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Bringing Our Lives Into Balance
by Brother Achalananda, Condensed from a talk

What does balance consist of? Paramahansa Yogananda's teachings show us an ideal that encompasses the material, psychological and emotional, and spiritual aspects of our lives-an ideal that is tremendously motivating and inspiring.  We all want to have a healthy body, our mind to be alert and our emotions and feelings to contribute to harmonious and fulfilling relationships with those around us. And above all, we very much want and need to connect with the spiritual side of our being- with that most natural and all-satisfying part of ourselves, our soul; and with God. However, to achieve that balance we have to invest some energy and time; we have to make it happen through a definite plan and effort.

There are many parts of our life that we need to bring into balance, so many of which seem to conflict with each other: responsibilities to our family; earning a living; maintaining our health; giving attention to our spiritual lives; keeping up with the deluge of information required to function in the world today; community or church activities; and a myriad of other demands on our time and energy. To balance all these aspects of our life we need something to balance them on, some point of equilibrium. The more complex our lives become, the more we need to realize that there is only one reliable point of balance-and that is God. There is no other answer. When you look at life with clear understanding, it all boils down to this: Balance means finding God; and finding God means meditation.

Paramahansaji said, "Why spend all your valuable time in seeking perishable things? Why not spend your time seeking God first through deep meditation until you actually contact Him? When you commune with Him you will receive the imperishable treasures of heaven and all you need of the perishable material benefits of this life."

To find time to seek God we have to simplify our lives.  Lord Buddha put it very succinctly: "Those who have cows have care of cows." Analyze your life: How much time do you put into caring for all the unnecessary "necessities"---the "toys" that the media and advertisements have made you believe you can't live without?

Find ways to bring God into your life every day as much as possible. Take a moment to let the mind go within, become aware of the spiritual eye, and even though you may be very busy with work, repeat, "For You, God, for You." Then go on with your duties. That constant reminder, that bringing the mind back to the focus point, helps us keep our inner balance.

Making time for recreation and wholesome activities you enjoy is a necessary component of spiritual and psychological balance. In the long run you will get much more accomplished in your work and in your spiritual life-and you will be healthier physically-if you remember this. Ideally, the week should consist of five days working at your regular job; the sixth given to relaxing, recreation, doing things around the home; and the seventh day should be for deepening your relationship with God.

The world would be vastly different today if people recognized the deep wisdom in the scriptural commandment: "Keep holy the Sabbath." Out of seven days in a week, one should be reserved for seeking God and meditating, reading inspirational books, putting in as much spiritual effort as possible. It is a mistake to feel you are just too busy to give time for this.

Ultimately, the secret of balance is to put first things first-and that means seeking God. We continually delude ourselves that "No, I have to do this; I can't afford to miss that"--and so we end up putting off meditation, or forgoing it completely. We have to discipline ourselves to overcome that. Schedule your life; plan a balanced routine of meditation so that you're getting a certain amount every day, and then follow it. Should you fail on occasion, just try again. Just keep on. When you make the determination, "I will do it, no matter what," you will see a wonderful change come into your life.

Keep on keeping on. That's the whole secret of spiritual success: Never give up! You are a divine soul; and the pressures and stresses you feel can never dim that radiant spark of divinity within you. They are simply challenges to be faced and overcome, joyously! You already have within you everything you need to do so. All you have to do is uncover it.

Brother Achalananda is a monk in the Self-Realization Fellowship monastic communities founded by Paramahansa Yogananda, author of the siritual classic Autobiography of a Yogi and widely regarded as one of the preeminent spiritual figures of our time. This fall, Brother Naradananda, another longtime monk and disciple, will present a public lecture series in Portland on Yogananda's universal teachings from 15-17 September. For further information about the series, please call (503) 254 6773.

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