By Dharmadevi Romano.

Swami Kriyananda often had us visualize the chakras, or energy centers in the body, as lotus flowers. When our energy is flowing outward through the senses the lotus flowers’ petals are facing downward. In meditation, we can consciously direct the lotus petals upward and, like a valve on a hose, redirect the energy of the chakras to flow inward and upward to the brain for higher awareness.

Here’s another visualization that can be helpful: think of the chakras as windows to higher awareness. When we choose to operate in a way contrary to our higher selves, we close the blinds. In other words, we don’t allow the natural light within us to shine. To whatever degree we choose to remain in ignorance determines ultimately how much or how little we are willing to let God’s light in.

God’s light is always shining, “Like a thousand millions suns,” as Yogananda described it. It is through our spiritual ignorance that we have shut out the light. We have turned our backs (or the backsides or our lotus flowers) to the sun. The petals or leaves of plants is how they take in what they need from the sun in order to survive. Such is the case with us – when we shut out God’s light, we suffer, whither, become bitter, indifferent, and so on.

Self-study, or introspection is a great tool to discover where we have closed ourselves to the Divine light. Many times, however, the blinds have been closed for so long that we’ve forgotten how to open them! At these times, we need to ask for help. The guru knows the exact way we have tangled our strings, twisted our flaps, and jammed our blinds closed. In other words, he understands us perfectly and can help to untangle the web of maya (delusion) our egos have weaved so tightly around our lives.

That doesn’t excuse us from making the self-effort required for spiritual growth. Yogananda was scolding one of his disciples about a bad habit, and the disciple said to the guru, “I’d like to change but how can I do so without your grace, without your blessings?” Yogananda responded: “Well, my blessings are there already; God’s blessings are there. It is your blessings that are lacking!”

As has been the case with our retreat house in Twentynine Palms, sometimes you have to buy a whole new set of blinds! If you find your life isn’t working as you’d like for it to, be open to a “spiritual makeover.” We can make little changes here and there or we can decide to put on an entirely new “face.” That’s a good reason to never judge anyone – we all have the potential to change in an instant! It simply requires we put our whole mind and willpower to it.

In a recent dream, I saw a beautiful woman that embodied kindness. I inwardly wondered who she was, then realized that she was me! I couldn’t believe it though – she looked nothing like me. Then the words of the master came to me, “You won’t even recognize yourself.” He was talking about the devotee after consistently practicing the techniques of Kriya Yoga.

It’s never too late to change and strive towards the perfection of our souls, as Jesus Christ said, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father in Heaven is perfect.”