Category Archives: Svaroopa Yoga

Bliss Quotient

By Gurudevi Nirmalananda

Every person has a baseline requirement for bliss, which is your Bliss Quotient (BQ).  When you’re not meeting your BQ, you go looking for something to create bliss.  Unfortunately, the places you look have side effects.  If the side effects damage your health, your mind, or your life, it is called “addiction”.  Drugs and alcohol have been fairly easy to identify as addictions. Now food, work and exercise are also identifiable addictions. 

Yet all of these things can be catalysts to the experience of bliss and are being used to meet your basic BQ.  A famous writer once described how he decided to live in bliss by staying high on LSD all the time.  He discovered after several days that it was impossible, because he couldn’t handle basic life needs (like eating), and because the side effects were damaging his body.  So he decided to go to the bliss experts, the yogis in India. 

The teachings of the ancient sages describe that your desire for bliss is a desire to know your own nature, but you’re currently cut off from yourself.  Yoga or “union” is the resolving of this inner split so that you experience the natural bliss of your own Being.  This internal split shows up in the endless conversations you have with yourself inside your head.  It shows in your posture and habitual facial expression, in your relationships (which often have a disturbingly repetitive quality), in your Freudian slips and more.  It is easier to point out others’ internal splits than to see your own.  Yet the split is there, or you would be living in constant bliss, and you wouldn’t need anything external to trigger it.

Bliss that is triggered by externals is temporary bliss.  If your bliss comes from skiing, you’ll only be in bliss while you’re skiing, or while you’re talking about skiing, or planning to go skiing, or buying skiing supplies and magazines, etc.  Your focus on skiing will be complete, because skiing is your catalyst to bliss.  All your friends will take up skiing, or you’ll make new friends with the people you meet on skis.

Yoga says there’s nothing wrong with skiing.  The problem is that your bliss is temporary; it only happens when you’re skiing. You have a low BQ.  Where’s your bliss when you’re eating or sleeping?  What about your work and relationships, or when you’re stuck in a traffic jam? You’re stuck with “dependent bliss”, meaning your bliss depends on something outside of you and is only temporary.  Also, your skiing bliss is only partial.  You’re not a “perfect” skier.  You may fall down, or your form is imperfect.  Or perhaps you’re really good at it but your mind is running the litany of all your problems.  Where’s your bliss? 

Yoga is the science of bliss.  Every technique of Svaroopa® yoga is for the purpose of increasing your bliss. The first stage of bliss is relaxation, which progresses to a tingling aliveness throughout your whole body.  Then it becomes a contagious joy that arises from inside, without any external cause. This bliss is more than merely physical and is accessed by a variety of yoga practices including yoga poses, breathing, chanting, meditation, contemplation and study of the ancient texts, etc.

How does Svaroopa® yoga work?  Each of the practices is for the purpose of stilling the relentless activity of your mind.  That mental activity distracts you from the bliss already there.  Yoga’s practices quiet your mind so you can discover the bliss that is inside you and has always been there.  Bliss is what you experience when you’re not worrying, ruminating or analyzing your life, and arises naturally when you quit looking for something outside of you to create your bliss.  Yoga shows you how.

You have to actively do something to get out of the normal rut that you live in, and you can’t do it with the tools you already have at hand.  All the tools you’ve been taught, or been given by example, produce what you now experience.  Would you describe yourself as truly healthy and completely happy?  The emphasis on rational-logical mind and the techniques of the West are excellent for business and competition, but not very useful for bliss.  The question is, “Can an old dog (you) learn new tricks?”  That’s what our classes and meditation programs are for.

Why I Need a Guru

By Nirooshitha Sethuram

Though my professional career was in banking, I’ve trained to teach yoga as a Certified Svaroopa® Yoga Teacher.  Born in Sri Lanka, I was brought up in a yogic culture.  I have always been interested in spirituality.  While growing up, I studied the Hindu scriptures in school.  On my own, I read many books on these ancient yogic teachings.  I learned that they advise us repeatedly on the importance of the Guru on the spiritual path:

aachaaryavaan puru.so veda.h. — Chhaandogya Upani.sad 6.14.2 [v30]

Only through a Guru can you understand the Vedas.  [translated by Swami Mukundananda in his commentary on Bhagavad Gita 4.34]

In the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna states the importance of the Guru:

tad viddhi praṇipaatena paripra”snena sevayaa
upadek.syanti te j~naanaṁ j~naaninas tattva-dar”sina.h. — Bhagavadgita 4.34

Learn the Truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him with reverence and render service unto him. Such an enlightened Saint can impart knowledge unto you because he has seen the Truth.  [translated by Swami Mukundananda, Bhagavad Gita: The Song of God]

Yet even though the scriptures talk about finding a Guru, I wasn’t interested in finding one.  Then everything changed the first time I met Swami Nirmalananda Saraswati.  I knew that I was in the presence of someone who had an extraordinary understanding of the teachings of yoga.  Her skill at explaining these deep and profound teachings was exceptional.  I realized I had been engaged in a “do it to yourself” spiritual process.  Just reading about the great yogic teachings couldn’t give me experiential knowing.

After meeting Swami Nirmalananda, whom we affectionately call Gurudevi, I didn’t just want to teach yoga.  I wanted to live yoga.  I am forever grateful.  It was truly transforming.  That’s when I realized that having a Guru is more than important.  This relationship is essential.

If you wanted to climb Mt. Everest and make it to the top, would you do it on your own?  No, you would need a guide.  You would need to be with someone who knows the way and would guide you.  Gurudevi is my guide for the spiritual journey inside.  Every step of the way, she is supporting me in scaling the heights.  Yes, that is why I became a disciple of my Guru.  God’s greatest gift has been bringing me to the feet of my Gurudeviji.

Having a Guru is essential because the human soul is clouded by ignorance from countless lifetimes.  We don’t know the truth of who we are.  We don’t know our Divine Essence.  We need to receive this experiential knowing from a Self-Realized being who embodies the Absolute Truth.  One cannot overcome their ignorance simply by their own effort.  A person’s self-effort is essential.  But without Guru’s Grace, individual effort is like a bird with one wing.

I was captivated by Gurudeviji’s unique capacity for teaching.  She enables us laymen to understand the high philosophies of the ancient teachings.  Her delivery of these great teachings suits the century that we live in. As I grew up, I felt one attained Self-Realization — liberation — only after living righteously for many more lifetimes.  It seemed unattainable in my current life.

When I heard Gurudevi say that you can realize the Self in this lifetime, she certainly got my attention.  Not only does she say it, she also leads us by being a living example.  I am grateful to Gurudeviji for being the light dispelling the darkness,  For that, I bow again and again!

You’ve Got Skills

By Swami Nirmalananda Saraswati

You know how to drive, to manage household and personal needs, even to manage other people and their needs.  Your education and professional skills make you able to adapt to changing times, like now.  But your self-care skills might need some improvement.  The current pandemic conditions may prompt another round of pandemic panic.  It’s time to take inventory.  How do you handle this?

Masking – you know how.  I first saw people wearing masks over their nose and mouth in my travels in Asia over 30 years ago.  I thought it was brilliant!  I didn’t adopt it at home because of peer pressure, but now the pressure is going the other way.  You are completely capable of breathing, talking and smiling under that mask.  You may even have your preferred mask style along with a lanyard, bracket or nose strip.  Plus you’ve even got designer options.

Social Distancing – you know how.  As fall brings us indoors again, you’ll need to use this skill again.  It’s like riding a bike; once you know how, you can do it again.  It’s an easy thing to do.  In most conversations, we’re seated or standing about 6 feet apart anyway.

Self-Care — you know how.  You know you feel better when you do yoga every day.  Your quality of life improves if you’re hydrated, if you have regular mealtimes and if you get up before the sun.  Meditation is even more important and fits into all the others.  Meditating before the sunrise is the most blissful.  Yoga helps prepare you for a better meditation.  And when you’ve meditated today, you’re more likely to feed yourself properly and drink enough water.   Not to mention being kinder, even more intelligent.  How bad will you let yourself get before you do something about it?  The time is now.  Do more yoga.

Svaroopa Vidya Meditation

It all lies within, you’ve heard it said before.  But you must get beyond the theory in order to experience your own mystical essence.  That’s why you need training.  That’s why you need a teacher.  One who knows the way makes it easy for those who follow.

Know Your Own Self 

A deeper inner knowing of your deeper essence, this is the goal of meditation.  Your inward exploration is easy when you study with one who already knows the Self.  This is the mystical secret of Svaroopa® Vidya Meditation, that the doorway inside is opened for you.

Sourced Within

Discover the source of love and the source of your creativity.  It all lies within you, so you have to look inward to find the source.  But you can get stuck at the superficial level of mind and emotions.  Learn how to look deeper with Svaroopa® Vidya Meditation. 

Easy Inner Immersion   

Like a scuba diver floating in the vastness of the undersea world, meditation is about diving deep.  Svaroopa® Vidya Meditation makes it easy to get there, deeper within your own being.  In that depth and inner vastness, you experience a whole new dimensionality, one you can learn to live in.

Why I Meditate

By Marlene (Matrikaa) Gast

If it were not for my mind, I would be enlightened!  I blurted out this statement in conversation with a yoga buddy one day.  I’d never allowed myself to own this elevated aspiration.  Yet I knew it to be true.

The ancient teachings on Self-Realization as offered by Gurudevi compel me.  At a deep level, I know their absolute Truth.  In that moment, in a flash of insight, I see my mind blocking me on the path.  I see my mind as a standalone entity, with its own agenda.  It’s dense and determined to hold on to certain attitudes.  Sometimes it’s a two-year-old, sometimes an adolescent.

I really got to know this mind during my two glorious years of Ashram residency.  The routine of morning chant and meditation, days devoted to seva, and evening satsangs took me deep.  I loved chanting our food mantra with Gurudevi, the Swamis and other residents before each meal.

During my Ashram stay, I went deeper than I’d imagined going when I applied for residency.  My main reason for residency was the desire for a consistency of practice.  In my first months, I could physically feel the untangling of old brain wiring while chanting Sri Guru Gita.  What a relief!

This opened up enough inner space for angry inner voices to have their say.  I recognized my “inner two-year-old” and more articulate “inner adolescent.”  They were lonely, scared, sad.  They/I had based my sense of self on “doing things right.”  Avoiding punishment, staying safe and surviving formed the goal.  Daily life, regardless of responsibilities and activities, is bound to frustrate those desires.  Anger erupts when I (with two-year-old and adolescent mind) don’t get what I want.  They emerged from the depths and took up residence near the forefront of my mind.  I got to know their insistent voices well.

Given Guru’s Grace, with her profound teachings, I knew to befriend these rascals.  I knew that, as contracted forms of Shiva, my own Is-ness, they were not to be banished.  I learned to sweettalk them with mantra, and give them luxurious rest in meditation.  Doing so, I can apply their energy to more mantra and more meditation.  I’m propelled deeper — even into ineffable peace and ultimate effulgence — sometimes.

More often, my meditation is a festival of emotional and mental kriyas.  I am so grateful for this process.  Afterward, that standalone entity of mind is calmed.  It’s willing to courteously step aside.  It no longer requires constant, hyperalert focus.  I can go past mind into the infinitely vast expanse within.  “Getting things done in the world” will always be a step into potential frustration.  Yet my awareness turns inward to my Own Self as the One Self Being All.  I see this clear path to enlightenment.

Svaroopa Vidya Meditation

From uncovering inner peace to discovering the mystical truths, you must turn your attention inward.  To get deeper than your mind and breath, you need help — the techniques and tools developed by the yogic sages.  Study with a modern-day representative of the ancient tradition and get immediate results.  

Access Inner Peace 

Peace is found inside.  It is already there.  You’ve been looking in the wrong place, trying to get your outer circumstances to give you peace.  Now it’s time to learn how to look within.  Svaroopa® Vidya Meditation glides you inward, deeper than your mind, to the peace that is your inherent nature. 

Seekers Become Finders 

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You’re only a seeker until you find what you’ve been looking for.  The deeper dimensions of your own being are what you yearn for.  In Svaroopa® Vidya Meditation, you learn to meditate on your own Self.  Experiencing your inherent Divinity changes everything.  You find your Self. 

Open Inward to Infinite Beingness 

The inner infinity beckons you, an inner pull that is your own Self calling you home.  Explore who you really are by turning inward.  Svaroopa® Vidya Meditation reveals your inherent Divinity to you, a gift from the ancient yogic sages.  The mystical truth is hidden within, awaiting your exploration. 

It Really Is Deep and Easy

By Jessica Soligon, interviewed by Lori (Priya) Kenney

I’m constantly trying to improve my home practice.  Always tweaking something or adding a different reading, I’m looking for improvements.  While buying the Experience Shavasana album on my phone, I saw Meditation: Deep & Easy.  It looked like a great one to add to my home practice.  The best thing is, I bought it on my phone so it’s everywhere I am.

Even though I’ve been meditating for about a year, it has made a big improvement to my meditation.  I used to set a timer on my phone to say mantra for five minutes before meditating.  Then I would reset the timer for 15 minutes or however long I wanted to meditate.  That worked, but this album works better.

I begin morning meditation with Gurudevi Nirmalananda chanting our mantra to a beautiful melody.  As I ready my space and get seated, her chanting settles me outside and inside.   On the second track, Gurudevi leads a round of japa (mantra repetition without melody).

I wear my earbuds, so I won’t hear the coffee pot or anyone else getting up.  As soon as I start to meditate, it’s like a magical clock going off for my five-year-old.  Nine times out of ten, he gets up.  Wearing earbuds helps me get into the zone and focus more.

Now I’m ready for the third track, “Meditate!”  I especially love the sound of the tamboura.  I relax more easily.  My mind settles down and gets quiet. That’s lovely because my mind is usually very busy.  Meditating this way takes me deeper than when I meditate on my own.

And I’ve found another wonderful use for this album.  Sometimes I wake in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep.  I put in one earbud and listen to Gurudevi chanting.  I’m usually ready to sleep again by the time the japa track begins.

You can easily find this album on iTunes and download it.  Just search for Swami Nirmalananda Saraswati.  You can also order the Meditation: Deep & Easy CD from the Ashram’s online shop.  Meditation: Deep & Easy is great for newcomers who want an easy way to dip a toe into meditation.  Gurudevi’s step-by-step guidance for taking you in is greatly appreciated by experienced meditators as well.

What Have You Learned?

By Gurudevi Nirmalananda

After more than a year of pandemic precautions, what have you learned?  You probably learned to stay home more, to spend less money and how to use technology to connect with others.  Hopefully you also learned how you feel when you do more yoga.

Your priorities have been rearranged.  You didn’t choose to do this.  It was thrust on you and it’s affected you.  What is that difference?  Notice what you’ve lost and what you’ve gained.  The way you put yourself together has changed. 

What you do, where you go, who you spend time with, what you care about – these are all vital aspects of who you are in the world.  As you reassemble your mosaic, choose your colors and patterns wisely.  You are recreating what yoga calls your “self,” who you are in the world.

Yet something has not changed.  Your deeper essence is the same.  Your own is-ness, your own beingness, what yoga calls your own “Self” is steady, always present, what we could call pure presence.  When you abide in your own Self, you can handle anything, even a pandemic.  Even reentry.

Hopefully you’ve learned how to abide in your Self more fully.  You’ve learned how to lean into your own Divine Essence for the inner support and clarity that makes your life work.  As you make decisions about how your life will look now, lean inward and find the inner answers.  What will bring you closer to your own Self?  What will bring you closer to God, inside? 

This is yoga’s specialty.  This is yoga’s goal and purpose.  This is the union that the Sanskrit word “yoga” is often translated as.  To live in the union of your own self and Self is the most meaningful and blissful way to live.  To bring your Self with you and share from your deeper essence is a way of serving the world.  To get there, do more yoga.

Svaroopa® Vidya Meditation

It’s an inner knowing.  The knowing of your own Self is a deep inner feeling, a knowing beyond thought.  In Svaroopa® Vidya Meditation, you meditate on your own Self, on your blissful essence of pure beingness.  You become more you, experiencing the bliss of Consciousness that is your innermost essence.

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Making You More You

Finding your Self involves knowing where to look as well as how.  Step 1:  Turn your attention inward.   But this can leave you trapped in a busy mind.  Step 2:  Learn how to glide deeper within by using the tantric tools provided by yoga’s sages.  Result:  Discover who you really are at the deepest level of your own being.

The Bliss of Consciousness

If you’re not experiencing bliss, you’re just not your Self today.  Learn to find your Self within, in the bliss that is ever-vibrating at your core.  Discover the Consciousness that you are and learn how to live from that inner dimensionality in all you do.

Discover Your Innermost Essence 

Your essence is Divine.  You are an individualized expression of the One Divine Reality.  That which has always existed is existing now, being you.  Learn how to look deeper within, to discover your inherent Divinity.  Svaroopa® Vidya Meditation makes it easy for you to discover your innermost essence, your own Self.

Why I Need a Guru

By Frances (Jñani) Amery, interviewed by Lissa (Yogyananda) Fountain

Taking Foundations of Svaroopa® Yoga, then YTT 1, became a launching point to learn yoga philosophy.  Like a sponge, I soaked up teachings such as the 36 tattvas (Kashmiri Shaivism levels of reality).  Rather than studying the poses, I soon realized I wanted to focus more on the sutras (philosophy aphorisms).  Then, not long after completing YTT 1, I fell and broke both legs.  While recuperating, I took Gurudevi’s “Yogify Your Life” phone course.  It gave me access to the teachings I was longing for. 

A few years later, I tripped and broke my foot.  This “fortunate fall” was pivotal.  Once again, as I convalesced in bed, I was able to study yoga philosophy with Gurudevi.  I listened to the Shiva Sutras online.  I felt totally supported by the sound of Gurudevi’s voice delivering these profound truths.  Even though I do not recall many details, the sutras got layered into me somewhere.  It was amazingly fantastic! 

Conversing with other yogis about the Guru, I had a sudden and clear inner knowing that Gurudevi is indeed my Guru.  I realized I had had this inner knowing from the moment I first met her.  Being in her presence, I feel drawn inward with a strong force like the tractor beam in the old “Star Trek” shows.  This force is called Guru’s Grace.  Guru’s Grace shines through her words and teachings.

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They help me in my daily life, in every way.  By having a Guru, I feel my thinking process and behaviors are being restructured.  For instance, I was always an ethical person.  In grade school, I was the first to fess up about any mischief!  Yet practicing the yamasand niyamas with Gurudevi’s guidance has brought me deeper.  My understanding of myself and my world is clearer.  As time goes by, ever deepening insights unfold.  The inner lnowing was always there; I just couldn’t yet perceive it.

Gurudevi is my teacher.  She understands me in a way no one else does, which startles me at times.  During her Year-Long Programme discussions, I feel her speaking to me directly, no matter whom she is addressing.  It’s like the spiritual DNA of the lineage is in my very constitution.  This makes Gurudevi my spiritual mother.  She holds the promise of all that is yet to come — enlightenment in the midst of life.  And I love this promise: it excites me and keeps me focused on this inner path.  I am grateful for the great gift of a Guru!  I’m so blessed to have crossed paths with Gurudevi.