Monthly Archives: June 2021

Realigning My Mirror

By Annie (Aanandi) Ross

In an early Svaroopa® Yoga Teacher Training, someone told me, “You might have to realign your rearview mirror when you depart.”  That image has stuck with me through many years of practicing and teaching yoga.  At the time, It was amazing to consider that yoga could make me taller. 

Little did I know that it could also fill me up.  Yet it fills me from the inside, not like a dear friend recently described: “Happiness is when I can fill up my calendar.”

In her June 2021 Teachings Article: Why Is My Mind So Crazy? Gurudevi says:

“When you feel empty, your mind goes crazy.
It tries to find something to fill you up.
It’s like trying to fill an empty reservoir with a teaspoon.
You need an underground stream to be filling it from the bottom up.”

She is referring to the stream of Guru’s Grace.  When I look to the external world to fill me up with activity, I’m sunk.  Yoga’s teachings explain the cause.  There will never be enough in the external world to satisfy me fully.  Yes, I may be momentarily satisfied, but then what?  The external world will not fully satisfy — ever.  The “More” that I yearn for is only found inside.  And when I simply allow that to happen, when I look inward, I’m settled.  I’m at home in my own Self. 

I remember one incident when my mind was clearly confused.  It was 1973.  I was returning from a stay overseas, passing through JFK International Airport.  I was jetlagged, tired and inexperienced at exploring the world.  I saw something my mind did not know how to interpret.  There were twenty or so people, dressed all in orange.  They were singing something, swirling and dancing around in a big circle.  This was right in the middle of the busy airport.  I was astonished.  I stopped to watch, as did many others.  I now recognize the people in orange were chanting Hare Krishna.

The interesting thing is that my mind was spellbound.  I felt transported to somewhere else.  I wanted to know who they were and what they were doing.  I stayed for a while.  I tried to grasp what I was seeing.  I felt something but had no idea what. 

Then, in a moment, my mind told me, “These people are crazy, really crazy.”  I scoffed to myself and left the crazy scene, shaking my head.  I headed back into the business of the external world.  I felt busy, important and arrogant. 

I couldn’t have figured out how life works on my own.  I needed a teacher — a Master who had already tread this yogic path.  I needed one who had grasped the teachings from her teacher, who got it from his teacher.

Finally, stumbling into Svaroopa® yoga and meditation, I began to understand the mind.  My mind can be tricky and crazy making.  Then I came to know what really fills me up from the inside.  It is the Self, described in the ancient texts.  And I came to understand how my mind can serve me better.  It takes practice.  I am forever grateful for this blessing.

Svaroopa® Vidya Meditation

Svaroopa® Vidya Meditation

Everything arises from within.  This meditation system opens up the inner flow, so you are uplifted from your very first meditation.  Healing is followed by inner peace, which gives way to profound bliss.  Inner wisdom fills your life with meaning and purpose.  Best of all, you discover its source, your own Divine Essence. 

Healing, Peace & Bliss

Your first meditation begins the process of profound healing.  Both physical and more than physical, the changes are immediate and tangible.  Your experience develops quickly into deep inner peace.  Your heart expands into an ease-full inner space.  Bliss comes next, an unmistakable inner sensation that fills your mind and body.  It carries with you as you step back into activities.  Svaroopa® Vidya Meditation makes it easy and profound.

Inner Wisdom Unlocked 

Inner knowing is the only real answer, the only one that makes sense to you.  No matter what anyone else says, when you know — you know.  Meditation is the way to dive inside, to the source of the knowing.  Svaroopa® Vidya Meditation makes this inner opening easy, with profound answers and deep truths that arise from within.

Uncover Your True Essence

You discover who you are, you don’t become someone new.  You don’t add to who you are or what you do.  Instead you uncover your deeper essence, which has been hidden within for so long.  Svaroopa® Vidya Meditation makes it easy because it’s contagious.  You catch it from one who knows, a Meditation Master.  Gurudevi’s guidance is better than a GPS for getting you where you want to go.

Last Day of Japa Club

By Matrikaa (Marlene) Gast

Japa Club comes to a close on June 21, International Day of Yoga.  When I heard the news, I felt scared and sad.  What will I do without Zooming into Gurudevi’s voice repeating mantra, and matching mine to it? 

This great gift has been given to us for more than a year.  Plagued by pandemic panic, many of us have relied on Japa Club as a desperately needed link to Gurudevi.  Japa with Gurudevi has been a steady place of sacred shelter.  And Japa Club has been a tangible conduit of Gurudevi’s blessings to the world.

I realize that I’d hoped Japa Club would go on forever.  Yet, besides feeling loss, I’m settling into inner “is-ness.”  How appropriate that we emerge from our yoga caves now that it’s safe.

Gurudevi Nirmalananda says, “It’s been a great honor and privilege to serve so many for so long.”  She initiated Japa Club within a couple of weeks of pandemic lockdown.  Since then, Gurudevi has led the traditional 108 repetitions of mantra in Zoom sessions twice daily.  Her Japa Club sessions have served the world at large and each of us individually.

In creating the Japa Club, Gurudevi’s goal was supporting us in getting over our pandemic panic.  She says, “Through Japa Club, I accomplished that goal —and more.  More people are abiding in the Self.”  Regular participants in Japa Club describe powerful experiences:

The Japa Club made a huge difference for me.  Gurudevi has said that the function of the Guru is to pierce through the veil of fear to the Self.  It is working of course!!” — Robin B.

During the Japa Club call, mantra reached down into the depths of my being and my form.  The mantra revealed itself, and I knew it to be the worship done by every human in every fire ceremony, yoga practice, synagogue, mosque, church and so on that has ever been.  I saw the priests and holy humans bowing to God.  A profound moment of Self.  Eternally grateful to the One who is giving so much.” — Lori K.

It has been a difficult year in so many ways.  Of course, we’ve been needy.  Recognizing our plight, Guru gave us Japa Club as a lifeline.  In truth, she is always here for us seekers, closer than the breath.  All we need do is turn our attention to her.  Plus, no longer locked down in our homes, we are free to travel.  We can sit at our Guru’s feet in person.  We can bask in her light, bathe in Guru’s Grace, and imbibe her teachings.

Now we can let go of the Japa Club lifeline.  Being infused with Guru’s Grace, we go forward with the self-effort of Disciple’s Grace.  We can diligently apply Gurudevi’s guidance to Do More Japa on our own in our own homes.  With mantra repetition 24/7, you are no longer using Gurudevi as a crutch.  Prevent understandable neediness from morphing into greediness!

Effective tools are available for practical support.  Set your smart phone timer for multiple japa pauses daily.  You get a structured rest and reset by sitting to repeat mantra out loud.  Be sure to follow it with silent repetition inside for a minute or so.

And rely on Gurudevi’s Meditation: Deep & Easy CD.  In the 2nd track she leads you in 108 repetitions of mantra.  Set that track to repeat for as long as you want.  Notice how your state deepens with the longer, frequent japa sessions structured for yourself.

As verse 9 of the Guru Gita says, Guru and Self are not distinct.  Being Self-Realized, Gurudevi is always there for us.  She is, by definition, within.  By repeating mantra 24/7 we come to know this truth, without a doubt.  The past is done.  The future is your choice.  You can walk on your own, run — and even fly. 

Gurudevi says, “Five minutes of japa twice a day will make you feel better, but it won’t get you enlightened.”  So heed her guidance: Do More Japa.

Joy! Jubilation! Trepidation?

By Gurudevi Nirmalananda

I’m ready to rip off my mask and dance around the room in glee.  Fully vaccinated, no mask required and I can even sit and chat with people again – I’m ready to go.  But I’m seeing others move into it more slowly.  What’s going on?

Is your inner peace dependent on being isolated?  Is your world smaller than it was a year ago?  And what about the personal space you need – is sitting beside someone on a bench simply too close for you? 

The pandemic isn’t over, I agree.  At the Ashram, we continue to offer blessings five times daily to everyone worldwide.  But your personal safety is better than it’s been in over a year.  That’s something to celebrate!

But you’ve probably been celebrating special events all alone or online with others.  You have other options now.  Something wonderful happens when we get together in-person.  This is especially true in a yoga class.  Why?  Because yoga has you working on the outside and the inside at the same time.  As you move and breathe, your body changes – an outer change.  And your inner state changes – which is the more important benefit.  This is Svaroopa® yoga’s specialty.

When you do this with others, the synchronicity amplifies both benefits, outer and inner.  When your teacher moves you through the process and you get to laugh with others (or complain) after class, your heart is engaged in a whole new way.  It’s not yoga until you put your heart into it, says the sage Patanjali in sutra 1.14.

For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been enjoying sweet reunions in the meditation programs I lead.  And I’ve been meeting new people, some who say they’ve been waiting for the chance to come.  I’m sure your teacher and fellow yogis will enjoy reconnecting with you too, or getting to know you from scratch. 

What do you want your life to include now that the world is opening up again?  I hope you’ll do more yoga.

My Guru’s Divine Qualities

By Lissa (Yogyananda) Fountain

Gurudevi Nirmalananda’s other-worldly radiance is what drew me to her.  It emanated from her grounded and everyday countenance.  She was so relatable.  She had experienced the ups and down of raising a family as a single mom.  She knew life’s uncertainties like the rest of us.  Yet she changed the course of her life’s direction mid-stream, and never looked back.

By her Guru’s Grace, she discovered how to live in the complete freedom of her inner Self.  What makes Gurudevi special is that she didn’t hoard the keys to the inner kingdom.  Becoming enlightened, she could have chosen not to teach others.  Instead, she stays present to her students, and moves us through our process.  She models selfless service, by walking the walk, and talking the talk.  She is Grace personified, revealing this life, and ourselves, as divine.  And she empowers us to embody our Inner Greatness.

Gurudevi is a karma yogi.  Selfless service permeates the Svaroopa® yoga teacher training (YTT) and the Ashram she built.  She does all this to serve her Guru, Baba Muktananda.  He taught her that “Only one who obeys can command.”  She exemplifies this humility every day.  Gurudevi says, “My heart is ever resting at my Guru’s feet, while my mind does his work by serving you.”

In her Ashram days with him, she did her daily sevas by thinking of herself as Baba’s hands and feet.  She took care of people for his sake.  She describes, “He moved me light years on my spiritual path.”  Similarly, when I do my sevas, I feel Gurudevi working through me.  Yet I am not helping her.  She gives us sevites each task to help us grow and expand.  She says, “Seva is about your inner fullness.”

Gurudevi is a Shaktipat Guru.  She transmits her spiritual energy into the individual.  This opens you to the deepest dimension of your Beingness.  This is the revelatory action of Grace, the whole purpose of her teaching.  With this opening, we can live from that place of knowing all the time. 

Sometimes her Grace feels like a cooling gel.  Sometimes, like a fire I wish I could flee!  But the truth is, she is always there for us students of her teachings and practices.  This “showing up” makes me feel I know her intimately, even unto lifetimes.

Gurudevi is a tantric teacher; she enjoys life robustly.  She gives the ancient teachings in her own words and enlivens them with personal stories.  For this world is divine, even when we don’t perceive it as such.  Therefore, she gives us a boost: repeat mantra.  She calls it “the easy path, from the inside outward.”

Gurudevi wants you to worship your own inner Self, not her.  She always sees us as pure Consciousness, even when we can’t see ourselves that way.  With infinite patience and compassion, she applies Grace to our limitations.  She’ll ask, “Have you been listening to what I’ve been saying?”  Then she explains the ancient teachings again, and then again.  Her willingness and capacity to support us on our path toward enlightenment are infinite.

Most importantly, Gurudevi empowers all of us to experience our own greatness.  I received my mantra and Shaktipat from her.  So I’m on “the easy path,” even when I make it hard.  And when I’m stuck, Guru’s Grace swoops in with a reminder: “The key is in your pocket when you’re locked out — take it out and use it.  Do more mantra!”

You’ve Changed!

By Satguru Swami Nirmalananda

Your experiences in the last year have changed you.  Whether you’d planned it or not, you were thrust into a hermetic lifestyle, like a hermit.  A quieter lifestyle is supposed to give you a more peaceful mind, right?  That’s why people move into a cabin in the woods or a mountain hideaway.  You did it where you live.  But what did you do?

While nothing much was happening on the outside, you were changing on the inside.  It reminds me of when my kids grew so much in the summers, but day by day it wasn’t noticeable.  Not until they tried on their school clothes from two months earlier.  Wow, what a difference!

Has the same happened for you?  You may not even know until you get back to the things you used to do.  We call it a “Marker Pose.”  In a Svaroopa® yoga class, you do a pose for self-assessment at the beginning of class.  After the series of spinal release poses that track from your tailbone up through your neck and head, you repeat the same pose.  This Marker Pose makes you able to say, “Wow, what a difference!”  That’s the power of spinal release, aka spinal decompression.

It’s an inner change, technically an inner opening.  You have more breathing space, more space for your organs, and it even feels like you have more space to live in.  It’s about getting present, actually living in your body.  That makes it easy to find out who you are — who is it that is living in your body?   That’s the whole point:  you discover a deeper dimension of your own Self.

Has the pandemic helped you with this?  Do you feel more like you? If not, now is the time to do more yoga.

Giving Blessings

Ellen (Lajja) Mitchell, SVA Board President

It is hard to believe that our Giving Blessings campaign is coming to an end. I thank all of you who support Svaroopa® Vidya Ashram during our fundraisers and throughout the year.

I know this has been a difficult time for many, and I appreciate your digging deep.  It truly makes a difference; you truly make a difference.  Since donations make up a major portion of our income, every dollar counts.

In my opening blog for this campaign, I spoke of how blessings go both ways.  In giving blessings, you also receive.  Swami Muktananda’s described giving and receiving:

You receive because you give.

If you do not give, how will you receive?

Muktananda, do not mislead others.

You cannot just receive.

— “Mukteshwari,” verse 139

Sunday is my day to “do more yoga.”  I start with meditation.  A few times a month, I try to join the New England GeoCenter’s offering of Guru Gita.  Then comes Swami Sunday online.  Lately, that is followed by yardwork.  In the late afternoon I take an online Ashram Yoga and Meditation class.  In the evening, I phone into Japa Club.

Truly, I experience a yoga-filled day that overflows with blessings.  So, although our spring fundraiser is over, the blessings and gratitude remain.  Day after day, week after week, month after month, I feel the Grace.  I give to the Ashram and Gurudevi, but I continue to receive so much more.

I am grateful for Svaroopa® Vidya Ashram and the Svaroopa® Vidya community.  Your gift helps Gurudevi and the Ashram to provide Yoga Teacher Training, Meditation Training, retreats, satsangs and more.  In return, we all benefit.  Much love and gratitude to you!

Donate on our website or on Facebook. You can call us at (610) 644-7555. Or you can send your check to Svaroopa Vidya Ashram, 116 E. Lancaster Ave., Downingtown, PA 19335.