Meet Chanel, a YA living in Windsor, CA. Chanel has tried different approaches to share passage meditation with friends and family and reflects here on her endeavors.
I find the best way to present meditation to my friends is "social osmosis" if you will, or leading by personal example. As I deepen my spiritual practice, my friends may naturally flow the same way into meditation. I also feel this theory holds up when meditating with others. If I am practicing patience, those around me may notice and want to be more patient themselves. If I am training my senses, those around me could be aware and perhaps put down their box of red velvet cupcakes because they know it would behoove them to train their senses too. Essentially, I am talking about moving from low levels of patience, kindness, forgiveness to a higher capacity, and emanating those qualities to a degree that benefits others, and maybe even inspires them to do the same.
I have been lucky enough to share meditation with a few of my best friends and family members. Some of them have implemented certain parts of the eight-point program into their lives. For example, one of my oldest friends is a yoga teacher and she has integrated passage meditation into her yoga classes. She is also an artist and has been exploring some brilliant creations of mantram art. One of my roommates in college is of the Sikh religion. She has molded meditation into her religious practice. Another one of my close friends has read several Easwaran books, attended weekly satsang and even a retreat. She is learning the importance of implementing the eight points simultaneously. She has also incorporated the mantram into her daily life. A few of my cousins have started reading the books. Even my dad has read Passage Meditation and has begun to meditate, albeit rather sporadically.
Chanel (left) gets creative sharing passage meditation books with friends. Using traditional routes she'll give them as gifts or, using the stealth approach pictured above, she'll just read conspicuously near a friend!
Conversely, some of my friends have not taken to meditation no matter how many Easwaran books I casually slip into their bag or conceal as birthday gifts. Which brings me to my next strategy: let Easwaran do the talking. Whenever someone comes to me and is interested in mediation, I give them none other than the text of Passage Meditation. I believe it is best for them to learn it from the man himself. I have also found that Strength in the Storm is another essential book for interested parties to read because it shares a great deal of real-life stories from meditators. My mom is the one who introduced Passage Meditation to me. She had the book on our bookshelf for several years and one day I just picked it up and started reading. Easwaran's words captivated me like no other book had. Overall, it has been my experience that the people in your life will come around to meditation when and if they are ready. For each of my friends and family, it has always been a certain time in their lives where they are searching for something real. They come to the conclusion on their own, I just have the books on hand (you never know when it may happen). I am cautious never to force or boast about meditation. It is a certain subtlety of being, I believe, that inspires those close to you.
Above all, it is a wonderful gift to be able to share meditation with your friends. However, you do not have to get your friends involved just to feel comfortable with having a mediation practice. The Young Adult eSatsang is full of genuinely incredible people with open minds and open hearts. We have a supportive community of friends that help each other, give advice, and share stories. I am reminded of a metaphor Sri Easwaran once wrote about in relation to rock climbing (forgive my attempt to articulate extreme sports as I am not an expert by any means). I remember something he said about being strapped to another person while rock climbing. If you reach for a rock and slip there is someone there to make sure you do not fall. That is how I feel about sharing meditation with others. If I am having trouble or feel like I might slip, there is someone there to make sure I do not fall. In an enigmatic way, our minds and souls are connected in the journey to our Selves.
Chanel (left) has shared passage meditation with a number of friends and family. This photo shows Chanel and one of those friends at a recent YA retreat.
In my opinion, fellowship is so much more than just talking to your friends about your meditation practice. You build a friendship with your sense of Self, your state of being, as well as all the other meditators around the world who know exactly what you are embarking on.
For all of you that have just begun to meditate or are even considering it: I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.