Observations of a Newly Certified Ananda Meditation Teacher

From Ananda Meditation Teacher Training graduate Mare Baranski:

In terms of physical proximity to Ananda Village, I live in a remote outpost called Cocoa Beach, Florida. It’s a four-block wide island between the Atlantic Ocean and the Banana River, a natural setting conducive to meditating. So with my own attunement of consciousness with God who is the “Doer,” and the attunement of many people here, our class has begun.
We meet in the public library where the vibration is further uplifted by a collection of Yogananda’s and Kriyananda’s books. The ten or so people in the current group love the serenity derived from meditating with others, even if half of them have been too distracted at home so far to meditate alone.

We began a couple of months ago, meeting on Wednesdays around noon. In our library setting, it has been pretty inevitable that, other than the group’s core members, there are inquisitors on the periphery, a changing cast of characters. Nevertheless, we started as a group with a discussion of meditation’s benefits, and what the students hoped to derive for themselves. The universal answer seemed to be “peace.” We got seated comfortably and correctly, went through two relaxation exercises, concentrated on observing the breath without control while gazing at the spiritual eye, and ended with a brief foray into expansion of consciousness. (Jyotish’ guided meditation on the Ananda Meditation Teacher Support Center webpage was particularly helpful.) In subsequent weeks, we added the Hong-Sau mantra.

Initially, we didn’t mention “God” or begin and end the session with prayers. This naturally evolved as the group became more cohesive, and as I learned that the library staff is quite open-minded. We began to talk about the flow of energy in the body, the mind-breath connection, and engaging the heart’s feeling. Affirmation practice has been introduced, as well as excerpts from “The Art and Science of Raja Yoga.”

Early on, I adopted the attitude that if even one person benefited, my time would have been well spent. There are already a handful of motivated seekers. Some had been doing yoga postures for a while, and were ready to move inwardly to another level. Two students were experiencing their breath in the spine before the topic came up in class.

Ananda MTT Online graduate Mare with students

Ananda MTT Online graduate Mare with students


On a Deeper Level

Some of the students are personal friends and acquaintances. The merely curious ones dropped off quickly. Others are dabblers in this and that, such as trying out liberal churches and other forms of spiritual exploration. They come when they don’t have lunch dates, doctor appointments, or contractors at the house.

I make no judgment about them and am happy when they come at all. I don’t chase after students, and I think that’s a very important attitude to have about teaching. My own personal example speaks more clearly than cajoling or confronting.

My primary energy is directed toward my own spiritual growth and the growth of those who are ready to seek Yogananda’s teachings, or at least ready to be ready, such as Blanche, who has argued at her husband for decades for wasting time meditating and being “calm;” or Robert, the karate black belt, who has practiced some form of Zen mindfulness of the breath, but may be ready for a deeper understanding of yoga devotion, meditation techniques and philosophy; or Sandi, the hatha yoga teacher with a desire to know and practice the other seven limbs of Patanjali; or the rest of the devoted students who show up week after week due to an awakening peace and love gained from their new practice. To paraphrase my Guru’s reference to his large family, perhaps God has given me a “small” family to nurture.

There seem to be no limits on where this group can go. As more students are starting to meditate at home, they are eager to periodically increase the length of Hong Sau practice as a group by an additional five minutes, and then go deeper into stillness. We have begun to start and end our meditation with a prayer, and the practice of visualization will be introduced soon.

What seems to be happening is that a meditation group of regular members is evolving from this class. Since many have never meditated before, there is ongoing instruction and guidance, and the students love the weekly group practice and don’t want it to end. They have found their beehive of meditation honey. Cocoa Beach has established, what is for now, a yoga meditation class with a perennial beginner’s mind.


Mare Baranski (graduate of the online Ananda meditation teacher training, 2016)

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  1. All the info is great and I look forward to reading more and applying to my business…Thank you very much

  2. Mare Baranski says:

    Thank you, Elizabeth. The students have been meditating for the better part of a year now. Many are developing an interest in the early chapters of the Bhagavad Gita. I have summarized part of it for them, as follows, in every day language and they appreciate that. I have explained that it is based on an actual historic battle between two sets of cousins. This battle is symbolic of the inner struggle each person experiences between her higher self and her ‘character flaws.’ Arjuna is the main person in the story. He and his immediate family, who are spiritual seekers, do not want to slay their character defects, which are represented on the battlefield by their cousins whom they love. To some extent, we all wish to hold on to some of our flaws and attachments.

    Chapter 1 is Arjuna lamenting the necessity of slaying his beloved attachments and bad habits. Starting with Chapter 2, and throughout the rest of the story, a conversation ensues between Arjuna and his Highest Self during which Arjuna has many spiritual revelations. Here is a summary of the revelations he experiences in Chapter 2, verses 11 – 52.

    The Eternal, Transcendental Nature of the Soul
    Ch. 2, verses 11 – 30

    The literal meaning of these verses is that each person is essentially an eternal soul. If Arjuna kills his cousin, he kills the body, not the soul. The cousins had previously stolen his land. Regardless of whether we think the killings are justified, the fact remains that only the body is killed, not the soul.

    The metaphysical lesson of these verses is that when we free ourselves of undesirable qualities, we have transcended them, not destroyed them. Bad habits can return if we are not vigilant. Meditation is one of the best ways to remain vigilant.

    The Righteous Battle Is a Person’s Duty
    Chapter 2, verses 31 – 38

    For examples from history, Jesus did what he believed was God’s will, even though he didn’t want to do it. This was a great spiritual triumph. “Thou will gain heaven.” (verse 37) Judas did not do that. “Thou will reap sin.” (verse 33) Each moment of life can either be heaven on earth or hell on earth, depending on our spiritual fitness at any given time.

    Yoga: Remedy for Doubt, Confusion, and Intellectual Dissatisfaction
    Chapter 2, verses 39 – 46

    Remedy for Doubt
    Any meditation you do in this lifetime will save you from some suffering in this and/or future lifetimes. (verse 40)

    Remedy for Confusion and Intellectual Dissatisfaction
    In Yoga meditation, inner determination is calmly, singly focused at the point between the eyebrows, whereas the thinking mind is all over the place and never stops. We can’t think our way into Enlightenment. (verses 41 – 44)
    Once you experience God permanently within you, scriptures such as this are no longer needed. (verse 46)

    The Yoga Art of Right Action Which Leads to Wisdom
    Chapter 2, verses 47 – 53

    Yoga means union with the Infinite. It is the best kind of action because it is indifferent to satisfying lesser, ordinary desires. The “fruit” of ordinary actions, such as a delicious meal created from the action of cooking, cannot compare with the state-beyond-sorrow (engrossment in infinite wisdom) achieved through yoga.

    Of course, once one has achieved a state of permanent wisdom, all actions will be a meditation because one will have become indifferent to attachment to the fruits of those actions. This is the change which results from the persistent practice of meditation techniques.

  3. Yoga and meditation means union with yourself.Once we are united internally, we feel blessed with others.When our inside is in turmoil, others suggestions seem criticism.Thoughts describe our actions, right actions present correct way of life style.Wisdom comes with peace of mind and inner bliss.I am following Nayaswami Gyandev Rich McCord and Nayaswami Diksha McCord and blessed by their guidance to improve my inner soul.This is for sure, we can’t find God while being suspicious and curious.Follow Master’s teaching Hi is the DOER.Thanks

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