J. S. B.
I find it very hard to concentrate and feel joy with all the outer turmoil in the world today. Is it truly possible to be happy and peaceful inside even now, with all these troubles in the news? (It seemed so much easier a few years ago!)
It is not easy to answer your question, because I don’t know about your meditation practice. On the one hand, it may be that you need a more focused meditation technique. On the other hand, underlying fear may be upsetting your practice, in which case devotion and deeper attempts to concentrate at the spiritual eye (the point between the eyebrows) may help you.
I teach meditation at The Expanding Light and have discovered that many people think of meditation in a sort of vague way, as a kind of relaxed time where the mind drifts peacefully. Or perhaps they do visualizations. These types of meditation cannot necessarily help one to find joy.
Yogananda’s techniques of Energization Exercises, Hong-Sau technique of concentration, AUM, and Kriya, instead, work directly with our energy. They teach us in a step-by-step and extremely dynamic way to redirect our energy from the outer world toward the inner world. When the energy is trained to flow inward, you will inevitably (eventually) discover that your own higher nature IS joy.
I shared a class yesterday with a woman who said she’d never had luck with meditation because her mind was so busy. When I led her through the extremely practical steps of Hong-Sau technique, she got the difference, and felt very still inside.
If you already practice our techniques, you may be being thrown off by a feeling of fear. This would be the time to cultivate your love for God or Divine Mother, and to receive their love in return. Love tends to cast out fear. It is also helpful, not only when you meditate, but at other times when your mind might want to go into worry, to focus your mind at the point between the eyebrows.
Pay attention to how you feel after watching television, listening to the radio, or reading the papers. The media thrives on fear-inducing news. If the media upsets you, look at this seriously and see if it has become a bad habit that you need to curb or stop altogether.
I think we have to accept that the world will not be getting more peaceful in the near future. If your problem relates to not having a dynamic meditation technique to work with, I really urge you to contact Ananda for help with your meditation. One way is to go to our Meditation Support site on ananda.org. You can sign up for the Daily Meditator, and you can also get instruction in the Hong-Sau technique on-line.
Another way — the best way — would be to visit The Expanding Light or one of the Ananda city communities (Seattle, Portland, Sacramento, Palo Alto, or Santa Monica) and arrange for lessons there. We also have meditation groups in many cities in the U.S. and Europe, if you live too far away. If you email Ananda, we can help you discover if there’s a group near you. And, if that fails, I would be happy to set up a phone interview with you to talk about meditation. You can call me through The Expanding Light at 530-478-7518 Monday-Friday 9-5 PST.
I hope one of these thoughts can be helpful to you. Many blessings to you.
In divine friendship,