Meditation Garden

Meditation Garden at Graceland

Elvis Presley’s creativity was certainly evident in his music: in his vocal presentation, his performance on stage, and in every aspect of his career.  But his creativity went beyond that arena; it was infused into every element of his life, whether it was his unique manner of dress or his very personal philosophy of life.

Elvis embarked on a lifelong quest for meaning and enlightenment, far from his world of the glittering lights of show business and the trappings of fame and fortune.  He drew upon diverse sources for inspiration and guidance, his inner being finding comfort and refuge in the world’s great Wisdom Teachings.  His growing need to be close to and understand the nature of God and his own place in God’s universe was paramount.

One of the sources Elvis turned to was the spiritual classic Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda.  These teachings spoke to him in a very personal way, and he asked me to bring him to the world famous Lake Shrine that Yogananda had founded, not far from Elvis’ home in Bel Air, California.

Perched in a small ravine near where Sunset Boulevard meets the Pacific Coast, the chapel grounds  meticulously cared for by the monks is a natural wonder to behold. Its lush gardens and natural spring-fed lake are home to a variety of flora and fauna including white swans, ducks, koi, and lotus flowers. It has rushing waterfalls, fountains, colorful flower beds, inspirational statues, lacy fern grottoes, lily ponds, and even a picturesque old Dutch windmill that serves as a chapel. The grounds include a Court of Religions honoring the five principal religions of the world; the Mahatma Gandhi World Peace Memorial, where a portion of Gandhi’s ashes is enshrined; a small museum with exhibits on Paramahansa Yogananda’s work; and a gift shop with arts and crafts from India.

Elvis loved to walk around the lake and meditate in this oasis in the midst of his fishbowl life. As he walked toward the chapel on that first visit to the Lake Shrine, some visitors passed him on the path and looked up in recognition. They nodded a silent hello, smiled, and kept on walking. Elvis was impressed by this respect for his privacy. “Perfect,” he told me. “This is exactly the way I thought it would be.”

Several weeks after that first visit to the Lake Shrine, we drove back to Memphis for a few months of relaxation after completing filming of Elvis’ latest movie.  One afternoon at Graceland while we were strolling around the grounds, Elvis pointed to an area and said softly, “Larry, I want to have a meditation garden, right here, just like the one at the Lake Shrine. We can come out here; you know, just kick back, relax or even meditate if we want to. I’ve always loved this part of Graceland, especially by that wishing well over there.  There’s just something special about it here, it feels right.”

Elvis always got what he wanted, and the Meditation Garden at Graceland came into being.  His spirit felt at home there, just as at the Lake Shrine – and now he rests in that special place that felt so right to him.

About Larry Geller

Before becoming Elvis Presley's personal hairstylist, spiritual mentor and confidant in 1964, I worked with the famed Jay Sebring in the very first men's hair styling salon. Our clientele read like a Hollywood Who's Who: Frank Sinatra, Paul Newman, Marlon Brando, Steve McQueen, Peter Sellers, Rock Hudson and many more. The last time I did Elvis' hair was for his funeral in August of 1977.
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9 Responses to Meditation Garden

  1. jimmy jansen says:

    Dear Larry Geller,
    I have a qeustion for you,I always love Elvis,he was a star,but I believe also he was a great person with a good heart,I,ve been to Memphis many times,but when you come there,it,s all marketing,I stood up early in the Morning and always went to elvi,s grave in the early Morning and brought flowers,the thing i want to ask you maybe you can give me some advice?my daughter sandra is with a boyfriend from marocco,she wants to become muslim,i,m worried,i,m not a rasist,never,i really don,t know how to react,i understand the question is also suddenly,when i was in usa i went to forrest hill cemetary,the sun was shining,i was there where elvis was,and then i went to the back of the mausoleum where bill black is,everything was so peacefull,also went to the Place were elvis mother first was,my question to you is what is religion what,s the right one?i don,t know,and who is the judge to say wich one is the right one?
    as i walked inside the mausoleum forrest hill,it gave me a peaceful feeling ,and i serieusly believe there is more than what we live on this planet,i also think you were
    very important to elvis,as a good friend,he could talk to,all the best for you i hope i here something,gr jimmy.

  2. Lynette Rodgers says:

    Larry, Larry, Larry, How are you doing? How wonderful for you to have walked next to Elvis Presley and perform as his hairdresser. I read everyday on Elvis and probably know more than the average fan. I love the fact that he always said he was not the king Jesus Christ was. He was a deep thinker. Had a lot of unanswered questions about life. I am a deep thinker, however I am surrounded by a lot of shallow people which is hard sometimes when you need to talk. You my dear Larry were blessed in this life to have walked and talked to the greatest entertainer of our times. I truly love your stories about Elvis. Whatever you do…do it good….Always thinkin of you Larry….Lynette

  3. Linda says:

    I too believe in One God but many names, we were each taught to worship in different ways…My favorite class back in high school was senior year religion, a comparative religion course of the (as I liked to call them back then) the big three Judeo/Christian and Muslim…what I remember the most after 42 years have passed, is not our differences but our similarities, also how it was taught…Like a history lesson, because after all isn’t the beginning of religion any religion history…

  4. Anne says:

    If im wrong then sorry, i only know what i can read from you ho know Elvis and i do trust your Writing no one elses.
    Elvis was looking for answers ho could make sense, looking for some answers about Death and after that, remember he lost his Life well a pice of it when Gladys died, i think he whanted to know where was she? what happend after Death, i only think this didnt hear him say that ofcourse, ( but many thing was focus on thought on Gladys i think ) Anne.

  5. yaso says:

    Thank you Mr Larry for your blog, i wanna ask you something, i know that Elvis liked to read about many different religions, did he read about Islam?? and if he did what was his thoughts or opinion ?

    • Larry Geller says:

      Elvis accepted all the great world religions and was universal in his thinking. He believed in one God.

      • Veronica Gheorghe says:

        I didn’t know much about him but all the things you wrote, brought me many tears… I hope he believed in the everlasting One. Not every religion reconises Jesus Christ as son of God, He is THE SAVIOUR and without Him , everything, every religion is useless and vain.

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