Sir, I have two questions :
a) Is it necessary for a person to get involved in Satsang etc. in order to please God?
b )For the past 2-3 years I used to try to control my breath by taking breath in and out conciously, but now it is causing me problems. Every time I meditate, using the Hong Sau technique, I have to apply force to the breath and this distracts me and within few minutes I starts breathing profusely as if I am doing a heavy activity. This problem occurs every time I concentrate on my breath.
—Prashant Malik, India
Answer to question A:
Satsang, which is commonly understood as ‘fellowship in God, with other truthseekers’, is a very important part of the spiritual path. It is a very real blessing to be in the company of other devotees to both gain support, as well as to offer support.
Ultimately, however, the deepest satsang is the inward connection we develop with God and guru. Do your best to have both the inner and outer fellowship of God; this is the best of both worlds!
Answer to question B:
I would suggest a number of things to help your practice of Hong Sau:
1) As you begin your seated meditation be sure you are relaxed by doing the preliminary breathing techniques which Yogananda taught: i) inhale double breath, tensing the entire body; exhale double breath, relaxing the entire body – do this 2 or 3 times; ii) even-count breathing – do this 6 to 12 times.
2) Bring a devotional focus to your practice by including prayer and chanting. This will help bring you to a more inward state. Also, you may want to inwardly ask Yogananda for his guidance in your practice.
3) Make sure that you are not controlling the breath in any way during the Hong Sau technique. Simply observe the breath flowing in and out of the nostrils (or wherever you are aware of the breath) and enjoy any pauses that might happen between the breaths. Don’t be concerned whether the breath is shallow or deep, or if it is long or short. Just let the breath flow of its own accord. Throughout the practice, let your mental gaze be upward so as to gradually raise your consciousness.
Blessings on your practice,