By Ben Waters, interviewed by Lori (Priya) Kenney
After a spontaneous Kundalini awakening, Ben Waters had energy coursing through his system and knew he needed some guidance. Through internet research, Ben made a lucky connection with a Svaroopa® yoga teacher nearby. He was thus led to Gurudevi Nirmalananda, only an hour from his home! “It was perfect,” says Ben, who has now been studying with Gurudevi for six years.
“One thing I love about Gurudevi is that she is accessible. Available and approachable, she makes time for one-on-one talks. That’s big. I know other people who have gurus. They either live in another country or just come around once in a while.
“Gurudevi embodies that state I’m trying to get to, to transform into. She’s very real. She doesn’t look spaced out and is very grounded. She doesn’t talk about lofty, unattainable stuff. Her teachings and meditation instruction are accessible and profoundly deep. She talks about having this amazing experience of Self-Realization and God within you, while also living an everyday life. She displays that — she runs yoga programs and is a normal person, but so much more.
“I feel so much love from her. I feel like she truly cares about everybody as well as me personally. Every time I’m in her presence, there is at least one moment that I feel she’s there with me. She does it with just a look, a tap on the shoulder or a comment. She encourages me and I feel extremely supported by her.
“Gurudevi has entered into my heart in a way that I can’t explain. How does she do it? I was skeptical at first but somehow she entered my heart. She is with me, even if I’m not in her presence. She is the most important person in my life.
“I admire her confidence and unwavering focus. She is on point. I’ve heard people ask questions and wonder how she will answer. She exudes stability. She’s confident about this path, these practices, where they will lead, and what they will do for you. That means a lot to me.
“She is loving but fierce, in a gentle way. If you’re screwing up, she lets you know. One time after a satsang, Gurudevi was asking questions about the teachings she gave. I was in a spaced out state of mind. When she asked me a question, I couldn’t respond because I was so much in the bliss. She looked at me and said very firmly, “Get in your body! Now.” It snapped me back into the present and in my body immediately. It wasn’t mean but it was fierce. She said, “I’m coming back to you in 30 seconds and I want an answer.” Her words, her command, pulled me right back in. I felt very grounded almost immediately and none of the bliss was gone. I could function with the bliss without losing myself in it.
“Gurudevi walks the walk. I have watched her closely over the years. There is nothing that I see her doing or living that is in conflict with what she’s saying. She’s not saying one thing here and doing another over there. It’s very clean.
“She gets people involved. I’m kind of shy, but she reached out to me and said, “I’d like you to emcee these events.” It makes you feel like she really wants you to be part of this family. “It’s great to see Gurudevi openly serve. I can tell she’s a servant of Consciousness. When I first started, there were just four to eight of us at satsangs on Sunday. Now people from all over southeast PA, NJ, and DE come regularly to her Swami Sunday Satsangs. She’s serving this whole community all over as well as Ashram residents and yogis from all over the US, Canada, Australia and Europe, who are attending immersion programs. It’s great to see how Gurudevi lives this life of seva (pure service).”