No More Negativity

By Gurudevi Nirmalananda 

One of the first words you spoke was “no.”  You probably used it more often than your other first words, “Mama” and “Dada.”  That’s why this growth phase is called “The Terrible Twos.” You became able to resist as well as able to express what you wanted.  Unfortunately, you’ve continued to say “no” ever since.  What if you said “yes” more often?

My earliest teacher in this was my first dog.  When our front door was open and someone was coming down the sidewalk, my dog would run out as fast as her short little legs could go.  She was not barking.  She ran up to the passers-by, threw herself down on the ground and showed her belly, all four paws up in the air.  100% of the walkers stopped, said, “Ahhh,” then rubbed her belly.  Watching her made me reconsider how I’d been approaching life.  The protective mode I’d perfected had me saying no to life far too often.

Yoga agrees that you need to recalibrate.  All the yogic methodologies work on dissolving your resistances, melting your negativities and freeing you from your fears.  Then you are able to experience inner peace and a sense of balance that supports you.  

Yet this is merely the launching pad.  Beyond peace and balance, yoga promises more.  Once you get past the ways you negate yourself, you discover there is more inside than you ever imagined.  Exploring that expansive inner reality is yoga’s specialty…

I always loved the children’s song, written by Harry Dixon Loes in the early 1900s:

This little light of mine

I’m going to let it shine…

I wanted to shine!  Somehow I felt that I had an inner light that could shine.  I didn’t know how to access it but I wanted it.  My Guru opened up my access to the inner light that was already there.  That light shines from deep inside.

Your mind blocks your own inner light in the same way you can use your thumb to block the sun.  The human mind excels at negating things, thus the sages described how to negate the negation.  My own name does this, with Nirmala meaning “not limited.”  The 9th century sage Shankaracharya wrote a poem describing your own essence.  He meticulously negates your limitations…

Gurudevi Teaches on Wednesdays

Join Gurudevi Nirmalananda for her FREE Wednesday evening chant and meditation program.  With live music and printed words, you easily join everyone else in traditional yoga chanting.  

After the chant, you’ll find meditating with a Master takes you deep effortlessly.  It’s the best way to explore the inner dimensions of your own being.  Whether you’re a newcomer or an experienced meditator, Gurudevi makes it easy as well as profound!

Gurudevi’s Wednesday satsangs are inspiring. My meditations are always deepened by her talk and her long chant. — Debbie M.

Online, this program is part of your Yoga Wednesday (bookends or full day).  Or simply join us in-person in Downingtown PA.

A Deeper Knowing Awakened

By Judy (Jagruti) Goodkin

Interviewed by Lissa (Yogyananda) Fountain, Yogaratna

Hearing Gurudevi Nirmalananda’s teachings on Swami Sundays is like getting a booster shot of the Self.  Recently, Gurudevi said she’d received Shaktipat from her Baba over 200 times.  And if he were still in his body, she’d still be getting Shaktipat from him.  Hearing this filled me with an ongoing inspiration.  If Gurudevi would still get Shaktipat, why wouldn’t I?

It had been a year since my last Shaktipat Retreat in 2021.  My sadhana (personal practice) was neither moving forward nor moving me deeper within.  Yet I knew Shaktipat could get me through whatever was keeping me blocked.  Also, I felt a strong need to be in Gurudevi’s presence.  So I signed up right away for the On-Site program last May. 

Being surrounded by many deep yogis and swamis was so supportive.  After I received Shaktipat, the swamis’ talks helped me understand the experiences I was having.  For instance, in meditation, my thoughts can feel heavy.  They are just words.  But when I attach a story to them, they get me in the mud!  But they are just words.

I also have a new appreciation for how Kundalini (meditative energy) works on my emotions.  While in meditation, if an emotion comes up, I can sit with it and feel it.  It has a purpose: Kundalini is burning through it.  Since Shaktipat, I don’t have to pursue my emotions or thoughts in meditation.  They no longer draw me out.  Now experiencing them can draw me in deeper.

Swami Nirmalananda giving Shaktipat

Receiving Shaktipat has had a profound effect on my everyday life.  I used to think enlightenment happened with a  “boom” all at once!  Now I see it is a process.  I’m becoming more aware of a gradually deepening inner knowing.  Gurudevi explains:

After Shaktipat, even when your mind returns to its familiar pattern, the deeper knowing is awakened and is always there.

Recently, I attended a street fair with my family.  For some reason, I was getting more and more frustrated, annoyed and judgmental.  I sat down on the curb and acknowledged my feelings.  I began repeating mantra to myself.  I could see what was happening as separate from my usual kneejerk reactions.  I was able to stop my small-s self emotions.  They couldn’t pull me where I didn’t want to go.  Mantra shifted my state immediately.  When I’m in capital-S Self, I can soften.  I notice my relationships softening as well. 

At the end of my Shaktipat Retreat, our assignment was to increase our meditation time.  This felt challenging, as asana is always easier for me.  Yet I am gradually working up to an hour.  Now I really like meditation.  I look forward to it every day.  But it is my journaling that has changed the most.  After meditation, Gurudevi always says, “Now is a good time to journal.”  I used to stare at the blank page not knowing what to say after meditations.  Now, the words just flow out of me!  As Gurudevi promises, and through her Grace, I am still experiencing profound changes.  They are ongoing, getting deeper and deeper, and better and better!


Embodying the Teachings

By Ruth (Rama) Brooke, interviewed by Lori (Priya) Kenney

After taking Meditation Teacher Training (MTT), I felt I was embodying the teachings.  I gained a depth of knowing that I didn’t have before.  It was experiential knowing, beyond the intellectual knowing I had previously.

This in-depth course is amazing.  Every afternoon, we got a cosmic download from Gurudevi.  She gave us the deeper teachings.  Every day, we steeped in the shakti (energy) and Grace of the Guru.  During evenings, we wrote a 10-minute discourse to deliver to fellow students the next day.  We put into our own words what we learned and understood from the afternoon’s download.

I had just opened a larger studio space in 2015.  The timing of the upcoming MTT course was perfect.  I was making a bigger commitment to teaching.  I knew that I wanted to teach meditation.  I also knew the course would deepen my own practice.

I had already been meditating for nearly eight years.  My daily practice was pretty regular.  But MTT took my meditation experiences to a whole new level.  My understanding of Kashmiri Shaivism and Svaroopa® Vidya meditation expanded considerably.  And my understanding of the purpose of Shaktipat and the Guru deepened profoundly.

The experiential learning I received in MTT has made it so much easier to teach.  My new depth and knowledge turned into deeper experiences even for my asana students.  Most who took the meditation course had profoundly deep experiences.  Some have maintained a home meditation practice since.  Some repeat the course nearly every time I offer it.  I continued my training in the Meditation Group Leader course so I can also offer satsangs.  Students who took my three-class “Learn to Meditate” series now attend my satsangs regularly.

MTT gave me a whole new level of confidence and deepened my teaching.  It even boosted my confidence to speak in front of groups in general, whatever the topic.  I used to get the jitters just speaking to a small group of three or four people.  But MTT changed that.  For me, MTT was transformative in many ways.

Immediately after MTT, I offered a meditation course to my students, continuing with a couple each year.  While I wasn’t able to offer them during the pandemic, I am planning to start again this fall.

Teaching Yoga

By Gurudevi Nirmalananda 

When you learn to teach others, you learn more deeply.  Why does this happen?  It’s because you care about helping other people, so you put more of yourself into your learning.  When you put more of yourself in, you get more out of what you do.  It’s true of everything in life and it works the same way in yoga.  But what you get from yoga is more of your Self.  By giving, you receive.

In Yoga Teacher Training (YTT), we make sure you know how to handle different kinds of bodies as well as different kinds of minds.  When you put your new tools to work, and you really see how yoga works, you become ever more inspired.  You truly can make a change in peoples’ lives.

I love watching new teachers transform.  After your very first training, you begin teaching right away.  Of course, when you do something a few times, you get better at it.  The real surprise comes when you realize your own students are inspiring you.  

They sleep better.  They stand taller, walk stronger and breathe more deeply.  They are less fazed by life’s surprises and more able to find answers that work.  I remember the first time a student said to me, “My back doesn’t hurt anymore.  I can pick up my grandchildren again.”  She was delighted!  So was I!

I decided to focus on teaching teachers over 30 years ago.  I could see that the world needed more of what yoga offers even back then.  It’s true now, too.  I’ve trained over 3,000 teachers, from the beginning to advanced levels.  When they share what they know, we are working together to transform and uplift the world.

Do you want to become a yoga teacher?  Now is the time…

Chant & Meditate with a Master

Meditate with Gurudevi Nirmalananda on Wednesday evenings.  She leads our evening program, which features a long chant and meditation.  Live music accompanies the chant in the traditional yoga style.  Everyone else singing along and printed words make chanting easy.   

Then Gurudevi guides the meditation, making it easy for newcomers as well as deep for everyone.  You explore the multiple dimensions of your own being. 

Attending Gurudevi’s satsang in person, I feel blanketed by profound stillness.

— Barbara B 

Join us On-Site in Downingtown for free.  Or enroll in our online Yoga Wednesday (bookends or full day); this program is included. 

Chant the Guru Gita in Your Home! 

By Amanda (Purna) Schmidt 

Bring a daily Ashram practice to your home with the Honored Guru Gita CD.  Daily chanting of this essential text steeps you in Grace.  Gurudevi’s guidance makes this practice accessible and joyful.  The melody helps you find the rhythm of your breath and the Sanskrit words. 

Free verse-by-verse pronunciation lessons are available online.  In addition, all copies of the CD ordered in July come with a BONUS.  You will receive a handout of the text, which includes Gurudevi’s English translation.  You will be chanting the entire text in no time!  Bring Honored Guru Gita into your home practice, and let Grace carry you deeper. Price: $19.95  

CD Tracks 

1. OM svaroopa svasvabhavah namo namah 

2. Om Guru Mere Guru, Jaya Guru Om 

3. Guru Padukaa-Panchakam 

4. Shree Guru Geeta 

5. Shree Krishna Govinda 

6. Universal Prayer 

7. Jaya Jaya Aratee Nityanaanada 

Freedom

By Gurudevi Nirmalananda

Having grown up in America, freedom was an ideal that inspired me.  As a kindergartener, I made pilgrim hats out of black construction paper, representing the Pilgrims who were seeking religious freedom.  I was heartened by the preamble to the Constitution which I learned in third grade.  It cites goals of union, justice, liberty and peace.  Thus I was ready when I found yoga and learned that the goal is freedom.  I felt an immediate resonance with it. 

I didn’t understand what freedom was.  As a teenager, I wanted a superficial freedom:  an escape from my parents (seemingly) unreasonable demands and expectations.  Once I started managing my own life, I wanted freedom to do what I wanted, as well as the freedom to do nothing at all if I chose.  None of these are the freedom that yoga promises. 

As important as freedom and social justice are, neither of these is yoga’s focus. Individual yogis may choose to focus there, as did Mahatma Gandhi in India 100 years ago.  He successfully used yogic ideals as a launching pad for political goals.  His work also inspired Rev. Martin Luther King in his world-changing mission.

Yogic freedom is an inner experience, not something you project into the world or ask of it.  It is also called liberation.  Consider this:  if the goal is liberation, it means you are currently in bondage.  

quora.com

Your bondage is internal.  It’s about who you think you are compared to who you really are.  These two fundamental principles of yoga are clearly summarized in the primary text of Kashmiri Shaivism.

Chaitanyam-aatmaa

Consciousness-Itself is your own Self.

J~naanam bandha.h

The not-knowing (of your Self) is bondage.

— Shiva Sutras 1.1-2

translation by Gurudevi Nirmalananda

These sutras define the mystical quest.  Sutra 1 divulges the secret of your inherent Divinity.  Sutra 2 explains that you don’t know your inherent Divinity.  It’s a conundrum.  It’s the cosmic game of hide and seek: you are hiding while you are also the one seeking your own Self.  Like a dog chasing its tail, you go round and round for lifetimes.

This text guides you through a process that begins with Shaktipat, the initiation that activates the arising of Consciousness within you.  After that, how long it takes for you to get enlightened is up to you.  Your own blossoming forth is assured, just like daffodils that will bloom in the spring, but you don’t know when spring will come.  The text gives you ways to push it along.

Gurudevi Teaches on Sundays

Join Gurudevi Nirmalananda for her Swami Sunday meditation program.  She includes chanting, sutras and teachings from the ancient tradition as well as meditation instruction.  Each step is not only effective but also delicious.  Gurudevi’s traditional satsang format prepares you for a deep and easy meditation.  Know your own Self better by the end of the morning. 

Participating in the now familiar ritual of Swami Sunday guides my week, eases my mind, opens my heart, joins me to the community and settles me into my Self through the Grace of the Guru. — Peter G. 

No Separation

By Marie (Shubhaa) McRee

Interviewed by Lori (Priya) Kenney

I am a devotee of Jesus Christ.  I hadn’t understood how a Guru fit.  When Gurudevi stood in front of me during the May Shaktipat Retreat, I knew.  Her thumb on my third eye was a vast opening to Divine communion.  There was no separation.  I was an individual, but I experienced a state beyond the individual.

Meditation has always drawn me, but it has been somewhat elusive.  During Shaktipat, I entered a deep place of meditation.  Kundalini naturally straightened my posture as Gurudevi put her hand on me.  My body was so still; I was immersed in a profound stillness.  I was aware that I was in a body, but my awareness was beyond the body.  The taste of that was absolutely incredible.

Even so, after we had received Shaktipat twice, I could feel myself contracting and fragmentation threatening.  I did not want to lose this state of Grace.  I went up to Swami Samvidaananda and asked to talk.  The expansiveness of her words allowed my mind to rest in the experience of Shaktipat.  Receiving Shaktipat synthesized Christian mysticism, yoga and all my experiences of the Divine.  It went beyond any doctrine and was the unity of all that is Divine.

This is something I’ve been seeking a very long time.  My relationship with Gurudevi goes back before 2006.  I was simultaneously being drawn to the deep nature connection movement.  In 2011, Gurudevi said I needed to make a choice.  I had to choose between deepening my studies with her and continuing my nature mentoring focus; inside or outside.

A notice about Gurudevi’s December 2021 San Diego retreat called to me.  It was partly due to some knee issues.  But there was also something incomplete in having stepped away from her.  Because of my decision to pursue nature connection in 2011, I asked Samvidaananda if it was alright to attend in La Jolla.  She said, “All are welcome.”

The first night of the December retreat, I had a realization.  My current yogic practice was not compatible with what Gurudevi was offering through Svaroopa® yoga.  During the week, I experienced a tremendous place of fearless expansion.  That retreat drew me to Shaktipat in May and brought me back into this yoga of bliss.  It also gave me big appreciation for Gurudevi’s clear and practical advice.  She guides us in flawlessly integrating yoga, family and spirituality.

After Shaktipat, I returned home to a lot of activity.  I was aware of a lightness.  It felt like I wasn’t carrying the karma I usually carry when I’m pushing my edge.  Inside I found deep wisdom and clarity, accessible as needed.  It felt like protection and guidance in every moment.  Going within, I knew what to do on the outside.  My gratitude is immense for this never-ending gift of Shaktipat.  Offered by Gurudevi through the lineage of Svaroopa® yoga, this gift gave me an experience of my own Self.