Monthly Archives: May 2023

A Life Filled with Precious Gems

By Lynn (Gurupremananda) Cattafi

Member, Svaroopa® Vidya Ashram Board of Directors

I choose a life filled with treasure.  Not treasures made of gold or silver, but of the most precious gems – Svaroopa®yoga gems.  

It is Gurudevi who lays before us this dazzling array of yoga practices and teachings.  So I support Gurudevi’s work in the world.  Please join me in offering your support during our Ashram’s current fundraiser: “Body, Mind, Heart and More.”

Our priceless Svaroopa® practices show us our inherent personal value plus how to make life meaningful.  The practices allow me to choose the treasures of an open heart and an open mind.  I choose the treasure of health and vitality.  

I choose a life of service to others and commitment to my own growth.  I choose to bask in the radiance of my own Self within.  All this is possible because of the precious gems of Svaroopa® yoga.  Miraculously, you can choose all of these amazing treasures, and more, and still live fully in the world.

My husband doesn’t really “do yoga.”  Yet he has chosen the gem of weekly Embodyment® sessions for the last 12 months.  He sees the benefit in his body.  And I see the shift in his state.  Just the other day, he experienced a sharp, unusual pain radiating through his torso.  When I came out of meditation, he calmly described, “I’m not saying it’s a heart attack, but…”  

Asked whether he wanted to go to the emergency room, he said yes.  We calmly got into the car and went.  My husband remained steady and calm throughout the check-in and tests.  They couldn’t find anything wrong, and sent us home after five hours.  Once home, we went on with our day.

I am showered with Svaroopa® yoga gems.  They light up my life with clarity, peace and joy. Please consider how Svaroopa® yoga gems have enriched your life.  Then I hope you will join me in donating to our Ashram in gratitude.

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!

Shaktipat Changes Me

By Belle (Bhavani) Mann

Interviewed by Lori (Priya) Kenney

About 20 years ago, I spontaneously received Shaktipat in an advanced yoga teacher training.  It was like lightning struck me.  

I was suddenly filled with intense love.  It wasn’t regular human love; it was Divine love.  It was the most unbelievable experience of my whole life.  When I got home and walked in the door, my husband said, “You’re different.”  I kept that state for a few months.

Yet I was able to understand this only years later, after Gurudevi started teaching about Shaktipat.  Now I take Gurudevi’s Shaktipat Retreats, where she gives this initiation intentionally, both online and in person.  I love that just being in her presence changes me.  

I love the teaching talks given by our swamis.  I learn so much from our group’s questions and Gurudevi’s answers during the On-Site Q & A.  I love chanting, especially with the group at in-person retreats.  At the in-person retreats, I also get a chance to hang out in the bhav and Grace of the Ashram.  I have personal contact with Svaroopa® yoga friends and enjoy meeting others.  I can talk and laugh with them all.  

My many Shaktipat Retreats, in person as well as online, have been powerful in different ways.  In my last one, I felt veils of resistance falling away.  I hadn’t realized I had been resistant to becoming enlightened.  Now I could make a stronger commitment.

After each Shaktipat Retreat I feel changed, even when it takes a couple of weeks to discover how.  After one, I felt much closer and loving toward Gurudevi.  Another time, my love of chanting increased.  I deeply feel these subtle internal shifts.  I am grateful for all the ways Shaktipat has changed me.  All are gifts of Gurudevi’s Grace and teachings!

The Astounding Power of Dakshina

By Beth (Bhanumati) Cunningham

I am astounded at the power of dakshina.  Dakshina is the practice of supporting the financial health of our Ashram. For me, no other practice offers more tangible transformation.  If I didn’t give to the Ashram, what tremendous gems would I be missing out on? That’s why it’s important to me to donate.  I don’t want you to miss out either.  So I hope you’ll join me in donating to the Ashram’s “Body, Mind, Heart and More” fundraiser.

A year ago, my family and I were set for some travel.  I was also planning a yoga retreat in the summer.  Everything was funded.  Then, we had a large amount of money stolen.  We cancelled everything.  We even had to borrow to pay our taxes.  It was tough.  About two weeks later, I got a phone call to donate to the fundraiser going on at the time.  I had a good excuse not to, but it didn’t even cross my mind.  I re-assessed what we could offer and made a donation.

By the end of the evening, Grace showered the returns upon me.  I discovered a great compassion for the people who had stolen the money.  Then, I had a powerful karmic clearing.  I realized that throughout the entire ordeal, I was still Me.  My Self was still there, whole and untouched.  What had the thieves stolen — really?  Nothing that I would not have freely given for such priceless gifts.  

These gifts continue to unfold.  Soon after, I got a significant raise.  Within six months, I was earning double what I had been.  Somehow, with little effort on my part, we’ve quickly recuperated the money we lost.  I’ve also been able to take Ashram courses that I couldn’t afford before the theft.

Yes, I am astounded at the power of dakshina.  Please join me in donating and be astounded yourself.

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!

NEW Telecourse:  Leaps & Bounds

By Gurudevi Nirmalananda

I remember getting leg pains in my adolescence.  I felt a deep inner ache that had a sharp edge to it.  The doctor called them growing pains.  He offered no treatment, no help whatsoever, saying I’d outgrow the growing pains.  It’s true; I did.  You will outgrow your growing pains, too.

The leg pains are caused by muscular tension.  The bones are growing faster than the muscles.  The muscles are holding tight while the bones attached to them are growing longer, stretching the muscles and tendons to a new length.  

If my childhood doctor had simply recommended some gentle massage, or maybe some yoga, my growing pains would have disappeared.  Nowadays, maybe they even recommend yoga?  Looking back, I can see that it would have helped me grow into myself much more smoothly:  on all levels, body, mind, heart and spirit. 

Everyone wants to get a boost.  Like a child sitting on daddy’s shoulders, you want to see beyond where you’re stuck. You’re hoping to bound into the next level, leaving this one behind.  Of course, you can do things to move that along.  However, your ability to discern what to do, as well as to actually do it, is part of what you’re growing into.  

The biggest boost is Shaktipat, the initiation into Self-Knowingness. Yet Shaktipat doesn’t give you the ability to avoid your growth processes.  Instead, it gives you the clarity of knowing what you need to do, why to do it and where you’ll be when you’ve done it…

Knowing the Self in Two Ways

By Gurudevi Nirmalananda

You need the theory to get beyond the theory. For the knowing of your own Self, you must have an understanding of the Self, so you can get there. But you must go beyond your understanding to actually get there.

It’s like going on a long car trip to a wonderful and beautiful destination. You plan your trip: figure out your timing, pack your bags and snacks, and set your GPS. Once you get there, you have to let go of the steering wheel and get out of the car. 

You have arrived. However, being in the new location changes how you see things and what you will do next. If you’ve read about the destination, you have an idea of what to do. In this way, the teachings help you make sense out of your new state once you are enlightened.

Vitarka aatmaj~naanam. — Shiva Sutras 1.17

Right understanding is Self-Knowingness.

The sutra is read forwards and backwards. Forwards: this means you can use the sutras and teachings to get to the Self. Backwards: When you know the Self, your mind gains a new understanding of everything. In both directions, this use of your mind is called “right understanding,” meaning it is accurate as well as beneficial.

What is the right understanding? First you use your mind to understand that you are more than your mind. You are the one who has a mind as well as a body. Cultivate your ability to see that you are the one seeing through your eyes. You are the one who speaks through your mouth, hears through your ears, who does what you do.  You are you even while you do what you do. 

As you distinguish between what you do and who you are, you grow into a greater sense of being, which opens up new possibilities. The most important of these is the possibility of inward expansion, the exploration of the “who” that you really are.

And when you explore your own Essence and Beingness, you discover that you are even more than what you thought you were. You go beyond your idea of your own Divine Essence — to experience your own Self, named “aatma” in this sutra.

This inner recognition of your own Self is beyond thought, beyond hope, beyond faith and belief. You realize that your own Self knows your own Self, and always has. You are That which has always existed, and is existing as you.

All the yogic practices and teachings are for this purpose — giving you the experiential knowing of your own Self. You are in your glory, shining with the inner light of being Consciousness-Itself.

This inner experience and knowingness now shines through your mind, illumining the shadows and burning away the foggy thinking. A new clarity informs your choices. Your decisions and actions are more direct, even simplified while being made more powerful and effective.

Now you live with right understanding, using your mind as a tool to implement the Divine Wisdom that is always arising within. This is the goal. What a way to live!

Body, Mind, Heart and More

By Kristine (Dhairyavati) Freeman

The Svaroopa® Sciences are all about yogic growth.  This encompasses your body, mind, heart and more.  My daily yoga practices support this growth in a slow and steady way.  

Then when I travel to our Svaroopa® Vidya Ashram for onsite, immersion programs, I experience yogic shifts as a more rapid spiritual growth spurt.

My experience of dakshina follows a similar pattern.  Dakshina is the yogic practice of offering financial resources to support the Source of Grace and knowledge.  It sustains our Ashram as well as promoting its growth.  And dakshina does the same for us donors.  So I am inviting you to join me in this profound practice.

As a monthly donor, I consistently support the Ashram in a slow and steady way. Regular monthly and predictable financial support from us monthly donors helps sustain our Ashram.  Yet I benefit even more from offering the Ashram this ongoing support.

I also support the Ashram’s twice-yearly fundraisers with a larger donation.  Then I am doing a dakshina immersion!  It gives me another spiritual growth spurt.  And it provides essential financial support for the organization that supports me and so many others.

All your yoga practices open you to an inner flow that makes you want to share.  Dakshina is an organic extension of this inner flow. Gurudevi says, “You love to give.  Making a difference for others matters to you.”  It isn’t about how much you give.  It’s about the place inside from which you give.  As Gurudevi explains, when you settle into your own Essence and Beingness, you feel less needy and anxious. 

Giving from the depths of your being, you feel generous, organically. Open your body, mind, heart and more. Please join me in giving to the organization that gives us so much in return. Give to the organization that gives so much so freely to the world.

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!

My First Shaktipat

By Todd Correa

Interviewed by Lissa (Yogyananda) Fountain, Yogaratna

I signed up for the New Year’s Shaktipat Retreat to explore my humanness and understand myself better. I wanted to feel more connected to the cosmic Consciousness of the universe. I did not know what Shaktipat was, but I trusted the recommendation of my local Svaroopa® Vidya Meditation and sutras teacher.

I had enjoyed my local teacher’s three-part Learn to Meditate course. I recognized I could go deeper — something was happening inside. I even joined the Ashram’s Meditation Club. Without realizing it, I was preparing myself for my first Shaktipat experience.

Being brand new to an Ashram retreat, I was surprised by so much chanting and meditation. I was amazed I could sit for such long periods of time. I loved it!

When Gurudevi walked into the room, I felt there was something special about her. She looked at me and “saw me.” I felt accepted, as if I belonged there. She knew who I was and am: Shiva.

Sometimes it felt a bit overwhelming, with my senses bursting open. I felt like a deer caught in headlights! Yet I wanted this new experience to feel like mine, fully authentic. I accepted it, as it unfolded.

It was weird, but I embraced it. I wrote in my journal: “My whole being is opening up, in a burst of life. My head is opening up like a flower. I feel intense emotions, while being bathed in bliss.”

My first initiation by Gurudevi’s touch, my whole body went into hers, opening up to receive her Grace. I did not want this feeling of Oneness to stop. Afterward, I felt exhausted, my body depleted. I did not know how to put my experience in perspective. However, the retreat talks helped me understand what was going on. So I did some restorative Ujjayi breathing during our breaks.

When Gurudevi gave us Shaktipat by will, I was still right there, having an amazing experience. I wondered: “How does she do that from way over there?” Yet I knew in my core that it was real. Something beautiful and amazing had happened, and I am so grateful.

Before, I understood the theory of “One-ness.” But now I have experienced it because I was with a Self-Realized Being. I feel more empathy and the ability to be present to my therapy clients and students. I can go deeper within myself and assist others to go deeper as well. My work is my calling, so I am going to do Shaktipat again!

Opening Your Mind, Body & Heart

By Ruth (Rama) Brooke, Member

Svaroopa® Vidya Ashram Board of Directors

I love all the Svaroopa® practices.  So I also gratefully engage in dakshina.  It’s the ancient yogic practice of financially supporting the teacher and the teachings.  Please join me in expressing your gratitude for our great good fortune.  Together, we honor all that flows and all that we receive from this yoga.  Make your financial gift to our fundraising campaign “Body, Mind, Heart and More.”

What an apt title!  The Svaroopa® Sciences divinely support each facet of my being.  Asana (poses), Ujjayi pranayama (yogic breathing) and Svaroopa® Yoga Therapy heal my body.  Our devotional practices, including chanting and arati (candle waving ceremony), illumine my heart.  Vichara (guided self-inquiry), sutra studies and japa (mantra repetition) clear my mind. 

And, as Gurudevi says, I find the most reliable practice of all is meditation.  It showers Grace-filled benefits on the deepest dimensions of my being.  Then I get more!  I experience Self — the One Being All.

You, too, are so much more than you think you are.  You are a yoga gem, a diamond glistening with the light of Consciousness.  As a Svaroopi, your practices have honed and polished the facets of your being: body, mind and heart!  You know how it feels to shine with this light that arises from within.  You know upliftment, openness, and clarity.  You know how to settle deeper into your own Self.  You feel more like You.

Dakshina is not about the amount of your contribution.  Dakshina is the yogic practice of giving financial resources from your Capital-S Self.  All your yoga practices open an inner flow that makes you want to share.  Dakshina is an organic extension of this.

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!

What Kind of Karma?

By Gurudevi Nirmalananda

No one talks about their karma when life is flowing smoothly, when finances fall together and they’re getting what they want. That’s called “good karma.” But you may complain when things are falling apart and life is hard. That’s called “bad karma.” However, complaining about it does not help. You already know this. It’s like complaining about the weather. No matter what you say, it is what it is.

Where I live, the weather blows in from the Arctic or the Caribbean, sometimes from the Great Plains. Whatever blows through, all I can do is manage myself in the midst of it. Rain gear, snow gear, summery clothes and sunscreen – all are in my repertoire and in my closet.

Similarly, your karma is coming from somewhere – maybe things you did yesterday or last week, perhaps from decades or lifetimes ago. In meditation, I‘ve had clear memories of being a Greek soldier in a prior life. Karma can be nasty stuff! But it’s only if you did nasty stuff in the past. And we all have.

You have also done good things. Big stuff and even little stuff matters. Sometimes when I’m driving, I…

Surgery at Birth

By Maria Sichel

With the Svaroopa® Sciences practices, miracles happen reliably.  Encouraged by his wife, my client Marc took an introductory class last September.  With two partial knee replacements, he described himself as “stiff” and said he had back and knee pain.  After this introduction, Marc felt so good he enrolled in weekly classes.

Marc’s Svaroopa® yoga class became a highlight of his week.  He often reported with wonder that he felt so much better at the end of class.  Early on, he remarked, “I wasn’t expecting the added benefit of mental relief!  I am astounded to be calmer with less pain, more mobility and an overall good feeling.  My body has opened in ways I couldn’t have imagined.”

In February, he decided to try yoga therapy.  He described, “I was born with a double hernia.  Correction at birth created scar tissue that affected my psoas muscles.  At 26, I developed a slight herniation on the right side of the L4–L5 vertebrae.  On-and-off debilitating pain resulted.”

Marc got some relief from massage therapy and chiropractic treatments.  However, the extreme tightness on his right side from his neck down to his hip continued.  Arriving for his first yoga therapy session, Marc reported pain spreading through his neck, entire right side, sacrum and both knees.  Afterward, he reported no pain!  Being persuaded by the miracle of 20 minutes of Ujjayi Pranayama, Marc became a daily “breather” at home.

At his fifth session, Marc reports enjoying his consistent daily Ujjayi breathing.  When he fills out the initial pain scale, he now targets only two small spots.  He leaves the session with zeros. 

Marc says, “I am amazed at the breathing practice.  I have been able to stop visiting the chiropractor every week.  This weekend I overdid it and was in quite a negative state.  I did my breathing, poses and some meditation, and I was transformed.”

I say that Marc is in the “midst of a miracle.”  I don’t know how “good” good can get for Marc.  And neither does he.  But he continues to be curious and run the experiment.