Monthly Archives: March 2022

Fullness & Brightness from Within

By Doreen Willover

interviewed by Matrikaa Gast

My introduction to the practices of Gurudevi’s Svaroopa® yoga and meditation was gradual.  I first experienced classes and private yoga therapy at Downingtown Yoga (DYMC).  Then my teacher nudged me to take Meditation 101.  

My next step was attending Gurudevi’s Swami Sunday satsangs.  Like a baby, I was being spoon fed.  Eventually, I heard about the extraordinary gift that Gurudevi can bestow: Shaktipat.

I learned about Shaktipat right before the 2020 pandemic shutdown.  I wanted my first Shaktipat to be in person, so I had to wait until fall 2021.  I was so happy to be at Lokananda with all the shakti of a group of experienced yogis.  They all had received Shaktipat from Gurudevi multiple times.  In the meditation hall, I was the lone newcomer, awash in their energy!

When Gurudevi laid her hand on my head, I felt pulled from my tailbone up through my neck toward her hand.  During the retreat, several meditations followed.  The first was full of a trillion white lights.  One was a full-on light show.  Since then, when I attend Gurudevi’s Wednesday evening or Swami Sunday satsangs, I still have extraordinarily deep meditations.  Every time I meditate now, I feel full and bright afterward.

Swami Nirmalananda giving Shaktipat

At the beginning of 2022, I noticed how profoundly life has changed for me.  I feel at ease with everyone around me.  I no longer have a sense of anyone getting under my skin.  I respect their differences and love them even more.  This state has led me to never being disappointed with anything.  I am at ease and peace with all my surroundings.  At ease and peace with everyone, I feel wonderful.  I find that loving yourself makes the love that you have so much easier to give.

Receiving Shaktipat from Gurudevi has led to this transformation.  I also know that participating in her 2021 Year-Long Programme (YLP) prepared me for being open to Shaktipat.  In a YLP video, she gave us the practice of repeating “I exist.”  Not only did I say these simple words; I would go to bed thinking about them.  This practice, and Gurudevi’s other YLP practices, touched me deeply.  It was as though I’d been in a closet and had chucked out useless stuff.  Then I emerged as my Self.

Last fall, I treated myself to a cross-country road trip.  I visited National Parks: Badlands, Glacier, Yellowstone.  I was on my own, tapping into me.  I have learned and can feel this profound inner depth from Gurudevi’s words.  She puts words to what I am feeling.  Wherever I am, I am home because my own Self is home.

Gurudevi Is Truth!

By Bob (Ravi) Penneys, interviewed by Lori (Priya) Kenney

I have been a spiritual wanderer and seeker for over 55 years.  Fortunately, I have had many satsangs, conferences and teachers on some of the highest paths.  Some teachers were disciples of Baba Muktananda, whom I saw back in 1980.

Almost 40 years later, my path led me to Svaroopa® Yoga, whose home base in Downingtown is just 17 pretty miles from my home.  When I first met and heard Gurudevi, it was strikingly clear that she was the irrefutable Truth.  And, against all odds, so was I!  I was filled with gratitude.

My intellectual family background has helped me prize thought and language above all.  The fallible body’s purpose was presented as housing the brain and mind, just as a car carries the driver.  I had grown up to fear rather than trust my mortal body.  Gurudevi taught me, to my consternation, that the body is really the ticket.

Last spring, I started doing more and more japa (mantra repetition).  My hands began to waver and get hot.  I got super enthused about finally becoming a more real yogi.  I consulted with Gurudevi, who gave me an ambitious program.  I started off strong, then waxed and waned with my practices.  She reiterates to me that liberation isn’t going to happen just because she gives me Shaktipat.  I gotta do my part of the work.  Gurudevi also prescribed Embodyment® Yoga Therapy sessions, which I’ve been having weekly with Swami Satrupananda.  What a treat.  The process and rewards are so sweet.

All this is changing me.  I’ve had 70-plus years of bumping around, entertaining a lifetime of negativity and unhappiness.  That all was hidden, underlying a life of love, fun, adventure, travel and wit.  My trust in others was tentative, and I had precious little for myself. 

Now, I’ve learned to notice, acknowledge and accept gracefully my habitual negative thoughts and feelings.  As my observing part grows, my reactive part diminishes in power.  I get to see myself, everyone and everything in the world very differently.  Even the hardest people and situations in the world are actually One with me.  I can change my apprehension to compassion, forgiveness and love.

I go to every Sunday and Wednesday satsang that I can.  I cheerfully drive down a lovely creek-side country road, sit in front of Gurudevi and share Truth.

COVID Care Update

NO masks required!  

NO vaccinations required!

Truly?  Yes, the CDC has cleared our area, along with 98% of the USA, based on current transmission and hospitalization rates.  See their online report for Chester County, PA.  We are in a low risk area.  Their only recommendations are:

Wear a mask based on your personal preference, informed by your personal level of risk.

If you decide wear a mask when at the Ashram or Downingtown Yoga & Meditation Center, we will support you in your decision.

We’ve all been waiting for this, so long in coming.  Yet, now that it is upon us, it feels a little strange.  That simply means you’ve gotten used to distancing and hiding.  

United Press International

Gurudevi says, 

“I hope you get over it soon!  A yogi adapts to change like a bird riding the wind — quickly, easily and gracefully.”

The reality is that we don’t know how long this will last.  Predictions change weekly, meaning that nobody knows what’s going to happen.  But that has always been a fact of life, change is the constant.  We’ve been through many changes in various waves of this pandemic, including being locked down for months, then living under stringent restrictions for a long time.  All this was to preserve our health as well as our health care system, overwhelmed by the number of serious cases.  

With the improvements in medical response to this virus, along with the high vaccination rate in the USA and the viral mutations, the hospitalization rate has dropped.  It’s such a significant change that the CDC changed how they measure the risk.  In a low risk area like ours, only 1 in 10,000 people has been diagnosed recently, which is 0.01% of the population. 

Regardless of where you landed personally on the vaccine question, it’s no longer a factor.  In low risk areas like ours, you are welcome to participate in indoor group activities with others, including yoga and meditation.  Come on in!

We do continue to follow CDC recommendations and ask for your open-hearted cooperation:

  • If you have been exposed, quarantine for 5-20 days and get tested.
  • If you develop symptoms, isolate immediately and get tested. 
  • Indoors, maintain improved ventilation (which our HEPA-quality air filtration provides).
  • Have testing readily available (which our COVID-partner Urgent Care provides).

We hope you’re ready to come to our On-Site programs, while you still have a wealth of online programs and freebies to enjoy.  

Weekly yoga classes     Calendar of all programs

MTT: The Most Transformative Training

By Phil (Krishna) Milgrom

I have never been disappointed by an Ashram training.  I am always amazed how much every training exceeds my expectations.  But of all the many Svaroopa® trainings I have taken, none compares to the Meditation Teacher Training (MTT).  It transformed my practice, my life, my teaching and even my students. 

After MTT, my own meditation and yoga practice grew by leaps and bounds.  I had already known the importance of meditation.  But I was not drawn to sitting for any extended time.  I could sit to watch sports or a movie for hours, but not to meditate.  That was too much for my mercurial mind. 

Taking “Meditation Made Easy” helped.  But I still usually sat only for 10 or 20 minutes at most, and not every day.  When the first MTT was offered, I considered it but then balked.  I regretted that.  Fellow teachers who took MTT raved about the training.  So I vowed to take the next offering.  Pre-pandemic, I didn’t have to wait long.

MTT was profound and enlightening for me.  I learned about the philosophical and mystical basis of Svaroopa® yoga and meditation.  I gained a greater understanding of why meditation is so important.  Learning how to work with my mind, I could get beyond it and to dive deeper inward.  Instead of fighting with my mind, I made it an ally.  I could then settle more easily into a deeper meditative state.  Now I meditate every morning for a full hour, sometimes longer. 

The training also taught me how to work with my students’ minds: how to motivate them, how to help them overcome their own difficulties and obstacles, and how to help them develop a steady, rewarding practice. 

During the MTT, I enjoyed the daily meditation immersions led by Gurudevi.  I especially appreciated Gurudevi’s in-depth discourses on the teachings.  These deep meditation immersions and discourses helped me both as a practitioner and a teacher of meditation.

MTT was challenging as well as rewarding.  For homework each evening, we wrote a discourse.  Basically, we were doing work that would have to be done after completing MTT, as our talks get incorporated in the meditation class we later teach.  The next morning, we divided into small groups.  We presented our discourses to our group and received valuable feedback.  The writing helped me gain more clarity about teaching meditation.  The feedback helped me become a better and more confident communicator. 

Given meditation is the ultimate practice, so teaching meditation has become for me the ultimate profession.  My students have benefited immensely.  My teaching comes from a deeper place now – from my Self.  The Grace pours in, from Guru, and pours out, to my students. 

MTT is offered less frequently nowadays.  So don’t balk at this next one as I once did!  Jump right in.  You will be grateful – as I always will be.

Why I Teach Therapeutics

By Gurudevi Nirmalananda

I teach therapeutics because so many people need healing, perhaps even you.  I teach teachers how to offer therapeutics because together we can heal more people than I could alone.  I also benefit from practicing these techniques myself, which are both simple and amazing.  

In a sense, all yoga is therapeutic, meaning it heals what ails you.  It’s obvious that body and mind need help, certainly for anyone with a few decades on their odometer.  You can pump iron, even move your body through extreme sports and extreme life experiences, but it is going to hurt at some point along the way.  Now what do you do?  

Pain killers don’t kill the pain.  They numb your ability to feel it.  That means you have the pain but now you’re numb.  You’re numbed out, not only physically, but you also cannot feel joy or love.  Worse, you haven’t identified the cause of your pain, which means it will get worse.  Yoga says you must find and treat the cause of the pain, which is a multi-dimensional process.

This is consistent with the “bio-psycho-social” approach formally adopted by the World Health Organization in 2002.  In addition to your biology, psychology and social health, yoga adds another dimension:  your spirituality.  Pain specialists have proven that those with deep spiritual or religious perspectives actually experience less pain.  The sage Patanjali explained this several thousand years ago:

dra.s.t.r-d.r”syayo.h sa.myogo heya-hetu.h — Yoga Sutras 2.17

Pain is caused by your sense of self depending on things outside of you.

You know this from your own experience, perhaps, of a pet’s death.  Your loss affects your quality of life and even your sleep and digestion.  The difficulties cease when you get a new pet, or when you move on from your thoughts about your old pet.  Bigger losses can trigger anxiety and depression, leading to a diminished immune response as well as other physical problems.  Now the dominoes begin to fall.  

Yoga intervenes at the point of the teetering domino.  In a therapeutics class or private session, we meet you where you are at, focusing on reducing your pain or stress.  Svaroopa® Yoga works!  Your immediate improvement makes it look like we’re relieving your symptoms, but we are always targeting the cause.

When you are healing from an injury, illness or life event, we’re still focused on your deeper healing, for there are always multiple dimensions at play.  The techniques we use activate your own healing power, which works on you from the inside out.

Our ways of working with your breath and body, more importantly, open up profound spiritual dimensions within you.  These experiences are life-affirming as well as life-changing, which is yoga’s true purpose — that you shine the light of your own essence into the world more fully. 

I love to teach therapeutics.  While you get healing, you are simultaneously deepened into your own Self.  It’s an outside-in and an inside-out process, both at the same time.  Our therapeutics programs in 2022 include:

For personal healing:  Therapeutic Yoga Seriesprivate yoga therapy sessions

Teacher Training:  Teaching Online TherapeuticsIntro to Gentle Yoga

The Bliss of Consciousness

By Gurudevi Nirmalananda

Bliss is not the goal.  Consciousness is.  This can be confusing because most seekers are looking for bliss.  But Consciousness is what matters.  Still, bliss is incredibly important.  Why?  The need for bliss is built into you. 

Your body is hard-wired for bliss; it’s called your parasympathetic nervous system.  Your body has bliss software; it’s called your endocrine system.  Your mind and heart run on bliss.  Without bliss, your heart dries up and your mind leapfrogs from anxiety to anxiety.  It is not a pretty picture.

When you get even a drop of bliss, you spontaneously exhale with a sweet sigh, “Aaahh.”  All your biological systems stand down from red alert and you become human again.  Being human means you have the capacity to shine God’s light and love into the world.  You have this capacity because the source is within, what yoga calls “your own Self.”

The bad news is that, without bliss, people decide that life is not worth living.  The good news is that bliss is easily attained.  Though lasting bliss takes preparation and practice, instant bliss is instant.  That’s why my generation, coming of age in the 1960s, was focused on sex, drugs and rock and roll.  Now, I can see that we settled for too little. 

Bliss can be a continuing inner experience.  It should be!  That’s yoga in a nutshell.  Yet bliss is not the goal.  Consciousness is.  But what is Consciousness?  For that matter, what is bliss?

Consciousness is your knowing that you know.  You don’t merely know things.  A dog or cat knows things, but you know that you know.  This is called Consciousness, technically the “self-reflective power” that humans have, unique amongst all other creatures.  You are able to see that you see.  You even think that you think.  There are multiple dimensions within you, awaiting your exploration.  The deeper you go, the more blissful it becomes.

This brings us back to bliss.  What is bliss?  Bliss is the sensation you experience when you rub up against God.  In yoga, you find God within.  So bliss is the sensation you experience when your personhood is being filled by God’s light and love from the inside-out.

People usually associate bliss with half-lit rooms and half-conscious states.  Most of the world accepts being drunk, drugged or half-asleep as a substitute for God.  For a yogi, it’s not enough. Unconscious bliss is unconscious.  Personally, I always wanted more.  I want you to want more.

This is an excerpt from Gurudevi’s Teachings Article for March 2022. Click here to read the rest of it.