When I was first embarking on Yogananda’s path about 10 years ago, I was thrilled to be given such effective techniques to relax the body and calm the mind. The energization exercises were of particular interest to me and I dove into them with great earnestness. Having received the lessons through the mail with no personal training, I did my best to interpret and practice them correctly.
When I finally made it to a group practice, I began to notice that there were many interesting interpretations of energization. Some of them made me question whether I had understood them correctly. It wasn’t until I arrived at Ananda some five years later that I was given personal instruction. This clarified many of my questions and set me on the path to receiving greater benefit from them.
One of the main purposes of energization is to strengthen the will and gain greater control over one’s own life energies. With this comes the importance of regularity. If I only practiced them when I was “in the mood”, it would probably be only an occasional thing. But I have found it very helpful to commit to practicing them twice a day regardless of any circumstances. It can certainly be challenging to tense the muscles in all these various ways in the late evening after a full day of work and play. Here are a few points that I have found helpful:
1) Focus not so much on the tension, but rather on sending the energy from the medulla to the specific body part. Tension feels like effort and can lead to a great resistance towards regular practice. Whereas, calmly directing energy through the agency of the will helps us see it more as Yogananda said, “A breakfast of Cosmic Energy”. We are taking in energy just as we take food for a meal. Fill your muscles with astral nutrients.
2) Find a buddy. It is unquestionably easier to get healthy habits started when there is another devotee encouraging you to keep it up. Spiritual efforts are reinforced and bring greater results “where two or more are gathered”. The ego will give you every reason to bypass your spiritual efforts, but if someone is holding you accountable, its clever suggestions simply have less of an influence.
3) When you are absolutely beyond the point of exhaustion from a busy day, tell yourself you will just do the first couple of exercises. You may just find that after a few, you have the energy for a few more, and a few more, and before you know it you are in the normal flow and it will carry you to the end. Sometimes you just have to trick yourself into it. This can also work on an unwilling buddy. Encourage them to just practice the first few with you. Then point and laugh when they are finished with the whole routine!
4) Finally, make it fun. No one likes to be forced to do anything. Just as a great disciple, Brother Bimalananda, while energizing, was overheard by Swami Kriyananda saying, “Pump it in, Divine Mother. Pump it in!” Make it not so much a solitary effort but one of God-communion. Imagine the great masters energizing all around you and filling you with Bliss. Energize not so much on the physical plane, but think of the practice as Divine Mother energizing your heart with Her love.
A wise monk once said to me, “Perseverance is the whole secret to the spiritual path”. The masters tell us that when Divine Mother knows you will go to the end of eternity in the quest for Her, that is when She will reveal Herself. May your unceasing efforts be blessed with the ultimate success!