Grateful for Illumined Teachings

matrikaBy Matrika Gast, SVA Board Member

When I happened onto this path, I already thought I was a yogi. But it was all in my head, though I practiced yoga poses and was a teacher in another yoga style. I felt my body only when it was in pain. My mind rarely stopped or even slowed. I am grateful, of course, for the transformative Svaroopa® yoga and meditation practices that are now dissolving tensions in my body and reining in my mind. Yet my gratitude for the guidance I’ve received from Swamiji and our Teacher Trainers is uppermost in my awareness.

In Foundations, Swamiji (then Rama) served as our primary teacher. She introduced me to Consciousness, then a new concept. For the 12 years since, her teachings in programs, trainings and a wealth of online Freebies have daily guided me to the tangible, mystical experience of Self, Pure Consciousness.

A decade ago, I learned to meditate in Vidyadevi’s “Meditation Made Easy” weekend. Later in YTT Level 3 with Kusuma and Vidyadevi, I heard that mantra was “scrubby bubbles” for the mind. How grateful I was to clarify a mind often cluttered with reactivity.

Yet I’ve received something more, for which it is hard to find words. Whenever I’ve brought up a professional or personal issue, Swamiji and our Trainers have listened, comprehended the problem and responded effectively. Their guidance has always been based in the ancient, authentic teachings of the Svaroopa® Sciences. Thus their guidance conveys more than information, it’s an illumined perspective. I recognize that it’s infused with Grace and I am propelled by Grace to follow their guidance.

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This has empowered me to live effectively and harmoniously with life’s challenges as well as life’s joys. Consciousness is the foundation that supports my capacity to do the work I love. Of course ongoing Svaroopa® yoga and meditation teacher trainings give me the skills and knowledge to do so.

Yet the Grace-Full guidance of Swamiji and our Teacher Trainers gives me more — the palpable sense that Divine Essence is at heart of everything and everyone, myself included. Then I know experientially that I am, as everyone is, the One Self Being All. Such guidance has given me a life worth living. That’s why I delight in donating monthly as well as giving a special gift twice yearly. Giving is such a sweet celebration!

Gratitude and Grace logo full sizeGratitude & Grace are present in my daily life, thanks to Swami Nirmalananda, our Svaroopa® Vidya Ashram, our Teacher Trainers, our Svaroopa® Sciences practices — and you, my fellow Svaroopis. There is so much to be grateful for.

What has this path given you? What are you grateful for? Please celebrate these extraordinary Grace-Full gifts by giving back to the source: click here to donate online or call the Ashram at 610.644.7555. Every gift, of any size and frequency, makes a difference. Thank you.

From Gratitude through Generosity to Abundance

ruth rama brookeBy Rama (Ruth) Brooke, SVA Board Member

The practice of true generosity is powerful in many ways.  Generosity creates abundance.  You might have thought that it was the other way around — that abundance creates generosity.  However…generous givers often have normal finances; they love to share and prioritize it in their life.  They give of their time and energy to others, as well as their financial contributions.…

Abundance is attracted to generosity.  “Abundance” is MahaLakshmi, the benevolent Goddess, the divine personification of the flow of material blessings.  She is attracted to those who will use Her gifts appropriately.” — Swami Nirmalananda, Generosity & Abundance

For me, the easiest way to gratitude, grace, generosity and abundance is through surrender, specifically surrender to the flow of Grace, which is also the Guru and the Self.  Grace is powerfully present within the Svaroopa® Sciences.

As a Svaroopi, you are trained in the sweet art of surrender, specifically surrender to your own Divinity.  It works.  Swamiji describes gratitude as including a “pinch, not a quart” of humility, to free you from the bindings of your ego.  Our practices elicit just the right amount of humility.  You learn how to surrender, how to be humble without debasing ourselves and, most importantly, to live with your guard down.  This makes you able to function in the world in a grounded and powerful way.  To paraphrase Swamiji’s familiar question, “How do you want to live?”

Such a yogic surrender naturally leads to an immense, overflowing gratitude.  When you act on that gratitude, your action comes from authentic generosity, which leads to abundance.  The Goddess MahaLakshmi is the cosmic or celestial form of abundance.  She is the circular flow from gratitude through generosity to abundance, and around again.

Gratitude and Grace logo full sizeGratitude and Grace move you.  They overwhelm in a wonderful way.  They open your heart, not only to others, but to a deeper perspective.  They make you able to see what you have, truly an ever-expanding inner abundance.  And that creates generosity.

Please join me and others, and participate in our Gratitude & Grace fundraiser for our Ashram.  Let the spirit of gratitude move you to give generously.  When you give a gift to support the Guru’s work, great blessings flow to you, both outer and inner.  It’s part of the science of yoga.  It is also MahaLakshmi’s promise.  Click here to donate.

In Relationship with a Great Being

Rajni (Chelsea) King 2By Rajni (Chelsea) King

“My Guru’s words are like a boat taking me across the fathomless ocean of me doubting my essential nature.  I honor and enter into my Guru’s words.  They are profound, easy to understand, and make me able to rest in deepening inner stages of blissful Consciousness.” — Spanda Karikas.  4.1, rendered by Swami Nirmalananda

Swami Nirmalananda makes the profound, ancient teachings and practices of yoga so accessible and easy to understand.  The way she translates them to pertain to everyday life is such a gift! So today I celebrate the anniversary of her birth.

Swamiji and SheynaPurna (Sandy) PeaceWhen I contemplate my journey on this path and my relationship to Swami Nirmalananda, “support” is the first word that comes up.  Being in relationship with Swamiji has brought Grace-filled, Grace-fueled support to my life, on the inside and the outside.  Svaroopa® yoga asana practice first gave me tangible physical support.  Swamiji originated this yoga style from spontaneous Kundalini movements arising during her meditations.  Her Guru, Baba Muktananda, blessed her with these openings, borne of the inner power of revelation.

This Grace-filled asana practice drew me in and placed me on the path.  I first learned “support equals release.” This is true on all levels.  Guru’s Grace and support are built into every aspect of this yoga.  The poses open so much more than just the physical body!  Given that opening, I have experienced the ever-deepening support of Swamiji’s meditative teachings and devotional practices.  Every practice points me back to my Self.  And, of course, there’s the portable Guru, the mantra.  It is always there to remind me that the Guru, who is my own Self, is so close.

Shaktipat SwamiThe greatest blessing of my Guru is the gift of Shaktipat, the awakening of the Kundalini energy.  It opens me to the tangible support of my inner Guru, my inner guide.  When I stepped onto this path, I was riddled with self-doubt.  I was convinced that “I wasn’t doing it right.” I felt that I didn’t really know how to meditate, that I wasn’t getting it! I felt numb mentally and physically.

Yet I knew I needed to be on this path.  It was a deeper knowing, a knowing beyond the negativity of my mind.  Something was propelling me forward, even though my mind couldn’t explain or comprehend what I was getting.  Things were changing at a deeper level than I could perceive at the time.  Clearly my negative and doubtful mind wasn’t on board.  What kept me going all those years?

Swami Birthday 1Much later, I understood that I had received Guru initiation.  It was a spontaneous Shaktipat.  The Grace of the Gurus propelled me along the path and continues to propel me forward.  Swamiji’s Grace supports me on the inside and the outside.  Thus, I too can live in the ever-expanding pure joy and contentment of my own Self!

So on Swamiji’s birthday, I celebrate her.  I feel immensely blessed to be in relationship with a Great Being.  How could I be so fortunate to have found this path?  It truly is the greatest gift.  Happy Birthday, Swamiji!

Finding a Way to Say Thanks

Dhananjaya (David) King 1By Dhananjaya King, SVA Board Member

A decade ago, my Guru Swami Nirmalananda set me on fire.  She gave me a simple adjustment in Alternate Leg pose.  That touch ignited a slow burn, which has been profoundly transformative.  I am truly grateful, for I am different now in ways I could never have imagined.

If you had told me then that I would have compassion for people who were trying to harm me or my family, I would have told you in no uncertain terms you were wrong.  Yet here I am, wanting to help those whom, in the past, I would have called enemies.  Before she came into my life, I was caught in drama, in the pursuit of desire.  Now I have only the one yearning, to know myself as the One Self Being All.

Swamiji in GaneshpuriBecause I am grateful to Guruji, I feel compelled to show my gratitude.  Yet how do you show gratitude to her, when she attributes everything that she gives as coming from her own Guru? When you thank her for all she has given, Guruji says she does what Baba has empowered her to do.  She offers to us what Baba offered to her.  She gives to us what we are able to receive.

So I feel that showing gratitude is supporting her in any way I can.  As a SVA Board Member, I serve by managing Ashram facilities.  I help improve the Ashram buildings that hold the Shakti which she infuses.  In gratitude, I offer time and service to support our community.  Following Guruji’s lead, I deal with everyone I meet in a more meaningful and present way.  I am empowered to do this because Guru’s Grace flows through me into everyone with whom I come into contact.

At this designated time of Thanksgiving, I ask you to find a way to show your gratitude for what you have received from Swami Nirmalananda’s teachings and presence.  Expressing your gratitude tangibly will serve you in cultivating the seeds of transformation that she has planted in you.  Once you fully give yourself to the act of giving, things that you could never have imagined will unfold.

Inner Awakening logoOr perhaps looking at this another way works better for you.  A better question may be how much can you receive? Perhaps you don’t yet notice what she has planted in you.  If so, pondering this question will help you notice the new you that is beginning to form, thanks to Swami Nirmalananda’s teachings and presence.

In any case, I invite you to recognize what you have received and find a way to show your gratitude.  I don’t fully comprehend how she brings to fruition the transformation in each of us who sit at her feet.  I just know that I want to help her do what she does for all of us.

I ask you to do as I am doing, to support her in any way you can.  In this season of giving and gratitude please give what you can to support Guruji.  Click here to donate on online, or call the Ashram at 610.644.7555.  Every gift, of any size and frequency, makes a difference.  Thank you.

Gratitude & Grace: Fearless Generosity

By Amala Cattafi, SVA Board President

Gratitude and Grace logo full size

In order to feel the awe and humility of gratitude, you have to let go. You can’t analyze and evaluate what you’ve been given. While this sounds easy, it can be so very difficult. Especially when the gift is the gift of your Self. It can be so easy to look around, compare yourself and your experiences with others, focusing only on what you have not yet realized.

Yoga says, “Just let go. Let yourself be overwhelmed.” OK…how?

“In the moment gratitude arises, when you get your ego out of the way, when you get to ‘oh wow, I am deeply touched,’ you can let your heart be touched and let down your guard. You give up who you usually are, and then you are propelled into who you really are.”                                           — Swami Nirmalananda

Gratitude, Generosity and Grace — the 3 G’s. Our Ashram Board is focusing our fall fundraising campaign on Gratitude & Grace, but Generosity is the organic result.

I confess that generosity has always been easier for me than gratitude. Not that I am not thankful, it is just that I often tend to focus on others’ needs first. I find it easier to give a gift than to receive it, perhaps not feeling worthy. Maybe receiving is easier for you. Generosity and gratitude are like the two sides of the same coin. Generosity will help you find the gratitude that’s there. Likewise, awe of true gratitude will open your heart to generosity.

For example, when you have a deep experience of your Self in meditation, during Shaktipat, or at darshan, it’s easy to understand it is the greatest gift from the Guru. You melt into gratitude and your heart immediately opens wide. Your mind stops and you want to live in that feeling. In that moment, overwhelming generosity flows with ease.

Flip the coin. Think of a moment when you had an impulse to give a financial gift or to give of your time and energy. Fearless generosity arose within you. It bubbled up like gently simmering milk. Did you shut it down, or let yourself go into it? When you second-guessed it or shut it down, you likely felt regret, but you shut that down too. Your mind activates all the reasons why you shouldn’t have listened to your heart.

What about the times when you let fearless generosity guide you?  When you offered a donation that seemed beyond what was “reasonable;” when you offered yourself for seva that you “had no time for;” when you got your ego out of the way to apologize to someone you may have hurt, even when you were “right.”  If you look at these moments, I would bet that putting yourself out there left an afterglow of deep gratitude.

Grace is propelling both gratitude and generosity. It moves you, overwhelms you and opens your heart, which opens up a deeper perspective. It shifts your focus from what you lack to what you have. It opens you up to the miracle of being vibrantly alive. This is why we are here — to live in that knowing.

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“True generosity opens your heart and quiets your mind…  Practicing generosity invites yoga into your relationships with money, with time and with other people.”  — Swami Nirmalananda

In this season of giving, please follow your impulse to give in support of the Ashram and all Swamiji gives you. In this way, you support our ability to continue to open you up. Your loving gratitude and fearless generosity make it all possible. Click here to make your one-time donation or begin a monthly pledge.

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I offer my reflection on letting go into the 3 G’s in loving gratitude to Swami Nirmalananda Saraswatii.

Namaste, Amala Lynn Cattafi-Heinlein

Om Svaroopa Svasvabhava Namo Namah

Our Guru’s Gifts


vibhuti-2By Vibhuti King

My box of chant CDs arrived in the mail!  Sent to us Svaroopa® yoga teachers by our Ashram, they are part of the Mandali programs to expand our yoga community locally.  Teachers pass the CDs on to their own students as “thank you” gifts, just for them being our students.  Coming from our Guru, Swami Nirmalananda, these CDs carry an even greater gift: Her Grace.

171107 SVA Blog - Why I Teach - Picture 1At the end of class today, I invited each student to choose their CD.  I was delighted that many already had some of Nirmalananda’s CDs.  Some requested a duplicate of their “favorite.”  The CD was getting worn out!

Students chatted about which chants they liked to listen to depending on how they were feeling.  They described how a certain chant expressed their joy or yearning.  They discussed which chant was good to listen to before meditation or while driving.  And all agreed that chanting along with the CDs helped them to feel closer to the whole Svaroopa® yoga and meditation community.  Until this gratitude gathering, I had no idea that these chants mean as much to them as they mean to me.

171107 SVA Blog - Why I Teach - Picture 2I am grateful for this time of sharing, of community, of coming together around the ancient practice of lifting our voices to that which uplifts us.  We all have so much to be grateful for.  Often it’s more than we know.  This sharing allowed me to see my students in a deeper way.  It showed me how they turn to their practice to express themselves and how personal these chants are to them.

One woman began to chant the words of “Asato,” and others joined in:

Asato ma sad gamayaa

Tamaso ma jyotir gamayaa

Mrtyor ma amtram gamayaa

OM

Lead me from untruth to truth

Lead me from darkness to light

Lead me from the fear of death to the nectar of immortality

OM

swami-2.jpgThe woman who began this chant a cappella later shared how that chant saw her through a very dark time.  We have so much to be grateful for.  Thank you to my students and thank you to my teacher, my Guru, Swami Nirmalananda.

Ayurvedic Lifestyle for Fall & Winter

binduBy Bindu Shortt

Right now, in the northern regions of the northern hemisphere, leaves are falling, fields going dormant, temperatures dropping, and animals storing up food or flying south. Nature is preparing for the coming winter. Fall, a time of transition, has a certain quiet. cold, windy dayAyurvedically we are moving into vata season. Vata means “wind.” It is the element of nature that brings the qualities of cold, light, dry, rough and irregular. Vata comprises the energies of air and of the ether (space). Thus, vata can bring a sense of void.

Whatever seasonal qualities are outside you, those same qualities will accumulate inside you during that season. This may lead to health imbalances. In vata season they can show up as colds, influenza, constipation, dry skin, or sleep disturbances.  For each season, Ayurveda recommends routines to help you not accumulate too much of its seasonal energies. Working on the principle that the opposite is balancing, Ayurveda offers lifestyle suggestions to keep you well through fall and winter. Much of this may be fairly obvious or automatic for you. This is because your Ayurvedic inner wisdom is always informing you of how to stay well!

autumnFirst, notice the changes in nature where you live. When it is cold, dry and windy, give yourself warmth, oiliness and stability. It is natural to eat more winter squashes, and root veggies such as beets and carrots and parsnips. All of these build warmth in your body. Include them in your daily diet, rather than the melons and salads of summer, which cooled you.

Eat cooked foods. Hot grain cereals for breakfast are warming and grounding. Soups, stews or casseroles for lunch and dinner will help keep your immunity strong. Nuts and seeds have wonderful protein and fats, both of which will stabilize your blood sugar.

Pies are great desserts at this time of year. Pies with cooked fruits or even veggies warm you up (like pumpkin or squash pie). Favor the sweet, sour and salty tastes. Add more ghee and other fats and oils to your diet. Drink more warm liquids, such as teas.

You can make a wonderful vata supportive tea. Put a half teaspoon each of whole cumin, coriander and fennel seeds in a cup. You can put them right in or use a teaball. Pour boiled water over, and let it steep for a few minutes. If the seeds are floating, strain them. This tea is good for digestion, detoxing, immunity, calmness and clear thinking.

massage-oil-handsConsider adding oils on the outside of your body, by doing a daily oil massage before you shower or bathe. This practice, called abhyanga, will go a long way toward keeping you warm, soothing your nervous system, and moistening your skin. An oil massage also moves your lymph, for a detox. In vata season, sesame is the oil of choice for most people, as it has the most warming qualities. Searching online using “Ayurvedic self-massage video” yields more than a hundred hits! Click here for an example.

By making lifestyle changes into habits, you align yourself with the rhythms of the season. This will help you to enjoy the abundance and harmony of fall and winter. In addition to a vata-calming diet and oil massage, you can wear a light scarf to help hold your body warmth as well as a hat that covers your ears. And give yourself regular sleep. Go to bed by 10 pm and be up by 6 am.