The Time of the Ancestors


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Lesson 16

Pitṛpakṣa Practice Day 15: Meditate

Today’s suggested practice is the SINGLE most auspicious, beneficial, and powerful practice you can do in honor of your ancestors. (We’ve been saving it for the end!)

Can you guess what it is? Hint: It starts with an “m”, and we just told you what it was in the title!


Yes! The single greatest offering you can give to the sacred – who is Presence, Awareness, and Stillness – is to become one with those things inside yourself through meditation. Consciousness is the path that uplifts all beings. As you release your karmic cords, limited understanding, and reactive, unconscious behavior, it benefits everyone you are connected to or engage with, including the ancestors.

Now, for the more skeptical ones amongst you, you might be wondering how this is possible. Well, modern science is still catching up to this, but we now know that for the first few years of life, the brain is basically like a video camera, blankly recording everything it sees and experiences. This then becomes the basis of the subconscious, which controls over 90% of our everyday behavior.

So what this means is that if a certain behavioral pattern or belief system is in place, it can literally just get passed on generation to generation without anyone realizing that it’s there. The parents are unaware and the child is helpless. Then the child becomes a parent and remains unaware, and recreates the same behavioral pattern, and then his or her children are helpless to stop their own imprinting process. These deeply rooted reactive cycles of behavior passed on from generation to generation is what we call ancestral karma. So how do you change this?

It takes ONE person pausing action and becoming aware, at any stage of the game. The moment you can see a pattern, you can also see that it’s just one of many possibilities. And slowly you can start to direct your energy and attention towards transforming it. This is a cornerstone aspect of meditation practice.

What’s super-fascinating is that scientists are discovering that the only real way to return the brain to its original plasticity (i.e. the childlike state where the subconscious was being patterned) is very deep states of meditation! And this is what our tradition has already known for thousands of years – meditation is the greatest practice for transforming our ancestral karma!

If you already have an established meditation practice, we invite you to make time for a longer sit today. You can consciously dedicate your practice to your ancestors, as we have been doing, or you can meditate without a specific intention, and know that they will receive the blessings of your practice.

If you’re still building your practice, here are a few simple instructions for basic practice:

Find a quiet, clean space to sit.

Begin by invoking your teachers or deities if you know them; otherwise, ask your heart for blessings and guidance.

Close your eyes, and take a few moments to let your body breathe, slow down, and become present.

Now, for the remainder of your time, make the intention to listen to and observe whatever is happening and the many different voices and inner experiences with kindness and attention.

It’s as if you were your own friend or therapist – your only job is to listen. If you notice one voice or train of thought is taking up more space than the others, become aware of your breath. Inhale, exhale.

Without rejecting the “pushy” thought or feeling, just let your attention gently expand to include everything else. Don’t prioritize anything, focus on seeing what’s there without assessing it. Sometimes the quieter (or newer) thoughts and feelings get drowned out by the noise of our old habitual stuff, so stay soft and open to all the layers inside!

If you find yourself organically entering a space free from thoughts, that’s fine – enjoy it! 🙂 If not, that’s also normal and totally ok – remember that your only job is to see and listen. You do not have to come to any conclusion around the content of what you observed – in fact, it’s better if you don’t! It just is, so let it be, at least for now.

When you are finished, gently bring your attention back to your breath, and open your eyes, letting them slowly adjust to the light. Give yourself some time to transition, and if you like, you can journal a bit about your experience. Before getting up, offer your bows and gratitude to any of the teachers, deities, or ancestors you invoked at the beginning of practice.

If you have any questions, or want to share your experience, you can do so by emailing us at

Teacher: Shivani Hawkins

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