For most of us, our ego began to develop when we were young children. We learned the word “mine” and how to manipulate our parents by being nice, nasty or stubborn. As we continued growing the ego grew too, serving a useful purpose in helping us to organize our education, careers and families.
For many people, the ego continues to dominate throughout their lives. George Harrison’s song, I, Me Mine is their anthem and “what’s in it for me” is their mantra. However, for other people, there comes a realization that there’s more to life than personal gratification and they ask themselves, “How can I serve?” This is when our spiritual journey begins.
Some people choose to help others while still expecting something in return. Others choose to practice selfless service, not expecting anything in return. My own reason for learning meditation some 45 years ago was, certainly on the surface, purely selfish. The benefits were being scientifically documented and meditation seemed to offer an exotic sounding way to improve my health and wellbeing. My experience, now as a teacher, has been that the vast majority of people who learn meditation also come seeking personal benefits. Meditation rarely disappoints. It has transformed my life and the lives of millions throughout the world. Interestingly though, whether the motivation is purely selfish, to serve with expectations or completely selfless, meditation accommodates all three.
This is where the spiritual magic begins. As we transform ourselves, the world around us cannot help but be transformed also. Vedanta tells us that the Universe is a projection of consciousness so, as we become healthier, happier, more peaceful, this automatically reflects in the world we create around us. Deepak Chopra has said, “Social transformation comes from personal transformation”. In his Yoga Sutras, Patanjali tells us that “When we are established in Ahimsa (non-violence), all around us become peaceful, even the wild animals forget their nature of causing pain”. St. Francis was an obvious example of this.
There is a story of a great saint who lived a simple, humble life. One day God appeared to the saint and said, “Because of your great saintliness, I would like to grant you any wish you choose”. Because he was very humble, the saint replied that there was nothing he needed but God insisted. “Alright”, the saint conceded, “Make it that everyone I encounter is helped in some way by my mere presence, but without knowing it’s because of me”. To a lesser degree this is what happens as a result of our own regular meditation practice. We radiate the benefits to everyone we meet. However, like the saint, it’s important to remain humble. Our own transformation and the effects we share come from inner silence, not external noise.
During our practice of meditation our vibrational frequency rises, creating an increase in our own coherence or inner harmony. This has been measured scientifically and at certain points in deep meditation, mental activity stops and the two hemispheres of the brain harmonize completely. As a result of meditation, our coherence becomes like an aura of harmony filling the space surrounding us, directly benefiting those in close proximity. When we meditate in a group, we share in each other’s coherence. Studies have also shown that the collective coherence created by a group is greater than the sum of the amounts of coherence being created by each individual meditator. This collective coherence then radiates out for the betterment of society.
If enough people are meditating or practicing similar techniques to expand their awareness, we will reach what is known as critical mass. This is the number whose effect is large enough to influence the whole world. Deepak predicts the number for this critical mass to be around one billion people or about 15 % of the world’s population. This may sound like a lot but the good news is that not everyone has to be meditating to create a worldwide transformation into peace, compassion and harmony. However, there has to be enough people and it’s up to each of us to do our part.
On a more localized level, if a friend or relative is unwell or needs help in some way, meditating with then, even if they don’t meditate, will have a beneficial effect. I remember when I was studying with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, someone was bemoaning the fact that his parents weren’t interested in learning to meditate. “Don’t worry about it”, Maharishi said, “Just by your own meditation, your parents are being helped many times over”. In the Vedas, it also says that by following a spiritual path, we can benefit the previous seven generations who have lived before us.
However, as a word of caution. Whether we are helping someone through the effects of our meditation or by other acts of kindness, it’s very important to take care of ourselves first. A sick or needy person will draw on our energy so we should always stay aware of our own energy levels. We need to be strong and energized to serve the world effectively.
Whenever working with other people, I recommend tapping into the Cosmic Energy (Love, Light). Our batteries have limited resources, the cosmos is infinite. A simple technique for this is to follow the these steps:
- Bring your awareness to your heart center (mid-chest) and breathe normally here.
- Move your awareness to your crown chakra (top of your head) and take a few breaths here.
- Now become aware or imagine a tube of light rising upwards from the top of your head.
- Still conscious of your breathing, allow your awareness to begin rising slowly up this tube of light.
- Continue rising until you become aware or imagine reaching your Higher Self or Atman about 2-3 feet above your head (your Higher Self is actually non-local but the process is easier, at least in the beginning, if we think of it in a fixed place).
- Breathe into your Higher Self.
- Be aware or imagine the infinite Pure Energy (Light, Love) of your Higher self.
- With an in-breath, begin drawing that Energy down through the tube of light and in through the top of your head.
- Breathe it down to your heart center, fill your heart center.
- Now as you exhale, allow that Energy to expand to all the different parts of your body. Fill your whole body with Cosmic Energy. Feel every cell charged with Cosmic Energy.
- If you wish, you can expand the Energy beyond your physical body into your subtle body, to create a halo of energy around you.
You can use this Energy for good, in whatever way you choose. You can direct it to flow out through your hands, you could project it from your heart center or you can keep it within to maximize your own energy. The great advantage of working with Cosmic Energy in this way is whatever you share with others is coming through you and not from you. With practice, you can share Energy, Love or Light all day without feeling tired or drained. All the Energy flowing though you, will be energizing you.
Whether your motives for practicing meditation are personal or more altruistic, the effects for the world will be the same. Everyone benefits!