The Website That Seva Built by Rama (Ruth) Brooke

Our new website at is my virtual Ashram and yoga center.  Along with important practicalities, like viewing the calendar, enrolling in courses and accessing on-line course materials, it is a place I can go to connect with my Guru and other Svaroopis.  As a Svaroopa® Vidya Ashramite, I can experience darshana (seeing Divine Presence) just by signing onto the home page.  Through the audio recordings I can participate in satsang (a gathering in the company of the highest Truth) or chant the Guru Gita.  The blog posts and e-zine articles provide easy access to the stories of other Svaroopis, some whom I know well and others I haven’t yet met in person.  Either way, we have important shared experiences and that makes us all like yoga siblings.  Because I live many miles away from Downingtown PA, the website is my yoga home-away-from-home.

The decision to say “yes” was easy

Last Spring, when Matrika (Marlene) Gast asked if I could help with the writing part of the website consolidation project, the decision to say “yes” was easy.  I had been resisting every time I needed to sign onto either of the old websites for practical information or to enroll in a course.  The confusion I was experiencing upon accessing the sites was probably due more to my evolving perception of the two organizations as one, rather than actual website functionalities.  Around the time of the Consolidation, I was losing track of what information belonged to which organization.  I could no longer remember which website to go to for what.  The distinctions were blurring.

I was thrilled to start working on the web project, although when I began looking at what needed consolidation and re-writing, the task looked daunting. So I was very thankful for the preliminary work that had been done by others, including Swamiji, Matrika Gast, Sharada McDonald and Jennifer Bloome, to create a template for the overall look and structure of the new site.

As it turned out, I really only worked on a few preliminary drafts for versions of the About Us and Donate pages, but I found the seva process to be valuable, as always.  To do the work, I needed to simply “put one foot in front of the other,” without getting overly wrapped up in the performance aspects of the job.  It also provided another opportunity to connect with Swamiji and the Ashram, and to contemplate how all has evolved since those early days, which were really not so long ago.

Below are the words of other sevites who worked on our website project over the summer.

I was very happy to be called on

  • Matrika (Marlene) Gast

On the Ashram Board, my Area of Responsibility and Empowerment (ARE) is Communications, so I was thrilled when the new SVA Website project began. I knew that consolidating the sites would help our whole Svaroopa® Sciences community easily get the information we need for courses and programs – and ongoing inspiration and teachings from Swami Nirmalananda.

I was very happy to organize writers to write informational pages as well as reshape existing pages to fit the new consolidated format. We have a talented and dedicated group of sevite writers as well as a splendid writer on our SVA administrative team, Jennifer Bloome, who had already drafted several core pages that had been approved by Swamiji. Our Business Administration Manager Sharada McDonald had already worked with Swamiji and the technical experts to design the outline of the web content, and Sharada gave us great guidance on the content “constellations” that we needed to populate. And, wonderfully, Karuna Beaver and Rama Brooke turned out to be the writers who were available to write over the summer.

I was enthusiastic about the project from the beginning, and I believe we four writers – Jennifer, Karuna, Rama and I – all had a great time collaborating.  Not only did we receive guidance from Sharada and Swamiji, but also from our Techno-Wizard, Prakash Falbaum, who coordinated the entire project. I believe our organization is unique in how we all collaborate. Sevites are as committed to their “volunteer work” as full time professionals on a career ladder, and our highly skilled and dedicated staff serves with joy and passion for the divine mission of the Ashram.

I am grateful for the seva that I can offer to Swamiji and our whole community, because seva continues to open and expand my heart.  Through seva I have gotten to meet and talk with most, if not all, members of our community. Every day I feel myself basking in the deep, warm, scintillating connections among us.

It made perfect sense to me

–Karuna (Carolyn) Beaver

When I learned that the two websites would be consolidated, it made perfect sense to me. Why would we have two websites, when we are a consolidated organization? Less is more!

I’ve been involved in communications for both Master Yoga Foundation and Svaroopa® Vidya Ashram, so I’ve written articles and copy from both perspectives. But now these perspectives come under the same umbrella – the same umbrella we’ve always had, really, but made more clear by combined communications, including the website.  Because I’ve been so involved with writing for the organization, it was a natural for me to help with the website.

Because I wrote only a few pages, it wasn’t challenging from either a time perspective, or really, a content perspective. We used much of the content from both websites, and simply polished and shortened it a bit. Like every other seva I have done, this helped me understand the organization that I am involved with, and to appreciate the breadth and depth of what it offers to me and to the whole Svaroopa® community.

I get way more from the seva than I put into it

–Prakash (David) Falbaum

I had been doing website seva for MYF for a while, so I could see the need for consolidation of the five websites that made up the digital identity of SVA.  After a few false starts with outside web consultants, I became Project Manager, and worked closely with SVA’s graphic artist Kemm Sarver, web designer Jean Kindem and fellow Board member Matrika (Marlene) Gast, who oversaw the content and writing part of the project.

There was a lot of back and forth between Swamiji, Kemm, and Jean to determine exactly how the new site would look and function, so that was a major part of my work.  Swamiji was clear that she wanted the site to be a “virtual portal” to the Self, so we set that as the main focus for the project.  I live in Minnesota and don’t have daily access to the Ashram in Pennsylvania, so having this “virtual portal” was an important goal for me to keep in perspective.

I do seva to serve both Swamiji and the people who want to immerse themselves in the Self.  I get way more from the seva than I put into it.  It is such a powerful practice.  I began doing seva for Master Yoga, and now serve on the Ashram Board.  I still find that the more I put in, the more I get out.  It keeps me out of my head and immersed in my Self.  My mind becomes quiet while I am working to serve the Divine and the Guru.

Other sevites I want to thank are:  Glen Christensen, who has done a lot for the prior SVA website, and posted calendar items and pages in our new site.  Glen is also continuing to move the online library from the prior SVA site to our new consolidated home.  Also, Pam Church and Solveig Corbin have helped with link checking, which has been very helpful; an essential task for making the website user friendly.

A Doorway to the Self

–Swami Nirmalananda

I’ve always loved the truth in the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child.”  I have to add that it takes a whole team to create a new website, if it is going to serve the many that the Ashram serves. When I began the virtual Ashram, before we had any buildings or even offered regular satsangs, we had a website with 5 pages.  As it grew, my rudimentary website skills grew, until the Ashram had administrative sevites who were better at it than me.  Sevites joined the team, ultimately moving and revamping the website about 2 years ago — a huge task that was very well done.

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