Reflecting on resolutions for this new year, I felt inspired to focus on practicing the presence of God. Sometimes you receive a number of undeniable signs pointing you in a certain direction.
Just before the new year, a friend of mine gifted me a copy of Brother Lawrence’s popular book The Practice of the Presence of God. One passage in particular stood out to me, “That daily life should be separate from prayer life is a great delusion.”
A few days later, I randomly opened up a copy of God Alone by Sister Gyanamata, Paramhansa Yogananda’s most advanced woman disciple. The letter of hers that I happened to read was about, you guessed it, Brother Lawrence and practicing the presence of God. She said how inspiring Brother Lawrence was through his simple attitude and prayer to God, “This is how I am, unless You come in and change me.”
Then, a few days later for New Year’s Eve, I shared my resolution with Dharmadevi. It just so happened that her number one resolution (without us telling each other) was also practicing the presence of God!
As if that wasn’t enough, New Year’s day I listened to Nayaswami Parvati’s Sunday Service talk. Her message: practice the presence of God.
Okay, Divine Mother, I get it now!
What does it mean to practice the presence of God? Frank Laubach in his inspiring book Letters by a Modern Mystic recommends talking to Him rather than thinking about Him. In other words, practicing His presence is active, intimate, dynamic, informal, and heartfelt. Laubach describes his experience: “Today God seems to me just behind everything. I feel Him there. He is just under my hand, just under the typewriter, just behind this desk, just inside the file, just inside the camera.”
What prevents us from practicing the presence of God? Swami Kriyananda shares some wisdom from his guru on this topic in The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam Explained:
“Absent-mindedness, and fillers”: Paramhansa Yogananda rated these two as among the most insidious influences in the aspirant’s life. Taken one instance at a time, they may seem inconsequential. Taken altogether, however, they are formidable. A slowly dripping faucet may, during the course of a single day, waste many gallons of water.”
So, how then do we practice the presence of God? For inspiration and practical advice read Swami Kriyananda’s full editorial comments on quatrain 31 from the Rubaiyat. Here are some highlights:
1. Talk to Him as your very own in the second person. Bring Him into your daily activities like, “What would You like to have for breakfast today?”
2. Live more in your spine. Try chanting Aum at the chakras in idle moments instead of checking social media.
3. Mentally repeat a simple prayer like “Reveal Thyself” or “Aum Guru.”
Many years ago Swami Kriyananda gave us the challenge of practicing the presence of God for five minutes a day. Why not try it as a challenge for this new year?
You may just find Him, just behind everything!
In His ever presence,