By Karuna Beaver, SVA Board Member
I am more than merely thankful for Svaroopa® yoga and meditation. I have become downright grateful for the practices and their originator, my teacher and Guru, Swami Nirmalananda. Her years of deep study, devotion and hard work have helped her to help me as well as so many others. All the practices come directly from Swami Nirmalananda. Thank you Swamiji! Yet she will tell you that everything comes straight from her own spiritual teacher and Guru, Swami Muktananda. Again, and again she says, “I owe everything to my Baba.”
I began with being thankful to find practices that transformed my achy body and my crazy mind. I was thankful enough to begin doing seva and making donations to the Ashram. But it took me a while to figure out that mere thankfulness is not real gratitude. Gratitude is more. Gratitude is about feeling thankful down to your bones, down into your heart. Gratitude is about getting out of your own way — your ego — and letting down your guard. Gratitude is humbling and awe-inspiring.
At first, I didn’t understand the depth of my feeling. I do not easily let down my guard. But, gradually, the walls have been coming down. Now I am able, more and more often, to feel into the depth of my devotion. It’s because the power of my yogic practices is eroding years, maybe lifetimes, of “guck” around my heart. And I owe it all to my Guru.
One of my favorite songs captures the way I feel. It asks, “Have I told you lately that I love you, that there is no one else above you?” It describes the effect of this love: it can “fill my heart with gladness, take away my sadness, ease my troubles.” The song goes on to say that this love is “less defined; it’s yours and it’s mine.” And, at the end of the day, we “should give thanks to the One.” Yes, this is how I feel.
Gratitude to the Master is an important part of yoga, and thus part of our svaroopavidya practices. “This is how I feel about my Baba,” explained Swami in a satsang audio a few years ago. “I had only seven years with him. He stripped me down and left me bare, and I am so grateful to him. I had the great fortune to bow in front of my Baba for those years. I always felt ennobled, not humbled. He always said, ‘You are Me — you are the One.’”
Baba gave Swami that One. He gave her the experience of her own Self. This is what she gives to us. She says, “In the mystical merging of Self, there is only One. When there’s only One, there is no gratitude. But when I indulge myself in gratitude, it also recognizes that there are two. It’s a magical, mystical play.”
I indulge in this gratitude and mystical play every day when I meditate. Before I begin, I express my gratitude to the One who reminds me who I am. In meditation, I feel the separation between my individuality and my Guru’s individuality begin to blur. It truly does feel as if there is only One, even if I can’t always maintain that feeling throughout the day.
In this glorious season of thankfulness and giving, I encourage you to let down your guard. Open up to the gifts your yogic practices give you. Open your heart to the “more” that you are. I hope you will also give thanks to the One. And if this takes the form of a heartfelt donation to the yogic organization that makes this possible for you, I would be eternally grateful.
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