Ask Ananda’s Experts
Questions and Answers About Meditation, Yoga, the Spiritual Life, and More
Page 1 of 208 Next
How to Find Lasting Peace and Joy
Hello- Thank you for taking time out to answer my question. I feel like I have reached a point in life where I feel that suffering never ends. I feel I keep trying to control how other people act, think and react. How do I come to accept things the way they are and help change me? Is there a way to find that peace, that joy that is permanent and that which last? How and where do I begin in that search
Your question "How do I find lasting peace and joy?" is a universal one. Once we realize we cannot control others reactions to outward circumstances, we realize the only reactions we can ultimately control are our own. This sounds very simple and yet it’s not so easy to master. It is our destiny is to overcome delusion and yet we must be actively engaged in the process in each moment to realize the goal.
Do you meditate? Is there an Ananda center near you? I urge you to find one and to attend as many classes as possible in person or online. Read the Autobiography of a Yogi and The New Path (both free online). Take the Ananda Course in Self Realization and practice the meditation techniques daily. You will begin to experience more peace and joy bubbling from within yourself which is the only place you will ever truly find it.
You have an opportunity before you to find everlasting peace and joy. Now it’s up to you to follow through to the end until you achieve endless bliss!
God bless you in your efforts.
Losing Faith After My Mother's Death
Hello, I believed in God all my life, until my mother died recently. On her deathbed, she said, "Lord Rama is standing with His big bow, but He cant kill my cancer cells." Now, I have suddenly begun to think this whole religion, karma and rebirth was created by a few wise souls who wanted righteousness to prevail on this earth. Birth/death/disease is completely random and part of human evolution, basically the survival of the fittest and God is merely faith. Any advise?
I am sorry for your loss and your feelings are completely understandable.
Life on earth would be unbearable if we did not believe we could improve our health and our circumstances by self-effort. The truth of the law of action and the consequences of action is "hard-wired" and proven by the laws of nature and the usefulness of science and medicine. Why, then, do we doubt this law of karma when it comes to the world of the unseen? Why doubt prayer, faith, reincarnation, and past lives?
If you mother truly perceived Lord Rama on her deathbed, that alone would be cause for hope. Every human body must die sometime. Do not lose faith over that which is inevitable to all of us but the causes for which we cannot yet see. When Arjuna grieved at the upcoming death of kinsmen in the battle of Kurukshetra (in the Mahabharata/Bhagavad Gita), Krishna gently chided him for his shortsightedness in forgetting that the soul is eternal and can never die.
Righteousness does NOT prevail on this earth in one lifetime but in "heaven": meaning in and through the law of karma, whether in this life or future lives. Think of the billions of galaxies, billions of human beings, thousands of years of human existence on this one planet alone! Just as there is a thread of continuity in nature through birth and death of succeeding generations of species, so why not can there be continuity in the thread of our individuality through multiple lives? Since time immemorial in East and West, it has been taught that the soul survives the death of the physical body!
Be hopeful. Be grateful for the love and the life of your mother. She is with you now, in your heart, your mind, and your thoughts. You simply can’t see her in the same way now.
"Survival of the fittest" doesn’t apply to the physical form which dies eventually, but to those who live with faith, hope and charity in faith and the knowing that we, as souls, are immortal and are children of God. Pierce the veil of maya and see in your love for your mother not only her living presence but that of God, the Supreme Spirit who is LOVE and LIFE in all beings.
May the Light of Truth and the Sunshine of Divine Love guide your heart to its rest in Him!
Leaving Someone Without Abandoning Them
Hi, I really hope you can help me figure out this dilemma. My mother is mentally ill and she has an extremely negative influence on me. She has no friends and my dad, my brother and me are the only family she has in Australia. Due to her condition she is the source of conflict in our family.
Is it correct to remove myself from her life to seek a more harmonious environment? Even if she ends up alone, experiencing unimaginable suffering?
Any advice would be appreciated. Thank you so much.
I certainly do appreciate that this is a difficult situation for you. What comes to my mind first is, do you feel you are doing your mother any good by being physically present with her? This may seem like a strange question, but do think about it seriously. If being in her presence has “an extremely negative influence” on you, as you have written, then I would doubt that this is the case.
In such an intense situation – the negativity you experience, and the fact that she is your mother – I would think that it is best to remove yourself from it. This may seem heartless in one way. But at the same time, I would also suggest that you not abandon her. I think you should put a lot of effort into understanding healing prayers done at a distance, and how to do them effectively. Then every day set aside time after your meditations to pray deeply for her. If done correctly and regularly, your prayers will have a much more healing effect on her than your physical presence. Here is the link for healing prayer on Ananda’s website. There is a 10-minute video on the right side of the screen for doing Healing Prayers at a distance.
Your mother is already experiencing suffering, whether you are with her or not, so I wouldn’t put too much emphasis on this. The karmic ties between people can be very deep, so it’s good to recognize them and to try to do something about them, especially when they are very negative.
I hope these suggestions and information will be helpful to you.
In divine friendship,
Tips for Staying Awake During Meditation
I would like to ask if there are any tips you can suggest to keep myself awake during morning meditation.
In my case, I wake up, cleanse my face and mouth in the morning, sit to meditate but at times feel so drowsy that I’ve to shorten the meditation or at times i fall asleep while meditating. I feel that if you can suggest tips of staying awake, I will be able to meditate on the duration i set myself on.
There are things that you can do to help you stay awake during your morning meditation.
Paramhansa Yogananda created a set of 39 simple exercises which are called The Energization Exercises. He recommended to practice them before sitting for meditation. These exercises will recharge your body with energy, help focus your mind and fill your soul with joy.
(You can purchase the Energization Exercises DVD here. If you have an iPhone, you may also find the Energization Exercises app very helpful.)
So after you wash up in the morning, practice these exercises, then sit to meditate. Make sure that your meditation room has good air circulation and that the temperature in the room is on the cool side. You can wrap yourself with a shawl to stay warm. Here are a few breathing techniques you can use before meditation—start with them you meditate.
Once you learn the Energization Exercises, it will take you 12–15 minutes to practice them, and you will be awake and ready for your morning meditation.
Blessings on your practice,
I'm Seeing Symbols; What Do They Mean?
Greetings of joy! ive been seeing a lot of astral symbols and I don’t always know the meaning. ive learned the meaning of some and im eager to know more. these astral symbols appear before my awareness bright with a similarity close to caricatures on a monopoly board. I know these symbols are meant to guide me and affirm whats going on with my consciousness at the time. Also I see numbers and Id like to know the meaning. please inform me of any informational resources. Thanks. Joseph
Thank you for your greetings and joy to you also! Are these symbols and numbers coming to you as a part of your meditations? If so, then they are probably gifts to you from God to encourage you to go yet deeper into your meditative life.
As to their exact meaning, it would be hard to say unless I could know exactly what they looked like. If you want to e-mail me personally being more specific, I will try to answer back more specifically. You can write to email@example.com.
But in general, it is probably best for you to pray to God/Guru to be given the answers to your questions about symbols and numbers. They are being given to you personally and thus, their meanings should be give to you personally also, from the Divine Source where they came from, if at all possible.
They best way to do this is to pray deeply at the beginning of your meditation, that the answers to your questions will be revealed to you. Then set aside the questions and go ahead with your regular meditation practice calming your breath and mind.
Try not to think of these things, but meditate with peaceful assurance that your questions will be answered in the right time. At the close of your meditation, ask again and sit quietly to see if it is revealed to you. If it doesn’t happen immediately, then go on with your life and have faith that the answers will eventually be offered to you at your next meditation or at some later time.
Often answers come to us in very unexpected ways and at unexpected times, especially when we sincerely pray for divine guidance.
I Saw an Oval Shadow in Meditation
today I was trying to meditate (it must be the 4th or 5th time I try to do it in my life) and something intrigued me: during the meditation I saw an oval shadow and thought of the word 'oblongata'.
I googled it afterwards and saw what it was. I heard about it once but never thought of it again.
with your experience, could you help me in understanding if it was some kind of message or if it was just a subconsious suggestion? it brought me mixed feelings
thank you very much
Dear S in Portugal,
When we meditate, many things can appear to us. Some are important and some or not. Some are messages from our higher Selves or God and some are just the meanderings of the subconscious or conscious minds. To determine the difference is not always easy, but we can try.
First, I would encourage you to keep meditating regularly, every day! If you don’t know how to meditate, then learn the techniques of meditation which will help you keep up a steady practice. We can help you with this.
Then at the beginning of the next meditation, pray that if this shape is to have a special meaning for you, then the meaning will be revealed to you at the close of your meditation or at some later time.
The word oblongata has a special place in Yogananda’s teachings — it refers to the medulla oblongata or as Yogananda calls it, the "mouth of God." It is where prana or life-force enters the body and is very important as a part of the techniques of meditations from his path of Kriya Yoga. Perhaps this is a sign to you that this is your path to follow. It is a very good path, indeed!
You Are What You Think
I have been told several times that our body face and overall physical appearance is a manifestation of our thoughts. The shape of our eyes, nose, forehead, lips, smile, limbs, palms, fingers, texture of our hair.... all tell us the thoughts we have harboured for years. Is it true? Is there any science to study the character of a person from his appearance.
Current discoveries in science and the ancient teachings of the sages both tell us that our every thought, our every feeling, affects our body. Every thought or feeling we have sets in motion a cascade of physiological events. With a single thought, neuropeptides, the body’s chemical messengers, are sent to billions, even trillions, of our body’s cells instructing the cells to produce proteins. Those proteins can set in motion even more physiological events such as turning on or turning off genes, stimulating or subduing he body’s metabolism, or triggering the stress response.
The ancient sages simply say that our consciousness manifests the body every moment. As our consciousness changes so does our body.
Over time our habitual thoughts and feelings etch themselves into the appearance of our body. Various systems have been developed to "read" what is etched in our body. The lines on your palms, the colors in the iris, the shape of your ear, your feet, and more, all tell a story to one who has been trained. But you don’t have to be trained in one of these sciences to read what is etched in the body. Just look at a person and you can “read” them by their posture, their walk, the way the carry their body, the expression on their face when they think no one is looking. A habitually positive person will be looking up, spine erect, with an energetic walk and a smile on their face. A habitually sad person will be looking down, body slumped, with a plodding walk, and a blank look or a frown on their face.
To the sensitive, every aspect of a person has a story to tell!
Puru (Joseph) Selbie
In the past the Ananda Experts have answered questions about the spiritual view of donating organs. But what about blood, stem cell, and bone marrow donations? Have either Paramhansa Yogananda or Swami Kriyananda ever commented on that? Is it spiritually right? Is there a spiritual difference between donating organs and donating blood, stem cells or bone marrow? (A family member was saved by a stem cell donation and many people I know regularly donate their blood and so I wonder... ) Thank you very much
I don’t remember Paramhansa Yogananda commenting on these things but it seems fine for devotees to offer blood, stem cell, or bone marrow donations. These are done while one is still living. The issue with devotees donating organs at the end of life has to do with the impact on the soul leaving the physical body.
In divine friendship,
- Guru-Disciple Relationship
- Health and Healing
- Karma, Reincarnation
- Kriya Yoga
- Paramhansa Yogananda
- Science and Yoga
- Spiritual Community
- Spiritual Parenting
- Spiritual Path
- Swami Kriyananda
- The Arts
- The Yugas
- Yoga Postures