Monthly Archives: October 2018

Becoming a Meditation Teacher

Shuchi (Sue) CilleyBy Shuchi (Sue) Cilley

I’ve been taking Meditation Teacher Training (MTT) programs for eight years or more.  Every time takes me deeper and deeper.  Svaroopa® Vidya Meditation Teacher Training programs saturate me in the Self.  And they give me the tools to help others turn inward to take the same path.

MTT is an expedition, exploring the ancient sutras written in Sanskrit.  Those multi-level packets of intelligence come to us across the ages. Layers of experience and revelation are packed within their vibrations.  Exploring them is a never-ending source of delight for me.  There’s something new unfolding all the time.

discussion-group-1.jpgSwami Nirmalananda’s teaching is infused with Grace, the cosmic power revealing your own inherent Divinity.  Her words describing the experience of Self help me understand.  Yet it’s actually the experience of Self, to which she opens me, that enlivens the words.

In MTT, I learn to put my words to these experiences, so that I can express them to my students.  It’s the ancient tradition come to life right here in modern-day America. Transmitted from Guru to disciple for untold generations, these teachings have never been lost.  Their power is undeniable.  MTT is to sit in that unbroken flow.

Is the course hard? I’d say no, not hard, but intense.  The intensity works on clearing the density of my mind.  A lot of that needs to be done!  There are two parts to the Guru-disciple relationship.  While Swamiji emanates Guru’s Grace in abundance, the disciple is responsible for Disciple’s Grace, which is self-effort.  MTT is saturated with Guru’s Grace, yet the student’s self-effort is also essential.

180130 blog possible graphic (3).jpgIn MTT, I’ve written and given a lot of mini-talks.  They are valuable preparation towards putting together the talks I deliver when I teach.  In my first MTT, I had no idea we’d be writing anything.  I showed up with a notebook and pencils.  Those in the tech stream showed up with electronic devices.

Giving my talks to our small group and listening to others’ talks was invaluable.  Giving and receiving compliments and coaching gives me perspective, leading to improved teaching.  MTT wonderfully prepared me to go out and teach.  It gave me deep internal preparation plus a very clear road map, a robust syllabus, practice in every segment, and deep support.

I have “learned” to give these ancient teachings from my heart, using my mind, offering my voice.  It is a blessing to study with Swami Nirmalananda, a brilliant teacher, a Guru, who ever and always propels me into this infinitely deep well of Beingness, Knowingness and Bliss.  Plus, she offers me the structure to share it with others, in the same way she learned to do.  We follow in her footsteps.

Making a Promise

amala-photoBy Gurupremananda Cattafi, SVA Board President

If you’re like me, you make promises every day, both to the people you’re in relationship with as well as to yourself.  Maybe you have made a yoga promise, to support yourself through your daily practice or perhaps to offer seva.  Perhaps it is a promise to dedicate your life to a higher goal — even the highest: Self-Realization.  Swamiji has made the ultimate promise to us, to help us achieve the highest.  She has dedicated her life to the upliftment of each and every one of us.

My favorite aunt prepared me for this great promise.  Aunt Lillian taught me that when someone walks a mile for you, you walk two miles for them.  This means when someone does something for you, you repay the kindness twofold.  And when I think of what Swamiji does for me, I am thrilled to have an opportunity to offer something to her.

When we survey participants in Ashram programs, invariably we hear about profound life changes.  These inspiring stories come from Svaroopa® yoga teachers, from their students, from retreatants who have received Shaktipat from Swamiji, and even from people using the Freebies on our website.  They say they are receiving exponentially more than they could have ever imagined.

Swami 1712 Ganeshpuri retouched 2 (7)Is this true for you?  Consider how these profound teachings have deepened your inner experience of your own Self.  Maybe you experience a level of inner ease and peace of mind, that even affects your life decisions.  Even if you want to, it’s not possible to repay this gift of dawning enlightenment.  Yet we must find a way to honor and support the work of Sadguru Swami Nirmalananda, which so deeply benefits ourselves and our world.

Please consider joining the other yogis who do so by making a monthly donation.  Your monthly gifts ensure practical support for the continued stream of Swamiji’s teachings.  You help sustain the faculty, staff, supplies and infrastructure that make her service to us possible.  Your gift supports your yogic path, not only enabling you to do more than you think you can, but also contributing to you discovering that you are more that you think you are.

When you make a monthly pledge, it’s a solemn promise.  It’s a commitment, that you make and carry out, honoring and supporting the work of our Master Teacher — our Sadguru.

2018 Make a Promise Fundraising LogoYour gift has a twofold impact.  It ensures that Swami Nirmalananda’s teachings reach you as well as others, extending far and wide to other seekers.  It is also a profound yogic practice, whereby you invite yoga into your wallet, extending Grace into this important part of your life.  Your financial gifts give you as much benefit as your daily meditation or poses, or even more.

Over the next few weeks, you will get personal stories from our Board members.  They share how making the promise to support the Ashram has touched and transformed their lives.  We ask you to look into your heart for guidance on making your own promise, your own pledge.

To make a one-time gift or a monthly pledge, visit

OM svaroopa svasvabhavah namo namah

Settling into the Depths of My Beingness

aanandi-annie-rossBy Aanandi Ross

In Satsang some years ago, I found myself kneeling and bowing at Swami’s feet, with my hands together at my heart.  I didn’t know how I got there.  Now I know, having been touched by Guru’s Grace, I was experiencing “the initiation that reveals your inherent Divinity to you, within you,” as described in the October Contemplation Article: Diving Deep Within.  In our Shaktipat tradition, things that hold you back can dissolve and transform in a moment.

Since being on this Svaroopa® path, I’ve found so many levels of Beingness to explore.  Poses, Ujjayi Pranayama, japa and meditation — these practices continually open me to profound and mystical moments.  They offer a height of awareness that I never could have dreamed up in my small mind.  In the depths of my being, I sometimes sense a deep, dark, rich soil, deep in my core, slowly tilling itself, rolling and cultivating.  This seems to breathe me into more and more Beingness.


meditate-aanandi.jpgAdmittedly, sometimes it isn’t easy.  Yet I see that my task is to stay with it.  I breathe into it, softening the densities in my mind.  As Swamiji has taught, I return to the vehicle of enlivened mantra.  I trust the process, and mantra takes me back to my Self.  Throughout life’s ebbs and flows, these practices continue to transform me. Over time, their effects settle into me more and more, anchoring into the very depths of being.

I am struck by how the effects of inner transformation create shifts in the outer world.  I look back and think, “Thank God, thank Guru these changes happened.”  It’s like I’ve tossed heavy burdens into the wind, freeing my small self from needless attachments.  I see this in so many yogis in our community, all riding the wave of Shaktipat from our Guru.  I feel that we, each in our own individualized ways, are all part of a big ocean wave.  Having filled us to our depths, the wave rolls out to others — family, friends, community, the world.  Consciousness emanates from this big wave of Oneness, expressed in a multitude of brilliant forms in our Svaroopa® yoga community.

Seasonal Change

binduBy Bindu Shortt

The transitions between seasons challenge your physical and mental health, according to Ayurveda.  Most of the USA is now transitioning from summer’s pitta qualities to fall’s vata qualities.  From heat and humidity, you move into cool, dry weather into fall and throughout winter.  The temperature is dropping.  Leaves are turning brown.  Even with crops ready for harvesting, the fields and even the air are slowing and quieting.  Can you sense it?

Like increases like.  These outer conditions increase the same qualities inside you.  Thus, you may experience fall allergies or a bit of constipation or gas.  Your skin, hair or nails may be drying.  You may have a low-grade sore throat occasionally, depression or a little loneliness.

Amaranth Hot Cereal with Cerries and Walnuts

When outside nature transitions, nature within us wants to do the same.  Now is the time to eat warm, oily, heavy and grounding foods as well as activities.  They carry you into the next season with good immunity, digestion and mood.  Favor cooked cereals for breakfast, even adding some cream.  If you like fruit at breakfast, cook it right into your cereal.  If savory is your breakfast taste, then soups, rice and beans or kitchari will satisfy you.

Make lunch the biggest meal of your day.  This allows your digestion to provide the most energy.  Soups, stews and casseroles with homemade breads work well, along with extra veggie dishes. The heaviness of dairy, nuts and seeds creates a deep layer of warmth within.  This supports the effectiveness of your gut and immune system.  Extra ghee will lubricate you.  As your constitution allows, use as much as three tablespoons a day.

Cut way back on raw foods.  Use them only a few times a week — only as a garnish to cooked foods.  If you love salads, eat just a couple of tablespoons as a condiment occasionally.  You may find your system automatically no longer wanting raw foods such as melons or cucumbers.  You may no longer want very dry foods such as crackers or popcorn.  This Ayurvedic wisdom is already active within you.

For your daily massage oil, switch to sesame for more warmth.  Maybe it’s time to wear a scarf or at least carry one with you, every day.  Be sure to follow a regular schedule of eating, sleeping and doing your practices. Vata dosha needs routine for calm and stability.  As you align yourself with the rhythms of the season, you can enjoy all it has to offer.

Herbal Ayurvedic Vata Tea

Use the following vata tea to support your digestive and detoxing systems into winter:

  1. Mix equal parts of whole cumin, coriander and fennel seeds, and store in an airtight container.
  2. Each morning stir 1 tablespoon of the mix into 1 quart of water.

Bring it to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes.  Strain and discard the seeds.  Sip this tea with meals and throughout the day.

Ashram’s Birthday

IMG_0218By Swami Nirmalananda

We had a party!  We did my favorite things:  chanting, teachings followed by discussion, and meditation.  Plus we enjoyed the sweetness of yogis spending time together, along with the birthday cake and pie.  Birthday cards and presents have been arriving, practical things like printer cartridges, tea lights and lighters.  There’s good reason to celebrate.

I always knew I’d open an Ashram.  In the early years, my mind doubted this inner knowing, for my mind was used to keeping me small.  “How could you think you’d ever be so great?!”  Oh, the mind!  With doing more yoga, and especially due to Baba’s Grace, I outgrew it, like you outgrow a pair of shoes.  I didn’t let my mind hold me back.

Ganesha2I began buying murtis, statues of the Gods and Goddesses, that I knew would be essential to holding the shakti (energy).  I had gotten interested in them because I was having visions and other experiences of their very real presence and blessing in my life.  The Guru Gita says:

haahaa-huuhuu-ga.nai”scaiva gandharvai”sca prapuujyate.

“Srii Guru Gita 25

Even the gods and celestials honor and worship the Guru.

nataraj in alcoveBaba described that they “dance attendance” on one who gives their life to knowing the Self.  I only got to know them slowly, as they introduced themselves to me.  I recognize the Divine and cosmic forces at play in this universe; it’s a delight to invoke and honor their presence.

I didn’t open an Ashram right away.  I opened a yoga center, Master Yoga Foundation, but others told me I was running it on the Ashram model.  They were right.  The only thing lacking was housing which would provide a place for yogis to fully immerse themselves in the shakti that an Ashram creates.  After taking sannyas, where I renounced the desire for an Ashram (along with everything else), people came together to support the process.  We were off and running.  Nine years later, I luxuriate in the support of many of the original Board members.  Many faculty and staff have been with me for decades, bringing their depth as yogis into everything we do.

nityananda-muktanandaWhile we’ve spent years getting the buildings ready, placing the murtis, creating gardens and outdoor meditation areas – it’s the people that make this an Ashram.  All the furniture could be in place but it would be a museum.  It’s the living breathing forms of Shiva that keep the Grace flowing here.  How fortunate am i!  It’s all Baba’s Grace.  And where did He get it?  Nityananda.

Jaya Nityananada.

OM svaroopa svasvabhava.h namo nama.h