The Power of Grace

matrikaReported by Matrika Gast

“Such a beautiful gift” is how Frances Amery describes Swami Nirmalananda’s Year-Long Programme (YLP).  “I take the course every year,” she says, “because it opens me to Guru’s Grace, that supports me going along my way in life.”

“In 1974 I tried to find meditation training,” recalls Frances.  “I took several different courses, but none helped me.  Over the years, I read many books on meditation.  None were helpful.  Then about a decade ago, I took my first Svaroopa® Vidya Meditation class, taught by Rudrani Nogue.  It was what I’d always sought.  What I had been looking for all those years was the power of Grace, though I did not know what to call it at the time.”

vacationidea.comNow Frances is grateful for the YLP distance learning that lets her study with Swami Nirmalananda without leaving her Calgary home.  “I am lucky not to have to climb a mountain in Kashmir to receive these ancient teachings on being enlightened.  I simply click a button to download Swamiji’s articles, listen to her discourse audios and join the conference calls for group discussion.  Her articles are deep and rich.  In the current programme, Enlightenment in the Midst of Life, I am amazed by how she captures and conveys the infinite dimensions of enlightenment in plain English.  Her easy-to-understand words are organized so clearly.  Eloquent, expansive and expanding, her audios deepen my experience further.  I listen again and again and again.  I transcribe them to integrate her teachings more deeply.

“I’m pulled into knowing.  The teachings draw me in like a magnetic tractor beam.  I feel they are so clearly right.  They tell of things greater than what I am able to understand right now.  Still, I have a sense of knowing things I can’t articulate yet.  Even as a little girl ‘I knew’ things.  I recognize that same inner knowing in Swamiji’s teachings.  They affect every aspect of my being: heart, intellect, physical body, and behavior.  Sometimes a teaching gives me a course correction.  ‘Oh no! I’ve not being doing what I should.’ I appreciate the wake-up nudge! No one else in my life could set me straight in such a way.”

Frances says discussion with others on the conference calls supports her own process.  She senses that Swamiji knows what’s going on with everyone.  She says, “Swamiji gives you what you need.  She knows what a person needs to hear.  We learn from each other as well.  I am touched by the authenticity and generosity of those who share their experiences.  I hear something and think, ‘Yes, that’s the same for me.’

Swami Enlightenment in the Midst of Life“And there’s more.  Swamiji herself is a model of how to be.  Her teachings radiate with Truth.  It’s the concise way she presents vast information.  It’s the humor and the clarity.  Paradoxically, the course draws me into my Own Self within.  Specific teachings provide me with insightful understanding and instructions for concrete action.  I especially rely on her poem, which so beautifully captures the main point of the whole course:

You don’t have to leave the world

You don’t have to change the world

It is impossible to change the world

It is impossible to leave the world

All you have to do is know your Self.

—Swami Nirmalananda

“Swami’s teachings are rich and deep, yet not complicated.  ‘It’s not easy but it’s not complicated,’ she says.  The power of Grace comes through.  In this year’s Programme I’m experiencing a deeper understanding.  When I hear her teachings this time, they click in a new way.  I see links and connections I did not see before.  More and more, I recognize my Self.”

Enhancing the Energy of Money

By Dhairyavati (Kristine) Freeman (Kristine) Freeman, SVA Board Member

I’ve been limiting the energy of money.  With accounts at different banks, I’ve been diluting that energy.  I call it “financial sprawl.” My previous reasons for accounts in different places no longer make sense today.  So my tapas, doing the hard stuff, is consolidating our funds (our energy) at one bank, which means we avoid bank fees.  Even banks reward the consolidation of the energy of money.

There is a yogic science to the energy of money:

“When you give out money, buying something or giving to a person or charity, you are giving your energy out.  Money is a placeholder that holds energy, making you able to utilize that energy or share it with others.  Being in the energetic flow that we call money is an important part of life.”  (Wealth: Abundance and More, February 2015)

Lokananda - Donor gift pictureWhen you invest in your Ashram, you invest in your Self.  Your donation enhances programs, provides salaries for essential support staff and funds improvements at Lokananda (our retreat center).  This infrastructure is crucial.  The energy of your donation supports and strengthens it.  Thus, you help spread Swami Nirmalananda’s teachings to more people worldwide.  And you experience the “More” of yoga.  You experience the inner upwelling of your own joy-full Self.

To energize our first 2018 fundraiser, your Ashram Board has committed $22,000 in matching funds.  We will match your donations, dollar for dollar.  For every dollar you donate, the Ashram receives two.  We understand what we receive in return for the funds we invest and hope you recognize what you receive as well.  By energetically supporting the Ashram with our money, we are furthering our own spiritual development as well as others’ growth toward Consciousness.

In addition, Donor Gifts have just been announced.  Silver, Gold and Platinum levels offer gifts of sacred ash from our December Ganeshpuri fire ceremony, as well as golden framed pictures of Lakshmi and of Swami Nirmalananda.  These gifts signify both the spiritual blessings and worldly blessings that you receive, blessings that you also provide by your generosity.

Invest-in-Your-Ashram-logo_v2.1Take the challenge! Join with your Svaroopa® yoga community to invest in your Ashram.  Simultaneously, you invest in your Self.  When you give financially to the Ashram, investing your energy, you open yourself even deeper to abundant returns from Source.  Challenge yourself to open your heart and your wallet.  Then challenge yourself to be aware of how your support — your investment — comes back to you, outside and inside.

Click here to read more about Investing in Your Ashram.  Click here to get your donation doubled and see the Donor Gifts at Silver, Gold and Platinum levels.

Amazing ROI on Your Investment

matrikaBy Matrika Gast, SVA Board Member

I am becoming familiar with the realities of Return on Investment (ROI).  Emotionally and spiritually invested in teaching yoga, I used to call my technical writing profession my “day job.” I am grateful that the energy I invested in that profession produced useful ROI.  One return is the skills that support my communications seva to our Ashram.  Another is an IRA bank account, which has helped me in opening a yoga studio.

Yet an IRA is not as good as yoga and meditation, as they keep on giving.  With IRAs, once you retire, your nest egg shrinks and the ROI is progressively diminished.  When you invest in the yoga you cherish, your ROI expands exponentially.  The more you give of your training and experience to your students, the more your “yogic wealth” expands.  It’s truly amazing.

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Most yoga teachers are not pursuing gigantic financial goals, yet we are enriched nevertheless.  Teaching Svaroopa® yoga supplies immeasurable spiritual income, rooted in the ancient teachings and Grace-full lineage of our Master Teacher and Founder Swami Nirmalananda.  Inevitably, through her, we are saturated in that flow of Grace.  In this way, our Ashram IN-vests knowledge, skill — and Grace — in us.  As we channel this IN-vestment into our teaching, our ROI expands beyond anything we could have imagined.  The more we give it out, the more we are filled.

When you experience this mind-blowing fullness, you yearn to pay it forward.  You have so many opportunities to do so.  In addition to doing or teaching yoga, you have the yogic practice of dakshina, offering financial support for the source of the teachings.  Your Ashram is that source.  Our Ashram Mission Statement makes clear that the Ashram stands as a conduit of Grace in an ancient yogic lineage.  In addition to providing teacher training, our Ashram is committed to serving seekers of Self-Realization.

Invest-in-Your-Ashram-logo_v2.1Throughout May, when you donate to support the source of the teachings that have so filled and empowered you, you double your investment in the Ashram.  Because we SVA Board Members have committed to $22,000 in matching pledges, you double the power of your dakshina.  For every $1 you donate, the Ashram receives $2.  When you thus double your investment, what amazing ROI will you receive?

As you help Swami Nirmalananda spread the ancient teachings to so many others, you can count on exponential returns beyond your personal IN-vestment.  Challenge yourself to grow even more.  Yearning to pay forward what you have received, challenge yourself to open your wallet.  Let it reflect the openness of your heart.  And then challenge yourself to be aware of how your support, your investment, comes back to you.

Click here to read more about Investing in Your Ashram.

Click here to get your donation doubled.

The Gift of Giving

gayatri.jpgBy Gayatri Barbara Hess
SVA Board Member

Chatting with friends, the topic of charitable giving came up.  One person said he focused on the Mission Statement of the organization he gave to.  If the mission was in tune with his values, then he gave freely.  He did not get trapped in previous mind chatter: “How will they use my money? What’s in it for me?”

I reflected on where I freely give, and the Ashram came quickly to mind.  To see whether it passed my friend’s test, I looked up Our Mission:

We provide yoga and meditation programs and services,
teacher training and a vowed order.
As a conduit of Grace in an ancient yogic lineage,
we serve seekers of Self-Realization.

What a mission to give to — I’m in 100%!

Then I took a few minutes to check “tag lines” at the bottom of the SVA homepage.  I read, “Experience how easy it can be to explore the inner depths of your own Beingness.”  Opposite this I saw, “Meditate with a Master.” WOW!

The Ashram is available for anyone who is a seeker, no matter their entry point or experience level.  Swamiji often talks about the multiplicity of ourselves.  With a multiplicity of online Freebies, Lokananda programs, “on the road” programs and more, the Ashram offers so much for any seeker.

By contributing to the Ashram financially, I am not only supporting the organization that opens access to my own Self.  I am also giving back to that organization as it supports all seekers.  There is no better way for me to give.  When I give to our Ashram, wholly devoted to Self-Realization, I support everything I hold dear.

Invest-in-Your-Ashram-logo_v2.1We Svaroopa® Vidya Ashram Board members feel passionately about Our Mission.  Together we have pledged to give $22,000 in matching funds.  Yes, for every dollar you give, your Board will match it dollar for dollar.  I still have a habit of getting excited about “More Bang for Your Buck”!  By giving in this April fundraiser, you send your “money energy” to support a mission replete with Grace.  You also double the gift through the Board’s matching fund.

I am blessed to give to this Mission and to our community.  Thank you for also supporting the Ashram that gives so much.

Click here to read more about Investing in Your Ashram.  Click here to get your donation doubled.

Investing in Your Ashram

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By Gurupremananda (Lynn) Cattafi, SVA Board President

Acquiring material things won’t buy you happiness.  Yet when you invest your money into something with a higher purpose, the return on your investment is priceless.  When you give from your heart, your generosity does come back to you.  The joy and peace that arise from within is indescribable.  You are in that energetic flow.

Vidyadevi Stillman and Rukmini Abbruzzi describe the yogic science of investing your money:

Watering-Your-Money-Garden

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“Money is a placeholder that holds energy, making you able to utilize that energy or share it with others.  Being in the energetic flow that we call ‘money’ is an important part of life.  You can’t even grow a garden without putting some money into it.  It’s almost like you dig some holes and put some money into them.” (Wealth: Abundance and More, February 2015)

Ashram Board Members know this, which is why have created a matching funds campaign.  For every $1 you donate, the Ashram receives $2.  Leading the way in our “Investing in Your Ashram” campaign, we have committed to matching your donations up to $22,000.

Investing our energy by pledging matching funds enhances Svaroopa® Vidya Ashram’s capacity to serve you.  This investment grows programs, essential support staff and improvements to Lokananda.  This invigorated infrastructure is ready to spread more of Swami Nirmalananda’s teachings to you as well as more seekers.  In other words, we are investing in YOU!

We also understand that, as donors, we further our own spiritual development.  Following the impulse toward generosity by making a financial contribution is the ancient yogic practice of dakshina.  It is a way to support your teacher and the teachings.  Like all of your Svaroopa® Sciences practices, what you gain is your own Self.

Invest-in-Your-Ashram-logo_v2.1You’ve heard that money can’t buy you happiness.  In this case, I heartily disagree.  By investing money in an organization dedicated to you knowing your own Self, you gain something valuable.

Over the next few weeks, you will read some very personal accounts from your Board members on what investing in the Ashram means to them, and what it does for them.  We have challenged ourselves to create the matching funds donation.  Now we challenge you, the Svaroopa® community, to equal our generosity.  Invest in your Ashram, thus invest in your Self.  Remember, for every $1 you donate, the Ashram receives $2.

Click here to read more about Investing in Your Ashram.  Click here to get your donation doubled.

OM svaroopa svasvabhava namo nama.h

The Nooks & Crannies of my Mind

karunaBy Karuna Beaver

Through my yoga practices, I’ve uncovered layers of physical, mental and emotional trappings that had held me back for years.  I’ve been able to feel and begin to heal.  This is what Swami Nirmalananda and Rukmini Abbruzzi wrote about in this month’s Teachings Article, Making Spiritual Progress in Life:

Svaroopa® yoga’s specialty is to begin with healing what ails you, then to reveal your inner potential to you.”

In the article’s words, I wish I could say that I’ve completely stopped “dragging myself down.”  Still, I am making progress! Patanjali’s yamas (lifestyle practices) do now “blossom spontaneously” for me.  I don’t have to practice as many mental reminders to refrain from negativity.  I am organically less greedy, grabby and needy in my interactions with others, and more importantly, in my own inner actions and reactions.

Yamas Niyamas

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I also find myself more and more drawn to the niyamas, which focus on resolve, not restraint.  The niyamas include shaucha, purity; santosha, contentment; tapas, tenacity; svadhyaaya, chanting/studying yoga’s ancient texts; and ishvara-pranidhana, surrender to God.

In April, my practice of shaucha has included cleaning closets, cupboards and car, inside and out.  All the while, I repeated mantra out loud, speaking or chanting it.  This practice gives “whistle while you work” a whole new dimension.  To borrow a phrase from Meditation Teacher Training, mantra is scrubby bubbles for my mind.  Not only did I scour closets and car, I cleaned out my mind’s nooks and crannies.  The contemplation article underscores this benefit, calling mantra repetition “the most powerful way to cultivate mental purity.”

Japa

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I repeat mantra silently at various points daily.  Yet, my mind needs more work.  With many layers to clear, out loud mantra repetition (japa) is just the ticket.  I was reminded of this recently.  I’d slipped into churning about things either beyond my control or not worth worrying about.  Two reliable sources advised japa periods of an hour or more.  It worked, and sent me into another niyama — tapas.

I’m “buckling down to do the hard stuff,” as the article says about tapas.  For me it means doing more japa.  Having cleaned out my actual closets, I’m trying to clean out more mental and emotional closets.  By doing so, I’m trusting in the blossoming forth of more niyamas.  I’m looking forward to deep contentment, and filling more of my life with study, song and surrender.  In any season, deep cleaning lets in more light.  Do more japa!

Why I Teach

Deepa Maria MazziBy Deepa-Maria Mazzi

Witnessing the transformation of students through Svaroopa® yoga has motivated my teaching for over 20 years.  I now teach seniors who have been with me for over a decade.  Their dedication inspires me.  Mostly, I teach for selfish reasons.  Svaroopa® yoga changed my life.  It taught me to be in charge of myself in a new way.  Now I teach to share this with those open to receiving it.

1803 Local MandaliIn private sessions and yoga therapy as well as in classes, my focus is on self-empowerment tools.  Thus, Ujjayi breathing is usually the foundational practice for students and clients.  When they begin to use Ujjayi every day, they often have tears of gratitude.  I assure them, I’ve been there, I’ve done that.  I know you can be helped.  I make sure they know that it’s the yoga dissolving the pain, in mind and body, not me.  I’m just doing my job.

When people are in pain, friends and family usually don’t understand that they are burning up inside.  This was my experience in my mid-thirties, living with excruciating pain.  I felt helpless and so needy.  Lying in bed, breathing, even wearing clothing — all caused pain.  The common catchall diagnosis is fibromyalgia.

From my mother and grandmother, I heard it’s “just aging.  You learn to live with it.  That’s what we all do.” Yet after my first “accidental” Svaroopa® yoga class, I was pain free for three days.  So I began taking weekly classes.  Even from the first, I knew I wanted to teach.

As a teacher, I aim to convey that you get to choose, you get to make yourself a priority.  As students allow healing from the yoga, they stop bending over backwards for friends and family.  They no longer need to prove they are worthy of getting love.  When they take charge of their own lives, they find the love they have been seeking outside is actually within.

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For many, especially those in pain, they first see yoga as an escape.  When they notice they are living more pain free, I talk straightforwardly about taking their yoga more into active, day-to-day living.  Teaching them Tadasana, I guide them to stand in the Truth of who you are, with eyes open and a soft gaze.  This is how to take blissful steadiness into the world.

As students begin to find the inner source of love and bring it into their lives, their relationships improve.  Connections with family and friends become mutually loving.  In the end, I teach because of this wonderful domino effect.  It’s my way of contributing to the world.

This spring, I took all three of the Half Day Programs offered by Vidyadevi Stillman when she was teaching in San Diego.  With super-challenging poses she nudged us beyond where we thought we could go.  This experience got me excited about the possibility of expanding my teaching to younger students.

I see that younger folks are living in so much tension.  Striving constantly to be connected through smart phones to the “outside,” they lose touch with themselves inside.  I can foresee potential service to a younger generation, helping them take a deep, healing dive inward.  As Swami Nirmalananda says, “Do more yoga.”