In 1979 Ananda began a period of expansion, and Devi and I helped start a large ashram in San Francisco. An early challenge was to find ways to support ourselves, especially in a way that allowed us to serve together. One solution we found was a business with a vegetarian restaurant on the first floor and a small bookstore on the second. Vairagi was the manager, and after closing up each night she had to take a bus across town through some of the poorest parts of the city. She hated it. The late-night ride was frightening and upsetting for a single woman, especially when there were intoxicated passengers. She came to Swami Kriyananda and shared her plight.

He asked, “Is there any other way for you to get home? Can you drive or get a ride?”

“No, I can’t drive, and there is no one I can rely on to take me.”

“Can you take a cab?” Swamiji continued.

“No, it’s too expensive,” she replied.

Then Swamiji gave her this advice. “If the bus is the only way, then when you get on, pick out the most troubled person and pray for him or her during the whole trip. If that person gets off before you are home, choose another.”

The most important thing we can do spiritually to stay strong, let us share with one another.

“Green River Valley Sunrise,” photo by Swami Kriyananda.

A couple of weeks later Vairagi came to Swamiji again, not with complaints this time, but to tell him that the bus ride was now her favorite part of the day. Sometimes a little piece of advice can flip a situation, or a life.

We recently had a satsang with the younger residents at Ananda Village during which we asked the group this question: “What is one thing you do regularly that you find really helpful spiritually?” Here were some of the answers:

  • “During the day, especially when I’m having a challenge, I try to remember how I felt during my morning meditation.”
  • “I stand up straight and constantly repeat, ‘Jai Guru.’”
  • “When I am out and about I try to pray for everyone I see. It quickly brings me back to my center.” Another said something similar: “I try to give love to everyone I see.”
  • “Because I struggle with low self-esteem, when I get down on myself I try to think of several things I do well or that I like about myself.”
  • A musician said, “In my mind I am constantly singing a chant or one of Swami Kriyananda’s songs.”
  • “Before I will leave a meditation, I always make sure to form a personal heart-connection with the guru.”

These are only a few of the many ideas that were offered that evening. Each of us has some unique habit or attitude that helps us spiritually, and it can be extremely helpful to share these with each other.

I’ll end by asking you to offer your suggestion in the “Add a comment” field. Just give a short description of the most important thing I do. It may be that your advice is exactly what someone else needs, and goes on to become the favorite part of their day.

In divine friendship,

Nayaswami Jyotish

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84 Comments

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  1. Thank you for all the inspiration! When I a feel upset or hurt I realize it is my reaction that is causing the pain and not the event itself. So I gently take the feeling and surrender it to my Guru at the spiritual eye. I ask.Master to take care if it

  2. I love God and talk to God and thank God. God’s response is always blissfully there. God is always so overwhelmingly kind. Yogananda taught me that this is the one thing that we can give to God that God cannot have because it must be freely given from us, and is the one thing that God wants. Who could withhold the one thing our greatest and closest friend wanted? None of us of course. Our greatest friend is quietly with us all the time, and when we express our love, our greatest friend loves us back instantly, overwhelmingly, playfully, blissfully. As the nervous system changes over the years, the effect is greater and greater until we realize that God has always been with us, all the time. We just were unaware and caught up in the world. God doesn’t mind or blame us. God lovingly created this for us, and then plays hide and seek with us, until we find His perfect hiding place is in us and all around us and in everything we perceive. So wonderful, so kind.

  3. I have tried to practice making “peace my bottom line” like Swamiji said. I mentally imagine losing the things I am attached to, all possessions and friendships, and accepting them all with God’s grace.

  4. With the passing of both my parents this year, the most helpful thing for me has been learning how to play the harmonium and chanting.

  5. Thank you Jyotish, and all who have shared! I visualize and see myself as a channel for Divine Mother in everything I do. I ask, “What what would Yogananda do? How would he react?” I choose a chant to repeat during long drives, a long project, or my work, and inevitably feel a oneness with God. Blessings to you all, great souls!

  6. I try to remember to mentally repeat a wonderful mantra that I found posted in the ladies restrooms at Ananda Laurelwood: “To do today – Breathe in, Breathe out, Choose Love.” Thank you to whoever posted it and to whoever thought of it. So very helpful any time, and especially when life gets a little stressful!

  7. Wonderful comments. I was hoping to add one if there was enough space. What a Grace to open so many hearts to God and Guru’s Love with such offerings. I would like to add two things. After looking at Master’s picture that rests on the wall in front of my bed, I ask for his guidance throughout the day. Sometimes I forget to do this but I catch myself before severe self chastisement sets in. When I get into the car to go to town, and prepare to see therapy clients, I look at Master’s picture hanging from the passenger visor and make spiritual eye contact with a prayer of gratitude and asking for his blessing throughout the day. Then I begin the affirmation for Psychological Success. This is critical for me. I am reminded who the ‘doer’ is and will be, for this day. When I arrive at my office, I gaze at Master’s picture, make spiritual eye contact with a golden chord, and ask his blessings, again, for the day. During the day, I frequently gaze lovingly at his shining, smiling face and ask that he use me as the clearest channel that I can be. It works for me. Namaste

  8. I simply put my attention at the point between the eyebrows (even with eyes open) and chant OM mentally. Sometimes I begin chanting OM first and my attention automatically goes to the spiritual eye.

  9. I talk to Devine Mother throughout the day, but when things get tough I really lean in by mentally telling Her, “OK Mother, You’re up!” This way no matter what happens I know that She had a hand in it.

  10. Remembering to be non-attached. This is all a dream, and it only “has to seem real.”
    Practicing gratitude, contentment, and keeping my focus at the spiritual eye all day.
    Knowing that I and the Divine are one – so don’t take any of it personally.
    Allow God and Guru to work through this vehicle…

  11. What helps me most is to pray inwardly throughout the day, “Lord, how can I serve you more?” If I’m low on energy, it charges me with His energy and if I’m restless, it puts things into perspective.

  12. So beautiful (also all of the comments below!)

    When I face a challenge or feel myself trapped in ego -consciousness, I visualize giving my problem to Master, seeing him take it with his hands and bringing it into the Light.

  13. During my morning meditation I ask the Divine to give me a singular theme for the day. It is sometimes patience, loving everyone , seeing the Divine in all nature, etc. This has been something that has given me great peace and determination on the path. With Love, Jeffrey

  14. I try to do nothing. I try to remove the “I” and focus on my breath & feel the nature around me if there remains any “I” to feel.

  15. In truth, most of the Master’s highly advanced disciples were either married or had at one time been married. To treat the married state as something “beyond the pale” for the sincere seeker is a sign of pride, not of wisdom.

  16. I make it a habit of listening to those with great wisdom or a more expanded vision than I and following their advice.

  17. GRATITUDE always raises my spirit. There is so much to be grateful for – i.e., literacy. Rereading inspiring literature by authors like Yogananda and Kriyananda fills me with joy. And writing helps me clarify thoughts and ideas.

  18. During my “service” I work with Master, for God , I immagine that my hands are Yogananda’s hands, I constantly talk with Him, all day long, I have the feeling that we are always together … so much joy

  19. The statement of,”the most important thing I do,” can best be answered by remembering
    what every master & saint has said concerning what is the true goal of human life,or why
    are we here? They all say that the goal of human life is to find God. That of course,means
    that for us to attain the true goal of life we must become devoted seekers & diligently follow
    the right ways,the right path that will lead us to God. So,the most important thing one can do
    is to stay focused on that goal..doing all that is required,as taught by true gurus & as outlined
    in the writings of Patanjali.

  20. I unfailingly endeavor to attune and commune with God and gurus during my daily meditation and pray for world peace. This sincere effort makes me more empowered while being calm peaceful joyful and happy under any circumstances !

  21. Thanks Jotish! What is useful for me is:
    – repeat “God, I love You” and try to feel His love in my heart;
    – try to see beyond this physical world….see that there are angels, devas, Masters and God around me, everywhere.
    I cand do both better during a walk in nature, everyday.

  22. First thing when I start to meditate I request the Guru to occupy me and pray for oneness with him. Every day in the morning when I reach office, I give OM to my space, boss and all the things in the office and then request the Guru to function through me. Om. Thank you Jyotishji for allowing us to share.

  23. I pray to god to help be as truthful as I can be and be there for people who needs me be that in prayers or person. I am always in gratitude . I do chant AUM as much as I can.

  24. Before I get out of bed I ask Master to enter and take charge of my life. Of every last thing. And when I forget, again, or something upsets me, I remind myself gently, hey! Master is in charge. I realize our Guru takes a lively interest in our whole life. Even the smallest and most mundane details become miracles of beauty, of kindness, of Divine Love. In quiet moments I think of Masters voice saying “My daughter, I’m here”, and I am comforted.

  25. I make a Book of Hours, with prayers and affirmations 6 times each day: dawn, mid-morning, noon, afternoon, evening, and bedtime. Its a small paper book that I write by hand and staple together, very simple. I make a new one as my life changes, and keep it always in my pocket or purse.

  26. On my way to teach yoga I ask Master to teach through me and i offer myself as the channel. I thank him afterward and tell him he did a great job, so much better than I could have. Also, I often speak to one of the masters before I end my meditation. We have a conversation where I express what’s in my heart or on my mind and then I tune in deeply to intuit their response. That helps me to tune into feelings and transcend ‘to do’ techniques.

  27. I like to look at a photo of Master and look deep into his eyes. It only takes a short while to feel him looking back at me and then I feel him in my heart.

  28. Wow. What a special, expansive thing, to hear all these tips from all these children of God. Such inspiration & tears of joy. Me, I try my best to express God’s joy. No matter what, all the rest is temporary; joy alone is real. Thanks, Jyotish!

  29. I meet a lot of people every day and I look for ways to serve each person I meet. It could be helping them figure out computer problems or how to send a fax in the office. Or it could be listening to their challenges and being fully present with them, and sharing what Master or Swamiji have said on the topic that might be helpful to them. .

  30. I turn on BBC World News and pray for those in other countries in distress. I witness
    what my Oneness is experiencing.

  31. Divine Mother, Heavenly Father – be with me NOW, that your wisdom and strength sustains all of creation, and you WILL get me through this challenging moment.

    For this too shall pass.

    And it always does.

  32. Attunement with Master through the constant remembrance of his presence as I call to him, as I think him near, I know him to be so intimately near, so omnipresently near. I remind myself in every moment, Lord I am Thine!

  33. I try to remember that everything that comes to me is coming from the Guru as an expression of his love and grace. EVERYTHING. And, to receive it in humble gratitude. The depth of his love is unfathamable.
    Pronams and salutations at His lotus feet.

  34. When I feel the need I run this checklist.

    Be centered with your attention at the spiritual eye.
    Be fully present here and now.
    Attune to the Guru.
    Surrender to the Divine will.
    Act without attachment.

    Aum

  35. I regularly rely on Master’s Peace and Harmony prayer to uplift my consciousness, for as many repetitions for me to notice the reign of calmness within. When I notice my energy in a state of ease I repeat the Gyatri and Mahamrityunjaya mantras to expand my devotion and love for God.

  36. Thank you, Jyotish for the inspiration! One of the most difficult things for me is to feel helpless when faced with a challenge.

    When I find myself becoming unhappy with someone, I try to remember that they are a child of God, struggling and working their way thru life, just as I am.
    Also, I love the idea of “God serving God”. It always lifts my heart and gives me strength.

  37. I love the birds. If I hear bird song, or the whhishh of a bird’s wings, I stop and feel instantly grounded, . It doesn’t matter tiny bird or soaring hawk, I am suddenly connected, my breath slows, I smile…

  38. Very HELPFUL reminder!! I have been cultivating for many years to keep gratitude foremost in my mind. I am more and more always repeating – Thank you , God! – at all times – and especially in difficult moments. It really has helped me to keep feeling joy in my heart.

  39. Whenever I am in a transition I use Yogananda’s affirmation: I go forth in peerfect faith in the power of omnipresent good to bring me what I need at the time I need it. Remembering I am no the doer.

  40. I try to see God in every situation that comes into my life, and ask myself, “what are you saying to me now, God? Are you that bird sweetly singing, or are you that evil one entertaining me with your play?”

  41. I stop. Whatever it is I’m doing, I pause and become present to the moment for 30 seconds. I breathe consciously, deeply, and allow my vision to go inward to my heart. My goal is to do this 6 times a day . That only totals 3 minutes, but those three minutes are powerful meditations for me as they return me to my true self.

  42. When my mind is screaming “doom and gloom” (as it tried this very morning) I know it very likely is simply a change–even a very POSITIVE change, maybe a real breakthrough!–which it sees it as a challenge to its hegemony in my world (which my mind thinks is ITS world). My mind of course thinks that IT is in charge, and its main concern is self-preservation. –not MY self preservation, ITS preservation.
    So, spiritual growth, breakthroughs…can look like a genuine threat to IT, I remind myself… So…this can be, is a time to CELEBRATE…–When this mind is especially active, screaming scary stuff, it’s BREAKTHROUGH CITY around here!
    Thanks, Jyotish, for giving me a chance to articulate this! Blessings to you!

  43. Thank you dear Jotish :)) The most important thing for me are two : looking at the spiritual eyes to be connected and be grateful also for the little things. Jai Guru

  44. The most important thing I do is sit in my home shrine and/or at the Ramakrishna temple here in New Delhi. Once I enter one or both of these places, in spite of myself, I get an inner satisfaction and assurance that leads me to go on in life. Chanting stotras and the Guru mantra have been the most fulfilling and rewarding experience for me in my life each day, acting as a balm to my broken mind and heart.

    1. I too do the similar thing . Mostly I go to a sea shore . Take a long walk listening to the sea waves , a fiercing touch by wind refreshes my mind , the infinite water fullfill me with abundant joy , attractive colours on sky shine my visual senses and enlarged sun gives me ample energy to settle down. A calm, peaceful environment is created which enhances a process of evolvement within .

  45. The most important thing I do daily is I say ‘thank you God, I am alive to live another day and serve you!’ I have done this for so long, I don’t remember when I started but I know, I am sincerely grateful to be alive and I thank God for that~!

  46. Thank you for inviting us to share in this way! When I feel down or caught in the mundane, I recall the joyous experiences I have had in meditation, and say something to myself like, “That was real, this is just a part to play in God’s Lila.” Thus, I gain detachment and can do my work with more energy.

  47. Thank you, Jyotish. The one thing I do that most reliably brings the greatest blessings into my life is to ask Divine Mother in my morning meditations to fill my heart with Her kindness, compassion, and mercy – Her cheerful friendship, her energetic, enthusiastic service. Sometimes I’ll ask Swamiji to give me the power to offer people his eternal cheerful friendship and love. Seventy-six years of living have taught me that I can’t do these things by myself, or even come close.

  48. During challenging times or when I am free, the most important thing I do is I start to think ” What I can do for Guru? what can I offer him?”
    and Guru changes my energy very quickly…

  49. When I feel stressed out about particular matter I just leave everything to God and pray that it is only He who can take care of that particular matter and moments later I feel all relaxed.

  50. Quite often I have started remembering most reverentially our Master as ‘AUM GURU’, ‘AUM GURU’ … and praying
    Be With me, Be With me and I see him smiling and blessing me and I move forward with Him……

  51. When I go out from my home I stand before altar and offer my prayers like this.bless them all father.let thy will be done.be with me and guide me in all walks my life..reveal thy self.and after return home.i simply say thank you very much father you helped me a lot. Please kindly accept my thanks.

  52. I have found that reading inspiring posts like this really help me in my spiritual journey!
    I find joy in nature. I try to see God in every blade of grass, cloud, flower, etc. The evening star and the evening sky remind me of the Spiritual Eye.
    I sing to God and He sings back to me. His most recent song to me is: “I Want to Know What Love Is” by Foreigner
    I also have a photo of Jesus on my cell phone so I see Him each time I open my phone.
    MOST IMPORTANT is gratitude! Gratitude for everything. Thank You God!

  53. when i start feeling overwhelmed i just take a moment to smile to myself…and when i’m listening to a song on the radio while driving i chant a mantra to the beat of the song and laugh to myself…it somehow reconnects me and makes me feel uplifted…

  54. A simple practice I use is to feel my breath as an expression of God’s Love. It easily shifts me from my head to my heart.

  55. I try to establish a true friendship with each person at Laurelwood, one that is unique to each individual. That helps my connections with people be meaningful and enriching. It helps me speak from my center rather than at a superficial level, even for brief, casual greetings.

  56. When uneasy or fearful, I follow the advice Swami gave Vairigi: Pray deeply, unceasingly for the person(s) that are/seem to be at the core of my fears and unhappiness….until I feel the shift and all is ‘dissolved’ into light and love

  57. I put everything back in God’s hands : my live, my kids, my parents, my dead… and what will be next. I remember that God is choosing what is happening to me all the time.

    My job is to accept, welcome and love :
    • what is happening,
    • who is in front of me,
    • the place where I’m standing,

    Welcome the present moment without resistance, with open arms, with compassion.
    Good and evil are illusions, everything that comes to me is a gift to make me grow…
    With deep love. Nicolas

  58. -Escuchar Radio Ananda
    -Ir al jardín de mi casa, sacarme los zapatos, pisar el césped, y hacer el Ejercicio de Energetizacion de la recarga de cada parte del cuerpo. Imagino la energía que viene del infinito entra por mi bulbo raquídeo, (masajeo un poco esa zona) y comienza primero muy lento y lo mejor que pueda a conciencia y después cada parte manteniendo la tensión, finalmente doble inhalación tenso que vibre el cuerpo, exhalo doble, relajo, siento y estoy como nueva y lista para seguir el día.

  59. The most important thing I do is to remind myself that God and I are one. The only thing that keeps me away from Divine is attachment to my thoughts

  60. Thank you for the message and blessings! I remind myself the connection with God and pray for guidance and strength to face situations and make me a better person. Surrender, in prayer, has helped me always.

  61. I try and remember to be grateful for everything that comes into my life. Moment by moment, day by day. Also chanting while I go about daily duties helps keep me centered on the divine instead my mundane thoughts and judgements.

  62. Thank you Jotish that’s a great question for everyone ✨ What I do personally is getting up every morning with enthusiasm for another adventure God sends me ✨ I am grateful for the time I’ve been gifted to spend on this earth and I take life like a wonderful adventure ✨ every challenge that comes to me is a gift from God and I am looking forward every day to find the best way to face my challenges ✨ facing this reality of duality with love and responsibility is my gift to God 💗 being present fully every moment, doing a reality check every now and then, walking in rettitude, being attuned constantly with the Devine Source makes everything peaceful and harmonic in my life ✨🙏

  63. This is what i do…
    Before going to bed and after waking up , i mentally visualize touching the feet of Divine Mother and our line of Gurus .This makes me feel loved and protected all 24 hrs . I keep chanting ” Om Guru- Om Guru -God -Krishna- Christ -Gurus ” , often . I Chant it rhythmically while doing yoga and other exercises. This way i have gotten rid of severe pain in my neck and back which i know is not so easy for one in her early sixties :-).
    Also, whenever i am faced with a situation that i cannot handle, automatically this chant goes on in my mind and things work out easily.
    Often this brings tears to my eyes with love and gratitude.
    Thank you, God-Krishna -Christ -Gurus 🙂

  64. When I feel challenged or indifferent to someone that I am put into the same space at work or socialy , I try my best to imagine that they could be one of the great master’s in disguise to see how I would treat them if that was how they were at that moment. It has given me a better understanding of people and the challenges we all face and truly hope that this practice is making me a better person as well.

  65. This was a beautiful article. I do practice the ways that are given in the article, but one I personally find the most helpful is to visualize myself expanding to infinity, impersonally but trying to feel God’s bliss, chanting Aum at the spiritual eye and feeling that God is in everyone in front of me. This helps me a lot as instead of pushing away the challenging situation, it reminds me that God is also ‘in’ the situation too.

  66. I remind myself that through all situations and people, God is trying to have a conversation with me, and I can have his friendship and blessings, the more I keep that conversation with Him.

  67. If at home either I open “Whispers from Eternity” by Yogananda or “Patanjali” Interpreted by Swami Kriyananda, randomly and get the direction and if travelling I try to attune myself with Master or Gurus. Seems to work for me.

  68. Thank you for sharing this wonderful post Jyotishji.
    I am also developing the habit of praying for all who come to the temple.
    Also, i like looking into Swamiji’s and Master’s eyes and telling them I love them from time to time to feel their love in my heart.
    Joy! Jai Guru.

    1. Most of my days consist of pauses to notice deep feelings of love & gratitude…..for this and that: consistently thinking of resistless surrender to the moment as it is; repeating the Gayatri Mantra; feeling God as my guide and in control and in me and all that is; repeating parts of Master’s poem Samadhi; but most of all the peace I feel remembering the vision of Master’s arm and hand lovingly outstretched to me (at the crypt in Los Angeles) and Swamiji taking my hand at the Temple in Assisi a few months after he passed to sooth my heart ache……all these and more comfort me throughout my waking hours.

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