Category Archives: Swamiji

YTT Streamlining?  Upgrade!

By Swami Nirmalananda

I was looking for words.  Words to describe the incredible change in our YTT program.  Words that convey my delight about how much more powerful it will be than ever before.  Words that help you understand the new levels that will open for yogis who dive into the deep end with me.  I was looking for words.

I always begin with contemplation, letting my mind be filled with consciousness.  Consciousness-Itself is the source of words, the form of intelligence itself.  “New” and “improved” doesn’t work any more, not even when they put it on the outside of a box of detergent or package of munchies.  Plus we have the move toward heirloom veggies and Grandma’s original recipes.  Who says “new” is at all “improved?”

So I won’t say that this incarnation of YTT is improved over the previous one.  I stand by all I’ve done to marinate the teachers I’ve had the opportunity to train.  But marinating has to happen faster.  This is Kali Yuga.  Time is of the essence.  After all, this is the age of the quick pickle!

pickling cucumbers on the vine pinterest.comMy dad used to grow cucumbers, the little pickling cucumbers, and then make his own concoction for the pickle juice.  It took a couple of months for them to come to perfection.  Every summer day, as a kid on that interminable summer vacation, I’d ask, “Are they pickles yet?”

Are they teachers yet?  How quick can a yogi be transformed into a teacher?  The first Teacher Training I took was 25 hours.  I graduated with a certificate but didn’t feel ready.  I taught, but felt like we were all just going through the motions, a pantomime.  So I took another Teacher Training.  And another one.  And then Kundalini showed me the way.  Thank you, Baba.

Now you can make pickles in a couple of hours.  And they’re good!  Is this “new” and “improved?”  We have to turn out teachers this way.

So I was looking for words.  I could see the whole of what I’ve birthed, but how to describe it?  “Streamlining” is what I’ve been calling it; it’s the word that Chiti (consciousness) keeps giving to my mind.  So I went to the thesaurus.

Modernize, update — yes, I’ve modernized our Teacher Training, but that could easily mean dumbing it down.  Modern doesn’t always mean improved.  And yoga doesn’t honor the updates; it honors ancient knowledge and systems.  Yet the sages, through the ages, came up with new and updated ways of teaching the ancient truths.  So this is modernized and updated, yet the essence is unchanged.  A tricky thing to accomplish.

Reorganize, rearrange, reschedule, move around, reorder — yes, I reorganized the schedule, moving things around, putting them in a new order, so all these words are true.  Yet they don’t cover an essential piece, which is that the new order gives new meaning to all of it.

Revolutionize, reform, restructure — ah, this is closer.  It is a revolutionary new way to approach it, but it’s not new information.  It’s revolutionary information, spinal release, tail-to-top, core opening, but we already knew that.  Yet the re-forming of it, into a new structure, gives it a new power.  New potential.  Amazing new vitality!

Make more efficient, sort out, simplify — check.  More efficient, as in getting there quicker, with less energy expended.  Making it easier and more accessible.  Simplifying the profound.  Isn’t that what shaktipat is all about?

Develop, upgrade — yes, these are best.  Develop means that everyone who has ever taken one of our programs has contributed to our latest development.  Upgrade means you get a new system, one that does the things you already relied on and yet offers more.  Easier.  Quicker.  Cheaper.  And still deep and profound.

While all this describes our YTT Upgrade, it is now extending itself to all our programs.  The force of upliftment is pouring into all our programs.  “Faster, easier?  Of course,” says Shree Kundalini.  “Deeper and more profound?  Piece of cake!”

woman surfer www.geckoexpedition.cz

I am looking forward to this.

This California girl that I am, I know how to ride a wave.

False Alarm – by Swami Nirmalananda

Lokananda, January 10 2016, 5:00 am

Students were awakened by carbon monoxide detectors sounding off.  They evacuated into the early morning rain, saw smoke coming out of the street and called 911.  The fire engines came.  It took them a few hours to figure out that it was caused by an underground fire in the PECO utility lines.

20160110_060511A student phoned us, so Kusuma, Heather and I went right over.  They were holed up in the coffeshop across across the street.  They ended up camping there for almost 3 hours, drinking way too much coffee, which didn’t improve their state.

Once the Fire Chief determined that it seemed to be caused by the underground fire, they got PECO on the way, and had the ambulance crew test all the yogis for carbon monoxide poisoning.  They were all clear, hooray!  Another reason I love technology – carbon monoxide alarms.

 

Ashram meditation hall 3

 

As soon as they were declared clean, we took them to the Ashram. and had their breakfast delivered there.  We led them through a yoga class and then assembled in the meditation hall for debriefing.  It took them only a few minutes to uncover the fear of death, so appropriate after the discourse on the kleshas the day before.  We did an amazing 90 minutes on this invaluable line of inquiry.  Then we did japa and meditated.

Due to the efforts of our admin staff, along with the Fire Dept, PECO, and our heating contractor, the building was cleared of carbon monoxide and opened up again by noon!  Amazing.   The yogis went back there for lunch and the rest of the teaching day.  Kusuma went with them to seal the building energetically.

What does all this mean?

First – being spiritual doesn’t free you from surprises.  Events still transpire, but you deal with them differently because you are different inside.

Secondly – even though it was our carbon monoxide detectors that went off, it was not our building that was emitting the carbon monoxide.  In fact, our Grand Old Dame of a campus did exactly what she should have done, which was to keep everyone safe by kicking them out.  It wasn’t a false alarm, but it was, sort of…

And most importantly – life isn’t about what happens, but it is about who you are while you are handling it.  DSC_0054I was first surprised by the wide range of yogis’ reactions.  They were all going through the same events, but they had very different experiences of them.  Thus, the vichara was so important – not only for them to sort out their feelings but for me to learn from them about the majesty of individuality.  Shiva has become so many fascinating selves – even you.

In our various campus locations over the decades, we were burglarized twice, flooded out, burnt to the ground and now there’s been a poisoning attempt!  It’s not easy bringing these teachings into the world.  But it is essential.

A Secular Christmas? – By Swami Nirmalananda

nativity in christmas lightsChristmas is turning into a secular holiday in America.  I’ve watched the light displays on peoples’ lawns change in the last decade.  The stables and mangers are gone.  There are no crosses made out of lights.  Now the suburban lawns feature Santa, tall spirals of lights representing trees, oversize stockings, snowmen and even the Grinch. GrinchThe focus is on families and gift giving.  Even Thanksgiving is no longer about giving thanks but it’s a time to gather with loved ones and to indulge yourself in every sensory pleasure possible.  What happened?

In the last 7 years, Christian denominations have lost a total of 10% of their faithful, with non-Christian faiths and the “unaffiliated” growing by 37%.1  Yet it is the Millennials who are moving the most; 40-50% of them affiliate with a religion than young adults in prior generations.2

The Millennials were born in the ‘80s and ‘90s, and included lots of yoga bhrashtas who took advantage of an astrological configuration that only comes every 250 years.  A yoga bhrashta is one who did a lot of yoga practice in previous lifetimes but did not attain enlightenment.  Their prior practices have given them a wealth of good karma so they are born in a country that is peaceful and prosperous.  They pick up on their yoga saadhana (process) where they left off at the end of their last lifetime.

Saad-hana is the practice and the process that leads you toward “saat,” Truth with a capital-T:  the Truth of your own Beingness.  Since Beingness is a description of who and what you are, no single religion owns it, though all explain it (in different ways).  The ultimate goal of yoga is that you abide in your own Beingness, which Patanjali calls “svaroopa” in his Yoga Sutras.  The mystics of all religions through all the ages shared the same goal as the yogis.  It’s not a religious goal, nor even a yogic goal.  It’s a human goal.  It’s the purpose of your life.  You were born for the purpose of knowing the Divinity of your own Self.

Yoga gives you a methodology that reveals your Self as pure Beingness, the One Beingness that is being all that exists.  And extends beyond all that exists.  We call this Shiva.  Beyond the poses and breathing, yoga offers you the experiential knowing of your own svaroopa. You are THAT which yogis call Shiva.

The glory of Christmas, as a religious festival, is that it helps you reach outward to find God.  When you use the songs, the decorations, the pageants and church services to find God, where do you experience God?  No matter where you are physically located, your experience of God is an inner experience.  You are changed.  Think of it this way – when you bump into God (accidentally or intentionally), which one of you is going to be changed?

The glory of Christmas, as a secular holiday, is that it helps you experience your Divine Essence.  When you give the perfect gift to a person that you care about, and you get to see them light up when they open it up, what happens inside you?  It’s the same inner experience.  You are changed.  This inner experience is the same as when you sing along with the choir in Handel’s Hallelujah.  The receiver of the gift got all lit up, and so did you.  You are aglow with the light of Consciousness, which is your own Beingness, which is your own Self.  The same thing happens in the moment of reunion with your loved ones.  The same thing happens in those special moments of true connection that are sprinkled through the weekend.

This means that Christmas is spiritual, whether you’re religious or not.  Why?  Because it’s all about you experiencing your own “spirit” (built into the word “spiritual”).  Your spirit is Divine.  You are Shiva.  You are that Beingness that is being all and beyond all.  You merely need to know your own svaroopa, to know who you are.  This is the goal of yoga.  This is the goal of life.

And, if you are reading this, you are a yoga bhrashta.

Merry Christmas!

OM svaroopa svasvabhava namo nama.h

 

Choosing to Grow? – by Swami Nirmalananda

 

You sculpt time by your choices.  This is obvious when you miss your turnoff, especially when the next one is 20 miles ahead.  It will take 45 minutes longer to get there.  While you might not say you made that choice, you had been choosing to pay attention to something else or simply to be unfocused while cruising along.

Yoga is the science of consciousness.  You spend time doing practices which make you more and more conscious until you go beyond merely conscious and become Consciousness-Itself.  No amount of thinking can get you there, yet you must not abandon your mind along the way, so beautifully described by yogis in the personal stories they share in this issue.

Becoming conscious is not always easy.  You begin to notice things you didn’t notice before, including tensions or pains in your body, your mind, your heart or your life.  You’ve got work to do and it’s all inner work.  I’ll compare it to the remodeling we’ve undertaken in our “new” 130-year old building, Lokananda.

Fortunately the structure is sound.  Our town required structural testing, which the grand old dame passed with flying colors.  But her plumbing was leaky and her nadis (energy currents = electrical systems) needed some work, plus her roof will need some TLC soon.  But she’s coming along well.

Even more heartening, response to our Capital Campaign is building.  Yogis have already given and pledged almost $30,000.  On October 10, we will house our first immersion at the Ashram’s new campus!  Not only will you will enjoy reduced Housing & Meals costs, you will stay in a dedicated spiritual environment.

In the same way, the remodeling you’re currently undergoing absolutely leads to where you want to go.  There’s some debris to clear, new ways to see and be — yoga makes you all new.  Do more yoga.

Click to donate or for more info, or call us at 610.644.7555

OM svaroopa svasvabhavah namo namah

Today! International Yoga Day!

EXCERPT from Swami Nirmalananda’s discourse 

USA, Australia, Canada, Great Britain, Germany, Italy, France, Russia, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, India, Kenya, Cameroon, South Africa, Phillipines, Argentina, Brazil, Peru, Chile, Belize, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Mexico, and more…

The International Yoga Federation says there are 300 million yoga practitioners worldwide.  So of course there is an International Yoga Day, as declared by the UN.

I was at a recent yoga conference and an Indian yogi spoke of the value that American has added to yoga, saying that in India, yoga has been made a mainstream practice, instead of something that the naked guys with the matted locks do.

So the world needs yoga.  I claim that, if every driver in PA did yoga once a week, we’d have safer roads – maybe even kinder roads.  What if everyone in the world went to one yoga class a week?  Could war continue to exist?  What about rape and murder?  What about poverty and discrimination?

Yes, it’s good to have an international yoga day.  Even though the western idea of yoga is quite a variation on what the ancients offered – the benefits are undeniable.

Let’s look at why yoga gives these benefits.  How does it work?  The scientific studies have compared yoga to other forms of exercise, as well as how it helps people with various conditions, like stress, depression, blood pressure problems, insomnia, diabetes, HIV, arthritis, MS, PTSD and stopping smoking.

But they haven’t studied how yoga provides peace, or happiness, or better relationships, or how it gives you inner strength.  They haven’t studied the spiritual state of yoga practitioners, or of meditation practitioners – they don’t even know how to study these things!

When you look at yoga as purely a physical process, your studies will give you results similar to other physical processes.  But when you include some “yoga” in your yoga:

  • You include the purpose of yoga: to quiet your mind,
  • the potential of yoga: enlightenment,
  • the process of yoga: turning inward,
  • the practice of yoga: cultivating awareness,
  • the effects of yoga: to make you more whole,
  • the promise of yoga: that you will live in the experiential knowing of your own Divine Essence, svaroopa.

What if you want to follow yoga’s path to realization?  What if your goal includes health and happiness, but it’s greater — you want to know God.  You want to know your own Self.  What you seek is technically called mystical.  The mysticism of the sages, the mysticism of the ages.  The mystery, revealed by the mystical sciences – which are not religion but are the science of the Divine.

Yoga doesn’t hold a patent on mysticism.  While yoga’s roots are Hindu, it’s not Hinduism.  Yoga has more in common with other mystical traditions than it does with Hinduism.  Sufism is the mystical tradition that comes from Islamic roots.  Hasidim is the mystical branch of Judaism.  There is a mystical Christianity, practiced in monasteries and convents through the centuries, documented by Saint Theresa of Avila, Hildegard of Bingen and others.  Native cultures use various substances as well as drumming and dancing to attain mystical states.  One neurologist has become well known for her mystical experiences as a result of having a stroke.  And Ram Dass started with LSD.

But yoga has a certain way of doing it, substance free, healthy living, respect for all that exists, heart opening, mind expanding, inward deepening processes – all for cosmic consciousness.  For cosmic consciousness that you don’t fall down from.  For the experiential knowing of your own svaroopa.

Happy International Day of Yoga!  [click here to listen to the whole discourse]

OM svaroopa svasvabhava namo nama.h

International Yoga Day

A9R558D_redThe first International Yoga Day is happening June 21 — are you in?  This great day was approved just last December by the United Nations General Assembly, only three months after India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, made an address, saying:

Yoga is an invaluable gift of India’s ancient tradition. It embodies unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfilment; harmony between man and nature; a holistic approach to health and well-being. It is not about exercise but to discover the sense of oneness with yourself, the world and the nature. By changing our lifestyle and creating consciousness, it can help us deal with climate change. Let us work towards adopting an International Yoga Day.

While this international recognition of yoga’s footprint worldwide is important for us, for Shree Modi it’s also a personal statement.  His political success in India comes from his spiritual depth as much as his political acumen.  Having spent some of his young adulthood as a wandering sadhu (holy man) in India, he chose to serve in the political arena and worked his way up from the grassroots level.  His leadership draws on India’s deep spirituality, contributing to his popularity as well as his political agenda.  I was personally in Varanasi last winter when he and spent several days on a project to clean the Ganga (Ganges) River, doing some of the shoveling and scraping himself.

The yogic basis of his leadership has been recognized by “Hinduism Today,” an international magazine, who just named him the Hindu of the Year for 2015.  Every prior recipient of this prestigious honor has been a Guru, not a Prime Minister!

Shree Modi recommended June 21, the summer solstice (in the Northern Hemisphere), as the day of the year with the most light.  It’s also an important time for yogis in India, coming near the beginning of the monsoon season, when hunker down for three months of deep sadhana (practices).

The FIRST International Yoga Day, June 21.  Can we make a big bang, one that will reverberate until the Fourth of July?  Click here to tell Swamiji of your plans or ideas.

Your Gifts Make a Difference

Join Saguna is supporting the Ashram's Next Steps. Click the image above to donate today.

Thank you for supporting the Ashram’s Next Steps. There’s still time to donate – click the image above to donate today.

Thank you for your generous donations of $34,498.26 during our spring fundraiser, The Next Steps.  Your donations are helping us make the next steps in our service to you – by improving our online presence, expanding our physical facilities, investing in staff training, and more.  Our Board members were deeply touched in their personal phone calls with our monthly donors, as everyone spoke of how much they cherish their relationship with Swamiji and the Svaroopa® sciences.

“I am so grateful for you who reached into your heart and your pocket and gave to support the Ashram. Thank you so much!” — Amala Lynn Cattafi, Board President

“You have brought yoga into your life in yet another way. Your giving is a grateful and practical acknowledgment for the flow of Grace that is supporting you right now. Please accept my heartfelt thanks for responding so beautifully to our fundraising campaign.”  — Rudrani Nogue, Board member

“For your contribution to the our Next Steps campaign, thank you. If you still intend to donate, thank you. Even if you were unable to donate this time, thank you. Whether you make donations, do seva, take teacher training or Ashram programs, or ‘simply’ follow Swami Nirmalananda, thank you. You are why we do what we do.”  — Karuna Beaver, Board member

“Thank you for joining me in supporting SVA in our most recent fundraising campaign. It gives me great joy to financially support an organization that continues to give me and our community so much spiritual support.”  — Kristine Freeman, Board member

“Your donation is the sustaining, nurturing and caring force that supports Swamiji and Svaroopa® Vidya Ashram in bringing the amazing gift of the Self to the world. Thank you, thank you, thank you!”  — Saguna Goss, Board Treasurer

“It fills my heart with gratitude, knowing that we have such generous support for Swamiji and Svaroopa® Vidya Ashram. Your continued support makes it possible for upliftment to expand into our wider world.” — Prakash Falbaum, Board member

Donor gifts will be going out soon to everyone who began or increased their monthly donation.  We’ll first be asking you if you want the audio of Swami Nirmalananda doing mantra-japa, or if you prefer sacred ash from our February yaj~na (sacred fire ceremony).  If you already know, please email lydia@svaroopayoga.org; your gift will be sent out in early June.

If you would still like to add to our ability to serve you, please click here to donate.  Every gift makes a difference.

OM svaroopa svasvabhava namo nama.h