Monthly Archives: November 2016

The Pilgrimage to Self

amala-photoBy Amala Cattafi, SVA Board President

I did not seek out the sacred practice of pilgrimage. It snuck up on me. In 2001, I took my first Svaroopa® yoga class, at the suggestion of a friend who found it helpful for back pain. I never imagined that would be my first step on a sacred pilgrimage to discover my Self.

You may have had a similar experience. You simply took a Svaroopa® asana class, you attended a satsang, you received an Embodyment® session. Perhaps you simply met Swamiji for the first time, and something stirred. Then you were never the same! And so your powerful personal pilgrimage to your Self began.

cimg1797I have been blessed to experience pilgrimage with so many of you on a very large as well as a very small scale. I have travelled to the home of our lineage in Ganeshpuri India, bathed my head with the sacred water of the Ganga during the Kumbha Mela, have been moved to tears by the evening arati ceremony in Varanasi, melted into the sacred mountains at Macchu Pichu, and have met and been blessed by many beings in all these great places.

And yet, I get the same experience every time I drive to Lokananda to be in Swamiji’s presence, to listen to one of her recorded satsangs, to do seva (even from home), and to give financial support to the Ashram. What a blessing it is that we can make sacred pilgrimage so easily!

As our American Thanksgiving approaches, I reflect on the pilgrims who traveled to a “new world” in search of religious freedom. They made the brave and difficult decision to leave their homes and search for a new way of life. You, too, are a pilgrim on a journey, but how beautiful that you can do so without leaving home.

x_0542.jpgThroughout time, yogis have made the brave and difficult decision to search for a new way of living in pursuit of moksha — liberation, spiritual freedom. This is what yoga promises, and provides. You know this because you feel it stirring every time you attend a Svaroopa® asana class or satsang. You even feel it after talking about your yoga experiences with someone else in our Svaroopa® community.

You, along with me and other Svaroopis, are on a pilgrimage to your Self. Through your Svaroopa® Sciences practices, you are the sacred ground in which you find your Divine Self. May this pilgrimage open you to the practice of dakshina, financial support of the source of the teachings that guide you on your own sacred journey.

Our Capital Campaign has been successfully concluded, supporting our physical home, Lokananda.  Now we turn to our Fall Fundraiser, coinciding with Thanksgiving. It gives you an opportunity to take your yoga practice off your snuggly blankets and actively into the world.

I invite you to take a look at your current monthly contribution…perhaps it is time to increase it a bit? Or, if giving monthly is not something that you already do, please consider supporting your yoga and your Swami in this way.

_mg_4685Dedicated monthly giving benefits your Ashram greatly. Your Ashram has the comfort of relying on these monthly donations to meet the monthly costs of providing the services that support you on your pilgrimage. No matter the amount on your monthly donation, you make a sacred monthly pilgrimage into your own heart. As Baba Nityananda said, “The heart is the hub of all sacred places…go there and roam.”

Thank you for increasing or making a monthly gift.  If a single donation works better for you, we deeply appreciate your generosity in any amount.  Click here to arrange your donation online, or phone us at 610.644.7555.

Om Svaroopa Svasvabhava Namo Namah

in loving service,
Amala Cattafi

It’s a Girl!

By Vibhuti King

vibhuti-2Seventy years ago on the auspicious day of 15 November, a great being was being born. Who knew then that she would follow her great love of God and find her Guru, Baba Muktananda? Yet she did, and under his love and guidance she became Swami Nirmalananda Saraswati, the great being she is today.

On her birthday, 15 November, we celebrate our relationship with our beloved Guruji. She is the Light that has lit our own inner Light. She is the Light that shows us the way. How blessed are we to know such a great being and revel in the day of her birth!  And what a celebration it is on the inside with the fruits so visible on the outside!

_mg_4438How does one celebrate such a day? Well, my idea is that baking our Guru’s favorite cake, carrot cake, is in order. Tirtha Richards will be making the cake, consciously, while repeating mantra. I am inviting yoga buddies, and we will all begin the celebration by chanting Swami Nirmalananda’s song, Sri Guru Gita. We will meditate. We will listen to one of her discourses on the Truth and take turns sharing what stands out for us in that talk.

To enhance our gathering, we will share stories of how we met Guruji. It is always so much fun to hear these stories! Then drinking chai and eating carrot cake— what delight! But before we dive in, we’ll pause just before taking that first sip and first bite, take a breath and breathe OM Namah Shivaaya into that sip or bite that has become ambrosia, the food of the Gods!

Already we are wishing, “Happiest of Birth Days to you, my beloved Guru. I am so blessed that you took birth this one last time.”

candlesWhat are YOUR plans for this highly auspicious celebration? Please plan to share it with photos on our Ashram Facebook page. Send them together with the description of your celebration to Sandie@svaroopayoga.org.

How Japa Changed My Life!

lajjaBy Lajja (Ellen) Mitchell

Strike that title! Instead, make it, “How Japa Continues to Change My Life!”

I am not sure when I started repeating mantra regularly. It might have been after my first meditation course in 2012.  I certainly focused more on it in during my trip to India in 2013.  My first Seva after returning was to be on a team for our community-wide Japathon, a phone event where we all repeated mantra aloud together.  In a multitude of ways, 2013 was the year of japa for Svaroopa® yoga and for me. I read all the contemplation articles. Frequenting our svaroopa.org website, I listened to Freebie audio recordings on anything japa.  I bought my first mala. And every time I saw Swami that year, I heard her said, “Do more japa!”

rudrakshaI know from experience that japa helps to quiet my mind.  In addition, japa is the vehicle to help bring me into meditation; japa is portable and I can do it anywhere. I say japa when I am happy or sad, when I am in a state of fear or love, whether my life is up or down. Japa can level-set me and take me back to a more centered space. I also say japa right before bed. What better way to quiet the mind at the end of the day? Many times, I dedicate this practice to someone else that I know may need some prayers.

Recently, while waiting for a meeting to start, I started saying japa to fill the time. Japa took me to a deep, calming place. My mind was quiet. It was meditative. I almost forgot there was a meeting to be held.

I now think that I live more in the pause and less in the reaction. I firmly believe that, as one of my yoga practices, japa has helped me to get to this place within. So that is why I say, “My japa practice continues to change my life!”

Self Celebration

matrikaBy 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.”

4When 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.

x_0527As 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.

IMG_20160205_205505 - CopyFor 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.