To meditate a short time with depth is better than to meditate for long hours with the mind running wild.” – Paramhansa Yogananda

I heard about meditation for the first time from my aunt. She might have suggested it because it seemed necessary. During those times, I certainly needed guidance but at the same time, I didn’t know I needed it. I could not even admit to myself that I had some personal issues. I was so unaware, that I made a mess out of my life. So, I listened to her advice and started meditating.

After a month, I told her, “Auntie, I started out meditating for five minutes. Now I can do 30-minutes, sometimes I can even do 45!” She chuckled and told me, “That’s good.”

I simply didn’t know what meditation was. I thought it was a competition of how long you can sit in silence. I was measuring it based on time. As a beginner, I thought I was doing great by regularly hitting the 30-minute mark without any sort of movement.

I wasn’t really getting so much from it other than flaunting my 30-minute record to my friends. It took more than five years of practice before I stumbled onto something. When it did, the time spent in meditation was no longer my concern. Slowly, I began remembering something…

That remembering was a subtle shift that made me curious to learn more.

ECLIPSING INNOCENCE

I grew up thinking that everything in life happens for no reason at all. I grew up without a dad. I thought that maybe this was a good excuse to burn and hate the world. This was not always the case. In my younger years, I remember moments where I would suddenly experience an inexplicable feeling of intense joy. It was as if I was literally floating on air and for no apparent reason. I was just so happy. I could sit in my room for hours feeling excessively elated. Sometimes I thought I was losing it. I would also start crying for no reason at all.

This ecstatic feeling slowly dissipated as I grew up. My attention began to shift to some other things. One of those things was more chaotic; something society would tag as cool. I started behaving brashly in school. I dressed eccentrically to ward off people. Anything that supported non-conformity – I did that. I distanced myself more and more from society. I distanced myself even from myself. Suffering started to slowly creep into my life.

The process of losing my joy to suffering was extremely painful. I started to forget how it was to be joyful as I learned more and more about misery and suffering.

Suffering began to be like my best friend. I firmly believed that I was bound to suffer and blamed the people around me for why I had become such a nuisance. I would drink myself to oblivion. Literally. I would spend more than half of my salary every month on liquor alone. I came to work with a hangover as a statement because I wanted to look cool. There was absolutely nothing in moderation that I did and the more I tried to hit the high, the harder I sank into my own prison.

The worst part of it all was that I did not know what was going on.

LEARNING TO FLY AGAIN

“Meditate more and more deeply, until calmness and joy become second nature to you.” – Paramhansa Yogananda

The kind of destructive lifestyle I was living was very, very, VERY tiring. I finally reached a point where I was fed up with all of the non-sense and pain. I began to search for solutions.

One of my favorite movies is Hook, starring Robin Williams. For those born in the ’80s, you probably know what I am talking about – Hook was a movie about Peter Pan who was living a mundane life. He had totally forgotten how to fly. It turned out that the trick to make him fly was to simply think happy thoughts.

That story made so much sense to me. I had lost my ability to fly and no matter how hard I tried to fly, I could not think of a single happy thought. I sank further into my self-created drama.

It was at this point that my aunt came to my aid and introduced me to meditation. I started to meditate but did not observable any immediate effects. I did see that meditating was far better than drowning myself in misery.

It has only been recently since the global pandemic that I could see that my meditation was starting to bear fruit. The silence during lockdowns created an atmosphere of calm and peace for me. I had a strong sense of clarity. This was somewhat ironic since the world was so focused and engaged with the wrath of the virus. I, however, was at home feeling elated once again.

Meditation was a reminder. It gave me the remembrance of how I can naturally float in ecstasy. Slowly, I was beginning to realize that I knew how to fly all along.

STORIES FROM MASTER

Paramhansa Yogananda

My aunt was a follower of the Paramhansa Yogananda. I have always known her to be a devotee but I never gave it so much as a thought. I just saw the photos of this guru in her room together with other Hindu deities. One day, I just felt compelled to search for this guru on the internet. I looked and looked but I was not satisfied with all of the information I found. I found an e-book called Autobiography of a Yogi that I thought was quite boring at first glance but I felt prompted to read it nevertheless.

I read one chapter each day. In some of the chapters, I asked myself, Is this even real?!  The book had this inexplicable charm. I felt like it was talking to me. Each chapter was so full of wisdom and slowly the story grew inside of me. I remember reading the words of Master as he described this feeling of blissfulness inside the energy field of God. I was so blown away. Is this what I felt when I was young? Master was narrating an experience that I myself seemed to experience! All of this time I had thought I was abnormal because I felt some of those things that Master described. The stories I read in the Autobiography made me want to feel this bliss even more.

I was halfway through the book when I called my aunt one day. I told her just like a child would say, “Auntie I feel like there’s a possibility that I can become like Christ. All of us can be!” She just chuckled and said, “That’s good.”

REMAINING INNOCENT

“Meditation is like giving a hug to ourselves, getting in touch with that awesome reality in us. While meditating we feel a deep sense of intimacy with God, a love that is inexplicable.”

I came across one of Yogananda’s teachings online. He said that if we continuously seek God, we could never fail. That line brought tears to my eyes. Most of the time, I really do not understand why I get so passionate and emotional whenever I hear his words. I am also not too eager to know, either.

All I know is that Master’s own devotion in seeking and being with the love of God had such an impact on me. Before, life used to be a chore but now my life has become a journey. I printed out photos of Master and placed them in my room. I discovered why these photos are in my aunt’s room. The photos helped me a lot during my meditations. It is as if Master is really there with me. Often, I cry. I cry mostly because of gratitude, not sadness.

Am I becoming a child again?  

After finishing the Autobiography of a Yogi, I felt reborn. I felt so inspired. I understand why and how this book has changed so many lives. It changed how I perceive my life. It changed how I function in my daily life and how I am with other people and my loved ones.

I began to love myself more and more as I continued my meditation journey. Sometimes I get funny ideas too! When I do, I share them with my aunt. I called her one time and said, “Auntie I like to grow my hair long since Christ, Babaji, and Yogananda had long hair. Do you think it would look good on me?” She chuckled and said, “That’s good!”

9 Comments

  1. Dear Pepper,
    Thank you for sharing your story. It’s beautiful. There is hope for everyone who sincerely seeks God. Many blessings on your journey to becoming Christ like.

  2. Dear Pepper, thank you very much for telling us your story. I find more and more that I am inspired by people who share their personal stories which you have done. I also find your writing in a language that is not your first really great.
    Vajra in portland Oregon

  3. Dear pepper,
    It is so inspiring to everone who are in spiritual path. Thanks for sharing. God and gurus bless you.

  4. Pepper, your beautiful story is like a condensed version of the soul’s journey of many lifetimes! I’m grateful for the guardian angel of your aunt which led you to your Guru. In Joy, Kim

  5. Pepper, I am so happy to hear a kababayan discover the Wisdom and Grace found in AY. I’ll be going to PI sometime next year so I hope we can meet in person and share Master’s blessings.

  6. Thank you for sharing your story Pepper. I am so happy for you in regaining your natural inner joy. Blessings!

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