We are inspired to offer these free meditation classes by the vision of Sri Chinmoy (1931-2007), who devoted his life to making meditation as widely known and practiced as possible. Sri Chinmoy says, “Meditation is everybody’s birthright. In meditation we establish our oneness with the entire world and our whole being is inundated with peace.”
Sri Chinmoy was born in 1931 in the village of Shakpura, Chittagong, in the easternmost part of India (now Bangladesh). All seven brothers and sisters in the family chose a spiritual life and became residents of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in South India. Chinmoy Kumar Ghose was the youngest child. After the death of both his parents, he joined this spiritual community at the age of twelve.
During the next twenty years he spent many hours of each day and night in meditation and had profound inner experiences, which deepened and widened as he continued his inner journey. He also led an active outer life writing poetry, essays and music, studying, working and excelling in sports. In 1964 he came to New York to begin his service of teaching and inspiring spiritual seekers worldwide.
Sri Chinmoy has said, “Each spiritual seeker has an inner hunger. This hunger is for the Unlimited, for Infinity itself.” The spiritual hunger within us is our aspiration – the inner cry or longing for a higher reality, mounting up like a flame in our hearts. Meditation and service to the world are the expression of our aspiration. Living in the heart, we find our own true satisfaction and our oneness with others.
With aspiration we continually transcend ourselves “from light, to more light, abundant light, to infinite light.” It is the aspiration within each person that creates progress in all areas of human life – religion, science, the arts, culture, public life and sports.
Sri Chinmoy entered his Mahasamadhi, or final union with the Supreme, on October 11, 2007, leaving his physical body at the age of seventy-six.
For more information on Sri Chinmoy, please visit:
Sri Chinmoy Library
Article about Sri Chinmoy in the New York Times
If you are unable to attend one of our classes, please check out the following four websites for meditation exercises and instruction:
Home Study Course
Online Meditation Guide
Guide to Starting and Maintaining a Meditation Practice
If you want to start your own meditation practise, I heartily recommend that you read A Twenty-First Century Seeker: maintaining spiritual principles in a very hectic world, by Dr. Pradhan Balter. Dr. Balter is the Centre leader of the Chicago Sri Chinmoy Centre, so if you like the book, you’ll have the opportunity to meet the author by attending the free, open-to-all, introductory classes on meditation, offered on the first Thursday of every month by the Chicago Sri Chinmoy Centre.
But coming back to the book, it covers just about every topic of interest to the would-be meditator, from “the basics of meditation” and “a meditative lifestyle” through “The ABCs” and “Consciousness” all he way to “Spiritual Transformation” and “Life Progressions.” Dr. Balter has been a student of spiritual Teacher, Sri Chinmoy, for over 40 years, and so he speaks on the authority not only of his own meditation experience but also the wisdom and teachings of Sri Chinmoy.
Dr. Balter has a good sense of humor, which comes through in the pages of the book, and an easy-to-follow writing style which make it a joy to learn from the book. Here is a sample from the first section:
“Imagine that you are standing at the ocean shore and you want to experience the water. There are many techniques to get into the ocean. For example, some people may fearlessly run or dive into the water. Some may walk in steadily, unerringly. If you’re like me, you go in up to your ankles and then run out as soon as any threatening wave comes your way! The ocean slowly draws me into it.
Clearly, there are different ‘techniques’ to get into the water, but the technique itself is not the thing you seek. What you seek is to experience the ocean itself. In exactly the same fashion, there are many different techniques to lead you into meditation, but the technique itself is not the goal…” (p. 20)
You can get the book on Amazon for about $20. Happy reading and experiencing!
Our meditation courses cover the ABC’s of meditation, including posture, breathing and concentration techniques, practical advice on creating your own meditation space at home, and setting up your own daily meditation routine.
All of our classes include guided meditation exercises.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs) ABOUT OUR CLASSES:
Q: There are many different types of meditation. What kind do you teach?
A: We teach how to meditate in the heart center. We do not use any particular mantra or word repetition. We try to gradually quiet the mind and enter into the spiritual heart. For beginners we teach various techniques to help in this process.
Q: Is it difficult to learn to meditate?
A: It depends on each individual, and how much effort is put in. Meditation comes very naturally to some people, while others need to put some practice into it. It’s actually quite a bit like learning to ride a bike. It just takes determination and repetition.
Q: Do I need to bring anything to the class? What should I wear?
A: No, you don’t need to bring anything. It will be helpful but not essential if you can wear clean, light-colored and loose-fitting, comfortable clothing. You will be sitting on folding chairs, but you may also sit on the (usually) carpeted floor if that is your preference. If you can shower before coming that is optimal, but if you are coming straight from work, that is OK. The most important thing is your desire to learn something about yourself during the class.
Q: Who is Sri Chinmoy?
A: Sri Chinmoy is our meditation teacher. There is more information about his life and philosophy on this website.
Q: Why is the class free?
A: Sri Chinmoy’s students offer meditation classes as a public service. All of us were once searching for peace and happiness and were fortunate enough to find it through meditation. The least we can do is offer the same opportunity to others!
Q: But is it really free?
A: YES! You will never be asked for a donation. In fact, we do not accept donations from the public! The classes are funded through donations from members of our meditation group, as well as sales of books and CDs. None of our meditation class instructors or organizers are paid for their time; all classes are offered as a public service.
Q: What is the Sri Chinmoy Centre?
A: The Sri Chinmoy Centre is a group of individuals from all faiths and walks of life who follow the path of meditation taught by Sri Chinmoy. Through meditation, we strive to cultivate peace and harmony within ourselves. Through public service, we strive to cultivate peace and harmony in the world at large.
Q: Are there continuing meditation classes?
A: Our goal in offering meditation classes is to help you establish your own daily meditation practice. If you feel that our style of meditation is good for you and you would like to sincerely follow a path of meditation, then we offer continuing classes where we teach more about Sri Chinmoy’s path. Information will be available at the workshop.
Q: Is this a religion?
A: No. Meditation is a technique we use to look within. It is something every human being can learn to do, regardless of their faith. What we find once we look within differs according to the nature of each individual.
The decision to become a meditation student of Indian spiritual teacher Sri Chinmoy was undoubtedly the best decision I ever made in my life. The 25 years since then that I have spent practicing meditation with Sri Chinmoy and his students have brought me increased inner peace, a certain amount of detachment from my own beliefs, needs and interests, and a small measure of wisdom about what really matters in this short life.
Sri Chinmoy passed from our view on October 11, 2007. Every year since then, some of his students from around the world have gathered in New York for a few days before and after October 11, to celebrate the life of Sri Chinmoy, meditate together, renew our commitment to his teaching, perform and listen to his music, and enjoy our companionship with each other. I was fortunate to be one of about one thousand of his students participating in these observances earlier this month. Early on the morning of October 11, 2015, I was sitting in our meditation space, meditating, and contemplating my life and some interpersonal problems I have been faced with for the last several years. Suddenly, apparently out of the blue, I had an illumining insight: I am responsible for creating harmony, good-feeling, smiles and love around me; it is up to me to be on the side of the divine forces. This struck me as an experienced truth, not just a thought… I know that I have had that idea as a thought before. But this time, it seemed real, true.
It makes no sense to allow myself to bear the brunt of others’ bad behavior, or to deplore it, or to develop a kind of cynical, there’s bad in everyone, approach, which I had been tending to do at times. More importantly, everyone has love inside of her or him. This is what it’s worthwhile to put my attention on — not only worthwhile, but essential. It’s essential to my own well-being, as well as life-enhancing to the people around me.
Just one smile
The beauty of the universe.*
Sri Chinmoy wrote this short aphorism on August 26, 2005, and it occurred to me that morning that he did not mean this to convey an abstract notion, but a piercing instruction: If I smile, the beauty of the entire universe is increased! Sure makes me want to try it more often.
A little thing that happened later the same day showed me how important this shift in attitude can be. I was sitting with a group of singers, practicing the songs that we would shortly sing for the whole crowd. I was sitting on a bench with one friend, and there was a small space between us. Just then, another member of our singing group approached us. She was late, and I caught my first reaction, which was to smirk, in a self-satisfied way, because she was late, and now she had nowhere to sit. Then the very next instant, I smiled, moved a little towards my end of the bench, and motioned the latecomer to sit down on the same bench. She accepted, and I enjoyed hearing her lovely singing voice (which I didn’t know, before, that she had) for the rest of our practice.
I will grant the skeptics among you that my whole beautiful insight will not stop Israelis from shooting Palestinians on the West Bank, as they are currently doing. At least not in the foreseeable future. But unlike the situation in faraway places, this behavior is (somewhat) under my control. Also, remote as it may seem, if everyone adopted my new approach, worldwide hostilities would eventually diminish, if not end altogether.
My friends, kindly reflect on this personal offering.
With thanks for your attention,
*Sri Chinmoy, A God-Devotion Teardrop Songbook, New York: Aum Publications, 2006.
Mantras offer us a lot of help, both in our physical and in our spiritual lives. Here are some excerpts from Sri Chinmoy’s writings on mantras:
Mantra is a Sanskrit word. In Indian philosophy, spirituality and the inner life, mantras play a considerable role. A mantra is a syllable divinely surcharged with power….
When aspirants cannot enter into their deepest meditation because the mind is restless, this is their opportunity to use a mantra. ‘Supreme’, ‘Aum’, or ‘God’ can be repeated by anyone for a few minutes before he actually starts his meditation. The mantra should be repeated slowly and aloud….
If you are physically weak, if your physical constitution is not satisfactory, if you chant:
Tejohasi tejomayi dhehi
Viryamasi viryam mayi
Valam masi valam mayi dhehi
sincerely and soulfully, in a week’s time you will see a change for the better in your health. It means:
I pray for dynamic energy;
I pray for dynamic virility;
I pray for indomitable physical strength.
Sri Chinmoy, Prayer-World, Mantra-World and Japa-World, New York: Agni Press, 1974, pp. 34-35, 38.
(This entire book is available online at: www.srichinmoylibrary.com)
On Sri Chinmoy’s path, we meditate on the spiritual heart. In this passage, Sri Chinmoy speaks about the spiritual heart and how to bring it to the fore in our lives. If you do not believe in God, then you can think of your highest self, or of infinite light, when Sri Chinmoy uses the word ‘God’. When Sri Chinmoy speaks about ‘running towards the destined Goal’, the Goal he is speaking about is God-realisation or Self-realisation, realisation of our highest, most illumined, selves.
When we enter into the spiritual heart, we come to realise that we have a soulful heart, a heart of peace and a heart of delight. The soulful heart we need at every moment in our life of aspiration. Without it, we cannot make an iota of inner progress. The peaceful heart we need because when the peaceful heart is wanting in our life, this life has no abiding satisfaction. The heart of delight we need because it is the very source of our divine plenitude and infinitude. We came from delight, we live in delight and, at the end of our journey’s close, into delight we retire.
Anandadd hy eva khalv imani bhutani jayante…
How can a beginner in the spiritual life have a soulful heart? Let him look into the sky in the evening when the sun starts to set. When the beginner-seeker looks at the sky and becomes deeply absorbed in the setting sun, his soulful heart comes to the fore. If the beginner needs a peaceful heart, let him concentrate, meditate and contemplate on the very depths of the ocean, the ocean of life. And if he needs a heart of delight, let him look at the ocean surface and allow his inner being to get in tune with the waves of the ocean.
The heart is most intimate to us and most significant in our life. When our physical heart fails, we pass behind the curtain of Eternity and die. Similarly, in the spiritual life, when our heart of aspiration fails even while we are living here on earth, we will be living in the world of death….
When we enter into the spiritual life, we discover that there are two significant roads that can lead us toward our destined Goal. One road is the mental road, the road of the mind; the other is the psychic road, the road of the heart. Now both of these roads will take us to our destined Goal. But one road is shorter and safer, and that is the road of the heart.When we follow the road of the mind, at any moment doubt can snatch us away. The world’s information can pull down human aspiration. But the road of the heart is sunlit. When he follows this road, a seeker always feels deep within himself a deer running towards the destined Goal. Each individual has to know whether he listens more to his mind or more to his heart. The message of the heart is altogether different from the message of the mind. Since we want to reach our Goal as soon as possible, we feel the supreme necessity of the heart….
Right now, knowledge and love seem like two different things. The mind supplies us with knowledge and the heart supplies us with love. But the deeper we go, the clearer it becomes to us that love and knowledge are one and the same. God is omniscient, God is omnipotent, God is omnipresent. He is everything. He embodies Infinity, Eternity and Immortality. But when we go deep within, we find that these qualities do not satisfy us. There is only one aspect of God that satisfies us totally and most convincingly, and that aspect is God’s Love. When on the strength of our own love we approach God’s Infinite Love, we are totally satisfied. We will not be satisfied when we see or feel God the all-awesome. Only the Love aspect of God quenches our eternal thirst.
–Sri Chinmoy, Fifty Freedom Boats to One Golden Shore, Part 1, New York: Agni Press, 1974, pp. 52-56
To learn how to meditate on the spiritual heart, you are warmly invited to attend meditation classes, offered free of charge on the first Thursday of every month by the Sri Chinmoy Centre of Chicago (see elsewhere on this site for times and number to call to register). Free follow-up classes will be offered at times to be determined to those who complete the introductory session.
To read more of Sri Chinmoy’s philosophy and approach to meditation, please see The Wings of Joy, New York: Simon & Schuster, 1997 and The Jewels of Happiness, London: Watkins Publishing, 2010. Both are in print and available in bookstores and from on-line sites.
In meditation we turn inward, diving deep into the heart and expanding our consciousness, going deeper and higher than everyday ordinary consciousness.
However sometimes there are things that stand in our way – and often those things can be found within us: our mind, our vital energy, and our body. The mind is full of thoughts and refuses to be silent to allow for meditation. Our vital energy refuses to allow us to sit quietly. Our body either falls asleep or has pain.
But a silent mind is crucial to meditation.
WHICH COMES FIRST?
Do you go first to your heart to meditate and hope that your mind stays silent? Or do you first attempt to silence your mind and then proceed to your heart? Many people say that the mind must be silent before you can meditate, or even that a silent mind is itself meditation.
My personal recommendation is to go to the heart first because it is the highest and most powerful part of our being that we can access at the present time and it’s where the soul resides. The mind is merely the loudest. Place your attention in your heart and that is where the attention of the mind automatically goes.
When I’ve attempted to silence my mind first, I’ve found it a negative experience. More thoughts just pop up, like dandelions on a lawn. “The mind is like Times Square on New Year’s Eve. The heart is like a remote cave in the Himalayas.” (Sri Chinmoy, Wings of Joy, p. 35). However the easier way is simply just to give your heart all your attention. If the mind gets in the way, very gently pull your attention back to your heart. This is a positive action, rather than a negative or punitive action. The mind will continue to have thoughts, but you won’t identify with the mind and the thoughts become merely like birds flying through your inner sky, or fish swimming in your inner ocean. They won’t disturb you.
What is peace?
Sri Chinmoy answers:
You and I create the world by the vibrations that we offer to the world. If we can invoke peace and then offer it to somebody else, we will see how peace expands from one to two persons, and gradually to the world at large.
Peace does not mean the absence of war. Outwardly two countries may not wage war, but if they inwardly treasure aggressive thoughts, hostile thoughts, that is as good as war. Peace means the presence of harmony, love, satisfaction and oneness. Peace means a flood of love in the world family. Peace means the unity of the universal heart and the oneness of the universal soul.
Victory and defeat are interwoven.
Do not try to separate them
But try to go beyond them
If your heart longs for abiding peace.
Sri Chinmoy, My Daily Heart-Blossoms, New York: Agni Press, 1988, p. 153
The Divine manifests itself in many forms: love, peace and bliss, for example. A relatively ignored attribute is light. In the selections below, Sri Chinmoy speaks about light.
When we pray and meditate, we receive light and everything is clear to us.
Sometimes the aspirant will only be able to imagine God, and sometimes, in spite of his outer efforts, he may not feel the presence of God in himself, and sometimes he may even forget the existence of God. But he has to bear in mind that he has a Source and that Source is Light, boundless Light, infinite Light. He has been wallowing in the pleasures of ignorance for many years and he has not yet come out of ignorance. But he has to feel that his Source is not ignorance; his Source is Light and Delight. He is for that Source and he is making a conscious effort to return to his Source. While returning, he is manifesting God-Delight here on earth. Even now he is in ignorance to some degree, but he is always for God-Life and he is always for God-Light. If he can remember this, then he will feel a constant sense of satisfaction in his life. He will feel light, more light, abundant light, infinite Light in his outer and inner life.
His heart is crying
The voice of silence-light.
His soul is crying
–Sri Chinmoy, My Daily Heart-Blossoms, New York: Agni Press, 1988, July 7