Upon reading this title, you may be thinking, “What, eight hours! I can’t possibly do that, I just learned to meditate!” Or, “After I’ve been meditating some years, maybe I can work up to that,” or, “I don’t have the time.” If these or other objections are filling your thoughts, read on!

Paramhansa Yogananda felt Christmas to be a very sacred holiday. Not only does it celebrate the birth of the great avatar, Jesus Christ, it also highlights the opportunity we all have to embrace the Christ consciousness in our own self, through meditation.

Jesus Christ is an important part of Ananda’s spiritual lineage. As Paramhansa Yogananda states in his Autobiography of a Yogi, it was Christ who appeared to Mahavatar Babaji asking that the lost, sacred teachings of inner communion with the Divine, which He had given to the world in his incarnation as Jesus, be reawakened.

Paramhansa Yogananda at a Christmas banquet, 1951.

Paramhansa Yogananda at a Christmas banquet, 1951

Yogananda observed that the inner message of Christmas is often lost entirely to shopping, greed, intoxication, etc. He therefore divided Christmas in two: “spiritual Christmas,” celebrated by an all-day meditation, and “social Christmas,” celebrated by gift-giving and a festive banquet. This tradition continues today in all Ananda colonies, as well as at Self-Realization Fellowship, the organization which Paramhansa Yogananda founded.

In 1976, as I was preparing to leave Ananda Village to finish my last year of college, Swami Kriyananda said to me, “Come at Christmas and join us for our eight-hour meditation.” Without waiting to respond or thinking about it, I said, “Yes, I will do that.” Afterward I wondered, “How can I do that? I’m new to meditation! And… sitting that long?” So my friends, I totally understand if you are hesitating!

The "Temple of Silence" as it was in 1977

The “Temple of Silence” as it was in 1977

The first half of the meditation focuses on our meditation techniques and is interspersed with periodic devotional chanting. Most of second half is dedicated to enjoying the fruits of our efforts and expanding upon them. Selections of inspirational music are periodically played during this half to further inspire one to go deeper in the eternal joy of the soul.

In my first Christmas meditation, I was seated in the center of the Meditation Retreat dome, now appropriately called “The Temple of Silence.” Swami Kriyananda was leading the meditation. After the first four hours or so, there is a prescribed “recess” for about 15 minutes. Somehow, I had made it through the first part! Swami Kriyananda got up to leave, briefly, before resuming the meditation. He walked right past me and as he did so he put the full face of his right palm on the top of my head. Instantly I felt God’s blessing through him, and appreciation that I had come.

A great part of spiritual growth, success, and attunement can be summed up by simply trying to be present with the Guru. Trying to do what he has lovingly suggested we do to grow spiritually. We don’t simply “wake up” one day being able to meditate longer. I’ve seen often enough that it’s best to “dive in!” God will keep us afloat in deep waters when we are willing to at least try. And, with such an effort, unforeseeable, unimaginable Grace does flood in.

Walking to a Christmas morning meditation at Ananda Village

Walking to a Christmas morning meditation at Ananda Village

Why wait? The power of these Christmas meditations to lift the novice meditator into experiences undreamed of is priceless. In my own life, I have seen countless times how these long Christmas meditations produce the power to sustain me for an entire year of service, challenges, unpredictable circumstances and the like. They also hold within them the magnetism to be an effective instrument of the will of God through one’s humble life. Answers and clarity hitherto withheld now present themselves. And, when the meditation ends, quite possibly you will feel, “How was that possible? It went so fast!” Your life will be different. You’ll see.

I would like to strongly encourage you to consider participating this Christmas for the Eight Hour Christmas Meditation, whatever your path. Or, perhaps you could try for the first half. If you do not live in or near one of our Ananda colonies or meditation groups, you can participate online through our Virtual Community.

Deep meditation serves us all and serves the world. It is time well spent. Toward this goal, you might want to read related excerpts from The New Path by Swami Kriyananda. He shares some very moving accounts of these meditations as he experienced them when Yogananda was alive and led them — see the last third of Chapter 20.

Happy meditating!


  1. Thank you dear Maria.How beautifully you have written this message.I will definitely meditate on Christmas Day.( I will try eight hours straight but if can’t then I will go by your suggestions.)

    Master’s blessings be upon you.

  2. Thank you so much. As you have said, my first thoughts were indeed of doubt! thank you for giving me the inspiration to do it. I shall sit for the meditation, because, as Master quoted in one of his stories, it is indeed so much better even to fail in the attempt than not trying at all! In the end, what would matter the most would be that our line of Gurus would be happy with us for giving it a try.


  3. Dear sir
    I am proficient in meditation and have meditated for 15 hours previously and 6 hours is really nothing to me so 8 is easy enough too .
    I would like to say that prolonged meditation is of course very good for seeing truth and wish all that take part in this my best wishes and a happy ? and new year . Bless u all xxxx

  4. The only one I missed since 1994 was the year I went to
    the hospital with the cat scratch ? Hope to be there in
    Ananda Sacramento.
    Blessings, Yvonne

  5. I am im Europe Kroatia and can not partisipate. I wod lavento do thet. I trade to kontakt wirtual comuniti but it das not work. Please tel me if in Ananda Asisi do meditate to. Thenk you.

  6. My first 8 hour medication I was lucky enough to be able to drive up to the Expanding Light retreat center as I live less than 2 hours away. At some point, I was loosing focus and thought to myself that I would “tune in” to the energy of those around me. I knew I was in the company of many who had dedicated medications practices and have been on the path for decades. This became one of my most memorable experiences and the time flew by. God and Master always provide.

    1. Thank you Cheryl for sharing your experience. It is very inspiring and will be of great help to others. Even now, I am very aware in group meditations of the uplifting vibrations generated by deep meditators and feel personally blessed to be able to be a part. many blessings, maria

  7. Jaiguru
    Thank you so much for your kind inspiring words. You deeply moved me and through gurus grace I managed to get time off from work and convince myself to go for the 8 hour meditation at yss here In India. I thought I’ll wait till I get initiated to kriya before I can do this.
    It really felt as though time flew by and I felt more love for Christ and am still singing the hymns in my head. May the light of Christ continue to shine bright in all hearts forever and may the gurus bless us with the gift of Christ consciousness. “His love is marching on”??Keep spreading the love and blessing us with your words of inspiration. All the best

  8. I am marrid man and i have three children,age 12, 21 & 22 .
    Is it good for me for maditation
    & and i have recive mantra from my sadguru pass four years back &
    And i alredy stop maditation pass one year back due to my daudhter
    Have same problem she cant study in the college and she cant sleep ,after i stop maditation till now she now in normal condition.
    My upset storry is after my daughter have problem last two years back,i am very upside down
    And i when to see my sadguru to maharastra bombay’ but can not meet my sadguru the people dont allow me see my sadguru,untill now i fill very sad ,

    1. If you can I would recommend that you resume your meditation practice. Meditation can only help your situation and state of being. It creates harmony and unity. It is more challenging when one has family responsibilities so you will need to be considerate of how long you meditate but you can still do some and be regular in your practice. Perhaps your guru is “inviting” you to resume your practice and in this way be with him. Many blessings, maria

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