In his magnificent poem “God! God! God!,” Paramhansa Yogananda writes these lines:
When boisterous storms of trials shriek,
And when worries howl at me,
I will drown their noises, loudly chanting:
God! God! God!
Who among us has not had to deal with his share of trials? And when storms of trials arrive, the advance troops are the howling winds of worry. It is worry, even more than the trial itself, that usually does damage to our peace and happiness.
Recently, the world of Ananda has been facing some challenges, as is true with any growing organization. While these tests are not personally directed at Devi and me, we nonetheless are deeply involved in doing our part to deal with them. And even though I am generally of a calm and even-minded nature, worries have been howling around in my mind. Perhaps it will be helpful to you if I share some of my strategies for dealing with them.
First, as Yogananda suggests, God is the solution to every test, so I am doing everything I can to keep my mind God-centered. This includes meditating more, trying to feel the presence and support of God and Guru throughout the day, and repeating a chant in the background of my thoughts. It hasn’t killed the worries, but it has helped diminish them.
If I allow the worries to gather momentum, it is hard to keep focused in meditation. For this, I have a several tools in my tool belt. The first is to try to become very present in observing my breath and using the techniques of this path. Pranayama is much more effective than thought for controlling agitated feelings.
Sometimes, though, the mind is so restless that even keeping focused on a technique is difficult. Then I have found this visualization helpful: I imagine being in a round room, which is my inner temple. Around the walls are many doors leading to various outer rooms of distraction: rooms such as worries, projects, memories, etc. I first must make a clear, conscious decision to be in my temple, which brings the mind into the here and now. Then, I mentally shut each door. The door that leads to my particular worry of the moment, I not only close, but lock, meaning that I refuse to allow my mind to go there. Once I am truly determined to do so, it is not too hard to close off those thoughts. How does one summon that determination? It is an act of devotion, of calling to God even desperately for help, if that’s what it takes. That is what Master meant in writing, “I will drown their noises, loudly chanting: God! God! God!”
After the disrupting energy is calmed, I focus deeply at the spiritual eye and try to bring all my energy and awareness there. When a door of distraction opens on its own, I find it relatively easy to shut it again if I do it right away. After a few attempts, the door of worry stays shut. The effort needed to slam the door two or three times pays great dividends in bringing peace and calmness.
When I am centered again, I then try to focus deeply on my techniques, on devotion, and on inner communion with God. This is the true solution, because when the consciousness is raised, worries won’t arise. Having drowned the noises of worries, as Yogananda advised, the time has come to chant inwardly, now, “God! God! God!”