Yogananda inspiration on how to live and bring spirituality into daily life.

“Peace at Twilight” painting by Nayaswami Jyotish

Seekers are often advised to practice the presence of God but only rarely given specific advice on how to do so. When concepts are too vague it is hard to put them into practice. Maybe these practices can help blow away some of the fog.
1) Carry on a continuous inner conversation. The parents of a friend of ours were missionaries and knew the great soul Frank Laubach, author of Letters of a Modern Mystic. They told of a time when a group of ministers were gathered for lunch where Frank was asked to do the blessing. They said it was the most remarkable prayer they had ever heard – he just started to reveal out loud the inner conversation he was already having with Jesus. They all felt enormously grateful to be given a glimpse of something so deep and intimate. We, too, can develop this habit. Play the “game of minutes” that Frank suggests. See how many different minutes of each day you can remember God even if just for a second. It is helpful to know that mind can be trained to perform any habit you want, good or bad.
2) Be a Channel. There are 8 aspects of God – light, sound, power, love, calmness, peace, joy, and wisdom. Master defined meditation as deep concentration on God or one of these aspects. For this purpose concentrate on just one each day. Take love as an example. See how many time each day you can express God’s love or kindness or compassion. Yogacharya Oliver Black always maintained a “bubble of joy” around himself. A shopkeeper in Los Angeles told us she saw an aura of light surrounding Swami Kriyananda when he walked down the street. When you are a channel for any of these qualities, you are in His presence.
3) Do Japa. Take a chant that is dear to you and repeat it a certain number of times each day. Some people like to count their repetitions on a mala, others like to add up the minutes they spend chanting. The key is to have a goal each day, not unlike the popular practice of trying to walk 10,000 steps. Having a specific goal helps focus the mind and will. After the habit is firmly established, you can be more relaxed about counting.
The common element in these three practices is that you can quantify them at then end of the day and see how you did. I’ve never been obsessive enough to actually count up numbers, but having a general sense of “how much” or “how many” helps take the vagueness out of my efforts.
The important thing is to keep turning the mind back towards the Divine. As Paramhansa Yogananda put it in his beautiful poem, God, God, God, “No matter where I go, the spotlight of my mind will ever keep turning on Thee; and in the battle din of activity, my silent war-cry will be: God, God, God.”
In remembrance of Him,
Nayaswami Jyotish

4 Comments

  1. Thank you Jyotish! The comment about walking 10,000 steps reminds me of those runners (or walkers) who carry with them the running distance counters that record each step they take–so maybe there can be (or already is?) a japa counter! Or better yet, a kriya kounter!
    And the name Frank Laubach reminds me of a similar book I read back in the 80’s, entitled “The Way of a Pilgrim”, about a Russian pilgrim in the 1800’s who was in search of the answer to the one compelling question: How does one pray constantly? To make a long story short, he found the answer to his question in the form of what could be referred to as… Jesus japa!
    Many wonderful reminders here in this letter–thank you again for sharing!!!

  2. In July, I was recovering from surgery and could not do much of anything so I started to do Japa. I repeated the mantra of letting go to my Beloved Guru and felt calmness, peace, acceptance and love. When I started to feel better, I began to do my normal routine and had less time to do Japa. This morning, I wrote in my journal that I was having difficulties meditating because of distractions in my mind. Your blog made me realize that meditations were more calm, full of love and profound while I was doing Japa. This valuable practice will become a staple in my sadhana. I will also add meditating on one of God’s aspects which was not clear to me before this morning. As for the conversations, I already know his number and address, because He is forever present in me, as in everyone. Thank you! Blessings with His love.
    Johanne
    p.s. “You guys must be mind readers…”

  3. Thank you, Jyotish for the most practical advice.Most of the times the advice about practising the presence of God appears theoratical. These teachings can immediately be put into practice.

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