Welcome to the Wellington Sri Chinmoy Centre. We offer free meditation courses throughout the year approximately every month. Please browse this site to find out more about meditation and our classes. Feel free to contact us if you are interested in joining a course.
How do I get started?
Simply fill in our contact form. One of our class co-ordinators will then be in touch with you with all the details you need to begin the next free meditation course available.
Do I need to bring anything?
No – just yourself and a sincere willingness for more inner peace and happiness in your life.
Getting Started Part 1
Meditation is a wonderful skill to learn. With practice the mind becomes clear and peaceful, the heart is filled with an inner happiness, our life in every little part is coloured by the inner calm and joyfulness which meditation brings to the fore. Sitting in your favourite place you’ll learn to still the mind, discarding any distracting thoughts as you follow the breath within. Like sitting on a riverbank watching the water flow by, you watch the play of the mind with detachment, letting everything flow away as you enter into an inner stillness and silence.
The many techniques employed in learning meditation share a common theme – harnessing and concentrating the power of the mind. By-products and benefits of this effort are numerous – an ability to focus and concentrate quickly, enhanced memory, a growing peacefulness, the discovery of the deeper, intuitive, creative and inspirational parts of our being. And it is in the silence and stillness of meditation that we begin to understand that we are also spiritual beings, and that here the wisdom of the soul can most easily be felt and experienced.
To start, find your meditation space, a corner of your room that feels right – have a low table with a light colored cloth over it, place there a candle in a holder and a flower or two in a vase. Add one or two personal items if you wish – some prayer beads, a meditation statue, whatever connects you to the feeling of spirit. You can sit there on a cushion, on a meditation stool or on a chair – whatever suits you. Ideally you should sit about one metre back, at eye level. A little incense helps as well – this creates a special feeling and adds a little of the ritual and the sacred to your practice. Simple music is helpful too in creating a tranquil atmosphere – a bamboo flute, a voice singing a slow, peaceful song.
Sit comfortably, with the spine reasonably straight to maintain alertness, and with your eyes partly open – not wide open, but eyes half open, half closed. This is called the lions meditation and enables us to better focus the mind. If this is too difficult you can close your eyes, but try this method first for there are many advantages to meditating in this way. Let everything else fall away from the mind – all that exists is the breath, a river of life-energy flowing ceaselessly.
Feel inside the breath the quality or feeling of stillness – if you imagine a small thread at the tip of the nose, the breath is so quiet and calm the thread is barely moving. For a few minutes try to deepen this feeling of stillness, the breath moving very quietly, the mind becoming gradually more calm, the body motionless. Notice the momentary pause at the top of the breath just before you breathe out, and again at the bottom of the breath before you breathe in, and try to expand that moment of stillness between each inhalation, each exhalation. In this way the breath becomes a little deeper, calmer, slower and prepares us to go further within.
Getting Started Part 3
A few pointers: the length of time we spend in meditation depends very much on our previous efforts, on how much sincerity and eagerness we have, and our personal capacity in keeping the body and mind still. We’re all at different points on this journey. If you’re relatively new to meditation, 10 minutes is recommended, and gradually increase this time as your capacity increases. One pleasant way of noting when 10 minutes has elapsed is to use a half stick of Japanese incense, and when this has burned down you’ll know your 10 minutes is up.
Gradually step up to 15 minutes, 20 minutes and upwards as you improve. Don’t be discouraged if your mind is very busy – this is a common experience for everyone. Simply commit to your daily practise – the first secret of meditation is sincerity. Having a set time to practice will also help you a lot. Try meditating twice a day, once in the morning early, and again before sleep in the evening – akin to having two meals a day to nourish you, not just one.
Make meditation the very first thing you do each day. Your morning meditation will give you a deepening sense of the sacred in your life, remind you of who you really are, of what is truly important, and what is not. Its regular practice will make you more peaceful, and this will give you strength and clarity during the day. Meditation is the gateway into insight and self-knowledge, a touchstone to a higher reality and a deeper understanding of everything. By meditating first you have started walking along the right road from the beginning of the day.
Don’t think of ‘good’ or ‘bad’ meditation, but rather understand that every moment spent practicing is a golden opportunity to make progress in your spiritual journey – as in a marathon race where every step is moving you closer to finishing, no matter how difficult. Each attempt is progress, a step forward towards your goal. Keep in mind the image of an ongoing journey – each attempt to meditate is another wonderful step towards the destination of happiness. This will help you to keep going and to value your meditation practice.
Try to avoid meditating immediately after a meal – at that time the body is often more lethargic or restless. Meditate before your meal, or several hours afterwards, so the body will not disturb you. Don’t lie down when you practice meditation either – it’s conducive only to sleep! Practicing your meditation with eyes half open, half closed, will prevent you falling asleep, develop your ability to concentrate your mind more quickly, and enable you to extend your ability to meditate out into your life – while walking, working, sitting in a park or waiting for a bus! In this way you can learn to meditate anywhere – the ability to meditate is inside you everywhere you go.
“I meditate so that
My mind cannot complicate
FREE Learn Meditation Introductory Course – March 2018
This is a structured course designed to build meditation skills over 3 evenings. Attendance at the first class is a prerequisite to attendance at subsequent classes.
When: Monday evenings, 6.30pm – 8pm.
- 12 Mar
- 19 Mar
- 26 Mar
Where: Smart Newtown (next to the Newtown library) 9/11 Constable Street
Admission Free – Registration will ensure seating. Text 021 216 8343 to register or call to speak to the tutor.
Getting Started Part 2
Now let’s focus on breathing in several different qualities to further quieten the mind. The first is peace – as you inhale feel that you are breathing peace into every part of your being. On the outgoing breath imagine you are breathing out anything that is unlike peace – any restlessness, stress, negative thoughts or feelings. If it helps you can imagine the incoming breath to be pure white light, vibrant with purity and peace, the outgoing breath grey with impurities or thoughts. If you find it easier, simply focus on the incoming breath and the quality of peace – feel a sense of each breath drawing you a little deeper within, drawing you into a lovely inner space.
After several minutes feel you are breathing in cosmic energy from the universe, purifying and energising every part of your being. With each breath a river is flowing through you, a river of life force and cosmic energy, displacing tiredness, stress, negative thoughts – imagine you are exhaling the negative qualities, expelling them on the outgoing breath.
Finally, breathe in happiness. Feel this expanding inside you, flowing through you – even your face is smiling. On the outgoing breath feel that you are breathing out the opposite qualities – any suffering, sadness, problems. Practise this for a few minutes – after some time working with these simple visualisations, imagination becomes reality and you will actually feel more peaceful and happy. The more still the mind can become, the more these positive images and qualities can be felt, for these are qualities of the soul itself. They are inside you already – you are simply creating the conditions in which they can be directly experienced. Meditation is less an act of learning than an act of remembering, rediscovering your deeper nature. It is an unfamiliar but wonderful part of yourself that you will eventually find.
At the end of 10 minutes, simply let your awareness come back to the breath – don’t think of any particular quality but simply feel a sense of being at rest inside a very tranquil inner space. The mind is clear and empty like a vast sky – any wandering thoughts that arise are insignificant, a tiny bird crossing the emptiness. Notice the calm flow of the breath – feel a sense of being suspended in the rhythm of each breath and that nothing else exists. How still can you become? Practice cultivating an empty mind, calm breath. When the breath is the only reality, you will feel very peaceful and meditative.
Getting Started Part 4
Learning to quieten and concentrate the mind is a root skill in mastering meditation, though meditation itself is the stillness when we move beyond the chatter of the mind. Mind is the ever-moving waves on the surface of the lake, meditation is the stillness in the depths. Concentration makes the mind one-pointed and focused, prepares us in going deeper within.
Let’s go back to the partly open eye technique – the ‘lion’s meditation’ – and try another exercise in concentration. The skill of concentration is more easily mastered when you can visually connect to something, an anchor point for the mind – like a magnifying glass gathering and focusing the rays of the sun. Concentration gathers the wandering tendencies of the mind into a single point of focus. Light the candle on your shrine or table and focus your attention on the flame, gathering all your concentration into one point. The base of the flame is easier on the eyes than the bright flame itself. Feel a sense of intensity – only the flame exists. Feel like an arrow or a bullet travelling into the flame, merging into it. We are using the mind’s dynamic willpower to clear the way of thoughts or feelings.
After several minutes of concentrating all of your awareness on the outer candle flame, close your eyes and imagine the candle flame inside your spiritual heart, in the very centre of your chest. Concentrate your awareness on the inner flame – its light, its warmth, its brightness is inside you. Gradually, let this image expand – the luminosity of the flame is expanding outwards into your physical body and upwards into the mind, filling every part of the being. Feel that you are filled with the warmth and radiance of the flame; the light of the soul is occupying every part of you.
When through practice you begin to actually experience a sense of being filled with golden light, your power of concentration is really preparing you for the next step into meditation. If the mind wanders in this exercise, reopen your eyes and focus again on the outer candle – then once again bring the image into the centre of the chest and concentrate the mind there. The focus from outer to inner, back and forth, extends our concentration from physical object to its abstract image in the heart centre and is helpful in our spiritual training and in developing one–pointedness of mind.
Why meditate…what is the purpose?
Well, we nourish our body every day with food with great regularity, but most of us neglect to take care of some of the deeper aspects of ourselves. Meditation nourishes our mind and our soul and the spiritual aspects of our nature which also need constant attention. These shape our whole life experience. People who are peaceful, for example, are not disturbed by life’s ups and downs, they have an inner calm and poise. And our happiness – most of our efforts at being happy depend upon external things like better jobs, new relationships, material things, travel plans and so forth, but meditation …keep reading.
You’re a vegetarian I believe – why?
It’s one of those lifestyle changes that can benefit meditators. I became a vegetarian about 40 years ago – it was one of the things my own teacher Sri Chinmoy requested and encouraged. The food we eat has some impact on our inner development, a calm mind and healthy body, and in my case I was amazed how much better I felt. I started running about that time as well, marathons, ultras, and as your wellbeing increases you can really measure and feel the effect of diet on your energy and stamina and life force. We’re herbivores, it’s only cultural conditioning that makes eating other animals a usual thing…keep reading.
Finding Sri Chinmoy’s Meditation Path
At the beginning, all those years ago, I was not really looking for a spiritual Master or a path. Like most people I knew, I was neither very happy nor unhappy, having just arrived from my hometown of Mumbai, India, eager to fulfill my lifelong dream of an overseas education and an independent life.
In New Zealand a nagging backache had started to bother me and I decided to try hatha yoga as a remedy. I called up a few places in the next week or so but found most of these either too expensive or too far away from home. Slightly dejected I remember walking down the main street in downtown Auckland on the way to my lunch shift – the streets were full of office workers rushing to and fro. I remember walking down the hill when I had the sudden and strange sensation of everything slowing down, as though time was suspended. A smiling face suddenly appeared before me, a young man with leaflets in his hand. Just as I was about to walk past him, something in my head said “take what he is offering”. The next thing I knew I had this bright blue leaflet in my hand, reading it on my way to work.
As luck would have it, it was a free meditation workshop offered by the Sri Chinmoy Centre. I knew it wasn’t the Hatha Yoga that I was looking for, but I intuitively knew of the connection between the body and the spirit and decided to explore this further. When I reflect back on that moment on the street on that long ago day, I can understand the quiet perfection of everything, the role of grace in our lives.
In India they say “when the disciple is ready the Master appears” and that is how it was with me. Why was it that I had been given this opportunity to follow a spiritual path? Swami Vivekananda, one of my country’s great spiritual teachers, used to say ‘Those who choose the Infinite have been chosen by the Infinite’. I have stopped questioning the reason behind it, but often offer my gratitude to my Guru for the wonderful years I have been fortunate and privileged to spend on his wonderful path. This poem by Sri Chinmoy expresses my feelings well:
‘Beyond speech and mind, Into the river of ever-effulgent Light My heart dives. Today thousands of doors, closed for millennia Are opened wide.’
The Heart in the New Millennium
Many people believe that human consciousness is on the verge of a pivotal change – from the dominance of the mind to a growing recognition of the importance of the heart. It represents a change so significant that it promises to reshape the very future of mankind, pointing the way…. keep reading
The Olympic Games are here. Beginning August 5th with the opening ceremony in the legendary Maracanã Stadium in Rio, 306 medal events are being contested across the 42 Olympic sports disciplines. It’s potentially a wonderful time when athletes from 207 countries and audiences from virtually every country on our planet come together in a spirit of friendly competition, forming bonds of friendship that can unite us in a way almost without parallel. …keep reading
She comes in every morning around 3:30 am, the holy hour, for her early three hours of meditation. She is quiet as a falling feather but the old wooden floorboards and creaking joists betray her, creak and sigh as she passes my room. In her hour long walking meditations, her slow circling shuffle around the great room, she claps her hands together …keep reading
Recently a group of musician-friends, some from New Zealand, gathered in Reykjavik to begin a musical tour, singing Sri Chinmoy’s songs in churches and old ruins throughout the heartland of this impressive nation………
If you were to try to paint eternity, these landscapes of Iceland would inspire you. They spread out all around you to every horizon, the rumpled splendors of the earth,…keep reading
In that brutal bad New Zealand winter of 2002 the worst storm ever recorded charged across the central North Island mountains, burying the forests in meters of snow and sending the few humans crazy enough to be out there in that onslaught fleeing for lonely mountain huts. Marooned by waist high drifts, fallen trees and winds colder than grief they huddled over cheerless fires …keep reading
“Over the years” Sri Chinmoy once said, “ I have been to a number of countries that follow the teachings of the Lord Buddha, but here in Myanmar I feel that Lord Buddha has a very, very special eye of compassion and a very, very special heart of universal love. Myanmar I feel has a most special place in the heart of Lord Buddha. … keep reading
Holidays are coming, and soon our centre family will vanish away to relatives in hometowns, to gatherings down-country in small coastal villages, settlements where an uncle owns a seaside bach, an odd ritual here like some seasonal homing instinct, a migratory impulse honed through childhoods of summers.
In these waning months of the year the parklands near my home gather around… keep reading
One of the recurring themes in the writings and legacies of the great spiritual teachers all the way down through time is the accent they each place on the preciousness of a human incarnation, especially one in which there is some kind of spiritual awakening. One of India’s teachers spoke of only three real miracles – the rarity of a human birth in this infinitely vast cosmos with its endless possibilities of life; … keep reading
The Indian spiritual master Sri Chinmoy often compared the body to a cage, the soul as the captive bird. Sometimes the cage door might open just a little – a minor illness – and the soul bird would fly away; other times the cage door could be wide open – a grave illness – but the soul bird would stubbornly remain. … keep reading
She had always been moved and deeply touched by her Teacher’s comments about the spiritual value of giving, and at some heartfelt and intuitive level felt that she really understood what this meant and how it worked in that preternatural inner world where everything connected, …keep reading
In the great task of finding happiness and peace through meditation, there are some simple, useful things to keep in mind. Some of these are mentioned here: Don’t be too concerned with finding the right technique in meditation. Spiritual master Sri Chinmoy once commented that our own souls are our best teacher …keep reading
- Feel gratitude at the very beginning of your meditation practise. This will remind you that you have reached a very special time in your evolution, and that you are awakening, that there is a quiet perfection behind your life that is giving you this special opportunity. You are among a tiny percentage of humanity opening up to a new consciousness…keep reading
After a lifetime of travel and lifelong encounters with many great human beings – our path took us to so many places, to encounters with so many people – it is a truism for me to say that Sri Chinmoy was, by a very great distance, the greatest person I have ever met. Even after my own 30 years of examining him he was always far over the horizons of my comprehension – … keep reading