A lot of people decide to learn meditation but far too many do not stick with it nor decide to make it a practice for life. I suspect that to these individuals meditation seems too much of a labor, an investment of time they don’t think they have, or as some may call it — a selfish pursuit. There are as many reasons for not meditating as there are people who don’t meditate but here is a very good and practical reason to meditate.
We know that the body, mind, and soul are interconnected. We have a duty to keep the body fit, the mind engaged in growth and development, and a duty to the soul to meditate on the Source of our Being. If we fulfill our obligation to the soul, the body and mind will benefit as well. However, if we neglect the soul, eventually the body and the mind will pay a price.
I realized this truth as a college student and sought out and found a meditation teacher in Swami Kriyananda. I have been practicing meditation ever since. In many ways, however, I think that I am still a beginner – that there is so much more to learn and become. In a pleasant and beautiful way, I feel that the practice of meditation is unending.
When you learn to meditate you are setting yourself upon a path of inner self-discovery and adventure. The wonder of it all will be a gift throughout your life, as well as a gift to all who know you. When you learn to meditate, it will truly be a gift to the world.
Everyone can meditate
In Paramhansa Yogananda’s time, Henry Ford, the founder of The Ford Motor Company, became a great success and millionaire. Many people set their dreams on trying to follow in his footsteps. Yogananda pointed out to his students, referring to Ford, that it is not possible for everyone to become a millionaire because of the individual karma of each soul. It simply is not everyone’s destiny. It is, however, the destiny of each soul to reclaim their spiritual wealth and to override those thoughts and actions that run counter to that ultimate destiny.
It is the destiny of each soul to reclaim his spiritual wealth…
Aligning ourselves with expanding awareness
The pursuits of a lifetime, even if noble, can lead us down pathways we never intended, if we are not centered in greater awareness. Life is a choice between worldly consciousness and higher consciousness. The path we take dictates the outcome.
If we are influenced negatively by the world and worldly consciousness, we acquire bad habits and a life centered around those repeated harmful behaviors. The society that has influenced us in that way does not accept responsibility for this. It is up to us to change the pattern. Would life be different if we set aside one hour out of 24 for daily meditation? This is a question definitely worth pondering.
Meditation helps us to center ourselves daily in truth and right action. Regular meditation practice generates a magnetism that both attracts those things that we are looking for in life and honors the source of all we have been given.
We may not see day-to-day the overall effects and benefits of meditation, but they are there in countless ways. When you go deeper in your meditation practice, you will feel it. You will know it. Those who have practiced meditation deeply can say along with Yogananda:
We would not trade it for anything. In meditation, we have found the lasting happiness of our souls.
The Story of Sudhama
Sudhama lived with his wife in a little Indian Village. They were very poor and worked very hard for the little they had. Even so, they were very happy. Their lives were devoted to Lord Krishna. Interestingly enough, Sudhama was a childhood playmate of Krishna, but by now they hadn’t seen one another in decades. They had been such dear friends.
One day as Sudhama looked upon his beloved wife, he was overwhelmed to see in her thin frame their poverty. Labor had hardened her soft skin and turned the little they had to wear into rags. Understanding his silent gaze, she then asked him if he wouldn’t go and visit Krishna and ask for his help. After all, Krishna was a wealthy king by this time and surely would share some of his wealth to help them in their great need. Sudhama was very reluctant to ask this favor of Krishna but looking at his wife he felt there was no other alternative.
His wife gave him a few grains of fried rice which she had begged from the villagers and she wrapped these in a scrap of worn cloth as an offering to Krishna. He headed down the road in a thoughtful mood, but also he was increasingly joyful as he anticipated their reunion. Much sooner than he thought he arrived at Krishna’s palace. Krishna, already knowing that his friend was coming, welcomed him personally with open arms. They embraced and relished each other’s company. Sudhama could not utter his request and so the time passed in sharing stories, remembrances, and the deep friendship that flowed between them.
Finally, Krishna asked Sudhama what he was carrying in his pocket. Sudama did not want to give him what he thought to be an unworthy gift. He felt embarrassed. Krishna grabbed at his pocket and out spilled the rice. It was Krishna’s favorite, cooked perfectly, and even now fresh and delicious. They enjoyed their time together immensely but Sudhama never uttered a word about their poverty and their need. Eventually, Sudhama took leave reluctantly and turned in the direction of home. He seemed to travel the distance in an instant and as he approached, he did not recognize the surroundings. There he found extensive gardens, a shining palace, and his wife, beautifully dressed, standing on the steps to greet him. They fell into each other’s arms and shed tears of joy at the knowing of the Giver of this sweet comfort and divine shelter. They continued to live their lives as they always had, devoted to Lord Krishna.
The lesson, which cannot be overstated, is that when we aspire for higher awareness, everything else comes into the focus of that expanding light. As Yogananda said as mentioned above, mind and body are benefited, as well.
Meditation as an offering
When you think of meditation practice as an offering, it is always an act of giving. Meditation is an act of giving to God, giving to others and the world, and of serving others. There is such a desperate need for this gift all around. It is frustrating when one feels that there is nothing they can do to really help others or a situation of crisis but you can help. Meditation does help, because it expands one’s consciousness. When our consciousness expands, it is much easier and natural to see the realities and needs of others. It becomes easier to find the right words, to act appropriately, to pray for others, to truly be of help even if not outwardly.
A gift of meditation
Meditation can be the gift of a lifetime in the truest sense of the word. This is something that is simple for you to do. When you are wondering and worrying about how to help a friend in need, consider giving them a class in meditation. Ananda.org regularly offers a Lessons In Meditation series.
There are, of course, many classes of this nature offered from a vast array of different groups. You can find the one that you feel would make the most appropriate gift but decide today that you are going to take up this practice and employ this priceless gift. Decide also that you are going to offer it to another as a way of making a difference in the world in which we all live and share and have our being.
Start a New Meditation Practice or Inspire Your Current One
The 10-week Lessons in Meditation online course is designed to provide in-depth instruction in scientific meditation techniques that bring more peace, deeper relaxation, and focused concentration to every area of your life, regardless of outer conditions.
These techniques are based on the teachings of Paramhansa Yogananda, author of Autobiography of a Yogi.