There was a time in my life when it seemed as if circumstances were all conspiring to make me miserable. I would wake up every morning feeling pretty down, but in my mind there was still a spark of light that led me to think, “You’ve felt worse before. You can carry on today.”
Finally one morning I woke up so downcast that even the spark of light was gone, and I thought, “We’re breaking new ground here—I can’t remember ever feeling this down before!”
Then I actually began to feel afraid, as though I was slipping down a dangerous slope without any ability to stop. At that point—I don’t really know how it happened: maybe God’s grace, Guru’s blessings, or good karma—a fierce determination arose within me to fight back. I knew if I didn’t take strong action right away to resist this downward pull that it would begin to gain the upper hand.
With determination (motivated more than a little by fear) I fought back with every weapon I had, using the teachings and techniques of Paramhansa Yogananda. I found an old Christmas card with the word JOY printed on it in embossed gold letters. Carefully I cut it out and taped it to a window in our room where I would see it throughout the day: a reminder of what I was fighting for. (Even now, many years later, I can still see those golden letters clearly in my mind’s eye.)
On a physical level, I did the Energization Exercises with more dynamic awareness and went for regular vigorous walks. I found more ways to serve others and stay busy so that my energy wouldn’t drop.
On a mental/emotional level, I acted as happy as I could around others (even if I wasn’t feeling it inside); I didn’t talk about negative subjects, but tried consciously to fill my mind with things that made me happy. I determined not to lower my guard even for a moment against the downward-pulling energy. And I returned to my room often to look at the golden letters of JOY.
On a spiritual level, I dug deeper in meditation, and was able to feel better during those times. I kept my mind constantly engaged inwardly singing Yogananda’s chants, or mentally repeating the mantra, “Om Guru.”
Then I found something Yoganandaji had written: “Life is a struggle for joy all along the way. May I fight to win the battle on the very spot where I now am.” His words resonated deep in my heart and invigorated my efforts to fight back. Finally the pickaxe of my determination dug into the slippery slope of unhappiness, and I was able to stop my fall.
Then began the upward ascent. Each day I felt a bit lighter and freer from dark moods. Finally the day dawned when I burst onto new ground once again, but this time a different landscape awaited me. A sense of joy unlike anything I had experienced before began to fill me. It stayed with me for many months; then it slowly diminished, though not completely. The memory of that experience has remained, ever a reminder to me of what to strive for.
There are many lessons from this experience, on which I have drawn over the years:
Recognize when it’s time to fight back, and swing into action.
Exert unwavering determination—it wins out in the end.
Trust that divine guides are always with us to protect and guide us through our trials.
The resolution of every test brings greater joy.
When tests come to you, friend, remember to summon up courage and determination to win the battle on the very spot on which you stand.