How to Be a Channel

J. Donald Walters (Swami Kriyananda) (excerpted from the book: How to Be a True Channel)

Paramhansa Yogananda’s commentaries on the Bhagavad Gita are among the most profound spiritual treatises I have ever read. After completing them‚ he told me that his method of writing had been to tune in to the soul of Byasa‚ the author of the Bhagavad Gita. “I asked him to use me as his channel‚” he explained‚ “that everything I wrote about his great Scripture would be what he himself intended.”

I was with Yogananda while he dictated much of this work. And I observed his method of channeling. He didn’t sit back‚ close his eyes‚ and slip into subconsciousness. Far from being unconscious‚ the state he entered was very much more than man’s normal‚ outward consciousness.

He would lower his eyelids‚ go within‚ and gaze up into the spiritual eye. Stilling his mind at that point‚ he would pass quickly into superconsciousness. And then he would speak.

When he lectured‚ it was the same way‚ though before the public he had eye contact with his audience‚ and often gazed at an individual as he spoke words of comfort or advice intended especially for that person. If people complimented him afterwards on his talk‚ he would reply with perfect sincerity‚ “God did it‚ not I.”

Before lecturing‚ he would remain silent and withdrawn‚ and tune in to higher guidance. During the lecture itself‚ one could sense that he always kept a part of himself withdrawn‚ consciously held open to the higher Self as it flowed through him. So inspired was he at such times that even the tones of his voice rang with the bliss of God.

What is the difference between the higher Self I’ve referred to‚ and God? None‚ essentially. It is God in us. For this higher Self (always written with a capital “S”) is not actually a thing‚ like the ego. It is simply an opening onto the Infinite. It is that opening through which God flows into us.

The lower self (written with a small “s”) is the ego. This part of us is like a stained glass window‚ by the colors of which the infinite Light shining through man is transformed. Dense ego-consciousness acts like dirt or heavy pigmentation on the window. The denser the ego‚ the more both the color of the glass and the light behind it become obscured. The purer the ego‚ on the other hand‚ the purer its color‚ and the clearer the light that shines through it. If we want to advance spiritually‚ we need to allow ever more light to pass through the window of our egos. And that is what is known as channeling.

This is why‚ in channeling‚ we needn’t reach out beyond ourselves. What we must do is go within.

Perfect channeling occurs when the window is removed‚ as the ego is removed when one attains perfect enlightenment. Once this happens‚ the sunlight of divine grace can flow freely through the opening of our consciousness‚ uncolored by any human prejudice or other defect.

Paramhansa Yogananda taught us always‚ whether lecturing‚ writing‚ or serving others in any other capacity‚ to maintain a consciousness of inner upliftedness and attunement with God. I have found not only that this is the way to transmit divine inspiration‚ but even information that one doesn’t yet possess consciously oneself.

When writing my book‚ Your Sun Sign as a Spiritual Guide‚ there were many occasions when the despairing thought came to me‚ “I’ve taken on more than I can handle!” And then I would calm my mind‚ focus it on the point between the eyebrows (the spiritual eye)‚ and pray‚ “Give me the answer I need.”

The answer always came. In two or three cases I received obscure explanations‚ for which at the time I could find no corroboration anywhere. Later‚ however‚ I found them substantiated by writers who described them as having appeared in very ancient texts. In this way‚ the whole book came to be written.

Yogananda one time‚ while writing‚ used the word‚ “noil.” Editors assured him the word didn’t exist‚ at least not in the way he had used it.

“But I know it exists‚” he assured them‚ “otherwise it wouldn’t have come to me!” He insisted they look in other dictionaries.

Eventually they found it—in a dictionary several centuries old!

It mustn’t be imagined that everything that one says while serving‚ or trying his best to serve‚ as a channel must be God’s perfect truth—even if that is what one is trying to channel. I remember a lady coming to me many years ago‚ after a lecture‚ and complimenting me on my talk.

“God is the doer‚” I replied‚ wanting to give Him the credit for anything I might have said that inspired her.

“Oh—really?!” she exclaimed in amazement—as though to say‚ “I knew your talk was good‚ but I didn’t realize it was that good!”

We must affirm the reality‚ that it may become ever more real. The more consciously and willingly one lets God flow through him‚ however‚ the more perfect will be his channeling.

It is important to understand what function the human will plays in channeling. During one of my early lectures‚ the thought came to me‚ “If I really want God to use my voice‚ why don’t I simply stop speaking‚ and let Him take over?” I stood there in silence for at least two minutes. Try pausing that long‚ when you have a room full of people sitting there uneasily‚ waiting for you to speak! A friend of mine‚ thinking I must have frozen because of fear‚ admitted to me later that he’d become so nervous that he found his forehead bathed in perspiration.

At last I decided that the experiment had been sufficient‚ and that God wasn’t going to use me as a passive instrument. I therefore resumed the lecture‚ seeking inspiration for it in the process of talking‚ as before.

A prayer that Yogananda taught us to say was‚ “Father‚ I will reason‚ I will will‚ I will act‚ but guide Thou my reason‚ will‚ and activity to the right path in everything.” What he was saying was that guidance comes during‚ and not always before‚ our expression of it. In the very expression‚ we attract its flow.

Practice is necessary for perfection in any art. This is certainly true for channeling. The more you try sincerely to be a channel for inspiration‚ the more clearly you will find yourself being used as a channel.

I remember once‚ while writing the music for a slide show on Assisi and the life of St. Francis‚ thinking‚ “It would be nice to have a simple medieval-sounding melody to go with the years of his youth‚ before conversion.” The trouble was‚ I didn’t know any medieval music. Without some sort of model to go by‚ my aspiration seemed doomed to failure. But then I thought‚ “No‚ if I ask Him‚ God will give it to me.” I got up and went into my living room‚ where the piano is located. It was as though an angel were sitting on my right shoulder. In the few steps between my office and the living room‚ the melody was already clear in my mind. Everyone who has heard it says it does indeed sound very medieval.

Sometimes‚ indeed‚ channeling happens without our conscious will‚ particularly if we have a clear understanding of what it is we want to express. One time I wanted‚ while creating another slide show called “Different Worlds‚” a melody that would express the human condition in all its sadness and joy‚ yearning and fear‚ fulfillment and disappointment. It was a tall order‚ and seemed beyond my abilities. I kept putting off the challenge.

Then one day‚ praying that this melody would come to me on its own‚ I sat at the piano and allowed my fingers to roam about the keys freely‚ without controlling them with any conscious effort of will. Immediately‚ without effort‚ and without the slightest hesitation or fumbling‚ the right melody appeared. A friend present in the room cried out‚ “Why‚ that’s the perfect melody for your new slide show‚ Different Worlds. It says it all!”

The conscious will is‚ in fact‚ sometimes by-passed while channeling‚ once one is open enough to the guidance one is receiving. Yogananda would sometimes remark‚ of something he had done‚ “I didn’t want to‚ but God made me do it.” It must be understood that when he said he didn’t want to do it he didn’t mean to imply that he resisted doing it‚ but only that he’d had no conscious intention of doing it. A great master like Yogananda is‚ in fact‚ so united with the divine will that it is never easy to tell whether he actually intended a thing or not. The ego principle being absent‚ even miracles occur in his presence almost as if manifesting themselves automatically.

I remember a garden party for which Yogananda spoke many years ago in Beverly Hills. Normally‚ any speech given at such an event is naturally kept light and inconsequential‚ perhaps humorous‚ in keeping with the spirit of the occasion. What was our surprise‚ then‚ and I imagine also his‚ when the words that burst forth were words of such divine power as I have never heard spoken‚ either before or since. God’s power was present‚ in total indifference to the worldly expectations of man!

You may wonder‚ How can I develop my own ability to be a channel? Here are a few suggestions.

First‚ keep your mind elevated during the whole time that you want to serve as a channel. Don’t simply open yourself passively. Don’t imagine that true channeling is something like automatic writing. Raise your consciousness in joyful inner expectation.

It will help you to concentrate specifically in the upper chakras‚ or psychic centers‚ of your body. In the spine opposite the heart‚ feel the power of intuitive love‚ and feel it rise upward toward the brain.

In the brain‚ focus your attention at the point between the eyebrows‚ that center where the spiritual eye is beheld.

The center of ego in the body is the medulla oblongata‚ at the base of the brain. It is easy to tell when a speaker’s energy is focused in his ego. Tension in the area of the medulla oblongata causes him to toss his head about jerkily‚ left‚ right‚ backwards‚ sometimes so violently as to make him seem like a wired puppet. When you lecture‚ or engage in creative expression of any kind‚ make it a point consciously to release the energy in the medulla and to let it flow forward‚ to the point between the eyebrows.

If you are giving vocal expression to your inspiration‚ such as in teaching‚ lecturing‚ or singing‚ be focused as well in the throat center‚ in the spine opposite the base of the throat. It will help you to keep an expansive mental attitude‚ and also to infuse your voice with vibrations of peace and spiritual power.

Before speaking or channeling in any way‚ meditate deeply. Calm your thoughts. Lift your whole spirit up to God and ask Him to guide and inspire you.

While channeling‚ also‚ it helps to visualize yourself surrounded by an aura of light. Expand that aura outward from your body‚ until it fills the room.

Second‚ give outward expression to your inspiration. Don’t let it lie dormant within you‚ or it will gradually wither and die. Don’t be afraid that what you express sounds silly—though‚ if it seems too outrageous‚ tell it to the trees; don’t inflict it on people!

One of the most important principles of creative expression—which‚ rightly understood‚ is only another name for channeling—is at first to allow the ideas to flow without judging them for their validity. What this does is launch a flow of energy‚ which in turn generates magnetism (the stronger the energy flow‚ the stronger the magnetism)‚ which in its turn draws true inspiration.

“The greater the will‚” Yogananda used to say‚ “the greater the flow of energy.” It requires a completely positive flow of will and energy‚ a strong expectation that one will receive the inspiration he wants‚ for channeling to take place.

An example of this practice may be seen in the charismatic churches: the practice of talking in tongues. Believers claim that what they are doing is channeling foreign languages‚ although there are two sensible objections to this claim: one‚ that the syllables used follow a pattern that is too simple and too repetitious for the normal patterns of speech; and two‚ that God surely wouldn’t go to the trouble of saying things to people who couldn’t understand Him. Nevertheless‚ there is something spiritually valid in the practice of glossalalia‚ as this practice is termed.

We might compare it to the expression of music‚ which is also‚ in a sense‚ a foreign language. At least‚ we can’t easily explain in words what it is that it says to us. And yet‚ we feel that it expresses something. Moreover‚ by expressing ourselves musically we open ourselves to more and more sophisticated musical expression—a thing we would never do if we remained silent in embarrassment. By singing out our gladness‚ moreover‚ we ourselves become more perfectly joyful.

Remember‚ however‚ the higher Self of which we’ve been speaking does not easily channel sectarian truths. If you want to express the highest inspirations‚ you will find your openness to them at least partially blocked if you enclose your thoughts with narrow definitions.

The third suggestion for how to develop your ability as a channel is to remember what so many who thrive on uncensored inspiration (including those who practice talking in tongues) seem to forget: the importance of communication.

The effort to communicate focalizes one’s inspiration and gives it clarity. It filters out inadequate inspiration‚ but in a positive way‚ by channeling it‚ rather than by blocking its flow with nay-saying. Instead of discouraging ideas with such thoughts as‚ “You can’t do that!” it says‚ “Well‚ let’s see how we might make that happen.”

Communication can be your own best critic. Try explaining to others what it is you are trying to say‚ and two things will often happen: First‚ you’ll see where you were going wrong; and next‚ you’ll suddenly understand what you can do to make it right.

When communicating with others‚ don’t try to reach them only at the level of the conscious mind—whether your own or theirs. Try to tune in to their higher Self‚ and not only to your own. Speak to them at their highest level. You will find your communication with them becoming much deeper and clearer.

Always be humble. Never think‚ “I’m channeling‚ so people must accept what I say as the perfect truth.” The more you think this way‚ the less perfect a channel you will become. But the more you remain humble‚ the more freely the divine forces will be able to flow through you.

Humility‚ remember‚ is not self-deprecation. It is perfect self-honesty. In complete truthfulness you will always find your best guarantee in channeling.

Never channel to impress or to exert power over others‚ but always and purely as a service to them.

Remember‚ too‚ the vibrations of what you channel are more important than the specific forms your inspiration takes.

Above all‚ finally‚ remember these words of Paramhansa Yogananda’s: “The instrument is blessed by what passes through it.”

Five Steps to Channeling Healing Energy

To channel healing energy for yourself or others‚ the most important thing to remember is that it isn’t your energy that heals‚ but God’s. If you remember this‚ you’ll be far more effective in helping others‚ because thoughts of self-consciousness or self-doubt will be less likely to arise in your mind. Your faith in God’s power to heal‚ guide‚ and bless others should be uppermost.

Your role is to feel deep‚ sincere‚ loving desire to help the person to whom you wish to channel healing blessings. What enables divine power to flow through you is the natural love of your heart.

The five steps in channeling healing energy given here were taught by Paramhansa Yogananda:

  • Sit in a quiet room‚ alone or with others who wish to practice the healing technique. Sit upright and concentrate your mind at the point between the eyebrows—the center of higher consciousness in man. Offer a prayer that God use you as a channel for His grace.
  • Visualize the person whom you want to heal clearly in your mind‚ surrounded by a golden light. If any part of their body or mind is particularly in need of healing energy‚ concentrate on that area and fill it with golden light.
  • Rub your hands lightly but vigorously over your bare forearms‚ then rub your hands together‚ again vigorously but lightly‚ until you can feel energy and warmth in them.
  • Raise your arms over your head and feel the energy tingling in your hands. Visualize the person again‚ and slowly lower your arms‚ feeling or visualizing a wave of energy flowing from your hands to the person. Repeat this three times.
  • Sit quietly for a few minutes. Feel the peace that surrounds you. Offer a prayer of gratitude to God for sending the person healing energy through His grace. May you receive many blessings as you channel divine healing energy to others.