How to Participate in Online Meditations and Study Groups
Zoom is the name of the video-conferencing software we’re using. Instructions for installing it on your device are given below.
To download on your computer go to https://zoom.us/support/download.
To install on a tablet or mobile device go to the App Store (iOS) or Google Play store (Android) and search for “zoom”. Install ZOOM Cloud Meetings.
Zoom is easy to use but if you’ve never used it before and want to know more, Zoom offers a number of video tutorials and other support on their Getting Started page.
It is not necessary to sign up for a Zoom account to join an online service, but we do recommend it. A basic account is free and will allow you to make some customizations such as how your name will appear on-screen to others. (We ask that you not rename yourself to anything other than your name and/or location.)
Although free accounts indicate there is a 40-minute session limit, you will be able to stay for the entire duration of our services since the Online Meditation Center is hosting the session.
This is mostly a matter of personal preference and what you have available. Zoom can be installed on a PC, Mac, or iOS/Android smartphone, or tablet. A recent PC or Mac with a good internet connection will likely provide the best video and audio experience. But if you prefer to join by smartphone or tablet that’s fine too.
Note: to avoid feedback, please join a meditation with only one computer or device.
When joining a service you will need to choose an option on how to receive audio, otherwise you won’t hear the audio at all. Your options are: “Call via device audio” or “call in”. Generally you’ll want to choose “Call via device audio” this will use your internet connection or data. The “Dial in” option would be if you want to call in via your phone line. If you choose that option Zoom will give you a phone number to call in order to hear the audio. This could be used if for some reason you don’t have an internet connection and would want to use your phone line instead. However, as we mentioned, “Call via device audio” is the recommended option.
Using the computer screen as the sole source of light is not ideal. Your room should be fairly well lit so others can see you. Uniform lighting on your face and upper body is best. An overhead light and desk lamp should be adequate if there is insufficient natural light during the meditation. If you are relying on natural light and the sun will be setting during the meditation, you may want to have an interior light on as well so you don’t disappear into the darkness. Being too close to a bright window can cause glare.
In addition to lighting considerations, choose a room or location in your home with a background that will be appropriate for an online meditation. This need not be your regular meditation room, but if possible, it should be free from significant noise or visual distractions to other attendees. Try to avoid areas that will have movement in the background such as whirling fans, or people, pets, or traffic passing behind you.
In general, we encourage you to leave your camera on to facilitate the experience of having a group meditation, but of course you may also turn your video off.
All participants are automatically muted during the online meditations so there will be no noise disturbances to other participants.
Joining an online service late is different than at a Temple or group: there is no disturbance to other participants when you enter the Zoom meeting, so you are welcome to join an online service at any time, even if it is after the service has started. Of course we encourage you to join on time if you are able, but this is not a barrier to attending online services – it is absolutely fine to attend whatever portion of services you are able.
If you would like a video preview box to show up before you enter the online services, there is an option in your Zoom settings called “Always Show Video preview”. If this is checked on, then every time you enter a meeting, a video preview box will open and give you the choice to turn your video on or off before you enter the meeting. Additionally, you can also turn on the option in your Zoom settings: “Always turn my video off”. This means you will always enter the meeting with your video off.
It is absolutely fine to join one of the online services together with your husband/wife/friend/family using the same device and Zoom account when you are meditating in the same room together.
Please dress conservatively and appropriately for meditations. Dress code for online meditations is the same as when you attend a group or temple service at a physical location. Please treat these sessions with the same respect and reverence.
Our one hour online meditation begins with group practice of the Energization Exercises, an opening prayer, a chant, a period of silent meditation, and concludes with Paramahansa Yogananda’s healing service and closing prayer.
Yes! Please have a copy of the scripture being studied with you and you will be able to participate as a reader. The service leader will explain how to “raise your hand” on Zoom and you will then be assigned a reader number. The leader will then call your reader number when it is your turn to read and the online usher will unmute you.
You can find the scripture volume being studied by referencing the Calendar of Services.
It is absolutely fine to attend whatever portion of services you are able. If you can only join for the first hour of meditation, or only for the second half for the scriptural study portion of the service, you are welcome to leave early or join late.
The altar pictures you see while participating in an online meditation are from the SRF Encinitas Temple or the SRF Lake Shrine Temple.
We will continue to add new service times to our calendar as quickly as we can while maintaining the quality of the services provided. We eagerly look forward to hearing from all participants about which times and services they would like to see on the schedule in the future, and additionally which services and times they can volunteer to help lead and support.
Wonderful! We’re so glad you would like to serve and help us pioneer the way for Master’s online services! Please email our Online Meditation Support Team at OnlineMeditationCenter@yoganandaseva.org for more information on volunteering with the Online Meditation Center. Jai Guru!
The Self-Realization Fellowship Online Meditation Center was designed, built, and is maintained through the generosity and kindness of Yogananda Seva, a devoted group of SRF lay members dedicated to supporting and assisting SRF International Headquarters through a variety of projects. The SRF Online Meditation Center is supported solely through donations to Yogananda Seva. We invite you to contribute to the SRF Online Meditation Center on our Donate page.