Gratitude & Giving


By Peter Gallagher, SVA Board Member

Since the US Presidential Election, I am even more grateful for Svaroopa® Sciences practices. I feel a strong impulse to do more yoga! I know the Svaroopa® Sciences have given me a pathway to my Self, where I really belong. The ability to be in the Self is standing in a place of eternal safety, no matter what is spinning around us on the outside. What a tremendous gift!

As a young child, I stood on dunes overlooking the ocean in the eye of a hurricane. While in the center of a mighty force of nature, I had a sense of safety. It was late August 1954, on Fire Island NY. Hurricane Carol had moved up from Cape Hatteras overnight. Boats were washed up on walkways, but for the time that the eye of the storm passed over us, the sky was blue and the breeze was gentle. Then the other side of hurricane approached. The wind came up again, and the ocean erupted in 30–40 foot waves. I didn’t need to be told to run fast, back to the safety of my grandparents’ house.

With our recent election, I feel a wind rising. Yet being in the Self is standing in the eye of the storm. Following the path defined by our Svaroopa® Sciences, we can always find our way inward to the infinite peace of our own Self. My gratitude for this gift is immense. Maybe that’s why Thanksgiving is still on my mind. Swami Nirmalananda’s recent 70th birthday is still on my mind as well. These two celebrations continue to stir my thoughts about gratitude and giving.

Most folks think of Thanksgiving Day as a holiday for giving gratitude. But I was born on Thanksgiving Day, so I think of it as receiving gifts as well. Of course, Thanksgiving doesn’t always fall on the actual date of my birth. But over the years, my birthday was always observed within a wider family celebration, including my grandparents, aunts and uncles along with 13 cousins. As a kid I used to say that my mother got me instead of a turkey! And I got plenty of birthday presents.

8-copySwamiji’s birthday was celebrated far and wide by Svaroopis. In Downingtown at Lokananda, local Svaroopis enjoyed dinner and homemade carrot cake followed by an evening Satsang. Devapriyaa (Denise) Hills shared, “To celebrate I did Arati, chanted with Baba, Meditated and lit some candles on cake. What a blessing that Swamiji was born to be a Guru in my lifetime.”

In Vermont, Rama (Ruth) Brooke and fellow Svaroopis at her studio celebrated with birthday tea and carrot cupcake prasad after their morning yoga class. In San Diego, Carole Balcombe and Jean Glover shared a birthday message, “Happy Birthday Swamiji. Thank you for the Svaroopa® Sciences.”

Yet instead of receiving presents, Swamiji gave us Svaroopis a new website as a source of yoga’s mystical teachings: In announcing it to the SVA Board, blog-photoSwamiji said, “It’s my birthday present to the community.”

Swamiji’s birthday gift to us gave me an idea. While I still get birthday gifts, they are smaller and absolutely practical. As you get older, you’ve got enough stuff. You don’t need or want more. My mother-in-law typically gives me a gift certificate. It’s enough for a nice new robe, or similar items that wear out and need to be replaced. Inspired by Swamiji’s birthday gift to us, I had an idea about how to pass on my “gift certificate” present to the Ashram.

While I do have an established monthly donation, I will give an extra gift to the Ashram — the money I would have spent on the new robe my mother-in-law’s gift certificate provided. Much as Swami has done on her birthday, I feel the impulse to celebrate the gift of my own life and, more recently, the gift of the Svaroopa® Sciences bestowed on all of us by Swamiji.

As our major gift-giving holidays approach, you too might want to open to this practice. For every gift that you receive that comforts or delights you, consider giving the Ashram what you would have spent had you bought it for yourself. When gratitude arises within us, that expansion makes us want to give back. Consider what you receive and figure out how to pass that on.

If you are not a monthly donor, consider becoming one. If you are a monthly donor, consider increasing your donation in an amount that fits your current budget. Or perhaps give the Ashram a celebratory one-time gift just to say “thank you.”

When you do so, you engage in dakshina to support Swami Nirmalananda, Svaroopa® Yoga & Meditation, our teacher trainers and all of our programs. Click here to make your donation, just for the joy of giving back in response to all you receive.

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