Vedic Meditation 101

Vedic Meditation is the effortless way to relieve stress, capture bliss and discover clarity of thought that comes with the experience of Being. But what is Vedic Meditation? Veda means knowledge in Sanskrit. The Veda is knowledge that initially was passed down orally and then finally written and divided into four sections. The Vedas are the source of yoga, ayurvedic medicine and meditation (which Prince Siddhartha [Buddha] drew from and practiced).

The meditation technique for householders (secular citizens) was brought out of “cold storage” by Swami Brahmananda Saraswati, (known as Guru Dev). Here’s a quick history – several thousand years ago, surrounded by ocean and cut off by the Himalayas to the north, India was impervious to invasion. Then armies discovered the Khyber Pass and invasions and subsequent occupations began. An eminent teacher of the time, Sukadeva, knew that with occupation came erasure of culture so he ensured that important knowledge was hidden away in monasteries in the northeast Himalayas. Difficult to reach and without wealth, the monasteries were left alone during the several ensuing centuries of occupation. Rumor has it that Sukadeva instructed the yogis to act crazy and go without clothing to further discourage visitors. Thus, for several centuries, the householder meditation technique was lost. Guru Dev, during his lifetime (1870-1953) saw India achieve independence (1947) and, as one of the greatest spiritual leaders in India, was the single most influential force in recovering the householder meditation technique.

This householder’s technique uses a bija mantra (bija = seed). (There is a set of bija mantras specifically for the householder – Aum or Om is a seed mantra for the yogi and will awaken a desire to retreat into seclusion.) A bija mantra has no value on the level of meaning. It is not a noun, verb, adjective, or adverb. It cannot lead the mind to action. In the Vedic view, Action is at the top layer of the gross conscious world (“gross” meaning “most expressed”), Thought lies underneath Action, thus Thought leads to Action. Underneath both of these is the state of Being. The mantra acts as a vehicle for the mind and through repetition, the meaningless sound becomes fainter and more charming. Mind follows until the mantra becomes so faint it disappears and one arrives at the level of Being. Being or Pure Consciousness is the fountainhead of creativity, and a place of supreme inner contentedness. We experience something like this feeling of contentedness just before sleep. We stop thinking but are still aware of the room. It is the “sweet spot” just before we drop into sleep – but sleep comes and we’re unable to maintain that alert contentment.

With Vedic Meditation you experience contentment, an alert relaxed, blissful state and there are no special skills required. Given a choice, mind will move in the direction of greater charm or happiness and its choice is the mantra. In this practice, if you can think, you can meditate. I realize “if you can think you can meditate” goes against some of your ideas about what meditation is “supposed to be” but it is exactly the main difference between Vedic Meditation and other practices. Some meditation practices require concentration with a request to “empty the mind”; others rely on visualization. These practices don’t allow for transcendence (diving to Being). When meditators attempt to empty the mind, they are pulled to the level of Action “don’t think”; and with visualization, the mind remains at the surface layer of meaning.

When we’re learning to dive into a pool, we have to angle the body and then let go – allow the body to enter the water. It is the same with Vedic Meditation. The mantra points toward the pool of Being and then gracefully lets go, allowing mind to enter Pure Consciousness.

With Vedic Meditation we sit comfortably: twenty minutes, twice a day. There is no need for a special meditation room because noise is no barrier. I have meditated in my car parked on a busy street. Vedic Meditation is completely portable and effortless.

To begin your practice, receive the correct mantra from a Vedic Meditation teacher and attend a three-day follow-up course to your initial session of learning the technique. There are several teachersof Vedic Meditation. If you can’t find one in your area, most will travel (myself included) in order to answer worthy inquiry.

How do you connect with the divine or center yourself?

Sanora Bartels is an independent teacher of Vedic Meditation working with individuals to sustain balance and achieve success in all areas of life. Her training included a year of study that took her from Los Angeles, California to Rishikesh, India to Flagstaff, Arizona. You can find her at

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