By Mangala Allen
“The purpose of life is two-fold, like the two sides of a coin: 1) to have experiences and 2) to discover who you are,” Swami Nirmalananda began her New Year’s Retreat in Atlanta with this teaching. Being in her presence extended the sweet space between the old year and the new. Grace flowed as she led me into reviewing where I have been and where I am going.
I listened intently as Swamiji spoke about being, “present in your own presence.” She explained how it makes a difference in your experience of life. Yoga specializes in cultivating the ability to “live from the place that is un-disturb-able,” she said.
Mantra is the most important practice in getting there: “Every repetition of the mantra takes you deeper, so you can experience your experiences from the timeless eternal reality that is your own Self.” How do you want to live? The guided vichara (guided self inquiry) helped me understand where I have been and where I am choosing to go. I choose to follow Swamiji’s suggestion and resolve to make decisions that will take me toward the Self.
Then we all made New Year’s resolutions — a single word, a quality we would like to cultivate. Our New Year’s Day began with Sri Guru Gita and a talk by Swamiji, while we were joined by Shishya Members via conference call.
During the retreat’s three days, Swamiji and we were supported by Ashram sevites, with Rukmini Abbruzzi serving as chef and Karuna Beaver teaching asana and managing the program. We learned a set of poses for our home practice that will propel us into applying ourselves to our resolve. What a wonderful way to begin a new year, a year that promises to be a wonderful new year – full of yoga!