Monthly Archives: December 2022

Miraculous Shaktipat

By Robin (Nityaa) Blankenship 

Interviewed by Margie (Maitreyi) Wilsman 

In my first Shaktipat Retreat with Gurudevi in 2013, I had an intense experience.  I was changed.  The retreat made a strong sensory impression on me.  I was in a room with 40 or 50 other people.  The energy was high.  I could feel Gurudevi’s energy as she walked around from person to person.  I could sense her getting closer to me.  I had physical kriyas, body movements and different breathing patterns.  When Gurudevi waved her peacock feathers at me, I could smell the distinct scent of the special oil on them. 

There was also a physical sensation when she put her thumb on my forehead.  With her touch, I felt an energy go straight down within me.  The energy then traveled up my spine and through my arms and hands, and my fingers extended out.  It was extraordinary.  It felt like a faucet had turned on at the base of my spine.   

This experience stayed with me.  Afterwards, I remained focused in that area of my body at the base of my spine.  The opening remained as a physical space to soften into.  That physical awareness brought me inside to my Self.   

When I returned home, everything was the same except that I had changed.  The sensory experiences made it tangible to me and imprinted the experience in my mind.  Recalling those sensory impressions brings me back to the experience again and again. 

In an online Shaktipat Retreat with Gurudevi, she gave Shaktipat to the whole group of us at one time.  Preparation for the retreat included receiving instructions on how to prepare our room at home.  We online yogis also got recipe ideas for Ashram-style meals.  I cleaned my yoga room.  I set up my blankets and puja (meditation altar).  I brought in more pictures of the Gurus.  I sealed the room with incense and mantra repetition. 

I discovered that Shaktipat can be transmitted online through Zoom!  A wonderful benefit is that it brought the shakti into my home.  I could feel it build up in my yoga room and into my whole house. 

Reincarnation Defined

By Gurudevi Nirmalananda

Welcome back!  You’ve been here before.  How fortunate that you’ve made it into a human body this time.  Congratulations!  The ancient sages of India say we are the only species with the ability to choose our trajectory, both for this life as well as any future incarnations.

What is so special about being human?  While you have animalistic instincts and urges, there is more to you.  You have the ability to rise above them, to make choices to uplift yourself and to benefit others. Your intelligence, compassion and insight are unique amongst all creatures.

It is insight that makes the biggest difference.  In-sight is looking inward, not merely to your mind but to a deeper level, where you find who you are – who are you that has this mind?  By finding the deeper dimension within, you can become free from the cycle of birth-and-death.  Technically, reincarnation is called “The Doctrine of the Transmigration of Souls.”

Two seekers were walking together, having met along the road to an important pilgrimage site.  Their animated conversation was on the verge of becoming an argument, so they were happy to see a yogi under a tree alongside the road. 

They went over, bowed respectfully and said, “Oh Babaji.  We are disagreeing about how to become free from reincarnation’s vicious cycle.  Tell us, please:  how many more lifetimes will we each have to live?”

Turning to one of the seekers, the Guru said, “You have three more lifetimes to live.”  The seeker was shocked and disheartened.  He shouted, “Oh no!  Not really?  Three more.  That’s terrible!  I thought I was almost there.  Three more lifetimes.” He wandered off in despair.

Turning to the other seeker, the Guru said, “Your future lifetimes number as many as the leaves on this tree.”  With delight, the seeker replied, “Really?  It’s a finite number?  That means I really can make it, right?”  The Guru nodded approvingly.  The seeker bowed and thanked the Guru, then walked away, heading toward his companion.

Within moments, a truck veered off the road and killed him.  OK!  First lifetime complete!  Next he reincarnated as a virus, living only a few hours.  After many virus lifetimes, he graduated to a bacterium, living a bit longer.  He moved through other lifeforms, many with short lifespans, one right after the other. 

Finally, he was reborn as a human again.  His deep spiritual yearning led him to a Guru while still young.  He soaked up the teachings like a sponge, not only learning the theory but experiencing the Inner Truth toward which they point.  By the time he was in his 20’s, his name and reputation began to spread.  People came from far and wide to sit in his luminous presence and hear him teach.

The other seeker, with three lifetimes to go, was saddened to see his friend die so suddenly.  He continued on his pilgrimage, then went on others through his long life, living over 100 years.  His next lifetime was 110 years, wherein he studied with many different teachers. His next lifetime was another long one.

Reborn as a human again, he applied himself diligently to the meditative disciplines and sutra studies.  He was in his 90’s when he heard of a young Guru, one who radiated both love and wisdom.  With the help of friends, he traveled to meet this new teacher.  They all arrived, stored their bags in a nearby guest house and rushed to the satsang hall, slipping their shoes off outside.

The aged seeker walked in the door, picking his way slowly along the central aisle toward the Guru.  As he got closer, the Guru looked closely at him and began to laugh.  “Oh my friend!  Don’t you remember me?  We were sitting under the tree together, not so long ago…”

You have lived so many lives.  You have taken birth again this time so you can do something differently than before.  What is it that you have come here to do?  What do you want to find?  What is the highest that you can become?

The answers are all inside.  Unfortunately, without proper guidance, you’re peering into an inner darkness.  You need a teacher who can shine the light all the way inward.  That’s what my Baba did for me.  I’d love to help you find you, if you will allow.

Why Do I Give Shaktipat?

By Gurudevi Nirmalananda 

I give this Divine Initiation out of love, pure love.  It is love for my Guru that makes it even possible.  It is love for you that makes me reach out to you.  When I see you, I see your Divine Essence, but I also see that you don’t see it.  So I offer you a new way of seeing, a new way of being, a new way of living.  Shaktipat gives you this in an instant, yet the spiritual boost keeps growing within you. 

I remember when I lived in need and fear.  I was miserable but I tried to hide it from myself.  I kept busy.  I had my favorite escape hatches though none of them were uplifting.  Only when I started doing yoga did I find something that improved my state of mind along with my body. 

Then I received Shaktipat.  It gave me a whole new dimension of myself.  Suddenly, I was alive in a new way.  And my mind couldn’t trap me as effectively as before.  I didn’t need to escape anymore because I was present, fully present, and suddenly I had the capacity to BE. 

I offer you a chance to find yourself in this whole new way.  If you want it, then I want it for you.  But I’m not going to push you into the bliss of pure Beingness.  If you don’t want it, you can say no.  You see, God always says yes.  It’s only human beings that say no. 

I had to begin giving Shaktipat because my students were getting it spontaneously.  I couldn’t explain it because I hadn’t been authorized yet, so they were confused.  They were profoundly changed but didn’t understand what was happening. 

Plus my energies were quite unbalanced.  I started blowing out watches and other battery powered devices.  I was radiating Divine Shakti, God’s energy, but hadn’t grown into it fully yet.  It’s like putting a ten-year-old behind the wheel of a truck.  They can steer as it rolls downhill, but can they reach the brake? 

I deepened my practices and went to others within my lineage and tradition.  With their support and blessing, I was authorized to give Shaktipat.  It’s like a channel opened up for the Shakti that was building in me.  It made me deeply humble, for I know that this energy is God’s power of awakening.  Do you want it? 

A Complete and Utter Knowing

By Joanne (Jayeshwari) Kirk 

Interviewed by Lori (Priya) Kenney  

My Shaktipat experience was beyond my mind.  What I got was a complete and utter knowing of the Self.  I don’t have any doubts anymore about the Self being there.  It’s not that I’m in the Self all the time.  But I know that the Self and the flow of Grace are always there.  

I am more grounded and clear-headed because I’m coming from Self more than I was before.  It was happening before, but I didn’t recognize it.  I didn’t see it.  Now basing myself in the Self comes easier, and I recognize it when I’m there.   

This makes me feel younger.  I can see the limitations I put on myself, but they’re not as tight.  I feel more open to changes and different ways of seeing things.  My reactions don’t seem as important as they did before, so they go away sooner.  And I’m not as hard on myself when I catch myself reacting.  I have faith that I will have less and less reactivity by being on this path. 

I made a decision before this Shaktipat retreat to stay open to whatever happened.  I see now that expecting certain results is a way of putting up fences.  It blocks the Grace.  This big part of my personality is slowly melting away.  It doesn’t have to be there anymore.  I’m not fussing as much about what’s going to happen.  I’m not living in the future as much.  I know it’s all going to work out.  

I feel so much closer to Gurudevi since Shaktipat.  I feel the river of the Guru’s Grace.  I feel part of it.  I don’t have to analyze it to know it is all That.  I feel the Guru in me.  I feel the lineage and Grace more than I did before.  It’s beyond the mind, but the feeling is there and it’s real.

Yoga Therapy

By Swami Nirmalananda  

In my first yoga class, the teacher said, “Just do what you can.”  It was compassionate but not very helpful. I enjoyed the classes but made little progress.  When I tried another yoga style, the teacher often shouted encouragingly, “Reach for it!”  Not at all compassionate, but she was giving me a goal to aim for.  Unfortunately, I failed.  Repeatedly. 

Yoga therapy meets you where you are at, which means it is compassionate.  And it gives you a goal, which is so important.  Yet it does one thing more.  It gives you a way to reach that goal, a step-by-step process that is custom tailored to your needs.  You can see your own progress toward the new possibilities you’re expanding into. 

Your private yoga therapy session begins with an assessment, “How are you, really?  What do you need help with?”  Then your yoga therapist creates a personalized plan for you, a step-by-step process that moves you through your needed healing. 

If you have a medical diagnosis, yoga therapy is a powerful adjunct to your medical treatment.   

If you are coming for pain relief, stress relief or deeper levels of healing, yoga therapy makes powerful changes from the beginning.

Yoga therapy is so powerful because it works in a realm that medicine rarely addresses — the source from which your own healing comes.  This is your own beingness, “svaroopa” in Sanskrit.  This is where Svaroopa® yoga gets its name.  

We usually begin with coaching your breathing, pivotal to all levels of healing.  Yoga’s gentle, focused breathing process makes you feel better quickly.  You learn how to take the practice home with you, empowering you to contribute to your own improvement.  Your pain and stress levels drop, your circulatory and immune systems begin to recalibrate themselves. All your physiological systems are gradually revitalized. 

When we incorporate yoga poses into your private sessions, they target your spinal tensions and dissolve them.  This creates interior space in your body, good for all your organs as well as muscles and bones.  Even your brain loves it!  The most important part of each session is when you settle into a deep healing state, a yogic immersion that integrates mind-heart-body in a delicious and tangible way. 

You move through the phases of yoga therapy, traversing a well-mapped pathway to health and wholeness.  A gentle self-inquiry process helps you melt mental and emotional patterns that are linked in with your physical condition.  The result is a profound paradigm shift, one that helps you make sense out of your life experiences and the choices ahead.  All systems are go! 

Wednesdays with Gurudevi!

Gurudevi especially designed Yoga Wednesday to support you in your yogic process.  Pivotally positioned in the middle of the week, Yoga Wednesday can get you over the hump.  The best part is the extra time with Gurudevi, who leads the morning meditation and evening program.

The evening satsang is free if you can join us live in Downingtown.  To join online, enroll in Yoga Wednesday.

I feel as though I’m sitting in Gurudevi’s living room.  A swami reads a teaching from Baba Muktananda.  Then Gurudevi’s teaching is based on this reading.  It is like the unfolding of a beautiful lotus flower.  

In her satsang talk, Gurudevi unfurls the lotus one petal at a time.  She reveals the deeper richness and understanding of Baba Muktananda’s words.  These talks are a Grace-filled gift from Gurudevi.  As they are not recorded, I know I will only hear these deep discourses this one time.  I am extremely grateful to be able to attend these rich Wednesday offerings. – Nancy W.

The Meaning of Karma

By Gurudevi Nirmalananda 

Karma is a cosmic IOU.  You owe the universe something — or the universe owes you.  If you did things to benefit others in the past, motivated by altruism or compassion, the universe will reward you.  If you did things to harm others in the past, the universe will pay you back. 

Nobody ever asks about karma unless they’re going through a hard time.  Can I be frank?  Unfortunately, you earned it.  It’s easy to see when you cut somebody off in another lane while driving, and a few miles later the same thing happens to you.   

But when the events are separated in time, it’s harder to sort out.  Karma is cosmic justice, even though sometimes it takes a while to catch up with you, even lifetimes.  In meditation, I’ve had past life memories that explained why I’ve dealt with certain difficulties in my life.  Other such memories have explained many of the blessings in my life. 

In the Yoga Sutras, the sage Patanjali explains: 

Karma-a“sukla-ak.r.sna.m yoginis-trividham-itare.sam — sutra 4.7 

Karmas of yogis are neither white nor black, but are of three kinds in others. 

White means light, pure and pleasurable; black means heavy, dark and painful.  Yoga’s great masters experience neither as they live in an expansive inner state of pure beingness.  For such a being, events are like weather, which comes and goes.

For those who are not yet living in such a deep and easy constancy, karmas are of three types:  pleasurable, painful and mixed.  You are already familiar with each. 

No one ever asks about karma when they’re enjoying health, wealth and meaningful relationships.  However, they earned these fortunate life circumstances.  When life is not going so well, it’s good to understand two things: 

* You set yourself up

* It’s temporary. 

This too will pass.  The good news is that you have some say in when and how it will pass.  Do good unto others and your karma will improve.  It might be immediate, or it might take a month or more, but it always works. 

Except there’s a hitch.  If you’re doing good unto others so that you get some good in return, it won’t work.  What is required is altruism or compassion.  Or sheer generosity.  It’s a glorious way to live!

Celebrating Grace & Generosity

By Ellen (Lajja) Mitchell, President

SVA Board of Directors

It is hard to believe that our fall fundraiser, themed Guru’s Grace, is coming to an end.  However, the Grace is still flowing. It continues to flow every day, everywhere and in everyone.  Grace is always there for us.

I greatly appreciate your generous support of our Ashram’s mission through donating to the River of Teaching, the River of Freebies, and/or the River of Community.  Swami Samvidaananda wrote, “It’s a tricky balance between taking care of your needs, your family’s needs, taking care of your future, and giving some away.  The good works in the world won’t happen if you don’t support them.”  (June 2015 Contemplation)

I feel such gratitude to all of you who give and support our Ashram. Donations make up a significant portion of the funds that support Gurudevi’s teachings.  They reach seekers far and wide, through programs, satsangs and free podcasts, other Freebies and more.

I hope that Board member articles over the past few weeks have helped you contemplate the Grace in your life.  Can you feel the Grace flowing?  I hope that you were able to give in gratitude for all that you have received.

Your Ashram donation, in any amount that fits your budget, is a great benefit to the world.  Even when you don’t expect a benefit for yourself, it comes to you as well.  In his great poem Mukteshwari, Swami Muktananda writes:

Give freely, as God gives.

If after giving, you forget about it,

Then that gift grows fully. (verse 145)

May your gift grow fully as you deepen into yourself.

How Deep Will You Step into the River of Grace?

By Ruth (Rama) Brooke

We are in the home stretch of our River of Grace fall fundraiser.  Stories abound on how easy it is to access Guru’s Grace.  Lately, I’ve spoken with many Svaroopis on this topic.  Whether they’ve dipped their toes, or are in up to their knees, or are fully immersed in the river of Grace, they’re in the flow!  The stories take different forms, but the effect is the same — uplifting, transformative.  Gurudevi describes:

My ability to serve you is like a tributary of a great river.  I am the riverbed.  That flow of Grace comes from my Guru, and I am a wide-open channel for that flow.  So are you.

So is our Ashram, our teachers, and our whole community.  We are all part of the network of tributaries through which the river of Grace flows.  This network needs support.  With it, we’ll continue to receive, give and keep these Grace bestowing teachings alive.  Financial support of the Ashram is crucial to our Svaroopa® community, especially in these challenging times.  Please join me in contributing to the River of Grace fundraiser.  

Guru’s Grace is so reliable.  It’s like the sun, always there, shining and providing warmth even when behind the clouds.  At times, I forget to look for Grace at work in my life.  Or I’m blocking it so I can’t see it.  Yet Guru’s Grace is always there.  It’s a matter of opening my aperture (Disciple’s Grace).  

Then I step back to receive a more expansive perspective (Guru’s Grace).  For it to manifest in my heart and life, I need only call out to the Guru to ask for Grace.  It is undeniably reliable.  It is the gift of having received Shaktipat — Guru’s Grace.  What a blessing!

I am filled with gratitude, and it motivates me to give back.  Thus, I participate in the ever-flowing exchange of Guru’s Grace and Disciple’s Grace.  In this season of giving, Disciple’s Grace takes the form of dakshina, yoga’s practice of financial giving.  

Money is energy, as Gurudevi has said, and dakshina is a divine energy exchange.  Through dakshina we shine the light of Consciousness into our finances.  And as the Goddess of Wealth, Lakshmi, promises, in giving we shall receive.  So I contemplate, and ask you to contemplate:  How deep will you step into the flow of Grace?

Donate today on our website.  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!


By Gurudevi Nirmalananda

It is the inner fragmentation that is so painful.  Yoga calls this “the human condition,” and promises wholeness instead.  This is a profound state of deep peace, with inner dimensionality that extends to infinity.  You get there by doing yogic practices to invoke your inherent wholeness of being.  Like with anything you practice, you get good at it.  Thus you’re able to live in an easy inner constancy.  Yoga calls this “Self,” spelled with an upper-case “S.”

Fragmentation is also called “self,” but is spelled with a lower-case “s.”  It’s like a crystal hanging in a window, which fragments a beam of sunlight into many dots of dancing light, each one analogous to a small-s self.  Who you are as a daughter or son is different than who you are as a sibling or friend.  You have many small-s selves, some based on your occupation and your avocations, with others based on your geography.  Your many selves can make it hard for you to make choices or follow through on them.  Worse, the arguments you have with yourself can be demoralizing.

Every small-s self requires effort to sustain it.  If you are a skier, you have to buy and maintain equipment, plan winter trips and join ski groups.  If you skip a couple of seasons, or even discover that yoga makes you feel better than skiing, there’s a point where you…