Shaktipat Keeps on Giving

Reported by Vibhuti King

Swami smiling“I knew I wanted ‘The More,’” says Bhadra (Elizabeth) Archer, recalling her reason for enrolling in her second Shaktipat Retreat.  “I went with a great sense of yearning.  During the retreat, I experienced being at one with Cosmic Consciousness. I felt at one with our lineage including Swamiji, Baba Muktananda and Bhagawan Nityananda.  I felt at one with Ganesha and everyone around me.”

“And I know I still have work to do in order to align myself with the Cosmic level. I tried very hard, too hard, to align myself during the retreat.  I did not relax.  It was not until now, a month later, that I have been aware of subtle changes.  I have realized the importance of trusting and relaxing, whether in meditation or throughout the day.  I often feel a melting and floating sensation.  I am practicing the surrender of each day to God, Guru and Self.”

saguna-swamiShaktipat from Swami Nirmalananda awakens your Kundalini, so the inner force continues to arise within you.  Bhadra says, “I now know that Kundalini is at work even when I do not feel it directly.  I now see results, even though I have not been experiencing the kriyas I used to depend on as a sign of change.  I am practicing being present in all that I do.  My heart feels infinite love towards Guruji for all she does for us.”  Swami Nirmalananda responds that the end of the kriyas means there’s been a big shift!

Jyoti (Rebecca) Yacobi shares, “The experience of the last Shaktipat is still unfolding. My most vivid memory of it is the descent of energy from Swamiji into the core of my body and my being.  That energy was amazingly powerful and subtle at the same time.  It ran through my spine downward and upward.  All I wanted to do is savor and be in that experience, to allow that magnificent power to percolate into the deepest levels of who I am.  The process continues.”

Upcoming Shaktipat Retreats:

September 8–10, North Andover, MA

September 30–October 2, Downingtown, PA

Honoring the Divine Human, by Swami Nirmalananda

Today is the full moon dedicated to the Guru, per India’s ancient tradition.  Guru Purnima is the day that the flow of grace is fullest, most easily accessible and most powerful.  Grace is the power of revelation, giving you the highest, the knowing of your own Divinity.

The world honors astronauts, celebrities, athletes, billionaires, and winners of the Nobel Peace Prize, yet most people focus on taking care of their family, taking care of their body, and living a long, happy healthy life.  All of these are great things, if they are what you want to do.  Whatever you do, when you breathe the last breaths in this life, hopefully you have your nearest and dearest around you.  If I were one of them, I’d ask you, “Did you do what you came here to do?”  What will you say?

Yoga says, if you don’t attain the highest in this lifetime, you get another chance.  You can come back and do this as many times as it takes you.  The fact that you are now alive means that you didn’t make it last time, so you had to repeat the grade.  Will you make it all the way this time?  Say, “Yes.”  Please say, “Yes.”  The world needs more enlightened beings!  Of course, if you decide to undertake this Divine Mission, you have some work to do.  It’s inner work, for your Divinity is hidden within you.

Who and what will you be when you become Self Realized?  Is it going to change your life?  The short answer is yes and no.  The change is an inner change, making you free from fear, free from self-doubt, free from enmity, full of joy and love, overflowing with compassion and the impulse to give to others.  But you can still live in the same place, do the same things and share your life with the same people.  They probably won’t notice a change in you, as you would have been changing all along.  You’ve been getting lighter, happier, more clear-headed, more practical as well as more creative and insightful.  Yoga’s practices guarantee this.

Plus, you cannot really tell anyone that you’re enlightened.  It’s a Catch 22.  If you announce that you’re enlightened, you take on the persona of being enlightened, which makes you trapped in a persona, thus not enlightened.  So, it’s a Divine Secret.  Only those who are appointed to uplift others are openly recognized and acknowledged as Self-Realized Beings.

I lived and studied with such a Master for almost seven years.  There’s nothing else like it!  Whatever you think enlightenment looks like, actually seeing it in person is a different thing.  For me, it was like comparing Cinderella at the ball to the reality of getting married.  It’s earthy.  It’s real.  Gurus are not phonies.  Seeing the Divine in action, being human, is going to shatter your concepts.  They need shattering.

Think of it this way:  when you become Self-Realized, will you still eat?  You will still have a body, so you’ll eat, drink, sweat, excrete, speak, walk, talk, sleep and maybe even snore.  You’ll still have to take care of your body, for as long as you have one.  That’s the point!  To be free while in the midst of life, to be consciousness-incarnate, embodied consciousness.

To bring the best of yourself into every action, every relationship, every breath of your life — you always wanted to be this way.  To shine with the inner light that you know is there, this is your future.  To blossom into the fullness of your innermost essence is the reason you took birth.  To be and to share the Divine in the mundane, what a way to live!  Can you see the possibility for yourself?  Is this something you can grow into?

But you deny the very same possibility to others by denying that someone other than you could have made it.  You debunk the whole idea of a Guru, when that’s really the only person who can help you get enlightened.  You cannot learn to play the flute from someone who’s never played, nor from a book.  Even if the book was written by a flautist, you cannot learn to play from a book.

If you want success in the business world, you get a mentor.  You want one who has been successful in their career, not one who hides in the back office.  If you want to attain enlightenment, you need to look for an enlightened being.  My Guru told us, “The way you become enlightened in this lifetime is to spend enough time with an enlightened being.”  What is “enough time?”  Probably it’s more than you have already spent, unless you are already enlightened and were keeping it a secret.

Every religion was founded by such a person, a Divine Human.  They were so inspiring, uplifting and transforming that people were attracted to them.  When Siddhartha Gautama became the Buddha, he could not stay in one place for long; so many people came that the area ran out of food within a few days.  Some kings closed their borders to the Buddha because his travel through their kingdom would bankrupt it.

Yoga focuses on living Divinity, embodied consciousness.  While the Roman Catholic church doesn’t recognize saints until they’ve been dead for decades or centuries, there were people who knew them.  Their testimony is what makes the church able to determine that “that person had been a saint when they were alive.”  But the people who knew them got to spend time with these Divine Beings.  What about you, wouldn’t you like to know one?

Today is the day we honor the Guru.  Yoga wouldn’t be so popular in the USA if Gurus hadn’t brought it to us from India.  Even if you think it’s merely an exercise or healing system, it came from Gurus.  It’s time to honor the source.

I owe everything to my Baba.  I live in ever-growing gratitude and perpetual service to Him and to all whom He sends to me.

OM svaroopa svasvabhavah namo namah

Revel in the Full Moon of the Guru

vibhuti-2By Vibhuti King

Guru Purnima is the most important yoga holiday, celebrated on the fullest full moon of the year. This is when Guru’s Grace flows most generously and our practices bear the most fruit. This day you renew practices received from your Guru as well as look for an opportunity to give back to your Guru.  Experience the luminous power of Grace, shining on this fullest of full moons, dedicated by the ancient sages to the Guru.

The moon has always been a mystical presence in my life. As a child. I would stand at the window and gaze at the moon. In all aspects, waxing and waning, it was beautiful and mysterious to me. When full and bright, it was most captivating. Gazing at its fullness, I felt fullness in my heart.

Guru Purnima Moon zeenews-comBefore finding Svaroopa® yoga, I joined the Algonquin Medicine Society and became a member of the Moon Lodge. Our responsibility was to celebrate each of the moon’s 13 cycles. In the Abenaki language, each has a name. Two refer to the moon as teacher. Nokomes means grandmother, offering wisdom and guidance to all of her earth children. As Kesos, “little sun,” the moon reflects the sun’s light upon the earth to guide us through the darkness.

SwamijiNow as a Svaroopi, I discover that my dear old friend, the moon, had always been heralding the coming of my Guru. She is the profound and pervasive teacher for Self-Realization. She is giver of the upwelling Light of Self. The light of Consciousness shines through her in a way that is accessible to all – especially on Guru Purnima, when Guru’s Grace shines the brightest! I am immensely grateful for this holiest of days, for her guidance on this supreme path and for her presence in my heart.

I will be celebrating Guru Purnima on Sunday, July 9th, with Swami Nirmalananda in Downingtown PA.  I hope you will be there, too! If not in person, be with us on the free Swami Connection conference call. Swamiji will shower us all with Guru’s Grace and her blessings. Register now to get the conference call number and access code.

Independence & Freedom

swamiBy Swami Nirmalananda Saraswati

I love America’s 4th of July celebration!  Certainly the events are fun, but it’s the principle underlying it that is most meaningful to me — Independence Day.  When the American colonies declared their independence from Britain, what were they claiming?  What was their motivation?  What could bring together so many leaders, who lived so far apart (based on travel times in the 1700’s) and had such different lifestyles?

Money.  Their primary complaint was “taxation without representation.”  There were other things they didn’t like, but money underlay most of their complaints.  Is that what freedom is about, the freedom to spend your money on what you want?

The average American lifestyle seems to prove out this theory.  If actions speak louder than words, what are most people doing?  Shopping.  Now we not only have Black Friday but Amazon Prime Day is vying with it for prominence.  It’s about how much you can get, not about how much you can give.  It’s about how much you own, not about how much you care.  It’s about how much you depend on things for happiness, or depend on other people for your happiness.  It’s about dependency — not about independence.

Declaration-of-IndependenceYet the philosophy underlying America’s founding documents is very elevated.  The first two paragraphs of the Declaration of Independence include these phrases:

When in the course of human events…

…to assume among the powers of the earth…

…the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God…

We hold these truths to be self-evident…

…all men are created equal…

…they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights…

…[including] Life, Liberty…

You may have noticed that I didn’t complete the last phrase with “and the pursuit of Happiness.”  That’s because the pursuit of happiness is not an elevated activity.  Elevated means uplifted, and most people pursuing happiness are not pursuing uplifting things.  In addition, the Founding Fathers couldn’t conceive of liberty for everyone; minorities, including women, were not meant to be included, not until constitutional amendments were enacted for each.

So their motivations were crass, they were exclusionistic and opportunistic, not to mention greedy and prejudiced, but they cited a high philosophy.  Most of them were well educated, which meant they knew Greek, Latin and Hebrew, and read the classics as well as the Bible in its original language.

 

moksha

moksha – liberation

Their studies usually included Plato and Aristotle, as well as other philosophers, giving them elevated principles, whether or not they were able to apply them to everyone at the time.  But they didn’t study Sanskrit.  They had never heard that they would find freedom inside, by finding God within.  They didn’t seek liberation, only independence.

 

As a child, I was inspired by the early settlers who immigrated so they could practice their religion, like the Pilgrims in Massachusetts.  The settlers who appeared to be looking for wealth didn’t inspire me, so I paid little attention to the history of Jamestown.  I loved the frontiersmen, who seemed to be seeking freedom from the tyranny of society.  The Founding Fathers spoke of higher principles, the most elevated I’d found in any of my first twelve years of formal education.  Yet I wanted more.

Buddha’s teaching that life is suffering was instantly understandable to me, but the path offered by Buddhism sounded just as restrictive and painful as what society offered me.  Only yoga gave me a way out, which turned out to be a way in.  It was Muktananda that made the difference for me, giving me Shaktipat.  That gift showed me a possibility that I’d never heard of before – truly the promise of liberation.  True freedom!

  • Freedom from the tyranny of my own limited sense of self, to experience my own Divinity.
  • Freedom from locking down my heart into conditional love, to experience Divine Love for all.
  • Freedom from depending on others to give me a sense of self-worth, by experiencing the depth and vastness within.
  • Freedom from being defined by others’ expectations and needs, and freedom to meet both, but for a different reason and from a deeper inner reservoir.

fireworksYoga promises freedom, not independence.  I still pay taxes.  I vote in elections.  I’m a good citizen, participating in the benefits that our society offers and contributing to them.  I’m not a rebel anymore, because I’ve found my Self.  I don’t need to create a sense of self by matching what others do or by rebelling against that.  I am me.  Free.

And I still love the 4th of July!  It holds the hint of the promise of freedom.  For a yogi’s “pursuit of happiness” is the inner exploration of her own Divinity.  Do more yoga.  Discover your Self.

Deepen It Yourself!

Reported by Vibhuti King & Matrika Gast

lloyd dharma apirian“These have been my deepest Svaroopa® yoga experiences yet,” says Dharma (Lloyd) Apirian.  He took all three DIYs last summer and has just completed June’s DIY: Healing which focused on deeper variations on our Magic 4 sequence.

Especially powerful for Dharma was the training in Lunge. “First,” he describes, “my legs were aligned too close, as though on a tightrope, and I was lifting my ribs in the wrong direction. I was able to remedy these misalignments. Even more remarkable was an adjustment from another student. She placed one hand on my sacrum and the other behind my heart. I felt her hands grow hotter and hotter. I was no longer in the realm of time. Suddenly I realized someone was talking to me. Though I still felt her hands on my back, she was actually sitting in front of me. This was my first ever experience of a comfortable and easy yet well-aligned pose. It brought to life Patanjali’s sutra “Sthira sukham asanam” (the pose is steady and easy). In my home practice now, Lunge feels brand new.

“During each DIY, Swamiji gives us a Q&A session. I asked whether I am starting to access the Self, and explained how I am easing into That. She helped me go deeper and verified my experience, reducing my self-doubt. She clarified that this is what I was experiencing, while I thought it was fear. Receiving such profound guidance is one of the great benefits of have an accessible living Guru.”

swami-sittingThe day after the program, Dharma says he “eased into my Self” just before entering his workplace. He shares, “The receptionist is a ‘difficult’ person for me, and has been for more than a decade. As I approached her desk, I saw her with a deep love — love that I have never experienced before. Love without attachment or desire. My love for my wife has deepened. And it’s the same with everyone I see, when I am in that place of Self, my home. This is a transformative path. I have been searching since my teens for a path that would truly change me and Svaroopa® yoga is it. I am deeply grateful for my Guru, Swami Nirmalananda, and for my Teacher Trainers. I am also profoundly grateful for my fellow students. They supported and encouraged me. I hope I supported them too.”

saguna-gossAlso a longtime practitioner of Svaroopa® yoga, Saguna Goss is the Ashram Business Manager as well. She says, “Since the opening of the Ashram, I’ve been prioritizing the meditation retreats and sutra courses. In the DIY weekend, I had the opportunity to focus on the asanas. It was a real treat! Having the opportunity to dive into a sequence of poses and do them again and again provided a beautiful support for my body. That experience has helped my meditation practice. It was a gift to be reminded about the importance of supporting your body during this process of inner opening that comes from meditation. The beautifully deep Q&A session with Swami, followed by a Swami Sunday, completed a weekend full of Bliss!”

amala-photoSVA Board President Amala Cattafi says, “The DIY retreat reconnected me to the importance of making my yoga practice ‘full-spectrum.’ I have always favored meditation and seva over working on my body. Yet they are all connected. The DIY retreat not only reminded me of that, but gave me an easy home program that does not take any more time than my usual morning practice!”

DIY is for anyone interested in yoga and meditation. There are no prerequisites. Meticulous pose instructions are included as well as pose handouts for your personal practice. Chanting, meditation and group sessions with Swami Nirmalananda take you deeper and deeper into Consciousness. Everyone experiences amazing transformation in body, mind and heart.  Our next one is August’s DIY: Connection followed by October’s DIY: Fulfillment.

Finding the Self

aanandi ross2By Aanandi (Annie) Ross

This month’s teachings article, Physical, Prana, Mind & More…, set me pondering my experience of the maayaa-koshas, the five coverings that keep you from knowing you are Shiva. They are levels of contracted Consciousness, “…your ‘five bodies’, the levels that Consciousness takes on to become you.”

For much of my life, I have had an involved experience of anna-maayaa-kosha, the physical body, shaped, nurtured and sustained by food (“anna” in Sanskrit).  I have always been interested and involved in creating healthy, delicious food. In the 80’s I studied macrobiotics, then at the Institute for Food and Healing in NYC.  I taught cooking classes and catered my students’ weddings and parties.  Then I studied Ayurveda.

Recently I’ve been wrestling with a food situation for months. My partner gives a weekly talk at a small local church. After his talk, there is a dinner, lovingly prepared by caring members of the congregation. It is not the kind of food I usually choose to eat. So often I’ve said to myself, “I will not eat this food tonight. I’ll go home early, or just visit and not eat.”  Yet, over years, that actually happened only once or twice. Most of the time I eat the meal, while enjoying the company of the small group. I wrestle with this situation weekly. So I asked myself, “Why am I faced with this, week after week?  What can I learn here?”

After reading Physical, Prana, Mind & More…, I’ve come to see that something’s happening in the processes of a deeper level than my “food body.” Loosening my hold on anna-maayaa-kosha let me pay attention to subtler levels and look deeper. The experience of gratitude is playing in my mind, mano-maayaa-kosha. I realize I am so fortunate to have choice in what I eat. If I were in a third-world country or in prison, I would have little or no choice of food. So now I simply bless the congregation’s food and eat it, with great gratitude.

Wow, mano-maayaa-kosha, the mind, is a big one!  From childhood through adulthood I have experienced hefty confusion, including a lot of disorganization and chaos in my life. I’ve wondered, “Where does this come from?” It has been reflected in my inability to keep order in my house, paperwork, my mind, my life. But lately, I have turned a corner, so to speak, gotten over the hump. I have found what I’ve been looking for in the midst of this chaos: the experience of just being in my Self.  I notice that now, bit by bit, I create small pockets of order. I do more “deep cleaning.”  Along with that, my body is experiencing a major phase of clearing: Kundalini is presenting me with much inner chiropractor work.

My experience of vij~nana-maayaa-kosha, the “Truth” body, has also been extraordinary.  Ten years ago,  I used the Internet and googled the name I knew as that of my biological father. Since the age of 12, I had known about him, but we had never met. The Internet search brought up an article he had authored. When I read his words, I knew in Truth this was my father. Even before I had any tangible evidence that this man was my father, I was confident in telling the world I had found him. A while later, it was amazing to actually meet him in Israel.

When I come to aananda-maayaa-kosha, the bliss body, I have a wonderful childhood memory. I was 7 or 8 years old, up on a hilltop at night, looking out at the dazzling city lights. The moment was ecstatic, blissful beyond words. I know now I was experiencing the pure delight of Shakti, all the sparkle and creation, in my bliss body.

And now, through my Svaroopa® yoga practices, I know there is even more! Tat Tvam Asi: Thou art THAT — the Self that’s I’ve always been seeking. The wonder of Svaroopa® yoga is that it focuses on the Self, while working on all your bodies simultaneously.  In “Celebrating Light (December 2016), Swamiji said, “Accepting your small-s self is part of finding your capital-S Self.”

Our current month’s article, along with Guru’s Grace, has helped me experience the layers of my small-s self. This process has enabled me also to heed her warning: “The problem is you get enamored with your bodies.” Instead of getting stuck in a “covering” over my Self, the teachings of this article have lovingly moved me into and through my small-s self, level by level.

opening-the-doorway-within

This has opened me to her final guidance, “Deepen into the core of your being and allow your radiance to shine from inside out.” Thus, I am becoming more and more established in That.  Along the way, more and more japa is a great support!

Summer: Pitta Season

binduBy Maureen Shortt

Ayurveda describes how we live within, as well as embody, the energies of nature: space, air, fire, water, and earth. Each has qualities that we can perceive relative to the other energies. For instance, we know that air is light relative to the heaviness of earth. We know that water is cool relative to the heat of fire.

The seasons also have energies relative to one another. We can perceive the humidity and heat of the summer months relative to the dryness and cold of winter. Moving toward the summer months, pitta season, you will find it helpful to apply Ayurvedic principles. They enable you to maintain your best health and to stay open to your knowing of your own Divinity.

One Ayurvedic principle is that “like increases like” which means that the heat and moisture of summer outside increase the heat and moisture inside your body and mind. This excess of pitta energy can show up as skin conditions, fevers, allergies, inflammation, reflux, loose stools, frustration, anger or pressure.

To avoid these problems as you move into and through summer, make simple lifestyle choices to support healthy Pitta. Pitta-friendly veggies include asparagus, green beans, cucumbers, summer squashes, avocadoes and fennel. Continue eating lots of cooked greens.  For raw greens, and add oil; think salad dressing.  For fruits in summer, indulge in cooling melons as well as seasonal sweet fruits such as peaches, apricots, berries, apples, coconuts, dates and figs.

Balanced summer grains include amaranth, oats, quinoa and wheat. Combine them with mung beans and split mung as well as the small beans like lentils. For dairy, stick with soft cheeses like cottage cheese or goat cheese. Keep your yogurt to a minimum as the sour taste aggravates pitta. Cilantro, coriander, cumin, turmeric and cardamom will keep your digestive fire going without over-stimulating it.

Within the rest of your summer lifestyle, think cool and relaxed. The lifestyle word for pitta is “moderation.” Enjoy the coolness of shade. Walking by water, especially under a full moon, balances pitta beautifully. Wear cool colors like whites, blues and purples. Be easy on yourself. Don’t over commit. Do give yourself plenty of time for long Shavasanas. This way you will welcome the lightness and Consciousness-expansiveness of pitta season.