A wellspring of God’s joy resides in everyone. Loving God with an open heart releases this wondrous joy into one’s life. Doesn’t it make sense then to practice loving God, so His joy becomes a natural part of the day?
How, though, does one practice loving God?
Love Breathing is one method that helps habitualize loving God to every breath. With a sincere, regular, loving God practice, enjoying divine communion becomes a natural and common experience; as natural and common as breathing.
1. First Things First
2. Loving and Serving Others
3. Establishing a Practice
4. Basic Love Breathing Technique
5. Focus Space for God
6. Chanting “God”
7. Sitting Exercise
8. Coaxing the Mind toward God
9. The Sweet Spot
10. Dedicating Time
11. Good Activities for Love Breathing
12. Devotional Walking
13. Start-up Exercises
14. Warm-up Time
15. Slowing the Breath
17. 30-Second Interval Training
18. Mindful Delight
19. Pretend Fantasy?
20. Overcoming Spiritual Frustration
22. Images of Saints
23. Heart Chakra, Mind Chakra
24. Talking with God
25. Loving God in Everyday Items
26. Sending Love, Sharing Love
27. Loving God through Trials
28. Lover Beware
29. Egoic Separation
30. Loneliness and Depression
31. Let God Guide You
32. Joy Everywhere
33. Bearing Witness
34. Master Inside
35. Buddhist Loving-Kindness
37. Handling Failure
38. Willpower and Habit
39. Spiritual Stability
40. Opening Heart
This book outlines spiritual techniques this author has been experimenting with for the last three years, techniques modified from many great spiritual traditions to help achieve a feeling of loving communion with God at will during the day. Hopefully, others will find them useful in their own spiritual quest.
From my early 20s, I had been actively seeking spiritual upliftment, some regular tangible connection with the divine. At age 47, finally, I was put on a path of regular, consistent communions, feelings of God’s love and joy in the heart. After working more than two decades in the high-tech industry, I felt it was time to leave and find something else to do that would better further my spiritual aspirations. I wasn’t sure what; only it was time. It was a major decision, leaving a lucrative position while needing to support my family. When contemplating the move once, I heard in my mind a very strong divine voice say “You’d be absolutely insane to stay where you are.” With this confirmation, I quit and started to volunteer part-time at Living Wisdom School, where my then middle school–aged children attended.
Despondency and anguish filled most of my next year. Leaving behind my career identity, doing less intellectually, and not being as engaged outwardly proved very trying for me. I had resolved to use this opportunity to develop more spiritually, but this too was failing me. My daily schedule consisted of getting children to school, waiting an hour, helping out with math class, waiting two hours, then helping out with lunch duty, waiting again, then chauffeuring the children to some after-school activity or home.
During these waiting periods, I had been trying spiritual activities. I tried meditating in my car, but I didn’t feel enough inspiration and couldn’t will myself to continue this. I practiced japa, the Indian technique of constantly repeating God’s name. I became very good at silently saying “God” while also feeling upset that I didn’t feel joy! Having been inspired by Frank Laubach’s and Brother Lawrence’s Practicing the Presence of God methods, I tried thinking about God and talking with God while sitting at parks and taking walks. Some fleeting inspirations came; they weren’t enough, and I quit trying.
I finally gave up that first school year and just sank into reading the newspaper, Internet surfing, and random household chores. At the start of the next school year, I had dropped my children off and was waiting for math class to start. Feeling quite despondent, I thought about getting coffee and reading the newspaper; instead, though, I felt, “No, I can’t repeat this anymore.” Instead, I got out of my car and told God, “Well, I don’t know what to do, so I’ll just take walks with you. They seemed to be the best activity I tried last year. It’s all I know how to do.” As soon as my feet touched the sidewalk, I felt this loving golden presence descend and heard very clearly a divine voice in my mind say:
Love God! God wants your love,
God needs your love, Love God!
Instantly, I realized I had been saying “God,” thinking about God, talking to God, but I hadn’t been loving God with feeling in my heart.
While exhilarated, I also felt somewhat foolish. How could I have missed the first commandment! Raised in Christianity, I certainly knew it. And my own spiritual family, the Ananda Communities for Self-Realization, reiterated it every Sunday.
Right then, I resolved to practice loving God every day. And since this revelation came while walking, I’d find the best way to love God in a half-hour walk every morning right before math class! So for the next year, I experimented with different meditation,
breathing, chanting, prayer, and energy techniques to love God while walking—all to optimize loving God during a 30- minute walk.
Several weeks after starting this exploration, I could feel a communion with God during every single walk. Like clockwork, after 10 to 20 minutes of walking, I could feel God’s joy well up inside and all around me. I refined for myself a specific set of techniques for these walks and called them love breathing, as they attempt to link loving God with every breath.
For a full year, I only practiced love breathing while walking. It hadn’t worked for me while sitting or standing. After a year, though, new inspirations that worked while sitting and standing came. So now a feeling of warm, loving communion with God is just a few breaths away whenever wanted. My spiritual focus today is to work on wanting God’s communion with every breath!
Paramhansa Yogananda states, “Everyone must find their own way to make love to God.” Hopefully, others will find the techniques described here useful in their spiritual search. Mostly, though, it’s hoped others will be inspired to practice loving God daily and to experiment and find the best method for them.
In God’s Joy,
Chapter 1: First Things First
Many times, people seeking personal or spiritual growth will focus too much effort on improving themselves. The idea takes hold that they must fix a laundry list of their faults before they can experience any divine communion. It’s as if they are inside the “house” of their own being and trying to clean it up before they invite God inside. But God is “outside” their house banging on the doors and windows, asking to be let in. He doesn’t care how dirty it is inside. He just wants to come in. If we let Him, He will help clean up the mess with us. This is grace—letting God into your heart, and He then changes you. How do we open the door to our house and heart to God? It’s actually quite simple. Practice the greatest commandment: “Love God with all your heart …” God is wildly in love with you. He can’t resist any love you give Him, and He cries when you ignore Him. If you want God by your side, send Him a little love. He can’t resist it. He’s like a child with no self-control being offered a candy. One love offering from you and God will immediately come to your side.
God is infinte consciousness, infinite bliss. Love is the great connecting force. Anything you love will be drawn closer to you. The answer to: “why practice loving God?” is very simple. Practice so you will be drawn closer to infinite bliss. Spend more time practicing loving infinity, less time loving finiteness. Practice loving God every day. Make it a routine part of your life. Daily dedicate some fixed amount of time where you only practice loving God with feeling in your heart. Spend 80% of your spiritual efforts on loving God and 20% on fixing yourself. If you do this, communion with the divine will become a daily joy, and grace will start cleaning your “inner house.”
Chapter 9: The Sweet Spot
There is a sweet spot between total stillness and total activity that allows your mind to best focus on loving God. You want your conscious thoughts, right from the beginning of a dedicated loving God exercise, to be entirely on loving God. But the mind will rebel. So some activity at first helps keep the mind busy subconsciously so your conscious mind can more easily focus on loving God. A restless mind wants to dart about and think about many things; it is easily caught up in “random thought trains” that constantly crisscross your consciousness. Activities that require unconscious mental processing use up some of one’s mental capacity. This makes it less likely that your mind will jump on a random thought train. It helps keep one’s conscious focus on just loving God. Some good activities for calming the mind are gazing around, walking, knitting, doodling, people watching, etc. These activities take a lot of mental processing power but don’t require much conscious thought. So your conscious focus can be on loving God.
As you become calmer, the sweet spot will move toward less outward activity and more stillness. You become more in communion with God, so it is less likely you will “hop on a random thought train” that would break the communion. For a dedicated loving God exercise, you want to keep yourself in a sweet spot as you go deeper; this coaxes your mind into greater communion. You reduce the amount of external activity as you go deeper. How fast you reduce your activity is somewhat of an art. One can develop a good intuition for it by experimenting in different situations: how much to push one’s mind to greater focus and stillness without pushing so hard that your ego rebels, thwarting your efforts.
“Love Breathing is a sweet and practical guide to practicing the presence of God, yet taking it a step further, to the practice of ‘loving’ God, in every moment of daily life. Finding God is actually simple. It is we who make it so complicated. In this little pamphlet you’ll find a guide to the spiritual simplicity of ‘suffer the little children to come unto me, for such is the kingdom of God.”
—J. Donald Walters, author and founder of the Ananda Self-Realization Communities
“Thank you, Eric, for your book Love Breathing. I have just finished it, I could not stop reading when I found it 10 hours ago. The book is an answer to my prayer, I have been on a spiritual journey since I left my job to raise my kids 4 years ago. Today you spoke to my heart through your book. God is using you in a special way, continue to write and if possible let us know of your new books. God bless you.”
“I love this book – it is so easy to keep God in your mind when you practice love breathing – during a hectic day there is always time to breathe and focus. Thank you, this added another blessing to my life.”
“Love Breathing is one of those books made more profound because it springs from the actual experience of the author. It presents a modern variation on a technique used for centuries by many spiritual paths. It shows common challenges that the author faced and solutions that can work for anyone. I highly recommend this book to everyone seeking to open their heart and experience deeper love.”
—Jyotish Novak, artist and author of How to Meditate and Lessons in Meditation
“Exceptionally good guidebook on awakening divine love. The exercises are very practical and simple, but also very deep in what they can do to change oneself. The short poems and quotes are also very helpful reminders and tastes of divine love as expressed through those who have experienced it most deeply, the saints.”
—Nayaswami Devarshi, leader of “Developing Deeper Love for God” workshops
“This book springs from the heart of actual experience and for that reason has unique power both to inspire and guide. It is simple, creative, and effective.”
— Asha Praver, minister and author of Swami Kriyananda As We Have Known Him, Loved and Protected and Ask Asha
“Love Breathing is very inspiring … a beautiful and practical guide toward loving God moment to moment. If joyful living is your goal, then keep this little volume handy. Both practical and wise, it offers an inspiring array of techniques to bridge the divide between the mundane and the divine, techniques that help whisk away distractions of daily life with every breath. The daily practice of ‘love breathing’ will transform your life for the better.” —Helen Purcell, director of Living Wisdom School, Palo Alto, CA
“This little [book] on ‘love breathing’ is full of very practical suggestions on how one might bring an awareness of God into every moment of the day. The simple line drawings tell the whole story in a few words with illustrations that go right to the point. From this booklet, you will learn how to quiet your mind, how to expand your love for God, and how to see God in everything around you. This is great, simple, and deep reading that will bring you closer to God, one breath at a time.”
—BL, Fremont, CA