It’s dark out and I realized I’ve been awake for awhile unable to sleep. I still my heart and mind as I always do with the words, “I love the Lord my God with all my heart, all my mind, all my soul and with all my strength.” And then, in complete awe, I say to myself, “I get to meditate!” (I will admit here that, while generally speaking, I am an early riser, I nonetheless, can and do, sometimes awake tired, but even so, I am in awe.)
The alarm sounds, it is 4:30 am and we get up to make our early meditation so we can get to the farm by 8am and start what we know will be a very full day. Our meditation time is earlier this time of year to suit the demands of the growing season with too little time to do a great many things. As we walk up the hill by our house to the temple in our housing cluster, we can hear a distant owl, the minnowing of a snipe, and the sounds of deer startled by our passing.
The sweet little temple, in Ranikhet Cluster, is situated admist the towering pines and the air is filled with the sound of AUM moving through the trees. The young adults with whom we serve on Ananda Farm join with us for meditation. Together we number about 12. Some of them are great chanters and their prayers give expression to their deep and magnetic longing for God. When we first came to Ananda we were their age. Again, I say to myself, “I get to meditate with these great souls!”
After prayer and chanting, a short reading is selected from one of the following: Whispers from Eternity, The Revelations of Christ, The Essence of the Bhagavad Gita, Conversations with Yogananda and The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayam; five scriptures, one for each day. As I listen, I feel that I am hearing these words for the first time. How could I not have heard these words before? But in our “awakened state,” everything sounds new. Yogananda would oftentimes describe the spiritual path as “Ever new Joy.” He calls to us to treasure the moments we have with God and always to approach meditation as though we are practicing it for the first time, full of expectation, and anticipation that He will come and our feeling of separation will be no more.
Meditation isn’t easy for any of us “all the time.” But we learn how to work with it, to look for the “ever new,” and to guard against exchanging our devotion for a consciousness entirely preoccupied with qualifying results.
Recently, in a meditation with Swami Kriyananda, the thought came to me that we can never really know what we are receiving. We might feel joy, peace, a little bliss, but can we really know the scope of blessing that is flooding our being, the karma that is being expiated? I, for example, like many, have had the experience of meditating in a very holy place, or with people whom I consider saintly, and felt nothing. It happens, but who is to say what is really taking place on a deeper level? What we can know, however, is the feeling of love for God moving through our hearts at any moment in time, and that while we can, it is in the best interest of our soul to do whatever we can to deepen that love so that it never wains and we are ever awake in Him.
I get to meditate! And, whether serenly blissful, or…..challenging, what a blessing it is! As sister Gynamata, Yogananda’s foremost woman disciple, said, “It is a blessing to even attempt to meditate.”