If we Google “empty mind,” we find hundreds of articles that tell us how important it is to meditate with a blank mind, free of restless thoughts.
Unfortunately, this can lead many people to misunderstand what a successful meditation is truly like, if we define “success” as a meditation where we experience God’s bliss and love.
The yoga teachings state that we can never find God passively. Thus we need to guard against falling into subconscious states.
Finding God in meditation requires devotion and a strong effort of will, impelled by our urgent longing to know Him. As Paramhansa Yogananda stated, in our spiritual practices, “Intensity is everything!”
The object of the yoga techniques is to awaken energy in the spine and raise it to higher centers of awareness. This isn’t a “blank” or “empty” process! It demands our whole-hearted attention, energy, and joyful enthusiasm. Thus, a wandering or sleepy mind is undesirable. But if by “blank” we mean “deep inner stillness, plus alert concentration,” that’s a very different matter!
The true art of meditation is learning to let go of tension and enter a state of deep relaxation, without lowering our energy – this is why deep devotional feeling is indispensable, because it keeps our energy high.
Successful people give tremendous energy and enthusiasm to whatever they do, while keeping their minds actively calm. Meditation requires a similar art. We need to keep the mind and body still, with great enthusiasm for the quest.
This is why Paramhansa Yogananda observed that people who have achieved outstanding success in business can find God very quickly if they turn their attention to the spiritual search. In their work, they have developed the energy, concentration, and will power required for success in any field, including the search for God.
Meditation becomes highly enjoyable when we learn to apply all the energy we usually direct outwardly to keep our mind and body still, in a state of relaxed but alert awareness.
Of course, this isn’t so easy! It takes practice over time. But with each small success, we find a fresh flow of God’s joy encouraging us and blessing our body, heart, mind, and soul.
The true meaning of an “empty mind” is a mind that has withdrawn from its usual preoccupations and entered the peace and bliss of God found in the inner silence.
We are not separate from God. We are expressions of a reality that is much larger than our little self. When we still our thoughts and escape the prison of the tiny ego, we discover the bliss of which we have always been a part.
Some meditation teachings avoid any mention of God. They may proudly announce that they follow “non-deistic spiritual practices.” But India’s ancient yoga teachings explicitly offer methods for attuning our awareness to God’s boundless bliss, wisdom, and love.
The scriptures describe this state of supreme fulfillment as satchidananda. Paramhansa Yogananda translated this ancient term as “ever-existing, ever-conscious, ever-new bliss.” It is definitely not a state of blankness!
What kind of people are most likely to achieve brilliant success in their lives? Do uncreative people who lack will power and enthusiasm ever accomplish anything? No! Why, then, would we expect a passive approach to bear fruit in meditation? It doesn’t follow.
The good news is that meditation, practiced with determined will power and love, guided by the Guru, brings a happiness that is scarcely possible to imagine.