Category Archives: Ashram News

No Separation

By Marie (Shubhaa) McRee

Interviewed by Lori (Priya) Kenney

I am a devotee of Jesus Christ.  I hadn’t understood how a Guru fit.  When Gurudevi stood in front of me during the May Shaktipat Retreat, I knew.  Her thumb on my third eye was a vast opening to Divine communion.  There was no separation.  I was an individual, but I experienced a state beyond the individual.

Meditation has always drawn me, but it has been somewhat elusive.  During Shaktipat, I entered a deep place of meditation.  Kundalini naturally straightened my posture as Gurudevi put her hand on me.  My body was so still; I was immersed in a profound stillness.  I was aware that I was in a body, but my awareness was beyond the body.  The taste of that was absolutely incredible.

Even so, after we had received Shaktipat twice, I could feel myself contracting and fragmentation threatening.  I did not want to lose this state of Grace.  I went up to Swami Samvidaananda and asked to talk.  The expansiveness of her words allowed my mind to rest in the experience of Shaktipat.  Receiving Shaktipat synthesized Christian mysticism, yoga and all my experiences of the Divine.  It went beyond any doctrine and was the unity of all that is Divine.

This is something I’ve been seeking a very long time.  My relationship with Gurudevi goes back before 2006.  I was simultaneously being drawn to the deep nature connection movement.  In 2011, Gurudevi said I needed to make a choice.  I had to choose between deepening my studies with her and continuing my nature mentoring focus; inside or outside.

A notice about Gurudevi’s December 2021 San Diego retreat called to me.  It was partly due to some knee issues.  But there was also something incomplete in having stepped away from her.  Because of my decision to pursue nature connection in 2011, I asked Samvidaananda if it was alright to attend in La Jolla.  She said, “All are welcome.”

The first night of the December retreat, I had a realization.  My current yogic practice was not compatible with what Gurudevi was offering through Svaroopa® yoga.  During the week, I experienced a tremendous place of fearless expansion.  That retreat drew me to Shaktipat in May and brought me back into this yoga of bliss.  It also gave me big appreciation for Gurudevi’s clear and practical advice.  She guides us in flawlessly integrating yoga, family and spirituality.

After Shaktipat, I returned home to a lot of activity.  I was aware of a lightness.  It felt like I wasn’t carrying the karma I usually carry when I’m pushing my edge.  Inside I found deep wisdom and clarity, accessible as needed.  It felt like protection and guidance in every moment.  Going within, I knew what to do on the outside.  My gratitude is immense for this never-ending gift of Shaktipat.  Offered by Gurudevi through the lineage of Svaroopa® yoga, this gift gave me an experience of my own Self.


Taking MTT Shifted Me

by Chelsea (Rajni) King 

Meditation Teacher Training (MTT) was a turning point in my experience and understanding of the Svaroopa® sciences.  MTT’s length and depth settled me into a more expansive state than ever before.  I vividly remember feeling so deep and comfortable in my own Self.  It was a profound immersion in Consciousness.  

Steeping in the experience of Gurudevi’s teachings was an amazing process.  For 11 days, we marinated in the teachings and practices.  It was all easy, organic and natural.  As Gurudevi rendered the teachings and sutras of our lineage, I took notes.  Then we meditated.  With each day, I settled more and more into the state the sutras were describing.

I hadn’t thought to bring my computer to take notes and write talks.  I did everything the old fashioned, handwritten way, which helped Gurudevi’s teachings sink in.  The process of hearing the teachings and then handwriting the notes was deep and effective.  After dinner, I felt thoroughly prepared to write my talks for the next day.  They just poured out onto the paper.  

After MTT, my understanding and teaching of asana shifted and made me a better asana teacher.  As a Certified Svaroopa® Yoga Teacher, I had been teaching yoga classes for more than a decade.  The reason for the way we teach asana became absolutely clear.  The purpose of Svaroopa® yoga is to settle into Self.  

This yoga’s customized propping and precise angles in poses reliably open our spines so Kundalini can move.  I understood it in a way I hadn’t before.  I realized that it isn’t about the body, it is about the state.  Even though I had heard it over and over again, I hadn’t had the deep, tangible experience of Self that MTT gave me.  It was undeniable. 

My meditations were forever changed after MTT.  It solidified my daily practice and made it easier to sit every day.  Learning how to teach others to meditate is a great incentive to making sure that I’m doing the practices that I’m teaching.  The tangible Grace flowing through this lineage propels me on the path.  Teaching others to meditate is a gift.  I am so blessed to be a modern-day representative of this ancient tradition!

Why a Vowed Order?

I created our Vowed Order because I saw so many yogis who wanted to give more of themselves.  Why did they feel that way?  They had already figured out that when you give more of yourself, you get more of your Self.  In this way, yoga works like everything else.  When you give, you get more than if you merely try to receive.

No one has to take vows to do Svaroopa® yoga or meditation.  You can study with me for free, or you can dive into the tuition-based immersions and courses if you want more.  You can come and go as frequently or infrequently as you like.  I welcome you with all my heart whenever you give me a chance to connect with you.  I’m delighted to see you!

But those who want more need to be met where they are at.  The power of your yearning touches my heart.  I will help you fulfill it completely if you allow me to do so.  That’s what I got from my Guru.  He gave me what I wanted.  He gave me God.

Nothing else would satisfy me.  I already knew that by the time I met Baba.  I’d tried everything else and proved it didn’t work for me.  Most swamis have a checkered past, which is one reason we understand others without judgment.  I wanted God but couldn’t find him anywhere.

Baba showed me that God is everywhere!  That includes inside as well as outside.  And inside is the closest place to find God – an intimate and intensely personal experience.  That was what I wanted.  That is what I got and live in now.  

You’re not going to get there unless you apply both your head and your heart.  Vows engage both fully.  From the moment you take the vow, you are changed.  That change grows in you, blossoming like a flower, expanding you into your own inherent Divinity.

But a vow is not enough by itself.  You can make a vow, anytime and anywhere, all by yourself.  It’s powerful.  I highly recommend it!  But when you’re in a Vowed Order, you share your depth of commitment with others in the same process.  That makes it an inside-outside and an outside-inside process, which is necessary if you want to make it all the way.  Any part of yourself that you leave out of the process isn’t going to shine with light.

Being in relationship is such an important part of life.  However, if your yearning is strong, your nearest and dearest may not understand you.  The other vowed yogis do.  They meet you there.  That means sometimes you are laughing together, and sometimes crying together.  And sometimes you push each other’s buttons.  Then you turn around and help when someone needs help.  It’s real.  It’s life.  And it’s all about God.  This is what I call yoga.

More Yoga in Less Time!

In a user-friendly, deeply effective Yoga Quickies class, you discover how to make a real difference in a short time.  With a new teaching theme each week, you get variety and learn a lot of different poses.  You dissolve the deepest tensions, build strength and stamina, and enjoy a short meditation.  You float out of class with an open spine, open breath and open heart.   

I’d been taking 90-minute DYMC classes for a while and wanted to do more yoga.  But I couldn’t fit another one into my schedule.  Now I can swing into my Yoga Quickies class after work.  It’s a perfect interval before the rest of my evening.  Plus, I learn how to devise my short home practices.  — Evelyn C. 

Chant to Open Your Heart

By Amanda (Purna) Schmidt

Gurudevi’s CD Namah is the first she recorded after taking sannyas.  Its four chants echo that new promise and depth.  Introductory mantras are followed by “Om Namah Shivaya” in her own Ganeshpuri melody. 

“Nirmalam” honors Gurudevi’s own Self in the meaning of her name: without limitations.  “Om Guru Mere Guru” offers loving gratitude to the one who opens the path.  

Namah honors Guru and Self, inseparable from the mantra which carries you there.  Chant along with Gurudevi and bow, again and again, to your own Self.  Price: $19.95

Freebies: Gurudevi’s Satsang Discourses

By Agnes (Aikya) Hetherington 

I decided to immerse myself in the free library of Gurudevi’s Satsang discourses.  An important family dharma (responsibility) had pulled me away from my yoga practices for some months.  Now it was time to dive back in. 

This practice became quite challenging.  The more I listened, the more my “stuff” got churned up.  The journal became an account of the struggle between my “self” and my “Self.”  My feeling of being in the middle of a tug of war increased.  The contest seemed to be Shiva/Guru/Self versus Family/Friends/Worldly Pursuits.  Listening to Gurudevi’s discourses, I was relieved to hear descriptions of her own periods of doubt while at Baba’s Ashram.  Even better was the revelation of how simply Baba resolved those doubts, again and again (May 31, 2020: Today Is the First Day of the Rest of Your Life). 

I began listening to Gurudevi’s discourses dating back to the beginning of pandemic lockdown.  It became natural to meditate and journal after each listening session.  Sometimes, I passed in and had to re-listen.  Other times, the message felt so personal I had to re-listen and take copious notes. 

Fortunately, as a sevite (Ashram volunteer) I am wonderfully supported by the Svaroopa® Vidya Ashram community.  Conversations with more experienced yogis brought me great comfort and insight.  I was reminded that the churning is Kundalini clearing old mind habits for me.  It’s not about leaving the world, but simply noticing who I “be” while in it.  Can I cultivate the ability to act in the world without being needy about outcomes?  The solution, of course, is to collaborate with Kundalini by “doing more yoga.”  I have doubled up on daily Ujjayi and added more online asana classes to my week. 

We are each on our individual journey towards Enlightenment.  Sometimes the road gets bumpier for a while.  At these times the Podbean platform with Gurudevi’s teachings is an invaluable source of wisdom.  The Podbean platform is a great resource for finding years’ worth of audio-recorded discourses.  They are listed by date, and have a brief written description of the subject matter.  In my journal, I noted the date of each.  Now I can re-listen to those that especially resonate with me.  Getting the Podbean app lets you follow the Podcast.  It’s great to be notified when a new discourse is posted. 

As Svaroopis we are blessed to have a living Master to follow.  She gives us the free gifts of her experience to guide the way. 

Meditation Teaches Meditation

By Margie (Maitreyi) Wilsman

When Gurudevi Nirmalananda’s online Meditation Club launched in March 2020, I joined immediately.  More than two years later, I am still a dedicated member.  The benefits just keep coming from my early morning meditation with our beloved Shaktipat Guru. Our online Meditation Club meets every day of the week!  Gurudevi offers us a reading, we chant, and then she leads us into meditation.  An hour later she lovingly closes our Meditation Club session.

One of my Svaroopa® yoga students jokingly asked, “Isn’t two years long enough?  Isn’t it time to return to previous enjoyments?”  “Yikes, just the opposite,” I wanted to shout!  Yet I replied calmly that my staying is due to the scientific learning principle that meditation teaches meditation.  I even repeated the principle:  Meditation teaches meditation.

This yoga student knows about my previous work at a university, training K-16 teachers of math.  Math is complex and multilayered.  So I could share that the principle holds when you are learning meditation.  You only get part way from book learning that is accompanied by short-term, occasional practice.  Even when you are someone for whom math comes easy, you never know how far you can go.  You don’t know how grand and glorious your attainments can be.  

You must continue with uninterrupted study, practice and devotion over a long time.  The same is true for learning to meditate.  You meditate consistently, devotedly and for years to learn to meditate.  Then you attain grand and glorious benefits that you could never have imagined.

My two years of daily early morning meditation with Gurudevi have shifted me 180 degrees inward.  More and more, I live life from the depths of who I am on the inside.  Now meditation is not just something I do when Zooming into Meditation Club.  Meditation is an inner state of beingness.  It oozes out, permeating my changed view of a good life.  

The changes embody the nature of my own Self, called Shiva.  Shiva is the cosmic reality of multidimensional universes.  Yet I still live in my same rural Wisconsin home.  I teach in the same yoga center where I’ve served the community since 2005.

After being closed for 22 months, I reopened recently.  During those 22 months, I shifted profoundly into experiencing my Divine Essence: Who I “Be” on the inside.  I am Shiva, the One Reality, the Cosmic Consciousness that existed before the world existed.  Timeless, infinite, formless, Shiva has taken form as me — and you and everyone else and everything.

Now, mystical experiences of my inner nature and realms don’t happen only during Meditation Club.  As I bump into conflicts, struggles and turmoil, I recognize them as normal and ever-existent.  I pause, shift and look for the Divine that is hidden beneath.  I realize that everything is yoga and provides a yoga lesson to me.  Then I can settle within, into the sacred silence of Who I “Be.”

Attaining meditation is my life goal.  Meditation is complex and multilayered.  You never know the glory and ecstasy of attaining meditation until you delve inside.  Then the layers blocking the way to Self-Realization unravel.  For this inner journey, Gurudevi provides support:  infinite Grace and Shakti-powered tools.  Meditation Club is one of those energy-charged tools I continue to use.

Breakthrough! 

By Gurudevi Nirmalananda 

That’s what you really want, a breakthrough: a shift in perception, an insight or realization that makes you “get it”.  Suddenly you’re free. Whatever was weighing you down simply has no power over you anymore.  And you can’t go back to the way you were either.  Once you know, you can’t not-know.

We love breakthroughs, even the images that evoke the feeling.  Seeing the sun shining through a hole in the clouds brings me to a halt every time.  I look around to see if other people are seeing it, too.  I love a photo of a bird flying into a vast blue sky or a high-jumper sailing over the bar.  As a kid in elementary school, I used to run and leap across the giant rain puddles on the playground.  It felt almost like I could fly.

It’s true, we want to fly, to shatter the shackles that keep us bound.  It’s the norm to live in your agendas, entangled in emotions and chasing wisps of thought.  But the desire for freedom is there, inside.  So many popular musicians sing, “I want to be free!”  Yes!  Freedom!  Yoga is all about freedom.

Many people begin yoga by seeking freedom from pain or stress.  Both dissolve in your first Svaroopa® yoga class.  Then you want more:  freedom from the limiting patterns in your body-mind, along with the unleashing of your power to…

Make a Difference in Yourself

By Carolyn (Karuna) Beaver

Our spring fundraiser theme is “Namah.” It’s a beautiful Sanskrit word that means to honor or to bow to.  Give yourself the gift that keeps on giving by honoring the source of the teachings with a donation. 

It’s not the amount you give; it’s the act of giving itself that makes a difference. It makes a difference in you. When you contribute to the Ashram, you honor your own Self. You honor your own process of spiritual development. You honor the One Self, being all – being you, being me and beyond. How do I know this? It comes from my own experience. 

Every fall and spring, I set aside money so that I can donate in the Ashram’s twice yearly fundraisers.  It’s part of my spiritual commitment, not just to the Ashram, but to my Self.  It’s a reciprocal arrangement.  I give to the Ashram so that Gurudevi can continue to give to me and others through her deep yet accessible teachings.  When I donate to the Ashram, I feel the effects that Gurudevi describes:

Giving and sharing are a mark of personal, and yogic, growth. 

You grow by caring. You grow by contributing.

It’s not just about my devotion to Gurudevi and her teachings.  It’s about me. Gurudevi felt the same way about her teacher, Baba Muktananda. She said:

While I tried to make it all about him, the bottom line was that the difference in him made a difference in me.  When I was with Baba, I was better able to be me, deep inside to really be me. I could rest in my own Self.  That was the goal; he kept turning our attention inward.

This is my goal too — to keep turning my attention inward, to my own inner essence, my own Self.  In this spring’s fundraiser, I encourage you to let the deep well of your innermost essence bubble up.  Let its impact open you ever more deeply to the One that is being you and being all. 

Our donation categories this spring are all about namah, honoring.  You can honor your local teacher or your Ashram teacher. You can honor the Ashram, the organizational structure that supports the teachings. You can honor the efforts that make Gurudevi Nirmalananda’s teachings free and accessible on our website, social media and podcasts. 

With a donation, you take your yoga into the world, and into your own being.  And in return, please know the gratitude and devotion with which the Ashram honors You.

Donate on our website or 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.

MTT: Tapas & Bliss

By Robin (Nityaa) Blankenship

Ever since taking the Learn to Meditate series from my local teacher, I’ve meditated daily.  Because I wanted to deepen my experience and share meditation with others, I took Meditation Teacher Training (MTT).  It opened a path that has included challenges as well as bliss!

Gurudevi is a Master Meditation Teacher.  Her MTT is an incredibly thorough and detailed course.  After completing it and the at-home coaching program (DTS), I had all the tools to teach an amazing, thorough course on how to meditate.  

Every day in the training was a full day of discourses, discussion and meditation.  Gurudevi taught us students the elements that she uses in teaching meditation.  We learned how to write talks on Consciousness based on sutras as well as meditation instructions.  We learned to prepare our students to meditate and to close their meditation period.  Plus, we learned how to present the practical details of creating a daily meditation practice at home.  We even learned how to deal with questions that come up for students.

Even though MTT is wonderful, taking the course and preparing to teach was tapas, a yogic challenge, for me:

The extended meaning of tapas includes the inner fire that keeps you going in your own process, and specifically means the heat the comes from friction — the friction of your own limited sense of self rubbing against God.  Which of you will be burned away? 

— Gurudevi Nirmalananda, Tapas: The Hard Stuff 

Each night, we wrote a talk to give the next day to our study group.  After such full days, I found writing difficult at night.  The day’s immersion had opened me mentally and emotionally, bringing up my “stuff.”  My mind created much pain for me.  So I felt I was not ready to teach meditation and ended up taking the course again.  Smile — more tapas!

After my second MTT, I spent many hours preparing to teach my class.  I studied the MTT handouts and my class notes.  I fine-tuned my talks.  With so much preparation, teaching the course itself was the easy part.  Teaching went very smoothly; Grace flowed through.  Teaching meditation, I was a conduit of Grace.  I was supported by Gurudevi inside as well as outside by the training I had received. 

Students experienced deep meditations and expressed gratitude for the teachings.  They followed through with daily at-home meditation.  Two students even decided to meditate twice daily.

After the last class, when the students left, I felt totally full and complete.  An unmistakable bliss arose.  The tapas had burned something away.  The friction of my small-s self rubbing against God had burned away the stuff that was making me feeling small and separate from Self.  I experienced what Shri Guru Gita describes in Verse 64:

I am beyond the primeval, everlasting, self-luminous, taintless, pure, vast space, unmoving, blissful and imperishable.

— Rendered by Gurudevi Nirmalananda 

What a blessing to teach Svaroopa® Vidya Meditation.  It is so special to give the gift of the mantra and to bring meditation, the most important yogic practice, to more people.