Why We Need to Pray
Does prayer change your fate and karma? From last 6 years of my experience, it is not. If like that then , why do we need to pray ? Why do we need to waste time? We can do many good things with that time?
Prayer is about your relationship with God. It is not about what you receive, but what you give. Praying is a way to open up to the presence of a Higher Reality in your life. Some people call this God, other people have other names for it. Whatever name you give it, asking for help from a source that is higher than your own small self is a necessary first step on the road to a fuller life. This is one of the reasons why people pray. They have reached the end of the road with trying to find their own answers in life, and they are seeking something greater.
When you pray, you are asking a higher consciousness to come into your life and help you. To do this you must quiet your mind so that you can truly receive what is being given to you. That is why prayer is about giving first. If you don’t make the effort to quiet your mind, you won’t be able to “hear” the responses to your prayers.
I think many prayers are answered, but people are not listening in the right way for the answers that come. A quiet mind is essential to prayer. For this reason, we strongly suggest that people offer prayers at the end of their meditation.
Another big block to answered prayers is that you don’t want to hear the answer that is being given you. Many people pray saying, “Please, God, give me an answer to this problem in my life, and let it be this answer.” If you are praying in this way, then no answer will be able to come to you. You simply won’t be able to hear it. So we must pray with an open mind to what might come to us. And we must be willing to accept the answer and to give it a try. In fact it has been found in studies done on prayer, that the most effective way to pray is to offer your prayer saying, “Thy will be done, Lord.” In prayer, this is how you will achieve the best results.
So, quieting the mind, listening inwardly, and being receptive are three essential elements for effective prayer. Using these you should be able to test prayer in your own life and see what results you receive. Your own direct experience of prayer will be the proof of how effective it can be for you.
Life Is a Battle Between Light and Darkness
In Yogananda’s article, Who and What Is Satan, he says, "... Satan has created restlessness, fear, selfishness, anger, and sorrow." I am recovering from a decade of physical, emotional, and mental abuse in my marriage and sometimes I feel sad. I meditate and pray to Guruji, but I sometimes am overcome with sadness and grief. Behind everything, I feel God’s love and Master’s love, but in my daily life, I experience this trauma. Is it Satan?
Anything that takes us away from our Divine Reality is Satanic in nature. You are praying and feeling the presence of God and Guruji as you heal from your past traumas and this is helping you go forward with faith. Thus you are responding to the memories in a positive way.
On the other hand, the more you live in the memories of your traumas, the more your consciousness will be drawn downward. Life is a battle and we are all warriors on the battlefield between light and dark forces in our consciousness. Consistently replace those dark memories with visions of Master in your mind and ask for his help in overcoming all things that take you away from your Divine Reality. Offer anything that takes you away from the calm peace of your soul into the Light at the point between the eyebrows and ask for guidance in responding appropriately to the agitation you feel.
In Divine Friendship,
How to Adjust to Aches in Meditation
you all have been very kind and generous in answering to our questions,so thank you so much.Now that i am regularly practicing meditation,i feel relaxed mentally,more calm and composed believing in god that everything will turn out to be good but physically,i feel some aches in my arms while meditating.Also i am not able to digest spicy foods now which i happen to eat earlier.how to deal with this?thanx
You may be finding that the techniques of meditation alone are not enough. What is important along with meditation is learning to relax the whole body. This can be accomplished by doing yoga postures and breathing techniques that are needed to meditate properly. Ananda has a system of yoga postures that is helpful to those who want to go deeper into meditation. The Art and Science of Raja Yoga, a book by Swami Kriyananda, contains philosophy, meditation techniques, breath techniques, yoga postures to calm the mind and body for meditation, affirmations, healing and more. It is an invaluable resource and can be purchased through anandaindia.org (in India) and crystalclarity.com (in the US).
Also there are classes offered on-line. Ananda India is now beginning on-line classes and Ananda US has been doing them for years now. It is very helpful to have ongoing satsang with these classes and with the virtual community.
I saw a deep mediator use a pillow to rest his arms on during his meditation. Pillows and other props are sometimes needed to help the body relax. Experimentation and creativity is very helpful to bringing you to a place where you can feel the flow of joyful energy.
When you are in a more calm state, you may find that the old habits drop away. It seems for you that the habit of having spicy foods is one of them. Spicy foods tend to heat the body, making it more difficult to meditate properly. It may be hard for you in India not to indulge in "hot" foods, but do keep in mind your real goal that of calm, joyful meditations. Not only are spicy foods difficult to ingest, but also eating meats cause a heaviness and heat the body. So most of us at Ananda are vegetarians.
Do keep your practices going, be creative so you can continue, and be joyful, calm, positive and loving.
Joy to you,
What You Are Experiencing Is the Astral Body
during my spiritual practice i.e when i do my spiritual work i suddenly feel cold sensation on my whole body it’s like not too much cold but when it occurs all of my hairs on my hands stands up i.e become erect and also it starts from lower to upper body it ends at top of my head i.e above my head and at that point i feel like something is floating above my head i can feel it but can’t describe i hope you can understand please tell me what is it??
What you are experiencing is yourself — but on a more subtle level. Yogananda explained that we inhabit three bodies simultaneously: physical, astral, and causal. Our physical body tends to dominate our awareness. It’s what our senses reveals to us as we see, hear, taste, smell, and touch.
Our astral body is more subtle. It is pure energy. It is also larger than your physical body. As you meditate more deeply you will become more aware of the astral body. One’s awareness of the astral body often begins with sensations such as you describe. What you are beginning to "feel" more consciously are the subtle energies of the astral body that exist within and around the physical body. Some people can "see" the astral body as an aura.
Our causal body is yet more subtle. It is pure thought. Sri Yukteswar said we are primarily using our physical body when sensing, our astral body when visualizing or willing, and our causal body when thinking deeply.
Your experience of your astral self is positive. Don’t be surprised if it changes as you meditate more. Part of the joy of meditation is experienced as a fountain spray of astral energy up the spine. But don’t be satisfied with just pleasant sensations. Go deeper. As you go deeper you will eventually find yourself saturated and expanding in the sea of Bliss Itself.
Puru (Joseph) Selbie
Finding Inner Calmness Through Meditation
I have been meditating for about 6 months now and I love love it. However, I have not told anyone and am afraid to because a lot of people make fun of meditation. Also, I have a really hard time meditating on my own without a guided mediation. I can’t get myself to calm down or my mind to shut up on my own. I also need motivation to meditate. I just want inner calmness. Any support that you could give at all would be so much appreciated! Thanks so much in advance. Love and peace to all!
So glad to know that you love to meditate! That’s half the battle — never let go of that love and feed it in any way you can.
Don’t worry about not telling anyone that you meditate. You are right that most people wouldn’t understand anyway. But it is hard to do things in a vacuum, so it might be good to find other meditators in your area that would "speak the same language" so to speak — look at Find Ananda Near You for details. Being around other people who meditate and meditating with them as often as possible is a huge help. If you live in an area where this is impossible (or even if you don’t) I’d strongly advise you to join our online Ananda Virtual Community. On-line group meditations may be a big help to you also!
Guided meditations can be very helpful, especially in the beginning of your meditative life. But here is an important point to remember. Meditation comes in two parts: the "getting there" and the "being there." Every meditation should have elements of both.
Getting there involves all the technique you use to help you get into deep, silent, sitting meditation. Guided meditation can be a part of getting there. But always leave time for being there, that is, sitting silently and being as calm and inward as possible. Even if you feel restless, do it anyway, for at least five minutes. It will get easier as time goes on. But to neglect the "being there" part of meditation is like fixing a delicious meal, but not taking time to eat it. What is the "there" part of meditation?" Superconscious bliss and oneness with God and with all that is. You'll definitely recognize it when it happens.
Much of meditation involves creating good habits. Meditate at the same time, same place, every day without fail, even if it’s only for five to ten minutes. Build up the length of time as you feel to. It’s infinitely better to meditate just a little bit, than not at all.
If you fail to meditate on any one or more days (it happens to everybody), at least notice that your daily life is affected — life is so much better when you meditate than when you don’t even try! Noticing this is an excellent motivator!
God watches the intentions of our hearts and will know that we are trying — and thus will offer us the grace to keep going, no matter what. Calming the restless mind is what we all struggle with. Don’t say you can’t. Just say you have not yet succeeded.
Having the right techniques of meditation (watching the breath, a mantra, etc.) are a huge help. If you don’t know these techniques yet, be sure to learn them in our online Learn to Meditate course as soon as possible.
Finally, please remember that you already have inner calmness. It’s just a process of learning to find where it is within you. Blessings and joy to you always!
How to Transform Strong Emotions and Stress
What is the difference energetically between very strong moods and post traumatic stress or emotional symptoms that arise from a traumatic experience? Using the techniques taught by Master, I can overcome any mood, but recently I find that waves of emotion associated with past experiences are resurfacing. Sometimes they are very difficult to overcome and control in the moment.
The differences are really a matter of degree. Strong moods, post-traumatic stress, or emotional symptoms all arise from the vrittis (vortices or whirlpools) of our past likes and dislikes (our desires and attachments) that are lodged in our astral spine. The differences are a result of how much energy has been invested in these past experiences, whether that is through attachment or revulsion.
The way to deal with vexing emotions is to shift the energy to something uplifting. An example of this is when you are caught in these negative emotions, try to immediately change the energy in your physical body. A good suggestion is to do a few of Yogananda’s Energization Exercises or some of Swami Kriyananda’s Superconscious Living Exercises. Once we are able to shift the actual energy, then those emotions and stresses no longer have their same grasp on us.
Another suggestion is to use a phrase, or even a word, that immediately brings your awareness to a higher level. Personally I’ve found using “Aum Guru” helps me shift quickly into a different frame of awareness. But even using a word such as “love” can have the same effect.
On another level, having consistency in our meditations, i.e. a daily practice, has a very real and profound effect on releasing all past karma, including the challenges that you describe. Sometimes this effect from meditation doesn’t always seem apparent to our conscious mind, but have trust that that inner transformation is indeed taking place.
Blessings on your spiritual journey,
How Can I Be an Actor While Staying Spiritual?
Hello, I have just begun Kriya Yoga meditation. I am finding some conflicts with my worldly activities in terms of how to approach them as a person with spiritual focus. In particular I have just begun an acting course (monologues) to improve my communicative ability and explore a desire to participate in transformative entertainment in the future. How can I approach this with no attatchment and stay true, amidst materialist people? What should I have in mind? What attitude should I maintain?
This is a great question to which I actually have some insights, thanks to Swami Kriyananda. A number of years ago in Paris, Swamiji was asked by a well-known opera singer a similar question. She found herself, with her low-pitched contralto voice, placed many times in roles that had a dark side to them and were even evil in nature. She wondered how to deal with this situation in a spiritual way, so as not to have her consciousness pulled down by the darkness.
Swami said to her to feel that God was acting through her in these roles. Also to feel that she was an observer, as well as a participant, in the roles she played. I think the attitude to remember and keep before you in doing this, is that God is in everything; that all of creation has been brought about out of Himself. As Swami Kriyananda would say in talks, “What else did God have to bring Creation into being from but Himself!”
These attitudes are not easy to develop, but they are possible. I would think they could even make you a very good actor! Non-attachment will be essential in doing this, and something you will have to work on every day. I would suggest that at the end of each day you offer all that has happened that day back to God, thereby freeing yourself from being attached to and defined by it.
As long as you feel a need to be involved in the very outward and entertaining “entertainment business,” then this will need to be part of your daily spiritual sadhana, along with your morning and evening Kriya Yoga practice.
As Parmahansa Yogananda said about this world of duality that we live in, “This world was made for our education and entertainment, but how very few are either educated or entertained.” May you be one of these few!
Hi Ananda Family,
With all your spiritual understanding, please explain me if at all watching porn is bad, how does it affect an individual’s karma?...Isn’t that state of mind a perfect one where the mind stays undisturbed even when looking at something close to porn?....The television and media is full of these things ....It is almost everywhere....how can one stay firm and controlled even in presence of these?
Many thanks for your help
You ask "Isn’t that state of mind a perfect one where the mind stays undisturbed even when looking at something close to porn?" But that IS the question. Consider: Who would choose to watch such things whose mind would indeed remain undisturbed? Answer: essentially: NO ONE!
Most devotees and yogis choose to avoid watching media that emphasizes and provides gratuitous sexuality or violence for the simple reason that such images impress themselves upon the mind. Elemental lusts derive from a consciousness whose power is far greater than that of an individual ego. The soul, struggling to win the battle of life over material desires, must not imagine the power of maya is easily dismissed. Why grovel in the mud of enticing vibrations of delusion and the false allure of pleasure (which the wise know give rise eventually only to suffering, mental or physical)?
There may be circumstances where one is exposed to gross sexuality or violence and in such circumstances remaining inward and centered is, given no other choice, the best course of action. But no one would purposely do so: not if he is sincere, self-honest, and wisely pursuing true happiness and an expansion of consciousness toward freedom in God! To trifle with these temptations is courting spiritual disaster.
The subconscious mind and the influence of maya will suggest to you that you can be exposed to these things without being affected. That is a lie born of the hidden desire to enjoy these things.
The pleasures of the human body can never satisfy our desire for happiness. Not only this, but to indulge in the delusion (whether vicariously or physically) plants the seeds of further desires. In time, the burning flames of forever-unfulfilled desires for pleasure will eat away at your mind, your emotions, and even your physical health. Thus it is sometimes described as "going to hell" because the flames of sense desire can never be fulfilled, only temporarily sated. Like a drug addict, even when there’s no longer pleasure there is a compulsion to indulge. Self-respect is thus the first victim.
And why is this so? Because pleasure is, by necessity, a temporary experience. Repeated indulgence eventually wears down the body and nervous system and brain causing nervousness, tension, dullness and loss of vitality and memory. The only true happiness to be found lies in the Self, within: from which all things are created. In God alone is the true and lasting pleasure of Bliss. If not long before, at least eventually, illness, old-age and death bring to an end all earthly pleasures.
So while it is true that the mind should be on its guard from avidly seeking and indulging, one should not unnecessarily expose oneself to the magnetic attraction of a universal and deeply embedded delusion, lest one risk spiritual death (at least for this lifetime).
Thus it is a fact that throughout the world, society and spiritual teachers counsel that we must keep our sexual impulses in check by the boundaries of love, trust, loyalty, respect and friendship born of a committed relationship.
Don’t think for a minute that you are different and can flaunt humankind’s wisdom. Media is simply a business and sex sells. Don’t think these things are "normal" even if pervasive in the world today. It IS a delusion and it IS a powerful delusion. Just because "everybody does it" doesn’t make it appropriate for a truthseeker. The world is filled with foolish and ignorant people, most "enjoying" varying degrees of misery. The amount of suffering on this planet caused by inappropriate sexual activity and promotion of sex is beyond measure. Keep your distance, my friend!
Pray for guidance and for self-honesty!
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