We sometimes find ourselves in a situation in which we simply don’t have as long for our meditation as we would like. When this happens, the solution is not to skip our practice, but to do a shorter sadhana with greater intensity. In a short meditation it is especially important to make an effort to concentrate deeply.

This principle of intensity works on the physical level too. A friend of ours recently recommended a book about exercise, called P.A.C.E., by Dr. Al Sears. Dr. Sears begins the book with many scientific studies showing that short, intense periods of exercise are remarkably beneficial. We actually build greater lung volume (an important indicator of health), stronger muscles and bones, and improved cardiovascular capacity by exercising intensely for 12 to 20 minutes than with longer, more moderate efforts. The essence of his system is simple. Do brief periods of increasingly intense activity spaced apart by recovery periods. Any type of exercise that causes you to get out of breath will do. Be sure to build up gradually, especially if you aren’t starting out in good physical shape.

When time is short, apply the principle of intensity to meditation.

When time is short, we can apply the same principle of intensity to meditation. On those days it is helpful to include other spiritual practices during the rest of your day. Swami Kriyananda used to tell a charming story about this.

There was a devotee who never missed his three-hour morning meditation. This, of course, vexed the Devil, who decided he had to take action. He told his assistant devil, “Tomorrow make sure the man oversleeps so that he doesn’t have time to meditate.”

After having carried out this scheme, the assistant asked the Devil if he wanted him to do the same the following morning. “No,” the Devil said with a sigh. “Tomorrow, make sure to wake him up on time so that he can do his usual meditation.”

“But, why?” asked the perplexed imp.

The Devil replied, “Normally, after meditation that man just goes about his business. But, today, he spent the whole day thinking about God and apologizing to Him. I would rather have him meditate for three hours and then forget God than have him think about Him all day long.” Swami always had a great laugh over this story.

One way to think about God throughout the day is to take a simple chant and let it repeat in the back of your mind. Periodically, when you can, give it your full concentration. I have been doing this lately by inwardly chanting “Jai Guru” and “AUM Guru,” which is what Swami Kriyananda told me to repeat after I had asked him if I should take a mantra.

Of course, we shouldn’t make a practice of short meditations. It is important that we give our spiritual search priority and make time for it. Unlike physical exercise, we won’t exhaust ourselves by longer spiritual efforts. As Paramhansa Yogananda said in his great mystical poem, “Samadhi,” “By deeper, longer, thirsty, guru-given meditation comes this celestial samadhi.”

I’ll end with one of my favorite prayer-demands from Paramhansa Yogananda’s book, Whispers from Eternity: “O Divine Sculptor, Chisel Thou My Life”:

Every sound that I make, let it have the vibration of Thy voice. Every thought that I think, let it be saturated with the consciousness of Thy presence.

Let every feeling that I have glow with Thy love. Let every act of my will be impregnated with Thy divine vitality. Let every thought, every expression, every ambition, be ornamented by Thee.

O Divine Sculptor, chisel Thou my life according to Thy design!

In joyful devotion,

Nayaswami Jyotish

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19 Comments

  1. Dear Jyotish ji,

    Thank you for a very inspiring blog. Pranam.
    lakshmi

  2. Jai Gurudev Ji
    Namaste
    Thanks 🙏 regards

  3. Whispers take us closer to the Divine.
    Thanks Nayaswami Jyotish

  4. Whispers take us closer to the Divine.
    Thanks Nayaswami Jyotish

    Aum Guru

  5. Wonderful, very touching and also very practical. Right now i am going through this phase where i get less time to meditate so let me practice this. Aum Guru

  6. Thank you Jyotishji, it is so helpful and practical to even make the shorter meditations more meaningful. It is helpful especially as I have a 2 year old daughter and sometimes I have to manage according to her timings.

  7. I enjoyed today’s blog a lot…so encouraging and inspired by it.
    Aum Guru ⚘🙏

  8. As a parent of young children, this is an inspiring reminder that even my shorter meditations are meaningful ❤️

  9. Loving the blogs, and this one was particularly relevant. However, as I’ve mentioned before, can you please make the font darker? It’s really difficult to read. The quotations were nice and dark, but the first part of the blog was so pale I had to squint to read it.

  10. While the first three paragraphs of your blog were still in the faint type face that’s hard to read, the text changed to a darker, more readable font in the fourth paragraph, starting with “There was a devotee ….” Then it reverted back to the hard to read text for Jyotish’s mini bio. I’m really hoping that your webmaster will use the darker type face on the whole blog. My Samsung Galaxy A20 displays it much better than the faint font. Many thanks!

  11. Lovely. Jennifer Duke is the leader of the Thousand Oaks Ananda Center. She recently published a wonderful book called “Bhakti.” I was touched when she observed that when she pushed past the point in meditation where she first thought of quitting she was rewarded with deepening experiences of divine joy and bliss.

  12. In Divine Gratitude, I thank you dear gurubai for the sweet reminder of God’s presence and love in my life. Namaste

  13. Dear Nayaswami Jyotish Ji,

    Thank you for this inspiring blog. A beautiful story enjoyed reading it :-)
    The suggestions are very useful.

    Joy,
    Prem

  14. beautiful correlation – loved the blog dear Jyotish Ji. very practical and wonderful guidance for thinking of God and Guru during the day. thank you for sharing that story.. it brings a big smile imagining Swamiji’s hearty laugh !!!!

  15. Very inspiring. Thank you for Guru chant.
    Om Guru.

  16. Thank You Jyotishji. And btw that is one of my favorite Whispers. AUM.

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