The Good & Bad of Free Yoga & Meditation

The Problem of Free Yoga & Meditation

(Please note: This article is being quite misunderstood by many, so I am adding this note up here to prevent more confusion.  I am not asking for anything in return for the free yoga, and I not complaining about anything.  This article is about whether the psychology of determining value based on money, makes that which is free less valued.  Which would then lead to a less serious approach to the practice and thus, fewer benefits for the practitioners).

When I was growing up I would often visit Arsha Vaidya Gurukulam located in the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania.  This ashram is headed by Swami Dayananda Saraswati, who he is a great proponent of Advaita Vedanta (teachings of non-duality).  I would spend my time there listening to his lectures on the Bhagawat Gita, taking Hatha Yoga classes and discussing my favorite topic, meditation of course, with the other yogis and sanyasis (monks).

In addition, I had the honor of saving millions of tadpoles from certain death, by transferring them to a nearby brook from an unused swimming pool, where they had made their home.  The ashram had decided to refurbish the pool and Swamiji did not want to see the tadpoles killed, so I was tasked with netting and migrating them to the stream.  It was one of the best summer’s of my young life .

What I liked best about the set-up that Swamiji had put together, was that there was no charge for anything at the ashram.  Everything was for free and one gave back however they could.  I, by doing Karma Yoga (Right Work) and others in their own way.  This is how it was done in the days of old and as much as possible this system is obviously the one I prefer as well.  Thus, the free online classes, free yoga videos, free meditation books, free pranayama books, etc, etc .   And yes, for those who might be wondering, I intend to keep it that way as much as I can .

There is one issue though, with regard to free yoga and meditation, that has been lurking in my mind for some time and one that others have pointed out as well, which I would like to discuss in this article.  In the old days, if you wanted to learn powerful yogic techniques or profound meditations, you perhaps did not have to pay, but you did have to earn it.  And in general you earned it by winning the favor of the teacher.  In other words, the teachers would teach you if they felt you were worthy and had earned this privilege.  I am glad that too is no longer the case though, because this then lead to those with the knowledge wielding it for power, the formation of secret societies and what not.  So I like this new paradigm, where the knowledge is not only for free, but it is also freely available to all who seek it.  Here though is my issue.

In the modern world, whether we like it or not, money is often the yardstick used to measure an item’s worth.  The more you pay for something, the better you expect that product to be.  In our consumer driven economy, this aspect has become very ingrained and now is almost a part of our psychology.  This psychology, of determining value based on price though, creates a problem for my everything free paradigm.  In that, I wonder if the free yoga and meditation teachings are not getting their due respect because they do not have to be paid for?

I want to mention here that this certainly may not apply to you, so please don’t be offended or take this the wrong way.  Neither am I whining or complaining, or asking for gratitude or anything.  This is just something that I think may apply to some and I am discussing it as I feel it is valuable to assess this possibility, in order to ensure one is not getting unconsciously caught in this way of thinking.  If this way of thinking is coloring your view, then it could be affecting how much you are getting out of the free information on this website, because it will affect how much effort you are putting in.

I think this is an interesting point.  If, let’s say you had paid $1,000 for access to all the online yoga and mediation classes.  I am sure your approach to them would be very serious and diligent.  After all, you have to get your money’s worth!  But, since they are free, perhaps your approach is a little more casual, a little more relaxed.  Perhaps you are not as committed as you would be, if you had to plunk down a grand in order to be able to access them?  This is what I fear most with regard to giving away everything for free.  That you may not give your hundred percent to it, and that would mean you wont get the maximum benefits and results.

The benefits of yoga and meditation are profound.  They are real.  They have been proven time and again by research and scientific study, so there is no question regarding the awesome value of these practices.  But, the caveat is that they must be practiced regularly in order to bestow their blessings onto you.  That requires you to value the teachings and commit to your practice one hundred percent.  So if you must, please imagine you have paid me all your savings for access to this website and now believing that, approach the teachings and programs you find here. 

There is nothing in this world that compares to meditation.  There is nothing even remotely as valuable.  Meditation is the light that will make you realize you are everything, what more do you need?

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16 replies
  1. Anmol Mehta
    Anmol Mehta says:

    Dear Jasmyne,

    Great to hear you are relishing Mastery of Meditation & Yoga. Thanks for your feedback as well, and for adding your insightful comments to this discussion.

    Great to have you amongst us :-D.

    Best,
    Anmol

    Reply
  2. jasmyne
    jasmyne says:

    This was a very interesting read. I do hope that everyone takes it to heart. It is so important! I have been practicing yoga and meditation for several years now, but I live in a rural, southern area. I have never had the opportunity to have a teacher before. So, when I stumbled upon this site last week I was …just…lost in wonderland! I am so thankful for this chance to learn from others who have walked before me and to have a community! I am really enjoying every single article, and I love reading all of the comments and responses, too! I’ve decided to just start at the very beginning and enjoy every second of guidance and discovery. This really is just a PRICELESS opportunity. Thank-you!!!

    Reply
  3. ed
    ed says:

    in our commercialized world many do think and follow the motto – “you get what you paid for” and thus value more those items or services that they pay for. many times, people also use it as a means to gain power – “I paid for it, hence I can complain if it doesn’t work or if it’s defective.”

    I see this as our ego’s attachment to materialism. not many will see great value in something they got for free…I believe that those who are on the path of spiritual enlightenment will greatly cherish more those things or items or knowledge that they received for free.

    As I traverse the path of enlightenment, I believe that my self would have greater appreciation for those given and obtained for free as opposed to those given or obtained at a material cost. as my true self slowly arises and my ego slowly diminishes.

    just the ramblings of a seeking mind slowly traversing the path of spirituality.

    Reply
  4. Sinduja
    Sinduja says:

    It is not the price of something that makes us consider it with seriousness but the worth of it that we judge. It is true that most of the time, we judge the worth from the price because there are very few other parameters. The more expensive it is, the more valuable we acknowledge it to be. However, those are for things we have not used yet. When one browses through this website, one immediately realizes the value and richness of it. And it being free only adds to its worth. Hence, such a mindset would never arise here!

    Reply
  5. Petrus Chang
    Petrus Chang says:

    Hi, Anmol. Your on-line ashram is great. I don’t have any money(yet:)), but I value the teachings I find here, and I know that these ancient teachings are far beyond any dollar signs we can put on it. As far as them being “free”? Well, thousands of focused people over thousands of years made sacrifices to discover,learn, refine, and perfect the knowledge you’ve put into this website. And you’re making sacrifices too by transferring your knowledge and keeping this website the way it is. I’m sure the those who are seeking will know it’s true value. Thanks, Anmol.

    Reply
  6. Anmol Mehta
    Anmol Mehta says:

    Hi Everyone,

    The point that I am trying to discuss in this article has to do with whether or not people value that which is free, as much as they value that which they pay for. I knew there was potential for people misunderstanding the nature of this article, which although I tried to avoid, I seem to not have done a good enough job of :-D.

    I am not looking for gratitude, etc, I am actually interested in insuring that those who visit get the most out of the material here and not take it lightly simply because it did not cost them anything. This is because I feel to gain from yoga and meditation you need to as TZ pointed out persevere for a while.

    Hope this helps to clarify what I am trying to dig into.

    Cheers All,
    Anmol

    Reply
  7. TZ
    TZ says:

    IMHO, money isn’t the factor, effort is, and money can be seen as something equal to the effort you gave for earning it. BTW, wanting to go faster on the path by putting more efforts at the begining is the best way to give up fast. Perseverance is the key to success.

    I think you make some valid and interesting points.

    Reply
  8. Anmol Mehta
    Anmol Mehta says:

    Hi Alex,

    I think it is probably fair to say that genuine teachers would not like to see money be a factor in limiting the transfer of such knowledge to others. They often devise creative methods for this exchange to take place, if money is a limiting factor :-D.

    Thanks for your thoughts.

    Cheers,
    Anmol

    Reply
  9. Anmol Mehta
    Anmol Mehta says:

    Hi Robert,

    Interesting you say that those who pay, value it more. That is exactly the line of thinking I am exploring.

    Just so no one misunderstands. I am not against charging money for teaching yoga and meditation. In fact, an exchange of energy, whether that be in the form of money, or some other method, I feel is a very important part of this process. More on this in the near future :-).

    In this article I am just weighing in on the idea that does teaching it for free, reduce it’s value psychologically as you have pointed out.

    Thanks for adding to the discussion.

    Best,
    Anmol

    Reply
  10. Anmol Mehta
    Anmol Mehta says:

    Hi Priya,

    Yes this is certainly an interesting topic. Commercialization of Yoga. I am sure there will be lots more discussion regarding there here on the blog. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    Best,
    Anmol

    Reply
  11. axel g
    axel g says:

    Those are valid points!

    I suppose the key here is that genuine teachers want to offer their wisdom at no cost in line with age-old traditions.

    In this day and age, it would certainly be of great benefit to value even what’s offered for free online +_+

    Reply
  12. Robert Morgen
    Robert Morgen says:

    Couple of thoughts here;
    I discovered when I started teaching meditation and kundalini awakening that those who pay for the class value it more. It’s a completely subconscious mindset on the part of the student.

    Also, we as teachers and healers are here in this time period partly because money IS an important method of exchange and so many of us have such bad attitudes about money.

    Remember that money is ENERGY. You can’t open yourself up to universal energy while deploring the use of part of that energy. A big part of dealing with money in our practice is learning to give and to receive,

    R:)

    Reply
  13. Priya
    Priya says:

    I really enjoyed this article as I regularly go to Yog Sadhan Ashram in Chicago, which is much like the ashram you described above. The ashram was founded almost 100 years ago in India, and has never charged money but instead teachs yoga to everyone regardless of income, religion, etc. The ashram in the US operates with the same philosophy of yoga for everyone, and I very much appreciate the mission and the community build around it. I am often bothered by the commericialization of yoga in the west. I agree that sometimes money helps people value things, but I also think the money attached to yoga changes the motivation, intention and approach yoga teachers take. This isn’t true for everyone, but I have been to many yoga studios and taken classes with many teachers who don’t have that same light around them, that same feeling of wanting to give, serve and help anyone regardless of what they can offer in return. This discussion is so interesting to me, and I’m glad to see someone else thinking about it.

    Reply
  14. michael
    michael says:

    it is about a year now that i am an ardent follower of your meditation techniques. i want to thankfully acknowledge that i have found a lot of tips that helped me on this journey and have benefited tremendously. so please keep up the good work!

    Reply

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