On Japan’s northernmost island of Hokkaido, I once led a winter nature outing for families. I still vividly recall an eight-year-old boy sitting quietly, intently writing a poem, while a downpour of thick snowflakes fell gently from the sky.
The boy was so focused that he was oblivious to the cold and to the snow piling up around him. The snow rose to cover his legs, then his waist, and, still, the boy remained virtually motionless. Everyone else had long since left for the comfort of a large heated tent. Knowing the group was waiting for us, I asked the boy if he had finished his poem. “Not yet,” he replied. Then he immersed himself once again in his poem.
The absorbed boy sitting in the white sea of snow made a strong impression on me. Swami Kriyananda says, “To worship God ‘in Spirit’ means, in deep meditation, to rise above body consciousness.” The Japanese boy beautifully demonstrated the principle of one-pointed concentration so essential to deep meditation and finding God.
The goal of meditation is to free us from physical and mental limitations and realities. In Conversations with Yogananda, Swami Kriyananda tells how Paramhansa Yogananda could withdraw his mind completely from any pain his body suffered. Once, a thousand-pound concrete wishing well slipped from the grasp of the men lifting it, and crushed his foot. Immediately Yogananda said, “I will show you something, I will focus my concentration on the point between the eyebrows.” As he did so, every trace of pain instantly vanished from his face, and he could walk back and forth easily.
When we withdraw our life force into the spine and brain, we experience another world — a world of Spirit. A friend was standing on a hotel balcony one night in Mexico, enjoying the city lights spread out before him. Suddenly a power failure plunged the city into darkness. As the lights of the city were darkened, the brilliance of the stars came alive. The glow of the city had over-powered the stars’ subtler light. For the devotee, a “spiritual power outage” occurs when he pulls the plug that connects his life force with the senses, and then the inner world comes alive.
Nature’s manifestations are often symbols for deep, inner realities. The sun, for example, is the most immediate “physical” form of AUM, because it enlivens all life.
Similarly, the awakened yogi’s spine finds a physical counterpart in a river, because the human body also has a vast tributary system that feeds life force into the central channel of the spine.
Swami Kriyananda wrote in the Raja Yoga part of the Ananda Course in Meditation:
Tremendous joy and awareness are experienced as one’s consciousness becomes centered sensitively in the spine. The spine is, indeed, the holy river of baptism in which the Godward-moving soul becomes cleansed and regenerated in waters of divine joy.
There are instructive parallels between rivers and the flow of energy in one’s spine.
The Mississippi River’s drainage area comprises 41% of the continental United States. After it has gathered the water from tributaries along its 2,350 mile length, its flow rate is tremendous — 600,000 cubic feet per second. At its headwaters, however, the Mississippi River is puny — flowing at 6 cubic feet per second — making the river’s volume 100,000 times greater as it enters the Gulf of Mexico. The disparity in flow rate between the Mississippi River’s headwater and mouth is comparable to the difference between the energy flowing in the spine of an ordinary man and an advanced yogi.
Most people’s spines are spiritually paralyzed, and their life force is locked up in their bodies. Spiritual progress begins when we redirect our energy inward — changing the center of our consciousness from the body and senses to the spine and brain, and thus transmuting it into superconsciousness. Withdrawing the life force is the inner, universal path of all spiritual effort.
The goal of every raindrop is to reach the sea, just as it is the goal of every soul to unite with God. Both, however, must enter their respective “channels” if they wish to make rapid progress. Geologists estimate that it takes 90 days for a drop of water to travel the length of the Mississippi River until it merges into the Gulf of Mexico. By contrast, if that drop remained in the earth as groundwater, it would travel just four inches per day. To journey the length of the Mississippi would take it 100,000 years — over 400,000 times longer than by traveling in the river.
Kriya Yoga draws our energy into the river of the spine, which makes it, as Yogananda says, the “super-quick” method for finding God.
According to yoga science, cosmic energy enters the body through the medulla oblongata, the negative pole of the sixth chakra, located at the base of the skull. Then it descends down the spine and out through the chakras to different regions of the body. The energy flowing from the heart chakra, for example, radiates outward through the nerve channels to the physical heart, lungs, and chest, and into the arms and hands.
The spinal centers, or chakras, are found at the points where tributary streams of energy can either flow outward to sustain the body or flow from the physical body inward to the spine. There is a tremendous amount of energy locked in our bodies waiting to be released. When it is released, the devotee feels an overwhelming sense of joy in his spine.
To drive this point home to us, Swami Kriyananda said, “You don’t realize how much power, bliss, and expansion there is in the chakras as you go deeper into them.”
To give you a greater sense of this subtle reality, practice The River of Joy visualization during your next meditation:
Visualize your spine… as a mighty river flowing inside you.
Feel its magnetic current rising upwards from the base of your spine to your spiritual eye and merging into the vast Ocean of Spirit.
Feel streaming into your chakras rivers of divine joy. Feel all of your chakras and your whole spine nourished by inflowing rivers of bliss.
Pray: O Ocean of Bliss I Return to Thee!
Swami Kriyananda has defined Ananda as a rising flow of energy. The whole path of Kriya Yoga: devotion, selfless service, attunement with one’s guru, meditation, and right living and attitudes, help keep your consciousness interiorized and expansive. God’s nature is joy, and when we, like the prodigal son, begin our journey home, we’ll experience more and more of His bliss in our lives.
Interiorization is not only a state one achieves: It is an attitude that must be cultivated consciously. I invite you, dear friend, to share what practices you’ve found helpful in keeping your consciousness interiorized and inspired throughout the day.
May your feel ever more deeply the blissful presence of God. I want to wish you a blessed New Year.
In divine friendship,
I enjoyed reading the above newsletter that recharged my enthusiasm to pursue this path. The clarity of the truth expressed is beautiful.
Chanting of AUM GURU throughout the day whenever possible and thinking of simple incidents and events in Parmahansha Yoganandaji’s life off and on, in the context of my own life throughout the day makes me feel close to him and my mind starts the japa of Om Guru automatically which leads to interiorization of my mind.
What I have practiced is sitting in meditation and tuning into what one describe as white noise. It’s that ringing sound that one can hear if one is quite and still. After tuning into this noise one meditates on it. Just focusing on this noise. After a while one can sense the silence that is always there. Soon one puts that “anchor-sound” (the white noise) aside naturally and is fully one with the silence – that which can be labeled silence. It is like coming home :)
The first time I practiced this method, I heard this within me:
“Silence is Omnipresent, God is omnipresent. Notice the Silence and you will notice the God.”
I usually repeat this when I am starting meditation :)
Thank you so much for this wonderful article Barat. Your joy of practice is compelling and reminds me of how precious those moments of practice are.
Staying in tune with Master when my daily duties are distracting me, I am reminded to focus on my spiritual eye and once again I am brought back to a more centered awareness. I breath more deeply and it reminds me that the vitality of my life is on the inside, in the flow of presence and oneness with the infinite.
Thank you for the reflection of love’s ever present sweetness. May this year be filled with precious moments of eternity. Namaste!
Thank you for this wonderful letter and the River of Joy visualization.
I live by the Mississippi river and take long walks on the banks.
Blessings to all !
Eva, a kriyaban from Memphis.
I am following teachings of Paramhansa Yogananda since 1970 I am a member of YSS
and a Kriyaban I am nearing 80 years For first
few years I made rapid progress Even with 14
Kriyas I would feel my body very light like a baloon and also acquired some sort of Sidhi of
levitation and could prophecise future events
Some would be in ether and come during Sadhna In my spine I would have the sensation of like crawling of ants Though the Kriyas which I do is 50 but I do not feel the
intensity I do not know if this is due to blocking
of Chakras Besides Kriya Pranayam I do
Anulom Vilom Kapalbhati and Hong Sau Pranayams for about 10 minutes each I do regular Energy Exercises
Reply to Tej Mohan, #5
When we received experiences in meditation such as the ones you have described, they are a result of God’s grace. These experiences from God are His way of showing us our spiritual potential and motivating us to seek Him alone.
Paramhansa Yogananda wrote the following to help us keep the right perspective and attitude toward our meditation practice:
“When a spiritual devotee, after a few years of deep meditation, acquires a divine joy, he should not be over-confident in the lasting quality of that experience, until he reaches the final beatitude. Many devotees become self-satisfied with the superconscious joy of the soul and with beholding a few astral lights. They do not make further deep efforts at meditation, and thus fail to unite their consciousness with the omnipresent joy and light of Spirit.
“A devotee who meditates regularly but finds himself the victim of a sudden explosion of subconscious restlessness should not be discouraged nor stop making renewed efforts at deeper meditation and God-contact. Until one is anchored in the Infinite, he must valiantly race his mental ship of concentration on the calm or rough seas of inner experiences until he reaches the shores of unending communion with the Infinite.”
Thank you Bharat for the soul-stimulating analogies and insights. Also, thank you all working on this Ananada website, as your gracious efforts are blessings and extremely inspiring.
A special thank you goes out to Swami Kriyananda as I’ve been listening to some of your books on tape which have helped me to open my heart more fully to God, and God within other people. My devotional capabilities were much in need of blossoming inward and outward.
Peace, Love, and Happiness to all- God Bless :)
As I look out my window and see beautiful large white glistening snowflakes fall, your article brings a smile to my face. I feel very blessed to have continued guidance from such a Great Soul. Thank you!
Thank you, Bharat. Your writing is always clear and inspiring, lifting your readers into ever higher channels of devotion, into the sound of Aum.
Wonderful! I always look forward to the Daily Meditator Newsletter; and have learned so much. In love and peace, BC
I too experienced blisses when first beginning Kriya Yoga practice. I would have visions, raptures, and relocations. I have been practicing since the 1990’s when Master revealed his loving self to me. I love his sense of humor. I knew that he would bring me to God through devotion. The special graces didn’t last long, but I know what I am working towards and the joy that awaits. Through Master, I have met and worked with other Masters such as Jesus and Babaji. I was thrilled to discover Ananda in Palo Alto, CA since I was so disappointed with the Mother Center in Los Angeles. Thank you so much for your wonderful newsletter.
As always Bharat, your words rejuvenate the spirit and put a smile on my face :-)
One of the more helpful things for me during busy days, last thing at night and first thing in the morning, is to practice a simple mental affirmative reminder (often said forcefully and repeatedly when very distracted) …. as follows:
“I exist separate from this body, this mind and these emotions – I am one with divine light. I am bathing in bliss right now”
While this may seem presumptive to some, indeed it is our reality, so why not move into it now.
Yogananda suggested that affirmations are best suited to one’s temperament, and based on one’s own heart song. Try creating your own affirmations, based on your inner promptings. They can provide a strong anchor amidst noisy distractions and daily challenges. :-)
In all the times I am learning more and more to how become more of just what really I am.
It is a new experience I tried today to feel my spine flowing upward like a river to my 3rd.eye. It felt wonderful and it made me feel of more of the vastness of just where I am. I will be taking more time on this experience and will make it a practice to bring peace, harmony and joy into my daily life.
With love and blessings in the lights
Dear Bharat, Thank you for the profound teachings. My heart if so full after seeing tonight’s amazing sunset (provided by Divine Mother) here in So. California and reading this piece. When I go on facebook there are so many different opinions both good and bad, the result is jarring. When I read these beautiful passages my mind is clear, fresh and filled with Light. My meditations are filled with gratitude. Much appreciation, blessings to you. :)
Thank you Mr. Bharat. the mississippi river was a wonderful example !
Rasoulpour from Tabriz city/Iran
Very wonderful, I look forward this newletter daily, realy it is need for everyone to think about to achieve the aim of eternal.
Thank you Bharatji for your reply to my comments of 7th instant I realize what Paramhansa ji said “When a spiritual devotee,after a few years of deep meditation,
acquires a divine joy, he should not be Over-confident in the lasting quality of that experience ,until he reaches the final beautitude”
How important it is to remember the lessons again and again Tej
“Om kriya Babaji Nama Aum”
Thank you for sharing the wonderful analogies of the boy in the snow, the stars and the Mississippi river. I found them all meaningful and inspiring. God bless you!
Thank you Bharat!
The groundwater analogy made sense; a constant reminder to get into the mighty Mississippi flow!
Thank you Orion, that was comforting and uplifting. Only we can make Yogananda’s message our own!
Your descriptions of water and the channels is so perfect. Thank you for this.