Monthly Archives: March 2014

Seva Comings & Goings by Devapriyaa Hills

One of the signs of a dynamic and successful seva program is responsiveness – meaning that change happens due to sevites’ needs plus changes occur due to the Ashram’s needs. Thus we have new sevites, changing sevas and sevites that are not doing seva at this time. It has been an honor to work with so many practicing the yoga of selfless service.

Welcome to new sevites and to those that will be contributing in a new way.

Contemplations Reader Team – Pat Morrison (Coordinator), Yogeshwari (Melissa) Fountain, Kusuma (Karobi) Sachs, Rukmini Abbruzzi, Devi (Elizabeth) McKenty, Aanandi (Annie) Ross & Janaki (Janet) Ross

Downingtown Emcee Team – Kanchan (Connie) Mohn (Coordinator), Sri (Sonya) McNeil, Lisa Spangler, Devaraja (Steve) Thoman, & John Frank

Enrollment Team – Savitri (Louise) Harkema, & Barbara Hood

Gardening Team (Coordinator Assistant) – Gayatri (Barbara) Hess

Moderating E-Group – Bhanumati (Beth) Cunningham

Quotation Database – Rob Gold

Typesetting – Danielle Sarason

Spring Window Washing – Aanandi (Annie) Ross & Jim Totin

Thank you to those who have changed to new seva, worked on a special project or are not working at a seva at this time. Your dedication and service have been a gift and are appreciated.

Contact Updates – Danielle Sarison

Documentation Team – Kusuma (Karobi) Sachs (Coordinator), Savitri (Louise) Harkema, Ekamati (Diane) Tsurutani, Kirsten Hale & Kriyaa (Chris) Godfrey

Quotation Database – Adell Kochubka

Special Events Team – Ellen Mtichell & Gayatri (Barbara) Hess

Tech Support Team – Maitreyi Wilsman & Barbara Hood

Thank You Notes – Kamala (Michelle) Gross

Web Team – Saguna (Kelly) Goss & Bruce Roberts

If you notice that a sevite has been missed, please notify me at seva@svaroopavidya.org so the list can be adjusted.

 

Prepare To Dive Deep! by Marlene Gast

47No matter where you live, Swamiji makes it possible for you to dive deep. You have just two weeks to register for “Guru & Self” — our new yearlong programme.  Over the span of an academic year, Swamiji explains, the teachings will help you “make sense of the experiences you are having. They also open you up to deeper levels of experience because the teachings help you understand where you’re going inside.” Swamiji recalls, “Baba gave these teachings every night, a piece at a time,” and says, “If everyone lived nearby and came to satsang weekly, these teachings would be presented in a less concentrated form.”

But we don’t all live near the Ashram. Through multimedia distance learning programmes, we who don’t live in or near Downingtown can receive these priceless teachings through our virtual Ashram. So take advantage of the great good fortune of yearlong study with your teacher and fellow yogis. Day by day, as well as on calls, this will enhance your experience and understanding of the teachings, yourself and your Self. Once you are on a call, even in your own home, you will feel an immediate closeness to your teacher and bond with your group. While the wide world shrinks into a virtual classroom, your access to Self will vastly expand.

You have just two weeks to register for “Guru & Self” — Swami Nirmalananda’s new yearlong programme, with two enrollment options:

  •  Option #1 — Friday or Saturday — monthly teaching articles, audio recordings by Swamiji, and phone conference calls (about 2 weeks apart)
  • Option #2 — Friday or Saturday — all of the above PLUS a weekend retreat October 24-26, 2014 with Swamiji.

The two call-in times are Friday mornings or Saturday afternoons (links are above). Enroll for the Friday calls through April 10th and Saturday calls through April 18th.

If you haven’t taken a phone course before, you’ll probably be surprised by the intimacy of the experience. True, you cannot see everyone, but crystal clear voices and authentic discussion ease you into the experience of Swamiji’s teachings with your fellow yogis.  Call our Enrollment Advisors for registration or information at (610) 806-2119.

Considering Seva by Marlene Gast

 

Devapriyaa (Denise) Hills, Seva Coordinator

Devapriyaa (Denise) Hills, Seva Coordinator

Seva — also called selfless service and karma yoga — is described in the Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 3.  In Verse 18 Krishna instructs Arjuna that “’Every selfless act’” is ultimately a way to know yourself as Self, a path to Self-Realization, the purpose of life, the goal of all of the practices of yoga.

I’ve served on seva communication teams since 2008, and this year, since the Ashram and Master Yoga consolidation, I notice a new, powerful synergy in seva. Sometimes it feels as though I’m sailing along on rocket powered wings, both in the seva itself and in the way that seva continues to dissolve lifelong obstructive patterns, opening me inward to Self.

Since our consolidation, expansiveness is enhancing seva teams as well, including leading to the creation of new seva teams.  Seva Coordinator Devapriyaa (Denise Hills) offers this introduction to them:

Two seva teams have just gotten underway. First is the Emcee Team. Bindu (Maureen) Short was the Emcee at last Sunday’s satsang. John Frank, Sri (Sonya) McNeil & Kanchan (Connie) Mohn are also Emcee Team members. Our second new team is the Music Team, who have already brought their offering to Sunday’s Satsang, beginning last week with Vicharini playing OM Nama.h “Sivaya before meditation.

Everyone has one or more talents and skills.  Where would you like to offer your time and talent? It takes only 2-4 hours per week.  You are especially needed for the following:

  •          Web updates (we train you!)
  •          Constant Contact (we train you!)
  •          DYMC cleaning and set up (a local opportunity)

There are other seva opportunities as well. Once you make yourself available, Swami Nirmalananda reviews your skills/interests survey, working with Devapriyaa to find the seva that serves you best.

When you are ready to take on this practice, email seva@svaroopavidya.org.  Devapriyaa will send you a link to complete the seva survey that Swamiji will personally review. When Swamiji suggests your seva, you decide whether it is an opportunity that you would like.  Having assisted many yogis in finding their seva, Devapriyaa says it is “quite beautiful…profound and grace filled…sometimes subtle — a beautiful spiritual practice.”  Let the yoga of seva open you to MORE!

Trusting the Process of Seva by Gayatri (Barbara) Hess

Gayatri

Gayatri (Barbara) Hess

I continued this path of volunteering as I grew into adulthood.  I also became part of several groups in which my spiritual growth was nurtured.  As part of my growth, I gained a deeper understanding of the concept of tithing of my time, talent and treasure.  Initially, my mind was quite contracted and controversial about giving my time, talent and treasure.  At some point I decided I needed to trust the process and “just do it.”  My life grew from volunteering to serving, and from serving as an obligation to serving from a space of gratitude in which I live to serve.

When I became part of the Ashram, the opportunity of seva was mentioned.  Initially I thought, “I do a lot of service in my other communities.   That should be enough.  I don’t have time for more seva.”  When I would sit in meditation or pause and reflect after listening to an audio recording from Swamiji, my heart would swell with gratitude.  In gratitude I was urged to serve.  Initially, my mind did what it always does.  Thoughts of doubt surfaced, “What do you have to offer?  You are not part of the inner crowd.  What if Swamiji thinks you are not good enough?”  I moved forward and offered to serve.  I trusted the process.  I did not put limits on how or where to serve.  I wanted to offer my love and gratitude to the source that was giving me so much, a path to discover my SELF.

I wanted to perform seva as a way of supporting the Ashram where it needed help.  In offering my service without attachment I have been asked to serve in various ways.  I assist Jennifer with typesetting.  I assist on the gardening team, and I have recently been asked to assist with some of the administrative tasks on the gardening team.  I am also on the special events team and helped create the Japathon last year.

In October 2013, I attended the conference as part of the seva team.   Initially, when asked to serve in three capacities, I did resist.  I did not want to commit too much!  Once again my inner voice reminded me, “Just do it.”  I can trust the process and know that I have all the time, energy and resources I need to serve.  I want to give freely to the source that has given so freely to me.  I give in gratitude, not out of obligation.  I deepen my understanding and capacity to love and grow when I serve from this space of selfless service and gratitude.  Thank you, Swamiji, for this opportunity.

If you, too, would like to undertake the ancient yogic practice of seva, send an email to our Seva Coordinator, Devapriyaa Hills, at seva@svaroopavidya.org. She will get you started on your skills survey.  You can sign up for ongoing seva or for a special project. You will be contributing two-to-four hours of your time and talent per week.  Not only will you be strengthening the Ashram organization through your selfless service, you will be adding a powerful yoga practice to your life.  What new and wonderful fruits will you harvest?

You Gotta Dig Deeper by Swami Nirmalananda

Devaraja-stakeThere was a metal stake sticking out of the tree stump that we wanted to grind.  At the Ashram, we had removed a tree, but the metal stake inhibited the stump grinding plan.  Devaraja (Steve) Thoman tested the stake and, finding that it wiggled well, said he thought he could remove it, but needed some equipment. 

One morning at breakfast, I joked with him about one of the differences between men and women — that guys like to get dirty, even muddy.  Later in the morning, Devaraja decided to tackle the metal stake.  This was late fall, with very wet ground and a few patches of snow on the ground.

He pounded on the stake to loosen it, then grabbed and pulled.  It came up a few inches.  He repeated the task, each time getting a little more of the stake above ground. A passing neighbor saw him and stopped to offer help.  Devaraja thought he’d be fine and said, “No, thanks.” 

A few pulls later, he groaned with the effort as he pulled.  The neighbor was passing by again, with his young daughter on a small bike riding along with him.  This wonderful gentleman came running to help.  Devaraja warned, “You’ll probably get muddy.”  The neighbor laughed and said, “That’s why I’m outside!”  They both laughed, with Devaraja thinking of our breakfast conversation. 

They pounded on the stake, wiggled it and then pulled, repeating the task several times. Each time the stake came out a little more.  What started as 18” of metal stake grew to 4’, then 5’ and more.  They were shocked to discover, when they finally got it out of the ground, it was 8’ tall!

The neighbor and his daughter went on their way.  Devaraja, exhausted and panting from the exertion, lay on the ground with his head in a snow patch for 5 minutes.  He then came in to share his trophy, photographed here.

I completed the lesson for him, “The roots of your stuff are always deeper than you think.”  You think it’s a little problem but, when you dig into your own needs and reactions, you’ll find that they are rooted deeply in there, even rooted in lifetimes of self-repeating patterns.  You have to dig deep to get free.  Mantra does the digging for you.  Do more japa.

Easy Access to Deeper Teachings by Marlene Gast

swami4Have you registered yet for Swami Nirmalananda’s free phone call on Saturday?  Call in for a taste of her year-long Guru & Self programme, which starts soon.  You are eligible if you have either of the prerequisites: Shaktipat Retreat or Shishya Membership. The FREE Introductory Phone Call is Saturday, March 15, 4:30 pm to 6:00 Eastern Daylight Time.  Register today for a preview of the deep learning you will experience in the nine-month “distance learning” course, the length of a traditional school year.

I asked Swamiji, “If you are a long-time Svaroopa® yoga teacher, why would you want to take this course?  Didn’t you get all the teachings in your YTT philosophy talks?”  I have to say, her answer gave me pause.  She said, “This is the stuff that I left out of Svaroopa® yoga teacher training.”

A moment later I was propelled to make plans for this next step as a yogi.  Now I have just one lingering question: how could it have taken me so long to recognize the importance of registering for a year-long programme with my teacher? I don’t yet have an answer, but I suspect that it will come through this programme along with personal yogic growth — and, as always with Swamiji, more than I could ever have imagined.

Here’s the course description:

“You need a Guru, yoga says, repeatedly emphasizing this in the ancient texts. Why? Explore the mystery of the Guru with Swami Nirmalananda, teaching from the Sanskrit texts, as well as classical teaching stories and personal experiences. Swamiji explains the pivotal importance of the Guru in our Shaktipat tradition and illumines the secrets hidden in the traditional ceremonies and practices. Learn how your Guru serves you as a teacher, as a guide, as a mentor, as a role model, as an exemplar and as a mirror in which you see your Self.

“Your stories and experiences are an integral part of this course, through the group discussions with Swamiji. She helps you discover how to serve as an agent of Grace, uplifting others through your sharings, while deepening your understanding of your own experiences. With each personal story, Swamiji offers teachings and insights that enhance your inner blossoming. Extra phone conference calls are included in the schedule so you find a time that works for you.

Two enrollment options are available:

Option #1 — monthly teaching articles, audio recordings by Swamiji, and phone conference calls (you get something about every 2 weeks)

Option #2 — monthly teaching articles, audio recordings by Swamiji, and phone conference calls PLUS a weekend retreat Oct 24-26 2014

Not only do you have two course content options, you also have two days of the week from which to choose the call that you want to join:

Fridays from 10:30 am – 12:00 pm

OR Saturdays from 4 pm to 5:30 pm.

Register now for the March 15th FREE Introductory Phone Call.

You may go straight to full registration:

Option 1, Fridays

Option 2, Fridays

Option 1, Saturdays

Option 2, Saturdays

Enroll Now for the April Svaroopa® Yoga & Meditation Retreat by Ute Reeves

Ute

Ute Reeves

No matter my motives, I can assure you that you will be in for a wonderful treat.  Who knows what can happen when you open yourself to grace to such a degree? In my experience, spending a week with Swamiji, receiving her teachings on several levels, and letting the yoga take me deep, without distractions, nourishes me immensely. The benefits I took away from previous retreats were so much more tangible and permanent than the fleeting “workshop high” from other kinds of spiritual retreats.

When I first thought of enrolling for this retreat, I felt that my life is much too complicated right now to go away for a week. I am the primary caretaker for an elderly family member with serious health issues. Some very serious planning and arranging has to happen to cover my absence at home. But then I realized that I need this retreat exactly because life is demanding right now.  In order to serve my family best and without getting frazzled, I need to come from my deepest Self. A retreat like this helps me cultivate access to the deepest levels of my being.

And, of course, it doesn’t matter what goes on in my life or doesn’t go on in my life; it is always a good time to luxuriate in the bliss of my true Being.

In fellowship,

Ute