Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Power of Awareness Meditation Courses 2018

Conducted by Swami Anandakumar

Scroll down for the places, dates and contacts for the meditation programs scheduled for 2018 in New Zealand, Australia and Uruguay

Testimonials from previous courses

  Amazing, highly recommended!  Very rarely do we have the opportunity to find a way to be comfortable with everything that occurs within us.  This was such an opportunity; to sit and go beyond our constructed beliefs to a light deep within.
  Up for a challenge? Looking to move forward in your life? Then go to this retreat and see what happens.
  If you seek the truth … seek out this course.
  It will change your life if you let it.
  Exceeded all expectation - absolutely brilliant.
  Set me on the right direction after years of procrastinating.
  A life-changing experience in a beautiful setting.
  Great teacher.  Great venue.
  Sw. Anandakumar is an excellent master of the mind - very perceptive - funny - so does not intimidate. 
  Sw. Anandakumar is an inspirational teacher.  There is simplicity and clarity in his instruction.
  This is a highly recommended retreat for professional yoga teachers and practitioners committed to experiencing an extended meditation retreat, skilfully guided by Swami Anandakumar.  The stillness and clarity gained over 10 days of learning the systematic approach to meditation and establishing oneself in the quiet mind as the observer is a profound experience.

Launceston Tasmania, Australia   5 day program   13 - 18 February
Contact:  Karunamitra  

Anahata Yoga Centre, S Island, NZ   7 day program  12 - 18 March
Contact:  Anahata Yoga Centre 

Rocklyn Yoga Ashram VIC, Australia   9 day program  7 - 15 April

Alice Springs NT, Australia   5 day program   4 - 9 May  
Contact:   Kalikamurti

Hamilton North Island, New Zealand   5 day program   31 May - 5 June
Contacts:  Kailash  and  Chintamani

Uruguay, South America   9 day program   29 June - 8 July
Contact:  Janardhana 

Teaching meditation I always assume the wisdom to be there in everyone, that what wisdom I can connect with is speaking to the wisdom in you. But connecting with that wisdom is not automatic, it requires the right time, environment and focus, and sometimes guidance - that’s why these longer meditation courses. As the worldly activities get left behind, after some time the mind which was active out there gradually becomes calm. When the outer mind becomes quiet like that the way is open for a connection with the higher mind, inside, which is the source of our wisdom.

These courses clear the way for you to be able connect more directly with your inner life. As well as the length of the courses, the peaceful environment, the quiet we are encouraged to keep there, the absence of outside distractions all help to make this possible. And then the practices: Different techniques are introduced at different times as our inner perception deepens, so that as our practice evolves the different steps of self discovery come at the right time. 

It seems to me that the time has come when we want to take a step further and go deeper, that it is not enough to continue in the same old way. This is done gently in the seclusion of our own inner nature. The guidance leaves you free to have your own experience in the privacy of your own inner space. This develops a sense of quiet confidence which can’t be described because it’s different than the usual.

If this is making sense, then give it some thought and listen to your inner voice, where these decisions are made, and note down the dates. And if not this time, maybe another. We have the long view before us. Sooner or later there are things we have to face which are particular to this life. This way we can do it consciously, knowingly, with full awareness; you will find it fits right in with whatever you have found and tested to be true. Here you can let it become an adventure and a part of your life.

Putting on a Power of Awareness course
If you think one day you might want to consider arranging a course, starting with a weekend non-residential program, please contact me:   Anandakumar

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Real Love Won't Ever Let You Down

There’s only one thing that truly matters: Love, and love only 

Not what you generate yourself but what you can connect with that is already there, deep inside. It’s that ineffable something in everyone. It’s the natural state, where you don’t choose who to love. You don’t give love, in the end you are love. And we are the first beneficiary. But we need to discover it first, because it’s not what it’s taken to be, it’s not so easy to find.

Everything we do is a means to that end, a search for something real and lasting. Sometimes something valid and positive, sometimes something distracting and inaccurate, until we find the balance, experience the harmony and get it right. Love is the natural state which is discovered when there is stillness and peace, when opinion is not so strong, when misplaced trust is reconciled, when there is acceptance and forgiveness.

Not what it’s taken to be 

With love one is never lonely, never in need of another to become complete. But it’s not such an obvious thing. It’s not what it’s taken to be from nearly every influence we have been subjected to. Love is free from decision, equal in everything, it doesn't separate anyone from you, or you from anyone. Love begets respect, and respect is given equally.

Everyone is continually searching for the source of their own happiness, something you can be sure of that will never change. It’s not very fashionable to speak of love in this way, because who believes in it? But where there is derision there is pain and fear, and where there is pain and fear there is defensiveness and aggression. And that is the main cause of unhappiness, not a material lack, not a shortage of philosophies, but some inarticulate cry for love that takes many a strange and unpredictable form to fill an empty space.

Love is of the heart not in the mind

The real rule of love is that when you give, love comes to you. And that’s a matter of the heart, not of the mind. If we can tap into the universal store of the heart, the natural state, the same is generated around us and in others. Maybe it takes time, and maybe not in the way we might anticipate, but isn’t that how it works? But who is really comfortable with giving without getting something in return? 

It’s a catch-22. You know, in Ireland they say that there are fairies, but that you can only ever see a fairy if you believe in them first. But of course no-one is going to believe in fairies until they’ve actually seen one. So there you have it. The basis of faith is believing first and holding to it through the onset of hesitation and doubt. And it does work, if what you believe in is real.

And therein lies the problem. There are many things that stand in for the real thing, like inaccurate religious teaching, half-complete or half-baked philosophies, private fantasies, gods and goddesses, or even fairies, but surely everyone is searching for a something precious that won’t ever let you down. If love really is the answer you only have to look inside and go to the heart of the matter, which is where all the spiritual masters of all time have always said is where the long search finally comes to rest. In the end it might be the last place to look, but in the final end there’s only one thing that truly matters…

There’s a song about it - please try it with headphones:

With Love in Your Heart

Sometimes words can say so much
Sometimes nothing at all
Sometimes you just want to stay in touch
Sometimes the silence calls

When you look around what is there in
A world of pleasure and pain?
Looking for something to believe in
You know will never change  

With love in your heart 
Can you be lonely?
With love in your heart
Can you want more?
With love in your heart
It’s love and love only 
Love and love only 
That makes you so sure

Love is not such an obvious thing
Not what it’s taken to be
Love is equal in everything
Doesn’t separate you from me


Who would climb the highest mountain?
Who would ford the darkest stream?
Who would bathe in the coldest fountain
Waking from a dream?


A last thought

In an interview Paul McCartney was once asked, 'What would you say was the lasting meaning of the Beatles?' Without hesitation he replied, 'All you need is love'. There was a long pause, like he’d caught everyone by surprise… He said, 'Shall I elaborate?' Then he said something like: It goes in and out of style, but you keep coming back to it. There are many things in life that are needed in an uncompromising world, but when it comes down to it everyone in their own way is searching for love. 'And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.'

Going more deeply into the Heart

Monday, 25 September 2017

I may not know what I think until I've thought it

Do I think a thought or does the thought come to me?

In the ashram on a Sunday after the morning’s duties the afternoon was often free. It was my habit to retreat to my room, rejoice in not having to answer to anyone or anything for a few hours and maybe read a little. But what I was really after was to find my way into a peaceful inner space where I could just watch my own thoughts. If it didn’t happen straight away a little yoga nidra relaxation was usually enough to get it started. 

In that space time starts to bend. Short times can seem longer and a long time can become surprisingly short. Einstein was right, time is relative. A good afternoon and it could pass by in a flash. What made that happen? If you let your mind go completely free and yet remain with it as an interested observer sooner or later it will sort of open up and reveal and express itself. It is your own presence and lack of judgment of it that sets it free. In this way you can learn interesting things about yourself you didn’t know before. 

One Sunday I was doing this and things were going well and the attention to what was going on in my mind was pretty good. I began to become aware of time bending in a very specific way. At a certain point the thought process slowed right down until I knew I was observing just one thought in very very slow motion. And it took on a cartoon-like quality. 

Imagine a hundred numbered balls suspended in a row (like in a TV lottery). When that one particular thought arose it triggered the release of the hundred balls in a sequence, which was a visualisation of the thought taking place - the thought in the process of coming into being as it were. As the balls are released they drop. As they are dropping you don’t actually know what the thought that they represent will be. Only when all the balls hit the bottom do you know what the thought will actually be. You know the thought is there before you know what the thought will be. Like, wow.

Thought is not that you think!

What I learned from that was not what I expected. The thought itself was nothing significant, long forgotten. What was interesting was that the balls dropped in a random order which was maybe why I did not know what the thought was going to be until all the balls had arrived at the bottom and assembled themselves so to speak and hey presto I know what I think. Now maybe the balls dropping randomly like that was a particular feature of my mind. Do they normally drop in numbered sequence 1 - 100, or randomly, I don’t know?

But just watching the balls drop actually revealed the really interesting part, which was that that there had been an entirely separate quality just quietly observing the whole process taking place. The observer me had no part in how that thought had come into being, took place as a thought, and passed on. Remember this usually happens so quickly that thought is rarely seen as a sequence but as a single cognition, and so we possess it and make it mine.

Is there more than one of me?

At first it seems like there must be two people, one having thoughts arising randomly and another that is entirely separate from those thoughts, just watching. What became absolutely clear (at least to my own satisfaction) is quite simply that a thought, any thought, does not represent me. Even the aggregate of all the thoughts in the mind do not make up who I am, have nothing to do with me, if I remain a distinct and discrete observer of them. In that slo-motion moment I knew that for sure. If this turns out to be true, who actually is thinking? Just think of the implications.

Thoughts, ideas, opinions, philosophies are like guests passing through - there for some time, but their residence is only ever temporary. Sometimes they may stay a long time, seeming to take up permanent residence. And then they can take on the attributes of a personality. And then it’s only a short step to seeming like that is who I am. But that is illusory. A powerful illusion to be sure, which is why it takes a certain seriousness of intent to manage the powerful forces that lead to all kinds of self-deception. Try this for a few possibilities:
Cognitive biases

If you look around in the world the capacity for self-regulation - which is absolutely not possible without self awareness - is a very rare quality, yet most corporations, companies, governments, institutions, and of course people, everyone in fact, will claim that capacity for themselves. But it is rare indeed to see it maintained constantly and consistently. As a historical example, that much was understood by the Founding Fathers of the United States, when they built the checks and balances into the three divisions of government - executive, legislative and judiciary - of the American constitution. 

Change of metaphor

Imagine a large country house. There are many guests staying there. The host has a different relationship with all his guests, but in the tradition of hospitality is unfailingly attentive and generous to all the guests equally. They are honoured guests. Now obviously some of these people are going to be very welcome; some will be neutral, part of a more formal relationship maybe; and some the host would really rather not have to entertain but there they are. 

Invariably the welcome guests will know the appropriate behaviour and will know also to a nicety the appropriate moment to leave. Whereas unwelcome guests will invariably be the last to leave. With these people sometimes the host is able, without in any way losing hospitality - like attentiveness, politeness, tolerance - to make it clear in a certain reserve of manner that the time has come to depart. It is essential that parting should be honourable between host and guest or there will almost certainly be repercussions later. In every case the parting should be clean no matter how difficult the last guests can be. 

The host represents the awareness and the guests represent all the different thoughts, ideas and opinions that crowd in around us in the social gathering of our mind, taking up the host’s time and attention. Some are most welcome, some neutral and some distinctly unwelcome and maybe drawing a lot of attention to themselves. But the awareness remains hospitable but knowing, friendly but detached, wise but modest.

There has to be that separation somewhere in being a knower of oneself, that there is some time between a thought and the observer of the thought. All else follows from there. And we can become first class hosts to all our guests until it's time for them to leave, which they will when they come to understand that they are just guests and the right time has come.