Raw Spirit: Passage Meditation


passage meditation

Cultivating your spiritual life is as much a part of the raw, living food journey as selecting organic produce, detoxification, or an exercise program. If you thought meditation was some sort of woo-woo Eastern discipline or that you had to climb to the top of a mountain and sit with a guru for a few years to learn it, you’re in for a surprise. Through a practice called Passage Meditation, most people can begin meditating almost immediately.

What Is Passage Meditation?

Berkeley professor Eknath Easwaran coined the term passage meditation. Born in Kerala, India, Eknath Easwaran came to the United States in the late 1950s and began teaching English literature at the Berkeley in the 1960s.  During the 1960s, he began lecturing on meditation, and students flocked to his lectures to learn the meditation techniques he had learned in India. Unlike flashier gurus of the time, Easwaran did not study at a formal ashram; he had an unusual spiritual teacher, his grandmother, who he affectionately calls Granny in his many books. Passage meditation developed from his broad and deep reading of the world’s spiritual literature and the teachings of his spiritual tutor, who taught him the value of mindfulness in everything, but especially in reading.

Passage meditation is the memorization of a short passage of spiritual or uplifting literature, and the deep, concentrated repetition of the words of the passage. Many spiritual teachers believe that the world’s sacred literature is imbued with spiritual meaning, and the repetition of key passages is prayer. Jewish and Christian people recite the psalms and key passages from the Bible as prayers; other religions do this as well.

Easwaran recommends in his book Meditation that beginning meditation students select a short, familiar passage of spiritual reading to begin passage meditation.  The one he recommends for beginners is the Peace Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi.  It goes like this:

Make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy;

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

To begin a passage meditation practice, memorize the prayer above.  You can memorize it section by section.  Memorize it by reading it slowly and carefully until the words can be recited silently to yourself.  Sit comfortable in a straight-backed chair with your palms resting gently on your lap. Close your eyes, and if you can, rest your gaze on the point between the eyebrows; this is the third eye, the spiritual center (if that is not comfortable for you, just close your eyes – don’t force it.)  Breathe in for a count of 10, then out for a count of 10, and repeat several times.  When you are ready, begin calmly, slowly repeating the Peace Prayer to yourself, focusing on the words. Do this for as long as you can or as long as you wish.  If your mind begins straying, gently guide it back to the words of the prayer.

Results of Passage Meditation

I have studied several methods of meditation, and the one I turn to when I’m feeling very stressed or overly tired is always Easwaran’s passage meditation techniques. If I try to meditate when I have a zillion things to do, my mind whirls around and around. I’m distracted by my to-do lists, my chore list, every little thing – it’s like my monkey mind is on speed! But if I focus on passage meditation, I can immediately slow my crazy whirling mind down until I am truly meditating.  Having the words to focus the mind really helps. It gives my thoughts something to latch on to, and the words of the Peace Prayer are so filled with good thoughts and desires that I leave my meditation sessions feeling relaxed and uplifted, hopeful and energized.  I’ve slowed down enough so that my pressing schedule and life stresses don’t seem nearly as overwhelming as they once did.

Where to Go for More Information

A new course called the Alkaline Lifestyle will offer a special book on Spiritual Practices, co-authored by Katy Joy Freeman and myself.  In it we share with you more tips on letting your spirit soar through mindfulness, Katy Joy’s area of specialty, and spiritual practices, my abiding interest.  You may also wish to visit the Blue Mountain Retreat Center website at http://www.easwaran.org/, the center Easwaran founded in California.  The site offers free meditation passages for passage meditation and further instruction on this wonderful introduction to meditation as well as Eknath Easwaran’s Eight Point Program for spiritual development. 

There are many other meditation techniques available, and you may wish to explore others before settling on one.  But for those who find meditation an esoteric, difficult to understand topic, Passage Meditation offers an easily accessible entry point for the busy person to learn meditation techniques.

These statements have not been evaluated by the food and drug administration.  The preceding information and/or products are for educational purposes only and are not meant to diagnose, prescribe, or treat illness. Please consult your doctor before making any changes or before starting ANY exercise or nutritional supplement program or before using this information or any product during pregnancy or if you have a serious medical condition.

Written by:  Jeanne Grunert
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