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In Autobiography of a Yogi, Paramhansa Yogananda describes the scene in which he had his first experience in this lifetime of cosmic consciousness. It occurred when Swami Sri Yukteswar, his guru, tapped him lightly on the chest over the heart, and the breath was drawn out of him.
Yogananda writes: “An oceanic joy broke upon calm endless shores of my soul. The Spirit of God, I realized, is exhaustless Bliss; His body is countless tissues of light. A swelling glory within me began to envelop towns, continents, the earth, solar and stellar systems, tenuous nebulae, and floating universes.”
Sri Yukteswar tapped Master on the chest, what occurred was the complete interiorization of his prana, or life force. When our prana is totally interiorized, we become breathless, and can then enter a state of deep stillness. All restlessness ceases, and we become absorbed in awareness of God’s presence.
For most of us who practice meditation, the restless mind is our greatest obstacle. No matter how sincere we are, or how hard we try to overcome intruding thoughts, it seems nearly impossible to achieve calm, focused concentration. Yoganandaji’s experience, however, offers us a clue for how to accomplish this.
Unwanted, restless thoughts are only energy patterns in our mind. Like weeds in a garden, we can keep pulling them up, but as long as we continue to water them, they will persist. It doesn’t help to blame the garden or feel guilty that we are bad gardeners. The secret is to cut off the “water,” the life force, that is feeding them.
When we interiorize our prana through attunement with the guru and the practice of techniques like Kriya Yoga, we begin to transcend the restless mind. Kriya Yoga and other similar techniques enable us to direct our prana inward and upward to higher centers of awareness.
For most of us, this doesn’t occur right away, but over time we can “reverse the searchlights of the senses,” as Yoganandaji described them. Eventually we become accustomed to being in a state of focused, inner awareness, and the molecular structure of our brain even changes to support our efforts.
But as long as our prana is moving predominantly outward, we are plagued not only with restlessness, but with all the desires and longings for outer fulfillment that it awakens. We live in the perpetual thought: “I know I would be happy if only. . . .” You fill in the blank.
In Swami Kriyananda’s beautiful song, “God’s Call Within,” he writes:
Friend, how long will you wander?
Friend, as long as you seek your home
In a land where all are strangers,
Love locks her door. . . .
Turn, turn, turn within:
In silence of soul, in cave of love
Find My abode.
In divine friendship, Nayaswami Devi