How to Make Your Website Better

Correctly marketing your website is important now more than ever! For your website is the holder of your content. It is a key place for people to land after they’ve seen a video, social media post, or blog. We’ve introduced the importance of making sure these mediums link back to the source by linking to a website address. Thus, the next step is to be ready for your audience by assuring that your homepage or landing page is user-friendly! And one of the most important, yet often overlooked aspect of web marketing is website usability.

Website usability means that your site is navigable, user-friendly, and its capabilities and features are straightforward.

Your website is a reflection of your organization. If you can make a big impact with your website and build a happy group of visitors, you will be able to accomplish much more even with limited resources.

Here are some simple changes that will make your website more user-friendly so that can have greater success on the Internet, so that all the efforts you’ve made thus far don’t end when someone lands on your site:

Studies show that within the first two seconds, the visitor decides whether they will leave your page, or stay and engage. That two-second time frame is all they need to gather the look and feeling of your site. Two things, therefore, are very important in making a good first impression:

  1. Have a high quality visual presentation, and
  2. Clearly convey who you are, and what your purpose is.

These can be improved further with a simple design will allow readers to immediately see what information you are sharing. Here are some ways you can do this:

  • Make the layout one column, and your readers will be guided in a more predictable way. Furthermore, the page will more easily flow to places of importance.
  • Provide a clear next step for your visitors (call-to-action). Have a link guiding them to the next place to go, or next content to see. And be sure it is visible. These should be the pathways that lead to landing pages. By having clear directions you will find you are more successful and users trust your services as they navigate with ease and purpose.
  • Less is more. Don’t duplicate the same information in different places. Make sure that your content is straightforward, keep instructions uncomplicated, and don’t waste space. Users don’t want to spend a lot of time searching for things, they just want to be easily directed to the information they need.
  • Keep the content language clear by using keyword phrases that your audience will understand and be encouraged to read more, or visit more pages.
  • To keep content straightforward and relative to your theme, focus on using words or phrases in your content that match your website’s purpose and intent. This will also help with search engine optimization.

Make the webpages clear and understandable as to what’s what. The most important place one can do this is first within the menu-navigation bar:

  • Distinguish topics
  • Keep options visible and drop-downs minimal.
  • You may want to use something called an Ubermenu.
  • Have distinct styles between links or menu items that are clickable (where they can go on the site) versus selected (where they are on the site)

Your home page should also capture the user’s attention within those first few seconds. So the layout should let the user know right away what the organization is about, its purpose, and why you are special or unique from others in your field.

  • Make the homepage information and picture small enough so that all of the most important sentences that identify your purpose can be seen without the user having to scroll down– they can see it right away.
  • Make the most of your homepage header space, logo, images, and columns (e.g. widgets).
  • Have clear actions that the user can do to get to their next page of interest. Make the links clear and easy for a person to get back to the home page if necessary. To be navigable, keep important information highlighted and easy to find. Put in the effort required to make the site headers and menus simple and yet visually appealing. Users should be able to easily find answers to their questions relating to why they came your webpage in the first place.
  • Have clear visual hierarchies that organize the web pages. This is similar to how newspapers are set up by categories and hierarchy, using headlines and captions to help readers visually scan and find the sections they want to go. This improves satisfaction and audience trust. On the web, being set up for reader scanning improves the likelihood that they will return to your site and support you in the future.
  • Improve the use of headers to help the user navigate. Headers also help with search engine optimization because their words/phrases are picked up in search engines and increase their ranking.

Within landing pages or top ten pages, you will want to also focus on improving the following:

  • Have a rhythm for each page’s organization and layout. This includes the use of headers, titles, subtitles, information, and call to action (next steps, further reading, etc.). Keep a consistent organization as people travel from page to page.
  • Define the theme of the particular page, with two to three main points per page that belong to the overarching theme of the website itself. These points will be part of the thread throughout the website that tie it all together (contributing to a powerful marketing framework and brand).
  • Don’t include too much information. Most visitors on the web are not searching for long passages; nor do they have time to read them when they are looking for quick answers to their questions. You can shorten lengthy paragraphs into bullet points and easy-to-read sections wherever possible and make it scannable. Think about the layout of a newspaper: it affords the reader a conveniently quick, point-by-point glance.

Establish yourself as a qualified resource in your field of service by illustrating the qualities that make you reliable and trustworthy:

  • If people are visiting your site in order to learn more information–be it about a topic, product, or service–be sure to show them what’s useful to them or relevant to their needs. They are there to learn; you must guide them in the process.
  • Be frank about what you have to give, and for who (the audience) it is helpful. For example, label menu tabs for certain target audiences, e.g. “For Educators” or “For Parents” to help them get to pages for which they are most likely interested.
  • Use testimonials to show positive things that have been said about what you offer, or what you have accomplished.

Also be sure to make your website interactive and fun to use. Trends suggest sites that keep visitors interacting with quizzes, polls, apps, forums, or clickable features are more likely to succeed. Be creative and have fun with new ideas for keeping visitors engaged. Ask yourself:

What can I offer them that they might share with others? Is it a gift, an eBook, an inspirational piece, or anything else to show your visitors that you want to help them? Decide what you can share that is practical, helpful, and interesting.

This will help build trust: a key ingredient in any lasting relationship, and give them incentive to return in the future, share it with friends, and stay connected with your organization (via social media or newsletter etc.).

Imagery and video are also interactive. As the saying goes, “a picture says a thousand words.” Don’t just talk to your visitors, help them to experience what you mean and what you are offering that is unique. For example, infographics are useful for giving information in a creative, dynamic way. They display information along with a supportive graphic, allowing the viewer to assimilate what you are conveying clearly and quickly, and more memorably according to research.

User testing is the best way to measure the effectiveness of your usability improvements.

It is very important to test your website usability early and often. People forget that this process needs to be done from the very beginning in order to save time and energy down the road. And from then on, test usability again every few months. Sit with a potential website user or visitor to perform the testing. Have them report their experience page-by-page (or action-by-action). Ask thought-provoking questions, have them perform key actions, and record helpful information for making future site improvements. Some examples of questions include:

  • What do you make of our header?
  • If you had to guess, what do you think these menu tabs go to?
  • What is the first thing you think of when you see this page?
  • Where would you go to find _____?
  • What stands out, or captures your attention first?
  • Where do you think clicking _____ will take you?
  • If you land on this page, what would you do next?

Use Google Analytics as a complementary analysis tool to see how your audience users your site, and observe which pages are doing better than others (user’s jump rates).

Over time, you will be able to watch as the benefits from website usability continue to take form. And after all is said and done, remember to have fun! If you are having fun creating it, visitors will have fun engaging in it.

How to Meditate: Meditation for Beginners

The meditation technique of Paramhansa Yogananda is the one that I found to be the most effective for bringing me to a deep feeling of peace and calm focus. Yogananda is author of the best-selling spiritual classic Autobiography of a Yogi.

The name of this technique is Hong-Sau. “Hong” rhymes with “song” and “sau” is pronounced “saw.” Hong-Sau is a mantra used to quiet the mind and spiritualize the individual efforts of the meditator. Most meditation techniques from India use a mantra to help the meditator spiritually on a vibrational level, as well as to help the mind focus its attention on something so it is not to left to wander.

To begin meditation, first sit with your spine straight and away from the back of the chair, eyes closed, and slightly tilt your hips forward so that your knees are slightly lower than your hips. (If your legs are longer, you may need to place a pillow or folded blanket on the chair to have this alignment.) Bring your hands to rest on the juncture between the hips and thighs, so that your shoulders are brought back, taking the tension off of the shoulders and neck. Most importantly, find a position where you can relax comfortably.

Now relax the body by tensing all the muscles and taking a double inhale breath and then relax all the muscles on a double exhale breath. Repeat this as many times as you need to, focusing especially on the tension in your shoulders and neck or wherever you carry tension most often. Tense these parts of your body until you feel a vibration of energy, and then completely relax them. (To see more about the tension and relaxation exercises you may be interested in Paramhansa Yogananda’s Energization Exercises.)

Begin your meditation by focusing your attention at the point between the eyebrows. You may first want to find this point by holding your arm out in front of you with your hand in the “thumbs up” position. Now raise your thumb until it is about level with the top of your head. Notice the position of your eyes here and try to re-position them in this way when closed.

Now, with a sense of deep calm, begin to watch the flow of your breath—without controlling it. Watch it enter and exit your body. Practice this for a few breaths, until you see that you are not controlling the flow of respiration. Then begin to add the mantra: as you inhale, mentally chant the word, “Hong,” and as you exhale, mentally chant the word, “Sau.”

Remember to simply watch the breath, chanting the words slightly after your respiration if you need help simply observing the flow.  If you find that you need additional help with concentration on the breath, you may add the movement of your right index finger: with the inhalation, curl your finger inward, and with the exhalation, let your finger go straight. But don’t become tense as you try to concentrate, just keep a sense of relaxed focus.

You may begin practicing the Hong-Sau technique for 10 minutes, and gradually increase the amount of time each day. The longer your practice, the better, as you will find with more time you are able to go more deeply into relaxation.

And remember, you may practice this meditation technique anytime, anywhere– while standing in line, while riding in a car, or as you lay in bed at night to help you fall asleep. The purpose of it is to help you find an inner sense of peace and calmness in your meditation, that you can bring with you into the rest of your day. This practice can be applied to all different types of life situations, like having more patience and self-control.

Then just remember to keep practicing, making it a part of your daily routine. The more you practice, the better!

Hear a personal story of how meditation has helped in daily life:

“I’ve never been, just, so happy on the inside. Meditating daily has made me find what it was I was really searching for.”

Further Reading:

How to Find Your Life Purpose and Live Inspired

What does it mean to be inspired? It means to breathe into, to infuse (as life) by breathing, to draw forth or bring out. If we break down the meaning even further, the root of the word inspiration (similar to respiration), means to draw in, or to breathe life into. Spiri—or Spirit—is the source of all life. To draw in or breathe into that which you feel inspired to create, from the source of all life.

To draw inspiration into yourself, begin by opening your heart to this flow of Spirit. Calmness and openness of the heart is an important part of finding your source of inspiration. It also helps to know what inspires you.

“You have the capacity to throw flowering branches of power and success all around you, that the inspiration of your life may waft its influence over the entire cosmos.”

—Paramhansa Yogananda

Introspection, is a way to know what is your natural inclination for creativity and purpose. Once you know what that is, you can understand what you have to give others in this world. Is what you are doing fulfilling and satisfying to your right? If not, begin to pursue that which your heart is guiding you to do, if you would find your source of inspiration again.

Let’s do an introspection exercise to discover your innate gifts, especially thinking back to childhood when your heart was able to more easily lead the way. Begin by writing down the answers to the following questions:

  • How do I define “success”?
  • What do I believe will make me successful in life?
  • What do I believe will make me happy in life? Is it related at all to how I view success?
  • What do I have already that brings me happiness and fulfillment?
  • What am I grateful for?
  • When I picture myself achieving my dreams and doing what I love—what do I see myself doing?
  • What do I have to give?
  • Who do I have to give it to?
  • How can I reach those who will be helped by this gift?
  • What inspires me to take action in life?
  • What makes me want to get up each day?
  • Who and what do I live for?
  • What do I feel my dharma is? How can I fulfill it?
  • What are the ways that I can share my inspiration with others? Does this bring me joy?
  • When I was young, what do I remember brought me joy? What did I enjoy doing to be creative? To have fun? To feel uplifted? What inspired me?
  • How do these things relate to what I am doing today?
  • In any way, can these be changed to align myself more “in attunement” with what brings me joy?

“Life should be a continuous inspiration.” —Paramhansa Yogananda

Now what will it take to act on these things to live an inspired life? Tune into your inner guidance, trust your heart, and feel how the Cosmic Spirit is trying to guide you. Open yourself to the new opportunities that await.

Further Reading:

To help you find your life purpose, here is an inspirational introspection exercise (based on the teachings of Paramhansa Yogananda, author of Autobiography of a Yogi):

“Be what you want to be, not what others think you ought to be.”  —Paramhansa Yogananda

 

Here are the three questions to ask yourself, if you want to find your purpose:

1) Who am I? What is your inspiration?

2) Who do you want to help? What is your motivation?

3) How can you share this inspiration? What will you do to share with others?

Yogananda said, “Introspection is a mirror in which to see portions of your mind which otherwise would remain hidden from you. It is never too late to diagnose your failures and to assess your good and bad tendencies. Analyze what you are, what you wish to become, and what tendencies or shortcomings are impeding you. Decide what your deep and secret task is — your mission in life– so that you can make yourself what you should be and what you want to be.” —From the book: How to Be a Success

Now Let’s Create a Visualization:

Visualizations are an important part of success once you have found your purpose and are ready set out on your journey for manifestation. Visualization combines inspiration with imagination.

When a visualization has your focus and one-pointed attention, it has more power to attract what you are visualizing. Therefore, the more detail you put into your visualization, the deeper your experience.

Your visualization is in itself an affirmation. It can become a part of your reality if you invest into it great energy and will power.

PRACTICE EXERCISE:

Expand your vision to its ultimate form. Allow yourself to dream big, without any limiting thoughts. Understand what success and happiness means to you:

  • Close your eyes, and bring to mind what you want to accomplish if you were to fulfill your dharma.
  • What do you envision for yourself? For your family? For your business? Community?
  • How does this relate to what you feel is your true purpose in life?
  • What would it look like to share your work with others?
  • How vast will it grow? How many people will it reach? How will it reach that many people? Over what span of time?
  • How will your endeavor manifest? Write down as many details as possible.

Resolve to Follow Your Life Purpose

Once the importance of putting out energy is understood, it can be applied to setting an intention, and achieving goals along the way.

If you apply your will to manifesting set intentions, you can align each step with your ultimate vision and life purpose. As you put out positive energy, and follow your truth—which is your purpose in life—you will attract support needed along the way.

PRACTICE EXERCISE:

Write down your intentions. Notice how much more accessible they can be when they are clarified. Writing also helps to take your goals from the mental plane into the physical plane—bringing you closer to manifesting your dreams in daily life.

  • Identify specific steps to your goals. Write down everything that comes to mind.
  • What is the timeline you foresee? What do you hope to accomplish in the next ten years? Five years? One year?
  • What are the minimum resources (time, environment, people, or income) you need to acquire in order to realize your desired outcomes?
  • Write down the steps within your immediate reach. These are the first steps you will have to take in order to achieve success, for we must all start from where we are.

Final Thoughts:

In this life, we have the opportunity to share our unique gift with the world. To do this, we must listen to inspiration and creativity when they are speaking to us. It is essential that we learn how to share our gift to the best of our ability, and that we direct our will power and concentration toward that noble end.

Ultimately, it is not for ourselves that we are trying to earn success. Rather, we are striving to serve in an expansive and beneficial way. The universe supports the success of those who strive to help others.

Sources:

How to Stay Positive for Success

A positive attitude is a right attitude.

Have you you ever noticed that when you are positive, your energy is lifted? During such a time, you may say, “I feel high”, or “I’m on top of the world!” Now, reflect on those times that you were feeling negative. Did your body seem to become “heavy” and would you say you were feeling “low”?

This is a natural phenomena. When we are negative, our energy is heavy, and it is hard to face life’s challenges; to rise to the occasion; and to have the qualities and inner strength needed for success. When our energy is light and lifted, there is no challenge too hard. No obstacle too big.

“There are no such thing as obstacles: There are only opportunities!” —Paramhansa Yogananda

Seeing the glass half full is a positive way of approaching life, but in relation to success, positivity is known for its ability to attract solutions. When you hit a “block”, or mental struggle, that keeps you from moving forward, rather than seeing more and more problems along the way, a positive state of mind will help you clearly see just the right solution!

Make positivity a habit. Then, even when you hit blocks, you will have already set up the neural pathways in the brain that habitually move to a positive approach, seeking solutions, opportunities, and the “bright side” to a situation. The momentum of this good habit will then help you in more difficult times of trial.

Holding a positive attitude also frees up energy that would otherwise be used on negativity. Think of how many negative self talk thoughts you may have per minute, and all the energy that this drains from you. See how much it could weigh you down, preventing you from a bright and successful future!

Set your sight on success, by resisting negativity. Negativity can come inwardly in the form of fears, doubts, and worries; or it can be reflected outwardly in the form of business failures; lack of financial gain; or disharmony amongst your colleagues. When we run into a wall of negativity, we must push past it again and again until we are free from its hold. Focus on how you can uproot negativity at its source and keep it from ever holding you back again! Keep your thoughts uplifting. Be one of the few who live above doubt and negativity, in skies of inner peace and harmony.

Whenever negativity surrounds your environment, it takes great energy and will to overcome it. One way to do so, is by putting out great amounts of positive energy. Especially in the form of creativity and service to others. The more, the better!

“Seek to do brave and lovely things that are left undone by the majority of people.” —Paramhansa Yogananda

To continue reading so you may go deeper within these concepts, you may enjoy the full booklet: The Yoga of Joy: Awakening the Warrior Within.

What Does It Mean to Be Enthusiastic?

Enthusiasm requires high energy to manifest. When you picture someone you know who is enthusiastic, you probably think of someone who could be described as joyful and energetic. Why is energy such an important part of enthusiasm?

The root meaning of the word “enthusiasm” is en or “in” and thus, Greek for “spirit”. More simply stated, enthusiasm’s root meaning is “inspired by God.” To be enthusiastic, therefore, one must be a channel for God’s inspiration to flow through them. That kind of inspiration gives potentially limitless energy to accomplish things, if we simply tune into what is trying to happen through us.

Love for helping others and the inspiration to share can also make one very enthusiastic! The energy of the heart, when opened and lifted upward to the flow of inspiration, has great potential for what it can accomplish. Inspiration is a gift, and it is our responsibility to do all that we can to manifest it. And by helping others grow and expand, we, too, grow and expand.

There is an ancient Sanskrit Proverb of India that says,“Where there is adherence to truth and right action, there is victory.” Acting only with the desire to help others—and without a desire for what your actions will do for you—is right action. Those who are enthusiastic about achieving great things, and sharing good ideas, will be successful.

“To be alive is to be on fire with purpose, to move forward with undaunted determination toward a goal. You must be enthusiastically active, make something of yourself, and give something worthwhile to the world.”—Paramhansa Yogananda

To generate enthusiasm, Yogananda said to raise your energy.

Here are a few exercises that will help you to raise your energy to the levels needed for drawing positivity, inspiration, and creativity:

Smile! When we smile, even if we don’t feel to smile, the physical movement itself causes us to feel happy. Our bodies read that our smile muscles are in “smile position” and the mind translates this information into “We must be having a happy experience.” Thus it helps us feel happy!

Raise your arms above your head. On a deep inhalation, lift your arms out to the sides, up over you head, and lift the gaze of your eyes upward. At times, this may be even easier than smiling! Try it now. The upward flow of energy against the pull of gravity can lift your spirits.

Practice an affirmation for enthusiasm with great energy: “I am positive! Energetic! Enthusiastic!” Try this with a smile, and even with arms raised. (From the Superconscious Living Exercises of Swami Kriyananda, disciple of Paramhansa Yogananda.)

How to find balance and harmony while still being enthusiastic:

“If you have lots of health and lots of wealth, but lots of trouble with everybody, including yourself, you have very little.” —Paramhansa Yogananda

As you go forth, remember the true meaning of success. Make the focus of all your efforts be to find balance and harmony in all aspects of your life. To maintain your inner peace and be kind to the other “wheels” moving along the path.

Remember that life is short; in reality we are only here for a short time.  At the end of your life, what will matter most is whether you have done what in your heart is truly important to you. Be sure that you give energy to those things which will help you to live rightly, without regrets.

Our life, ultimately, must be measured not by all of our outward achievements, but by our ability to find lasting happiness.

To continue reading so you may go deeper within these concepts, you may enjoy the full booklet: The Yoga of Joy: Awakening the Warrior Within.

How to Develop Courage and Become Fearless

Be willing to face any challenges or misfortunes that arise on your journey, and challenge—within yourself—any resistance that arises in the form of doubt or perceived obstacles. Change the way you think about things. View every obstacle as an opportunity for further growth, and greater success. Opportunities, moreover, must be met halfway. You can only have the opportunity to be successful if you try.

Every time we set out to start something new, we have to face doubt and fear in the face. On the outset of something we are deeply inspired to do, we may hear voices of negativity wonder aloud: “What if this fails completely?” “Is this even worth the energy?” “What will people think?” To overcome these questions, it is helpful to be reminded that we can only take one step at a time, facing each fear one by one, telling it to “Get out!” when it arises.

By trying, even if in the end we feel that we have not achieved our starting goals, we can at least be happy knowing that we did our best along the way.

“Meet everybody and every circumstance on the battlefield of life with the courage of a hero and the smile of a conqueror.” —Paramhansa Yogananda

Fear blocks the positive energy flow that we must attune to in order to attract success. It is like a wall of negativity that we run into and must overcome again and again in order to be free. Here is an exercise for overcoming fear:

Face fear head on! Practice imagining the worst thing that could happen with regards to your current “worry.” Now, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What fear do you most need to face in order to achieve success?
  • What is the worst thing possible that could happen if this fear came true?
  • What does it feel like to have the worst imaginable thing happen?
  • Is it as horrible as you thought?
  • What other fears can you apply to this practice?
  • Do you hold any fear of the unknown that lies ahead?

Create a plan of action for facing any fears or misfortunes that arise in daily life:

  • Pause and take a deep breath.
  • Reflect on what the true source of the fear is.
  • Speak to a friend or loved one, or write it down in a journal.
  • What is the exact opposite of this fear? Use this to create an affirmation for strength and power to use against fear whenever it arises.

It is important to use the mind to control life’s events. When mentally rehearsing what we fear the most, we are more likely to attract it. Replace negative thoughts with positive thoughts about what might happen, and rather than creating stressful mental images of the worst outcomes, create joy-filled, positive, and peaceful images of the best outcomes. Live the life you want reflected outwardly, first, mentally.

Each night to let go of all of the failures and successes of the day:

Feel, in your heart, memories of the day. Call to mind those memories, especially, any that may linger as “worries” or “hurts”. Lift them up from your heart to the brain, and forward to the seat of superconsciousness at the point between the eyebrows. Whether in the form of mental images or feelings, offer them to this area of the brain, where our problem solving, joy, and sense of humor reside. In this act of offering, mentally free yourself of any remaining attachment to “failures” of the day, as well as “successes”.

It may help to prevent fears and pains from occurring during the day by placing yourself slightly apart from  all that is happening around you. To do this, see yourself as an actor or actress playing in the movie of your life, observing it from afar, yet acting your part. Try to feel that the role you are playing is a part of all that is. As Yogananda, author of Autobiography of a Yogi said:

“You have come on earth to entertain and be entertained.”

To continue reading so you may go deeper within these concepts, you may enjoy the full booklet: The Yoga of Joy: Awakening the Warrior Within.

Energy, Awareness, and Willpower

We are made of energy. Becoming aware of our energy; learning to direct it at will; and understanding the laws that attract a greater flow of energy, are all essential parts of living a happier life. Spiritual teacher Swami Kriyananda said, “There is no limit to the energy that we can draw from the Universe for any endeavor.”

Paramhansa Yogananda, author of Autobiography of a Yogi said that we recently began Dwapara Yuga (the age of energy). One example of this, is how within the past century we have widely begun to accept Einstein’s theory proving that all matter is a manifestation of energy. The science of yoga takes this even further, stating that energy is but a manifestation of consciousness.

Uplifting your consciousness allows a positive flow of energy to enter into your being. From there, learning to direct your energy using your will, allows the abundant energy of the Universe to flow through you.

Think of will as willingness. Your desire to give energy, and your faith in what you’re giving energy to, creates an attitude of willingness, and you become an open channel for more energy to flow through. “To will something strongly,” Swami Kriyananda said, “one must will it with one’s entire being. To draw anything to yourself, learn to put your whole self into the energy flow you are directing.” Yogananda’s axiom for this is: “The greater the will, the greater the flow of energy.”

When you do things with willingness and joy, energy flows freely. When willingness is lacking, suddenly there is no energy left! A basic principle of yoga states that awareness precedes control. By cultivating an awareness of the flow of energy in our body, we can improve our ability to control and direct that energy at will.

Observe what happens when you command your body to lift your arm. Your will is what tells your body to move, but it is the energy you put behind the action that does the lifting. To will your arm to move takes energy; without sending energy to your arm it remain motionless.

The moment which energy can be perceived in the arm is when you consciously tense the arm muscle. When we concentrate on the feeling of this tension in the center of the arm muscle, we increase our awareness.

Consciously exercise the muscles of the forearm with alternating tension and relaxation:

  • Practice alternating tension and relaxation in your forearm three times.
  • In between alternating states of tension and relaxation, become aware of what that energy feels like in your arm.
  • Describe to yourself this feeling. Is it tingly? Does your forearm feel lighter? How would you describe it?

Now, observe the flow of energy in your own life:

  • Observe: When you give more energy, you receive more energy.
  • Conversely, the more stagnant you are, the lazier and less energetic you feel.
  • Notice also: When you want to do something, when you are going to do something you think will be fun, no matter how tired you were a second ago, you suddenly have all the energy you need!
  • How can you infuse willingness into everything you do, so that you have a constant flow of energy throughout the day?

The energization exercises of Yogananda take the practice of energy awareness and directing the will a step further. You can learn them here:

To continue reading so you may go deeper within these concepts, you may enjoy the full booklet: The Yoga of Joy: Awakening the Warrior Within.

Magnetism, Energy, and Success

Magnetism is the most important thing for success.

What is magnetism? Magnetism is a force that operates in the material world, on an energetic level. Like gravity, it is there even though our five senses may not perceive it outwardly. Though physically unseen, we know of its existence. For example, this force is at work from experiments with metals and magnets. Specifically, how iron filings on a piece of paper can be seen either moving toward or away from a magnet, based on the magnetism of the particular magnet.

When we see the poles of two bar magnets either attract or repel one another with subtle lines of force, this is the force of magnetism at work related to the power of attraction. And, in the sense that magnets can also act upon unmagnetized iron, drawing it toward them, we, too, with our magnetism, can act upon objects—even opportunities.

Magnetism shows us that our creative power is not limited to words or outer appearances, but that there is a subtle quality at work that affects us, affects others, and can be affected by others. The greater our awareness of this subtle level of energy flow, the greater our ability to control matter. And the greater our ability to control matter, the greater the ability to attract within the physical world what we need for success.

This law of attraction is the reason right attitudes are so important. Whatever one holds strongly in the mind, one attracts. Love attracts love. Fear attracts fear. However, the ability to attract circumstances, even inspirations—depends on the strength of one’s magnetism.

This magnetic field—whether strong or weak according to the strength or weakness of will—generates energy. Remember, Yogananda’s axiom: “The greater the will, the greater the flow of energy.” What follows? “The greater the flow of energy, the greater the magnetism.” Thus, if your will, and the resulting flow of energy, is powerful, there is nothing you cannot draw to yourself.

Every time a current passes through a wire, it produces a magnetic field. A strong current (energy flow) generates more magnetism, while a weak current produces little magnetism. So does our nervous system when it transmits electrical impulses.

Every human activity, which is based on an electrical impulse in the brain, such as a thought, manifests a magnetism of its own. To be successful, we must develop the type of magnetism needed by being confident in our success. This is because confidence and positivity keeps our current of energy strong, while negativity weakens it. Positive attitudes like willingness, cheerfulness, kindness, and all wholesome attitudes, increase our magnetism.

“That power which best energizes the body is an attitude of willingness.”—Swami Kriyananda

Thus, even if you are not trained in most technical aspects of a field, a willingness to do good for others may draw the knowledge you need to go forth.

The law of magnetism is also why the company we keep has an important effect on our ability to be successful. Just as a rod of iron next to a magnetized bar becomes similarly magnetized, so also does our act of placing ourselves in the company of successful individuals improve our magnetism for success.

Observe the laws of magnetism at work in your life. Watch your energy throughout the day, with respect to qualities and attitudes you take on in certain environments, around different people. Yogananda stated that, “Environment is stronger than will.” Thus, a supportive environment is also important to success.

  • Do you notice certain qualities more prominent in certain environments? (Perhaps comparing a positive environment you know to a negative one.)
  • Is there an attraction to certain environments or circumstances you would like to change, so that you can make room for more positivity in your life?
  • Are there certain things you would like to avoid, like habits or negative patterns with others, that keep continuing? If so, is there something within yourself that you can identify as the reason for this continuous attraction?

Make your magnetism positive, and become a light for the world.

To continue reading so you may go deeper within these concepts, you may enjoy the full booklet: The Yoga of Joy: Awakening the Warrior Within.

How to Develop Concentration

In directing all of your energy toward achieving a goal, one-pointed concentration is necessary.

The key to developing concentration is practice: practice concentrating on one thing at a time, and cultivating awareness: bringing your full awareness to whatever you do.

When we are aware of how we direct our attention to things throughout the day, we are more likely to notice when our concentration is broken, and bring it back. We have to practice this again and again before we can say we’ve got it.

To develop concentration, incorporate the following proven practices into your daily life:

Time outdoors, especially for fresh air and sunshine: Studies show that sunshine and fresh oxygen revitalize body and brain. Sunshine has also been shown to lighten mood. Sunshine and fresh air are the most natural form of pure energy. (See exercise below.)

Daily exercise: Like sunshine, exercise releases endorphins, which then stimulate a positive mood. Exercise also increases blood flow to the brain, thus supplying what the brain needs for focus, problem-solving, and getting things done.

Healthy diet: Eating foods that improve memory will in turn help your ability to concentrate. Foods containing healthy fats, such as almonds and avocados, give the brain what it needs to function at its best. Equally important is avoiding foods that make you hyper-active (processed foods, candies, too much caffeine or other stimulants) and foods that make your body sluggish and your mind dull.

Positive attitude: Consciously choosing to be happy and optimistic helps to attract success. It’s much easier to do any activity when one feels an upward flow of positive energy, which in turn will encourage creativity and draw inspiration.

Time management: Learn to focus in everyday life. Be mindful of the way you use your time. Prioritize your activities. Treat time and energy as precious resources to be used as efficiently as possible. You will find more about time management in the From Ideas to Action.

Meditation: Study after study after study has proven meditation enhances memory, focus, and concentration by activating the prefrontal lobe of the brain.

Meditation trains you for the mental marathon of setting a goal and working toward it day after day. Meditation also improves your ability to overcome challenges as they arise, and to do so calmly, with a positive frame of mind, and a feeling of inner peace and equilibrium—all of which are necessary for success.

“Meditation is a state of intense awareness achieved by stilling and concentrating the thoughts.” —Jyotish Novak, How to Meditate

Here is an exercise to help you on your way to developing concentration: How to get your daily dose of fresh air and sunshine:

Experience for yourself the benefits of taking short breaks throughout the day to get outside, take deep breaths, and, if possible, rays of sunshine.

If there is sun, practice consciously (intentionally) absorbing the sun rays into your body. Feel them entering with all of their warmth—nurturing and energizing all cells of your body.

Even without sun, practice directing the energy into your body as you take in deep breaths. A double breath (short, then long inhalation through the nose, and short, then long exhalation through the mouth and nose), has been proven to supply more oxygen than a normal breath. Practice this breath several times, then tense your whole body, feeling the sun’s energy coming in, and release.

Paramhansa Yogananda said that the medulla oblongata, situated at the base of the brain, is where we draw in the cosmic energy of the universe. He said that if we only knew how to consciously draw that energy through the medulla, our bodies could be sustained by that energy alone.

Practice drawing the energy within at this point, if possible, stimulating—with your fingertips—the indentation at the base of the skull. This is a natural remedy for fatigue, and a way to revitalize your body, mind, and spirit. This is a part of the revolutionary system of yogic exercises developed by Paramhansa Yogananda, called the Energization Exercises.

To continue reading so you may go deeper within these concepts, you may enjoy the full booklet: The Yoga of Joy: Awakening the Warrior Within.

How to Reduce Stress at Work

Staying balanced during the work day will not only help you to improve productivity by removing the barriers to focus and creativity, but can keep you more healthy physically and more centered mentally so that you can solve problems as they arise instead of reacting stressed and overwhelmed. Instead you can be the person who your co-workers go to feel motivated and to feel more calm when things start to get difficult.

Here are 5 simple tips for reducing stress at the workplace:

1. Take a worry vacation during your commute. Promise yourself that you will stop any worrying on the way there. If you feel like you really need to think something through, do it before the commute, and tell yourself you can thoroughly think it through just once, then you have to practice letting go of the tendency to re-think the same thing through again.

Remind yourself of your commitment and acknowledge that thinking it through again and again (ruminating) only uses up more mental energy.

Instead try putting your mind on other activities that are relaxing:

Focus on taking deep breaths with measured counting: Breathe in (1-2-3-4-5-6-) pause (1-2-3-4-5-6) and breathe out (1-2-3-4-5-6).

Listen to positive or uplifting music that you know makes you feel happy and relaxed (like classical). Research has proven that high vibration quality music can improve your health both physically and mentally. The vibrations of music affect the nervous system. The brain receives the signals from your nervous system, and uses them to identify how we are feeling. So if you listen to music that has harsh lyrics or a strong bass it makes your nervous system responds with stress, weakening your immune system and putting you in an irritable mood.

You can visualize everyone at the workplace getting along, things running smoothly and basically picture the opposite happening from what you have worries about. Strong visualizations and positive intentions have been proven to improve performance.

2. Learn how to deal with conflict positively when it arises. If you are someone who is a people-pleaser, or someone who does not like to confront bad behaviors or treatment from the boss, or if you are just sensitive to criticisms, practice being neutral and not reacting emotionally. Take a step back from the situation, and return to a response when you can approach it calmly and from your center.

3. Throughout the workday be sure to take 5-10 minute breaksThis may seem hard, but if you don’t practice this not only are you going to become less effective work- wise, but you are also more likely to have a large drop in energy later on that may affect your mood and concentration.

Instead, when you have been working for several hours– give yourself a nicely planned break to bring your energy up again and to take care of your health in order to prevent problems later on.

Taking breaks will help you to:

  • Recharge your eyes (from staring at the computer). Optometrists recommend taking your eyes off the screen at least once every hour to prevent damage from constant fatigue.
  • Recharge your brain. Give yourself a chance to go for a quick walk, go up and down the stairs, etc. so that you can pump your heart and send fresh energy throughout the body. And instead of another coffee or caffeinated drink you get to go outside for a breath of fresh air and exercise, helping to prevent the heart disease that results from sitting all day.
  • Prevent repetitive motion injury. Take time to stretch where you have been performing repetitive movements without breaks– like your wrists and arms to prevent carpal tunnel. Or you can do a forward bend to relieve backaches from sitting too long, doing unsupported heavy lifting, or from having bad posture at your desk.
  • Take a mental break. A moment to relax and let things be without struggling harder. Psychology research has shown that the best thing to do when problem solving is to leave the problem alone for 5 or 10 minutes and simply just do other things. While you are doing other things, the answer will often pop into your head.

4. Make a choice to fight fatigue naturally. If you do get to a point where you feel stressed or your energy drops, train your brain to say, “I need to stop what I’m doing and fix this.” This will stop you from automatically continuing to feel low so that you can turn yourself around and bring it up again. If you are stressed or frustrated, it is a lot harder to complete more work effectively—you are more likely to make mistakes, solutions get blocked so you stay stuck on problems longer, and you are more likely to want to go gossip or complain to other co-workers and then before you know it there is a whole group of you co-workers feeling low.

5. The best stress-reducing activity that you can do is to learn to meditate. If you already know how to meditate– meaning you have taken a class and know a technique that really works for you (otherwise keep looking)–then meditate every morning for at least 5-10 minutes and if you can again after work or before bed to help you get proper rest and sleep better through the night. Taking care of yourself by doing activities that prevent stress and keep you balanced are priceless in helping you to have a better day at work.

And above all else, keep a positive attitude! This has the power to change everything. If you can feel joy at the workplace, and be enthusiastic about what it is you are there to do– then not only will you reduce stress, but you will become a more magnetic friend and employee.

And this attitude will attract success not only at work, but help you to find the joy that comes from within you.

To continue reading so you may go deeper within these concepts, you may enjoy the full booklet: The Yoga of Joy: Awakening the Warrior Within.