By Caroline (Nitya) Kutil
As Gurudevi quoted in her blog, “when a door closes, another one opens.” There were already so many online articles and phone opportunities through svaroopa.org. Yet, right after stay-at-home orders were issued, Gurudevi sprang into action to provide so many more opportunities for connection — the Japa Club, the Meditation Club, online yoga classes, philosophy discussion group, a satsang subscription program, training for teachers who are offering online classes to their students and much more.
My experience is one of gratitude. But even more than gratitude, of connection. I live alone and far from any other Svaroopa® yoga teachers, classes or communities. Once the magnitude of this pandemic became apparent, I realized that I really needed to “up my game” in terms of my own practices — more asana, more meditation, more Japa. Humm, where have I heard that before??
I am especially grateful for the Japa Club with those ecstatic excerpts from Baba Muktananda’s writings that Gurudevi brings to us. She gives us countless reminders of how to interweave “OM Namah Shivaya” into the moment by moment experiences I am having.
The Meditation Club is helping me “up my game.” Embedded in the opening chant “Jyota se Jyota” is the reality of what happens when we meditate together in this lineage — “Light my inner flame with your flame. Teacher of Truth, awaken my inner light.” Grace flows even stronger whenever we meditate together, even over the phone! That is truly amazing.
At the end of the meditation, we repeat mantra together, offering the benefits of mantra to all those who have been affected by this pandemic. For me, that offering is going to the whole world.
We are all being affected by this pandemic, some more, some less. The big takeaway for me has been that I am not alone. I am connected, not just to family, friends, yoga community and to my Guru, but to the whole world. It is the experience of that connection that is changing me.
A few days after the magnitude of this event began to sink in, at the end of one of our Japa Club calls, I continued to sit for an additional 45 minutes. The experience of inner expansion continued to deepen. I felt bigger, lighter, sweeter and so full. At the end of my sitting, I felt connected to the whole world. I don’t want this feeling to end.
People are saying we’re all in this together, as if it’s a new thing. How were we ever not in this together? We all share the same reality, we’ve all come from the same place. We’ve always all been in this together, but now we know it. That is such a good thing.
I spoke to a dear yogi friend the other day who expressed some guilt about her blissful experiences during this pandemic. It occurs to me that bliss is what completes us, what makes us whole and what we as yogis can offer to the world.
There is a phrase that keeps coming back to me. It is what flight attendants say just before the plane takes off. “Put your own mask on first before assisting others.” It relates to what I said about another yogi who said they feel ecstatic but feel guilty because of what is happening in the world. It’s not necessary to feel guilty about feeling ecstatic. The world needs yogis right now because there is so much fear and death and destruction. The world needs this bliss, this peace, this groundedness that true yogis embody.
We can’t give to someone else what we don’t have. So, put your own mask on first. It’s almost like a natural law. How can you help other people if you have nothing to give them? It comes back to working on the inside, discovering what is in us. That absolutely has an effect on what is happening on the outside around us.
The lessons that are available from this global event are truly encyclopedic. Am I allowing that information to sink in? How can I absorb it all? Gurudevi has given us a way. All we have to do is use it.