*******Over 8,000 students are enrolled in this course*******
This course is a Summary of traditional Yoga Meditation Practices, which explores a 1-page outline of the practices of our Abhyasa Ashram and Himalayan meditation tradition. Your guide in the course is Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati (Swami J for short), along with Swami Ma Tripurashakti Bharati (Ma Tri) who has done the creative design of the course.
Throughout this course we emphasize the Yoga principles and practices of the ancient sages of meditation and contemplation, particularly as transmitted to us through Swami Rama of the Himalayas, and the long lineage of predecessors. We use the word Yoga in its traditional meaning as a path of liberation or freedom from the bondage of attractions, aversions, and false identities, systematically revealing the eternal, unblemished Center of Consciousness and its Union with the One absolute, Nondual Reality.
This one page Summary is a brief, yet thorough outline of the central themes of the practices of our ashram and tradition; practices which lead you in the direction of Self-realization or Enlightenment. The course is a practical expansion of that one-page Summary that we have widely used in online meetings, at our ashram in the US, as well as in meditation retreats and classes around the world.
Our immediate goal is to lead you to directly intuiting your true nature, as a center of pure consciousness, and then allowing the depth and breadth of meditation to naturally come over time.
Most of the course is video lectures, complemented by several extensive PDF files and audio Resources. The course has four major sections: Self-Observation, Internal Dialogue, Systematic Meditation, and a fourth section on Complementary and Evolving Practices.
Please approach the course with the view of it being a practical tool for deepening your Meditations, and that this is not a mere intellectual study. We encourage you to expeditiously, yet comfortably move through the course, watch the video portions, and then, once familiar with the principles, come back and reflect on the many attached Resources more deeply. In other words, please remember that while there is a lot of depth here, which can make the process seem to be not easy, there is always an underlying simplicity.
This is a basic overview of the Summary of Practices and the layout of this course.
This video lecture is a description of the one-page summary of practices. While watching the video please click on the Resources link at the top right to download the PDF file. Please print out the file so that you can have it in your hand to follow along during the course.
This is a download of the 1-page Summary of Practices. It is put here again, just in case you missed it in the Resources of the previous lecture. Please have fun with this course.
This lecture talks about the boxes/bullets that are on the 1-page summary.
Discussion of the four major parts of the Summary of Practices:
This video lecture introduces you to the 87-Page summary of practices, which can be downloaded by clicking on Resources when watching the video. This article is a thorough expansion on the 1-page summary. You will NOT need to have this printed and in your hand during the course; the 1-page summary will be quite sufficient. However, you may want to go ahead and download it so that you have it whenever you want to refer to it.
Throughout this and other courses, articles, and videos, you will see this ‘circle chart’ symbol used in a variety of ways, a few of which are described here.
This is a reading of a text by Swami Rama. The readings are from a chapter entitled "What is Yoga?" from the book "Lectures on Yoga."
A small collection of important supplemental PDF articles.
We have created a discussion group to complement this Summary of Practices course. However, please don't be tempted to replace the course with the discussion group. We have worked very hard to make the principles and practices clear to you in the lectures of this Udemy course. We truly are happy to be of service to you in helping to further clarify these principles and practices.
The Self-Assessment is truly intended to be an assessment by yourself of yourself. It is your personal exploration of your own current state of life and being. This is a brief video introducing the various articles linked in the next lecture, which is a text article.
No actions or words happen with instructions from the mind. By observing our own movements and comments, including our gestures and body language, we can see more clearly what our own mind is doing to cause these outward movements. We all observe the gestures an body language of others, and draw some inferences of what is going on inside. If it is someone we know well, such as a family member, we can easily see 'when something is going on.' We may not know quite what it is, and may misread it, but we can see it. If we can see it in others, we can definitely practice seeing it in ourselves. As we learn the functioning of our own mind in terms of actions and speech, we can gradually reduce the coloring (klishta) of our deep habit patterns, helping to clear the way to deeper meditation.
Explanations of the process of observing the thinking process within.
Explanations of the process of observing the thinking process within.
This talk describes the outline of the Self-awareness assessment, which is in the attached Resources.
This is an introductory presentation on the process of internal dialogue, and how it relates to prayer, contemplation, self-counseling, and making a friend of the mind.
This talk is about the use of internal dialogue in the process of prayer.
This talk is about the use of internal dialogue in the process of contemplation.
This talk is about the use of internal dialogue in the process of self-counseling.
This talk is about the use of internal dialogue in the process of making a friend of your mind, so that mind can be a useful tool on the inner journey, and not merely an obstacle.
A common question when starting to use internal dialogue is "Who is talking?"
There is an inner wisdom called buddhi, which knows, decides, and discerns or discriminates. This is about utilizing this wise tool.
Ahamkara is ego, meaning the 'I-maker,' which allows us to take on individual identities, which is positive and useful, but which often causes trouble by separating us from the true Self.
We want to cultivate a new false identity which can be called the yogi identity, so that this identity can explore the other identities, and be willing to transcend them all.
"What do I want?" is an important question to explore. Finding our own 'keyword' answer is very useful as a focal point for all practices of meditation and contemplation.
If you don't want to meditate, then don't meditate. Instead, one can practice one or more of the faces of internal dialogue: prayer, contemplation, self-counseling, or befriending your mind.
Introduction to the systematic process of yoga meditation.
A graphic video describing the systematic process of yoga meditation.
A graphic presentation on the universality of the process of yoga meditation.
The most important step of systematic yoga meditation is that of preparation.
In yoga meditation, the stretches or asanas are used to prepare the body for stillness for meditation itself.
After preparation and working with the body, the next step of yoga meditation is relaxation, usually done in shavasana, the corpse posture.
Abhyasa Ashram is a monastery and yoga meditation center which practices universal meditation as taught by the ancient tradition of yogis of the cave monasteries of the Himalayas, especially as transmitted through the lineage of Swami Rama. The tradition has no name, and is not affiliated with any of the institutions or religions of the plains of India or other countries surrounding the Himalayas, although individual meditators may personally align themselves with a wide variety of religions or institutions. We may refer to the tradition as "the tradition of the Himalayan masters" or "the Himalayan tradition", but that is for the sake of convenience, and is not a style or brand name as is popular these days.
Our methods of meditation and contemplation involve systematic awareness of all levels of our being, including actions/senses, body, breath, mind, finally resting in the awareness of the Self (atman) which is one with the universal Self (brahman). At Abhyasa Ashram we have aspirant training, not teacher training. Our approach to training is mostly individual or group coaching, as Yoga meditation and contemplation has been traditionally taught for thousands of years. Aspirants with various degrees of experience naturally teach others within the context of their own lives and modes of service.
From the perspective of our meditation tradition, each person is perfect, pure consciousness (atman, purusha, shakti) at the core of her or his being. The entire process of yoga sadhana (meditation and contemplation practices) is to reduce the colorings of attractions, aversions, and fears that usually veil that realization (often called Self-realization). This is done by systematically receding inward through senses, body, breath, conscious and unconscious mind. The final barrier is removed through a transmission of grace, which is known as shaktipata, the bestowing of the pure consciousness of shakti. It is also known as guru kripa, grace of guru. In our tradition guru is a force field of consciousness, and is not any person, although that grace of guru can flow through a person.
At Abhyasa Ashram the word "Yoga" is used in its traditional meaning, rather than the revisionist meaning of Yoga as merely a gymnastic or physical fitness program. Yoga means “union" of the individual consciousness and universal consciousness, Atman and Brahman, Jivatman and Paramatman, as well as Shiva and Shakti. It is pure consciousness (Purusha) standing alone from primal manifestation (Prakriti).
Yoga is traditionally taught, practiced and learned through close relationships in a community of noble friends, known as kalyana-mitra. Guru is a stream of knowledge of direct experience which, though it may operate through a person, is itself not a person. While some participants in ashram activities have a theistic (god) orientation and others a non-theistic orientation, we virtually all intuit that there is only one, nondual (advaita), absolute reality even though it may appear to be dualistic.
Our purpose is to share with people who have an interest in the principles and practices of the Himalayan masters, including traditional Yoga Meditation, Vedanta, and internal, meditative Tantra. Our community of meditation and contemplation is devoted to serving those who deeply long for the direct experience of union with the eternal, pure center of consciousness, the bliss of being that is one with the absolute reality, as the wave who seeks to remember it is one with the ocean. One word for that union is "Yoga."
The word "Abhyasa" means "practices." Abhyasa is purposefully choosing to do that which leads to "sthitau," which is a stable, steady, undisturbed inner calmness or tranquility. Abhyasa is one of the twin foundations of Yoga, along with Vairagya, the mental stance of non-attachment (Yoga Sutras 1.12-1.16). The root of the word Ashram is "shrama," which means "effort" or "striving." The hermitage, home, or training center of a swami or other person serving people in their efforts towards inner peace and awakening of consciousness is often called an Ashram. Thus, our community of meditation, contemplation and learning is known as Abhyasa Ashram. More than any physical location, it is really a place of the heart, an inner sanctuary of silence.
In loving Service,
Swami Jnaneshvara (Swamiji, Swami J)
Swami Ma Tripurashakti (Ma Tri, Ma)
Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati was born in 1948 in Ohio, USA, spent most of his youth in Florida, and later lived in several other states, including California, Illinois, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and Texas. His education includes a BS in Management from Florida State University and an MA in Consciousness, with emphasis in Transpersonal Psychology from John F. Kennedy University, in California. He previously worked in advertising, retail store management, counseling and psychiatric social work. He was never married and has no children.
Spontaneously practicing meditation and other yogic practices from early childhood, Swami Jnaneshvara has been a student of the Himalayan Tradition of yoga meditation since 1986 when initiated in meditation by Swami Rama (10 years to the day prior to Swami Rama leaving the body). Several months later he met Pandit Usharbudh Arya, through whom supplemental training was given from time to time during the next few years. Swami Jnaneshvara was given novice monastic initiation in 1990, was ordained as a monk (swami) of the Himalayan tradition and the order of Shankaracharya in 1993 by Swami Rama, and was given one of the highest yogic initiations of direct experience in 1996, with final teachings and instructions being imparted shortly before Swami Rama left the body in November, 1996.
In 1998 and 1999 Swami Jnaneshvara received training, practices and grace from the venerated sage Naga Swami Hanuman Giri at the cave hermitages in the high Himalayas beyond Badrinath and Mana (He left the body in 2002). In 1999, initiation as Dandi Swami (a most honorific swami initiation in the Shankara tradition, in which a Danda, or staff is bestowed) was given at the bank of the Ganges in Haridwar, India by a highly revered Acharya (teacher) of Dandi Swamis, Acharya Dandi Swami Indradev Ashram. In 2000, the sage Vratti Baba of Kalimath, Himalayas passed on his initiatory transmissions at the time of his dropping the body (Vratti Baba was a long time friend and spiritual brother of Swami Rama). Swami Jnaneshvara has also been invited to be initiated as Mahamandaleshwar, said to be one of the highest leadership posts within the swami orders. The invitation has been respectfully declined so as to remain focused on the service work at hand.
From 1996-2012 Swami Jnaneshvara fascilitated month-long retreats at Swami Rama's Rishikesh, India ashram. Currently he resides at his Abhyasa Ashram in Florida USA, with far less travel than previous years. He has a significant presence in spreading traditional Yoga practices through internet, while serving a small number of visitors to the ashram.
Many share a similar story, is it not new, nothing special, but probably recognizable… There is a hunger, a longing, experiences in early childhood. An itch that won't leave you alone. A intuition that leads you on your way to freedom that keeps bringing you closer to your ineffable goal if you just keep following it… Not always easy, but with every step you know you have to take it. These were my steps…
Within a week after meeting Dandi Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati (March 2009) I knew that I had finally found the one person that understood what I was longing for my whole life, and who was able to guide me to realize my longing. A whole life searching had brought me to this moment, it was an incredible moment to realize someone understood me completely and could help me. I had met Swami Jnaneshvara in Rishikesh – India, in his three week intensive meditation retreat at Sadhana Mandir Ashram (founded by Swami Rama; Swami Jnaneshvara's teacher). The result was that after that week I told him I was going the leave everything behind to knock on his door in Florida as soon as possible. Within 6 weeks after returning from India I was on a plane to Fort Walton Beach, Florida, US to knock on the door of Abhyasa Ashram, founded by Swami Jnaneshvara.
Since early childhood I intuitively felt the presence of something beyond this manifested world; non-duality. Growing up in a world that didn't seem to acknowledge this, I hid the longing to understand this feeling in my heart, just waiting for the right time to be expressed and pursued. My inner journey started approximately at 17, with Art school (although it actually starting when I was a few years old; like many of us we cannot really pinpoint the exact moment as it has been always a part of life). Here the foundation was laid of many principles, later to be understood yogic and tantric principles. But this did not satisfy my longing, so I kept looking.
One of my most precious memory of that time was when I was 19 years old. I was sitting with friends. We were sharing with each other what we would say if we had a few minutes in which the whole world was listening. What would be our statement, passion, truth? That night I wrote myself a letter that I would give myself 7 years to find this out, as I did not know how to formulate my passion, my longing, as it was a intuition without words. It was in the same month 7 years later that I met Swami Jnaneshvara. I knew what I found most important in life; Self-realization, to be free! Free of all attachment that bind you to the temporary, so that I can play in the temporary while being constantly aware of the Eternal, the True Self, Pure Consciousness, Tripura! I still have this letter as a reminder that guidance is present even when we don't consciously experience it.
At 21 I “officially" encountered Meditation (Yoga) for the first time. Along the journey it became clear that throughout my life I had many meditative experiences but did not know at the time what they were. Which is nothing special as I have met several people with stories like this, which is wonderful! I knew at this time that I had found a better way to deepen the understanding of the longing that lived in my heart. After first learning and teaching the merely preliminary steps of Yoga, I got to know a teacher that introduced me to the non-dual teaching of Vedanta; the Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita at the age of 23. This teacher was not able to provide me a way of living I longed for (without yet knowing it existed). Full of reverence and gratitude I still love this teacher, as the teachings were pure and formed a foundation from which I later could receive the teachings of Swamiji. Somehow at that time the mind did not yet know of the existence of the path of renunciation, of swamis. The mind was waiting for this introduction (to the phenomenon of renunciation) until I met Swamiji, which took another year. After meeting Swamiji everything became clear, and with joy I understood that the path of renunciation was the path I was longing for all those years…
On March 15 2009 I was initiated as a novice swami, and on November 13 2012 I took sannsaya at the banks of the Ganges, this diksha was given by Swami Jnaneshvara… from now I carry the name Swami Ma Tripurashakti Bharati (Ma Tri, pronounced as “Ma Tree“) Now, I travel around the world between different places that are all one Home, to practice, serve, and share the teaching I received from Swami Jnaneshvara, the teaching of the Himalayan Tradition that are given to us by Swami Rama, that embrace the teachings of Yoga, Vedanta and Samaya Sri Vidya Tantra.