Inside the Laboratory of Meditation

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All the experiences I have told you about are scientifically attainable. If you follow the spiritual laws, the result is certain.

Paramahansa Yogananda

Just as a scientist can go into a laboratory to verify the results of a given experiment, so can the yogi go into the “laboratory” of meditation to obtain the same results proven by the rishis of India and by every truth seeker—of any nation, or any time—who has peered into the heart of Reality.

Science does not ask us to accept anything as a matter of blind belief or dogma. By using the definite meditation methods whose results have been demonstrated and replicated by yogi-scientists for countless centuries, we can prove their effectiveness for ourselves—and gradually overcome the false, yet tenacious, idea that we are these limited bodies. Thus we can discover the truth—that as the indwelling Self, the soul, we are untouched by the dualities and the trials of the world; we are and always have been one with the blissful Infinite. Such profound understanding can eventually come to each one who practices right methods of meditation under the guidance of a true guru—one who has fully realized his identity with Spirit.

In this scientific age, when explorations ranging from the vastest expanses to the minutest particles of the physical universe are underway, there is a corresponding need for an equally adventurous and scientific approach to understanding the spiritual realm. We need to advance our spiritual investigations from that of merely discussing beliefs of religion to having the satisfaction of knowing Truth by direct experience. And this same truth should be verifiable by anyone willing to follow the systematic procedures and disciplines that yield such knowledge.

As a spiritual scientist, the yogi practices techniques of meditation to distill the tangible peace, love, wisdom, and joy of divine contact in his or her own consciousness—the only laboratory where the eternal nature of soul and Spirit can be experienced with utter clarity and precision and perfect awe.

In yoga meditation, the meditator withdraws the life force (prana) from the sensory and motor nerves—by a process known as pranayama (life-force control)—and directs it to the higher centers of awareness within the spine and brain. The inwardly retiring prana automatically withdraws the consciousness from the external world to the infinite realm within. Far from being a vague mental process of thinking or philosophical pondering, pranayama meditation is a time-proven way of unlocking the soul’s infinite potential.

Scientists do not make discoveries by prayer alone, but by application of the laws of nature. Similarly, God comes to him who follows the law, who applies the science of meditation. People have wandered in the forest of theology and have lost themselves. In vain I went from temple to temple seeking God; but when I found the soul temples in great lovers of God, I saw that He was there. He is not bribed by beautiful edifices. He comes to the tear-washed altar of the heart that is continuously calling unto Him. God is real. The masters who have devoted themselves to meditation for years and years have found Him.

Paramahansa Yogananda