All Minneapolis Meditation Group services include periods of silent meditation. The purpose of meditation is to attain God-communion, which is held to be the very foundation of true religion. Techniques of meditation are provided in the Self-Realization Fellowship lessons and general instructions are provided in every Meditation Group service.
All of our services also include periods of chanting. Chanting is a technique used to draw the mind inward as well as to awaken love and devotion for God. We are taught to repeat the words of the chants with deeper and deeper devotion until one is immersed in the singing, striving to fully understand and feel the meaning of the words.
Of the services offered by the Minneapolis Meditation Group, the Readings Service is the one best suited to newcomers. Included in this service are the reading of passages from the Bible and the Bhagavad Gita, with scriptural interpretations and other writings by Paramahansa Yogananda. These inspirational readings, together with chanting and meditation, make up a balanced service that meets the needs of both longtime SRF members and those who are new to the path. All are welcome.
Our Thursday Inspirational Service offers members an opportunity to share in a fellowship of meditation and inspiration at a point in the week’s activities when they may need it most. Paramahansa Yogananda considered Thursday evening an especially favorable time for holding devotional weekly services.
Newcomers to Self-Realization Fellowship services may not be prepared for extended, unbroken periods of meditation. Therefore, the Inspirational Service provides new students with inspiration from the writings of Paramahansa Yogananda and also helps them to become accustomed to longer meditations.
The Meditation Service provides members and students with an opportunity to practice together the methods of concentration and meditation taught in the weekly Self-Realization Fellowship Lessons. The flame of one match is small and weak; the fire from many matches is large and strong. The united devotion and concentration of many yoga devotees can powerfully increase the meditational depth of each individual. All are welcome.
Kirtan and Meditation Service
Kirtan is Indian-style devotional singing to God, accompanied by traditional instruments such as harmonium, tablas, tanpura, and cymbals. This service provides an opportunity to go longer and deeper in chanting. We typically will chant for a period of 10 to 20 minutes three times during the 90-minute long service, interspersed with periods of meditation. All are welcome.
The prayer service provides us with an opportunity to contribute to the work of the Worldwide Prayer Circle of Self-Realization Fellowship. Our Guru taught that all things are possible through the power of prayer. During our service we will pray for world peace and for those who have requested physical, mental, or spiritual healing. We also may pray for our loved ones, as well as for divine aid in overcoming any personal difficulties. We then practice the healing technique taught by our Guru. The service typically is held for about 10 to 15 minutes at the end of each midweek service. All are welcome.
Prior to some of our midweek services, as well as at our retreats, we practice the Self-Realization Fellowship Energization Exercises as taught by our Guru. Group practice helps each individual to establish the habit of correct, concentrated performance of the exercises. The exercises help to invigorate, remove tension, and distribute the cosmic life force evenly throughout the body, thus producing a state of well-being that is conducive to deep meditation. Our Guru said, “Each step of the Self-Realization Fellowship exercises will give definite, satisfactory, and invigorating results in body and mind that you can experience for yourself if you are regular, faithful, attentive, and correct in your practice.” The Master himself never missed performing the exercises – twice each day – and he encouraged all Self-Realization members to conscientiously follow his example.
The Minneapolis Meditation Group wants to encourage all its members and friends to attend our beautiful long meditations on Saturday mornings. You can stay as long as you wish. Please remember to try to enter or leave the chapel during a chant which are typically on the hour. Our beloved Guru said about group meditations:
“Why shouldn’t you strengthen your own vibrations through fellowship with people seeking Self-realization, and by group meditation with them? This practice will fortify your own spiritual convictions; you will find that many seemingly insuperable barriers in your life will crumble and dissolve in the waters of meditation. Your devotion and love for God will commingle with the devotion and love of others. Divine bliss will radiate from you, helping all persons you meet.”
Commemorative and Special Services
We observe a number of anniversaries each year with a special commemorative ceremony. The all-day meditations for Paramahansa Yogananda and Jesus Christ are held on a Saturday near their respective birthdays, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Those who are acquainted with the SRF teachings and appreciate the significance of the Guru-disciple relationship are welcome to attend these services. Our Guru said, “Celebration of the birthday of a God-realized soul should not be belittled as a merely social ceremony. It is a deeply spiritual occasion on which the vibrations of blessing from an illumined master are stronger than on other days in the year, because in the astral world, also, a celebration is taking place. Devotees who attend these birthday ceremonies with right attitude will reap spiritual benefits and will find their high resolutions strengthened.”
The birthday and Mahasamadhi services for our Gurus are held on the respective anniversary dates as listed on the schedule of services page. It is traditional to bring the following offerings to these services: A flower as a symbol of love and devotion for Christ, Krishna, and the line of SRF Gurus. A donation enclosed in a white envelope as a symbol of loyalty and faithfulness to the cause of Self-Realization Fellowship.
Periodically we conduct a retreat, usually at a retreat facility. Throughout the retreat there are periods of meditation, chanting, inspirational readings, and listening to inspirational SRF tapes. Time is also provided for personal study, introspection, and journaling. We have both one-day and weekend (overnight) retreats.
The SRF Retreatants Pocket Companion entitled God First gives an excellent description of the purpose of retreats: “During retreat your part is to relax and become receptive to the omnipresent blessings of the Lord.Let go of your outer activities; become receptive to God and let Him be the supreme thought in your mind and the burning desire of your heart.”
Social events provide members with an opportunity for fellowship outside of our services. On the first Sunday of every month we have a potluck luncheon following the Readings Service. The potlucks are usually held at our regular meeting location except in June and September when we have a picnic at a nearby park. The Youth Group helps organize other social activities such as bowling and golfing.
Our primary Sunday School provides education on the teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda for children ages 3-10 and our Youth Group is for ages 11 and up. Sunday School is provided downstairs during our Sunday Readings Services from 10:30 until 11:30 a.m.
The Sunday School and Youth Group activities are available from September through May each year. The Youth Group provides an opportunity to establish bonds of divine friendship and service with other young adults who have the same spiritual ideals. Sunday School and Youth Group children present a Christmas program each year. They also sponsor a project to help underprivileged children in the Twin Cities feel the joy of Christmas.