I’ve been on this path for almost 30 years and I’m just beginning to realize how much my consciousness has been changed by the teachings of Yogananda and the guidance and influence of Swami Kriyananda.

“How would he respond in this situation?” has become part of my thinking, and it is a remarkably easy way to keep myself centered and joyful. I have had the opportunity to know Swami Kriyananda, and observe him in many situations, but you can also get to know him through his music, his writings and his talks.

Recently, I was spending a great deal of time in the hospital, at my mother’s bedside. I’m a former nurse and my sister and I were actually providing all the hands-on care, short of dealing with the IV machine.

I would arrive in the wee hours of the morning, shortly after my sister went home to rest, and the nurses would welcome me with smiles. But one morning I came in through the E.R. entrance at 4am and the guard reluctantly called the floor for permission to let me through. The head nurse said no.

I got on the phone and kindly pleaded with her for “permission” to be with my mother. She was concerned I would disturb the other patients and I offered to sit in the waiting area if there was a problem, and she eventually agreed.

When I reached my mother’s room I tiptoed in and sat at her side, silently checking her breathing and the machines. The charge nurse came in and challenged me, giving every indication that if I left the room she would not let me back in. I was kind, but firm about staying put.

As I sat there in the dark, I considered the alternatives. I could accept the challenge and see the nurse as an adversary, then face a battle for bedside rights during the rest of my mother’s stay. Very unpleasant, and dangerous for my mother.

But when I visualized Swami Kriyananda in the same situation, I knew that was not what he would do. I prayed for guidance and understanding. I saw clearly that the nurse was really a loving soul, who had given her life in service to others. Perhaps she was surprised by our presence and didn’t like surprises. I knew from my own nursing experience that families are not always assets in patient care.

I prayed for her understanding, I asked God to bless her with calmness and I poured out my heartfelt gratitude for her skill and attention on behalf of all the patients. Then I refused to put any more negative energy into the situation.

The next night, she walked into the room while my sister and I were present and my mother was awake. After asking if I was the same person she had asked to leave the night before, she offered a sincere and sweet apology. I was stunned and touched, as she stood in front of my sister and mother, within earshot of the other patient, and said there was no excuse for her behavior.

I looked her in the eye, as Swami Kriyananda would, and told her we were very grateful for her concern and pleased with the care that was being provided. As we discussed my mother’s condition, she seemed to have a sudden inspiration and offered to move her to a private room that was becoming available later that night.

She personally made sure the move happened before her shift was over and treated us with loving-kindness during the rest of our stay. The ER guard also inexplicably changed, greeting me with a cheerful smile and escorting me through like an old friend, regardless of the hour.

Swami Kriyananda always treats others as souls, with the highest potential. Every time I remember to do the same, grace flows through the situation and I can feel God’s presence. Try thinking like him, and see the positive changes that will come, because you have opened the door to the highest within yourself.

In loving friendship,