By Gurudevi Nirmalananda
I went for a walk alongside a lake, enjoying the beauty of nature. The trees and the sky were reflected in the lake’s surface, a scene that inspires tranquility and happiness — that’s why so many people go for walks in nature.
I came to a creek that fed into the lake and watched a green heron standing where the water fed into the lake. Motionless for long periods of time, he stared intently into the water. He wanted the water to make him happy by giving him fish to eat. It reminded me of the heron metaphor that my Guru often used to teach meditation. He said the heron was meditating, but meditating on something outside of himself. Yogic meditation is about meditating on something inside. That something is your own Self.
Yet the act of meditating is the same. It’s only the object of your meditation that changes. Yet this change is so important! It means the difference between happiness and bliss. You can choose either. Happiness is triggered by outer things. Bliss arises within when you find the source within. Meditation is the direct route.
To meditate successfully, yoga directs you to steer your mind where you want it to go. Instead of waiting for it to quiet down, which can take a long time, you steer your mind into the depths of your being. Like a heron looking deep into the water, you fix your inner gaze on the goal, the experiential knowing of your own Divine Essence.
While a heron will get distracted by the fish flitting by, you can learn to look deeper, like when you look beyond the treetops to the full moon in the sky. Only you are turning your attention to look inward. There’s a trick to it, which my Guru taught me. He made meditation both deep and easy.
Happiness is triggered by outer things, but it is only temporary. Bliss is permanent. It is your spiritual destiny. This is yoga’s specialty: getting you past your mind, past the perpetual movement into which it propels you, getting you into the depths of your own being.