By Matrika Gast
Learning for survival starts at birth and continues even into old age. While lactation consultants help new moms learn to breastfeed, often they also need to help newborns learn to “latch on.” B. F. Skinner’s Enjoy Old Age teaches tactics and techniques for continuing a vibrant life in the midst of failing hearing, eyesight and physical and mental capacity.
In between birth and old age, we learn to walk, talk, tie our shoes, read, write and do math. We get job training in a trade or a profession, and keep our work-related knowledge and skills up to date with continuing education. Parents take classes, read articles and books to hone their parenting skills as well as learn from other parents.
Lifelong learning also provides enrichment. Community education programs offer so many options: practicalities (accounting and starting a business); whimsy (becoming a clown); arts, music lessons and exercise of all kinds; history (from local to world); martial arts, yoga and meditation; gardening, raising chickens and cooking — and more.
When you become a Svaroopa® yogi, lifelong learning is a given. But your learning turns out to be about much MORE than merely survival or even enrichment. You take your first class and then keep on going, while you gain more than you ever imagined. Along with your daily pose and meditation practice, you have an expanded perspective on your life and purpose. Perhaps you even become a teacher, so your lifelong learning fulfills your formal, professional commitment for Continuing Ed.
When you continue Svaroopa® yoga practices, with or without a professional goal, you are engaged in lifelong learning. That’s because with every spinal sequence, you learn something new. At the same time, your body changes, preparing you for new learning the next day. With every meditation, you learn something new, plus your mind and your life change, opening up in beautiful ways. Every practice gives you a new dimension of yourself and your Self. Layer by layer, inner and outer contraction melts. At a deep level, you learn yoga’s first teaching: “You are perfect and divine. Know this Truth and live it.”
This is embodied learning. More happens. Outside, you notice the green leaves of an ordinary tree against a sapphire blue sky — intensely beautiful! Yet you know that the ineffable pleasure arising from within you is Divine. You hear the sound of wind in the trees or the constant flow of a river as sacred mantra. You see the eyes of an acquaintance brighten when she talks about the children she taught in kindergarten, showing you firsthand that she is a manifestation of Divine Consciousness.
If you need a refresher course in this Divine Reality, “Freebies” on our svaroopa.org website are just a click away. Listen to recordings of Swamiji’s contemplations articles, with each one building on the other in our yearlong theme of Yoga & Spirituality. Her satsang audios give you specific guidance on how to stay “fresh” with the knowing of your own Self through yogic practices and disciplines.
This lifelong learning is profoundly different than any other, because you are doing so much more than acquiring knowledge and skills. You are learning to experience own Self. You are learning to know your Self as a tangible reality. You “learn” that knowing again and again, until again becomes always.
Taking this pathway to Self-Realization requires your effort. Like with any learning, commitment is necessary. Yet this path is blessed with a Master Teacher whose nature is to dispense Grace. This Grace carries you forward in your lifelong learning without struggle. You get the More you have always been seeking.
 September 2016 Contemplation: Yoga & Spirituality #9, “Being a Role Model” By Swami Nirmalananda & Vidyadevi Stillman