Mindfulness Meditation

For details on dates and venues on this offering, please refer to the Programs page for the individual Lodges

MINDFULNESS MEDITATION WEEKEND*

An Introduction to Mindfulness Based Meditation Practices

Program and Dates: See Individual Lodge Programs for Specifics

Cape Town Lodge of The Theosophical Society

Practical:
Sunday from 13h00 to 15h30
Commentary: 
Sunday from 16h00 to 17h00, on Blavatsky’s The Voice of the Silence.

Johannesburg Lodge of the Theosophical Society (every month)

Practical:
Saturday from 13h00 to 15h00
Commentary:
Saturday from 15h00 to 16h00 on Blavatsky’s The Voice of the Silence

  • Bring a small cushion and a light throw or blanket.
  • Tea and Coffee will be served.
  • Donations welcome.
  • Cape Town Venue: 1 Ajax Way, Pinelands
  • Johannesburg Venue: 31 Streatley Ave, Auckland Park
  • Do RSVP to: besterdewald@gmail.com or philalethes@vodamail.co.za

Weekend Content:

General introduction to the following disciplines.
Anapanasati Meditation (Focus, Abstraction and Witnessing)
Body Scan Meditation (Awareness and Progressive Relaxation)
Mindful Movement (Introduction to Hatha Yoga, Tai-Chi or Chi Gong)
Walking Meditation, Mindful Eating, Mantra Repetition, Prayer and Contemplation

-These are practical and experiential disciplines. Theory is kept to a minimum

Gayatri Mantra

Om Bhur Bhuvah Svaha
Tat Savitur Varenyam
Bargo Devasya Dheemahi
Dhiyo Yo Nah Prachodayat

Om.
We meditate upon the Effulgence of that adorable Supreme Divinity,
the source of Truth, Consciousness and Bliss.
May that Supreme Radiance be embodied within us,
enlightening our intellect and inspiring us to realize the Supreme Truth.

The Discipline of Being Mindful

The Buddhist concept of “sati,” relates to the “moment to moment awareness of present events”.  Sati (from Pali: सति; Sanskrit: स्मृति smṛti) is mindfulness or awareness, a spiritual faculty (indriya) that forms an essential part of the Buddhist Eightfold Path consisting of eight practices: right view, right resolve, right speech, right conduct, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right samadhi (meditative absorption or union; alternatively, equanimous meditative awareness).

Practicing mindfulness involves breathing methods, guided imagery, and other practices to relax the body and mind and help reduce stress. The many and varied ways in which mindfulness-based practices are presented make it ideal for psychological wellbeing, personal growth, or as an introduction to a spiritual path.

Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founder of the modern mindfulness-based meditation movement, speaks of the discipline of being mindful, and the results of implementing regular mindfulness-based practice into daily life, in the following spirit:

  • It is the awareness that arises by paying attention on purpose, to the present moment, and non-judgementally.
  • Mindfulness is the beginning of an interior adventure.
  • It is the start of what may be called, an inner life
  • Once developed, this inner life is like an old and trustworthy friendship, sustaining us through the hardest of times. At the same time, deeply humbling.
  • It helps us to touch something very special that lies within us, our capacity for embracing the actuality of things, often when it seems utterly impossible, in ways that are healing and transforming.
  • We all have reservoirs of life to draw upon of which we do not even dream.
  • It helps with the ability to take a larger perspective, to cultivate our relationship with such an awareness.
  • Meditative practices are fundamentally paradoxical. Such practices stand on their own.  They have their own compelling logic, their own empirical validity, their own wisdom.  This can only be known from the inside, through actual, purposeful and intentional cultivation over time, throughout one’s own life.
  • The practice of mindfulness has the potential to become a lifelong companion and ally. A true, trusted friend.
  • It is eminently practical. You have to do it.
  • It helps you to drop in on yourself, to live the present, moment by moment, to stop at times and rather be, instead of endlessly being caught up in doing.
  • It is a major undertaking. One must make time to practice, with intention and discipline.
  • You don’t have to like the discipline at first, but practice anyway.
  • A wandering mind is an unhappy mind.
  • Most things we think of in the future, never come to pass. Neither can the past be changed by thinking.
  • In Asian language, mindfulness and heartfulness generally mean the same thing.
  • Mindfulness is a way of being and more akin to wisdom. Such a perspective brings freedom.
  • Mindfulness training is for regular people. You, me, anybody, everybody.
  • In a way it is exceedingly challenging, even for experienced practitioners. Yet at the same time, very doable.
  • Tiny shifts in viewpoint, in attitude, make for enormous effects on our bodies, mind, even the world.
  • It presents a deeply optimistic and transformative view of human nature.
  • It gives rise to intuition and insight that becomes deeply transforming.
The Theosophical Path of Meditation*

Today more and more people are aware of meditation as an important aspect of the spiritual life, and when they get in touch with Theosophy, they want to know what the recommended practice is. Although the Theosophical approach refrains from promoting any particular system of meditation for all people to follow, a wealth of teachings about meditation can be found in Theosophical literature.

People come to meditation for a wide variety of reasons. Many of them see in it a relaxation technique, or a method to reduce the stress caused by daily living. Others look at it as a way to generate pleasant emotional or psychological states, like peace, harmony, and joy. Others meditate in order to experience visions or to develop psychic powers. But from a Theosophical point of view, meditation has a more transcendental aim. Although its practice may produce some of the effects described above, its real purpose is, as I. K. Taimni says,

“to bring the lower personality in conscious touch with the Higher Self, thus making it increasingly aware of its divine origin, destiny, and nature” (Taimni, 320).

Once that aim is accomplished, its practice can take the aspirant even further. Geoffrey Hodson says:

“The second objective (of meditation) is to realise that the Spiritual Self of man is forever an integral part of the Spiritual Self of the Universe” (Hodson, 3).

If one comes to meditation simply to derive physical or psychological benefits, a fairly simple practice can bring the desired results. This kind of practice is frequently suitable for people beginning to explore meditation (such as we teach in our mindfulness-based meditation weekends.) Nevertheless, while it may build the foundation for a deeper approach, in and of itself it may not be enough to enable the aspirant to get in touch with his or her true spiritual Self. In order to attain such a high aim, the practice of meditation has to fulfil certain conditions, as the whole life of the aspirant has to be gradually brought in tune with this lofty purpose. This is why the Theosophical tradition sees meditation as only a part of spiritual practice, which must be accompanied by study, service, self-knowledge, and a general effort towards self-transformation. 
(*From Quest Magazine 2010 by P. Sender)

The Voice of the Silence
by HP Blavatsky

To seekers and aspirants who are interested in the deeper aspects of leading an inner and contemplative life, commentaries are offered on Madame Blavatsky’s seminal work within the Theosophical movement, The Voice of the Silence, – a sublime treatise on meditation, service, purity and devotion, – spiritual essentials leading to liberation from this world of samsara, the true Theo Sophia or Divine Wisdom.

The book’s legitimacy as an important Buddhist text was affirmed by the Ninth Panchen Lama of Tibet (1883 – 1937) and the present Fourteenth Dalai Lama. In his foreword to a 1927 ‘Peking edition’, B. T. Chang, secretary to the Panchen Lama, said: “Madame Blavatsky had a profound knowledge of Buddhist philosophy, and the doctrines she promulgated were those of many great teachers.”

The Panchen Lama officially endorsed the book in 1927, pointing out that it comprises a part of the teachings of the Eastern Esoteric School. He also called it, “the only true exposition in English of the Heart Doctrine of the Mahayana and its noble ideal of self-sacrifice for humanity.”

In 1989 the current Dalai Lama wrote about the centenary edition:

“I am therefore happy to have this long association with the Theosophists…. I believe that this book has strongly influenced many sincere seekers and aspirants to the wisdom and compassion of the Bodhisattva Path…. I hope that it will benefit many more.”

The Voice of the Silence
 expounds the practices of Dhâranâ and Dhyâna to attain Samâdhi – also called the Samyama – representing the path of Yoga, one of the six Hindu schools of philosophy or shad-darśanas (darśana or “way of seeing”) of Hinduism – fully elaborated in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.

Blavatsky speaks of the “Yogi of success” and mentions the word “Yogi” no less than 15 times in The Voice of the Silence, thereby enumerating the practices of Yoga (to yoke oneself to the Supreme) in order to attain that permanent inner “state” of Yoga.

The Voice of the Silence is a sublime exposition of the inner path which is entered through meditation. All true spiritual paths teach, and their adherents agree, that it is through meditation that final spiritual illumination and liberation from this world can be attained.

Is this the Temple of Silence, and may we enter it?

“We speak of ‘entering the Silence’ because it is a reality, a state of consciousness, the anteroom of the Divine, into which we can enter at will once we have learned the way. And every Soul who finds paramount in him the desire to live the spiritual life will ultimately find entrance into that sphere of consciousness called the Great Silence  or that sphere of creative power in which all manifestations work in the harmony of Divine Law.”

“Out of the silence that is peace a resonant voice shall arise. Listen to the song of life. Store in your memory the melody you hear. Learn from it the lesson of harmony.” 
(From Light on the Path)

#A famous Hindu MANTRA regarded by Hindus as highly purificatory. The name is a feminine noun stem derived from the Sanskrit root ga (go, pursue, obtain, etc.). The Gayatri mantra, which is from the Rig Veda 3.62.10, is also used for JAPA, audible or mental repetition of a mantra. It is also a subject for silent meditation. It is considered the most sacred of all Vedic mantras, repeated by devout Hindus at sunrise and sunset. The literal meaning of the word is “song” or “hymn.” The mantra is sometimes termed Savitri, i.e., dedicated to Savit, the sun god (Solar Logos in theosophical terminology), but it is also interpreted as referring to our own Higher Self.
(From Theosophy World Resource Centre)