You Will Be Assimilated

By Gurudevi Nirmalananda 

Those were scary words when the Borg invaded a world in “Star Trek: Next Generation.” I wondered what made them so scary. The yogic sage Patanjali answered my question. He says that you already know what it is like to be assimilated, because your mind does this to you frequently. How frequently? Anytime you’re not in a state of enlightenment, you’re assimilated into your mind. 

v.rtti-saaruupyam-itaratra. — Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras 1.4 

At other times, you are assimilated into your mind’s activities. 

You don’t merely have a mind with thoughts in it, your experience is “I am my mind!” If your thoughts are about happy things, you say, “I am happy.” If your thoughts are about sad things, you say, “I am sad.” You don’t say, “I’m thinking sad thoughts.” Instead, you become sadness itself. 

Fortunately this only happens when you’re not in a state of enlightenment. Unfortunately, your experiences of enlightenment are too few and far between. You have already experienced enlightenment, or at least a taste of it. Everyone has these peak experiences, first researched by the psychologist Abraham Maslow. This is all explained in the sutras preceding the one we’re focusing on. 

These great moments in your life happen when you allow everything to fall away from you and you stand in your glory, with your Inherent Divinity shining through. You might have experienced such a moment when standing on a mountain peak, or when you did something amazing and wonderful. For me, it was my wedding day. As I walked down the aisle, I was filled by God. I knew I was being filled by God. And I realized that it was the only way I wanted to live. 

Yoga says you are filled by God from the inside-out, for God is inside. When you clear your mind of the unnecessary chatter (and how much of it is necessary?), your Divine Essence shines through.  

But the rest of the time, as Patanjali says, your mind takes over. You get lost in your mind’s obsessions. It probably has many of them. But Patanjali doesn’t leave us stuck here. He continues on to explain what the mind does and how to get out of the trap it lays for you.  

The rest of his text is yogic techniques and teachings for how to transform your mind so it no longer harasses you. Yoga poses are included, but the bulk of his teachings are about managing your mind differently than you have been.  

The ultimate practice for managing your mind — better yet, for transforming your mind, is meditation. In yoga-based meditation, you don’t let your mind wander all over the cosmos. You harness the power of your mind and steer it inward so you discover your own Self, your own is-ness. Once you’ve found your way inside, you can live from that Essence and Beingness, always filled from the inside-out.

Gurudevi’s Light 

By Soraya (Sudevi) Pereira, Yogaratna 

Every time I participate in a Shaktipat Retreat, Gurudevi transforms my unknowingness into knowingness. I experience Gurudevi’s light shining into a different blind spot concerning my experience of my own Self.  

My September 2022 Shaktipat Retreat was no different. During our first meditation, I experienced lots of Kundalini movements, some familiar and some new. My left shoulder felt tight and painful. Those Kundalini movements seemed to focus on my neck and shoulder area. So I wondered whether they were really Kundalini movements. Or were they simply my own attempts to address my shoulder pain? 

After that meditation session, Swami Prajñananda delivered a talk comparing our spiritual journey to a road trip. She mentioned the benefit of road signs along the way. She said Kundalini movements are road signs, as they show us the right direction. She also said that the road signs are NOT the destination itself. She urged us to not “hug the road sign thinking you have arrived. Keep going.” 

Great talk, I thought, but didn’t feel a personal connection to it ― yet. 

In my next meditation, I rested in a deep, delicious quiet. My shoulder discomfort remained. Kundalini started to move me exactly as before. However, within me at that moment was only the awareness of the sacredness of each movement. All movement was Hers. I no longer nitpicked or judged Kundalini’s movements. I no longer hugged the road sign. I experienced how awareness, my own true Self, validates and affirms the worth and sacredness of everything. 

This experience is still with me. It has drawn me closer to the mantra, swadhyaya (study of the sacred texts) and meditation. 

My gratitude to Gurudevi for shining her revelatory light and to Swami Prajñananda for prompting my recognition!

Two Yoga Miracles

By Katharine Raczkowski

My yoga student Kris and I are both aircraft mechanics, building planes for an aerospace company.  I am also a Svaroopa® yoga teacher.

Spring 2020, I noticed Kris wasn’t breathing.  That is, he was hunched over his workbench, and his belly didn’t move. One day, I lightheartedly asked, “Are you breathing?  Do you have room for your lungs?”  Later he responded, “You asked me if I was breathing.  So I sort of wondered about that.”

Kris had noticed that when work required standing, I stood with my feet side by side and parallel.  When he asked me generally what I did, I asked, “Can I show you something?” I taught him Slow Motion Dive and Crook’t Leg in the Chair and later showed him Tadasana.  I was amazed at how quickly Kris’s spine elongated.  Right away, he had to adjust his car seat as well as rearview and side mirrors.

In September 2020, a fall down a flight of stairs seriously injured my hips.  I had to use two hiking sticks to walk.  Fortunately, my Embodyment® therapist is close to my work.  So I could conveniently have sessions before starting the second-shift.  When I would arrive for work, Kris noticed I was no longer using the hiking sticks nor limping.  “You don’t look at all like you’ve fallen!”  This was the big kick for Kris to schedule a class at his home for himself and his wife.  Plus, since Embodyment® healed my hips, I canceled the hip surgery my doctor had recommended.

Early 2021, Kris had another class.  He learned some Foundations poses and Ujjayi Pranayama to do at home.  In October 2021, I enrolled in Foundations Review, YTT 1 and Embodyment® training.  After that Ashram immersion, I returned home in a whole different place.  Kris scheduled a private class in December.

Now he is working through YTT 1 poses in his home practice.  Before Svaroopa® yoga, Kris couldn’t raise his shoulders much and one arm only 30 degrees.  He no longer protects that arm now, and his joints move together fluidly.  Last week he asked to review Seated Side Stretch.  He explained, “I just love the movement.  It feels great.  But there are a lot of steps.”

Early on, I measured his height at 5’8”; it’s now 6’1”.  His blood pressure came down 20 points in 6 months; medication is no longer needed.  He gave up snacks and went from 220 to 175 pounds.

In a session, he released traumatic memories.  His level of worry and “spinning” has decreased, a change evident to his wife and daughter.  He used to write about his spinning.  Now he’s writing a children’s book about dragons learning how to use their fire appropriately.  He is excited about moving forward and dropping his past.

Online Therapeutic Yoga

By Swami Nirmalananda 

You’ve got choices. Do you want private yoga therapy sessions online? Each one-hour session is dedicated to your needs and gives you immediate improvement in your condition.

Would a semi-private class work better for you? You join in with one or two others who are also in need of healing. You share the teacher’s attention, which means there is less focus on your needs, while you have the support of others who are in the process. Also, it is less expensive because there are more of you sharing the cost.

You may find that our regular online classes work well for you, as Svaroopa® yoga is a therapeutically oriented yoga. Everything we do is about healing and upliftment. 

How do you choose? The best approach is to talk with one of our yoga therapists. She will do an informal assessment of your needs and steer you toward your best option.

If you want to make the choice on your own, use this easy guideline:

If you have a medical diagnosis, start with a private yoga therapy session.

If you don’t have a diagnosis, try out a class.

I used to think that yoga therapy couldn’t be done online, but then doctors started using TeleHealth. It was very empowering. Now we have done hundreds of yoga therapy sessions online, throughout the pandemic and continuing onward.

Many of the therapeutic tools we use are easy to implement over Zoom. You must have your video and audio on as we need to see you in order to help you.

If you are able to come in-person, we are able to do more. Being able to physically align you in your pose, even adding customized props and adjustments makes a big difference.  In addition to our yoga studio in Downingtown PA, we have many trained therapists around the country, even multiple countries. Check out our Teacher Directory.

The only way you’ll find out if Svaroopa® yoga therapy will help you is to give it a try. 

Being a Yogi in the World 

By Gurudevi Nirmalananda  

Yogis of yore left the world, the iconic yogis living in Himalayan caves since thousands of years ago. Their approach was to get rid of all possessions, leave their relationships and cease performing actions. They sought freedom. However, they discovered they could carry all that stuff in their mind, especially reactions to what happened in the past. Thus, in their solitude, they realized they had to work on clearing their mind. 

Clearing your mind gives you a moment of peace. More than mere peace, they strove to open inner access to the deeper levels of their own being. It’s like the sage Patanjali promised: 

Tadaa dra.s.tu.h svaruupe ‘vasthaanam. — Yoga Sutras 1.3 

In the moment your mind is still, you are established in your own Divine Essence.  

The rest of his text is about how to quiet your mind, including using yoga poses, yogic breathing, lifestyle changes and meditation techniques. Yet these are not exclusive to yoga. Everyone has their own little tricks for quieting their mind. One of my early favorites was to look at the sky. Something happens when your mind takes on the shape of the sky – blue, expansive and extending into infinity. 

When I began studying sutras, I wondered: If the goal is stillness of mind, then how do you manage your life? You have to use your mind to manage relationships, to pay bills and even to drive from one location to another. Patanjali’s students didn’t have that problem… 

Meditate with a Master Every Sunday 

Join Gurudevi Nirmalananda for her Swami Sunday meditation program.  She supports you in the process of learning to live in the recognition of your own Divinity. With her as your teacher, the inner process is deep and easy.   

Our traditional satsang format prepares you for a deep and easy meditation. Gurudevi includes chanting, sutras and teachings from the ancient tradition as well as meditation instruction. Know your own Self better by the end of the morning. 

Attending Swami Sunday is the fast track to Self-Realization. In an hour-and-a-half, I am transmuted: every cell, realigned. — Madelyn J. 

Miraculous Shaktipat

By Robin (Nityaa) Blankenship 

Interviewed by Margie (Maitreyi) Wilsman 

In my first Shaktipat Retreat with Gurudevi in 2013, I had an intense experience.  I was changed.  The retreat made a strong sensory impression on me.  I was in a room with 40 or 50 other people.  The energy was high.  I could feel Gurudevi’s energy as she walked around from person to person.  I could sense her getting closer to me.  I had physical kriyas, body movements and different breathing patterns.  When Gurudevi waved her peacock feathers at me, I could smell the distinct scent of the special oil on them. 

There was also a physical sensation when she put her thumb on my forehead.  With her touch, I felt an energy go straight down within me.  The energy then traveled up my spine and through my arms and hands, and my fingers extended out.  It was extraordinary.  It felt like a faucet had turned on at the base of my spine.   

This experience stayed with me.  Afterwards, I remained focused in that area of my body at the base of my spine.  The opening remained as a physical space to soften into.  That physical awareness brought me inside to my Self.   

When I returned home, everything was the same except that I had changed.  The sensory experiences made it tangible to me and imprinted the experience in my mind.  Recalling those sensory impressions brings me back to the experience again and again. 

In an online Shaktipat Retreat with Gurudevi, she gave Shaktipat to the whole group of us at one time.  Preparation for the retreat included receiving instructions on how to prepare our room at home.  We online yogis also got recipe ideas for Ashram-style meals.  I cleaned my yoga room.  I set up my blankets and puja (meditation altar).  I brought in more pictures of the Gurus.  I sealed the room with incense and mantra repetition. 

I discovered that Shaktipat can be transmitted online through Zoom!  A wonderful benefit is that it brought the shakti into my home.  I could feel it build up in my yoga room and into my whole house. 

Reincarnation Defined

By Gurudevi Nirmalananda

Welcome back!  You’ve been here before.  How fortunate that you’ve made it into a human body this time.  Congratulations!  The ancient sages of India say we are the only species with the ability to choose our trajectory, both for this life as well as any future incarnations.

What is so special about being human?  While you have animalistic instincts and urges, there is more to you.  You have the ability to rise above them, to make choices to uplift yourself and to benefit others. Your intelligence, compassion and insight are unique amongst all creatures.

It is insight that makes the biggest difference.  In-sight is looking inward, not merely to your mind but to a deeper level, where you find who you are – who are you that has this mind?  By finding the deeper dimension within, you can become free from the cycle of birth-and-death.  Technically, reincarnation is called “The Doctrine of the Transmigration of Souls.”

Two seekers were walking together, having met along the road to an important pilgrimage site.  Their animated conversation was on the verge of becoming an argument, so they were happy to see a yogi under a tree alongside the road. 

They went over, bowed respectfully and said, “Oh Babaji.  We are disagreeing about how to become free from reincarnation’s vicious cycle.  Tell us, please:  how many more lifetimes will we each have to live?”

Turning to one of the seekers, the Guru said, “You have three more lifetimes to live.”  The seeker was shocked and disheartened.  He shouted, “Oh no!  Not really?  Three more.  That’s terrible!  I thought I was almost there.  Three more lifetimes.” He wandered off in despair.

Turning to the other seeker, the Guru said, “Your future lifetimes number as many as the leaves on this tree.”  With delight, the seeker replied, “Really?  It’s a finite number?  That means I really can make it, right?”  The Guru nodded approvingly.  The seeker bowed and thanked the Guru, then walked away, heading toward his companion.

Within moments, a truck veered off the road and killed him.  OK!  First lifetime complete!  Next he reincarnated as a virus, living only a few hours.  After many virus lifetimes, he graduated to a bacterium, living a bit longer.  He moved through other lifeforms, many with short lifespans, one right after the other. 

Finally, he was reborn as a human again.  His deep spiritual yearning led him to a Guru while still young.  He soaked up the teachings like a sponge, not only learning the theory but experiencing the Inner Truth toward which they point.  By the time he was in his 20’s, his name and reputation began to spread.  People came from far and wide to sit in his luminous presence and hear him teach.

The other seeker, with three lifetimes to go, was saddened to see his friend die so suddenly.  He continued on his pilgrimage, then went on others through his long life, living over 100 years.  His next lifetime was 110 years, wherein he studied with many different teachers. His next lifetime was another long one.

Reborn as a human again, he applied himself diligently to the meditative disciplines and sutra studies.  He was in his 90’s when he heard of a young Guru, one who radiated both love and wisdom.  With the help of friends, he traveled to meet this new teacher.  They all arrived, stored their bags in a nearby guest house and rushed to the satsang hall, slipping their shoes off outside.

The aged seeker walked in the door, picking his way slowly along the central aisle toward the Guru.  As he got closer, the Guru looked closely at him and began to laugh.  “Oh my friend!  Don’t you remember me?  We were sitting under the tree together, not so long ago…”

You have lived so many lives.  You have taken birth again this time so you can do something differently than before.  What is it that you have come here to do?  What do you want to find?  What is the highest that you can become?

The answers are all inside.  Unfortunately, without proper guidance, you’re peering into an inner darkness.  You need a teacher who can shine the light all the way inward.  That’s what my Baba did for me.  I’d love to help you find you, if you will allow.

Why Do I Give Shaktipat?

By Gurudevi Nirmalananda 

I give this Divine Initiation out of love, pure love.  It is love for my Guru that makes it even possible.  It is love for you that makes me reach out to you.  When I see you, I see your Divine Essence, but I also see that you don’t see it.  So I offer you a new way of seeing, a new way of being, a new way of living.  Shaktipat gives you this in an instant, yet the spiritual boost keeps growing within you. 

I remember when I lived in need and fear.  I was miserable but I tried to hide it from myself.  I kept busy.  I had my favorite escape hatches though none of them were uplifting.  Only when I started doing yoga did I find something that improved my state of mind along with my body. 

Then I received Shaktipat.  It gave me a whole new dimension of myself.  Suddenly, I was alive in a new way.  And my mind couldn’t trap me as effectively as before.  I didn’t need to escape anymore because I was present, fully present, and suddenly I had the capacity to BE. 

I offer you a chance to find yourself in this whole new way.  If you want it, then I want it for you.  But I’m not going to push you into the bliss of pure Beingness.  If you don’t want it, you can say no.  You see, God always says yes.  It’s only human beings that say no. 

I had to begin giving Shaktipat because my students were getting it spontaneously.  I couldn’t explain it because I hadn’t been authorized yet, so they were confused.  They were profoundly changed but didn’t understand what was happening. 

Plus my energies were quite unbalanced.  I started blowing out watches and other battery powered devices.  I was radiating Divine Shakti, God’s energy, but hadn’t grown into it fully yet.  It’s like putting a ten-year-old behind the wheel of a truck.  They can steer as it rolls downhill, but can they reach the brake? 

I deepened my practices and went to others within my lineage and tradition.  With their support and blessing, I was authorized to give Shaktipat.  It’s like a channel opened up for the Shakti that was building in me.  It made me deeply humble, for I know that this energy is God’s power of awakening.  Do you want it? 

A Complete and Utter Knowing

By Joanne (Jayeshwari) Kirk 

Interviewed by Lori (Priya) Kenney  

My Shaktipat experience was beyond my mind.  What I got was a complete and utter knowing of the Self.  I don’t have any doubts anymore about the Self being there.  It’s not that I’m in the Self all the time.  But I know that the Self and the flow of Grace are always there.  

I am more grounded and clear-headed because I’m coming from Self more than I was before.  It was happening before, but I didn’t recognize it.  I didn’t see it.  Now basing myself in the Self comes easier, and I recognize it when I’m there.   

This makes me feel younger.  I can see the limitations I put on myself, but they’re not as tight.  I feel more open to changes and different ways of seeing things.  My reactions don’t seem as important as they did before, so they go away sooner.  And I’m not as hard on myself when I catch myself reacting.  I have faith that I will have less and less reactivity by being on this path. 

I made a decision before this Shaktipat retreat to stay open to whatever happened.  I see now that expecting certain results is a way of putting up fences.  It blocks the Grace.  This big part of my personality is slowly melting away.  It doesn’t have to be there anymore.  I’m not fussing as much about what’s going to happen.  I’m not living in the future as much.  I know it’s all going to work out.  

I feel so much closer to Gurudevi since Shaktipat.  I feel the river of the Guru’s Grace.  I feel part of it.  I don’t have to analyze it to know it is all That.  I feel the Guru in me.  I feel the lineage and Grace more than I did before.  It’s beyond the mind, but the feeling is there and it’s real.