Quotes of Paramhansa Yogananda, from The Essence of Self-Realization.

#1. To meditate a short time with depth…

… is better than to meditate for long hours with the mind running wild.

In the beginning, therefore, don’t force yourself to sit for a long time. Strive for shorter, but deeper, meditations. Then gradually, as you become accustomed to going deep, lengthen the time you sit in meditation.

#2. Don’t feel badly if you…

… find yourself too restless to meditate deeply. Calmness will come in time, if you practice regularly. Just never accept the thought that meditation is not for you. Remember, calmness is your eternal, true nature.

#3. A disciple was having difficulty…

… with his meditations. He asked Sri Yogananda, “Am I not trying hard enough?”

The Master answered, “You are trying too hard. You are using too much will power. It becomes nervous. Just be relaxed and natural.

As long as you try to meditate, you won’t be able to, just as you can’t sleep so long as you will yourself to sleep. Will power should be used gradually. Otherwise, it may become detrimental. That’s why it is better, in the beginning, to emphasize relaxation.”

Do not get excited or impatient in your efforts to find God. Be wholehearted, but not anxious about getting results. Be patient. Move toward your divine goal ever calmly, with tranquillity.

#4. A devotee was having difficulty remaining awake…

… during meditation. To him, Yogananda made this suggestion: Squeeze your eyes shut several times, then open them wide and stare straight ahead. Repeat this practice once or twice more. If you do this, sleepiness will cease to bother you.

#5. In meditation, try to go beyond thinking…

… As long as thoughts enter the mind, you are functioning on the conscious level.

When dreaming, you are in subconsciousness; then you are more aware in the astral body.

When your consciousness withdraws still more deeply, into superconsciousness, then you are centered in bliss, in the spine. In that bliss-state you are aware in the causal body, the soul.

#6. The soul loves to meditate…

… for in contact with the Spirit lies its greatest joy. If, then, you experience mental resistance during meditation, remember that reluctance to meditate comes from the ego; it doesn’t belong to the soul.

#7. One who wants to be a concert pianist…

… will practice at the piano twelve hours a day. If, instead, his practice consists of pecking halfheartedly at the keys for a few minutes every day, he’ll never become any good as a pianist.

That’s how it is with the search for God. How can you expect to know Him if you only half try?

It is very difficult to reach God. If even a concert pianist must work hard to become successful in his profession, how much more earnestly must the devotee “work” at meditation in order to realize the Infinite!

Here, however, is an encouraging thought: Everyone who makes a sincere effort on the spiritual path will surely reach his goal. You cannot say that of worldly ambition. Not everyone can become a famous pianist, no matter how hard he tries. For in every field there is room at the top for very few. All men, however, can claim their sonship equally with the Heavenly Father.

#8. Try to feel, when walking out of doors…

… that everything around you is part of your own expanded awareness.

Behold the leaves trembling on the trees, and try to feel their movement. Imagine in that movement that God is expressing His thoughts and inspirations.

Watch the meadow grasses as they wave in the wind. Imagine the breeze as God’s breath blowing over the world, inspiring all beings and giving them life.

Listen to the birds singing. Feel that God, through their songs, is trying to reach you with feelings of divine gladness.

Be aware of the sun’s rays on your skin. Think of the heat you feel from the sun as God’s energy. Let it fill your body with vitality and power. Imagine divine energy, through the sunlight, strengthening creatures everywhere on earth.

#9. Meditate more and more deeply, until…

… calmness and joy become second nature to you. To be ecstatic is not difficult. It is thinking that it is difficult that holds you apart from it. Never think of divine joy as distant from you, and it will be with you always.

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