Forrest Knutson (also known as “That Yogi Guy”) is a meditation and yoga teacher with an active YouTube channel where he posts educational content, meditation, and yoga techniques. He has trained in the Kriya Yoga of Lahiri Mahasaya, and through videos and a book he shares a wide variety of content and information. Clay Hamilton interviewed Forrest in autumn 2019.
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Briefly describe yourself as a meditation teacher.
I teach Lahiri Mahasaya’s original system of kriya yoga, as passed through the Panchanan Bhattacharya line on a one-to-one basis. On YouTube I teach the anatomy of meditation, how to make your practice successful no matter your background or meditative / religious affiliation.
How did you first learn to meditate and why/how did you become a meditation teacher?
I grew up with meditative stories from my mother, as she read the Lobsang Rampa stories; and felt increasingly that this is what held the answers to life. The idea circulating at the time that we only used 10% of our neural capacity fascinated me, and I vowed to myself to find the answers. For some time I was disgusted with the meditation books I could get my hands on. Somehow I felt there must be a concrete technique that I could do that would produce results. All the “airy fairy” meditations I could find just didn’t seem to fit the bill. Until I found the book, “Autobiography of a Yogi” by Paramahansa Yogananda, first published in 1946.
What is the greatest benefit you personally get from meditation?
There are two primary types of bliss that may be experienced. The first is a somatic bliss that can be incredibly pleasurable. These are the Meditative Mellows, and they are quickly available to every meditator, as I teach them. The second bliss is much deeper and profound – the kind that will knock you right out of your chair. That bliss, when it comes, is so overwhelming, I have to let go of myself and totally surrender to it. As incredible as these two are, it is the experience of the Void, or the Non-Dual state which is most profound. It is that state which offers the Truth of it all.
What is your favorite meditation technique or form of practice?
The original Kriya Yoga of Lahiri Mahasaya, as preserved and passed down by the Sri Panchanan Bhattacharya line. It has been my life’s study and pursuit.
What do most students struggle with or get wrong?
Most think that they must grapple with the mind. But when the mind fights the mind, and one mind wins… you’re still stuck with your mind! And so the problem never finishes. If you use the body to quiet the mind, however, the process of silence is sped up dramatically.
How many times and how much time per day do you recommend students to meditate?
You have to grow yourself into it. Grow your love for it. If you become an authoritarian over yourself, it will become a burden, and you will be defeated in your mind before you even start. Start out with five minutes in the morning, and then again at night. Dusk and dawn are auspicious for the yogi, because of the increased melatonin produced in the body during those hours.
Describe your ideal meditation session (location, length, outcome, etc)
A quiet place is ideal. If one isn’t available, then earplugs are a great alternative. Forget meditating outside, the bugs will drive you nuts. Indoors is best, and you want to shut out all light in order to stimulate melatonin.
What advice do you give people who struggle to maintain a consistent practice?
I talk about starting with just five minutes. Let that be your bare minimum. Your Spiritual Survival point. So that no matter how crazy your life gets, you can keep that appointment with your own soulful desire.
What meditation books have you read and admired, re-read, or do you recommend to others (they can be directly or indirectly related to meditation)?
Too many to count! I’d like to recommend Dr. Iain McGilchrist and his books on the right hemisphere of the brain, such as “The Master and His Emissary” and “Ways of Attending”.
What books/courses/resources do you have available? What makes them special and how can they benefit a reader?
I’ve written one book so far, “Hacking the Universe”, which is available on Amazon.
I hope you’ll come join me on youtube.com/ForrestKnutson
Could you recommend some of your videos at YouTube in particular?
My two most important videos are:
How can readers get in contact with you or find out more?
You’re welcome to contact me through YouTube, or I’m on Twitter
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[This interview is an extract. You can see Forrest’s full interview, plus 29 more interviews, in the book How Do You Meditate? Interviews with 30 Meditation Teachers. Available from Amazon.]