by Sister Draupadi
(This is the second in a three-part series)
Yoga means “Union,” of One’s Self with Divine Spirit
The ultimate goal of meditation is to become so deeply absorbed within that our individual soul reunites with the infinite Spirit. This union brings about an awakening that is not only profoundly peaceful, but supremely blissful. This deep state of meditation also has a very useful and practical side to it, because in it we can receive inner guidance—solutions to problems, intuition, wisdom, understanding, inspiration, a sense of direction in our lives—and something we all very much need: the strength and calmness to sustain us in the midst of any crisis, no matter what problems we face. In fact, the more peaceful we are within, the less we tend to worry. The more peaceful we are, the better equipped we are to cope and the more clarity we have with which to approach situations.
I love what Mahatma Gandhi said about peace because it serves as a barometer, especially for those of us striving to cultivate inner peace. He said, “Peace, to be real, must be unaffected by outside circumstances.”
Meditation is a sacred process, and to fulfill its true purpose, Paramahansa Yogananda gave us a formula: scientific techniques of meditation plus devotion.
Devotion is Key: An Intimate Relationship with the Divine
With meditation we are cultivating an intimate relationship with the Divine that is deeply personal. So we want to meditate with a feeling of reverence, a feeling of devotion, a feeling of love, and even gratitude. Because when the soul communes with God, something beautiful happens. Of course, each person’s inner experience with the Divine is unique, but if I could describe what happens in one word it would be: transformation.
God is Love and when His transforming touch is upon us, we are changed; we are no longer the same: a new consciousness is born within us. Yogananda referred to God’s loving presence in these poetic terms: “Thy kiss of immortality is on our brows.”
As we continue cultivating this divine relationship, we discover that even when we are not sitting in meditation, God’s presence hasn’t left us. It is always there, silently helping us to become increasingly loving, harmonious, peaceful individuals filled with light, because our souls are powerfully connected to the very Source of love, the very Source of harmony, to the very Source of peace and light.
It is through connecting with this Source of love and harmony that we can contribute to peace in the world.
When we are experiencing difficulties with another person we can use meditation and prayer to help create harmony with that individual. Brother Bhaktananda (who was longtime SRF monk and minister who was personally trained by Paramahansaji) recommended a specific method, which he called the “peace and harmony prayer.” It consists of first visualizing the person(s) you are praying for, imagining them as surrounded with divine light. Next, he said:
Then deeply pray, 'Lord, fill them with peace and harmony, peace and harmony,' over and over, for about a minute. Afterward, visualize yourself in a divine light, and pray, 'Lord, fill me with peace and harmony, peace and harmony,' for about 15 seconds. Do this five times a day, and you will see a change come over those individuals.
And what’s even more important and satisfying, we’ll also experience a change in ourselves.
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