By 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.
Within 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!
That 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.