Swami Kriyananda has always stressed the importance of finishing a job completely before going on to the next. In every project there are three stages: the initial creative inspiration, the hard work of overcoming all the problems involved, and the joy of bringing it to completion. When the initial inspiration begins to fade and the challenges arise, it’s easy to abandon a project, rather than put out the energy to push through to completion. We repeat this pattern over and over until we learn that success comes only with sustained concentration.
We find that there is a similar pattern in our practice of meditation. At first, we’re carried along by the initial inspiration and joy of discovering the spiritual path. Often new devotees are blessed with deep inner experiences and an ease of achieving depth in meditation that eludes us later on. Swami Kriyananda has explained that this is God’s way of giving us confidence in our own spiritual potential.
Then we hit the middle phase when the hard work begins. This period can take many years as we struggle with desires, attachments, and karmic tendencies that keep us from allowing the flow of Spirit into our lives. And we get restless. That’s why Master said that the key to success in meditation is intensity and duration of effort.
To get through dry, restless periods on the path, it’s helpful to bring fresh, creative approaches to our sadhana (spiritual practice). Try adding chanting (or learning new chants), or practice walking meditations in nature, or incorporate a period of yoga postures into your day, or take a retreat in an inspiring environment. Spiritual perseverance in the face of restlessness will ultimately lead us through the period of effort to the third phase of inner joy and fulfillment.