Sit There and Try

I started a 9 day seclusion by putting energy toward extra meditation. Everything was going well. On day 4 I got a surprise. I woke up remembering a vivid dream of Swami Kriyananda. When I sat to meditate I had no expectation, but immediately got into a flow of probably the deepest meditation I’ve ever had. It was spontaneous and I effortlessly sat there for 6 hours. It just kept getting deeper and deeper.

I felt like this was probably the best day of my life, because I was feeling closer to the divine than ever before.

The next day I awoke in an uplifted state and thought, “I would like to go to the Moksha Mandir where Swami Kriyananda’s body is interred there. The vibration is very peaceful. I’ll admit I had high expectations, after such a wonderful experience the day before. Note….the word “expectation.”

I got a late start, then began to meditate and seemed to be through with the techniques early. It was only a bit before 11am. I noticed how uninspired I was in comparison to the day before. I looked at the time, and wondered if I should just head back home and start lunch.

Then it occurred to me, that it was a huge contrast from the previous day, and that I had some lesson in this. So, I inwardly asked Swami Kriyananda for advice, “What should I do?” The answer came as clear as a bell, and did not come from my own train of thought at all. “Sit there and try.” And so I did!

I got the point. It’s well known that life is like this. One may be feeling a flow of grace at times and at other times feeling no flow of grace. I had entered into the meditation wondering what I would get out of it, based on the beautiful grace that flowed the day before. I was expecting something from God.

We sometimes receive grace or need to “sit there and try.” Grace is needed and self-effort is needed and being detached is best,  from whatever comes our way.

The rest of my seclusion was filled with joy.

Below is a link to a talk by Swami Kriyananda called “Self-Effort vs. Grace.” I hope you are inspired by it, and that you feel grace and self-effort happening in your life in a beautiful rhythm. We can be grateful for it all!

Self-Effort vs Grace



Creativity & Initiative & Stale Cookies

I’ve been working with a very powerful talk Swami gave on Creativity and Initiative. The way he describes the process of creative thinking and implementation of ideas is very inspiring and intriguing. He starts the talk with an explanation of the caste system in India and how we can all work through the levels of consciousness and awareness, from lower to higher, and how this progression leads us to higher levels of creativity.

He explains the three levels associated with creativity: 1. taking something that other people have done and improving on it, 2. doing something that is your idea and comes from deep within and 3. doing something that comes from within, but doing it and seeing it as not defining who you are – realizing that God is doing it through you.

Another point Swami mentions in the talk is that that if we want to really tune into our creative potential, that meditation is the key. I’ve certainly found this to be true. I’ve learned that when I can meditate with enthusiasm and depth, that many unexpected things come from that.

After a meditation recently, the idea came to host a virtual meditation in Swami’s apartment at Crystal Hermitage. The Moksha Mandir dedication is coming up in May and it seemed that people would really appreciate the opportunity so get a tour of the progress on the mandir construction and be able to meditate together. I hadn’t previously been thinking along those lines at all, but it seemed like a very good idea. I checked it out with people, and it flowed very quickly so that the already established 3 hour Sunday evening meditation by the Ananda Village monks was relocated to Swami’s apartment. The meditation will be broadcasted freely for people worldwide.

You’re probably wondering about the stale cookies. It’s a much less inspired idea, but it also came out of the blue and I wondered how I thought of it at all. I later felt that the energy that inspired it came from going over and over the talk Creativity and Initiative. I take very helpful but bitter herbs each night before bed and usually take something sweet after the bitter drink. Even though I had other fresh sweets available, I spotted the Pamela’s Gluten Free Shortbread cookies high up in the cupboard and they had obviously been there a long time. “It’s good to use these up,” I thought. Almost without thinking, I took out a small fry pan, added coconut oil, then browned one of the cookies in it. The result was a warm and delicious treat. So there you have it, the creative ressurection of a stale cookie! Let me know if you try it.


How to Find Happiness

Finding-Happiness-How-to-Find-Happiness-Blog-PhotoHow to Find Happiness

If you want to find true happiness, you have to look for it in the right way. Look to those who have gone before you and who have been successful in their search for lasting joy.

The only field in which people  are unanimously successful in this way– is spirituality. This cannot be said for the  field of science, the rich and famous, or the romantics. The vast majority of people will say they are still seeking, that whatever they’ve found, it just isn’t enough, they still want something more.

Yet every person who has found God, every person who has meditated deeply, has found something that has made their life worth living.

If you want to be happy, mix with those who have found true and lasting happiness,  or mix with those who have spent their lives meditating, seek God and serving God. Those who live their lives for God, find that everything starts to go right.

Jesus spoke truth when he said, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and all these things shall be added unto you.”

You will find that those who live for God alone are more alive, more alert, more happy, and more in love with life. All these things come from feeling His presence from within.

The way to feel His presence is through deep inner communion from meditation. The more you have the experience of His presence, the more He fills you with ever-existing, ever-conscious, ever-new joy.


Daily Practices for Increasing Happiness:

1) Practice meditation.Take time to clear your mind of restlessness and in the silence, give your love to Him. Listen for His response.

2) Don’t compromise or settle for anything less than fulfilling this true joy. Forgetfulness is one of the greatest obstacles to our remembering that our search for happiness will not rest until we seek it in the divine.

3) Give all your problems, worries, and faults to God. Know that “ye are perfect”, for the divine rests within you.

4) Seek good company. “Environment is stronger than will,” Paramhansa Yogananda said. If you want to be happy, surround yourself with those who are happy and can uplift your spirits. Learn from those who have found joy within themselves, and try to bring these practices into your own life.


This article was based on the talk by Swami Kriyananda titled, “Finding True Happiness.”

The Art of Spiritual Counseling

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Spiritual counseling is an art.

The art comes forth when you can listen with compassion and let your intuition take over.

Here are some tips for spiritual counseling:

  • Offer help in a supportive and encouraging way vs. a corrective way.

  • Listen for what their higher self is trying to say.

  • Be at your own center and thus touch people at their center.

  • Draw out their inner wisdom so that the solution comes from them.

  • Ask yourself if the person is capable of carrying out what you might suggest.

  • Be sparing with your comments and wait for the right moment to express them. Swami would sometimes wait for years before telling someone something.

  • We can pray before we suggest things.

  • Realize and respect that there are things people need to do on their own.

I had a recent experience on the last point above:

Realize and respect that there are things people need to do on their own.

I was talking to a friend about a challenging personal situation. I was wondering about different solutions involved in a rather complex scenario, so I did some research about one of the issues. Although the research was well intentioned, it turned out that my friend had already gotten professional advice on that particular issue and had not asked me to find out more information. I had assumed that it hadn’t been addressed sufficiently.

It would have been better to wait and ‘respond’ if there really was actually a question on that issue that couldn’t be solved and then help my friend look for a solution. It ended well, and my friend knows it was well intentioned.

One of the secrets of effective spiritual counseling is to listen with honor and respect for the highest potential of the person you are talking to. This goes hand and hand with trying to draw out their inner wisdom so that the solutions can come from them.


Spiritual counseling through Treasures now available here.


Positivity and Right Attitude “The World is What You Make it”

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By Nayaswami Krishna

This talk is one of my favorites; in fact, when it was first issued in 2001, I put it into the car stereo and didn’t take it out for about one year! I listened to it several times a week.

Swami’s first words in this talk are:

The world is what you make of it, your world is what you make it, and your world is what you make of yourself.

When Swami was searching for truth in his travels around the United States, this his motto was, 

“If you want luck, go out and meet it half way.” 

He tells a story about a chartered flight from Louisville KY to Cincinnati, OH. A central lesson in this story is to choose the positive way of looking at things at every turn instead of letting negativity in when things are uncertain or not going your way.

After World War II, it was a common occurrence to be bumped from your seat on an airplane flight by a higher ranking officer, the priority system. This happened to Swami in Louisville, Kentucky on his way to Cincinnati, Ohio. He overheard an army sergeant attempting to charter a plane to Cincinnati, Ohio, who had also given up his seat because of the priority system. Swami asked the man if he could share the flight, and the sergeant agreed. A pilot was located on the other side of town. It was Sunday morning and it took a long time for the pilot to get out of bed and make it to the airport.

The Sargent became impatient and with indignant frustration decided to take a bus instead. Swami told him he had put in all the money he could spare toward the flight and didn’t have an option, so the frustrated and childish sergeant said you take the flight, I’m taking the bus. Even when the pilot finally arrived at the airport the Sargent refused to take the chartered flight! So Swami had the flight to Cincinnati all to himself.

“Your thoughts are essential to your happiness.”

They key is in the way you look at things, and being sure to put out the right positive thoughts to help any situation become “lucky.”

By maintaining a positive attitude in all things, we create our own realities.


Download the talk “The World is What You Make it” here.

How to Spiritualize Your Relationships

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When we develop a relationship with God that is personal and complete, beyond mere abstraction of God’s presence in our lives, we will more deeply understand how to spiritualize our relationships with others.

To understand how to spiritualize a relationship requires balance. For in essence, one cannot develop a spiritual relationship without learning to love God first completely. Yet, one must learn to love God in a way that includes the love of man else the love becomes abstract.

Once Paramhansa Yogananda said to a disciple, “You shouldn’t love people, you should love God.” And sometime later he asked the disciple, “Do you love people?” And the disciple said, “No, I love only God.” And Master said, “You should love people.” And the disciple was very confused, he said, “Well, what do you mean sir?” And Master replied, “You should love God first, and then with his love, love people.”

Seek God first, and then seek God in others. Love God and then try to relate to others in a Godly way. This is they key to creating spiritual relationships.

Practical Ways to Develop Spiritual Relationships:

To spiritualize a relationship means to have a relationship that brings you closer to the divine, to God’s love. To do this, (you must delete) spirtualize the way you interact with others so that you can draw the divine out of them as well, allowing both of you to grow closer to God.

Here are some practical ways you can develop these kinds of spiritual relations with others:

  • Give Energy: If you want to spiritualize a relationship, remember that all really spiritual consciousness is– is high energy– not low energy, being spiritual in your relations with people means to give them your energy, wholeheartedly.
  • Be Present: When others speak, concentrate on what they are saying, and be present in the moment with them. This is another way to give high energy.
  • Respect Others: One of the most important qualities to have if you want to spiritualize relationships is respect. To respect where the other is coming from, their needs, and giving them the freedom to be themselves.
  • Smile through your eyes: Let your soul shine through your eyes. Put your heart into it. This helps to draw the highest soul nature out of others.
  • Love others purely: Loving with a pure heart means to love without expectations or desires. You must rise above the level of likes and dislikes, of opinions, or of needing others approval. Expansive love doesn’t think in terms of “I” and “mine.”
  • Be centered in yourself: When you interact with others from your center, you don’t cling to approval. If because you have the love of God, you don’t need anybody in a positive sense, then you find that you’re willing to give to them real love not out of need or desires.  And if you understand others from your center, then you will understand what can help them to reach their center too.
  • Serve the God in them: Your only interest in serving others should be for what you can give them. Do this out of love and service for God– to please Him– not others.

If you act in these ways, everything will fall into perfect place naturally.

The Ultimate Spiritual Relationship:

The ultimate and only reality and only lover is God. Thus, in your relations with others you should seek above all the kind of relationship that will bring you closer to God. For ultimately, your relationship with God is the only relationship you are here to develop. And we can balance this by directing all spiritual relationships toward our spiritual union with Him– where you discover that wherever you go your beloved is shining in the eyes of all those surrounding you.

Download the talk on “How to Spiritualize Your Relationships” by Swami Kriyananda here.

Techniques for Spiritual Healing & Health

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As with all fields in this new age of technology, we understand more and more the importance of energy as a foundation to the way things work. Understanding the movement and rhythm of energy in the body is useful to aiding the healing process. Here are some familiar examples of how energy affects healing:

  • No system of drugs or therapy work for everybody. Each body is unique in how it reacts to a new medicine.

  • Placebo effect (even just the expectation of being cured leads to improvement in health)

  • “Laughter is the best medicine” (Norman Cousin self-cure of cancer through laughter)

Energy is the real cause of cure in all cases. That which enables the energy to function best is the most effective cure for an individual. And we have an infinite source of energy around us that can be drawn upon naturally for restoring energy balances for healing.

Anything that raises your level of energy can thus improve health and heal. The energy is conscious. It knows where to go to bring things back into perfect alignment. Drugs tend to to suppress the flow of energy, which is why over time side effects occur–because the imbalanced energy physically spills over into other areas.

Paramhansa Yogananda said that all disease– metaphysically speaking– is caused by a conflict between the forces of the soul moving upward and the forces of matter moving downward. This means that if you could get all of your energy to flow upward, you would find an extraordinary power of healing.

Yoga techniques for directing energy flow upward include:

The essence of spiritual healing is to live by spiritual, or upward flowing energy.

Ancient yogic teachings state that true spiritual health and healing occurs on three levels: the body, the mind, and the soul. So when we pay attention to just the physical side of healing (like only getting enough exercise or eating healthy), we ignore the nature of the soul. When the soul nature is out of balance is when, ultimately, disease results. You can’t achieve health until you have a balanced relationship with your soul.

Spiritual disease is the disease of ignorance – of not knowing who you really are and of not being in touch with your higher soul nature. And the best way to do this is to practice meditation and the presence of God– the best cures for a healthy, spiritual life.

If instead of worrying about or suppressing the causes of disease you rise above it– through attunement with the divine and concentration on God, you will find the whole secret of spiritual living on all three levels of body, mind, and soul.

This article is based on the talk, Secrets to Spiritual Healing [click to listen] by Swami Kriyananda (1984)