Monthly Archives: November 2016

She Came Back!

vibhuti-2By Vibhuti King

Swamiji was at the culmination of a lifelong pilgrimage. In February 2009, at the end of the overnight sannyas ceremony, she was to become a swami. She and other “swamis-to-be” dunked in the sacred waters of the Tansa River of Ganeshpuri. Then they headed north, toward the Himalayas. They were free! They could travel the world completely unencumbered, never to return, if they wished.

rama_swami_ceremony_68-xl-copyAs they turned to walk away, the head swami called out loudly: “SWAMIS COME BACK, COME BACK, SWAMIS!  THE WORLD NEEDS YOU!”

Swami Nirmalananda came back! She came back for you. She came back for me. She came back to serve us. She came back to show those who want to be shown the way. She provided us with an Ashram and a retreat center, Lokananda. These places give us a tangible spiritual base. Because of her, we have a destination for our individual pilgrimages, places of sanctuary in which to find our own inner Self.

In Sanskrit, “shrama” means worldly exhaustion; an “a” as a prefix means without. So “ashram” means “freedom from the exhaustion caused by worldly-mindedness.” We wash up on the shore of the ashram, leave our worldly exhaustion behind and are restored to our own Self. How blessed are we?

While Swamiji remains personally unencumbered, she has taken on the work of giving us our Self.  This is why she has created the Ashram. She can give us the Self because she IS the Self. She is not merely free, she is freedom itself.

_mg_4475-copyShe did not have to come back. But she did, and we are privileged to be a part of supporting our kula, our yoga family. We are privileged to support all that she has provided and will continue to provide.  Let’s give so that others can receive as well.

Yoga changes the world one heart at a time. How exciting! Please join me in increasing your monthly donation. If you have not yet arranged to give monthly, please do so now. Or give a one-time donation in any amount that fits your current budget. To engage in dakshina (yoga’s practice of giving back), click here now.

The Bliss is in the Journey

Saguna

By Saguna Goss, SVA Board Member

I am on a pilgrimage. I have always been on one. Until I found Svaroopa® yoga, I didn’t realize I had been on a sacred journey and searching for something my whole life.

I used to think of a pilgrimage as a long path through difficult terrain with an oasis at the end. I thought the path had to be challenging and unpleasant. I thought you had to suffer, so you could earn the oasis at the end. I thought there had to be sweat and tears before you got to the spa.

My perspective on pilgrimages has changed. Yes, there has been some sweat and tears on my yoga path, but it has also included the end of lower back pain, a calmer mind, saguna-swamicontentment and the blissful experience of my own Self. You know from your own Svaroopa® yoga practices that, along the way, even when your path is challenging, you reap deep benefits. Regardless of what you hope to get from your yoga, you are always getting so much more than you could ever imagine.

It is not only about the destination. It’s also about the journey. When I was travelling in Thailand, I visited a temple at the top of a mountain. The only way to get to the temple was to climb up 1,237 steps. Reflecting on that memory, I see that the climb itself had the biggest impact on me. If I had been dropped off by a helicopter, I wouldn’t have been ready to absorb the experience of the temple. The 1,237 steps transformed me. When I reached the mountain top, I had changed. A pilgrimage is about the journey.

lokananda front - Copy - CopyNow I am in the midst of another pilgrimage. I am relocating from my home in Canada to Downingtown PA to take on the role of SVA Business Manager. Even though there are plenty of physical hurdles to traverse, I understand more than ever that significant, sacred journeys really are internal. Ultimately, the Svaroopa® path is about taking the sacred journey within to realize who we really are — the Self, Consciousness-Itself.

Fortunately, Swami Nirmalananda and the Ashram are here to support us all in our inner journeys. I invite you to join me in the practice of dakshina to express gratitude for the support Swami Nirmalananda and the Ashram provide. We welcome one-time donations, in any amount. And we are grateful for the sustaining support of monthly donations, in any amount. If you are already a monthly donor, please consider an increase in an amount that fits your current budget. To practice dakshina, click here to donate.

Mystical Physics in Action

karunaBy Karuna Beaver

In the 70’s, a Hollywood film crew came to my college campus to shoot Animal House. In this classic time capsule movie of 1960’s frat boy fun and mischief, one scene features a group of students visiting a professor at his home. After smoking pot, a naïve freshman asks, “So, our whole solar system could be, like, one tiny atom in the fingernail of some other giant? And that means that one tiny atom in my fingernail could be one tiny universe?” His professor nods wisely. Mystical physics in action.

Fast forward 35 years, and I’m having that experience (minus the herbal influence) in Embodyment® training. I’d never been so profoundly peaceful and yet scintillatingly alive in my whole life. I was blown away by the experience of being, as Swami wrote last month, grounded and uplifted at the same time. And I was awed by the yogic philosophy of the Pratyabhij~nah.rdayam, the ancient Kashmiri Shavism text that helps explain the experience. Mystical physics in action.

Swami Nirmalananda and Vidyadevi, in this month’s contemplation article, “Being Here Now,” quote the fourth sutra in the Pratyabhij~nah.rdayam (Swami’s rendering):

Consciousness-Itself assumes contraction to become both the universe and the individuals, who have the universe as their bodies in a contracted form.

swami-handsThe energy contracting to become you is alive, and it is conscious. That one tiny atom in your fingernail could be one tiny universe! Swami and Vidyadevi say that your body is truly mystical. Is this how you think of your body? Perhaps you’re more likely to identify with your body’s problems than to be grateful having a body. It is a gift that allows you to experience what you are made of — Consciousness-Itself.

To discover the mystery of who you really are, you must be present in your body, and not trapped in your mind, or as Swami says, “Here, now, be.” For when you are right here, right now, being in your body and experiencing the experience, whatever it might be, the whole universe opens up for you.

Yoga gives you so many ways to “here, now, be:” asana, meditation, chanting, japa, seva, studying the ancient texts. Go ahead — dive in deep every chance you get. Let each experience tempt you to do more and show you the More that you are. Mystical physics in action!

Birthday Bliss Everywhere

 

8-copySwamiji is appreciated every day by Svaroopis, but yesterday we raised a carrot cake-filled fork in her name and wished her a very Happy 70th Birthday. It was a blissful and sweet day.

Swami and local yogis celebrated at Lokananda in Downingtown with dinner and homemade carrot cake. Annapurna, the dining hall, was decked with bursts of orange from the decorations to the plates and orange bouquets adorned Kailasa, the meditation hall, where an evening Satsang was held.

Rama (Ruth) Brooke and fellow Svaroopis at her studio celebrated with birthday tea and a special carrot cupcake puja after their morning yoga class. They toasted Swami with “Om svaroopa svasvabhava and words of gratitude about how Swami has downloaded this maha yoga, and all its practices so beautifully and for us to enjoy as modern day Westerners.”

Devapriyaa (Denise) Hills shared, “To celebrate I did Arati, chanted with Baba, Meditated and lit some candles on cake. What a blessing that Swamiji was born to be a Guru in my lifetime.”

Carole Balcombe and Jean Glover share “Happy Birthday Swamiji.  Thank you for the Svaroopa Sciences.”

Swami’s Birthday celebration continues!  She’s leading a satsang in the Boston area on Friday night, with cake being planned.  And this Sunday November 20th at the Calgary GeoCenter where they will share tea and cake as well as collecting a financial donation for the Ashram. Laksha (Elaine) Nesta is “so fortunate that Swami Nirmalananda has made this path accessible to us and continues to guide the community of Svaroopis.”

Namaste, Swamji. You are honored far and wide, inside and outside. Every day.

Time is a Funny Thing

By Swami Nirmalananda

Time just keeps ticking along, even though what’s inside is eternal.  I don’t feel any older today than yesterday, but the clock and calendar say I am.  So are you.   It’s a little like taking the elevator to the top of the Empire State Building:  you walk in, the doors close, nothing much happens, but when they open again, you’re in a different world.   You shiva2haven’t changed, but the world keeps moving around you.  Whether it’s changes in your family, your work or a change in the political structure – you are still who you have always been.  Consciousness-Itself.  You are Shiva.  So am I.

The sages tell us that we experience this contrast every night.  Deep sleep gifts you with brief interludes of immersion into consciousness.  You’re re-enlivened by your unconscious dip into Consciousness-Itself.  This is what makes you wake up refreshed, like a whole new person ready for a whole new day.  Life keeps moving along, but your core essence is the Unchanging Reality from which it all emanates.  Meditation is more important than sleep because it gives you that dip into consciousness, but consciously.

Today is my birthday.  Turning 70 means I have actually already completed 7 decades.  Today is day one of my 80th decade.  I’m excited!  I’m really looking forward to it!  Yoga’s promise is that it just keeps getting better and, after 50+ years of yoga, I know this to be true.  Even before dedicating myself to yoga, I figured out that each new decade was like getting a job promotion.  More responsibility, more autonomy, more freedom, more impact, more expertise to draw on, more appreciation for the others in my life, more, ramamore, more…

As an American baby boomer, I grew up with, “Don’t trust anyone over 30.”  But by the time I was 25, I could see that friends, already over 30, were so much happier than I was.  They had it much more together than I did.  I began to look forward to turning 30.  And everything did get easier.  Then 40, then 50 – I really have found each decade to be better.

Of course, I benefit from many decades of yoga practice, supporting my body in its life process.  Not to mention how yoga has freed me from the mental-and-emotional baggage I’d been bound by over many lifetimes.  Most importantly, there’s Baba!  His presence in my life gave me what I’d been looking for, fulfilled my purpose for taking birth.  Now I have the privilege of serving you in the same way.

In the intro mantras I sing before teaching, one line stands out today, describing Muktananda, who I am honoring in the chant:

bhakta karyaika dehaya…

(I bow to the Guru) who remains in a body in order

to serve the needs of his devotees…

_mg_4685Once you have mastered consciousness, you can do or not do.  You can be active or still.  You can stay or go.  There is no thing you seek to accomplish, no thing you seek to own, no thing that you want to become, no place to go or to run away from.  What remains?  Why hang around?

Only to serve.

So today, on this anniversary of my birth, I thank you for giving me the chance to serve you.

OM svaroopa svasvabhavah namo namah

Pilgrimage without Travel

David King - Copy.jpgBy Dhananjaya King

On the Svaroopa® path, every day is like a pilgrimage without travel. Most people can rarely journey to a holy site. Most days they go places they have always gone. However, we Svaroopis are dedicated pilgrims on a sacred journey inward. Swami Nirmalananda’s teachings guide us in being “grounded and uplifted.” She is always just a thought or mouse-click away, serving as our compass and our map. Through her, our destination is known. This sacred journey, although not always free of troubles, is guaranteed to be one worth traveling.

a-sublime-path-1We are all together on this pilgrimage. Given the richness of the Svaroopa® Sciences, individual Svaroopis may have different paths, but our destination is the same. We are all headed to the knowing of Self. You need only change your perspective a fraction in order to recognize that everyone and everything shines with Divine Light. Swamiji’s teachings, founded in the ancient yogic texts, promise that fabulous gift.

The power of this pilgrimage etches our minds with Consciousness.  Swamiji has made it her life’s work to equip us with tools for the road. She has given us all that is necessary to live in the flow of Grace. It is our choice to accept the gift that allows the sacred to permeate our lives.

And it is this time of year when we give thanks for such great blessings. Let us give thanks for our Guru who points us toward the Light — our own inner Light and that Light in each and every other being. The practice of dakshina, financial support, is one of the tangible ways we can give back. Our donations, in whatever amount, provide what it takes to support Swamiji and the Ashram. We are supporting the source from which flows all that empowers our individual pilgrimages to the One.

You could argue that, whether you donate or not, Swamiji will do whatever it takes to show you your Self. That, in fact, is true. She has always given to us unstintingly. Yet wouldn’t it be nice for her to be able to do everything she would like, with the resources that we can provide for her to use?

If you contribute already, please considering increasing your contribution. If you don’t contribute now, please consider a donation. I guarantee it’s the best dollar you’ll ever spend.

shoesFor me it is about following my Guru’s example. The fraction I give back with a simple monthly donation gives me a sense of walking in her shoes, giving so others can benefit. It makes an immeasurable difference in my sacred journey.

Click here to arrange your donation online, or phone us at 610.644.7555.

Election & Reality

By Swami Nirmalananda

Most of the yoga world in America voted for Hillary.  Not everyone, of course!  But those who voted for Hillary are accepting of others, regardless of their race, religion, sexual orientation… and politics.  So they are able to accept the yogis who voted for Donald.  Still, many yogis are having difficulty accepting the election results.  More than half of our voters in this election are on the losing side, with the electoral vote trumping the popular vote once again.  How does a yogi face reality?

The reality is that we don’t know what’s going to happen.  Donald’s supporters voted for him because he’s promised to change things, but he hasn’t revealed how.  Not only those who voted against him, but his own voters are thrust into uncertainty as well.   But uncertainty is part of life, even a predominant theme.  Even when things seem predictable or reliable, they don’t always pan you.   This is something you’ve faced before.

I’m amused by how subdued the media is.  Clearly they are shell-shocked, even mourning for the way they thought it was.  However, that’s not the way it really was.  Or is.  It’s time to use your yoga eyes.  See it for what it is.  Accept that it exists as it does.  Step into an intelligent assessment of what’s going on and make your decisions based on what will be effective compared to what’s not effective.

Today’s reality may not correspond to the expectations you had, or even your hopes.  This is not the first time in your life you’ve faced this.  You may be let down, angry, disappointed or anxious, especially if you voted for Clinton.  Yet Trump’s supporters are similarly anxious, for they don’t know what he will do, and they’ve been through all the other feelings along the way.  How does a yogi deal with such feelings?

Do more yoga.  You’re bigger than any election.  You’re bigger than your fears.  You’re bigger than your past and you’re bigger than what you imagine your future to be.  You’re here, right now.  Be.