Devotion is an essential ingredient of one’s meditation practice. It sparks the initiative to meditate, sustains our practice, inspires depth in our practice, and magnetizes God’s response. I like to think of it as the language of Love between Guru and disciple.
Devotion is not a commonly used word in the West but, in fact, we express our devotion in many ways. For example, our devotion as dedication to family, our children, career and the like.
Devotion is an expression of the heart’s love for the object of desire. It is unique to each individual and we must each find its pulse at the heart center. As Yogananda said, “We must each individually make love to God.” Yogananada’s disciple, Sister Gynamata, advised students to practice whatever expression of devotion would make their hearts soar to heaven in a clear, bright flame of love.
We must each individually make love to God.Paramhansa Yogananda
Once while in India in seclusion, Swami Kriyananda went daily to meditate in a nearby temple. After days he was approached by the temple priest who asked him what he was praying for so intensely. Swamiji answered that he was praying to love God more deeply. The priest was surprised but also deeply moved. He told Swamiji that most people come to the temple to ask for gifts, employment, a child, wealth, health and so on. Rare, alas, are those who pray for God Alone. This was Swamiji’s focus throughout his life. Masked to a degree by the scope of responsibility that he willingly took on to further Yogananda’s mission and serve Master’s students and disciples, devotion toward the end of his life could be veiled no longer. He only spoke of discipleship and his eyes shed tears in speaking of his Guru. Having walked his whole life in the footsteps of this great Premavatar, he became love itself.
If devotion is new to you or if you sincerely want to cultivate a deeper devotion, these simple guidelines can help you:
Learn a Chant
Learn a chant by heart so you don’t have to try to remember the words or the music. Then you will free to concentrate on the Guru at the spiritual eye as you sing to Him. Chant for a while and as long as you feel the energy and depth of the chant cooperating with you to take you deeper. Let the volume of your voice become softer over time until you are only mentally repeating the words and eventually no longer playing an instrument. If you are not musically inclined, listen to Swami Kriyananda chanting and sing along or follow mentally. Choose a chant and work with it for a week or a couple of weeks. See how deep you can go with it.
Choose a Devotional Prayer
Choose a devotional prayer that inspires you. There are many of Yogananda‘s presented in Whispers From Eternity. Memorize one of these and work with it for a week or two. Let his Whispers speak to you in your heart and rouse your devotion and wonder.
Reflect on Your Devotional Practices
Are your devotional practices deepening your meditations? Are they helping you to be with God during the day? If not, experiment with others.
Offer Your Practices to the Guru
Offer your practices to the guru at the beginning in prayer. See your practice as a devotional offering, each breath, your calmness, even your restlessness. Good or bad, lay it at the feet of the guru.
Don’t Waste Time Judging Yourself
Don’t waste time judging yourself and qualifying your meditation as bad. Make what changes you need but continue forward. In my own practice, as often as I catch myself with a wandering mind or a negative attitude towards my practice, I come back to my reality as Master’s child with the words, “Master, I love you.” It works!
…make devotion your priority, you will be able to ride the rough seas in meditation and in life…
If you make devotion your priority, you will be able to ride the rough seas in meditation and in life and maintain the deepest relationship you will ever know in this life through your practice.
May Master Bless you,
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