Monthly Archives: January 2022

Gurudevi Came to Me in a Dream

By Marlene (Matrikaa) Gast

I enrolled in the October Shaktipat Retreat only because Gurudevi came to me in a dream.   It was about a week before it was to begin.  I took the dream as a sign that I couldn’t let this opportunity go by.  

Since 2012, I’d taken six in-person Shaktipat Retreats. Each was powerful in a unique way.  My late decision to attend Shaktipat meant I had to opt for online.  My experience was unexpectedly profound.  In fact, it has proved to be a turning point for me on the Self-Realization path.

When Gurudevi gave Shaktipat by will, my head filled with light.  A sense of infinite wholeness expanded from within my whole being.  Physical boundaries dissolved.  Inside and outside were the same.  I recognized that infinite wholeness as me — my own Self.  The meditation following was filled with light and bliss.

Turning my focus inward now, as I write, I find again an enormous, ineffable lightness.  It is interwoven with grandeur and divine ecstasy.  This experience marked a wonderous turning point.  Paradoxically, however, it is more subtle than grand.  It’s a shift to a quiet perspective — a plain, enduring clarity.  It feels infinitely deeper than ecstasy.  I feel the Divine Is-ness of all, inside and outside, no matter the circumstances.

The same weekend as Shaktipat, I lost my Norwegian Forest cat, Jay.  Eleven years ago, he was found as a nearly wild stray kitten.  Rescued, he learned to live as an indoor/outdoor cat.  Jay had an unvarying routine.  He spent his days sleeping in sun patches on my office floor or on my lap at the computer.  At night, he left through the pet door for feline revelry outdoors.  Without fail, he returned precisely at 5:30 am as morning meditation closed.

I last saw Jay on the day before my Shaktipat Retreat began.  I had to move office furniture around to ensure Jay couldn’t get into my adjacent yoga room.  Spooked by the hubbub, he bolted out and never returned.  On Sunday afternoon following the retreat, his fur was found in tall grass.  There was evidence of struggle with a coyote.  Several years ago, he had encountered a Bobcat, and won that battle.  But this past summer, Jay was no longer able to jump from the floor to my lap.  Clearly, aging had slowed him down.

I feel the heaviness of his loss.  Yet when I turn more deeply inward, the lightness of Is-ness shimmers.  From there, I see that Jay experienced a different return.  He retuned into the Formless.  This transition was inevitable on all levels.  His wild nature was a particular form of Pure Consciousness.  He lived aligned with his natural instincts.  His end was simply a natural outcome.  This simple yet profound clarity arises from my Shaktipat turning point.  I see “appropriateness” inside and outside.

Constantly experiencing this Is-ness sustains a clear perspective.  Assisting Gurudevi in the Shaktipat Retreat, Swami Satrupananda gave a talk on kriyas.  When awakened by a Shaktipat Guru, Kundalini uncoils from her sleep at the base of your spine.  Just as it’s the nature of heat to rise, Kundalini climbs the spine.  When her upward flow runs into blockages, kriyas happen.  These spontaneous physical movements and movements of thought and emotion indicate that Kundalini is awake.  Gurudevi reminds us that, once awakened, Kundalini is doing our work for us.  But we need to cooperate.

When pesky thoughts arise in daily meditation now, I know them as evidence of awakened Kundalini.  She tirelessly, lovingly does her job, clearing the limiting stuff of lifetimes.  I meet these currents of thought with mantra.  I bow to all.  I know they are the divine action of Kundalini within me.  I know I must attend to my mind’s engrained patterns.  Having received the gift of Shaktipat, I follow Gurudevi’s guidance on mantra repetition and meditation to dissolve those patterns.

Doing so is my way of honoring Gurudevi’s incalculably precious gift, the blessing of her Grace.  It returns to me again and again the knowing of my own Self — the One Self Being All.  With that knowing, there is nothing to fear and nothing to mourn.

Face to Face with Gurudevi

By Ben Waters, interviewed by Lori (Priya) Kenney

I’ve found something in sitting face to face with Gurudevi.  I’ve found my Self.  Through sitting and meditating in person with Gurudevi, I have formed a Guru-Disciple relationship.  I know my relationship with her is the most important relationship in my life.

Through a series of synchronistic events, I showed up at Lokananda about eight years ago.  I was in a tough place and needed guidance.  When I called out to the universe for help, I was led to Lokananda.  The energy there is extremely tangible.  I’ve been going since that first day.  I knew I found exactly what I was looking for.  That’s funny because I didn’t know what I was looking for.  It’s the wildest thing.  If you want to have an adventure, this is the life.

Over the years, I’ve often gone to Lokananda carrying problems and heaviness.  When I’m with Gurudevi, it all falls away.  I leave it at the door.  It’s freedom.  I settle into a space that I couldn’t get to on my own.   

Now I can get there on my own, but it’s still not on my own.  It’s because that Guru-Disciple relationship has been cultivated at a depth from sitting with Gurudevi so much.  She’s installed her Self inside me, and now I can access her Grace on my own.  It truly is the wildest thing.  I remember trying to understand the relationship.  Sometimes my mind would ask, “What is this relationship? Why are you so drawn to Gurudevi?”  One time I went into meditation on my own and felt her presence so strongly.  I realized, she’s inside of me and outside of me.

During Covid, when we couldn’t go to Lokananda, I attended the online Japa Club, Meditation Club and satsangs.  It was all tremendous.  Those programs put me in the Grace and allowed me to deepen the relationship with Gurudevi. Still, seeing her face, looking into her eyes and hearing her voice in person is very different.  Most of the time, I just sit and gaze at her.

She always says “You just think you’re coming here to see me.  But really, you’re coming here to find your Self.” The best way for me to be my Self is to be with her.  Grace is so palpable when being in her physical presence.  If I have a question, I can ask her.  Over the years, I’ve realized there really are no problems.  It’s just wave disturbances in the mind-field.  I don’t have as many questions now or things I want to talk about.  It’s really about being with her.  She pulls me so deeply into my Self.  I’ve never left Lokananda having not been changed from being there.  I never depart in the same state as when I enter.  

Now Gurudevi is with me 24/7.  I can feel it and tap into it.  I don’t think there will ever be a time when being with Gurudevi won’t be the most important thing in my life.  Even with Self-Realization, I will still want to be sitting at her feet.

Journey into Meditation Practice & Teaching

By Annie (Aanandi) Ross

I remember living with my focus on the external world.  I thought about my clothes, my hair, jewelry, a little make-up and what I wanted next.  What could be the next thing to bring me happiness?  I wanted the next thrill or a buzz of some kind.

Living in the deep jungles of Honduras for three months was a wonderful experience.  I had taken a break from college in my senior year.  I was escaping overusing my mind to grasp concepts related to world religions and philosophies.  I wanted to get grounded in nature and give my mind a rest.  Just like everything prior to meditation, my sojourn in Honduras did not turn out to be just right.

Fortunately, I found Svaroopa® Yoga and Meditation some years later.  It is what has given my mind a true rest — and so much more.  This meditation has led me to the inner experience of finding and knowing my own Self.  More and more, I learn how to rest in or return to this inner experience.

When I first took Gurudevi Nirmalananda’s Meditation Teacher Training (MTT), a lot of it seemed way over my head.  Well, I did the homework anyway.  I practiced teaching, going through the steps I had been taught.  And I’ve taken students  through this process many times through the years.  Muktananda’s words “Meditation teaches you meditation” became a guide for me to follow.

A few years ago, I took Meditation Teacher Tune Up for my Continuing Education.  I felt there was something I couldn’t remember… Was there an obstacle blocking the Self?  I remember Gurudevi’s words, “You may need to do some remodeling of your mind.” Simply dissolving, deep-seated pains and fears have lost their hold on me.  I feel lighter and less burdened.  Now I know what students are actually looking for because I have found it in myself.  I can show them the ease.  Because of my experience, I want to share it with the world.

Recently, through continued, consistent meditation, I have become more and more established in the Self.  Being thus landed inward more deeply, I find my mind being remodeled.  I have finally been able to uncover obstacles that used to be in my way.  Simply dissolving, deep-seated pains and fears have lost their hold on me.  I feel lighter and less burdened.  I am focused inward, rather than outward.  Through the lifechanging process of Svaroopa® Vidya Meditation, I can be based in Self and act in the world.  Naturally, I am looking forward to teaching my next Introduction to Svaroopa® Vidya Meditation series I am offering it online through a local lifelong learning program.

Most people are interested in meditation because they want to feel calm and peaceful inside.  They appreciate learning how to sit comfortably.  They value the clam ambiance and pace of the series, as previous feedback shows:

“I felt this introduction was great, better than I expected.  In the fact, I wasn’t sure I could calm my busy mind down enough to experience meditation.”

“I really liked hearing about the goals of meditation as well as the meaning of the ancient texts and mantra. I loved how calm I felt in the space, and most of all, I loved the way Annie made each of us feel comfortable to talk about our experiences.”

“Annie was an exceptional facilitator and yogi.  She was methodical, loving, kind, instructive.”

“The study leader created a safe space in which to talk about our experiences in meditation. Three sessions was just the right length for an introduction.”

We MTT grads are taught to meet students where they are, offer them the teachings and tools, and guide them inward.  Supported by Guru’s Grace and my own practice, it turns out to be simple.  I know what students are actually looking for because I have found it in myself.  I can show them the ease.  Because of my experience, I want to share it with the world.

New Telecourse:  Being, Light & Bliss

By Gurudevi Swami Nirmalananda 

The gifts of the pandemic continue to reveal themselves, proving every cloud has a silver lining.  I thought of myself as a tech-savvy swami when I taught on telephone conference calls, beginning over ten years ago.  We could connect, sort-of, kind-of, quasi-semi-almost in-person.  At least we could hear the tone and inflection in a yogi’s voice when they shared or asked a question.  Zooming is even better!

My new Telecourse is an exciting development in creating wide-open access to yoga’s deepest teachings.  I am debuting our new offering with “Being, Light & Bliss.”  It is a self-paced course presenting the articles and videos from my 2021 Year-Long Programme.  This makes it available to everyone who couldn’t participate within the timeline I had planned.  And it’s significantly less expensive in this format, making it even more accessible.

I have been testing and refining the multi-media format for twelve years, beginning with my first Year-Long Programme in 2010.  Articles led to online audios and conference calls, and most recently – videos of me offering the teachings.  I was inspired by my Guru, of course, for when I wasn’t living with him, I treasured my rare opportunities to watch videos of him.

Last year’s big innovation was modules, short courses that could stand alone or be taken together in sequence.  These modules worked so well that we’re putting them online for you.  Pick your timing and sequencing, fitting your studies into your available times.  Or you can delve in deeply and intensively, even repeating and reviewing the articles and videos multiple times.

All this modern technology is completely in line with Shiva’s command to Vasaguptacharya over 1300 years ago. When he revealed the Shiva Sutras, Shiva said, “Take these secret teachings out into the world and make them available to everyone.”  Please join me in the mystical movement into mass-upliftment.  Let’s raise the consciousness of the world by making these profound teachings and inner experiences available to everyone.

Introductory Video – available online January 13

Telecourse begins January 18

Click for more information or contact our Enrollment Advisor 610.806.2119 


by Gurudevi Nirmalananda

Teachings Article for January 2022

There is really only one of us here.  You and I are different expressions of the One Reality.  It’s similar to how ice cubes are all made of water.  You are an individualized form of the One Essence that has become all.  Each and every different thing and being is made of the same essence.  Called Shiva in this yogic system, the One is not only outside of you, but is within you and is being you.  This is why I call you Shiva, oh Shiva.

Just as Sufism is the mystical branch of Islam and kabbalah is the mystical branch of Judaism, yoga is the mystical branch of Hinduism.  Not a religion, yoga is a science, the science of maximizing human capacity.  You use your body, breath, mind and heart in sophisticated ways to access the Divinity hidden within you.  It’s a tactile and practical process with reliable results:  you get enlightened.

Maybe neck pain or stress got you started in Svaroopa® yoga, but you’ve already become more enlightened than you used to be.  You’re more centered and peaceful, calmer, happier and more creative.  Your inner light shines more radiantly and more frequently.  Not only do others enjoy it, so do you.  I promise you: it keeps getting better.

Every Svaroopa® yoga class or meditation gives you an experience of the One that you are.  While the poses make you healthy and strong, the most important effect is the inner opening.  We use spinal decompression to open up access to your own Self, your Divine Essence, oh Shiva.  No matter how many people are in class, every single one of you experiences the same Self, for there is only One.  When you find your own Self, you realize it is the Self of all.  The One is being all while being you.

Caitanyam-aatmaa.  — Shiva Sutras 1.1

Consciousness is Self

Your own Self is Consciousness-Itself.

– translated by Gurudevi Nirmalananda

This pivotal sutra has only two words, each with deeply layered meanings.  Thus I have given you two translations above, rendering it forward and backward.  Chaitanyam means Consciousness-Itself; aatma means Self.  Thus, in word order, the sutra says, “Consciousness is being you.” 

Consciousness is yet another technical term for the One Reality, which I have already referred to by many names above (here being italicized):  The One or the One Reality / One Essence is named Shiva.  Finding your own Divine Essence is finding your own Self, oh Shiva.  I use all these different words to help people get past reactions they may have to the name God, the word most often used in English.  Yes, I could say that your own Self is that which we call God.  But Consciousness means something different than what you think God is.

Consciousness names the all-pervading essence-of-existence that is aware of its own existence.  You are that existence and you are aware of your own existence.  The reason you are aware of your own existence is because you are that existence which is aware of its own existence.  Confused yet? 

Simply stated, you exist and you are aware that you exist.  Your awareness is Consciousness.  You are the one who exists and is being aware, oh Shiva.  Thus you are existence and you are aware of your own existence.  Both together is what is meant by “Consciousness-Itself”.

Your own existence is Existence-Itself.  The light shining through you comes from your inner source.  Your ability to see, to hear, to think and to care — it all comes from that deep inner source, which is your Self.  Like every window shines with the light from one sun, every being and every object is a unique manifestation of Shiva.  Including you.  Including me.  How glorious it is!

The above sutra is the foundational sutra in Kashmiri Shaivism, a tantric philosophy and practice that empowers you to see the Divine in all.  In this system, while living in the midst of the world, you discover your essence and share it with the world.  This is the second meaning I offered for the sutra, “Your own Self is Consciousness-Itself.”  It means, when you look deeply within, you discover that your own Self is Shiva.

Living in the midst of the world, normally you take your cues from outside of you.  You draw on inner resources to bring forth what is needed in different situations.  Sometimes you’re the loving and supportive friend or partner; at other times you are pragmatic and productive, accomplishing various tasks.  Because your essence is Consciousness-Itself, you have a whole range of capacities.

In life, you specialize in a certain few of these capacities.  Because you use these capacities again and again, you depend on them for your sense of self.  You use them to construct  a feeling of self-worth.  While this is good stuff, it is limited and limiting.  Your sense of self depends on how things are going in the world and how you look to others.

Yoga calls this your small-s self, meaning that the word “self” begins with a lower-case ‘s’.  By contrast, the goal is the experiential knowing of your Capital-S Self, where the word begins with an upper-case ‘S’.  But there are not really two of you in there.  There is only one of you.  There is only One Reality.  You are that One.  Being Shiva, you have all capacities within. 

I call it dimensionality.  Oh Shiva, you are a multi-dimensional being, with every dimension made of Consciousness.  I’ll compare it to the ocean.  Oceanographers tell us that the ocean has dimensionality.  From a ship, they lower a bucket on a chain and collect a sample of the surface water.  Then they collect another water sample from 10 feet down, and one from lower, down to hundreds of feet or more.  Analyzing all these levels, they find different things.  Just as our oceans are multi-dimensional realities, so are you.

You’re used to focusing on the surface level of your being, constructing your sense of selfhood from the churning of your thoughts and emotions, like the waves marching through.  But you have depths.  These depths are worth exploring.  This is yoga’s purpose, to introduce you to the dimensionality of your own being.

The deepest levels are hidden from you, the ultimate mystery, until you get the mystical key.  This is Shaktipat, the initiation that reveals your Divinity to you.  Shaktipat is the specialty of our tradition, that a Yoga Master who is established in Self can awaken Self in another. 

Once awakened, your own Self arises within, enlivening and enlightening you every time you call on it.  All you have to do is turn your mind in that direction and invoke the inner arising.  Mantra is the mystical formula that accomplishes this.  Thus, when you get Shaktipat, you also get the enlivened mantra, which empowers you to explore deeper and deeper within. 

Your mind is your most important too.  While you have been using your mind to look outward, it is also the tool you use to look inward.  However, your mind is currently conditioned by the ways you’ve been using it, perhaps even gunked up with some residue that needs to be cleared out.  Thus, all of yoga’s practices are for your mind.  Working with your body and breath are effective ways to refine and empower your mind for the inner exploration.  All of yoga’s heart-based practices also captivate your mind, so you can use it for your own upliftment.

Think of your mind like a magnifying glass.  When you look at your problems, your mind often magnifies them into big, hairy, scary stuff.  But you can turn your mind’s eye inward and your mind will magnify Consciousness, intensifying your perception of who and what you are.  Then you not only know your Shiva-ness, you experience the unending Bliss of Consciousness.  Being Shiva, you see Shiva being all.  This is the fulfillment of yoga’s mystical promise.  This is why you do more yoga.