By Matrika Gast
“The sole purpose of yoga is to reveal your Self within you,” Swami Nirmalananda reminds us. In her discourse “You Are Becoming Great” she describes the diverse yoga philosophies and practices of yoga as having one goal. They take you to the knowing of your own Self, so you live from your own Self. They let you know when you’re not in your Self and how to return again and again.
It’s hard to see your progress week-to-week or month-to-month. Incremental change is hard to detect. But you can measure your growth by looking back a year or two. You will recognize so many positive changes. Perhaps you have a greater abundance of inner peace and outer harmony with your life situations as they are. If pain led you to begin Svaroopa® yoga, perhaps your practices have dissolved it. Perhaps they have enabled you to know that, while you have a body and a mind, you are so much more than your body and your mind.
Intertwined emotional and physical pain got me into the Svaroopa® Sciences. It’s taken me more than a decade of practice to see how ingrained patterns of thought and behavior created all that agonizing stuff. I now see how the practices clear the way to me being in my own Self. Alas, it’s certainly not all of the time! But I’m in Self enough to know the distinct difference between living from Self and reacting from the delusions and habits of “little s-self.”
When I look back a decade, I see someone doing just enough asana practice to calm down and rest blissfully in Shavasana. That gave me enough inner expansion to plan how to get more from external situations; an essential strategy to fill my gaping well of neediness. Of course, any sense of inner abundance was short lived. I finally figured out that you can’t rely on situations and relationships to give you the More. That well of neediness can’t be filled from outside. For real change, it needs to be gone. Paradoxically, the inner arising of Self dissolves that well.
Right now I am delighted by looking through my window and seeing juncos nibble millet from a bird feeder. But I don’t count on the outside to give me a sense of well being. Letting the Svaroopa® practices invade my life is creating real inner change. That inner expansion of Self gives rise to gratitude. It makes me want to celebrate progress in this miraculous process. A decade ago I could not have imagined this result.
Celebration and gratitude go hand in hand. From national harvest festivals and independence commemorations to family weddings, baptisms and birthday parties — we celebrate all with gratitude. Delicious food, the light of candles or fireworks, along with gift-giving thread through these events. And all are pervaded by a sense of the sacred.
But what to do when you want to celebrate and express gratitude for a subtle, personal milestone? Unlike public and family celebrations, there are no traditional observances. I am grateful for the practices, for the company of fellow Svaroopis on this path, for our stellar Ashram Teachers, sevites and staff — and for Swami Nirmalananda who brought it all into being. So it makes sense to celebrate and express gratitude in the context of this family, this kula.
As to delicious food, candle light and the presence of the Divine within, I look back one week ago, when Swami Nirmalananda came to Boise ID to offer the gift of Satsang. Forty Svaroopis in all stages of process attended. Without doubt, this was a celebration of the practices and progress of all of us. You could see everyone soaking in her words. Darshan was a completely new experience for most of our group. Yet they came forward with gentle smiles, bows and questions for Swamiji.
Afterward, a brand-new Svaroopa® yoga student described her experience as “amazing.” She said she had felt a sense of communication with Swamiji that went beyond the words she was hearing. Asserting “She’s the ‘real deal,’” this new asana student signed up for our next Svaroopa® Vidya Meditation series.
For me, Swami Nirmalananda’s Satsang was the culmination of years of practice to date. For even in the first years of practice, when my progress was scant, my ultimate hope was to bring Swamiji to Boise and thus to spark transformation in many, many others.
As with other celebrations, gift-giving is surely appropriate. So I am planning my donation for our annual Thanksgiving fundraiser, starting soon.