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How to Pray the Prayerless Prayer: A Meditation Exercise

Updated on October 28, 2018
Maya Shedd Temple profile image

Eastern religious philosophy is one of my areas of interest about which I write essays exploring the nature of reality and being.

Meditation Posture on Chiar

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Steps to Quietude

Sit on a straight-back chair or on a pad on the floor with your back reasonably straight, hands resting upturned on thighs, eyes looking straight ahead so as not to tilt the head. Close your eyes and gently uplift them as if looking at a screen in the mid-forehead. Take care not to strain the eyes, but keep attention at mid-forehead.

Relax the body. To help relax the body, gently tense and relax the whole body a few times. If further relaxing is necessary, gently tense and relax feet, calves, thighs, buttocks, torso, arms, neck, and head. Take a few deep breaths and then forget about body and breath.

Meditating Posture on Pad on Floor

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Listening and Watching

With deep concentration, listen to sounds in the ears, which will slowly become mostly perceived as inside the head. You will naturally hear other sounds like traffic, or the refrigerator, or people in the house, but ignore those, and listen to the sounds in your ears. The sound will be similar to the buzz or hum of power lines, or the gentle whirr of a small motor. Continue to concentrate on that sound as you ignore all other physical sounds.

While concentrating deeply on the sounds in your ears (head), watch the screen in your forehead, which at first will appear only as blackness. As you continue to become more and more relaxed and more and more deeply concentrated on the buzz/hum/whirr sounds in your ears and head, you will see various forms appearing on the screen of your forehead. They will be dreamlike most of the time, but once in awhile they will seem more substantial. You will be peering at the same screen on which you observe the imagery as you dream in sleep.

Watching the Screen of the Mind

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Listening to the Aum Vibration

Accepting Without Thought

Simply perceive any sound or visual image with neutrality—that is, don’t try to make any image stay, question why you received it, think about it in any way. Just continue to concentrate on the screen in the forehead and the sounds of your ears and head.

After you have become well-concentrated in both the auditory and visual imagery, fill you heart with thoughts of love, peace, joy—or any positive quality you greatly admire or consider to divine.

Meditating on Chair

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Filling the Heart with Divinity

Last, after filling your heart with the divine quality you admire, feel that a white light is surrounding you, and you are in the presence of the Divine. Enjoy this relaxed feeling as long as you want.

The Prayer Without Words

This is the prayerless prayer. And without forming a single word, you will have communicated with the Divine.

The longer you sit and practice this technique the more closely you will feel that you are in touch with Something Marvelous. And of course, if you wish, your prayer doesn’t have to remain wordless.

At the end of your session, you might want to offer some heartfelt words to the Divine or pray any prayer you are familiar with—as long as you feel the words in your heart, and understand them completely with your mind, you will benefit from their utterance.

Of course, the most important part is simply being in the presence of the Divine. If you practice this technique, twice daily for eight years, you will have formed a habit that you will never want to break.

Seated on Pad on Floor

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Suggestions for Affirmations

Paramahansa Yogananda offers many inspiring, short affirmations for any need, physical, mental, or spiritual. One of my favorites is the following, which also serves as a chant:

No Birth, No Death

No birth, no death, no caste have I;
Father, mother, have I none:
I am He, I am He, — blessed Spirit, I am He!
Mind, nor intellect, nor ego, feeling;
Sky, nor earth, nor metals am I:
I am He, I am He, — blessed Spirit, I am He!

Another useful, powerful affirmation that may serve as part of your prayer service after quiet meditation is the following:

My Heavenly Father is love

My Heavenly Father is love,
and I am made in His image.
I am the sphere of love
in which all planets, all stars, all beings,
all creation are glimmering.
I am the love
that pervades the whole universe.

Create Your Own Affirmations

After you have become aware of your own deep spiritual needs, and have the spiritual template of a great master's chants and affirmations, you will feel the need along with the ability to create your own affirmations.

The following piece is one of my original affirmations that I employ quite often:

Divine Soul

I am health
I am wealth
I am whole
I am a perfect
Immortal
Divine
Soul

As I broaden my love and appreciation for humankind, I affirm a universal wish for goodwill in the following original:

Gratitude for Blessing and Healing

Heavenly Father, Divine Mother:
Thank you for blessing and healing us all
In body, mind, and soul—
All of the little families
And all of the little souls
On all levels of being.

Closing Your Prayerless Prayer

Before you rise from your prayerless prayer, quiet meditation session, you might want to concentrate on some profound thought that has always captivated your attention. What may suddenly happen is that from the deepest levels of inspiration come flooding into one's daily awareness new connections brought on by the same words that have uplifted you many times before in different ways. One such inspirational thought for me is the following, which continues to remain my favorite quotation of all time, offered by Swami Sri Yukteswar in Paramahansa Yogananda's Autobiography of a Yogi:

Forget the past. The vanished lives of all men are dark with many shames. Human conduct is ever unreliable until man is anchored in the Divine. Everything in future will improve if you are making a spiritual effort now.

Allowing yourself the time to connect with your inner being can become a lifelong habit that not only allows you to feel healthier but also assists you in becoming more creative, more sensitive to your environment, and more observant. Just beginning with such small steps as quieting the body can grow into marvelous meditation sessions that awaken your whole being to its Divine Reality.

Autobiography of a Yogi

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Life Sketch of Paramahansa Yogananda

The great guru/poet Paramahansa Yogananda was born on January 5, 1893, in Gorakhpur, India. His name at birth was Mukunda Lal Ghosh. Always a spiritually advanced child, at age 17, he met his guru, Swami Sri Yukteswar, under whose guidance he flourished and became the spiritual giant and sacred engine that leads souls back to their eternal abode in the arms of the Divine Creator.

Paramahansa Yogananda came to the United States in 1920 to speak in Boston at the International Congress of Religious Liberals. His speech was so well received that he quickly gathered a following. By 1925, his organization, Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF), was well established with the purpose of disseminating and maintaining the purity of his teachings of yoga. He has come to be known as the “Father of Yoga in the West.”

The following is an excerpt from the introduction to Paramahansa Yogananda’s biography on the Self-Realization Fellowship Web site:

In the hundred years since the birth of Paramahansa Yogananda, this beloved world teacher has come to be recognized as one of the greatest emissaries to the West of India’s ancient wisdom. His life and teachings continue to be a source of light and inspiration to people of all races, cultures and creeds.

Publications of Paramahansa Yogananda

Paramahansa Yogananda's in-depth work, Autobiography of a Yogi, has become a spiritual classic worldwide. Many devotees have been drawn to the teachings of this yogi through that autobiography, and many of their stories about how they came to find that work include some of the most inspiring "miracles" of modern American culture.

Such world-renowned figures as Dennis Weaver, Steve Jobs, George Harrison, and Elvis Presley were influenced by the Autobiography of a Yogi and the teachings of the great guru. Weaver even became a lay minister and spoke often at many of the SRF temples in California.

In addition to the autobiography, the great guru has published many collections of his talks, in both written and oral forms. His audio collector's series of ten of his informal talks includes the following titles:

1. Beholding the One in All
2. Awake in the Cosmic Dream
3. Be a Smile Millionaire
4. The Great Light of God
5. To Make Heaven on Earth
6. One Life Versus Reincarnation
7. Removing All Sorrow and Suffering
8. In the Glory of the Spirit
9. Follow the Path of Christ, Krishna, and the Masters
10. Self-Realization: The Inner and the Outer Path

These inspirational talks reveal much information about the great guru that appeals to his devoted followers. Just listening to a God-realized voice offers an uplifting spiritual experience.

The Poetry of Paramahansa Yogananda

For my commentaries on the poems of the great guru, I rely on his marvelous collection titled, Songs of the Soul, the version published in 1983 with its most current printing 2014. Two additional collections of his poems are extant, Whispers From Eternity and Metaphysical Meditations.

Because the "poems" of this great guru function on levels that ordinary poems do not, they are often used in devotional services held by groups of devotees of the SRF teachings throughout the world in the Readings Services as well as their Special Commemorative Services.

Paramahansa Yogananda's poems are more akin to prayers than to the poetry of ordinary poets, whose subject matter often dramatizes only human emotion in its relationship with creation and other human beings, instead of with the Creator; the great guru's poems always invoke the Creator's presence whether directly or indirectly.

Other Publications

The great guru's organization, SRF, also continues to publish collections of his works. Many of his talks have appeared in the series of essays that include Man's Eternal Quest, The Divine Romance, and Journey to Self-realization.

Corrective Translations

The guru has also bestowed on the literary world three important translations of extant perennial works that have been grossly misunderstood in some cases for centuries. His new translations along with his explanatory commentaries are correcting that misunderstanding.

In Wine of the Mystic: The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam — A Spiritual Interpretation, he shows how that poet's God-realized effusions put on display a man in love with his Creator and not the wine sopped Epicurean that has been misapplied to the work.

In the guru's in-depth translation and commentaries on the ancient Bhagavad Gita, titled God Talks With Arjuna: The Bhagavad Gita — A New Translation and Commentary, the great spiritual leader offers not only the poetic translation of the work but also the relevance for humankind of the psychological and spiritual instruction offered in the ancient poem.

Most importantly for Western culture, Paramahansa Yogananda has offered a full explanation of the phenomenon known as the "Second Coming." Titled The Second Coming of Christ: The Resurrection of the Christ Within You — A revelatory commentary on the original teachings of Jesus, the work explains the true meaning of many of Jesus' words long misunderstood and mischaracterized, such as "The Kingdom of God is within you" and "I and my Father are one."

The Lessons

Of all the publications offered by SRF and the great guru, it is the Lessons that remain most vital. One could dispense with all of the other books, audio tapes, poetry, and other commentaries if one possesses those lessons.

The Lessons begin by offering physical exercises that prepare the physical encasement to sit quietly and still while performing the more advanced exercises that lead to Kriya Yoga practice.

The Lessons contains six steps that can be completed in three years, but each student is free to progress at his/her own pace. The Lessons include instruction in the following techniques: 1. Energization Exercises. 2. Hong-Sau Technique of Concentration, and 3. Aum Technique of Meditation.

After completing the first two steps, the devotee may apply for the Kriya Yoga technique.

Kriya Yoga Initiations

The Kriya Yoga technique features four initiations for a total of twenty lessons. The First Initiation, featuring lessons K1-9, includes the technique of Kriya proper, on which all of the other initiations are based. The Second Initiation contains four lessons, K10-14, and the Third and Fourth include the remaining lessons K15-20.

All of the Lessons, including the Kriya Yoga Initiations, include many explanations based of science, as well as on the life experience of Paramahansa Yogananda. These marvelous works are presented in such way to hold the student-devotees' interest with little stories, poems, affirmations, and prayers that enhance the purpose of each lesson.

Complete Works

In addition to all of the works mentioned above, Paramahansa Yogananda has published many others, including his Cosmic Chants, which offers musical notations as well as the lyric for each chant.

An annotated list of the works of the great guru is offered on the Self-Realization Fellowship Web site under the title, "The Complete Works of Paramahansa Yogananda."

SRF Mother Center

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© 2017 Linda Sue Grimes

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