Special note: In many of Paramahansa Yogananda’s writings, he refers to “God.” While this terminology is comfortable for him (and for me), others may prefer to read Paramahansa’s thoughts through a different lens. The essence will remain, in that ultimately, the philosophies and beliefs espouse the power of meditation, prayer, and spiritual discipline, regardless of religious—or non-religious—beliefs.

…[S]it in silence before deciding about any important matter, asking the Father for His blessing. Then behind your power is God’s power; behind your mind, God’s mind; behind your will, His will.

(Originally from: Paramahansa Yogananda, “The Law of Success.” Reprinted in: Spiritual Diary: An Inspirational Thought for Each Day, December 13.)

Yesterday provided a potent reminder of the wisdom of the above directive. Yet, as many missteps often reveal, one’s spiritual maturation is an unending process; some lessons need to be relearned continually. Eventually, they stick. (It is said that the “beginner mind” needs to be reminded of a concept 3-5 times before it becomes ingrained: In my opinion, the spiritual seeker is an eternal beginner, and thus may require 300-500 remedial opportunities to learn a lesson.)

In conjunction with yesterday’s lesson was another reminder: The harbinger of the need to prepare for—to be conscious of—a potential challenge often presents itself before the circumstance arises. I had started the day much as I do most others: tea, yoga, meditation, breakfast, emailing, catching up on news. Then, after I left the house to tend to some errands, I found myself feeling teary, as if the slightest thing could open the floodgates.

This feeling is familiar to many of us: a mood or physical symptom of emotion that seems to spring out of nowhere. In recent months, these moments seem to be directly related to the uncertainty of quarantine and its accompanying protocols. Frustration and fear coexist with acceptance and inner strength: Many moods fight for dominance, and mostly, they agree to share the space within. 

As I became aware of my undefinable sensitivity yesterday, I consciously heightened my awareness of its presence. I felt that I needed to be alert, so that I would not let another’s word or glance destabilize me. With that note to myself, I continued through the morning, sure that I had properly sealed myself from negative incursions.

Upon arriving home, I glanced at my old-school message machine: I had been expecting an important message since the day before. There was, however, no blinking light. I felt a brief spurt of exasperation, but reminded myself of the need to be patient during this unusual time of frequent cancellations and overworked staff. I simply decided that I would call the office again, and politely inquire about the status of my appointment.

The young lady who answered heard my query, and checked the logged calls from the day before. She acknowledged that a note had been made, and then informed me of office protocol with regard to my particular need: Because I had had the procedure that I was trying to schedule, I knew that her information was incorrect. I did tell her this, and she adamantly insisted on her position. I became equally forceful, and like a steamroller, recited the dates of previous appointments, in order to underscore that their timing was possible. Eventually, she said that she had misunderstood, and put in the referral. I thanked her, and the call ended.

Typically, I am highly empathetic to the stress of administrative and customer service employees: I have had those jobs, and impatient or rude clients/patients are the bane of the postition. I generally make sure that I am patient, encouraging, and understanding when communicating professionally; yesterday, however, an atypical stridency took over. As soon as the call ended, I burst into tears, and sobbed for 5 minutes.

Certainly, this was the release from the earlier “teary feeling.” I do not doubt that if I had taken silence to contemplate my inner environment, I would have had a better chance at discerning its root; I do not doubt that I would have uncovered hidden fear or anger. Silence would have afforded the opportunity to tend to the burgeoning emotion, and I would have saved myself and the receptionist from an unpleasant encounter.

Silence is not soundlessness: It is the chamber within that allows the hum of the Universe, the wise Word of the Divine, and the eternal communication with All That Is. Silence is a state of being, and it can be a valuable tool: “…[S}it in silence before deciding about any important matter…”

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