By Shelley Zeichner, interviewed by Marlene (Matrikaa) Gast
I just celebrated my first anniversary as a satsangi. Since discovering Sadguru Swami Nirmalananda in early 2018, I consistently attend her Swami Sunday Satsangs. Practicing and teaching another meditation style for a decade, I am now even a deeper meditator. This has all come about through a chance meeting.
My previous ten years has been a journey of many meditation classes, courses and retreats. A month before meeting Swamiji, I traveled from PA to CA for meditation teacher certification. There I met another meditator from southeastern PA. She had been doing Embodyment® Yoga Therapy at the Ashram’s Downingtown Yoga & Meditation Center (DYMC). She enthusiastically talked about how it had healed the effects of a car accident.
As an event planner, I’d heard of DYMC. For health and wellness retreats, I bring in yoga teachers of different styles. Checking out DYMC’s Svaroopa® yoga was already simmering on my backburner. So, when my new friend from the CA retreat and I returned home, we tried out a free DYMC program on a Wednesday. We were floored. We could hardly wait to get back to DYMC on Sunday, for Swamiji’s Satsang.
Years ago, Yogananda’s Autobiography of a Yogi enthralled me. I was especially captivated by his search for and then devotion to his Guru. I thought how wonderful to want to bow at the feet of your Guru with gratitude and love. At that first Swami Sunday, when my friend and I walked in, people were bowing to Swamiji. I felt a deep connection to her. There are no words for it. Through her, I connected with the photo of her Guru, Baba Muktananda. I felt his gaze piercing through my heart and out my back. Seeing the photo of Nityananda, Baba’s Guru, I connected with him as a grandfather.
After several months of her yoga and meditation, I was bowing at Swamiji’s feet with love and gratitude. It’s so natural to have complete love for and trust in a Guru’s teachings. Since then, I feel that I have been going steady with Swamiji! Her discourses are vivid, engaging and inspiring. Her teachings are miraculous. At DYMC I also take Svaroopa® yoga classes and engage in vichara (guided self-inquiry) sessions. These experiences give me a sense of how Swamiji must have felt when she met Baba. After 10 years of seeking, I feel that there’s no need to seek any further.
All of Swamiji’s discourses give me an Aha! Moment. For more, I binge-listen to her free online audios. Every one delivers an epiphany. In her frequent discussions after satsang, I find deep reciprocal connections with other satsangis. Swamiji asks us, “What did you hear?” Each of use chooses a word, phrase or line from her teachings that day and says why we chose it. Often, each of us 20 or 30 people have chosen the same line and have similar feelings about it. We are all following the same path in our individual ways. This is fitting. Swamiji teaches that ultimately who and what we really are is “Shiva.”
I have told the people coming to the meditation class I teach, if you really want to learn, come to Downingtown with me. You will receive teachings from the most amazing teacher ever. Now I have decided to simply stick with being an event planner.
I am growing steadier in the experiential knowing of my Self, the One Self Being All. And I am aware that my long seeking was necessary. I found the teacher I was seeking in Sadguru Swami Nirmalananda. She embodies the teachings that she gives and is tireless in serving her Guru.
My own Self has always been present within me. I just didn’t know it. I now know that everything over the past 10 years had to be as it was or I would never have come to know Self that is always there. Also, I know the “chance meeting” that led me to Swamiji was inevitable.
A friend gave me my first red
jasper stone for healing. I’ve used it
for grounding, to prepare for meditation by clearing the mind. It’s been a favorite color forever, and was
always a color in any house where I lived.
Why was it that color captivated me?
Then it hit me: it’s Swamiji’s color, the robes of a yoga monk. One Sunday I noticed her shirt was the very
same shade of red-orange as jasper. And
in Baba’s photograph, the red-powder dot on his forehead is the same color and
shape as a red jasper stone. When I
mentioned this to Swamiji, she said, as I have felt, I must have been a monk in
a past life.
The Self Is Already Within –
but I didn’t know it – until finding my Guru.
 A person who regularly attends satsang, which is a gathering of seekers of truth.