It is easy to feel overwhelmed by all the difficulties that we face in today’s world. But there is good reason for hope, because consciousness rules this world, and human consciousness is rising—even if it doesn’t always seem that way. The ancient science of Yoga offers practical techniques and teachings that can help consciousness rise faster. I would like to share three of the ways in which Ananda Yoga can be an invaluable tool for this purpose.
Become a Master of Energy
Difficulties in life, whether personal or global, are the result of a large amount of energy flowing in an undesirable direction. In order to counter such momentum, we must access a greater amount of energy and use it to establish a more-desirable flow.Those are two of the hallmarks of Ananda Yoga: It teaches us how to draw upon the unlimited energy that surrounds us at all times, and to send that energy in whatever direction is needed.
You can easily get a small taste of this invaluable skill through a simple experiment:
Stand up, close your eyes, and assess your level of energy on a scale of 1 to 10, where 10 means that you are bursting with vitality, and 1 means that you are nearly comatose.
Open your eyes, and with an inhalation, circle your arms out and up, as though you are reaching up to receive. Gaze upward, with heart open, and strongly invite energy into your body. Exhale when you need to, but stay in this position.With your next inhalation, consciously draw the body’s energy up toward your brain. Feel the rising sensation lift the corners of your mouth into a smile. Hold the breath for a moment, enjoying that abundant energy. As you slowly exhale, keep your smile, whisper “Yes!”, and relax back to your original standing position.
Now close your eyes and assess your level of energy once again. Unless you are a very unusual person, your score was higher this time—perhaps much higher.
Did you feel an improvement? Whatever amount you felt, it is minor compared to what is possible through a complete Ananda Yoga practice, which enables us to be more aware of energy, draw in large amounts of it, and direct it for specific purposes, outwardly or inwardly.
So whether you feel called to help change the world through outward activity, or through prayer and self-transformation, Ananda Yoga can help you acquire and direct the energy to make a positive impact.
But high energy alone is not enough. Calmness, too, is necessary.
Stay Calm and Centered
I’m sure that you know calm people who are calm merely because they have very little energy. You probably also know high-energy people who are extremely restless or agitated. Such people cannot make a significant positive impact on the world.Although it might seem that calmness and high energy are opposite states, you will be most effective only when you have both.
The main reason that people are not calm is that their hearts are agitated by worries, desires, and emotions. And if they also have high energy, they will be even more agitated, and energy will scatter in many directions. If you want to bring positive change to this world, begin by calming the energy of the heart chakra, in the center of the chest, the seat of all emotion. All outward emotions—even happy ones—agitate the heart’s energy. Try this simple exercise to calm it:
Concentrate on the heart chakra, and send vibrations of calmness to your heart. You’ll soon feel your concentration begin to calm the heart. Keep in mind that you are not trying to neutralize or banish the heart’senergy; you simply want to calm it. For even greater effect, take several smooth, easy breaths, through the nose. With each exhalation, feel that you’re expelling, along with the air from your lungs, any lingering agitation from your heart.Then hold the breath out as long as comfortable, and enjoy the calmness. When you finish those breaths,your heart will feel calm yet strong.
It’s such a simple thing to do! When your heart’s energy is calm, you have much more power with which to do something positive. Ananda Yoga gives you tools that are much more powerful than this little exercise. When you finish a complete Ananda Yoga practice, you will feel calm, refreshed, and revitalized throughout body, heart, and mind—and ready to take on the next challenge. That is much different from an exhausting physical workout or from emotional turmoil.
Connect with God
Twenty years ago, as I was about to travel to Ananda Assisi to teach the Ananda Yoga Intensive, several American Ananda Yoga teachers asked a favor. They were teaching in highly secular environments, and they felt that their students were sometimes uncomfortable with the Ananda Yoga affirmations, because many of the affirmations mention God. Would I, they asked,request that Swami Kriyananda (who was then living at Ananda Assisi) develop an alternate set of asana affirmations that could be used in highly secular settings?
I suspected that Swami would be unwilling to do it, but I agreed to their request. My suspicion proved correct, as Swami replied strongly: “Absolutely not! There is too much God-less yoga in this world already! If I give them another set of affirmations, those will become the default because they are ‘safe.’ No one will use the real affirmations, and students will not benefit as much from the practice.”
I understood that he was talking, not so much about the affirmations, as about the way to draw Yoga’s higher benefits: bring God into the practice. As he had often observed, too many people think that, with Yoga’s broad array of techniques, they can attain high states of consciousness by themselves, and they don’t need God. They are wrong. Techniques alone can be beneficial, but without God, the practitioner will reach a plateau and be unable to rise higher.
The affirmations are only one of the many ways in which Ananda Yoga can help you bring God dynamically into your practice. Together, they help you make a strong divine connection. The stronger your connection, the more the entire world will benefit, because consciousness is more powerful than any other influence.
Find motivation in the story of the Buddha: It was said that, when he attained enlightenment, people all over the world experienced blessings as a result. You might or might not attain enlightenment, but any positive movement of anyone’s consciousness will have a positive impact.
Raise Your Consciousness
The problems that the world is facing are the results of people living on a lower level of consciousness, of being disconnected from God and from our fellow human beings. To expect political or social action alone to solve such problems would be like shuffling a deck of cards and expecting it to be transformed into a bouquet of flowers.Only by tuning in to divine consciousness, and acting with that consciousness, will we be able to solve those problems. To do that, we need high energy, deep calmness, and a dynamic, conscious partnership with God. Ananda Yoga can help you have all three of those, and thereby be a blessing to others.
I hope you will be inspired to practice Ananda Yoga in this way, so you, too, will become a beacon of light to the world.
Nayaswami Gyandev, PhD, serves as Director of Ananda Yoga and Co-Director of Ananda Meditation Teacher Training at Ananda Village in Northern California. He is an Ananda Lightbearer Minister and Kriyacharya (teacher of Kriya Yoga). He is also a co-founder of Yoga Alliance and an E-RYT 500.In addition to teaching at The Expanding Light, Ananda’s retreat center in Northern California, he teaches online and in India, Europe, Canada, and throughout the USA. He has authored four books, including Spiritual Yoga: Awakening to Higher Awareness. He also created the 12 volumes (48 video classes) of The Ananda Yoga Series.