration from the song however, it is an important distinction. For as long as spiritual seekers condemn this surface layer of life, they are going to find themselves just as trapped by a partial experience of life as the most ardent materialist. It’s only when our true internal experience is based on all-inclusivity can we begin to understand the fulsomeness, depth and symbiotic beauty of all the different layers of reality in our fair universe.

Likewise people often mistake the concept of oneness to mean a feeling of oneness with the universe. This is indeed a stage on the spiritual journey, but it is merely the beginning of a great journey of self discovery, as opposed to the destination that most people think it is. Oneness can be experienced at a much more visceral and sensorially profound level. However, it is something that is much better experienced rather than merely being talked about.

George then goes on to describe that people only glimpse the truth when it’s far too late – ie when they’re on the threshold of death. One of the insights of the ancient Indian worldview is that before death we experience something akin to an enlightened state, for either minutes or even weeks. It happens when we finally accept our fate and all of a sudden we are imbued with an almost complete experience of the first stage of enlightenment. This is the time when dying people suddenly find peace, attain that ethereal glow (despite their withering body) and often realise how foolish they had been whenever they didn’t appreciate every moment of magic in their lives. There is a very famous example of the world’s richest man declaring to his bevvy of lawyers and hangers on that ‘I’ve blown it’ just before he took his last breath. On the threshold of the body no longer giving us life, we get an almighty dose of love, insight and perspective. One of the happy by-products of  teaching people to meditate is to help them get that perspective when they’re 20, 30, 40, 50 or 60, and not when they’re knocking on heavens door!

Having spent the first verse trying to spell out a deeper truth of our existence, George then proceeds to talk about love. Not the personal love that we all tend to associate with, the bigger more universal love that underpins our experience and binds everything in the universe together. It may sound like a very esoteric and hippy thing to say. Indeed, it is something that seems too incredible to be true. That is, until you’ve experienced it and you start to realise that that is a much deeper layer of reality than we could all enjoy if we simply used the tools that the ancients passed down to us. In time, we can have systematic access to that beautiful, blissful field of all encompassing love. It takes diligence to remove all of the calluses of ignorance and pain that have built up in our lives, but it certainly doesn’t take long for you to start feeling considerably better about yourself and about life. With each passing year there is more and more love flow in your everyday experience until there is so much you almost can’t bear it. It’s like a permanent orgasm of love flowing through you which can be quite a challenge to direct at times! George alludes to this by saying that when we do find it, we try to hold it with our love – in the first few years of it arising, it comes and goes like a circuit that has not yet been fully repaired by the cosmic electrician. It is like you experience rolling brown-outs as you transition into wholeness, until finally, you become fully plugged into the cosmic grid of electric universal love.

George concludes by hoping that with this level of love being a very real possibility for every human being in the world, we could save the world. Because when people experience true unconditional love, they really only want peace, harmony and good cheer to reign. They are not interested in fighting. There is an infinite supply of empathy and compassion. Conditional love on the other hand, causes us all sorts of dramas, hurts and anxieties and may even lead to violence when we feel our love is not being reciprocated or has been drawn. ‘If they only knewwwwwww’.

This is why we work so hard to spread the meditation love. Because, when people are happy, healthy, and feeling greater love for themselves and others, not only does our world of individuals become happier, but society becomes a reflection of this internal state rather than the reflection of the stressed and needy internal state that characterises 99% of the population in the industrialised world.

George then beseeches the listener to try to realise it is all within yourself. Your power is right there within you. No one can give it to you. No one can take it away. This is why becoming a missionary or a zealot never works, because the person hasn’t had the chance to choose for themselves that they want this change in their lives. We’ll happily teach young children for free for example, but only if the kids want it. If the parents choose it for them because they think it’s a good idea, the kids will drop it. It’s a journey of self discovery, not of acquiescence to some person or institution that thinks they know how you should live your life.

George then goes on to describe the realisation that although your life experience may be dominated by everything you think and feel. In actuality, you are merely a single cell of a super cluster of cells giving conscious voice to life. As your consciousness expands, you step out of the ‘I, Me, Mine’ mentality more and more and you begin to find more ‘We, Us, Ours’ becomes your predominant frame of reference. However, it should be noted that in the Vedic worldview, it is healthy to retain your individuality and not lose yourself in some form of egoless state (as some more recent schools of thought propose). It is simply that you don’t let your individuality dominate your universal nature. You live both happily in a coherent and integrated manner, where both your individuality and universality are served by bliss, love and meaning.

Following this tidal wave of wisdom, come waves of delicious instrumentation which are as lucid as the lyrics that preceded them.

The lyrical finale of the track begins by commenting on the fact that our love has gone so cold and that we may have gained the world but we have lost ourselves. And it’s a fair point. We humans have become the masters of our planetary universe. We have conquered every territory and between us, and our domesticated animals that are there to feed and comfort us, we absolutely dominate everything. And yet, here we all are lost like little boys and girls, confused, distracted, and feeling trapped by the very life that has come with our conquering of the world.

‘When you’ve seen beyond yourself, you may find that peace of mind is waiting there. And the time will come when you will see we’re all one and life goes on within you and without you.’ Having deconstructed all of the above, this verse needs no further elaboration. It’s there for all of us to find. It is our birthright to find this place and enjoy every precious moment that life brings us.

Rolling Stone Magazine’s most famous journalist, David Fricke has gone on record as saying that the track is “at once beautiful and severe, a magnetic sermon about materialism and communal responsibility in the middle of a record devoted to gentle technicolor anarchy.”

All in all, it is an incredible piece of music, from a guy who had only recently started playing with the tonally rich music of India. But what blows me away is the lucidity and incision of his lyrics. I feel I am going to spend the rest of my life trying to communicate these deeper layers of experience to the common man, and here George is, revealing all these truths in a five minute pop song! Admittedly, one usually needs some pretty advanced techniques to experience what he is talking about on a sustainable basis, but even so, what a distillation!

It amuses me to write these words because when I fell in love with the Beatles aged 15, and discovered Pepper aged 17, I thought the album was such an outstanding piece of work but I just couldn’t understand why they put this hippy piece of shit in the middle of the album – it felt like it should be playing in the background of an Indian restaurant! I felt sure that had the Beatles simply used Strawberry Fields and Penny Lane in its place, the album would have been so much stronger.

But now, in my more worldly and en-wisened state, I can see that George’s contribution is one the most vital components of the album. It is an extraordinary reflection of the dawning ‘ Summer of Love’ and it is a call to arms to every person on the planet to contemplate the truth of life and find that rich field of love that flows within you and without you.

Within You Without You (Lyrics)

 

We were talking about the space between us all

And the people who hide themselves behind a wall of illusion

Never glimpse the truth, then it’s far too late, when they pass away

We were talking about the love we all could share

When we find it, to try our best to hold it there with our love

With our love, we could save the world, if they only knew

 

Try to realise it’s all within yourself

No one else can make you change

And to see you’re really only very small

And life flows on within you and without you

 

We were talking about the love that’s gone so cold

And the people who gain the world and lose their soul

They don’t know, they can’t see, are you one of them?

 

When you’ve seen beyond yourself then you may find

Peace of mind is waiting there

And the time will come when you see we’re all one

And life flows on within you and without you

 

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World Meditation Day 2017 – Monday 15th May

 

On Monday, 15th May – we took over The London Eye to launch World Meditation Day 2017.

We invited everyone on Earth to join a worldwide meditation.

Whether you’re at home, working or travelling – we suggest taking 15 – 20 minutes out of your day to relax and reflect. If you need a guide for your meditation check out the 360 degree video hosted by Will.

Thank you so much to everyone that applied to join us on the London Eye. We were blown away by how many people got involved in our first year!

We’d love to know where you’re all meditating, please take a quick snap and remember to tag your photos on Instagram, Facebook & Twitter with: #WorldMeditationDay2017 We’d love to share your photos from all corners of the globe!

 

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The Luxury Trap

India Farming

For most of human history, we spent our days hunting and gathering food, wherever we could find them. If a particular area was lacking in nutrient rich supplies, or if it was being made use of by another band whom we didn’t want to war with, then we would simply wander somewhere else and make hay wherever the nutritional sun shone.

About 10,000 years ago, our ancestors stumbled across the seemingly genius idea of domesticating animals and cultivating easy to grow foodstuffs so that we could experience plentiful supplies of essential foodstuffs without having to wander the savannah.

Climatic conditions at the time were ripe for this sort of development, and the Middle East began the trend by domesticating goats and cultivating wheat. Peas and lentils followed in the Levant, and later olives, horses and grapevines added a little variety to our newly sedentary lives. Meanwhile in Central America there were simultaneous movements towards the cultivation of maize, beans, potatoes and llamas and in the Far East, it was rice, millet and pigs.

The immediate effects of their work were greater overall supplies of food. However, the work was hard, and so these newly formed communities took advantage of the surplus food supplies by having more children who could share the load and work the farms. (more…)

She’s Leaving Home

pepper recording 2

For me, both musically, and lyrically, this is the unsung hero of Sgt Pepper. My 17 year old self felt close to tears when hearing this song. I remember poignantly listening to this track in my old bedroom, feeling every breath of the young girl who felt the need to leave her parents and abscond with her heart.

Inspired by a front page story of a girl gone missing, the song begins with a beautiful intro of a harp, and then some of George Martin’s trademark strings kicks in before Paul sets the scene with the tale of a young girl (whom we now know is called Melanie) creeps downstairs while her parents are sleeping, and leaves a note that ‘she hopes will say more’. The girl is obviously very upset to be taking this pathway, but equally obviously, doesn’t feel she has any choice but to leave the people she has felt so trapped by. (more…)

Human Connection and National Hugging Day

national hugging day

 

Humans are social animals. Having spent the majority of our history existing in small, close-knit groups of perhaps two hundred people or less, the vast majority of people are empathetic creatures who need to feel social connection in order to be happy. But despite living in an age where it’s possible to talk to a loved one on the other side of the world, it seems that we are getting lonelier. It’s in this context that we embark on National Hugging Day, the one day of the year dedicated to hugging. (more…)

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Nick Hopper’s Poem – Written on retreat – June 2016

Nick Hopper meditative poetry retreat

Breathing slows,

Eyes flutter closed,

Like a playful stone the mind skips and dances across the surface of a sea of swelling consciousness,

Rippling, fleeing, wilful, yet ever decelerating, before sinking into the deep,

Swaddled in an embrace of stillness, nurtured and primed we wait (more…)

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A Commuter’s Dream

commuter meditation public transport mindfulness

It has been reported that a third of all Londoners spend an entire work day commuting each week. In an end of year survey, 30% of workers spent an average of 8 hours and 45 minutes commuting, and another 31% spent 6 hours and 15 minutes commuting.

For most of us, commuting is fairly unpleasant even at the best of times. It’s time-consuming, physically draining, and has a negative impact on our stress levels.

The push and shove of getting in and out of the stations, and on or off the conveyance of choice, tends to kick our internal alarm systems – our amygdalae – into action and we get low level fight or flight activation. As the carriages get busier, the increased jostling tends to flip some people over the edge, creating an atmosphere that leaves everyone on board wishing they were anywhere other than here in this moment.
(more…)

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Four Superheroes Who Really Need To Meditate

superhero meditation

 

Superheroes are a pretty inspirational bunch, what with all their humanity-saving habits, impressive physiques and amazing abilities, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have some pretty glaring character flaws. Whether they’re obsessed with revenge, emotionally volatile or so noble it starting to become a problem, there are definitely aspects of their personality they need to work on. Luckily there are few things that meditation can’t solve, so here’s a few examples of the superheroes who really need to meditate. (more…)

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Surviving Dry January and Beyond

surviving dry january

 

Given up the booze this January? Lasting the 31 days without a single glass of wine or a social beer can seem like a huge ask, but if you’re attempting Dry January you must already have the motivation to give it a go – all you have to do now is stick it out. Well, the good news is that it’s already a week into January! Congratulations if you’ve made it this far, but if you’ve had a slip up there’s no reason not to make it through the rest of the month. Luckily, meditation and other tactics can help you achieve this goal.

Dry January started as a campaign by Alcohol Concern, and while they still oversee the challenge, it has taken on a life of it’s own – becoming a big feature of the New Year. Last year, an amazing 16% of the population attempted to go tea total, showing just have much a cultural influence this concept has. (more…)

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