Monthly Archives: December 2021

Holy Days

By Gurudevi Swami Nirmalananda 

The word “holiday” comes from “holy day,” meaning it is a sacred time, a time outside of time.  Especially at the end of our year and as our days grow short, we slow down.  Taking advantage of three special days in only six weeks, the days in-between are busy.  You barely have time to clean up from one celebration and get ready for the next.

Yet there is an undercurrent.  You can spot it if you pay attention.  From November’s gratitude to December’s generosity, you are being readied for the celebration of a fresh start for a new year.  The mystical flow of Divine Grace becomes easier to perceive with each event.  What is happening?

Most people focus on family for these special days, using that connection to soften and warm their heart.  Looking to others for a connection is a way of finding your own mystical essence, yoga says – that when they see you, really see you, you become aware of your own Self.  How great it is when it works.  For most people, that is rare and special, unfortunately infrequent.

Yoga is about finding your own mystical essence all the time, all twelve months of the year.  To find, to know and to be that Divine Being which you already are — this is yoga’s goal as described by the ancient sages.  For this, you need to slow down and stop, another wonderful thing about these sweet weeks that close the year.

But you don’t have to wait for holidays, for every day is a holy day.  Every day is a day “which the Lord hath made,” as the Psalm says.  The whole point is to recognize the sacred when you see it.  And every moment is sacred, every being is sacred, every thing is sacred, including you.  This is mysticism.  This is tantra.

Guru Qualities

By Sue (Shuchi) Cilley, interviewed by Lori (Priya) Kenney

When I think of Gurudevi, it’s hard to pull out only one or two qualities. It’s like looking at my Christmas tree: it’s all scintillating. It’s a package. It’s the same with Gurudevi. All the capacities, all the skills are there, shining as part of the package.

In the Advaya Taraka Upanishad, a qualified Guru is described as having all these qualities: 

…knowledgeable in the Vedas, a devotee of God, free from jealousy, an expert in yoga, does yoga practices, is always in a pure yogic state.  He is devoted to his own Guru and is a knower of the Self.

Gurudevi has all these qualifications and more.  She’s also a true Shaktipat Guru, appointed and willing to serve as Shiva’s agent of Grace.  She gives the knowingness of Self. 

A master of Shaktipat, Gurudevi has mastery over the Shakti Chakra, Kundalini.  Such a master of Kundalini is incredibly rare.  She gave us all of the Svaroopa® yoga poses designed to open the spinal pathway tail to top, smoothing the way for Kundalini energy to flow. 

And there’s more — she’s an exceptional teacher.  Everything she teaches is from the ancient texts.  She’s not making anything up.  She’s bringing these ancient time-tested teachings to us.  She is absolutely brilliant at explaining the teachings in easy-to-understand ways.  She personalizes them so they are living teachings.  She encourages me to test them for myself in this living laboratory which is the world.

It’s not only the learning; she gives me the experience of what she’s teaching.  I grew up in a college town and had many brilliant teachers.  But they could only give me the contents of the subject.  One was an excellent music teacher, but he could only teach what to do and the technique.  He couldn’t give me the experience of music.  Gurudevi does both.  When she teaches, she gives me not only the words, but the experience they point to.

Because she has walked this path, she’s able to see where I’m coming from.  She moves me along, taking me from where I am to the next step and the next.  She’s always looking for ways, and she’s very creative.  She delivers the lines like a great actor, but it’s not an act.  It’s a reality play.

She never does anything that isn’t related to my upliftment.  She never wavers, she’s never off task.  She has a good sense of humor, she’s approachable, she’s very generous with her time and her teachings.  She’s so alive.

Gurudevi has touched every part of my life.  I can’t imagine starting the day without chanting Sri Guru Gita.  She has given me my Self.  Her mantra is integral to my being.  She’s always taking me beyond what I could ever imagine, again and again and again.  Thank Guru, thank God.  I am so grateful.  I bow at her feet.

Discovering My Self

 By Patrice Nicolet, interviewed by Annie (Aanandi) Ross

“Open the door.” I’ve been contemplating and reflecting on this internal message received ten months ago. After an early morning online Meditation Club session with Gurudevi, I heard these three words silently but clearly.

Looking at where I am today, I realize my spiritual journey has been ongoing. This is true even for those times when I wasn’t paying much attention. I was first introduced to the Svaroopa® yoga Magic Four poses in 1998. Soon after, I attended a few week-end yoga programs. Then I took the Foundations of Svaroopa® Yoga training. At yoga conferences through the years, I sampled more of Gurudevi’s teachings (then Rama). In 2002, I plunged into the full Svaroopa® YTT.

For over ten years, I taught Svaroopa® yoga classes regularly. During that time, my focus and personal practice began to shift to meditation. Yet even though I took Gurudevi’s basic Meditation Made Easy programs, I wasn’t ready to really dive in. I began studying a different style of meditation and connected with a local community. This connection grew for several years.

Eventually, a very special Svaroopa® Vidya Meditation event brought me back. In May 2019, it was the celebration of Swami Nirmalananda’s 43rd anniversary of receiving Shaktipat from her Guru. The experience of this event was pivotal for me. Something shifted. I realized I couldn’t do it on my own. I was ready for “The More!” Things took off for me in the journey to know my Self. Most recently, Gurudevi’s 2021 Year-Long Programme had a profound effect. It prepared me to receive the gifts of Shaktipat, as I attended her dedicated Shaktipat Retreat for us YLP students.

Gurudevi keeps finding ways to work with our minds. I so look forward to each day with online Meditation Club. I plan my day and week around other offerings, including Swami Sunday. I’m so grateful for all the online programs that Gurudevi has initiated during the pandemic. In many ways the pandemic has helped structure and prioritize my practices. I’ve created new habits that allow the teachings to percolate and deepen into my experience.

Now I contemplate the message I received ten months ago: “Open the door.” I’m still finding my way, doing the practices, asking questions, and looking within. As a result, I feel steadier, calmer. I’m learning to lean in and trust this Grace-filled process. These many gifts continue to shape my life inside and outside. The seeds that were planted so many years (lifetimes?) ago have taken root! I have the tools now to nourish and bring to fruition yoga’s promise — to know my own Self. I’m diving deep into doing more yoga. The door to “more” is open. To have this Guru and community of practitioners is so precious!

Shine Your Light into the World

By Carolyn (Karuna) Beaver, SVA Board Member 

Everything I do and everything I give is in service to the Self.  The Self is the One Reality, that which is being you, being me, being Gurudevi and everything else.  This truth lights my yogic path.  It keeps me yearning for Self-Realization — to know my own Divine Essence ALL the time.  

For this reason I give of my time and financial resources to the Ashram.  I encourage you to do the same in our Fall Fundraiser — Being in Service.  Thanks to your generosity, we are more than halfway to our fundraising goal.  Still, we only have a few weeks left to reach it. 

Reaching our fundraising goal has never been more important.  These past 18 months have been challenging for all of us.  Under Gurudevi’s wise touch, the Ashram rapidly pivoted to provide more Online services.  We are now offering On-Site programs too.  Both help us cover our bottom line.

But as a not-for-profit organization, we receive fully one third of our revenue from donations.  The real bottom line is that we cannot offer Gurudevi’s amazing and important teachings without you.

The gratitude and generosity that bubble up from your own essence are gifts from your yoga practices.  Gratitude and generosity have a tremendous effect on your body and your mind.  Gurudevi says, “By giving of yourself, you get filled up.  It doesn’t come from being thanked.  It simply feels good to give.”  She adds that “true generosity opens your heart and quiets your mind.”

In the season of giving thanks and lighting lights, please consider what your yoga practices have done for you.  And consider what sharing this yoga with others will do for the world. 

When you support the Ashram with a financial gift, you support the organization that supports you.  When you support the Ashram with a donation, Gurudevi’s profound teachings can be spread more widely.  You share your own inner light.  You shine it into a world that forgets it too easily.

Celebrate the divine human you are with a gift of light to all humanity.  Open your heart and quiet your mind with a donation to the Ashram’s fall fundraising campaign today.  Follow our Master Teacher’s example.  Be in service.

Donate today 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. Thank You!