Monthly Archives: April 2013

Full to the Brim

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Karuna

by Karuna Beaver

There’s a theme to our last two blogs – opening boxes and finding delights within. Sarvaata wrote about opening and then filling boxes of sacred ash from India.  Sharada wrote about opening packages from India, filled with beautiful things for the Amaya® shop.

I, too, received a box this week, and I experienced the same delight and depth of feeling. The box I received was filled with things to either be used or set out for purchase at the Shaktipat Retreat this weekend in Boise ID, my hometown.

Last summer, I received an invitation to host a Shaktipat weekend. This was the first box I opened – my inbox! To my delight, Swamiji and the Ashram chose Boise as one of only two Shaktipat locations outside of Pennsylvania in 2013.  While the Boise Svaroopa® teachers have been talking up this wondrous event to our students for months, our registrations came in slowly. Until about three weeks ago, we wondered if we would have enough participants to hold the retreat.

But then, another gift arrived in my inbox – a message from Rukmini that Swamiji had committed to the weekend. After that, everything became easy – well, easier! The fence-sitters began to commit. I began finalizing all the details on my end to host the event.  Just when I was beginning to feel a little overwhelmed with these details and a by the honor and responsibility of having my beloved teacher and Guru visit, the package arrived.

Inside were white woolen asanas, creamy pale yellow meditation shawls, journals just waiting for sweet descriptions of meditation to fill their pages. As I carefully unpacked the boxes to make sure all the contents had arrived safely, I was aware that I too was “unpacking,” unpacking the concern about the external details, unpacking insecurities about having Swamiji visit. As I lovingly put the contents back into the box, I too felt “filled up.” I had an experience of my Self as vast, timeless, unconcerned about the future. I knew that just like the box, I was full to the brim.

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Amaya Sneak Peek!

IMG_8105by Sharada Macdonald

Earlier this week at the Ashram, we got to enjoy dessert before lunch! Vidyadevi and I had just settled in our seats in the meditation hall to join Swamiji for japa when Swamiji walked in carrying a large box filled with…bubble wrap? “We’re going to be unwrapping sacred objects today!” she explained. She had received the cardboard rectangle in the mail from India, removed the outer wrapping (cloth, not paper) and wanted to share the first glimpses of the treasures with us.

We sat at Swamiji’s feet and each tenderly picked up a tightly-wrapped parcel and she began to repeat our beloved mantra, guided us to repeat it silently as we proceeded. Gingerly, we removed the bubble wrap, and Swamiji indicated that the newspaper and bubble wrap were new innovations. She has used this particular shop for quite some time, and they used to pack all of the items in fabric (this explains the cloth outerwrap!).

After peeling away the plastic layers, Vidyadevi and I each revealed a sacred object: a brass bowl and ornate copper spoon. “These are for dipping out the Ganga water to share!” Swamiji said with delight of the sacred source she brought back with her from India. In demonstration and perhaps anticipation, Vidyadevi cupped her hands, brought them to her mouth and passed them over her head, moving through how she would receive the Ganga, enjoying it in space. “I’ve already purified the water in the sun,” Swamiji added.

We continued with the objects and revealed two copper trays, one small, one large. The large one had pressed in relief in its center an OM with Devanagari (written Sanskrit) circling it. I asked Swamiji what it said. She lifted it and began to read: Oṃ bhūr bhuvaḥ svaḥ… tát savitúr váreṇyaṃ… bhárgo devásya dhīmahi…Moving through each word, she revealed the Gayatri  mantra, a portion of which is expressed in our Ganesha mantras. “This,” Swamiji grinned, “is going in the Amaya® shop!” (psst—that means for you!). She placed the small copper tray beneath the bronze Ganga bowl and set the spoon upon it, beheld it, then gently placed it upon her side puja in front of Nityananda to begin collecting shakti (psst—this is also for you. Enjoy it when you receive the Ganga!).

Finally, Vidyadevi removed from the last package a leaf-shaped soap stone incense burner with Ganesha upon it. “Touch it,” Vidyadevi encouraged. I reached out—so soft, and the Ganesha so sweet! “This is going in the Amaya® shop, too,” Swamiji said. (More for you! The next time you are in the Amaya® shop at Kashi, touch it—I know you will love it. And look for both on the online Amaya® shop).

By the time we moved out of the meditation hall for lunch, as you may already guessed (and have experienced many times yourself), I noticed I was already full! Such a sweet, delectable sacred feast!

Special Shishya Seva

Imageby Sarvataa Christie

The tippy top of the seva sheet read “*Special Seva Project Downstairs”…what?!  Oh, I hurried down there, so very excited, and then my eyes gazed upon those magnificent marble boxes…the sacred ash!  From our yajña! My heart leapt and my mind melted.

At breakfast the next morning, as Kristine Freeman and I were chatting about our “Special Seva Project,” we shared joyful bliss mingled with excitement. Swamiji explained how Making a Difference monthly donors would truly appreciate the sacred ash being packed by Shishya hands (and I can say the Shishya hands loved it!). She then instructed us to do it in the meditation room, while playing chants, and then meditate. Yum!

We began in right after mealtime, as the task seemed daunting! Blissful and an honor, but all those boxes!  Kristine assembled the first packing box, then when she got to the second one she was like “How did I do that first one!?” She then decided to “stop thinking” and just do it; the next time I looked her way, there were seven boxes all neatly lined up and assembled. She had figured out, what she coined, “box asana”!

As I opened the bag of ash, which had been hidden until now, I was amazed by its richness and the depth of its grayness. My mind immediately began to worry and cause me trouble about the how to’s and the what if’s.  We adorned ourselves with the ash upon our third eyes and I did have a taste or two.

As we continued our work, we began to slip into meditation.  Those what if’s/ how to’s dissolved and the task at hand became so simply full of bliss! We worked together as a great team and were so surprised when we were all of a sudden done! Karobiji termed it “Working efficiently from the Self; functioning from that deep state of meditation.” What a wonder! To be able to function in that state of bliss is such a sublime and easy experience.  Kristine said, “I thought this would be something we would start and the next group would finish!” We had seamlessly completed our seva with plenty of time for meditation before lunch.  At this point, we were giggled, “Oooh! Next is meditation.” We both agreed we were already there.

Now…Meditation.   A blissful hour passed in the blink of an eye. It was so sweet to be so deep; “unconscious in consciousness” as Swamiji says. Kristine’s meditation was “So still.”

So, of course, I have been applying the sacred ash daily between my eyebrows and the tip of my tongue. It is so lush and full of power. It is a bit gritty, but so soft; a little rubbing between your ring finger and thumb will make a nice fine powder.  Enjoy your sacred ash, thanks for your continued support and generosity and for this opportunity to serve! I’ll treasure this experience always.

Comings & Goings. Posted on April 15, 2013 by Swamiji

Welcome to two new Board members, Connie (Kanchan) Mohn and Kristine Freeman. They have been supporting the Ashram in many and profound ways as well as deepening their own inner state through their practices and their relationship with Swami Nirmalananda. She recommended them to become Board members, serving in a leadership role and position of fiduciary responsibility – to ensure that your donations, tuitions and other funds are dedicated to the Ashram’s purpose: to engage in & teach the worship of Paramashiva, the all-pervasive divine reality, focusing on finding and experiencing the divine within the individual human being. Welcome Kanchan and Kristine!

New titles! Board members Amala (Lynn) Cattafi is now a Vice President, serving as Personal Liason to Swami Nirmalananda, and will be expanding her role in communications, specifically to keep Svaroopis and Shishyas up-to-date with everything that is going on. Rudrani (Rosemary) Nogue is now Vice President of Public Communications, having managed our E-Letters and Tadaa! teams for several years now. Their new title is an understatement of what they do for the Ashram and for Swamiji, and the value of their support.

We are grateful to Tanmayee (Theresa) Reynolds for serving on the Board in our foundational years, serving as our Recording Secretary and Technology Wizard. Most recently she teamed with Glen Christensen (sevite-extraordinare) to move our website to a new hosting company – a move prompted by the need for yogis to be able to access our free audios on their mobile devices. Almost a year of work went into the project, with the last month being a major time crunch, with all hands on deck! Tanmayee worked at all levels in the process, from planning and managing to doing the input and checking others work as well. Thank you for your many offerings, Tanmayee, and blessings to you in your next phase of challenges and growth.

We are also saying goodbye to Linda Gambone, who worked on our administrative staff for the last 18 months, serving many of you on the phone as well as in person and by email. It’s been a delight to see her growth into new areas of professional skills, as well as introduce her to yoga and meditation. Thank you, Linda!

Amanda Jordan joined our administrative staff at the beginning of this year, and is now expanding her role from part-time to full-time. Since her arrival her, she’s expanded into increasing levels of responsibility due to her diligence, resourcefulness and creativity. We enjoy her cheery greeting every morning and are sure you’ll enjoy getting to know her.

You’ve Made a Big Difference. Posted on April 6, 2013 by Swamiji

You’ve Made a Big Difference

Your donations to the Ashram in the last few weeks have made a big difference, insuring the continuation of our free programs for the rest of the year as well as supporting me in the service I offer you (in the name of my Baba).

It is traditional for swamis in India to go from door to door with their begging bowl in hand, for their daily meal as well as for donations that give them access to clothing, transportation, medical care, etc. I feel like I’ve made my rounds, assisted so nobly by our Board members — truly model sevites who are living their yoga. Fortunately I make the rounds only once a year for the Ashram, not daily!

Your support has come in donations ranging from $10 per year to $1 per month (which is more than $10/year!), as well as larger sums, from hundreds to many thousands of dollars. Almost 200 of you have sent in donations, about 5% of those whom we serve through our email and website offerings. It is usually true that the few support the many, and in this case, the few are very loving and generous.

It touches my heart to see how you dedicate some of your money to a holy cause – the upliftment of others as well as for yourself. There are many good causes in the world. A number of Svaroopis have recently told me of worthy causes they are supporting — I’m grateful that so many of you have found the Ashram to be worthy of your support.

Your gifts have met and exceeded our net goal of $60,000! The Swami Support and Ashram Essential funds are filled and overflowing, while our Temple Builder fund is at 50%, so we’ll wait for another year on the temple and new furnaces. It will take a few days to do all the accounting and analysis, all in the capable hands of Bob Nogue, our Treasurer, and we will give you a full report soon.

marble-box1We still have a few marble boxes from the Taj Mahal available, so new Monthly Donors will continue to receive this gift through the end of April (as well as current Monthly Donors who increase their gift). In addition, of course, our Monthly Donors take advantage of discounted tuition on all our courses as well as on our upcoming Svaroopa® Yoga Conference, Alignment with Grace in Philadelphia from October 4-6 2013.

The ash in the boxes — what do you do with it? You have choices! You can use the ring finger of your right hand to place a dot of ash between your eyebrows; especially before you meditate, this is very beneficial! You can take ¼ teaspoon and smear it across your forehead, or even more to spread across all your skin for a yogic (naked) meditation! You can even place a dot of it on your tongue!

It’s completely purified (by the fire), and gives you a way of ingesting the mantras and Divine offerings in the yaj~na ceremony. The point is to use it!

Thank you for two things — for the opportunity to serve you in this exalted endeavor (your own enlightenment), and for your support that makes me able to serve you.

With love, gratitude and great blessings,

Swami Nirmalananda

Click here to make a donation in any amount that works for you. || OM svaroopa svasvabhavah namo namah ||

Reentry after India. Posted on April 2, 2013 by Swamiji

I am in India and it is in me. I am back’ but not fully; changed forever. – Sarvataa

I am waking early in the morning, sometimes to chants in my head. A nice call to meditation. At one point I looked around my house and thought ‘I’m home’. Then I could hear Swamiji ask ‘who is home’ ? I sat with that thought and decided I never left. I feel as though a thick layer of ‘identity’ or armor has been peeled away and my Self is closer. I am quieter, more self contained. I am also grateful for familiar food, clean air and water and readily available toilet paper. – Shanti Ellan

DSC_0571-1024x731I returned home quite sick and jet lagged, so it’s taken me a while to settle in. I have noticed that I’m more centered and peaceful and embodied! This was really evident when I taught my first yoga class the other night. There is definitely a shift from where I was to where I am now. – Padmakshi Andrea

Re-entry has been surprisingly smooth. A few days after returning from Ganeshpuri, I had a work meeting with someone who is a meditator in a different tradition. I walked in, sat down and our eyes met, and without a second’s hesitation, she said “You’re changed!” Yes, I am. It’s incredibly wonderful. I’m so grateful for the trip, for Swamiji, for her for taking us, for those who came before her and for the delicious connection with all you yoga sisters and brothers. My heart is very full. – Priya

Yes, the experiences are amazing. And yet they solidify what Swamiji has been saying for years. Or maybe it is the experience rather than hearing the words. For example, I had all sorts of valid reasons why I couldn’t meditate for long time periods: I work 8 hours, teach, family, already get up very early. Since returning home my morning meditation has increased to 90 minutes. A new timer, one that goes into hours rather than maxing out at 99 minutes, is on my shopping list. And Swamiji really IS right! Meditate more, sleep less. Nothing is more important to me than the Self and no one with whom I need to spend more time. None of this is new but my understanding certainly is. And I remain so quiet inside. – Sheynapurna

It took about a week to realize that the trip to India on the outside may be over, but the journey that it initiated on the inside continues to draw me deeper and deeper. I am taking myself less personally, which is difficult to explain but pleasant to witness. Life is simpler, and it’s not just because it is so obvious that 2 or 3 squares of toilet paper suffice. LOL! To have been immersed in that constant, simple, sincere divinity supports me in living more of the same, more of the time. That Nityananda invited us all is an astounding mystery. — Bindu

India taught me so much. Yesterday I quit my job, moved out of my house & moved to Byron Bay, looking for a house farm with my princess. India helped me grow some cojones and it growed me! Oh yes, I am still 0ne & very Conscious of my Actions. Thank you all! Any time you are welcome in my casa. – Tito

I just made a pot of rice and dal this afternoon…delicious! I am seriously missing someone cooking 3 meals a day for me. And there is Joy in the shoveling of two feet of snow today. Om Namah Shivaya. — Kamala Gross

So, for my own re-entry into “life in these United States”, the car service driver that came to pick me up said to me: I’ve only seen you once before, when I dropped you off at the airport, but now you look different: “You look as though you have seen God.” It was a good thing I was already sitting down in his car, but I nearly burst into tears. – Nancy

From Swami Nirmalananda – I hope these many blogs have helped all of you enjoy the pilgrimage with us! While India is a place on the outside, it is also a place on the inside – a holy place, the space from where your Self shines. If our trip has helped you find your vast inner spaciousness and Beingness, then we have served you well. And had a great time doing it!

If you’re thinking you’d like to come along next time, I’m planning to do a trip every 2 years – look for early 2015!