Nine Meditation Tips from Paramhansa Yogananda
"How easy the spiritual path is, if you give even a little time each day to meditation. Meditate intensely, morning and evening. Even fifteen minutes of meditation is better than no time at all. Better still, make it half an hour, or even one hour."
Every sincere effort is registered in the divine consciousness. Your duty as a devotee is to accept whatever [God] sends you — and, for that matter, whatever He doesn’t send. God alone knows what past karma keeps you from perceiving Him right now. He may want you to finish up your karma in this life, before He gives you eternal bliss in Him.
Do not be anxious if you don’t have meditative experiences. The path to God is not a circus! Don’t even be anxious about such fruits of meditation as inner joy and peace. Everything will come in God’s time. Meanwhile, consider meditation, too, as a form of karma yoga: action without desire for the fruits of action. Meditate above all to please God, not yourself.
In meditation, you must go beyond thought. As long as you are busy thinking, you are in your rational mind, on the conscious plane. When you sleep and dream, you are on the subconscious plane, and in your astral body. And when your mind is fully withdrawn in superconsciousness, it becomes centered in the bliss of the spine. You are then in your ideational, or causal, body. That is the level of the soul’s existence.
Don’t waste the perception of God’s presence, acquired in meditation, by useless chatting. Idle words are like bullets: they riddle the milk pail of peace. In devoting time unnecessarily to conversation and exuberant laughter, you’ll find you have nothing left inside. Fill the pail of your consciousness with the milk of meditative peace, then keep it filled. Joking is false happiness. Too much laughter riddles the mind and lets the peace in the bucket flow out, wasting it.
Meditate regularly, and you will find a joy inside that is real. You will then have something you can compare to sense pleasures. That comparison will automatically make you want to forsake your sorrow-producing bad habits. The best way to overcome temptation is to have something more fulfilling to compare it with.
Never count your faults. Just think whether you love God enough. He doesn’t mind your faults. He minds your indifference.
Many people meditate till they feel a touch of peace, but jump up then and leave their meditation for their activities. That’s all right, if you have important work waiting for you, for it is always better to meditate before any activity, that you may feel at least some peace as you work. Whenever possible, however, sit for a long time after your practice of the techniques. That is when the deepest enjoyment comes. Intuition is developed by continuously deepening that enjoyment, and, later on, by holding on to its calm aftereffect.
God answers all prayers. Restless prayers, however, He answers only a little bit. If you offer to others something that isn’t yours to give, won’t that be a merely empty gesture? If you pray to God, similarly, but lack control over your own thoughts, that prayer will be without power. Thoughts and feelings, both, must be focused when you pray. Otherwise God will meet your little trickle with another trickle of His own! He will dole His answers out to you in a teaspoon. Too often, prayer is more like the halfhearted mumbling of a beggar than the confident, loving demand of a friend.
You won’t find God by making constant excuses: for example, saying, “When I find a quiet place, I will meditate.” That is not at all the way to get there! If you tell yourself, however, “Right now I will plunge into deep meditation!” you can be there in a moment. When you are really sleepy, you have no difficulty in sleeping no matter where you are. When a person is in love, he finds no difficulty in thinking of his beloved; rather, it is difficult not to think of her, even to the point of ignoring his work. Be in love with God! It is easy to meditate deeply, when your love for Him is deep enough.