How to Grow Closer to God in a Busy Life
This letter responds to the question: How to practice God’s presence in activity?
Much of our daily life is spent in work or in other outward activities. Our minds may often become engrossed in what we are doing at the expense of the thought of God. We must somehow discipline ourselves to carry at least the feeling of His presence into everything we do.
How is this to be arranged? I think the simple advice, “Do it,” is not enough. Some sort of exercise is needed to help us form the habit.
In the early years of his work, Paramhansa Yogananda conducted early morning group meditations at his Mt. Washington headquarters. After each such meditation, so one of his early disciples recalls, he would lead the disciples out of doors to sweep the walks. And he would urge them, as they swept, to continue in the thought of God. In this mild activity it was comparatively easy for them to practice God’s presence. Having once established the habit of feeling the divine presence outside of their meditations, it was easier for them to carry it into the more strenuous daily labors that followed.
I think we should follow on our own the training Yogananda prescribed for the disciples in those early years. We should start our practice of sharing every thought, every labor with God by first thinking of Him during uninvolving activities—those requiring little concentration or physical effort, such as sweeping the walks, strolling quietly, or mopping the floor. During such unexacting occupations, we should make every mental effort to bring the Lord into our motions. As we are able to do so, we shall gradually develop the habit of bringing Him into all our activities—even into those requiring great effort of body or concentration of mind.
Let us suppose you go for a walk. Try mentally to share every movement, every sense impression, every thought, with Divine Mother. Ordinarily we may consider most of our thoughts and impressions too trivial to share with God. But that is how we cut ourselves off from Him. We must sense Him in every thought, in every feeling.
If, therefore, as you walk, you hear a whistle blowing at a downtown factory, or a bird singing nearby, or a car passing on the road outside the colony, try to let Divine Mother in on this little experience. If you see a tree waving gently with the breeze, or notice the golden sunlight on a palm branch, share these impressions of sight with Divine Mother. As you feel your body walking, feel Divine Mother walking through you. And every thought that passes through your mind, try to remember to share it with Her.
If you share my experience during this practice, you will presently begin to feel that there is one great sea of Life underlying everything. The whistle’s blowing and the bird’s singing will seem to carry some special message from Divine Mother for you! How beautiful those sounds will seem then! The waving tree, the sunlight, will seem to be means Divine Mother uses to signal something of a very personal nature—to you! How lovely those sights! Your body will no longer feel like your body. It will be Her body. For somehow you won’t seem to have a separate existence anymore. You will be just another whistle note, bird call, or spot of morning sunlight on a vast sea in which Divine Mother is the Sole Reality. How inexpressibly close She will seem then!
Later, as you work, you may find that it is a long time before the feeling of Her presence subsides. Alas, it probably will subside—at least on most days. That is why we must renew our practice daily. But in time, so Yogananda promised us, we shall find God with us always. May that day come soon!
In divine friendship,