Planet Soul

I’ve Been Meditating for 48 Years

I’ve learned an incredible amount about myself and the world around me

Don Johnson
Human Parts
Published in
10 min readApr 10, 2020

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A watercolor abstract illustration of a man swimming through multicolored clouds/space.
Illustration: Benjavisa/Getty Images

In the fall of 1972, I was beginning my last year in college. The Watergate scandal was unfolding. The war in Vietnam was beginning to wind down, but unrest and turmoil still plagued college campuses across the country — and plenty of people were smoking weed and washing psychedelics down with cheap wine.

I was done with psychedelics and weed. I wanted to believe in something more but had no idea what that was or how to find it. When I wasn’t rebelling against some form of authority — parents, university leaders, police, the government, big business — I wanted to see a more peaceful world, and that meant finding an inner truth, a higher truth, a truth I didn’t see around me.

The summer before my final semester, I learned about a young Indian boy, a teacher, who was revealing some sort of inner truth. I felt an awakening deep within me, a recognition of something familiar, a touch of déjà vu. I wanted whatever this young teacher had to offer.

Within a few months, I was sitting cross-legged in a cramped attic in Columbus, Ohio, with 30 other hippies and seekers listening to a bald, middle-aged Indian guy in flowing saffron robes. He was a follower of the teacher, a mahatma (“great soul”). I was mesmerized and learned about Guru Maharaji, whose birth name was Prem Rawat.

After another evening, I was selected to return and receive the “knowledge.” I was taught four techniques of meditation. The session drew to a close, and his parting words were these: “Try it. If you like it, continue. If you don’t like it, then don’t do it.”

I thought to myself, “Cool. That works.”

The next day, I sat down to meditate, closing my eyes and going within. There are many types of meditation. Some use mantras, visualization, and points of focus within the body. The meditation I learned is called raj yoga (“royal union”). The four techniques — ancient practices going back hundreds of years — help take our outwardly focused awareness and turn it inward.

After about 30 minutes, I started to sink into a calm, alert, relaxed place. My breathing was deep and…

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Don Johnson
Human Parts

Author | Meditation Teacher | Advocate for Kindness, Respect & Freedom | Human Potential Coach | Connect with me here: www.bemoreconscious.com