It was quiet and cool in the interior of the dimly lit church – a dramatic contrast to the ceaseless activity on the college campus during this hot day in late spring of 1969. A friend had given me Autobiography of a Yogi to read, and it had awakened in me a keen desire to learn to meditate.
My friend had been studying meditation through the mail for three months and considered himself somewhat of an expert on the subject (a little prematurely, I’m afraid.) We decided to find a quiet place to meditate, and the little stone church across from the student library seemed an ideal place.
Without any idea of what to do, I simply found a seat on a wooden pew, closed my eyes, and relaxed into the silence around me. What happened next was an experience that remains vivid after all these years, and that determined the course my life would take.
First I felt a heightened sense of awareness, an expanded sense of personal identity, and a deep peace. As these intensified, I began to experience a great joy welling up within me that seemed to come from the core of my being.
After some time, I couldn’t contain myself any longer, and I enthusiastically burst out, “It’s all inside us – a tremendous sense of joy!”
My friend dismissed my words with a shrug, and replied, “Oh, no – it’s much more difficult than that. You have to study meditation for years and learn different techniques before you can experience anything.”
A little crest-fallen, I thought I must have done something wrong. It took me some time to realize that my first impressions had been quite right. The fruit of meditation, whether for a mere beginner or one who has practiced for years, is the experience of the joy of our own being. Don’t lose sight of this and mistake the means (the techniques of meditation) for the end (God’s bliss).
Paramhansa Yogananda gave us these words of encouragement: “If you have made up your mind to find joy within yourself, sooner or later you shall find it. Seek it now, daily, by steady, deeper and deeper meditation within.” This was the gift God gave to a beginning meditator many years ago in a quiet little church, an experience she has cherished and tried to build on ever since.
With deep gratitude,