I have teenagers in public school whose activities neccessarily bring me into the outside world. I am in social situations with other parents where the focus is academic worry, competition, negative stories of behavior... I am a sincere devotee and Kriyaban. I do not seek out social events-ILOVE being alone! Given my circumstances, how can I keep from being dragged outward and maintain my energy level? What practice can I do to stay inward? I am not so far on the Path that am safe from traps!
First of all I am most sorry for this late reply: I have just returned from a pilgrimage to the Himalayas where I didn’t check emails.
About your question: many of us devotees love being alone, just like you. However, Yogananda does not teach us to avoid the outside world. Rather our task is to build strong inner roots through our sadhana, and to strengthen our magnetism through the energization exercises, but then to go through the school of the outer life.
So it’s better to say “yes” to that outer life, not “no,” also to so-called negative influences, when you can’t avoid them.
This of course doesn’t mean that we may act in a worldly way and mingle with the common ways of maya. It just means that God has a plan for your growth, and the interaction with the outer world is a necessary part of it, otherwise He wouldn’t have put you there.
So you may ask yourself: “Where is my blessing in this?” “What do I have to learn out there?” “Which inner qualities am I supposed to strengthen or develop?” And say, “Thank you, Lord, for this golden opportunity!”
When you are in those situations of other parents with worries and worldly focus, consciously make it your soul-school where you can learn to be, as Yogananda taught, like butter floating on milk: untouched, but without any trace of spiritual arrogance or ego. Just get strong inwardly, anchored in God and Guru, being loving to all.
This being said…you still are wise to be cautious of the traps of maya. But never let it become fear, which only weakens you. Your soul is stronger than all these influences, as long as you nourish it daily. And I know you do.
An important element in all this is to have satsang, as you certainly know. Yogananda emphasized it most vigorously. Is there any Ananda group around where you live? If not, maybe an SRF group where you could go and meditate? This satsang can make all the difference, giving you vibrational support through shared meditation.
Many blessings and friendship to you, from kriyaban to kriyaban. It is so beautiful and refreshing to read “I am a sincere devotee!” You, and all the rest, are one of the “jewels scattered over the earth” about whom Master writes… do you remember this final phrase in his Autobiography?
May you progress steadily in His light,
Here is another quote from the Autobiography of a Yogi, which Master included in his 1951 edition, and which you might enjoy for your situation:
Members are taught “not to isolate themselves from the community, but to lead balanced lives of meditation AND constructive outer activities.“