Swami Nirmalananda is a major part of my life. Being in relationship with a living Guru is a rare opportunity I may have spent lifetimes preparing for. I first met Swami Nirmalananda in 1997, and was both frightened and in awe of her. Two years later I took one of her month-long Teacher Trainings. My tears came in buckets; I no longer knew who I was. At one point during the training, Swamiji sat quietly with her comforting hand on my back while I sobbed uncontrollably.
Before the training, I mistakenly believed when I graduated as a certified Svaroopa® yoga teacher, I would be fully baked. Of course, I have since realized that my learning and spiritual growth were in their infancy back then. I was just on the tip of understanding what yoga is about and what being in relationship with my teacher and Guru could look like. For several years after, I was in a process of new understandings and realizations, so I came to see that there were many steps and possibilities with this thing called yoga. I was slowly grasping the “more” that the many practices of yoga offer.
Now, years later, I continue to teach Svaroopa® yoga classes, teach meditation and lead satsangs, and I am in an ongoing relationship with Swamiji. She is a dependable part of my day-to-day life, and I am aware of her often. As Swamiji grew into her role as Guru, I have become more and more my Self. Still at times the pathway to Self is unclear, yet Swamiji is the bright beacon and inspiration that guides me day after day after day. And I love her. She is the Grace that gives me my Self. She is the One who awakened my Kundalini. She has already travelled this path, and I know all she wants for me is that I know my Self.
It’s amazing to have a being in my life with no hidden agenda, only wanting to spur on my spiritual development. I know this process will keep going until I am enlightened. The longer Swamiji is in my life, the greater is my respect, humility and gratitude for her proven consistency, dependability, evenness, patience, dedication and commitment. Her steady state helps me be in my steady state. She is wise, compassionate, loving and kind. Who else in my life can be all that I described and give me Shaktipat too? Who else in my life can see the truth of my being all the time, especially when I am blind to it? She does what she needs to do to wake me up to Self. I don’t always understand her ways, but I always understand that me knowing who I truly am is her main goal. Nothing else.
Swami Nirmalananda has given me (and all of us) a wealth of ways to be in ongoing relationship with her. I wrote a quick (yet incomplete) list of 16 ways that I am in relationship with Swamiji. Here’s a short list of my favourite ways to be with Swamiji while in the midst of life. These practices dive me deep inside and bring me back past the web of the mind to Self – which is why I do them:
- Twice a day I light a candle and do arati with her bigger than life size picture.
- Swamiji and I repeat japa mantra together, made possible by her “Om Namah Shivaaya” recording.
- I start and end my deeper yoga classes and satsangs with “OM svaroopa svasvabhava.h namo nama.h” and I can feel the flow of Grace fill the room.
- Chanting the Guru Gita Thursday on the Shishya call with Swamiji makes me open to the Self for the whole day.
- I say the food mantras before every meal.
I am in awe of all I have been given through our Guru-disciple relationship. One way I give back is through donations to SVA. My husband Rudra (Bob) and I are long time monthly donors, plus we give one-time gifts too. Yet any amount we donate seems small in comparison to how much we have been and continue to be given. Our intention is to keep supporting Swamiji and the Ashram, day in and day out. With steady financial support Swamiji can generously and steadily continue to give teachings and serve as a conduit of Grace for our large established community.
To be in relationship with Swamiji is a rare and wonderful opportunity that I do not want to take for granted. I plan to have Swamiji’s flow of Grace in my life now and in years to come. I hope this is true for you, too. Please join me in generously supporting Swamiji and our Ashram with a monthly donation or a one-time gift — or both.