The holidays have ended, and with it the flurry of outward activity. Now is a good time to turn within, but first a little humor, a balm for the soul.

A few years ago we read this true story. A grandmother found it increasingly challenging to buy suitable gifts for her grandchildren as they got older. Finally, she decided that it would be best if she just gave them money and allowed them to choose for themselves what they wanted. Accordingly, she wrote out a check for each grandchild along with a card that said, “This year you can get your own gift. Love, Grandma.”

Imagine her horror when a month later she found on her desk a neat little stack of unsent checks!

Whether from chagrin, or from opportunity, now is the time to turn within. If we continue to allow our energy and attention to be pulled toward outward distractions, we will lose sight of the deeper purpose of life.

Paramhansa Yogananda wrote in Autobiography of a Yogi, “Man is a soul, and has a body. When he properly places his sense of identity, he leaves behind all compulsive patterns. So long as he remains confused in his ordinary state of spiritual amnesia, he will know the subtle fetters of environmental law.


“God is harmony: the devotee who attunes himself will never perform any action amiss. His activities will be correctly and naturally timed to accord with astrological law. After deep prayer and meditation he is in touch with his divine consciousness; there is no greater power than that inward protection.”

In order to see ourselves as a soul rather than an ego, we need stillness of both mind and heart. At this time of year even the seasons are cooperating; the trees have withdrawn their sap, the seeds are dormant, the weather is whispering, “Stay inside, be still.” It would be wise to listen to God’s voice as expressed in nature.

In the Bible there appear these wonderful, immortal words:

To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die;
A time to plant, and a time to pluck what is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
A time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn, and a time to dance; . . .

For Devi and me, our last outward engagement will be celebrating Yogananda’s birthday on January 5th and an international event for Master the following day. Then, picture us scurrying home an hour or so later and settling into seclusion for a week.

I encourage everyone reading this to set aside time—be it a day, a week, or longer—and go within. Shift the momentum of your life-force from outward activity to inner realization. Even if a complete break from your normal routine isn’t feasible, you can gain much of the benefit of a seclusion with these three simple steps. Try this for a week:

Meditate longer and deeper than usual. The essence of seclusion is turning the mind toward God alone. This can only happen if we reverse the natural flow of our attention and desires from the outer world of matter to the inner one of Spirit.

Disconnect: If possible, go on a one-week fast from all of those devices that connect you to unsettling news. If you can’t manage a complete fast, at least go on a diet and limit your intake.

Keep the mind turned toward God: When you’re not meditating, let the mind be filled with inward chanting, or a simple mantra. Limit your reading to only a little, and then only spiritually uplifting material.

Paraphrasing the Bhagavad Gita, “Even a little practice of turning within will free you from dire fears, colossal suffering, and compulsive patterns.”

Towards God alone,

Nayaswami Jyotish