Monthly Archives: June 2019

Choosing Where I’m Going

By Lissa (Yogeshwari) Fountain

When I’m “stuck in my stuff,” yoga props nowhere nearby, I have a burning question.  How can I shift back inside to the awareness of my Divine Self? Well, there’s the obvious: more mantra repetition.  And there are other shortcuts to Bliss as well.  Swami Nirmalananda’s June Teachings: Serene & Luminous Experiences describe a quick fix: “Choose to remember one of the serene and luminous experiences you’ve had.”

To get unstuck, I recollect waves crashing against my childhood beach on Maine’s rocky coast.  I recall the smell of the briny air.  The sharp, crisp blue of water and cloudless sky fill my mind’s eye.  Feeling awestruck by that sheer beauty stops my mind in an instant.

Yet Swamiji reminds us that “it’s about remembering the inner experience you had, not where, when or who you were with.” This distinction is pivotal.  Recalling a nostalgic experience pulls at my heart strings; I can get lost in emotions.  What felt serene and luminous at first gets obscured.  Small-s self ruminations (the where, when and who I was with) cloud the inner experience.  So how I work with my mind in choosing which way I want to go is the key.

Recently, a yoga therapy client, an elderly gentleman, shared how he works with his mind.  In the predawn hours, he lies in bed fearful, his thoughts racing.  So he pictures himself golfing on the greens of Scotland, in his prime, every swing and every putt.  He is unstoppable.  Fearless.  At first, he saw this as just a distraction for his mind.  Gradually he understood that he is experiencing the deeper part of himself.  He calls it “calm.”  This state is beyond his mind: blissful, serene and luminous. He’s using this quick fix spontaneously.  He figured it out on his own. 

Photo by Michael Heim/Shutterstock

You can do it, too.  You find your own Divine Essence by using the memory of a mundane thing that is memorable because it triggered your experience of Self at the time.  Then allow the feeling to tractor-beam you inward to Self.  It’s amazing that we can use our recollections in such service to our own upliftment. 

Yet there’s a challenge in it:  I must decide to choose the highest, instead of the same old mental churnings.  How often I find myself at that crossroads.  I am entering a new stage in my life. While letting go of some old identities, I am uncomfortable with the uncertainties of the unknown.  I confess, some days I can get a little down.  Yet Swamiji says, “You can choose to pay attention to something else, even while the pain and or unhappiness is still there. You have the ability to choose what you’re focusing on.”

What freedom this promises — what Grace! This means I have the ability to choose, to be the master of my mind, and decide its course.

Remembering the Guru, a profound practice in itself, reliably triggers a transcendent experience for me.  When I need a quick fix, I can recall waiting in the darshan line to greet Swamiji.  I summon up how my body vibrated with Shakti down to my toes.  It’s so visceral, beyond my mind.  Or I can remember what it feels like to gaze into Infinity within her eyes. Whichever of these I recall, the form of the formless plants me into Self.  This effect is faster than any memory of ocean, beach and sky.  The practice for me, then, is watching what leads me away from Self.  Then I pivot back to what I know will work to return me to my inner state.  Moment to moment.  With infinite gratitude, I do this by recalling the serene and luminous Being of my Guru, Sadguru Swami Nirmalananda Saraswati, again and again.

In the Presence of an Advanced Yogi

By Rita Nandy, interviewed by Margie (Maitreyi) Wilsman

“Each time Swami Nirmalananda came into the meditation room, I could feel her presence physically from the tingling along my back,” says Rita Nandy. Thus, she describes her experience of her first Shaktipat Retreat.  Rita was born in India, into a family who had a Kulguru — a Sadguru.  Rita understands the value of a true Guru.  She could tell that she was in the presence of an advanced yogi, a living siddha (master).

Rita heard about the retreat in her Svaroopa® yoga class, in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, where she now lives.  She concluded that these opportunities don’t arise often.  So she decided to “invest in the Self.”

Rita is most grateful for receiving the Svaroopa® Vidya Meditation mantra from Swamiji.  Rita explains, “Enlivened mantra had been transmitted through my family for generations.  Unfortunately, in my generation, there was no living practitioner left to transmit that mantra to us youngsters.  In the Shaktipat Retreat, we received the mantra that has the potential to make one grow spiritually, almost at an evolutionary scale.  This mantra has been enlivened by Swamiji’s lineage for many, many generations.”  While now this mantra is widely known, Rita recognizes that it is rare indeed to have it transmitted to you through a living siddha.  This enlivened mantra is filled with Guru’s Grace.

Rita has been engaged in deep yogic practices, including japa and chanting, since 1996.  So she is already familiar with basic kriyas (spontaneous, involuntary movements), that develop over time.  As the retreat progressed so did Rita’s kriyas.  They moved up her back, stopped at her heart, and then moved over to the side.  They are still with her.  She feels there are some blockages at her heart that need to be removed.  The kriyas return when Rita is chanting the Shri Rudram, an ancient Vedic hymn, meditating and practicing japa with Om Namah Shivaaya. Rita could tell Swamiji was someone special despite the difference in their backgrounds, Swami being American, not Indian.  Rita has met many Swamis, has attended two Kumbha Melas and has undertaken many pilgrimages including to Kailasa in Tibet.  Rita feels privileged to finally have Sadguru Swami Nirmalananda as her Guru.  Rita believes that she had to move to North America to find the genuine article in Swamiji.

Nourish Good Bacteria the Ayurvedic Way

By Maureen (Bindu) Shortt

“Microbiome” refers to all the organisms that live on us and in us.  There are primarily bacteria in your gut.  Your gut — your digestion — starts in your mouth extending down through your esophagus and stomach, on into your small intestine and through your large intestine.  Hole to hole, I fondly call it.

Within this system you have about six cups of bacteria.  They are meant to reside in a ratio of about four cups good bacteria to two cups bad bacteria.  The good bacteria finish digestion, particularly of carbohydrates and dairy.  They produce immune factors and Vitamin K, which keeps your blood as thick or thin as it needs to be.  They produce energy.  They kill off bad bacteria and viruses.  They neutralize carcinogenic substances.  They produce neurotransmitters that influence our mood and stress handling abilities.

The bad bacteria let their other bad bacteria set up in your GI tract.  They let viruses and harmful substances through.  They deplete energy, making us crave carbs, the food easiest for them to digest.  They don’t help with the digestion of other foods.  They weaken immunity.

Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to reverse the ideal ratio of good to bad bacteria.  All it took was that first course of antibiotics when you were a child.  It reversed your microbiome, leaving up to four cups of bad bacteria and only two of the good.  This inverse ratio impacts health throughout your body.  It impairs your ability to think clearly and to emote well.  Steroid medications, chlorinated water, smoking, birth control pills and even the biochemicals of chronic stress — all compromise your microbiome.

This compromise is now known to contribute to many health imbalances.  And not just in your digestive system.  The state of your microbiome influences obesity, allergies, auto-immune diseases, skin conditions, and many psychological conditions.  Ayurveda teaches that ama, toxins from an imbalanced microbiome, can settle in any body tissue.  This activates an immune response.

Fortunately, Ayurveda offers us many foods that replenish the good bacteria for stronger digestion and immunity.  Turmeric is anti-inflammatory.  Psyllium binds and removes toxins and bad bacteria.  Leafy greens, bran, barley and oats, onions, garlic and leeks, beans and lentils are all prebiotics.  Prebiotics feed the good bacteria, helping grow their population.

Ayurveda does not recommend taking probiotic supplements.  Instead, re-implant friendly bacteria by drinking homemade lassi a few times a week.  Lassi is made with live bacteria yogurt.  It feeds a fresh supply of good bacteria, which can then colonize further.

You can make the following recipe with just the yogurt, water, salt and cumin.  The mango, cilantro, and rose water help to soothe and calm excess summer pitta.  Have some of your lassi with your lunch, and then sip and enjoy the rest throughout the afternoon.  For one servicing of lassi, mix the ingredients below in a blender for 2 minutes (no less):

¼ cup live culture whole milk plain yogurt

1 cup water

Mango-fresh or frozen-to taste

Capful of rose water

Fresh cilantro to taste

Pinch of salt 2 pinches of ground cumin

Svaroopa® Foundations

By Deb (Sarmani) Beutel

Take me again to Downingtown to see,

If I can learn to love me just for me.

To breathe and to pose, both inward and out,

It’s not what you say or you think or you shout.

It’s deeper within, a place you will find,

If you breathe and you pose, and you quiet your mind.

Bring it all up and out it shall go;

Tears may start flowing but then you will know;

The pain and the stuff all frozen within,

will soften and melt, and let you back in.

Yoga with new friends, slowing the time,

Do this a lot and you will be fine!

Leave all the stress and traffic and more.

Enter the Ashram and life’s not such a chore.

I love Svaroopa® yoga, it gives me such peace,

I want to come back and gain a new lease,

On the true meaning of life and the changes I seek,

A fresh new perspective on how to release,

And the path to samadhi, just give me a peek.

Kamala & Chiti, the best teachers and guides,

Embrace the teachings to soften your ride.

Life can be crazy full of busyness and haste,

But, if you choose wisely, yours won’t be a waste!

Swami is so peaceful and the epitome of grace

Listening and watching her, to slow down your pace.

Meditation and chanting slows the breathing and mind,

Calmer you will be, and peace you will finally find.

I slept through the night for the first time in years,

I finally let it all go through the poses and tears!

Listen and learn and do your asanas,

And life will be good and you won’t notice the piranhas.

Practice you must, home or away,

and ensure you complete the Magic Four every day.

Practice your breathing, your Uijayi Pranayama;

Then let go you can of past pain and the trauma.

Bring back the joy and peace you will find,

Do Svaroopa® yoga and the world will be kind!

Originally from Southern California, Deb Beutel is retired from the Marine Corps after more than 20 years of service.  Trained in several other yoga styles, Deb is a recent graduate of the Foundations of Svaroopa® Yoga course.  Her experience of Foundations inspired this poem.  For more on her personal yoga journey, see her Yoga Alliance biography.

Thanking You With All My Heart

Dearest Svaroopis,

In closing our spring fundraiser — With All Your Heart — I want to thank you for your donation, with all my heart.

This fundraising initiative has been the most exciting so far.  Many of you responded with a gift for the first time.  in addition, many of you reached out to your own sphere of influence through Facebook.  In just a few weeks, you have greatly increased the visibility and name recognition of the Svaroopa® Sciences as well as contributed to the Ashram’s financial support.  Thank you, with all my heart.

Another amazing result is that you have shared an important part of yourself with those you love and value.  By setting up your own fundraiser on your personal Facebook page, you shared something important to you.  As well, it could be beneficial to family, friends and acquaintances.  How beautiful to be sharing the love widely!  I thank you, with all my heart.

Of course, some of you may not have felt comfortable using social media in this way.  Yet so many of you generously opened your heart by donating on the Svaroopa Vidya Ashram Facebook page, on another Svaroopi’s Facebook page or directly to the Ashram.  Together, your generous donations have and exceeded our goal of $20,000.  I thank you, with all my heart.

Giving is the ultimate heart opener.  Just like the riddle of the chicken and the egg, which comes first?  Your heart opens and then you give, or you give and your heart opens?  The good news is, no answer is needed.  Either order works miraculously!

In the coming year, your Board of Directors will be focusing on expanding the reach of the Svaroopa® Sciences.  The purpose is to bring Swamiji and the ancient teachings to spiritual seekers the world over.  Your loving generosity is supporting the flow of Grace far and wide.  Your financial contribution, given with all your heart, makes it possible for Swamiji to fulfill this vision.  Your loving donation, no matter the amount, fuels this transformation.

From my heart, to your heart, I thank you.

With Love and Gratitude, Lynn (Gurupremananda) Cattafi, SVA Board President

Opening My Heart

By TC (Tattvananda) Richards

Svaroopa® yoga opens my heart, which is one of the many things I love about it.  All the practices of the Svaroopa® Sciences, no matter which I choose, open my heart.  Then who I really am is revealed.  The more I practice, the more I reside in my own Divine Essence.  What a gift!

The practices quiet my mind and turn me inward to an expansive experience. I call it my “heart,” but really I am settling into my Self.  I am carried into a place of immeasurable vastness.  It is infinitely greater than my mind can ever imagine.  When I live from this inner vastness, everything changes.  I love more purely.  I live more Divinely.  I move through the world with an ease I never thought possible.  The more I maintain a steady practice, the more steady my state remains.  Weaving this profound yoga into my life keeps me immersed in the Self.

Recently, a Svaroopa® yoga teacher said to me, “I have to tell you, Svaroopa® Vidya Ashram is a world class teaching organization.”  She had just returned from a Teacher Training program.  She marvels that this yoga is developed specifically to take us to our own Divine Essence.  by Sadguru Swami Nirmalananda created every detail of the practices just for this inner experience and revelation.

Every part of Svaroopa® yoga opens your heart, thus opening you to your own Divine Essence.  The practice of dakshina is one of those practices, unconditional giving.  It supports the organization for practical purposes.  It is important to keep the organization running smoothly.  In other not-for-profit organizations, financial support is called fundraising.  In this world class organization, however, fundraising is “dakshina.”  

Like your other Svaroopa® yoga practices, its purpose is support on the journey to Self-Realization.  Dakshina frees you from fear and opens your heart.  Swamiji has based all these practices in yoga’s ancient authentic teachings.  She has designed them to open our hearts so we move through the world differently.  The love that she gives us in doing this is just so beautiful.

I practice dakshina with gratitude, to give back for the many things I am immensely grateful for receiving.  Just like all the other practices, it opens me to a place more expansive than my mind can imagine.  It opens my heart and settles me into the Self.  The more steadily I give, the steadier is my state.  Yet it is a paradox.  This practice, which is meant to be motivated by pure inner impulse, gives more back to me than I can give to it.

Please help the Ashram continue to serve you in the many magnificent ways it does.  Click to donate on our Facebook page or on our website page.  Your generosity is heart-fully appreciated.

This fundraising season we have found an easy way for you to open your own heart in this way, as well as to make this practice available to those near and dear to you.  Through a Facebook Fundraising Event, you can share your heart and raise awareness of Swamiji’s profound teachings that mean so much to you.

On our Facebook page, you’ll find the information to make a direct donation to the Ashram and create your own fundraiser for the Ashram.  It is easy to do. Here is how.

• For a single personal donation, go to the Ashram Facebook page.  Click on the Donate button on the cover photo.  When asked, designate an amount and a payment method.  Then click Donate again.  One, two three — that’s it.

• Create your own event, to magnify your capacity to share your heart — with the Ashram — AND with your Facebook friends.  Here’s how to create your own Ashram fundraiser on Facebook:

1. Click Fundraisers in the left-side menu of your News Feed. Then, click Raise Money and select Nonprofit/Charity.

2. Type in Svaroopa Vidya Ashram, and click on the link given.

3. Choose a cover photo, fill in the fundraiser details (we’re happy to provide them) and click Create.

4. When you’re given the opportunity to decide with whom you want to share this fundraiser, we suggest people who know how much you love your yoga, and who love you!  We suggest you NOT send it to your Svaroopa® yoga friends on Facebook.  Let’s avoid sending the same fundraiser repeatedly to our community.

I invite you to do more yoga, open your heart, contribute today and offer this great practice to others.