Paramahansa Yogananda's scientific techniques of meditation and how to get started

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Techniques of the Kriya Yoga Path

In his Yoga Sutras the sage Patanjali defined yoga as “neutralization of the alternating waves in consciousness,” which Paramahansa Yogananda said can also be translated as “cessation of the modifications of the mind-stuff.” In other words, yoga produces the pristine inner stillness and focus necessary for superconscious perception.

Through the techniques of pranayama (life-force control) of the Kriya Yoga path, the meditating yogi directs mind and life energy inward, thus stilling the near-constant restlessness that characterizes ordinary, outward-directed consciousness. The techniques provide a needed bridge from chaos and distraction to inner stillness and finally to the bliss of the soul.

Taken together as an integrated system, these pranayama techniques enable the practitioner to achieve the highest benefits and divine goal of the ancient yoga science.

Energization Exercises

The Energization Exercises are a series of psychophysical exercises developed by Paramahansa Yogananda to prepare the body for meditation. Regular practice promotes mental and physical relaxation and develops dynamic will power. Making use of the breath, life force, and concentrated attention, the technique enables one to draw abundant energy consciously into the body, purifying and strengthening all the body parts systematically in turn. The Energization Exercises, which take about fifteen minutes to perform, are one of the most effective means of eliminating stress and nervous tension. Practicing them prior to meditation is a great help in entering a calm, interiorized state of awareness.

Hong-Sau Technique of Concentration

Through the practice of the Hong-Sau Technique of Concentration, one learns to withdraw thought and energy from outward distractions so that they may be focused on any goal to be achieved or problem to be solved. Or one may direct that concentrated attention toward realizing the Divine Consciousness within.

Aum Technique of Meditation

The Aum Technique of Meditation shows one how to use the power of concentration in the highest way to discover and develop the divine qualities of one's own true Self. This ancient method teaches how to experience the all-pervading Divine Presence as Aum, the Word or Holy Ghost that underlies and sustains all creation. The technique expands the awareness beyond limitations of body and mind to the joyous realization of one's infinite potential.

Kriya Yoga Technique

Kriya is a highly advanced Raja Yoga technique of pranayama. Kriya reinforces and revitalizes subtle currents of life energy (prana) in the spine and brain. The ancient seers of India (rishis) perceived the brain and spine as the tree of life. Out of the subtle cerebrospinal centers of life and consciousness (chakras) flow the energies that enliven all the nerves and every organ and tissue of the body. The yogis discovered that by revolving the life current continuously up and down the spine by the special technique of Kriya Yoga, it is possible to greatly accelerate one's spiritual evolution and awareness. Correct practice of Kriya Yoga enables the normal activities of the heart and lungs and nervous system to slow down naturally, producing deep inner stillness of body and mind and freeing the attention from the usual turbulence of thoughts, emotions, and sensory perceptions. In the clarity of that inner stillness, one comes to experience a deepening interior peace and attunement with one's soul and with God. The technique is given to students of the Self-Realization Fellowship Lessons who apply to receive Kriya Yoga after a preliminary period of study and practice of the first three techniques taught by Paramahansa Yogananda listed above.

Kriya Yoga is the highest method of God contact. In my own search for God I traveled all over India, and heard wisdom from the lips of a number of her greatest masters. I can therefore vouch for the fact that in Self-Realization teachings are the highest truths and scientific techniques given to mankind by God and the Great Ones.

Paramahansa Yogananda

How to Get Started

Paramahansa Yogananda’s SRF Lessons for Home Study

It was the wish of the illumined masters who sent this spiritual path that these sacred techniques be received under a pledge of confidentiality not to divulge them to others—a time-honored principle that ensures the techniques are transmitted to succeeding generations without alteration and also helps the sincere seeker to focus on self-improvement and avoid the potential distraction of becoming a self-appointed teacher of others.

In keeping with ancient spiritual tradition, Self-Realization Fellowship makes the advanced spiritual techniques available only to students of the SRF Lessons, a home-study course for which all interested persons may apply. This is the first step to learning the Kriya Yoga science of meditation taught by Paramahansa Yogananda.

“The salvation of souls through Kriya Yoga is my singular aim,” Paramahansaji wrote in his commentary on the Bhagavad Gita, God Talks With Arjuna.

In the first year of Lessons study at home, students learn the first three techniques described above and Paramahansaji’s principles of balanced spiritual living. This gradual introduction has a purpose. As a mountain climber seeking to scale the Himalayas must first undergo the necessary conditioning and acclimatization, so the seeker needs this initial period to acclimatize his or her habits and thoughts, condition the mind with concentration and devotion, and practice directing the body's life energy. Then the yogi is prepared to ascend the spinal highway of realization.

After approximately eight months of preparation and practice, students are eligible to apply for initiation in the technique of Kriya Yoga and formally establish the time-honored guru-disciple relationship with Paramahansa Yogananda and his lineage of enlightened masters. Those who choose not to take the step may still continue their study of the Self-Realization Fellowship Lessons.

Whether or not one ultimately decides to request initiation in Kriya Yoga, all who are earnest in their practice will realize for themselves the truth in Paramahansa Yogananda’s assurance that it is possible to reach the highest states of divine consciousness through the basic Self-Realization Fellowship techniques listed above—though Kriya Yoga is the fastest and most effective method.

By enrolling for the Lessons, you will receive comprehensive explanation of these techniques, covering all the details taught by Paramahansa Yogananda in person during his many years of instructing disciples. In addition, many in-person and online instructional resources—including audio and video classes on the techniques, given by direct disciples of Paramahansaji and other senior SRF monastics—are available exclusively to students of the SRF Lessons.

Even if you have not enrolled for the Self-Realization Fellowship Lessons, you can still learn the basics of meditation through initial instructions and guided meditations on our website—tools you can use right away to begin experiencing the manifold benefits that meditation brings.

“Pranayama brings results much faster than simple prayer or other methods of diverting the mind from sensory distractions. In one life you can attain God-consciousness by Self-Realization techniques. Meditation, which is possible only after achieving interiorization, is to experience consciously, with the full possession of your mind, that state of divine peace and joy which you feel subconsciously in sleep. So the masters teach that by switching off the five sense telephones of sight, smell, taste, touch, and sound, through pranayama, you can produce that consciousness at will, enhanced a thousandfold….When you are in this way able to close off distracting sensations, you will be at the altar of God.”

Paramahansa Yogananda