It’s Not the Same

By Gurudevi Nirmalananda

I’ve been delighted to lead group meditations online for the last year.  But it’s simply not the same as being together in person.  It’s clear that it supports others.  The energetic connection is tangible, providing a deeper meditation.  But it’s not the same.

I’ve been teaching via technology since 2010.  Back then, we were on phone conference calls, but we made it work.  I really amped it up last year, with students zooming in from multiple continents.  But it’s really not the same as when I can be in the room with them.

I’ve enjoyed staff lunches where we had food delivered to everyone.  While we were all eating the same food and chatting onscreen, it wasn’t the same as when we’re all together.  I’ve talked with people who have attended weddings and funerals online.  Understandably, online was the only option, and how great to be able to connect at such an important time.  Yet you already know what I’m going to say – it’s not the same.

What is it?  What is the difference when we get together in person?  Welcome hugs included, something else is happening.  It is important.  It touches your heart.  It makes all of us more real somehow.  Yoga calls it “embodied consciousness.”  This is what is unique about the human being:  that our being is both physical and mystical.

Yoga says Consciousness has manifested this universe, becoming everything that exists.  But only the human being has the capacity to know both their physical reality as well as the Consciousness of which they are made.  This is what mystical means, that there is a mystery hidden in the mundane reality.  The mystical quest is an inner quest.  This is yoga’s specialty.

However, something mystical happens when we get together.  It’s intangible yet incredibly beneficial.  Researchers proves that time spent together lowers anxiety and depression.  It can help with emotions, leading to higher self-esteem and empathy.  And a timely additional benefit is that it improves our immune systems.  

This is a precious time right now.  In Pennsylvania, we had a sweet time free from masks and social distancing.  We didn’t know how long it would last, and here we are, masking again.  Still, we can get together! Another variant or surge might put us back in isolation at any time. 

A friend told me this morning that she’s going to visit her sister for the first time in more than 18 months.  I was fortunate to spend the last 10 days with 28 other yogis in two back-to-back retreats.  It was glorious!  It’s time to get together.  Isn’t there a song about this?

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.

Ashram Profile

By Carolyn (Karuna) Beaver

Ashram is a Sanskrit word that names the place where the Guru lives.  Ashram also names the place where the fatigue of worldly concerns (shrama)  is cleared.  A-shrama means without shrama.

Svaroopa® Vidya Ashram lives up to its name.  This is the place where the clouds of shrama are lifted. They’re lifted by the enlightened Guru who resides there.  They’re lifted so that you may understand and reside in the knowledge of your own Self.

How does this happen?  It starts with our Guru, Swami Nirmalananda Saraswati.  We call her Gurudevi, which means Divine Teacher. She is a Kundalini master and internationally renowned teacher.  The Ashram houses her physical being.  It also houses the divine energy of Grace that flows through her.  It’s contagious!  You can feel it.  In a program with Gurudevi or by reading one of her articles, you palpably feel the Grace.

The Ashram operates Lokananda, which means Bliss Place.  It also lives up to its name.  It’s a full-service retreat center in Downingtown PA.  There, we offer meditation and yoga healing retreats.  Gurudevi offers Shaktipat.  Many of these immersions are also available online.  

The Ashram offers professional training courses for yoga teachers, yoga therapists and meditation teachers.  Visit our online Calendar to see that the offerings go on and on.  There’s a course or program for everyone — from new yogis to experienced practitioners.

One of my favorite things about the Ashram is that so many of Gurudevi’s profound yet accessible teachings are free.  You have podcasts, written materials and free online meditation programs.  As a Svaroopa® yoga teacher, I look forward to Gurudevi’s monthly articles.  Along with the article, I receive pithy quotations pulled from it to share with my students.  I’m not teaching only poses.  I am teaching the profound promise of yoga.

For more than 30 years, Gurudevi has met the needs of seekers in so many ways.  She and our  Ashram staff are dedicated to delivering the teachings.  They’ve been passed down to her from her Guru, Swami Muktananda.  These ancient and yet so relevant teachings are delivered in a multitude of formats and price points.  

They meet us just where we are.  Then the Ashram clears the weight of the shrama we’ve been carrying.  Through expert and compassionate teachings, we come to understand who we are and where we’re going.  The Ashram indeed lives up to its name.

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.

Realigning My Mirror

By Annie (Aanandi) Ross

In an early Svaroopa® Yoga Teacher Training, someone told me, “You might have to realign your rearview mirror when you depart.”  That image has stuck with me through many years of practicing and teaching yoga.  At the time, It was amazing to consider that yoga could make me taller. 

Little did I know that it could also fill me up.  Yet it fills me from the inside, not like a dear friend recently described: “Happiness is when I can fill up my calendar.”

In her June 2021 Teachings Article: Why Is My Mind So Crazy? Gurudevi says:

“When you feel empty, your mind goes crazy.
It tries to find something to fill you up.
It’s like trying to fill an empty reservoir with a teaspoon.
You need an underground stream to be filling it from the bottom up.”

She is referring to the stream of Guru’s Grace.  When I look to the external world to fill me up with activity, I’m sunk.  Yoga’s teachings explain the cause.  There will never be enough in the external world to satisfy me fully.  Yes, I may be momentarily satisfied, but then what?  The external world will not fully satisfy — ever.  The “More” that I yearn for is only found inside.  And when I simply allow that to happen, when I look inward, I’m settled.  I’m at home in my own Self. 

I remember one incident when my mind was clearly confused.  It was 1973.  I was returning from a stay overseas, passing through JFK International Airport.  I was jetlagged, tired and inexperienced at exploring the world.  I saw something my mind did not know how to interpret.  There were twenty or so people, dressed all in orange.  They were singing something, swirling and dancing around in a big circle.  This was right in the middle of the busy airport.  I was astonished.  I stopped to watch, as did many others.  I now recognize the people in orange were chanting Hare Krishna.

The interesting thing is that my mind was spellbound.  I felt transported to somewhere else.  I wanted to know who they were and what they were doing.  I stayed for a while.  I tried to grasp what I was seeing.  I felt something but had no idea what. 

Then, in a moment, my mind told me, “These people are crazy, really crazy.”  I scoffed to myself and left the crazy scene, shaking my head.  I headed back into the business of the external world.  I felt busy, important and arrogant. 

I couldn’t have figured out how life works on my own.  I needed a teacher — a Master who had already tread this yogic path.  I needed one who had grasped the teachings from her teacher, who got it from his teacher.

Finally, stumbling into Svaroopa® yoga and meditation, I began to understand the mind.  My mind can be tricky and crazy making.  Then I came to know what really fills me up from the inside.  It is the Self, described in the ancient texts.  And I came to understand how my mind can serve me better.  It takes practice.  I am forever grateful for this blessing.

Svaroopa® Vidya Meditation

Svaroopa® Vidya Meditation

Everything arises from within.  This meditation system opens up the inner flow, so you are uplifted from your very first meditation.  Healing is followed by inner peace, which gives way to profound bliss.  Inner wisdom fills your life with meaning and purpose.  Best of all, you discover its source, your own Divine Essence. 

Healing, Peace & Bliss

Your first meditation begins the process of profound healing.  Both physical and more than physical, the changes are immediate and tangible.  Your experience develops quickly into deep inner peace.  Your heart expands into an ease-full inner space.  Bliss comes next, an unmistakable inner sensation that fills your mind and body.  It carries with you as you step back into activities.  Svaroopa® Vidya Meditation makes it easy and profound.

Inner Wisdom Unlocked 

Inner knowing is the only real answer, the only one that makes sense to you.  No matter what anyone else says, when you know — you know.  Meditation is the way to dive inside, to the source of the knowing.  Svaroopa® Vidya Meditation makes this inner opening easy, with profound answers and deep truths that arise from within.

Uncover Your True Essence

You discover who you are, you don’t become someone new.  You don’t add to who you are or what you do.  Instead you uncover your deeper essence, which has been hidden within for so long.  Svaroopa® Vidya Meditation makes it easy because it’s contagious.  You catch it from one who knows, a Meditation Master.  Gurudevi’s guidance is better than a GPS for getting you where you want to go.