Tag Archives: ashram

The Next Steps – by Swami Nirmalananda

Birth.  Death.  Infinity. 

The Next Steps logoThese compelling words riveted my attention in the prologue to a weekly television show when I was 10 years old. I now realize that they held the promise of my future as a teacher focused on the infinity part of the equation. Yet the Ashram itself goes through the same life cycle it names, having been birthed in 2009 and now in its sixth year of service.

The moment of birth is a compelling moment but then the real work begins. I was trained in the continuing support needed by a growing organism, first by my children, then by my Guru and now by the yogis and teachers that I serve. Svaroopa® Vidya Ashram needs the same kind of support, including a financial lifeline that keeps it alive. You provide that lifeline.

We’re shifting gears just parents who watch their child begin school.  We’re no longer changing diapers, now managing the many tasks needed in a busy day, as the Ashram moves into “Vishnu mode.” Our February yaj~na (fire ceremony) in Ganeshpuri was dedicated to Vishnu the nurturing force and sustaining power of the Divine.

What does it take to keep an Ashram going?  The phones and emails need to be answered, the programs housed and taught, and yogis informed, enrolled and inspired to do more yoga.  There are articles and E-Letters to be written, new courses to be designed and presented, free programs to offer (both in-person and on the phone). Meals must be served and cleaned up from, plus the cleaning that comes from having a lot of traffic moving through every room we occupy. I cannot do all of these things, I confess, along with shoveling the snow or mowing the lawn. Funding this Divine work means you are taking care – not only of the teacher – but also of everyone who comes to study here. Their upliftment uplifts the whole world.

The Next Steps is our focus for our spring fundraising campaign.  We need your support. Yet you are likely to find that the Ashram’s next steps synchronize perfectly with your own.  Especially, your monthly donations provide a steady stream of funding that makes us able to plan for your future.  Please offer a one-time donation or pledge a monthly gift in any of these donation categories;

  • Swami Support – supporting me personally & my work in the world
  • Free Programs – supporting free programs (in-person, telephone & online services)
  • Next Generation – training teachers (for poses as well as meditation)
  • Mother Ship – supporting our home base (buildings, computers & other infrastructure)

It is a profound privilege to share the bhasma (sacred ash) from our Vishnu yaj~na as a thank you gift to yogis who increase their monthly donation or begin a new one. As an alternative, you may choose the japa (mantra repetition) recording I made last year for your thank you.

Donate at www.svaroopa.org/donate or call us at 610.644.7555. Every gift, of any size and frequency, makes a difference. Thank you.

OM svaroopa svasvabhava.h namo nama.h

Gratitude by Amala (Lynn) Cattafi Heinlein, President of SVA

Blossoming Forth logo-verticalWhat are you grateful for? Have you thought about it today?

Here is my short list:

  • I am grateful for my Guru, who with a word, or a glance, or just being within proximity, removes the knotted ropes that my mind binds me with
  • I am grateful for my Guru, who has opened the door to Grace within me, and is taking me (sometimes slowly, sometimes in the super express lane) to the knowing of the Self
  • amala-photoI am grateful for our amazing community, all of you, who time and time again bring me home
  • I am grateful for the opportunity to do seva, to serve on the Board with this most amazing and committed group of yogis, who never lose sight that all we do is all for you. This also includes all of the staff and sevites who are so dedicated and loving
  • I grateful for my family, even when they drive me crazy (which at the moment is most of the time! LOL), because they are the Self also, they are the Guru.
  • I am grateful for this experience of embodiment, even though it is not always perfect on a physical level, it is perfection itself!
  • I am grateful for everyone I meet, everything I can see, touch, taste, hear, or smell
  • I am grateful for what I don’t yet know, even when my mind wants to stress that I don’t yet know it
  • I am grateful for the emotional pain I am currently in the midst of, as I know it is part of the expansion process
  • I am grateful for my mind, even though I still easily become enslaved by it, because it is also Shiva, and it is beautiful
  • I am grateful for fear, because it gives me the opportunity to face and walk through it.. and getting to the other side of it is ecstatic!
  • I am eternally grateful for this path, our lineage, the teachings. How did we all get so lucky to have found this opening, this map, to Self-realization?
  • And finally, I am grateful to you who open your heart time and time again to offer your donations to keep this organization not only afloat, but sailing forward! Don’t stop now, do it again! The organization survives, and thrives, on your donations and your participation, and even if you don’t realize it, so do you….

Click here to support your organization and your practice.

OM svaroopa svasvabhava namo nama.h

Let Us All Blossom Forth Together by Prakash (David) Falbaum

Prakash (David) Falbaum

Prakash (David) Falbaum

Two and a half years ago a seed was planted within me during my first Svaroopa® yoga class. At the time, little did I know what that would mean.  But now I know the seed was the beginning of the explicit knowledge that I am Divinity itself.

I was 49 years old at the time and was as far from any type of spirituality as I believe a human being can get. I considered myself an agnostic at best and spent most if not all my time building walls to keep myself safe from what I thought was a world out to hurt me at every turn.

Fortunately, I was in back pain as well, and to help with that I found a Svaroopa® yoga class near where I live in the Twin Cities. At first, I concentrated on asana, and my tailbone began to open. As fear started falling away I picked up japa and meditation.  With physical opening I had so many changes so quickly that I emailed Swamiji. She answered my email!  Again, I was shocked. I was a new student, yet the Master Teacher and Spiritual Leader of our organization took the time to help me out.  This response was not what I had been exposed to with the religious practices I’d grown up with.

Then came a calling from within me, and I began to offer seva and donations. I initially wanted to give back to Swami and the organization that was giving me so much, but the more I give, whether it’s a financial donation or my time offering seva, the more I get. These practices have allowed me to become more seated within my Self, as I become aware of the more subtle levels of Divinity within myself.

I started my yoga practices as a fearful introverted person, and now I have blossomed forth into a loving, giving, gracious person. Swamiji and the lineage have provided the seed and practices to make the seed grow. All the practices from asana to meditation, to seva, being in the presence of Swamiji and the highest teaching nurture the seed, establishing me in my own svaroopa, more and more of the time.

Thus, as I have given more of myself and increased my monthly donations, I have continued to Blossom Forth. The more I give, the more I blossom and know my Divinity more and more of the time.  I now serve on the Ashram Board and am continually amazed at how the Ashram exists as a living, breathing form of consciousness enlivened by Swami Nirmalananda.

Thanks to the generosity of so many other sevites and to the generosity of monthly donors and annual donors, the Ashram serves our wide community of yogis on our chosen paths under the umbrella of the Svaroopa® sciences. I know that for me to Blossom Forth into the ever-deeper knowing of my Self, it has been essential that the Ashram has been nourished by Swami Nirmalananda’s dedication into stunningly beautiful bloom. Under her unwavering stewardship Svaroopa® yoga teacher training has flourished into a new era for those of us whose path it is to bring the magic of our asana practices into the world. Supporting her work in this transformation via our Consolidation have been talented Trainers, staff and sevites. And now we have a consolidated organization, a brand new website providing easy access to essential information about the various Svaroopa® paths to the knowing of ourselves as Self. And the Ashram is poised for even greater expansion to serve those of us who already benefit from Swamiji’s teachings as well as seekers who are on the brink of finding the Svaroopa® sciences.

Please join me in giving financially to support the current and future work of Svaroopa® Vidya Ashram, for the experiential knowing of your own Self. Give through monthly donations or your annual donation — or both.  Let your own sense of gratitude for what you have already received blossom forth into ongoing financial support, so that each and all of us can continue to blossom forth and fresh seeds can be planted in new places.

Continue to Blossom Forth by Rudrani (Rosemary) Nogue

Rudrani (Rosemary) Nogue

Rudrani (Rosemary) Nogue

My inner blossoming began when I started on the Svaroopa® path in 1999. For a long time, I didn’t notice I was starting to blossom, as I had always been very fearful and “in my head.” But when I look back from how I am now to see how I was then, the difference is vivid.

My path has not always been smooth. Countless times I have bumped into my “small-s self.”  Yet even when flower buds open gradually and the change is too slow to detect, still they are blossoming forth. I was slow to know the inner blossoming that I yearned for was actually happening, and that it would continue to unfold.

Now I continue to do my part by being steady in my practices, including japa and meditation, serving on the Board and being open to Swamiji’s flow of Grace.  Another steady practice I started several years ago is donating to support the Ashram and my Guru, Swami Nirmalananda Saraswati. I knew instinctively that the right thing to do is to give financial support to that which has supported me and continues to blossom forth my inner Divinity.

The offerings of the Ashram through Swamiji are ultimately about you and for you.  The Ashram exists so you will blossom inward.  In this way you can experience your Divine Essence on the inside and then bring that awareness into your life. So many offerings come under the umbrella of the Svaroopa® Vidya Ashram. An amazing variety of Grace-filled paths support you blossoming into your Divine Essence. Everything Swamiji does (whether understood or not) is to support your inner blossoming.

Yet each of us must also do our part. We must participate on this path in whatever way works for us. For you it may be practicing the practices, reading SVA email communications, using our beautiful and efficient new website, or taking teacher training and yearlong courses, workshops and Shaktipat Retreats.  Hidden within, each bud has the potential to fully blossom. But without sunlight, water and fertilizer it will not be able to actually bloom. Your ongoing practices and participation, as well as being open to the flow of Grace, are the ingredients you need to blossom inward.

In order for Swamiji and the Ashram to continue to serve you in so many varied ways we need your financial support. In the end it is all for you.  The more you support the Ashram and Swamiji, the more they can continue to support you. It is an amazing circle of giving and receiving.  Neither can grow without the other. Give a plant water, light and fertilizer and it will blossom. We need your contribution so the Ashram can continue to blossom, in order to support you growing and blossoming. The great abundance of teachings and support offered through Swamiji and the Ashram is all there for you – use it, practice it, open to it, bask in it, bloom in it and support it.  Please join me in offering a financial gift so both the Ashram and you can continue “Blossoming Forth.”

Yoga on the Road by Bhanu (Beth) Cunningham

airplane“I have slept in my own bed 20 times in the last year.” This was Swamiji’s patient and conclusive statement that finally melted the strong resistance pocketing the room. She was answering questions about her decision to stop travelling so much and build an Ashram and home for herself and all of us. Being excited about the Ashram, I was drifting in and out, not particularly invested in the details, when her statement jumped out at me. I had known for years that Swamiji travelled extensively. I just never gave it much thought. Now my mind boiled with the question, “How did she do it? How did she do it?…”  How did she realize the Self so fully, bouncing from airport to airport, hotel room to hotel room?

The contemplation of this question has transformed my practice, particularly when I travel. Where I used to dread the upset to my schedule and overwhelming distractions, I now look forward to the challenge of employing some of the deeper practices more earnestly.

I have learned that I can repeat mantra throughout an entire conversation and be simultaneously immersed in both. I have found that humming chants to myself during a big family dinner keeps me truly joyful in what might otherwise be an exercise in anger management. I have fallen in love with meditating in the passenger seat of a car, on an airplane or in a noisy terminal, where the typical annoyances become catalysts for inner expansion.

While the circumstances of travel may not be ideal for deep experiences of the Self, these practices help maintain a consistency to my state, which, in many ways, I have found more profoundly transformative than the exalted inner absorption I get glimpses of in my regular practice.

And there are still many moments, even whole days of travel, when my practice is fleeting at best and is constantly being interrupted. Samadhi seems impossible on days like this. It is then that Patanjali’s Sutra 1.21- “Samadhi (absorption in the Self) is nearest to those whose desire for it is intensely strong”* reminds me of yoga’s fail-safe practice — the cultivation of mumukshutva (the desire for the Self).

When I come to the end of a day of travel (or any given day) and I reflect back on my practice of the day to find it lacking, mumukshutva arises immediately in me. It initially feels like regret or self-condemnation, or even blame. And it hurts, deeply. Yet, as I continue to look at it in the light of a Great Master who spent 345 nights of the year away from home, the edges of that ache soften. A few Ujjayi breaths and I am filled with a blissful yearning for the same Grace that carried Swamiji across many miles to Her Fully-Realized State.  And that desire burns inside, with tremendous warmth and radiance, because I know that Swamiji offers me that very same Grace and the promise that comes with it. As I whisper the mantra to myself, I melt into gratitude for this great longing that draws me ever closer to my Self, and drift off to sleep, doubly inspired for my practice the next day.

When all else fails, it is your mumukshutva that keeps you close to the Self.

So when you travel, take your mumukshutva with you. For the immensity of the promise it holds, it weighs nothing and takes up no room in your luggage.

*Translation by Abbott George Burke (Swami Nirmalananda Giri)

Visiting Gurudev Siddha Peeth by SheynaPurna Peace

India_ Sheynapurna 2

February 2013, we first glimpsed this famed and fabled Ashram following our 15-hour flight from Newark to Mumbai, then a grueling nearly 3-hour bus ride through Mumbai rush hour, and finally onto the bumpy dusty road into Ganeshpuri, where we could see the Ashram’s high barbed-wire topped walls, stretching on seemingly forever. The grounds are very large and very private.

The mainstay of Ganeshpuri is Bhagavan Nityananda’s glorious MahaSamadhi Shrine, open and welcoming.  Gurudev Siddha Peeth sits at the other end of the village; the entrance doors are closed and guards patrol the front area. I found this daunting and at odds with my expectations.  The images I’ve seen of this Ashram are from Baba Muktananda’s early days – doors open wide and welcoming and dozens of people wandering in and out.  The high walls and locked gates were not included in my vision.

Swami Nirmalananda explained to us that, while the majority of visitors to Nityananada’s temple are Indians, Gurudev Siddha Peeth has long been a destination point for many visitors from multiple countries.  With the very real threat of terrorism towards Westerners, Gurumayi Chidvilasananda developed safety measures to protect the Ashram residents and visitors.

Helpful hints:  The glorious bookstore across the road is open throughout the week.  Visitors to the Ashram itself, allowed only on weekends, must sign in and check all bags with security across the way near the bookstore complex.  If you visit in the wee morning weekend hours, don’t carry much besides your asana, shawl and chant book, or be prepared to check all other items with the guards.  They will take excellent care of your personal belongings, but for the morning Guru Gita chant, you will find it easier to leave your belongs ‘at home.’

Once you’ve signed in, you’ll be directed to the hall for the chant.  There you will see that men are on one side and women on the other.  You choose whether to sit close to the leading chanters on the floor, or in a folding chair a bit further back.  Either way, the sounds of the chanting voices, the opening mantras and Guru Gita sung by hundreds of devotees will open your heart.

When the chanting ends, all visitors are escorted out of the Ashram – yet not rushed.  You’ll be able to return in the afternoon to visit Muktananda’s MahaSamadhi Shrine, where you may walk the perimeter of the room or sit on the marble floor where so many devotees steep in meditation.

Gurudev Siddha Peeth challenged me to look at my resistances and expectations.  As the Guru is the mirror showing not only where I am but who I am, the Ashram is as well.  It wasn’t until several months after returning home that I was able to see I had been caught up in my mind – not what is, but what I wanted. I realized that the guards were doing their job to protect everyone in the Ashram, myself included. The residents are doing their sadhana and their lives aren’t meant to be on display to hundreds of visitors. I recognize that Gurudev Siddha Peeth opened me up to see myself more clearly, helping me grow into recognition of my Self.  When I return, it will be with love, wonder and excitement – to spend time with my Guru’s Guru – what could be sweeter?

 

This Stuff Works by Matrika (Marlene) Gast

Marlene Gast

Marlene Gast

Every Sunday when I was very small, I got to sit on my grandfather’s lap while he told me how things work. He described how paper is made from trees ground into wood pulp, how cheese is produced from fermented milk, and how aspirin is made from a substance found in willows. When I got a little older, I received talks on Morse code, soldering and the internal combustion engine. In my twenties when I studied poetry, I learned from my teachers how poetic language works to create a unique world of its own, conveying a particular experience, emotion, vision that tells us so much about our own existence.

At the same time I discovered yoga— a great escape from the rigors of academia. I heard from some of my teachers that yoga could take you to God.  They didn’t say how exactly, and at the time I wasn’t interested in that anyway.  At first I just wanted peace and quiet, but then somehow “deeper” experiences began to happen. When I finally happened upon Svaroopa® yoga, I had become curious about these experiences. What were they? How did they “work”?

In 2005 when I took Foundations with Swamiji (then Rama), I was grateful to receive actual explanations of the workings of Consciousness, reaching right into our human bodies. Swamiji has said that her teachings explain the experiences that we’re having and prepare us for experiencing “more.” Over time it has become clear that Svaroopa® yoga, as it opens us to Consciousness, does so much more than merely working on body, breath, and mind. It invokes and opens up experience of Divine Self, beyond body and mind. Then we see the imperishable radiance of the Divine in everyone and everything.

Through Swamiji’s teachings, at last, I can see more and more how the world works, how life works, how my life has been shaped and what that means.  I see how Divinity is the heart of all we know, all we don’t know yet, and all that is even beyond knowing. For me, that solves a lot of issues.

This is the gift from Swamiji that prompts me to donate to Svaroopa® Vidya Ashram. Of course I am grateful as well for unsurpassed yoga teacher training that has prepared me to do work that I love and for healing that I’ve received in body and mind. But it’s the gift of knowing Self — of seeing how it ALL works — that I cannot do without.

What do you value most? During our Yoga in the World campaign, please join me in giving and express your own gratitude for whatever you have received from Svaroopa® yoga and meditation and the teachings of Swami Nirmalananda.

Click here  to support your Ashram and support your community.