When I was very young, every day I would close my bedroom door and sit on my bed with my eyes open, just staring into space for a couple of hours. I have always needed my daily “alone” time and no one ever disturbed me or questioned me. One day, just as I was surfacing into awareness, I heard my brother tell my father that he needed to talk to me and I heard my father say, “You can’t disturb Connie when her door is closed. When she’s ready, she will come out of her room and then you can talk to her.
I was astonished. I didn’t know anyone was aware that I needed my daily “alone” time and the only time anyone could talk to me was when my door was open. Throughout my life, no matter where I’ve been, or with whom, no one ever tried to talk to me when my door was closed; they always waited until I came out of my room. I never questioned this thinking it was a coincidence. Now I know better. Now I know that God was making it possible for me to start my spiritual journey at an extremely young age.
When I started to meditate, I kept hearing people complaining that they couldn’t get into meditation. Most complained about their minds wandering or being disturbed by outside noises or just being restless. I couldn’t understand why they couldn’t just shut off their minds. Now, decades and sitting on my bed with my eyes wide open, staring into space, I realize that must have been my form of meditation. When I started formal meditation, I was doing the same thing but with my eyes closed.
I’m in my dotage now but nothing has changed. I still need my “alone” time for a couple of hours each day and I use this time to go within. This is my time to communicate with God. I listen to that still, small voice inside of me. It’s my everything. It not only gives me a sense of peace but it also gives me the direction of my life. If I have a problem, I ask God for direction and it’s within the quiet of my mind that I find His answer. As frustrating as it is, sometimes His answer is silence and I have to accept that He wants me to draw my own conclusion. Sometimes He gives me a very poignant dream to guide me and sometimes He gives me the actual words I’m to use in handling a difficult situation.
We all have this ability to communicate directly with God. We don’t need intermediaries to do it for us. All we have to do is quiet our minds and listen for the message that God is giving us. There’s no magic power at work, just the sincere desire to let God direct us on the path back to Him.
I went to an ashram for a short while and there was always a young man sitting there in his t-shirt filled with holes and his socks riddled with holes. I don’t know whether they ever found their way into a washing machine but I do know that he traveled around going from guru to guru. I was in a bookstore specializing in esoteric books one day and he walked into this little store. He started to tell me about his meeting with his latest guru and I could feel myself reaching my boiling point. I don’t usually have a short temper; it takes me a while to get really angry with someone or some situation, but that day, as I heard him talk about his latest guru, I felt my temper explode and I started to yell at him.
“Stop running around looking for the guru who has the key to getting you into heaven. The key is inside of you. Meditate more and stop running around like a chicken with his head cut off.”
This was before my introduction to Yogananda, the most spiritual person I’ve ever met. I’m sure he would have handled that situation more delicately but I just was feeling that since this man dressed as a penitent, holes in his clothing, searching for the perfect guru that all I could think was that he has so much time to run around meeting different gurus, you’d think he could use one of those hours to quiet his mind long enough to hear what God was saying. The interesting thing is that I never saw him again. He never went back to that ashram. I guess he was afraid I’d yell at him and spoil his search for the perfect guru.
I never met Yogananda in person but his books changed my life. It felt as though I had met him in person because I was standing in one of my favorite mom-and-pop bookstores, looking for a good book to read. All of a sudden, a book fell on my head. I picked it up and the first thing I thought was that God was directing me to buy the book and read it carefully.
That book was Autobiography of a Yogi. I taught several classes and used his book as the foundation for my classes. Sometimes it felt as though he was sitting beside me, guiding me and the words just poured out of my mouth. I never considered myself a teacher but I had this compulsion to share the teaching of this great yogi. We started our classes at 7:00 p.m. but nobody wanted to go home.
I would say, “And next week” but no one moved a muscle. They all had jobs that started early in the morning but everyone stayed until 4:00 or 5:00 a.m. wanting more. My guess is that Yogananda’s written words fed the souls of this little group for a long time to come. Some of the words were so poignant that they have remained burnished on my soul and I try to let his words and wisdom guide me in my own life and be a beacon of light in everyone else’s life.
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Written by Connie H. Deutsch
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