Monthly Archives: December 2019

Radical Self-acceptance

By Carolyn Karuna Beaver

When I feel my way into Svaroopa® yoga’s teaching, I can sense that it is true that I am Shiva.  I feel expansive and grounded at the same time.  I can sense beyond the boundaries of my body and my mind to know the One Divine Reality being all – being me, being you, being everyone and everything, seen and unseen.

And then I forget who I really am.  Over and over again, I get distracted.  I get caught up in the mundane aspects of life.  I get focused on what I do or who I am in relationship with.  I’m busy thinking and feeling.  These are all valid parts of who I am.  But they don’t often lead me to see myself as Divine.  It’s a painful and separate place to be.

This is why I’m loving Sadguru Swami Nirmalananda’s final “quick fix” of the year.  Her December Teachings Article, It’s All Divine, gives the most powerful of the practices thus far: “See it All as Shiva.”

I tend not to see the mundane — “my” mundane — as Divine.  Divine, my mind tells me, is Godlike, celestial.  Even using a less lofty definition, Divine is lovely, blissful and pleasing.  My mundane life often does not feel like any of this. But then I go back to Swamiji’s quick fix — to see it all as Shiva.  Even the mundane stuff, even the tough stuff, even the messy stuff.  It’s all Shiva.  What helps me see this is starting with me.

This month’s quick fix reminds me of Rene Descartes’ axiom “I think, therefore I am.”  Yoga’s axiom is more like “I am, therefore I AM.”  Shiva is existence Itself.  Because I exist, I am existence itself.  Because I exist, I am Shiva.  I don’t have to “do” anything.  I just am.  Everything I think and say and do is Shiva.  Everything I see is Shiva because I am Shiva.

It’s all in the way I look at things.  Swami puts it this way, “The One Divine Reality is never absent. It’s only your perception that changes.”  All I have to do is shift my perception.  I’ve been putting this into practice by giving myself a gentle “knock upside my head.‘  In a recent conversation with my daughter, I found myself getting frustrated.  She was stuck in a viewpoint that I felt was getting us nowhere.  Then it hit me — literally hit me.  I am Shiva.  It was like an ice cube melting in the warmth of the sun.  My mind melted into peace in the middle of strife.  I knew I was Divine and mundane — aha and duh — at the same time!  All I had to do was shift my perception of who I was in that moment, and it all changed.  I allowed my daughter her viewpoint.  I realized I didn’t have to change a thing.  It could just “be” — as I could just “be.” For me, this takes the sting and judgment out of the mundane.  It reminds me that I don’t have to put things in two camps: Divine/mundane, pleasant/unpleasant, right/wrong.  It all just IS.  It’s all Shiva, all the time.  I am Shiva, all the time, whether I’m sitting in meditation or arguing with my daughter.  As Swamiji writes, “You are Shiva, so wherever you go, Shiva is there because you are there.”  And when I recognize my Shivaness, I recognize it in everyone and everything else too. This is pretty radical Self-acceptance.  And that is Divine!

Yoga Healing Retreat

by Rama (Ruth) Brooke

As I stepped onto the train to Downingtown, I sensed the power of my upcoming Yoga Healing Retreat.  I felt myself turning inward.  I felt a sweet surrender.  I would be placing myself in the care of Svaroopa® Vidya Ashram’s highly skilled healing therapists and spiritual master, Sadguru Nirmalananda Saraswati.  Already, I was aware of the Grace that would carry me through various railroad delays and mechanical problems.  Grace, I knew, would transport me through the retreat and back home again.

Hours later, I arrived at the Ashram’s Lokananda retreat center.  I was greeted warmly and shown to my room in the simple, yet fully outfitted student accommodations.  All six of us retreatants were quite comfortable in our assigned dorm rooms.  The walls of Lokananda shimmer with sacred images of Gurus and Gods.  Having decorated this place of bliss with light, Swamiji has hung an abundance of mirrors. They reflect natural light and remind us of our own divine light.  Having been here many times before, I flowed easily into the welcoming Ashram lifestyle and schedule.  This unburdened me, freeing me from neediness.

When I enrolled in the Yoga Healing Retreat, I had no particular health issue in mind.  I was a bit weary after a long and busy family-filled summer.  I yearned to replenish, diving inward in a way I could not do at home.  It was the “retreat” aspect that attracted me.  I had heard solid recommendations from other yogis attending the same program in prior months.  This was an opportunity for a pilgrimage to the Ashram.  I looked forward to it as a spa for the psyche.

I did have some issues to “vichara.”  Vichara is a guided self-inquiry that unravels mental tensions and heals the mind and heart.  I found those daily private sessions immensely valuable.  The vichara therapist’s questions helped “clear the smoke screen.”  Her questions elicited responses from me that opened me to my own knowing.  I could see my thought processes and mental patterns from a different viewpoint.  I came away with a new level of awareness and insight.  Afterwards, I knew I wanted to dig deeper still, and continue this therapy in phone sessions from home.

Although it was not my main motivation to attend, I got plenty of physical healing.  In addition to morning vichara sessions and yoga classes, each of us had private afternoon yoga therapy sessions.  The highly trained yoga therapists had no trouble finding the tight spots in my body.  They applied skilled techniques to release these areas in a way I could never do on my own.  The release was so pronounced, I thought I might experience some significant relapse.  During the final days, however, our private sessions consisted of learning a customized home practice.  The poses, alignments and propping were tailored for my body’s healing process.  The practice has enabled me to easily maintain and continue the openings at home.

The yoga classes, yogic philosophy discourses, chants and meditation were equally as supportive as the private sessions.  The yoga class format was a little different from the standard.  They were slightly shorter with the same or similar pose sequences each day.  This served well to relax and open mind and body after the intensity of the vichara.  It also provided a sweet warmup in preparation for yoga therapy later in the afternoon.

After lunch we had time to digest while listening to a discourse on the healing process.  Yoga’s perspective, as informed by the ancient sages and yogic texts, is enlightening.  We learned about the yogic healing paradigm, which is explained in Swamiji’s 2017 March teachings article: Healing Is a Multidimensional Process.  Although I had heard some of the teachings before, I gained new clarity on the many subtleties involved.  The Svaroopa® Sciences are all incorporated in the Ashram’s Yoga Healing Retreat programs.  They touch each level of our multidimensional being effectively and with precision and compassion.

Chant and meditation bookended each day.  We began at 6:30 am with Sri Guru Gita.  The 50 plus minutes of Sanskrit vibrated through my body, lifting the curtains of sleep and shrama (worldly heaviness).  It’s easy to slip into meditation afterwards.  Timelessly, the sweet sound of the meditation bowl brought us lightly and fully back into the physical realm.  Journaling “memorialized” our experience.

The healing retreat schedule provides ample downtime: time to rest, chat with a yoga buddy, stroll Downingtown center or peruse Ashram Shop items.  Yet it also provides the intensity of an immersion program.  While the schedule feels spacious and spa-like, much more is going on beneath the surface.  The immersion allows for cumulative openings of mind, body and whole being. 

Even now, weeks later, the healing transformation continues. I have been able to sustain my personal yoga practices more easily.  My meditations are deeper, and I experience less shrama.  I feel the inward turning, sweet surrender of placing myself at my Guru’s feet, and allowing Grace to carry me through my life.

Using Your Body to Go Beyond

By Leslie (Bhakta) Johnson, interviewed by Lori (Priya) Kenney

“Teaching is how I pass on the gift that I was given, experiencing and being present in the Self,” says Bhakta.  “I’ve had many opportunities to take trainings with our Svaroopa® Yoga Teacher Trainers.  I have trained with Swami Nirmalananda for many years.  Being with those great teachers has had an effect on me.  Having had my own deep experiences, I bring that depth of experience and presence to my teaching.”

Besides regular classes in her Minneapolis studio, Bhakta travels to Downingtown PA and elsewhere to teach.  She serves as a Teacher Trainer for Foundations as well as Embodyment® Yoga Therapy and other courses.  Bhakta brings to her students the richness of nearly 18 years of Svaroopa® Yoga teaching experience.

“The way we teach asana in Svaroopa® Yoga is uniquely profound.  Students learn to feel their body in a whole new way.  This enables them to track inward on a more subtle level.  They become aware of life in a different way, including life’s subtleties.

“My main purpose is to support students in deepening their awareness and deepening into themselves.  As an asana teacher, I focus on the body to help students look inward.  Doing Svaroopa® Yoga gives them this gift.  They learn to be present in that depth.  When I asked a new student how he found my class, he said, ‘I googled tantra.  Your website came up, so I decided to try a class.’  He has already attended a satsang and had a private session.  Svaroopa® Yoga is the yoga that enriches all your experience.

“I see my students deepening into themselves.  They gain an understanding of the difference between the mind and who they are beyond their mind.  After class, I ask students how they are hearing the contemplation I read.  I ask what it means to them.  Even students who are new to Svaroopa® Yoga come to know the difference between what their mind is doing and who they are — the Self.

“Over time, I hear from my students is that they are less stressed.  When they are stressed, they recognize that they’re over-reacting.  Students become more aware of how they’re reacting, what they are reacting to and why.  Having gained this understanding, they begin to move through life with less reaction.  Often, they recognize what to do to return to a state of clarity and peace.

“It’s a gift to fully know the significance of the body.  Before Svaroopa® Yoga, I only knew the significance of my body when it was in pain.  That gave me a particular kind of relationship with my body.  When you practice Svaroopa® Yoga, old patterns start to unravel.  Your relationship with your body changes.  “You learn to use your body for more than just carting you around.  You learn to use your body for its highest purpose.  You discover there is so much more to you and your body.  I help students to cultivate their own experience of svaroopa, the bliss of beingness.  Within your body, you can experience all the levels of Consciousness.  Ultimately, by going into the body, you get beyond the body.  One of my favorite quotations from Swamiji is, ‘By delving into and through your own body, you can come to know your own True Self.’”

New Swamis

By Sadguru Swami Nirmalananda Saraswati

Day 2 in Ganeshpuri:  we spent hours and hours, delicious and timeless hours, in a Vedic fire ceremony.  This yaj~na honored the cosmic energy that sustains, nurtures and protects the universe, Narayana and Lakshmi.  We invoked their blessings for all of us and for the whole world, as well as to get the new swamis ready for their big step.

Day 3 in Ganeshpuri:  we immersed ourselves in a second yaj~na, but shorter.  The morning ceremony was conducted by five yogis preparing to give themselves to the fire of Consciousness.  They spent the afternoon and evening in a vigil, with more flames, more mantras and lots of quiet time and personal practice.  As I joined them at different times in the day, we laughed a lot!  They were getting lighter and lighter as the day progressed, not only shining more brightly but also shedding the density of lifetimes.

Day 4 in Ganeshpuri:  After the fires, burning away their karmas and limitations, the new swamis were birthed in the waters of Ganeshpuri’s sacred hot springs.  Mantras, some of them whispered by the Guru under a shawl, and new names completed their ceremonies, freeing them in extraordinary, powerful and blissful ways.  It shines in their eyes as well as through their mind and heart.  The way they see, walk, think and speak is changed – yet they are the same.  Freedom is simply you becoming more you by shedding who and what you were not.

Their new names are:

Praj~naananda  (the yogi formerly known as Chiti)

Sahajananda (the yogi formerly known as Kusuma)

Samvidaananda (the yogi formerly known as Rukmini)

Satrupananda (the yogi formerly known as Sakalananda)

Shrutananda (the yogi formerly known as Vidyadevi)

More reports are coming soon!

Happy Giving Tuesday!

By Carolyn (Karuna) Beaver, SVA Board Member

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are behind us — thank goodness.  Today, we turn our attention to more important things than the post-Thanksgiving shopping frenzy.  The United Nations Foundation has designated today, the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, as Giving Tuesday.  Tuesday December 3 is a day to use your resources for the benefit of others.

Around the globe, Giving Tuesday is a day dedicated to giving back.  On this day, you may receive other emails asking you to support charitable organizations.  Svaroopa® Vidya Ashram’s board of directors humbly asks the same.  We ask that you participate in this year’s Giving Tuesday movement by donating to the Ashram. 

By your gift, you are investing in the spreading of ancient yogic teachings.  Svaroopa® yoga and Svaroopa® Vidya meditation teachings are handed down from an unbroken lineage of meditation masters.  Spanning thousands of years, these teachings are as important today as they were millennia ago.  Our culture is in desperate need of them.

They help us live our yoga, drawing from the source of Beingness-Itself.  What the world needs now is more enlightened beings!  Our website is alive with the energy of Sadguru Swami Nirmalananda’s free teachings, both written and audio.  The teachings are there for all.  Swamiji travels around the country and around the globe, presenting free programs.  Your donation supports the infrastructure that makes the SVA mission possible.

Giving Tuesday might seem like just another social media trend.  Yet it makes a positive impact.  Once it was a long weekend of trying to snag the best deals, shopping nonstop or standing in line for doorbusters.  Now, it’s refreshing to have a day set aside for what truly matters this season: giving from a full and generous heart to make the world a better place.  A more yogic place.

Just for today, Facebook will match your donation. You can double your donation’s impact!  This starts with you.  And it starts with one small step.  Your donation of $5 or $15 or $50 will go a long way in spreading these important teachings across the globe.  Click here to donate on our Facebook page.  

Of course, you can also click here to donate on our webpage.  Or, call us at 610-644-7555.  And, click here for a little gift, expressing our heartfelt gratitude to you.