Paramhansa Yogananda wrote in his Autobiography of a Yogi that no insurmountable barrier exists between the human and the divine states “save in man’s spiritual unadventurousness.” What a surprising statement! One might expect that he’d have said lack of devotion, or reverence, or knowledge of the scriptures.
But Sri Yogananda was a master of yoga who brought us revolutionary teachings on how to use energy and willpower to achieve our highest potential. In the one-hundred years since 1920, when he arrived on the shores of America and his mission began, his teachings have spread globally, uplifting the lives of millions throughout the world.
How can we become spiritual adventurers? Here are four tips that will help you:
Seek Your Highest Potential
People often want to accomplish something in life, but lack the commitment it takes to achieve it. This is where willpower and concentration come into play. Yoganandaji defined willpower as “desire plus energy directed towards fulfillment.” Just as a mountain climber must decide which peak he wants to reach, choose an ascent path, and then put out the energy to attain his goal, so we need to do the same with our life goals. Decide what you really want to do, or, more important, to become in this life, and plot a course to get there.
Leave Behind Whatever Holds You Back
Unnecessary baggage impedes our forward momentum, so look at what habits or attitudes are holding you back: chronically putting things off, perhaps, or not taking full responsibility for your actions. Be honest with yourself. It takes courage to say, “There are parts of me that I need to change or leave behind.” Then direct that same energy that had been locked up in self-limiting patterns into new strategies for moving you forward. You’ll be surprised at how negative habits that you thought were integral parts of yourself can simply fade away.
Accept That Personal Change Isn’t Easy
Don’t be afraid to put out however much energy it takes to achieve your goals of self-transformation. I’ll give you a personal example. I was never much of an athlete, but I enjoyed being outside and jogging with friends. One day a running buddy said to me, “Let’s try to run a marathon.” So, we started training for many hours a week, and after four months of sore muscles and blisters, we were able to complete the race. Though that was thirty years ago, I’ve carried that victory with me ever since, and it’s given me the courage and motivation to accomplish many other goals.
Experiment with the Process of Inner Change
Yoganandaji told his followers not just to take his word for it, but to see for themselves if his teachings were improving their life. Try meditating (or improving your practice) and see whether your peace of mind, inner happiness, and ability to deal with challenges are strengthened. Look at your diet and exercise patterns, make the necessary improvements, and see if your levels of health and energy increase. Analyze how you live your daily life: Are you honest? fair? focused only on your own needs? considerate of others? Try changing negative behavior patterns, and see if the quality of your life doesn’t improve.
The good news is that you don’t need to wait till you reach the summit in this great adventure of self-transformation to enjoy the benefits of your efforts. Every step along the way will open up greater vistas of inner joy, clarity of mind, and a greater capacity to love.
Wishing you a great climb,