Spiritual progress should be natural, not forced — like a growing tree.
An important rule in life is: Don’t be impatient. This rule is doubly important for meditation, for whereas the general stricture against impatience gives hope of finding inner peace in meditation, that hope is demolished if one applies to meditation itself attitudes that we’ve developed in the “rat race.” To find God, it is better to be a long-distance runner than a sprinter. Today’s meditative efforts will have to be renewed tomorrow, and again the day after tomorrow, and the day after that, and so on for as long as it takes to achieve the consciousness of the Eternal Now.
Don’t let your approach to meditation be so achievement-oriented that you end up mentally tense. Yogananda, noting my own tendency toward impatience, once said to me, “The principle of Karma Yoga applies to meditative action also. Meditate to please God. Don’t meditate with desire for the fruits of your meditations. It is best, in the beginning, to emphasize relaxation.”
Of course what he meant was, Don’t desire fruits that accrue to your ego. For it is the ego, not the soul, that experiences impatience. Patience is the fastest path to God, because it develops soul-consciousness.
The more you seek rest as the consequence of doing, rather than in the process of doing, the more restless you will become. Peace isn’t waiting for you over the next hill. Nor is it something you construct, like a building. It must be a part of the creative process itself.
Learn to be restful, even in the midst of activity, and you will be able to relax better when you sit to meditate. As Paramhansa Yogananda put it, “Be calmly active, and actively calm.”