Letters from Ananda members, Part 34

Secret of Happiness
Kathleen Gardiser

When I first heard Swami Kriyananda’s voice on an audiotape, I knew I wanted the inner peace that he so obviously expressed. I could tell by the quality of his voice how deeply at peace he was. At the time I lived in constant fear of the painful flare-ups that were part of my chronic illness, fibromyalgia.

I have written two books based on Swami Kriyananda’s teachings as they relate to spiritual transformation through chronic illness. He has inspired me to teach classes, lead support groups, and write despite the pain of my disease. Through my work I have seen firsthand the uplifting effect Swamiji’s teachings have had on the chronically ill.

One deceptively simple idea of his is expressed in this book, Affirmations for Self-healing. He states that affirmations don’t have to deal directly with the problem, but “on positive qualities which are the solutions to our disease and imperfections.” This is the key point in all my classes: that healing is an inside out job. By focusing on spiritual qualities rather than on physical infirmities, the chronically ill can increased their self-esteem and cope better with their disease. It is who we become through the disease that is of primary importance, not the sickness itself. Illness can become a rite of passage to greater love, joy, and personal freedom.

I utilized two of the affirmations from his book to overcome my fear of painful flare-ups. One was for calmness, “Though the winds of difficulties howl around me, I stand forever calmly at the center of life’s storms.” The other affirmation was for courage. “I live protected by God’s Infinite Light. As long as I remained in the heart of it, nothing and no one can harm me.” The affirmations and prayers in his book are deeply inspired and could have only been written by one close to God.

It was through Swami Kriyananda’s teachings that I discovered I could be happy before being cured. My illness robbed me of my career and many relationships. I had to forge a new identity for myself, one that would give my disease a new context. After studying Swami Kriyananda’s teachings, I no longer saw my situation as a punishment or bad luck. I saw it as an opportunity for spiritual growth. Being happy in spite of a severe challenge to the body is a powerful lesson, one that imbues you with a deep inner strength and peace. I am eternally grateful to Ananda and Swami Kriyananda for being my path to this peace.

Kathleen lives at the Ananda community of Palo Alto in northern California. She is editor of “We Laughed, We Cried: Life with Fibromyalgia,” and writes about spiritual transformation through illness.