On Going Home

Peter GallagherPeter Gallagher, SVA Board Member

The inner experience of Self is closest for those whose yearning is strongest.
— Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras 1.21.

I’ve just returned home from our annual face-to-face Board meeting and retreat. While we met at the Ashram, we were housed at Lokananda. The accommodations are beautifully functional and comfortable. But it is a 130-year old building, and daily as my roommate left our room for his 4 am meditation, I heard the doors squeak. Thinking that SVA admin staff needed to be notified of the problem, we told Swami Nirmalananda about it. Swami told us where to find the can of WD-40. That clinched my sense of truly being at home in Lokananda.

Driving from Downingtown to my “other home,” I thought about other journeys. I have learned that saving for retirement is a journey that begins with a single step and takes another thousand steps. You start with saving a little, plan ahead and step by step you will arrive at retirement with enough funds to support you.

As I approach retirement, I start another journey of a thousand steps on our Svaroopa® Vidya path to Self-Realization. The yearning to be at home in my own Self is a strong pull. The yearning for Self-Realization feels like it is magnetizing me toward an ultimate home. To get there, I just need to let the yearning orient me to that “home” the way a magnet is aligned with the North Pole. I can fulfill my longing with mantra, to be turned inward to my own Self. All I have to do is cultivate the yearning and everything will just flow. That Grace-filled flow, emanating from Swami Nirmalananda, carries me to Self-Realization.

1 in 100Lokananda, our Place of Bliss, is the physical home that gives me a Shakti-saturated place to stay where I can be in the presence of our Guru, Swami Nirmalananda. Lokananda is an essential element in cultivating the yearning that promises to take you to Self-Realization. I must take care of this second home as I do my own residence. Capital repairs, the stuff you do every few decades, such as getting a new roof, must be done. I understand the need to sustain the organization which provides the physical support for Swamiji’s teachings that carry me, you, and current and future seekers on the path. We need to take responsibility for Lokananda, our spiritual home, just as we do for our own personal homes. My donation to this phase of the Lokananda Capital Campaign feels like another step on the way home.

Our capital campaign goal of $150,000 was set in July 2015. We are enormously grateful for the $100,000 in donations received so far. They enabled us to renovate the sturdy old building for beauty and comfort. Our goal for this leg of the campaign is $50,000, which will complete our appeal.We will first be able to get a much needed new roof, and then replenish the reserves that support the programs that carry you forward on your spiritual journey.

boston shaktipat blogI also understand the devotional aspect of contributing to the capital campaign for Lokananda, just as you bring a flower to Swamiji as an offering out of gratitude. Will you join me in opening your heart to decide on a gift to establish Lokananda in good and ongoing repair? It is the physical structure in which your yearning can be cultivated and fulfilled as Patanjali promises in Sutra 1.21. The strength of your yearning will take you to your Self. When you contribute to the last leg of the Lokananda Capital Campaign, you are oriented to the home in which you will always find the “More.”

Click here to donate.

One in One Hundred

amala-photoBy Amala Cattafi, SVA Board President

The inner experience of Self is closest for those whose yearning is strongest. — Patanjali Yoga Sutras 1.21

Everyone experiences spiritual yearning, but not everyone acts on it.  — Joseph Campbell

Most people find ways to divert this powerful yearning into other, more conventional, safer things.  Baba Muktananda explained:

  • Out of 100 who feel the yearning, one recognizes it as a yearning for something the world cannot provide.
  • Out of 100 who recognize it as a spiritual longing, one looks for a Guru
  • Out of 100 who look for a Guru, one finds a Master who can give the experience as well as the teachings.
  • Out of 100 who find such a Master, one opens their heart and mind.
  • Out of 100 who open their heart and mind, one does the discipline.
  • Out of 100 who do the discipline, one comes to know God.

Lokananda - Donor gift pictureWhen we started our “Lokananda:  Your Bliss Place” capital campaign last fall we knew that many of you Svaroopis are included in the 1 in 100. You are not only dedicated to your personal practice and the source of those teachings, but also to your community and the space she has dedicated to serving you.

We knew you were out there, and you did not disappoint! We have raised $100,000 of our original $150,000 goal. This achievement is due to a great many of you who have selflessly (and Self-fully) stepped up to support the physical location that is the heart of our Svaroopa® Sciences. BUT WE ARE NOT YET DONE.

Your generous donations to date in this Capital Campaign have paid for renovations and the costs incurred in buying Lokananda. But we will soon need a new roof, and have several additional improvements planned to make your retreat experiences even more comfortable.

If you have previously opened your heart and given generously, we want to share our gratitude. Please know how much you have done to benefit your Svaroopa® community. We hope you will do it again!

If you have not yet found the impulse to give for this very important purpose, NOW IS THE TIME! I can tell you from experience that the act of opening your heart and your hands, even when you think you can’t, is one of the most deeply satisfying acts that a human being can experience. Live your life every day as the 1 yogi in 100 who not only cares, but takes action to help.

1 in 100Consider Baba’s teaching about the 1 in 100 yogis. He is talking about Self-realization. With Swami Nirmalananda as our Master Teacher, we are positioned to reach the ultimate state that yoga promises. We belong to the small percentage of the world population who recognizes the inner longing for what it truly is, the desire to know the Self.

Join me and the SVA Board in completing our Lokananda Capital Campaign successfully. When you contribute to its last leg, you securely establish the place filled with Grace, your spiritual home in which you will always fulfill your yearning for the “More.”

in Loving Service,
Amala Heinlein, SVA Board President

A Daily Practice Tool

yogeshwaree up to date

By Yogeshwaree (Melissa) Fountain

As Svaroopis, we are blessed to have so many ways to practice our yoga: meditation, asana, japa (out loud mantra repetition), seva (selfless service to others), Ujjayii Pranayama, the yoga of eating, chanting, and svadhyaya, one of the niyamas that means the reading and studying of yogic texts.

You may already do many of these practices, but for me, svadhyaya stands out as incredibly powerful and sustaining. I can go very deep in the poses or meditation, but how I carry that inner opening into the world is what matters most to me.  Studying and applying the words of a true master feed me at the deepest level. It is what the Shiva Sutras describe as “j~naanam annam,” that knowledge of the Self is the true food.

We can be looking everywhere else but what we long for is the Truth of who we really are. Swamiji, in her love and care for us, provides this nourishment in many ways. One of the most potent is her second collection of monthly contemplations: Yoga: Inside and Outside: Carrying Inner Bliss into Your Life.

tea.jpgI have often sat down with a cup of tea and pen, and read a chapter as if chatting with my dearest friend, underlining points I’d mention to Swamiji if she were sitting right there. This enlivens the text for me, and I always get what I need.

As a Weekend Workshop Leader, I rely on her contemplation articles to guide me through the theme of the weekend, using her text as the springboard for my talks and selections of poses.  The contemplation shapes the vessel I am creating to contain the weekend.  My students and fellow teachers describe how they interact with this book:

“Reading Swamiji’s book has really deepened my meditations.  I love that each day I read a contemplation article, it helps to bring me to the Self.  I am an avid reader, but also feel that my mind is very busy. Reading Swamiji’s words helps to center my focus back to the Self rather than in the many directions that my mind is going in.  I also have found that reading it as my preparation for my morning meditation makes it carry into my day.  It is amazing how the contemplating the Truth can bring comfort and clarity to me, or really bring a spotlight to something I have been struggling with.  It sometimes feels like the message was written specifically for me.”  — Carol Waite

inside and outside book.jpg“Little did I know that Svaroopa® and this book would impact my life so profoundly. I was preparing (although I didn’t even know it at the time!) for a huge transition in my life and every day I would read one of Swami Nirmalananda’s meditations. Often I would meditate on them.  Through her ability to communicate deeply authentic insights along with her
personal experiences, always with humility and humor, she reached deep into my heart and inspired, sustained and changed me in ways I never anticipated… such a surprise, such a delight, such a gift. Thank you Swami Nirmalananda!” — Janet Neff

Yoga: Inside and Outside brings the teachings and practices of yoga directly into my everyday life.  Swamiji’s articles guide me into how to more fully relax my body (“Living in Shavasana” May 2004) and quiet my mind (“Quiet Mind, March 2007), in ways I’d never experienced before. Yoga class gives me so much, but using my mind in this way is enlightening! Anymore, if I am stressed out or in fear, I know to look at the chapter titles, make a selection, and find the help I need.” — Lyn Hoyt

What Do You Say?

by Swami Nirmalananda Saraswati

Bhagavan Nityananda gave Shaktipat to my Guru, Swami Muktananda, on August 15 1947.  Shaktipat, the gift of the universe and beyond, the gift of the Self.  I have been contemplating what this gift really is since I received Shaktipat from Muktananda, almost 40 years ago.  What do you say when someone gives you the universe, and beyond?

A triad of freedoms intersected on that auspicious day.  My Baba had been given an auspicious name when he became a swami:  the bliss (aananda) of freedom (mukta or moksha).   He dedicated himself to full time yoga studies and practices for 25 years, becoming an accomplished yogi, but still knew that he was incomplete.  He wanted more.  He wanted the “More” that is yoga’s specialty.  Baba sought the fulfillment of the promise held in his name.

That day was a day of freedom in another way.  At 8:30 am, the British formally granted independence to India.  After two decades of mostly non-violent struggle, Lord Mountbatten handed over the country to their new Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.  The day was one of great festivities!

Sadhana 2And Nityananda gave Muktananda Shaktipat.  He gave the gift of freedom to one whose name was freedom, on a day of freedom.  No wonder Baba had so much to share with us!

Today I honor my Guru for his humility.  In order to be ready to receive Nityananda’s great gift, Muktananda described how he had to let go of his pride, pride in his years of practice, pride in his great learning, pride in his renunciation and austerities.  Though he was already a radiant yogi with an impressive bearing and presence, he became, in his own words, “a dog in Nityananda’s court.”  He always sang Nityananda’s praises, out of great love and gratitude to the one who gave him everything.

Muktananda!  Muktananda!

There is only one word on my lips – Muktananda!

You gave me everything

because you had everything to give

having received it from One who gave everything to you.

You made yourself able to receive,

so small that you could be made great,

and then give me the greatness within.

What can I say?  Only one thing:

Muktananda!  Muktananda!  Hail to Muktananda!

 

 

Supporting Self & Others

Reported by Dana Clark

Warrior 1 dsc0552-XL - CopyOne of my students attends classes twice a week, for many years now. She is a nurse and has suffered most of her life with back pain and sciatica. She says if she wasn’t doing the yoga she wouldn’t be able to keep working. She financially supports her husband and grandchild.

She recently told me how grateful she is to have been practicing standing poses in class. She works in a nursing home, and an elderly patient fell on her as she was helping him getting up out of bed. At first she panicked a bit as his full weight was leaning into her.

She then remembered to lean into her leg bones, like when we do Warrior poses. Doing this saved her back from injury.  She was able to support his weight while help came. Help did not come for at least 5 minutes as it was a very busy time and staff was thin on the ground.

Another example of how we can use yoga in our daily lives!!

Education for Personal Growth

matrikaBy Matrika Gast

I found true education and personal growth only when I encountered Swami Nirmalananda and the Svaroopa® Sciences.  In high school, I learned that “educate” is related to educere, Latin for “to lead forth that which is hidden.” I was thrilled by this! More and more education — that would lead the best of me (covered by adolescent issues) from inside to outside. I would bloom. I would fly with brightly colored wings. College, graduate school and becoming an academic myself left me still looking.

Foundations taught me how to align myself and others in primary spinal openers, poses that I had already fallen in love with.  Already certified and teaching in another yoga style for six years, I was stunned at the challenge of Foundations. I had to learn to learn in a new way, an exponentially deeper way. Experiential, embodied learning was beyond me. I had been dropped into a foreign land with a language I’d never heard before. No way was my facile mind going to carry the day.

Yet, though uncomfortable and frustrated, I somehow knew I belonged in this strange land. Trainings, retreats and conversations with Swamiji have begun to lead forth that which had been hidden in me all along. The first step was dissolving my delusion that I could depend on my analytical mind to figure out the right answers. I had to slow down, lean inward and really look inside myself to get a sense of what is deeply inside.

shiva - CopyWithin me emerged a resonance with Swamiji’s teachings, which inform all Svaroopa® Sciences programs, both meditation and asana. I began to experience the knowing that I am the Self, and everyone is the Self, whether they know it or not. It’s the knowing that Shiva is being me, and being you. Even when you’re having a bad time, Shiva is having a fine time being you. That teaching has helped dissolve many opaque layers of contracted attitudes, behaviors and identities. Through the past 12 years, my Svaroopa® Sciences education, slowly and surely, has led “the hidden” in me into the light, inside and outside.

For me the greatest amazement of this education is seeing that its process is more than just great teachings. The ingredient of a Great Teacher, the presence of the Guru, is essential. Decades ago I had a friend who had a guru in another lineage. I could see she was a successful, intelligent, respectable and professionally respected individual. But when she talked about the power she felt in the presence of her guru, I figured some part of her was just nuts. I knew I was never going to be that, well, off track. I certainly had no inclination to go in that direction!

IMG_20160205_205505 - CopyThat memory is a measure of personal growth, fostered through Svaroopa® Sciences education. It’s led forth the knowing of what IS, in myself, in my family, in friends and students — and in the world with all of its wonder, miracles and tragedies. Along with the teachings she carries to us from her Baba, Swami Nirmalananda’s presence is the fire beneath the pot transforming all ingredients into pure nourishment.  And I’m eating my fill.

Manifesting with Grace

Lisa HansenBy Lisa Hansen

When I read Swamiji’s July contemplation article “The Power of Manifesting,” I couldn’t believe the timing of it.  Swamiji is speaking directly to me, as this topic has been fresh on my mind.  As is often the case with many of us, right?   Then I remembered, ah of course, she is Guru.

I have been doing a lot of inner work for the last several months.  I’ve been learning language skills online, in order to better use my mind.  The result is I feel better and better, yet it may be time to wind that practice down. The reason I say this is because I have been asking Swamiji for help with manifesting.  I feel like I have been in a holding pattern of non-action.  My emotional and mental work has been the action part of my day, including my yoga practices of chanting and meditation.

I now realize I have been sitting and “waiting” for the universe to deliver to me what I have asked for.  As if my business would just grow by itself!  As if my excess weight will magically fall off!  This article was exactly what I need to shine light and wisdom into my naive perception, just what I need to break through this stagnation.

IMG_20160209_092614 - CopyI have been asking Swamiji for help with my business recently, and also with weight loss (I laughed when she used the weight loss analogy in the article).  I feel like she is answering me – with this article.  She said to set an intention and, “still, you have to roll up your sleeves and do it!”  It was one of the missing pieces for me.  Now it seems so silly to expect to increase my business and lose weight without doing my part!   I can clearly see now that manifestation is a co-creating experience:  one must participate along with God by taking action.   I feel a renewed energy stirring up inside of me of INSPIRED ACTION!

My work is all about helping others.  That is how I started out to build what is now a prosperous business.   Somewhere along the way, my motive became about materialistic gain.   I can also see that I didn’t have balance between being in service to others and self-
care, so burnout happened as I gave, gave, gave.  In other words, I didn’t have a yoga Stairs 2 - Copypractice in place, nor a Guru, to replenish what I was able to give out.  My vessel became empty.  I can see that now.

It had come effortlessly in the beginning when I was in service to others, but manifesting became a struggle and hard work.  I am renewed now, to serve others graciously AND keep it in balance this time, taking care of me, too.  I can see that what was missing was Grace.  With Divine Grace, manifesting with the right motive happens with ease.  Your actions are fueled by that Grace.  Thus, actions are not depleting, they are replenishing!

I am full of deep gratitude for this clarification!