Bhakti yoga meditation is a practice of absolute devotion, combining a variety of techniques including visualization, sound and senses, but mostly emotional passion raised and directed toward our own unique remembrance of the Divine…the beloved one Source of all that Is.
Simply, it is a heart-based process that allows for one-pointed / single-minded unwavering love and unconditional dedication for God, or what our perception of what God is. Deepening your awareness and relationship with the One Source is your journey…your path that unfolds during this practice.
Bhakti yoga is the act of devotion through a meditative process expressed entirely from the emotional mind or heart.
This form of practice is a dedication to Guru, to THAT which is perfect wisdom, perfect love, and absolute Truth.
Meditation is a process that opens a flow, a channel of knowing toward the one thing meditated upon. When this type of concentration is directed through Love toward God, you rise…you rise into an awareness, which is actually a process of coming into a remembrance of who you are, and what your full potential as a human being is. Once obtained, all past ideas of your limitations are effortlessly taken away, as you become perfectly united with Self-Realization.
This type of meditation purifies the mind, and increases your capacity to receive divine grace. Only through grace you attain God realization, overcome the will of the Ego. Grace purifies your mind by transforming it into a “holy” vessel that becomes capable of ‘holding’ divine bliss.
Although bhakti yoga is a heart-based practice, intellectual understanding plays an extremely important role, because the intellect is needed to guide the mind into higher realms of consciousness.
The intellect is needed for progress at every stage of this practice. You will begin to experience intellect as Buddhi, (the highest form of intellect) obtaining “right understanding” so you come to KNOW how to discern the difference between limited nature of material happiness, and the unlimited greatness of God’s divine bliss.
Introductory Guidelines for engaging in Bhakti Meditation
Do you know what it FEELS like to be in Love? Imagine having that sense of well-being, joy and bliss…always. Through devotion to the beloved, Bhakti yoga meditation is divine remembrance for the evolution of love. It is an emotional state of unity you feel in the heart for God, yourself, all of creation, every breath, every sound…every aspect of your Being-ness. The practice brings you into a full time Love Affair with all realms of consciousness, and all that exists.
Focus on Love, Gladness, the Good, Beautiful and True. Be single-minded in approach. This is called ananyata in Sanskrit, which means “having only one”. Narrow your focus to one aspect or form of God.
Build and establish a personal relationship with Love and the authentic presence of Love. The path of bhakti is the path of relational love. We must overcome belief systems that present the idea of God as an unreachable source of creation and judgment. Many religious traditions refer to the Supreme Being as omniscient, almighty, powerful, righteous, and so on. As a result, the subconscious mind may gravitate toward beliefs and emotions that have you feeling limited, powerless, insignificant, incapable, needy and helpless.
Through Bhakti, we rise to realize the True nature of Love as the absolute Source of All.
Through Bhakti you use the intellect to consider new, and potential higher ideals of who you believe God to BE. This may involve experiencing new ideas of God as either personal or impersonal. For example…beginning to see God and FEELING God to BE expressed by:
Loving God as a supreme creator
Loving God as a servant to all of creation
Loving God as a friend or constant companion
Loving God as your child, pet, anyone you desire to take care of
Loving God as your beloved, your one and only, a marriage of consciousness, and well-being.
Overall, Bhakti Meditation consists of expanding and deepening your feeling of connection to God through these feelings of loving affection.
Visualize divine presence. Feel and mentally visualize God close to you in His or Her personal form. Imagine with all your senses how the form you imagine would be with you. Imagine you and Source, on walks, out to dinner, going on car-rides, laughing, watching TV… invite the presence of God into all that you do during your meditation sessions. Utilize all your senses: see His/ Her expression and form, smell His/ Her perfume, hear His/ Her voice, feel His/ Her touch and so on.
Invoking the Presence: Keep dear to you the sound of Holy Name. Release all fear, and find pure joy in using your selected Holy Name frequently. For some, you may prefer calling upon God with, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.” Some may prefer Yahweh, OM, Krishna, Sat Nam, Wahe Guru, Allah, Hallelujah, Abba… choose the name that you are comfortable and bring it to the forefront of your mind.
Once you choose a name, do not falter. Changing the name constantly limits the growth potential. For example, you would not plant a sapling tree, go out the next morning and believe it has not grown, dig it up, and replant it. Then move it again the next day, the day after that and so on. Plant yourself with one version of the Holy Name, and keep it.
By doing so, the vibration of the Divine name enters deeply into your mind and awakens your devotional potential. This relationship develops as God-centered conscious awareness, and begins to seep into your full essence of being-ness. You and THAT become One.
Release expectations for any material outcome or personal gain. Know the goal of your bhakti yoga meditation practice is to receive God’s grace and attain supreme divine happiness.
Surrender the Ego, lift yourself up humble awe. Humility suppresses other weaknesses of the mind such as pride, egoism, anger, jealousy and so on. Humility is a natural by-product of a devoted heart, and intellect.
On a final note, come to realize now, that in the past the act of loving has more than likely led to some sort of experience of disappointment, hurt or loss. Here, in this realm of perfect Grace, Love and relationship, there is no injury, no pain, nothing to fear.
In this love affair, you are always safe, adored, appreciated, and KNOWN to already be Perfect. Bhakti meditation is in short, the process for letting go of all aspects of self that keep you from knowing the totality of who you are. This is the process of Awakening.
Melinda Johnston, M.Msc.: Spiritual Philosopher and Coach, Intuitive Healer, Wellness Consultant, International Speaker, Author, and Peace Activist
Author of Practicing Peace Guidebook