Ask Ananda’s Experts
Questions and Answers About Meditation, Yoga, the Spiritual Life, and More
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Where Should I Look While Meditating?
May 21, 2015
I have found it uncomfortable to look upward towards my spiritual eye while also concentrating on the Hong-Sau breath. Today I become confused as everything I had read had advised to look upward: Until I found This:
Should one concentrate on the breath and also at the point between the eyebrows
Not until the attention focuses itself naturally on the flow of breath at the beginning of the nose. To do so otherwise would constitute a division of concentration which would be self-defeating
You should lift your gaze only slightly above the horizon. Perhaps you are turning your eyes up at a sharp angle, which would be both difficult and uncomfortable. In any case, do not try to see something in the direction you are looking, as that will divide your attention, which should be completely on the breath. Concentrate on your breath wherever you can feel it most easily. Gradually you will feel it higher and higher in the nose, until you feel it at a place toward which your gaze is turned.
Here is an approach that Swami Kriyananda suggested and you might find helpful: feel as though your eyeballs exist only in the upper half of their sockets. In this approach, there the gaze will turn slightly upward by itself. Try it.
I hope this will help.
Blessings on your practice,
I have trouble trusting my soul guidance. I fear that if I move forward in a new direction I may make a mistake, or I hear an authoritative spiritual voice within me scolding/rejecting me for doing so (probably my ego). I also constantly fear what others (or the guru) would think about me. It is hard to have a feeling of self-respect or stand up for myself at times. How can I learn to trust myself more and not need validation from others?
Your dilemma is, in many ways, a good sign: of your sincerity and mindfulness. In such cases, and to get a jump start in the direction of beginning to know and trust inner guidance, it would be helpful to have a spiritual friend and mentor. Your hesitations are all, in principle, well founded ones. Perhaps you could start with smaller steps and build up your confidence. Take the steps that you DO feel confident about, in other words, and set aside the ones you are not ready to embrace. If you can find a trustworthy mentor, then bigger steps might be possible.
True guidance has the quality of calmness and rightness even in the face of the guidance being bold. Ideas born of the sub-conscious or influenced by sub-conscious desire or other filters, tend to feel uncertain, a bit nervous-like, or perhaps even excitable as if wanting to be true. True guidance feels right especially in the heart center (chakra). The conviction born of intuition is an acquired, though familiar, "flavor." It takes time and meditation to learn to distinguish this feeling from more ego-oriented ideas.
So a little bit at a time is a good formula. Stepping just a hair past comfort zone can test your faith but too large a step becomes presumption. The difference can be, admittedly, a bit subtle, but is worth exploring. It’s O.K. to make mistakes; it’s just the ego that fears mistakes. The soul says, "Let’s give it a shot!"
Consider the teachings of your guru or spiritual path. Follow those instructions first in little things and gradually in bigger ones. If a particular instruction isn’t really right for you, you'll know by the results, usually.
Pray always for guidance even if it is not yet realistic to expect a clear response. Sometimes the clearest answer comes only when we take a few steps in the best direction we can see. Then, the guidance may say, "Turn left," or, "Keep going!"
Remember: no sincere action in following the spiritual path can ever be truly wrong, only course-corrected.
Sincerely and with blessings,
Two Ways to Regain Control of Your Life
May 11, 2015
I am a student pursuing engineering degree. But, I always fail in executing plan. Every time I plan to do better but, I fail every time because of my absent mindedness please tell me how do I overcome this and do my best. Even I forgot to take medicine which is very essential for me.
Since you are an engineering student, you are clearly a very capable person. However, it seems that you are not taking charge of your life. I suggest that this difficulty might have been brought on by one of two things:
- You have way too much on your mind and need to lighten your load—either in actuality by getting rid of something, or in perception by beginning to meditate, become more efficient, and clear the mental debris.
- There is something rather large in yourself or your life that you do not wish—or do not think you have the time or ability—to attend to. This can develop in you a tendency not to attend to other things as well (your medicine, for example). It only gets worse if you let it continue.
I suggest that you look into one or both of those options. You cannot afford to let this continue.
Meanwhile, as you are an engineering student, you have plenty of tech available to you. Therefore, while you try to sort things out, I suggest you start using a calendar app that will remind you, at the very least when it’s time to take your medicine, but for other things as well. It’s a step toward taking charge of your life. Any step you take in that direction will be helpful.
Namaste! I have recently started doing Kriya Yoga, been mediating for over 2yrs which has helped me overcome fear largely. In my situation my task at hand is not my natural inclination. I am pushing myself to shift my focus for long, but lately it seems I am not able to find my way, and I am longing for God and Guru’s presence by my side. I am also doing Navi Kriya and want to know about improving Will Power and need some inspiration and direction. Jai Guru!
Well the good thing is that you want to know God! Yogananda said that it takes very, very, very good karma even to want to know God! The way to improve your situation is to begin and maintain a regular, and daily, Kriya Yoga practice. As Lahiri Mahasaya said of Kriya yoga, it works like mathematics, it cannot fail. But only if practiced daily and regularly.
And the way to improve your will power is by using it. Will power is like a muscle, which builds over time as it is used in the right way. Use it now to determine your daily practice of Kriya Yoga. Don’t make this practice an option in your mind, but make it something you simply do every day, no matter what. You wake up in the morning and meditate. Again in the evening, either right before bedtime or earlier in the evening, you practice Kriya Yoga again. Be steadfast, be regular, and be joyful and loving in your practice. Kriya Yoga is the greatest gift we have ever received, and it will, if practiced regularly and faithfully, take us all the way to oneness in God.
To deepen your practice, also seek out other Kriyabans (those initiated into Kriya) and practice with them. Attend any kriyaban meditations in your area, and always refer back to the basics of the technique, so you know you are practicing correctly. In addition, have your Kriya practice reviewed regularly by an Ananda kriyacharya (Kriya Yoga teacher).
I gain inspiration both from the inspiration in the writings of Yogananda and Kriyananda, as well as from my gurubais. For inspiration I read the Autobiography of a Yogi, The New Path, and The Essence of the Bhagavad Gita in particular. Also recently, I have been re-reading the book Paramhansa Yogananda, A Biography. In addition, another favorite of mine is Awaken to Superconsciousness by Swami Kriyananda. All these books provide wonderful inspiration as well as deepening spiritual insights.
As you engage in this regular practice, and seek out satsang with other Kriyabans, you will feel yourself growing steadily in calmness, peace, joy, and divine love. The company you keep will make a big difference in how fast all of this develops. You will also, over time, have an increasing awareness of who you are (a soul and spark of the divine light) and what your purpose in this world is (to remember your oneness as part of the divine).
I hope this will be helpful to you.
Put the Past Behind You!
May 11, 2015
I love my parents and my parents love me too. But like most other parents,they have also made mistakes in parenthood which has caused prolonged problems for me in childhood. I used to bedwet till about 15, 16. Instead of showing sympathy, they used to shame me on purpose in front of kin and blamed me of being lazy and indifferent.
Even in school, she would give me less food as she thought that was enough, compelling me to steal from my friends' tiffin boxes. Though they have changed, the damage caused undermined my confidence and performance for a long time. Hunger would not let me concentrate in studies.
Now I am in my 30’s, but I still feel angry at times, and in course of arguments, blame them for their negative attitude years back. But they have also done many good things for us as parents. So when I blamed them in anger, they feel very sad and that makes me sad too. Please help me.
You are certainly not alone in this world, that is, in having parents who made mistakes in the way they raised you. Almost everyone has something they can say about how they wish things had been different during their childhoods.
But we must not let the past define who we are right now. The past is over! Ask God and Gurus to help you forgive and forget, and don’t put any more energy into blaming your parents for their errors — put it all behind you and get on with your life! You say that your parents have changed for the better. So that means it’s time for you to change for the better also!
There is no one whose life is free from mistakes. The trick about dealing with mistakes is to blame no-one, including yourself. Give it all to God — turn it all over completely. As many times as blame or anger it arise in your mind, or you want to say something hurtful or complain, ask God to help you to keep silent and to pray for those who have hurt you.
And don’t give in to anger — it can be very harmful to you! Anger is simply wishing that things were different from how they are (or were). It is a much wiser use of your energy to transmute that anger-energy into loving and forgiving energy. It might take some practice and some time, but you can do it! You will have a much happier life, if you strive always to do this.
It is a great blessing that you love your parents and that they love you also, and as you have said, "...have done many good things for you." Concentrate only on these good things. Many people would envy you very much in having loving parents — many people do not have loving parents or any parents at all! Count your blessings and, with God’s help, let all that negativity go away!
Honoring Mothers on Mother's Day
May 11, 2015
How can we truly honour mothers on Mother’s day as per Guruji’s guidelines?? Is there any way we can show our love and respect for them in group meditations? Can you suggest any way by which we all can meditate together in a group asking God to bless them? How is it done usually in Ananda group meditation centres?
To my knowledge there is no official way to honor mothers on Mother’s Day per Guruji’s guidelines.
At our Ananda center over the weekend, we had a Divine Mother meditation for three hours to share inner communion with our Cosmic Mother. In addition, we will pray that all mothers be instruments of Divine Mother’s love to all. It is perfectly appropriate to use the healing prayer technique Master taught with all the mother’s in the group receiving special blessings and prayers from others at the meditation.
In Divine Friendship,
Is there any way in yoga to heal ourselves if we are infected by harmful diseases , recently i was diagnosed by an herpes zoster virus in my body and i heard that to remove it permanently i need to take help to yoga,
if you know how can i heal myself, please provide guidance to me, it'll be really appreciated.
Thank you for your question. There are several forms of herpes zoster, but I will answer in a general way.
Whenever you are told something is incurable, instead think of it as simply resistant to healing, but not impossible to heal. The pattern of the illness may be that it is typically incurable. But all things are potentially mutable, so apply your best energy to the situation.
Here are my suggestions:
Please read Divine Will Healing by Paramhansa Yogananda. It is available from Ananda Publications in India (and at Crystal Clarity in the USA). Read from it each day to increase your positive frame of mind for healing.
Please also purchase Scientific Healing Affirmations by Paramhansa Yogananda. There are many suitable affirmations in the book. Read it through, and learn to do some of the affirmations with depth and attention. Please start by doing this powerful affirmation daily, and then learn others. Also helpful is Swami Kriyananda’s book, Affirmations for Self-Healing.
One more suggestion is to play the Gayatri Mantra CD daily for at least one month. This is to help you to heal the body cells and also reset your body vibration to a higher level. It might also be helpful to listen to the AUM: Mantra of Eternity cd playing very softly while you sleep. This can bring changes in consciousness within about 3 weeks. These mantras will help your soul to dissolve some old energies that may be holding you back. You can experiment with both CDs and see which one resonates with you most deeply, and focus on that one for a while. I want you to feel that there is some flexibility in this process.
Of course, please do learn to meditate as this will help you to focus deeply on your healing affirmations and visualizations.
Paramhansa Yogananda said, "I know many cures". One that he mentioned for skin ailments was coconut oil. Try to get the purest non-hydrogenated form you can buy. This is a known antiviral. So you can use it topically and you can also eat it daily. A typical dose to heal a chronic viral load would be about three tablespoons a day. You can also simply eat a good amount of fresh coconut daily. These are simply my suggestions, and I advise you to use this as a starting point for your own research, but I have seen coconut oil help many ailments.
It is also advised to eat a healthy diet, of course, and to avoid artificial sweeteners as these seem to interfere with natural cures for herpes zoster. Another powerful remedy is oregano oil, another known antiviral.
Please do the affirmations and listen to the mantras, and know they will help to heal you directly, and also they can serve as a divine magnet to bring healing solutions to you. Paramhansa Yogananda demonstrated miraculous healing power, so please pray and ask him to guide you in your healing process.
I hope these suggestions are helpful to you. Use the mantras and affirmations to raise your vibrations and to help to dissolve the old karmic pattern. Then choose any of the above remedies and apply them with a positive mind. Put your faith in God even as you apply the remedies. God is the healer, but if you also use remedies, ask Him to infuse them with healing potency.
Director, Ananda Healing Prayer Ministry
Meditation Is the Key to Return to God
April 30, 2015
I am wondering what is the best way to get back to the road of spiritualty that leads to God ?
I seem to be in a kind of slumber and can`t seem to get on the spiritual path. How do i get back on it ?
I don`t know how to ask it any other way than this. It may be badly put. But this is the best way for be to put it.
We actually have God already but fears, pressures, and pulls of life keep us from knowing that He is with us. Meditation is the key to return to God. You need to find a meditation technique that will work for you and practice it every day, twice a day, and many times in between life’s activities. In meditation you calm your mind and focus on the light or joy that comes from freeing your mind from thoughts and feelings of the ego. This calmness will change you eventually so that the pulls of the world are not tempting.
It would also be good to be with others who are also wanting to find God, those who are meditating and thinking of higher realities. Ananda has started communities that all who live there are focused on finding God and living in truth and harmony with each other. Suffering is not eliminated totally in communities but there is a willingness of all involved to help and work with each other.
There is such a community in Assisi, Italy. You can contact them to receive help even if you cannot visit. Ananda in Nevada City, California, has online training and support through our virtual community.
Do not ever despair. There is so much that you can do to uplift yourself and your life so that your problems are minimized and eventually eliminated. Reach out to those who can help you, those who are positive and harmonious, who understand. God is not far off. He is with you already.
Blessings to you,
- 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