We have been experiencing historic snowfalls in Northern California. Hard as it is to imagine, some areas near Lake Tahoe have gotten nearly fifty feet of snow so far, with more on the way! Much less has fallen at Ananda Village, but still we’ve gotten more than any time in recent memory. With hills, freezing temperatures, and snowy roads, many of us have been snowbound. Here is the view from our living room this morning.
For restless people, conditions like these are probably a torment. For yogis, being forced to go within is actually quite nice. The snow brings with it some wonderful lessons. Here are a few that have struck me:
Give Help, Receive Help
During times of hardship, people of goodwill rise to the occasion. At Ananda Village our maintenance crews have worked around the clock to help people cope with the icy roads; our market staff has been delivering food orders to residents; and many of us are feeding the birds and animals.
High-minded people naturally want to serve others. But the snow is bringing another lesson: to be willing and grateful to receive help when offered. Many devotees are better at giving than receiving. This is a good quality in moderation, but becomes a spiritual flaw when taken too far. We need to learn the art of receiving also. Everything in life is a gift from the Divine. It delays our spiritual progress if we ignore or reject the help that is given to us. In meditation our first act should be to open our hearts, receive God’s presence, and silently say, “Thank you, God.”
Use the Time Well
Having one’s schedule disrupted can be a good thing, if you are flexible and can shift your energies to alternative activities. It sounds like this should be easy, but restlessness is one of the great curses of our times. According to our great Masters, we live in a rajasic (restless) age on a rajasic planet in a rajasic galaxy. Is it any wonder that people are habituated, even addicted, to activity?
Mental restlessness is perhaps the greatest block to meditation. When circumstances shut down our normal schedule, let’s use the time to turn our consciousness upward. For me personally the snow gave me some time to paint for which I was joyfully grateful. The inspiration came to do a pair of paintings of the same scene at different times of the day.
Live More in God
The greatest gift of inwardness, whether forced or voluntary, is the opportunity to turn a quieted mind toward living in God’s presence. No matter the conditions or the place, we can always choose to turn our minds and hearts Godward. Yoganandaji stated it so poetically in this beautiful poem:
Wherever We Go
Whether in Himalayan caves or crowded subway;
Whether in the concrete jungle of modern life,
Or in a simple village in Hindustan:
Wherever we go, teach us to seek Thee out
In all Thy secret nooks—east, west, north, south—everywhere!
I pray that for all of us, we can see behind every circumstance, good or bad, the hidden opportunity to live more in God.
Listen to Jyotish as he reads the blog, then expands on it, often adding special behind-the-inspiration stories and answers to common spiritual questions. Subscribe to the podcast or download the audio recording by right-clicking here. Or listen to it here (8:12):
When outward activities are getting restricted, focus toward the inner realm.
Loved the art! Loved the pictures with Paramahansa Yogananda in them! Same thing happened to me when I recently relocated from an area in Florida (Longwood) to Ocala Florida. Longwood was a very active place (senior center, Costco, YMCA, Sharing Center (Where you could purchase wonderful decorative furniture and Seraphine Angels for reasonable prices) and Ocala where it was extremely quiet with constant depacking of boxes and storage bins became my obsession. I found myself with increasing back pains and a recent left shoulder separation which taught me to slow down. I have been a disciple of Paramahansa Yogananda for about 50 years and it has literally turned my life towards the light! I have found that whenever I took on diy projects that our master has always protected me when it came to my many accidents during the projects. Thank You for your blogs! I post them on my journal and pray that my journey can help my daughter and family with glimpses of my life with my wife (Evelyn who passed in Oct 2021, She’s still with me by special dispensation of my master) and my son (Whom I named Yogananda and who by special dispensation of our master stayed with us in spiritual astral body after my wife had a miscarriage over 50 years ago). My journey has been a rather wonderful life as I get closer to my guru Paramahansa Yogananda. Again I thank you for allowing us to see your journey with our master!
I just connected to Ananda village recently(ananda.com)and am truly grateful .More love and light from Nairobi Kenya.
Yes. forced to stay at home times can be opportunities for meditators, creative types or anybody who has some thing they can accomplished from home.
As a meditator, and a musician who composes. One of my favorite things to do when I have extra time at home for whatever reason is too combined the spiritual practice with creativity. When the mind settles down through meditation, there is a greater potential for this mind to be a womb of creativity. Inspiration can then more easily flow. We all have this capacity if we practice meditation.
Thank you for all the continued work You do for Ananda. Thank you for sharing your words.
Your writings and paintings , and Devi’s writings are always so inspiring. I love snow and yet it can halt our outside world . How beautifully you put this need to go within as well as to serve and receive.
Aum guru , Maribel in Seattle
Hello Nayaswami Jyotish we’re so blessed to have you I love this message because I’m not good at receiving and because of that I’m not good at giving neither because I become resentful, when I learn about you and Swami Kriyananda and all that people like you do I thought to myself these are busy people I’m not going to bother them with my ideas and questions so I have been learning from watching you from feeling you from reading your messages when I can and when I’m attracted to the subject, this message and the snow inspires me beautiful poetry because I was born in Nicaragua and there we see the snow as a miracle itself, I’m an expert in jungle survival but I don’t know much about living in snow country
With love and light
Good morning Nayaswami Jyotish
Thank you for your message of peace.
I too enjoy that peacefulness of a cover of white slowing down the world around us to remind us there is more present than what we see.
I also am reminded of the billions of individual crystals that make up that peaceful blanket of snow to combine and to create a new blanket of peace.
Thank you for your words of wisdom.
They are always a welcome comfort.
Yes! Going within more in a rajasic world is always my personal challenge.
Here in the Sonoran Desert (S. AZ) we have been experiencing many more overcast and rainy days.
Your reminder is perfect!
Master and Divine Mother’s blessings!
Absolutely lovely – peace filled, kindly, and inspirational! I didn’t know that our galaxy is rajasic!
For me also, weather emergencies provide much appreciated time and space to go deeper in
meditation as well as “putter” around my apartment with contentment.
How is the community handling all the road closures? What about staying warm, access to groceries, fuel for vehicles, etc?
I work and live at the Ananda Meditation Retreat, which you may already know is just a few miles from Ananda Village. We all did rather well thanks to the many helping hands of the property services crew who kept the roads within the Village clear. There were moments that were a little concerning to me, but for the most part, and as evidenced now, all went well.
Here is a link to the Retreat’s Facebook page, where you can watch some videos of the days we were immobile.
Here’s the link to the Ananda Village Facebook page too, where you can see several beautiful photos taken during and after the snow.
Thank you so much for your concern for us all.
Much joy to you,
From a simple village in the mountains, grateful for you Jyotish, and grateful always for His Love.
Thank you for sharing the wonderful love and caring for each other at Ananda in the snow. Also the counsel to spend the time in quiet inwardness. Many Blessings . Thank you for this great sharing. In Peace.
Ah, so much wisdom flow from these inspired blogs. Thank you for sharing your light, Jyotish- and your paintings!
joy to you and Devi 🌷
Thank you Jyotish, and thank you for creating those two beautiful oil paintings. Those paintings, plus 40 other paintings by devotees and friends of Ananda, are now available for sale at The Lotus Building Art Gallery in downtown Ananda Village. The show will be open until July 4, 2023 at Ananda Village. If you have questions about the paintings please contact us at email@example.com
Thank you, Jyotish, for your beautiful, thoughtful observations and messages! Although it’s been about twenty years since I last spent time at Ananda, those precious visits, and the classes I took continue to influence my heart and mind. Much love to you, Devi, Savitri, Diksha, and many others. I am forever grateful for all that I experienced with and learned from all of you, and the joy we shared together. Namaste!
Thanks so much for these beautiful insights, Jyotish. As you know, our little cabin in Truckee has been buried in snow. Bit Bimal and I have found the grace that Mother Nature provides when we work in harmony with her. That means using our will to shovel and plow and be flexible enough to change strategies as conditions change – which is daily! The results? We’re getting stronger and every window of clearing gives a gift of Mother Nature’s unbelievable beauty!
Your paintings are really beautiful, Jyotish.
I really enjoyed reading these lessons learned from the snow! I look forward to seeing the actual paintings of the same scene…
Dear Nayaswami Jyotish Ji,
Thank you for this blog. Very helpful lessons.
Hope the situation is settled now.
The painting is very nice :-)
Thank you dearest Jyotish Ji for this wonderful blog. beautiful lessons. deep. thank you too for the awesome paintings. It has become a joyful inward time of connecting with you, Master and Swamiji by copying your paintings. Ever so grateful for them and the blogs you both write. an immediate ‘pick-me-up’ whenever I reach out for help. Thank you both.
Loved your article. Pic from your living room is like a dream for me. Beautiful paintings.