How to Participate in Online Meditations and Study Groups

Prepare Your Environment

Find a quiet place that you can meditate for the duration of the service. The room you use should be free from significant noise or visual distractions. Your background should preferably be uncluttered and simple. As with any SRF service, please wear comfortable and conservative clothing.

Choose a Device with Reliable Internet Connection

You can use any computer (PC or Mac), tablet, or smartphone (iOS or Android) that has a reliable internet connection. All other programs should be closed down on your device while you are participating in an online service.  Remember to plug your device into a power outlet so your battery will not be drained.

Download & Install Zoom

On a computer or laptop, go to: https://zoom.us/support/download to download Zoom. Follow your computer's prompts to install the Zoom download.
On a mobile device or tablet, go to the Apple App store or the Google Play store and search for "Zoom". Install ZOOM Cloud Meetings (zoom.us).

You do not need to create a Zoom account to access the online services.

Navigate to the SRF Online Meditation Center Calendar

The Zoom links for the daily meditation services can be found in the calendar event descriptions on our Calendar page. Click the service time you would like to attend (all services are listed in your local time) and then click on the blue Zoom link in the calendar window that opens. The Zoom application you just downloaded will automatically launch when you click the Zoom link, and you will enter the meditation.

You Will Be Automatically Muted

When you enter the meditation you will be automatically muted so there will be no noise disturbance to others, even if you enter the meditation late.

Choose "Join with Computer or Device Audio"

To hear the service audio choose the option to join with computer or device audio.

Choose "Turn Your Video On"

You will be able to see the leader and other participants, and you have the option of turning your own camera on, which you may find enhances the experience of group meditation in this digital format. Once you turn your video on you will be visible to the other participants.

Participate in the Meditation

Although you are muted throughout the duration of the meditation, participate in the meditation by repeating the prayers after the leader in call and response format, and chanting in unison as the leader plays the harmonium. We look forward to meditating with you online soon!

FAQ

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.

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 is a picture of the SRF Encinitas Temple altar.

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!