Monthly Archives: September 2016

Take the Next Step

By Kristine Freeman, SVA Board Member

kristineLooking back, I can see that I have always been a spiritual seeker.  Born to parents with a deep Catholic faith and practice, I was blessed to be raised in relationship with God. There was mass every Sunday at our local church and a formal religious education. At home, grace was said before meals and prayers  before bed. And yet it wasn’t enough for me. I needed more.

It was this inner yearning that made me a seeker. Swami says, “This is what makes you different, even when you don’t want to be. It means that you are simply unable to satisfy your yearning with the things that satisfy others.”

1 in 100As a young teen, I remember attending a youth retreat, a wonderfully expansive weekend of group activities and worship, including folk music, prayers and religious talks. We shared meals, bunkrooms and hall bathrooms. We enjoyed the freedom of being away from the responsibilities of home and school. I loved it. And yet at the end of the weekend, Sister Bernadette, the incredible spiritual being who ran the program and the center, explained that as special as the weekend had been, “You can’t live here.” Literally and figuratively, it was time to return to our normal lives. I cried. A lot. I didn’t want to return to the contraction.

swamiFast forward 40 years and I find myself at Lokananda, our bliss place. Listening to our Guru explain, “Bliss is your birthright. I want you to live in the wholeness, live from that place of joy all the time.” She is telling and showing us that living from that expanded place is possible. Her words bring me such joy. I have reached the stage in the spiritual process where I yearn to spend more and more time with my Guru. Swami describes this stage:

This yearning happens because the Guru’s state is infectious. When you sit with the Guru, you experience reciprocal adaptation, otherwise known as a ‘contact high.’ Though your eyes and your mind are full of the Guru, what you are experiencing is your own Self. That’s the value of the Guru — to give you your own Self.

Lokananda - Donor gift picturePriceless. Please join me in making an additional contribution to our Lokananda Capital Campaign. The practice of financial support, dakshina, is a powerful practice. Is your yearning powerful enough to provide the funding to ensure Svaroopa® immersion programs will continue in Lokananda? When you support your yogic process, and the Master who makes it possible, you take a powerful step in your spiritual journey.

Click here to donate.

Years of Yearning

matrikaBy Matrika Gast, SVA Board Member 

William Wordsworth first awakened my yearning for transcendence. In a poem about a blissful experience in nature, he described it as “a sense sublime… Whose dwelling is…”

…the light of setting suns,
And the round ocean and the living air,
And the blue sky, and in the mind of man:
A motion and a spirit, that impels
All thinking things, all objects of all thought,
And rolls through all things.  — “Tintern Abby” 1798

This passage makes me remember glimpsing the Divine in sunsets when I was in high school, in a swirl of adolescent angst and family dysfunction. I was relieved to feel a sense of eternal Presence that “rolls through all things.” It was just slightly out of reach. If I worked hard enough in school, I could get to It, I thought.

1 in 100Decades later I accidentally took a Svaroopa® yoga class at a yoga teachers’ conference in another style. I loved the chant CD that accompanied the practice, with poses supported by fluffy pillows. But, really, what was up with this rolling around on the floor? But when I walked down the hall afterward, my back felt light and airy, like a fresh marshmallow. Before that, a deep ache was all I had ever felt in my back.

Five years later (I’m a slow learner), my yearning for transcendence led me to Svaroopa® YTT Level 1. I was sitting in Sukhasana, effortlessly, when a pink flow arose from deep within; I felt it to be the pure love of God and knew it was Real. That was the first of more and more experiences of Self, continuing to strengthen the yearning Patanjali describes:

Teevra-samvegaanaan-aasanahYoga Sutras 1.21 

This summer in ATT 402: Deeper Practice, we received Swami Nirmalananda’s renderings of Patanjali’s Sutras, including Sutra 1.21. Because it is the narrative of my own life, I especially resonate with this one:

All your life, you have been experiencing a yearning — it is the yearning for God. Recognize the yearning itself. It is the fuel for the rocket ship that takes you to God.

matrikaI am finally discovering that “sitting” with the “yearning itself,” without directing it to conventional pursuits, is a practice in itself. I love that it was in Sukhasana that I first had that experience of God as my own Self. The sutra’s final Sanskrit word “aasanah” means “sitting near.” When you allow yourself to experience your strong yearning, you are already sitting near your own Self. You are infinitesimally close to the transcendence that you earnestly seek. Our Svaroopa® Sciences, given to us by our Master Teacher, provide a banquet of yogic practices to nourish the yearning that first drew us to seek the “More.”

You, I and all our Svaroopa sisters and brothers stepped onto this path because we yearned for the “More.”  Maybe it was more health, more wellbeing or even transformation and illumination. Maybe it was for more fulfilling work in the world, becoming a Svaroopa® yoga teacher. Maybe you were already a seeker, yearning to be established in your own Self. What would any of us do without our Svaroopa® Sciences: asana, meditation, chant, study of the ancient texts, puja, etc.?

lokananda front - Copy - CopyNow we have a Place of Bliss — Lokananda — a physical structure. The building serves us with full-service, immersed trainings and retreats, with the cultivation of physical healing, ever-expanding wellbeing and mystical transcendence.  For all of us, on our individual paths, Lokananda serves us.  Here, we clear the “shrama,” accumulated world-weariness, and immerse in the Svaroopa® Sciences teachings and practices.  At Lokananda, we support the fulfillment of our yearning and our dharma.

Our tantric teachings say the Divine and the mundane are inextricably interwoven. So Lokananda needs a new roof! What could be more mundane? We need to fund that expensive repair as well to replenish the reserves used to renovate this beautiful old building. It is infused with Grace from our ancient lineage extending. Lokananda is for you, for me, and for our Svaroopa sisters and brothers — to cultivate your yearning and to fulfill yoga’s promise.  Our Place of Bliss is our yoga home.

Over the past year, we have raised two-thirds of our $150,000 goal. If you have already contributed, you already know the vital importance of this building to our organization. If you have waited until now, the time is at hand to make a significant difference with your contribution.

Either way, please step up for this final leg of our Capital Campaign, raising the final $50,000.00, to ensure this building that takes you — and our current and future community — all the way home to your own Self.

Click here to donate.

Yoga is Education

matrikaBy Matrika Gast

If you take yoga classes, you are a yogi. You are being educated in the science of yoga. You can count on your “yoga studies” to ensure that you are in a process of personal growth.

Search for “personal growth” on AmazonSmile and you’ll find hundreds of titles, largely focusing on cultivating career and success in the world.  A yogi’s personal growth certainly includes career and worldly pursuits. In fact, your education as a yogi makes this type of success more available to you.

35422.jpgBut yogic education does not focus on outward achievement. When you are a yogi, your education is directed inward, an expansion on the inside. You may have started yoga because of physical or emotional pain.  While Svaroopa® yoga poses improves your condition, rather these practices make you able to turn your awareness inward. That change in direction dissolves inner tensions that create so much of the pain in body and mind. This release allows you to grow from within as naturally as an acorn sprouts into an oak tree.

This is true education, coming from the Latin verb educere, meaning to bring forth that which is hidden. You have learned yogic practices that not only make you more effective in the world but, more importantly, open you to your own True Nature. You become more and more illuminated from the source within, the light of your own Self . When you unravel the deep layers of physical tension and mental contraction, you bloom from within in the glory of that Light.

4 helen meditating cmyk - CopyThis education transforms you inside and outside, as it brings forth that which was always there in you — but hidden. You are able to use more effectively your inborn talents as well as your life skills. Certainly, your life improves outwardly. Yet this education teaches you that you never needed to improve yourself. You find that you were always whole, you were always the eternal Divine Essence. You are able to live more and more in that inner knowing, which frees you. Yes, reliably, you become more effective in what you do in the world, yet your joy, your bliss, arises from within.