Did you know? This year Yogananda is celebrating 100 years of his divine energization exercises. He is extremely happy, and so he recently organized a heavenly party in the astral worlds, to dance and rejoice with all the angels. As they were making merry, suddenly an idea popped up into Yogananda’s mind: he decided to send some angels down to earth, to inspire his devotees with a deeper understanding of his transforming exercises. And this is what happened…
The First Visit: Physical Correction
An angel immediately stooped down and saw a new devotee, Joe, who, while practicing the energization exercises, was experiencing difficulty with the complexity and sequence of the movements. “Be patient,” the angel whispered to him, and inspired him with insights on how to better isolate the muscles, how to breathe correctly, how to tense and relax gradually, and how to learn the proper sequence. As he left, the angel whispered, “This is the physical part of the energization exercises, which provide for a uniform development of the body. Keep practicing, and I will be back soon to help you further.”
The Second Visit: Energy Awareness
Indeed, after a month of faithful practice, the angel returned to Joe. “Wonderful,” the angel whispered into his mind. “Now I can take you to the next step! Try from today onward to feel the energy behind your muscular tension. The truth is that by concentrating on the muscles you perceive yourself only as a muscular being. Such practices actually stimulate the animal consciousness in man, and not his subtle nature. The energization exercises on the other hand teach you to concentrate on the life energy, the prana, which awakens the consciousness of your subtle spiritual nature.”
So Joe felt deeply inspired to train his awareness, to shift from physical awareness to prana awareness. He felt increased joy as he listened to an old recording of Swami Kriyananda, who explains: “The movements are only movements, but the consciousness behind them is to feel the flow of energy, to be conscious of that flow, and then to use will power: ‘The greater the will, the greater the flow of energy.’ Using the will, and making it act upon the body, you will become aware of that energy, and you will be able to increase the flow. What you’ll feel first is just the inside of the muscle. Then you’ll become aware of the flow of energy in that muscle. And then you’ll become aware of how you can direct that flow.”
The Third Visit: Drawing From the Medulla
So for many months Joe practiced feeling the energy, increasing its flow, and directing it with will power toward the tensed body parts. He was happy and satisfied. Little did he know that the angel had more to tell him.
When Yogananda’s angel again appeared to Joe, invisibly, he whispered to him: “Now learn to consciously draw the energy from the medulla oblongata, from the cosmic Source. Know this: the energy entering into you through the medulla oblongata during the energization exercises is nothing less than the AUM vibration.”
Joe was stunned. The sacred AUM? Fortunately that very day he happened to pick up Yogananda’s Autobiography of a Yogi, where he read:
Man’s body battery is not sustained by gross food (bread) alone, but by the vibratory cosmic energy (word, or AUM). The invisible power flows into the human body through the gate of the medulla oblongata. This sixth bodily center is located at the back of the neck at the top of the five spinal chakras (Sanskrit for “wheels” or centers of radiating force). The medulla is the principal entrance for the body’s supply of universal life force (AUM), and is directly connected with man’s power of will, concentrated in the seventh or Christ Consciousness center (Kutastha) in the third eye between the eyebrows.
A new dawn happened to Joe, during his practice of the energization exercises: “Wow, this is not my energy, but I am consciously drawing from the Divine Spirit, through the ‘mouth of God,’ the medulla oblongata, which Yogananda in fact also calls the AUM-medulla.”
Oh how inspired Joe became, especially when he heard Swami Kriyananda confirm it: “Yogananda taught that by a strong exertion of will, coupled with a sensitive awareness of the energy, and of how the energy enters the body, one can tap into the infinite energy-source and invigorate the body and brain at will.”
Shortly after that he also read an instruction in Swami Kriyananda’s book, Superconsciousness, which was a further boost for his enthusiasm:
Stand upright. Inhale slowly, gradually tensing the whole body (low, medium, high) to the point where it vibrates. Gaze upward at the point between the eyebrows, and with concentration feel the energy flowing into the body through the medulla oblongata. Hold the tension for a few moments, and consciously fill the whole body with energy. Then exhale and slowly relax (medium, low, completely), feeling the energy as it withdraws from the body parts. Always tense with will, then relax and feel. Anytime you feel a need to energize, or to heal, an individual body part, tense that part with will power, sending energy to it from the medulla; then relax it, as I’ve described doing with the whole body, and feel the energy withdraw.
Now this affirmation of Yogananda became Joe’s absolute favorite:
“I live, move, and have my being in Spirit,
as a fish lives in the water, and a bird in the air.
I will consciously draw strength, health, and happiness
from this all-enveloping Presence.”
The Fourth Visit: Sending and Withdrawing Energy
Joe practiced with great joy, visualizing the divine energy entering the body through the medulla oblongata. But one part of the instruction in Swami Kriyananda’s book kept puzzling him: “To withdraw the energy?” That proved a step to far for him at this moment.
In fact it took him quite some time to be ready. Finally the angel again appeared, to help Joe. “Yes,” he whispered: “The energization exercises show how by tension energy can be put forth in the body, and by relaxation withdrawn from it.” The angel’s words, Joe later discovered, were Yogananda’s direct teachings.
So this became Joe’s new daily practice: during tension to draw the divine energy through the medulla oblongata into the body, and during relaxation to feel it withdraw. A prayer by Yogananda now became his guiding inspiration:
“O Eternal Energy!
By Thy Power I know
that in tension I put forth energy into the body,
and in relaxation I withdraw it.
I am a tenant in the body sent here by Thy Grace
to rule it, but never to be identified with it.”
The Fifth Visit: Energization Without Tension
It was indeed a most fulfilling inner practice. Joe also found out that the more he feels the energy, the more he can control it. He now lived with an awareness of the inner energy. “This immortal energy,” he thought, “is a key to who I really am.”
But the angel wanted to take him even a step further. So he appeared to him again one day, whispering: “Try now to direct that energy without any tension, by the pure act of will and visualization.” That was a new and major challenge, for sure! But Joe again was lucky to find inspiration for his practice in Yogananda’s writings:
“When performing such [tension] exercises, keep your mind on the medulla and imagine the energy flowing into your body through the medulla and from thence to every part of the body. By keeping your mind thus fixed upon the medulla, you will soon learn to draw in energy from the ether, and send it to all parts of your body at will, without the physical process of tensing and relaxing.”
Joe, without knowing it, was preparing himself for the higher Kriya Yoga practices, where energy needs to be moved without any tension, and without the help of the breath, by the sheer force of will and visualization. He now started to pray with Yogananda’s words, every time he practiced his energization exercises:
charge my body with Thy vitality,
charge my mind with Thy spiritual power,
charge my soul with Thy joy, with Thy immortality.
Through Self-realization within me,
I will find the emancipation
which leads to Thee.”
Joe keeps practicing, day by day, wondering what the angel meant with his departing words: “I have still more in store for you!” And by the way, the angel also told Joe that a number of Yogananda’s angels are roaming about on earth during this 100-year celebration. Their only intention is to inspire devotees with a new understanding of how to more deeply experience his divine energization exercises.
Do you hear them whispering?