I want to meditate, but my family doesn’t support me


Dear Sir,

Ever since 1974 after reading Paramhansa Yogananda autobiography I have tried to live a spritual life.I have social problems in my believe with my conservative Catholic family members. I practice meditation and read vedic books in secrecy. I am now following your meditation techniques when no family members are at home. Please guide me.

Thank you

—Vincent, Malaysia


Dear Vincent,

I sympathize with your awkward situation. It can indeed be difficult.

The good news is that you are not letting anyone else’s disapproval hold you back. It’s very good that you are meditating and studying.

You can also get up early and/or go to bed early in order to get some meditation time, rather than “hiding” by doing so only when others are away from home. At some point, you may have to claim outwardly your spirituality, and you don’t want it to be too much of a shock to others — or to yourself.

Here’s another idea: Since you are studying, you might read (more openly, for your own inspiration as well as to help your family open up a bit) about the Catholic inner tradition. Your family might be surprised at what they’ve been missing in Catholicism. Yoganandaji spoke highly of The Imitation of Christ, by Thomas a Kempis. A contemporary author is Father Thomas Keating, a proponent of “centering prayer.” Check him out on a YouTube video. The centering prayer tradition goes all the way back to the Desert Fathers of early Christian monasticism; it also finds its way into the writings of Saint Teresa of Avila and Saint John of the Cross. Another excellent source is The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence; it is hugely inspiring. (You can find excerpts from it also in Practicing His Presence, which also includes letters from the 20th century American Christian mystic, Frank Laubach.)

Finally, pray deeply for your family – not for them to embrace what you are doing, necessarily (although one always hopes at least for acceptance), but simply for their spiritual welfare and highest happiness. It will help all of you.

Blessings on your efforts,