Understand What is Meditation

driving car

I like to explain meditation comparing it with simple things in life. Imagine that you want to be in a place of peace, calmness, joy, love, wisdom, acceptance, empowerment, balance, clarity, hope, and all the good qualities to feel content. Meditation is the vehicle to bring you to this place. When you are using meditation techniques you are driving this vehicle. It means that while you are doing breathing exercises, using mantras or visualizations, you are conducting your meditation in that direction.

How do I know that I got there? When you feel part of that place of peace, calmness, joy, love or wisdom you will automatically stop practicing the techniques and enjoy stillness. It means that you arrived at your destination.

What if I don’t feel any of these aspects of contentment? Keep driving. Keep practicing meditation. The place of contentment can have different distances for each one of us. Some people need to drive for days and others for months. You will find the distance for you along the way and according to how you are driving. Anyway, you will be able to get a taste of this place each time that you meditate, you will be closer and closer.

By Ester Castruita, founder and teacher at Dharana Star – Meditation, Inner Self Workout, and Expressive Arts Therapy. www.dharanastar.com

Pink Floyd: My First Meditation Experience

I still remember my first experience with meditation. I was about 17 years old and I knew nothing about it. The walls in my room were covered by posters of Led Zeppelin, Ramones, Guns n’ Roses, Metallica, Nirvana… and I just felt a strong desire for sitting up in a weird position with my legs crossed listening Pink Floyd! That was my “transcendental” meditation, with guitars solos and cosmic drums. Two years later I was finishing the book Autobiography of a Yogi, by Paramahansa Yogananda, and discovering a whole new world called yoga.

I started visiting group meditations at Self-Realization Fellowship in São Paulo (Brazil) and after that my meditations started to make sense. I understood that I needed techniques and discipline. So, I decided to meditate every morning. The first day of my new journey I sat on my bed with my feet on the floor, looked at the clock and thought that I should start with 10 min at least. After being in meditation for a while I opened my eyes and realized that I had done just 3 min! Sometimes minutes can be an eternity and I have to confess, I wasn’t good with the discipline part of it but I never gave it up. Few weeks later I was able to concentrate very well and my focus was no longer the duration of my meditation but how deep I could go within.

I can say that meditation is the most important habit in my routine and the most important tool in my life. Choices in my profession, health issues, family decisions, marriage…all the challenges that I went trough in the last 15 years were faced with meditation. And now I know that closing my eyes and fixing them on the point between the eyebrows can take me to a better place, no matter what! It’s simple, I just need to make the effort.

Ester Castruita, founder and teacher of Dharana Star – Meditation, Inner Self Workout, and Expressive Arts Therapy. www.dharanastar.com

pink floyd Pink Floyd Live Video – Hey You

Spotlight: Dharana Star on San Diego News

One for the ages: New company offering free meditation classes

The negative health effects of stress, worry, fear and anxiety have for many years concerned modern society. Many say this is the fastest paced, most stressed period that humanity has ever experienced and that a spinning mind means spiraling health!

Chromosome sequencing is directly related to aging and becomes shorter over time, which affects the cells’ ability to divide. A stressful event speeds this process up immensely. Many new studies now focus on ways to protect sequencing from the effects of stress; trials suggest that exercise, eating healthfully and social support help. But one of the most effective interventions, apparently capable of slowing this sequential erosion — and perhaps even lengthening them again — is meditation.

“Every stress,” noted holistic physician Deepak Chopra states, “leaves an indelible scar, and the organism pays for its survival after a stressful situation by becoming a little older.” His research with UCSD showed that four days of meditation practice led to an increase of 40 percent in telomerase, an enzyme that helps to slow the aging process.

According to Ester Castruita, founder of new La Jolla company Dharana Star, a new and local wellness company, this is where meditation excels.

“Everyone from scientists to athletes and celebrities,” she says, “are using meditation as a means of getting focused and centered on more positive, empowering thought patterns. Some have used meditation to help with everything from stress management, headaches and respiratory problems to cancer and coping with death.”

People who meditate just five to ten minutes a day and find a quiet place have shown to quickly achieve health benefits such as stress relief, slower heart rates, lower blood pressure, reduced oxygen consumption and lower lactic acid levels. It is seen as a crucial tool in treating mental illnesses such as depression and stress while it has also been shown to boost functionality of the immune system.

Dharana Star focuses on self-awareness and self-improvement, utilizing meditation techniques that bring serenity, peace and more happiness in daily lives. Ester Castruita teaches meditation classes for the company in La Jolla and throughout Southern California. Dharana Star, also offers live meditation online, meditation programs for corporations and the unique Inner Self Workout, which mixes neuroscience, psychology and meditation techniques to increase happiness level.

Ester is holding free meditation classes for beginners. She says everyone is welcome to participate and invites our community to visit her website for the schedule, location and RSVP at www.dharanastar.com.

Read more: San Diego Community News Group – One for the ages New company offering free meditation classes


Meditation Made Easy – Part I

I always find people saying that meditation is not for them because their minds don’t stop, they are to busy or that it is too complicated.  Meditation is not difficult and most of the techniques are very simple.  Like the athlete needs to practice, the same is with the meditator.  So, think that meditation is your new sport and you will practice until you get good!  Anything worthwhile takes effort and mediation will change your life.

Step by step:

1.    What is meditation? A practice of introspection.

2.    Goal: to experience a higher level of consciousness feeling peace, happiness, love and power.

3.    Where? Find a quiet place.

4.    How long? First 7 days start with 5 min. Increase the time according to your development.

5.    How to meditate? Follow the posture and technique below.

Meditation posture

Peace technique:

1. Seat in meditation posture.

2. Mentally say peace and visualize each part of your body surrounded by a big ball of light (Note: one part of the body at a time): feet, knees, lower back, belly, heart, throat, third eye (midpoint between the eyebrows). Repeat it 5 times.

3. Concentrate in your third eye, visualize a ball of light and mentally say peace until you feel peace.

4. When finished just contemplate peace and enjoy being still.

technique peace

Written by Ester Castruita – Founder & Teacher of Dharana Star. www.dharanastar.com

Neuroscience – How spirituality can improve your brain health?

brain light

In a recent survey, 95% of American physicians said that spirituality is important to the well-being of their patients.

What is spirituality?  You can have your own concept. Read the different definitions published by The Ohio State University website and create yours:

1.    “The idea of a process or journey of self-discovery and of learning not only who you are, but who you want to be.

2.    The challenge of reaching beyond your current limits. This can include keeping an open mind, questioning current beliefs, or trying to better understand others’ beliefs.

3.    A connectedness to yourself and to others. Spirituality is personal, but it is also rooted in being connected with others and with the world around you. This connection can facilitate you finding “your place in the world.

4.    Meaning, purpose, and direction. Spirituality, while it doesn’t necessarily solve or reach conclusions, often embraces the concept of searching and moving forward in the direction of meaning, purpose, and direction for your life.

5.    A higher power, whether rooted in a religion, nature, or some kind of unknown essence.”

Scientific Benefits of Spirituality

Based on new evidence culled from their brain-scan studies on memory patients and meditators, their Web-based survey of people’s religious and spiritual experiences, and their analysis of adult drawings of God, neuroscientist Andrew Newberg, therapist Mark Robert Waldman, and their research team have concluded that active and positive spiritual belief changes the human brain for the better. What’s more, actual faith isn’t always necessary: atheists who meditate on positive imagery can obtain similar neurological benefits.

Neuroscience discoveries: 

  • Not only do prayer and spiritual practice reduce stress and anxiety, but just twelve minutes of meditation per day may slow down the aging process.
  • Contemplating a loving God rather than a punitive God reduces anxiety, depression, and stress and increases feelings of security, compassion, and love.
  • Fundamentalism, in and of itself, is benign and can be personally beneficial, but the anger and prejudice generated by extreme beliefs can permanently damage your brain.
  • Intense prayer and meditation permanently change numerous structures and functions in the brain – altering your values and the way you perceive reality.

Researchers found that meditation:

  • Influences the amygdala, a portion of the brain responsible for emotions and for memory.
  • Produce lasting changes in emotional processing in the brain.
  • Reduces loneliness among the elderly and improves the functioning of the immune system combating the increase in the activity of genes related to inflammation and diseases caused by the feeling of isolation.

How can I “practice” spirituality and improve my brain health?

1.    Create your own definition of spirituality and write down your spiritual goal.

2.    Have a spiritual plan. Make a list of small steps that you can do to reach your goal. It might include reading books, praying, doing meditation, choosing a spiritual path/church/philosophy/mentor, traveling, etc. Answer the question beside each step: When am I going to do it? Set up date and time.

Cultivate spiritual habits

  • Do meditation
  • Recognize your spiritual nature 
  • Cultivate good feelings 
  • Forgive
  • Being thankful
  • Find inner peace

Written by: Ester Castruita – Founder & Teacher of Dharana Star

Self-Control – How to create positive states of being?

projeção pensamento

We are in essence very positive and capable to be happy.  Our soul is full of potential. So, why do our minds carry non-productive thoughts and feelings? How do we change our state of being?

Part I – Understanding how it works

If you think about a lemon your mouth will start to salivate. Come on, try it for a few minutes. Your whole being will respond to that thought because you have connected yourself to the lemon. You have created a lemon state of being. It means that you connect yourself with the things that you think about, the bad and the good things. When you are watching bad news on TV or thinking about the hurt that was caused to you by someone, you are connecting yourself to that negative state. It’s all about connection! We need to change our connections. So, let’s work! Our focus here is in changing our inner attitude, the frequency of our thoughts, and the state of our minds to be better for ourselves. What I propose is that you can create the state of being that you want. If you are sad you can create a new state of joy or if you are anxious you can create a new state of calmness. You can pick the state of being that you want and throw away the negativity that anchors your true potential. I suggest here a very simple technique.

Part II – Action!

You can change your inner attitude connecting with things that are good for you like watching, listening and reading positive stuff. Look for what inspires you in a good way. If you need courage, read a comic book about heroes. If you need a quiet moment, do meditation. If you need joy, go to a playground or play with children. To elevate your energy you need positivity. Avoid bad news on TV, people who complain daily, sorrowful songs or environments that do not nurture you. Align yourself with what is productive for your happiness. Make better choices, make better connections!


Choose the state of being that you want and select positive texts that inspire you to feel that state. I have here an example based on creating a peaceful state of being. Read this affirmation about peace repeatedly until you feel peace or read it many times per day. The repetition makes you create short moments of connection with peace and it will change your state of being continuously. It’s simple, enjoy!


Peace flows through my heart, and blows through me as a zephyr.

Peace fills me like a fragrance.

Peace runs through me like rays.

Peace stabs the heart of noise and worries.

Peace burs through my disquietude.

Peace, like a globe of fire, expands and fills my omnipresence.

Peace, like an ocean, rolls on in all space.

Peace, like red blood, vitalizes the veins of my thoughts.

Peace, like a boundless aureole, encircles my body o infinity.

Peace-flames blow through the pores of my flesh, and through all space.

The perfume of peace flows over the gardens of blossoms.

The wine of peace runs perpetually through the winepress of all hearts.

Peace is the breath of stones, stars, and sages.

Peace is the ambrosial wine of Spirit flowing from the cask of silence,

Which I quaff with my countless mouths of atoms.

“Peace”, affirmation from the book Metaphysical Meditations written by Paramahansa Yogananda, master of Kriya Yoga.

Article by Ester Castruita, founder & teacher of Dharana Star