What exactly are the techniques Yogananda taught to manifest ones thoughts outwardly, into objective reality?
The yogic method of materializing objects, and manifest ones’s thoughts as objective reality, is, according to Yogananda’s teachings, visualization done with supreme concentration and will power.
Materializing objects, goals, situations by thought power, however, requires a truly powerful mind. You read in the Autobiography of a Yogi that Lahiri Mahasaya tells Sri Yukteswar: “I could show you that whatever your powerful mind believes very intensely would instantly come to pass.”
Yogananda explains in the same book: “Through a master’s divine knowledge of light phenomena, he can instantly project into perceptible manifestation the ubiquitous light atoms. The actual form of the projection–whether it be a tree, a medicine, a human body–is in conformance with a yogi’s powers of will and of visualization.”
Here is a first technique of Yogananda you may practice, using a room or an apple as an object for your visualization:
“I can keep looking at this room and concentrating upon it until, when I close my eyes, I can still see the room exactly as it is. This is the first step in deep concentration, but most people haven’t the patience to practice it. I had the patience. As you continue to practice visualization you will find that your thoughts become materialized. The cosmic law will so arrange it that whatsoever you are thinking of will be produced in actuality, if you command it to be so. Suppose I am thinking of an apple, and the apple appears in my hand. That would be a demonstration of the highest power of concentration.”
Yogananda sums up: “In order to realize that all the happenings of this world are dream experiences, we should learn how to visualize our thoughts-how to recharge them with the energy of concentration until they become visible manifestations. Proper visualization by the exercise of concentration and will power enables us to materialize thoughts, not only as dreams or visions in the mental realm, but also as experiences in the material realm.”
Here is a more esoteric explanation by Yogananda, plus an exercise to practice:
“From the causal thought-forms, the astral body’s five instruments of life force [the 5 pranas] make visible the astral body of light and the physical body of gross matter. The following experiment illustrates the idea. Close your eyes and visualize a horse on the left. At first your concept is fuzzy, but if I suggest a white horse, you can more easily visualize it. Now think of a black horse on the right side. You are creating mental or causal images. Switch them about so that the white horse is on the right side. If you can visualize a little more strongly, you will be able to see these thought-forms as real images. That is what you do in a dream: your mind is more concentrated then, causing your thought-forms to become visible to you. Dreams and visions are astral in essence, being composed of light and energy. Could you actually make the astral images of the black and white horses true to the physical senses, you would have materialized a physical creation.”
He encourages you to practice: “As you continue to practice visualization you will find that your thoughts become materialized. The cosmic law will so arrange it that whatsoever you are thinking of will be produced in actuality, if you command it to be so.”
If you want to use visualization not to materialize an object, but to make a project happen, or to obtain money, the technique and procedure is a different. You visualise not so much the details (of the apple, of the room, etc.), but you concentrate on the general result.
Swami Kriyananda explains: “There have been a few times when I needed specific sums of money. At such times, naturally, I visualized the particular sum needed. However, even then I didn’t visualize the money sitting there in a pile: green hundred-dollar bills on my desk, just waiting to be counted. Rather, I visualized the particular purpose this money was meant to serve. I concentrated on the energy-flow of which the money was a part, rather than on the money as a separate reality in itself.”
He adds: “Had I wanted a car, then, what I would have done–what I have done–is visualize clearly the service a car would give me, rather than the specific vehicle itself.” (In Money Magnetism)
Swami Kriyananda also taught a specific technique, which unfortunately I can’t find right now. In it he teaches to rotate the thought or image one wants to manifest three times clockwise around the spiritual eye, with deep concentration. You can play with it if you like.
The caution in all this, however, is always the same: try never to get trapped in obtaining mental powers as such, for the mere fun of it, or for the satisfaction of developing a special power. Such powers are only a positive thing if you use them for your soul, not for your ego, which happens all too easily. Mental power is a good thing for meditation, and for making our noble projects succeed.
All the best, Jayadev