“How can I learn to love the Energization Exercises?” This article offers tips for motivating yourself to do them regularly. The benefits will then become obvious, and you will find the exercises irresistible.
What do you really want to get from the Energization Exercises? Energy? Vitality? In thinking about it, I find that these things, taken by themselves alone, aren’t really all that satisfying. Something is missing. I think that what we all truly want is the whole package: energy, vitality, calmness, harmony—plus divine wisdom and love.
A sense of inner contact with God
“For what availeth it if a man gain all these things, and lose his soul?” The Energization Exercises can give us a sense of inner contact with God, if we do them with the right motives and in the right spirit.
Draw on God’s energy, calmness, and harmony when you do them. Do them receptively, devotionally. You can make that contact. Just follow the instructions that Master said are essential for success: Do them slowly, with deep willingness, in the order given, and with calm concentration at the spiritual eye.
A temptation is to do them absent-mindedly, to stand outside the process and to say, “Well, I’m doing this because it’s good for me and I’ll get such-and-such result.” But you’ll get minimal results if you do them mechanically. You can’t merely put in your time and take your results.
A “physical chant”
The exercises work devotionally: they are a divine dance—a “physical chant,” a way to pray with the body instead of with words. When you do them in that spirit, God responds as if you’d offered a sincere prayer.
If you do them devotionally, the spiritual benefits will become real for you. Remember, also, Paramhansa Yogananda’s promise—that the Energization Exercises will give you, progressively, the vision of your body as energy, as light, and as a thought in God’s pure consciousness. When you have that perception, the body will no longer be an obstacle on the spiritual path. The Energization Exercises also stimulate the center of will power and spiritual awakening in the forehead, and thus hasten the appearance of the spiritual eye in meditation.
Create an energization habit
Paramhansa Yogananda said that it takes three years to plant a new habit permanently in the brain. Here are some suggestions to help you get through the temptations and distractions that will beset you as you establish a solid habit of practice:
Do the exercises at the same time every day. If you vary your practice times too often, the resulting sense of irregularity and laxity will work against you. Be regular, and your subconscious mind will begin to support your new habit. It will be much easier to blast through inertia and begin practicing at the times of day that you’ve set aside for the exercises.
Do them in the same place. Wherever I’ve lived, I’ve set aside a little space for my twice-daily practice—a little patch of ground, a corner of a room, or a spot in front of a window. If I’m practicing outdoors, the earth becomes packed smooth, giving it a well-worn, homey look. I’m sure, too, that helpful vibrations build up on that spot.
Do them with intense zeal, and the habit will form much faster. Let’s face it—15 minutes of all-out effort twice a day won’t kill you! In fact, you’ll get great satisfaction from giving your best.
Make a vow. Gandhi spoke of the wonderful inner freedom that his many self-imposed disciplinary vows gave him. Keep a calendar of your practice, if you wish. Stubbornness and rajasic restlessness can be turned to the service of a good devotional goal.
Reinforce your good habit in every possible way. Take time now and then to think deeply, willingly, and energetically about the spiritual advantages of doing the Energization Exercises regularly—not in selfish terms, but with the understanding that the fastest way to get the selfless devotion and universal love that you crave, is to please Master.
Do them when you least feel like it. Unwillingness is an enemy and willingness a friend when it’s especially hard to do the Energization Exercises—when you’re tired, busy, or feeling sad and unworthy. At such times, think of yourself as the good, noble warrior who’s been driven into a corner by unworthy opponents. Don’t allow unwillingness to take away your loyalty to “the good.” Do the rechargers with zeal, and unwillingness will flee.
Enjoy them. If you can form the daily habit, the Energization Exercises will reveal to you the stunning perfection of their design. There is endless joy and fascination in the beautiful, ever-new intricacies of their flow.
Sometimes rollicking, bubbling laughter will rise up within you as you practice; sometimes the energy will flow so strongly that you can barely contain it—you’ll feel yourself swimming in an ocean of joyous, divine life. Even when you don’t get those special experiences, enjoy the exercises just because they remind you, like chanting does, to turn your attention inward to the spiritual eye and thoughts of God.
Realize their value. Unlike hatha yoga, there are no famous teachers who’ve made the Energization Exercises the cornerstone of their instruction; no academies of energization; no lovely picture books; no medical research; no TV programs called “Energizing with Elaine.” It takes a little extra courage and faith to practice something that’s new, without a hallowed tradition. You simply have to do the Energization Exercises to find out how great they are; no one will try to sell you on their worth.
I once attended a lecture in which the speaker said: “I can stand here and inspire you with the things I say, but I can’t motivate you—that’s up to you.” You will have to cultivate your own desire to do the Energization Exercises. And the best way to do that is to tie them firmly to the deepest desires of your heart. Realize that they can help you very much to find your inner connection with God.