Yogananda author of Autobiography of a Yogi inspiration for daily life blog by Nayaswami Jyotish and Nayaswami Devi, disciples of Yogananda

“Mist and Dawn” painting by Nayaswami Jyotish

In the early years of Ananda, especially during the cold winters, an essential item for survival was a good down sleeping bag. This was because very few of our dwellings had adequate heating. Whether we were toughing it out in a canvas teepee, or luxuriating in an old bread truck, by the middle of the night our homes were freezing. It was then that our sleeping bags became our best friends.

I remember facing many a cold, dark morning as I woke up to the buzzing of my alarm clock telling me it was time for meditation. The challenge of emerging from the warm cocoon of my down bag into the frigid air of my small trailer was a daily struggle.

One friend came up with a great image to describe the experience: “Some people are like toast. When the alarm clock goes off, they immediately pop out of bed. Others are like baked potatoes – they like to hunker down in the warmth and remain there.”

People who fell more into the “baked potato” category developed different techniques to roust themselves out of bed. Someone told me that when his alarm clock went off, he would turn on his flashlight and roll it across the room. This would force him to get up to retrieve it before the batteries ran down. Others would have a “wake-up buddy” pound on their door and remain outside till the “baked potato” said they were getting up.

Those cold mornings had their challenges, but they also provided wonderful training in self-discipline and had a great sense of adventure about them. Master said that the reason most people don’t make progress on the path is that they lack a “sense of spiritual adventurousness.”

To pop up and say yes to the adventure of life, to push past the warmth of the comfortable, and to face challenges cheerfully – all these are survival tools much more enduring and valuable than even our cherished down sleeping bags.

If you are in the “toast” category, you are probably doing fine already. But if you are a “baked potato,” don’t be afraid to face the challenges before you. They are God’s gift to roust you out of your current state of spiritual slumber and help you awaken fully in Him.

With love in God,
Nayaswami Devi


  1. I fall into that baked potato category and I still find it difficult to get up and meditate. This story has inspired me to find the adventure in getting up even though I would rather not. My perspective has changed from what I would rather do to what does God want me to do, so thank you for posting this.
    Moving out of slumber/tamasic consciousness to satvicc/aware and alert consciousness is an adventure! How cool is that?!

  2. Thank you for such an inspiring message. I am a ‘baked potato” summer or winter. Your mail is very inspiring, and at the right time.
    aum guru

    1. Dear Pankaj,
      We all are usually a bit of both — but we can try to move more to the toast category.
      May you be blessed in your efforts,

  3. Thank you Devi! Master’s comment about making progress on the spiritual path reminds me of his declaration that everything yields to earnestness. And again Lahiri Mahasaya’s words come to mind, “Banat, banat, ban jai!” “Striving, striving, one day behold!” or “Making, making, some day made!”

    1. Dear Jim,
      It’s such a simple concept, but so helpful — no effort is wasted.
      With blessings,

  4. It has been truly inspiring this week at SRW, Devi, to hear stories like this from you and others. It is truly an honor to be in the presence of all of you who have been here since the beginning and stay here to help us all along on the spiritual path. I look forward to these messages that lift the spirit.

    1. Dear Trisha,
      It’s a great joy for all of us to share stories of Ananda’s early years, our baby steps on the path, and of Swamiji. May you be blessed by what has gone before.
      With love,

  5. Beautifully put, Devi. Thank you! A wonderful Spiritual Renewal Week, even at a distance. I’m enjoying this new column you are both doing. Many blessings to you and Jyotish, Great Souls that you are. In Master’s love always

    1. Dear Janakidevi,
      How nice to hear from you. We’re glad that you’re able to participate in SRW at a distance. There have been so many wonderful speakers and stories told. Hope that you and Byasa are both well.
      With love,

  6. Your comment is certainly true, and for me it was difficult growing up the only piece of toast in a bag of potatoes. Your comments bring joy and a certain lightheartedness to a cold morning along the path.
    Thanks and blessings,

    1. Dear Mitch,
      Glad that you found your identity early on as toast among potatoes. It’s so helpful to make the spiritual path fun.
      With joy,

  7. Sweet Devi, what a wonderful story and what a great way to describe our various ways of being. Sometimes I am toast and other times I am baked potato – with sour cream, cheese, and chives! This description helps me put a visual on the two different ways to approach something and this makes it easier to aim at more toastiness and less spud! Thanks for a great article! And thanks for everything at SRW – I am one of the folks watching the videos after the fact and loving every minute of them!

    1. Dear Krysta,
      Glad you enjoyed the story and that you’re able to be a part of SRW through the internet. It’s been a very blessed week.
      With joy,

  8. Timely message, Jyotish. Just what I needed to hear!

  9. A touch Of light is really giving inspiration to me. Thank you for this. I think while waking up, our body and mind both should be healthy. If we find pain in nerves, we need to push this pain through exercise and right diet. But it needs time to overcome this pain in muscles sometimes. We need to develop good habits. Om guru

    1. Dear Pradhya,
      We’re so glad that you are enjoying these newsletter. Developing good habits is so important on the spiritual path. May God guide and bless your steps to HIm.
      With joy,

  10. Dear Devi,
    Thanks for writing such beautiful stories we moved in a new house last August and am yet not getting to use my meditation room. Cause of my own creation that I need it to be well organized and it is yet to be fully organized.
    Thanks for the reminder .

    1. Felt that when I moved, Manjeri ji. Probably important to spiritually energize the place you are going to meditate. I found it took some time to get to proper meditation when moved to a new place.

  11. Better than toast or potato, “be thou a yogi”
    When you awaken in the morning, while still lying down, gently perform the 20-part body recharging to energize the body. Then sit up and immediately meditate without getting out of bed.
    This practice will help you because you are not jolting the body, i.e. stripping its gears and you are keeping the life force centered in the spine (where it had retired during sleeping).
    Jumping out of bed may cause you to get involved in activity (a drink of water, elimination, getting dressed, etc.) and distractions; then you will need to to exert additional time and effort to get back to that awakening restful state.
    It is a more efficient and effect practice to gently energize in supine position and then immediately to meditate. So our Gurudev often suggested.

    1. Thank you for sharing, Carol ji. Will definitely try that. The 20 part body recharge before getting out of bed, and ten straight to Hong Sau! :-)

    2. Very helpful comment. Thanks for sharing this with others.

  12. Dear Devi,
    I really enjoyed your article. interesting and entertaining! Also, please tell Jyotish how beautiful I think his painting of Master and that gorgeous sky is. When I first saw it I thought it was a photograph. It is very powerful and moving! looking forward to seeing you and Jyotish on the Italian pilgrimage. It won’t be long now!
    Love, Tricia

    1. Dear Tricia,
      Yes, our pilgrimage is coming up soon. What a wonderful spiritual gift this will be for all of us.
      With joy,

  13. Dear deviji,
    As someone else pointed out , You guys are mind readers,
    Potato category trying the toast routine since five days now and ………. needed to hear this.
    thanks for these weekly letters……… a devotee suggested of a powerful word to get up.. tapasya
    Regards ,

    1. Dear Ritu,
      Glad these thoughts have been helpful to you. May God guide you forward on the path to Him.
      With joy,

  14. Dearest Devi,
    Timely indeed ~ thank you. Hearing stories of Ananda’s early years is always so inspiring.
    To share something that might be helpful to others ~ my morning “alarm” is one of Swamiji’s beautiful songs. When it goes off ~ it is a “sweet call from Divine Mother” and I wouldn’t want to miss my morning meeting with her. With love, tushti

    1. Dear Tushti,
      Wonderful idea! Anything that works is so helpful to share with others.

  15. Definitely potato category Devi ji, though there are toast days. Hope to get there soon, though. Amen!! :-) Thank you for sharing this. Much needed this confirmation that I’m not the only one.

  16. We most certainly need to move past our comfort zone if we want to move forward on this path. He, after all, is well worth the effort. Thank you again Devi for this inspiring story. All of you “founding fathers and mothers” of Ananda are great examples for us “children” on the path. You inspire us to aspire always to the Divine.
    Spiritual Renewal Week at a distance!! I did not know we could do that. Although going to Ananda for this is on my bucket list, for now I would certainly like to participate from a distance. How do I do that? Thank you in advance for your kind reply. Blessings to both of you.

    1. Dear Johanne,
      Thanks for all your interest in these newsletter. You can join Ananda’s Virtual Community by going to the website for Online with Ananda. The videos of t he classes will also be posted on in a few weeks.

  17. Dear Devi,
    Thank you so much. Instant realisation, I do swing between Baked Potato & instant toast. This kind of messages gives clarity & self introspections, where do I stand,& where I have to reach. Aum Guru
    Warm Regards

    1. Dear Soma,
      I’m glad that you were helped by the message. May you continue on your journey to God.
      With joy,

  18. I am too familiar with the baked potato, and less familiar with the joy of toast. I strive for toast because when we are toast, we are delightfully enjoyed by Master and Swami, as they spread butter and marmalade and say, Yummy, Lovely! . The baked potato get eaten by Shiva, and it’s not so Yummy, nor lovely! Thanks dear Devi, this was very good, your wonderful analogy! Baked potatoes will never be the same again though. . . I will forget this story the next time I eat a baked potato. But, toast! I will enjoy toast even more now!. love, mariana

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