The Spiritual Journey of Advent

Spiritual practices of Advent (contemplation and meditation) are luminous tools to guide us through the dark days and nights of Winter.

The meaning of Advent is “coming or arrival.” It signifies the period of faithful waiting for the birth of the Universal Christ—realization of the essential divine Self.

Spiritual practices imbued with symbols from the Christian tradition of Advent can be luminous tools to guide us through the dark days and nights of Winter. Through contemplation and meditation, we prepare our hearts and minds to reach what yogis call Kutastha Chaitanya— realization of the universal Christ or Krishna Consciousness—the unchanging, eternal, divine Self of all.



Advent Journey

During the Christmas season, many homes have evergreen trees laden with lights and gifts, and doors or tables display wreaths and candles, often without connection to the ancient power such symbols carry. When that occurs, what could facilitate transformation in a dark season and bring us to the heart of spiritual realization serves only to decorate our home. While these customs often provide a context for valuable family traditions and social connections, they could offer so much more.

"The divine manifestation is ubiquitous; only our eyes are not open to it. The symbol opens our eyes."

—Joseph Campbell

Kriya Yoga: A Path Beyond Religion

Our pilgrim’s journey in the season of Advent reflects the universal soul passage from the confusion of ignorance to the light of truth. This awakening to our essential nature—Self- and God-realization—is the goal of Kriya Yoga. Kriya Yoga is not a religion; it is a spiritual philosophy and practice for spiritually conscious living. It is a mystical path—a way of discovering the truth that is beyond words, thoughts, or beliefs.

East Meets West: The Teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda

In 1920, Paramahansa Yogananda brought the teachings of Kriya Yoga from India to the United States, and he carried an imperative from the yoga masters in the lineage who sent him—show the essential, spiritual harmony between the East and the West.

When I first read Paramahansa Yogananda’s seminal book, Autobiography of a Yogi, I was captivated by the wealth of references to scriptures connecting East and West in the deep stream of mysticism. The ancient cry of the Rig Veda, “Truth is one; sages refer to it variously,” resonated with my intuitive sense that one Absolute Reality expresses in the world’s religions and spiritual traditions. Just as millions of people worldwide, regardless of religious belief, benefit from yoga’s philosophy and practices, so can we benefit from learning about, exploring, and experiencing various traditions of the world’s religions. In today’s religiously pluralistic world, such encounters are becoming commonplace. How we approach those encounters makes all the difference to our spiritual development.

Encountering the Universal Christ in Advent

Paramahansa Yogananda wrote: It is of utmost importance to all people, whatever their religion, that they experience within themselves the “birth” of the Universal Christ. How are we to encourage that birth? In simple terms, we make ourselves ready for it. We decide we will enter the season as a spiritual pilgrim. We prepare for the journey by study, contemplation, prayer, meditation, and opening to the story’s symbols and the season’s transformative potential.

Explore the spiritual riches of the Christmas season through contemplation and meditation on its inner meaning. Yogacharya O’Brian discusses how spiritual practices imbued with the symbols from the Christian tradition of Advent can be luminous tools to guide us through the dark days and nights of winter. Intentional, spiritual contemplation during Advent offers a remedy for the holidays’ overly materialistic focus that can leave us feeling empty im more ways than one. Instead, it gives us a soul-nourishing way to open our hearts and minds to the healing light within.



Path of Wonder: A Meditator's Guide to Advent

To traverse a path in the dark night, we walk carefully, carry a lamp, or orient our way by the moon or starlight. When there is no such light to guide us, we grow quiet and profoundly aware. We listen deeply and find our way with the inner light of mindful awareness, deeply attuned to the now moment. One step at a time, the way forward is revealed.

Meditation is a portal to divine communion, and so is contemplation and ritual, the various ways we have to quiet the mind and open ourselves to realization. The book Path of Wonder: A Meditator’s Guide to Advent is offered in that spirit. This daily guide for contemplation will support mindful awareness each day of Advent. The inspirational readings, scriptures, practices, and questions for reflection serve as an asana—a steady seat for that day.

The meaning of Advent is “coming or arrival.” It signifies the period of faithful waiting for the birth of the Universal Christ—realization of the essential divine Self. May this season welcome the light that dispels the darkness of ignorance, the light that brings peace to all the world.

Path of Wonder: A Meditator's Guide to Advent by Ellen Grace O'Brian book cover

This daily contemplative guide supports the spiritual journey of Advent for pilgrims from all traditions.

More on the Spiritual Journey of Advent:

The Cosmic Christ

Where Divine Love Enters

New Identity


Awakening in this Lifetime


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