People often ask us why we give our meditation classes free of charge. The answer actually has a lot to do with how we ourselves see meditation. Most of us have been meditating for many years, and it has really changed our lives. It has given us access to an inner source of inner peace and joy that has always been there, and that now we can access at any time. So the first reason our classes are free is that we are only helping you to get back in touch with this inner source. We are not giving you anything you didn’t have already!
The second reason is that we get so much joy ourselves from giving these classes. Meditation is one of those things – like joy or friendship – that you increase by sharing. Actually, we put on a lot of different events – classes, workshops, concerts, peace relays and even sporting events – and through these events we meet so many wonderful people and it gives us real hope for the world.
Our teacher, Sri Chinmoy, called the kind of meditation we practise the path of the heart because we try and go beyond the mind and bring our awareness to the heart centre – that place in the middle of the chest we point to when we say ‘me’. It is a place that we feel somehow is the core of our being, and so is a very natural place to begin the journey of self-discovery. There are many different ways that we can access this heart centre – silent meditation, concentration, visualisations, music, mantras and singing – and we hope to cover as many of them as we can in our classes.
Our group started in Iceland in 1974 – a long time now! – and since then has taught meditation to thousands of Icelanders through our free classes.
Here are just a few of our regular classgivers – we also frequently invite people from all over the world to come and give classes….
Leila is originally from Holland – her classes are very easy to understand, and they explain in practical, no-nonsense terms what meditation is all about.
Nirbhasa has been meditating daily for almost 20 years. Originally from Ireland, he has been living in Iceland since 2013. His other big focus is ultra-running, and he has now completed the world’s longest ultradistance race – the 3100 Mile race – three times!
Laufey and Chahida
We find that often beginners find it easier to get into the meditation ‘zone’ by singing meditation mantras – Chahida and Laufey are both extremely accomplished musicians and create an extremely nice atmosphere. Often our centre will organise stand-alone meditation mantra sessions, so watch out for those too!
Suren has been meditating ever since he was a child. As well as meditating and giving classes, he helps to co-ordinate our Peace Run (see below) in Iceland, and has travelled to many countries with the international Peace Run team.
Other things we do:
We frequently offer concerts of meditation music – we have our own music group here in the Reykjavik Centre, and we also invite music groups from all over the world to come and give concerts.
- On Klapparstigur the cafe Garðurinn (Ecstasy’s Heart-Garden), the world instrument store Sangitamiya and the icecream store Joylato are owned and managed by our students. Sri Chinmoy referred to these as divine enterprises, because we try to see the divine inside each customer and serve them accordingly. In this way, our work becomes part of our own meditation practise.
- We strongly feel that sports and spirituality go together. We have an informal 2 mile run amongst ourselves every week, and we also organise a 5k race for the public in August.
- We have been enthusiastic supporters of the Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run – the world’s largest peace torch relay – since its founding in 1987. We share the message of peace by running with a Peace Torch, and bringing it to schools, community groups, and allowing everyone to hold the torch and add their own wish for peace.
For us, it is a wonderful way to meet people and see how much goodness there is in the world. Since the beginning in 1987, we have organised events every year; we have also run the whole way around Iceland with the torch eleven times!
About our teacher, Sri Chinmoy
Sri Chinmoy was born in 1931 into a very spiritual family in the Bengal region of what was then British India (now Bangladesh). During his childhood, his older brothers had spent years in an ashram (spiritual community) in South India pursuing rigorous spiritual discipline. At the age of 12, both of his parents passed away, and the young Chinmoy and his brothers and sisters all went to live in that ashram. He spent over twenty years there, meditating for up to ten hours a day, and reaching and perfecting the state of enlightenment.
Video: Sri Chinmoy’s visits to Iceland
Sri Chinmoy felt that the best way to learn meditation is through silence:
In school you have a teacher who is teaching you and offering his wisdom-light to you through language. In the spiritual life also, the teacher teaches through language. But the language of the spiritual teacher is meditation. Meditation is the inner language, and the teacher teaches meditation through silence. It would not be easy for your professor to teach through silence, and for the student also it would not be easy to learn through silence.
But a spiritual teacher will meditate for five minutes in silence and during his meditation he will offer peace, light and bliss. He can instruct you to meditate either by giving you specific instructions or through his silent gaze. But most of the time the spiritual teacher teaches through silence, because that way is most effective.
So when we give classes, we do not consider ourselves meditation teachers as such – our role is just to lay out the ABC’s of meditation and the spiritual life, and then create a space where your own soul can come to the fore and teach you how to meditate.
Between 1964 and his passing in 2007, Sri Chinmoy lived in New York. At the request of then Secretary-General U Thant, he began a twice-weekly series of meditations for staff and delegates at the United Nations. Sri Chinmoy visited Iceland six times, giving lectures, concerts and honouring people from all walks of life.
For Sri Chinmoy, meditation and spirituality was something that could be expressed in an infinite number of ways. He created a huge œuvre of poems, songs, lectures, plays and answers to questions totalling over 1600 books. Among spiritual teachers, he was uniquely interested in sports as a means of spiritual progress. He founded the Sri Chinmoy marathon Team, which pioneered many innovations in the ultra running world and which has organised the world’s longest certified road race – the 3100 Sri Chinmoy Self-Transcendence Race – for almost 25 years.