Monthly Archives: July 2013

The Grace-full Moon

By Kanchan (Connie) Mohn

Guru Purnima 130722Guru Purnima, the full moon of the Guru, is celebrated as the day the world got its first Guru (Shiva). This was the day that people first came to know that through the Guru, through Grace, they can be Self-Realized.

On this night every year, the moon is at its fullest and Grace is at its fullest. What a perfect night to make a pilgrimage to Satsang!

This past Sunday, our meditation hall at Downingtown Yoga Meditation Center was filled to the brim with yogis bearing flowers, gifts and hearts full of Divine Love; wanting nothing more than to honor their Guru, Swamiji, while she honored her Guru, Baba Muktananda. Self honoring Self.

Swamiji offered illuminating commentary on Shiva Sutra 2.6, “Gururupaaya.h” — the Guru is both the path and the goal.  “The Guru has done what you are doing,” walked the path you are walking.  The Guru is “the embodied reality who shows your future to you… the goal.”  She went on to promise, “My Guru freed me, so that I could free you.

With these words lingering in the air, Swamiji led the crowd in chant and deep meditation, followed by an invitation to greet her personally.

Then slowly, ever so gently, sweetly, one by one, the yogis in the room approached their Sadguru, bowed and offered their gift, their gratitude. In turn, Swamiji honored and celebrated everyone who came forward by offering a flower and a soft “Om namah Shivaya.”  Self honoring Self.  Profound silence filled the room, palpable and timeless.  Grace-filled hearts were opened wide.

Sadgurunath Maharaj ki Jay!

Are We Out of Alignment?



Svaroopa® yoga is all about alignment. In every Master Yoga program, you learn how the precise physical alignment provides you with the experience of svaroopa, your Divine Essence.

The Ashram offers Svaroopa® Vidya teachings and meditative practices, focused on alignment with Grace. This empowers you to live in the experiential knowing of your own Divinity all the time.

But on the organizational level, our two organizations and Boards are looking at the question – are we out of alignment?  While we have been collaborating on key courses and events for four years, we are duplicating administrative work in some areas.

These inefficiencies affect our ability to serve you in the most effective way.  With Sharada Macdonald now serving as Business Administration Manager for both SVA and MYF, it has helped to spotlight these areas.

Thus our two Boards have begun meeting to consider creating a deeper collaboration.   Our guiding question is this:

How can we better serve you?

Our organizations, both so focused on your alignment, are also working on our own…. Click here for FAQs about this.



We absolutely need community input on this. Click here to give us your perspective, answering a short questionnaire – 6 questions.  Help us determine what level of collaboration will best benefit you, so we can provide the yoga services and courses that you need and love.

Thank you!


Amala Lynn Cattafi & Shuchi Sue Cilley

SVA President & MYF President

A Missed Opportunity

by Swami Nirmalananda

chanting in turbanI once skipped bowing to my Guru on Guru Purnima.  It is the biggest holiday (holy-day) in the yoga tradition, not only because it is the full moon dedicated to honoring the Guru but also because Grace flows most fully on Guru Purnima.  I was living and serving in the Ashram, and several thousand people came to see Baba, understandably!  I worked in food service, helping to feed them, so I and my fellow sevites were very busy.  I bowed to Baba in my heart, skipped taking a break, and went on serving.

I went forward in the darshan (reception) line to greet Him the next night.  He tapped me with the peacock feathers.  I lowered my head below my heart in the classical pranam (bow).  I looked up at Him as I came up and He looked at me in His usual way.  It was all perfect and it was all incomplete.  I knew that I had blown it.  I had missed my chance.  His Grace was there, certainly — but the night before would have been something else.  If only I had prioritized my relationship with Him instead of the work I did for Him.  Tricky!

I thought of the New Testament story of Mary and Margaret.  I began to understand what it was like to be the one bathing His feet instead of the one bustling around getting things done.  I’d always been the “bustler.”  I have bustle karma, that’s for sure.  It’s true that things must be done.  There’s a lot to do in order to support those who come to the Guru, in person or through the teachings, in books, online, etc.   But what does the Guru need?  Nothing. That’s the point.  The Guru is the only not-needy person you’ll probably ever meet.  That’s the reason to be in this relationship.

This relationship, like any relationship, needs some TLC.  When you do your part, you get more out of what was always available.  It’s like being in relationship with the sun:  when you go out to soak up some rays, you get the vitamin D.  When you don’t, you don’t.  But the sun is always there.  It’s always shining.  It’s always giving.

In India, Guru Purnima is the day when people pilgrimage to see their Guru.  This is no small feat!  The full moon in July is the middle of the monsoon, which makes travel precarious at best.  They bring gifts and donations, usually providing enough financial support to cover the Guru’s and His or Her Ashram’s needs until the next Guru Purnima.  Thus the Guru doesn’t have to go out with a begging bowl every day, nor charge for the teachings.  The tradition of providing the teachings for free comes from a land where they know that they must support the one who gives the teachings.

Buddha gave His first teachings on Guru Purnima.  Veda Vyasa was born on Guru Purnima.  Thus Buddhists, Hindus and yogis all celebrate this holy day every year.  Personally, I used to take this time to go to India to be with my Guru, visiting His samadhi shrine, a meditation room in which His body is interred under a marble slab.  Since I’ve been appointed to serve in this way, I stay in America for the celebration, so that I can be available to everyone who wants to come.

In India, it’s hard to see the full moon on that July night due to the monsoon clouds.  My experience has been that, somewhere in the night, just when I’m looking up, the clouds will part just a little so I can see the moon.  It is the biggest full moon of the whole year, which is why the sages dedicated it to the Guru.  It is the biggest because it is the point at which the moon is closest to the earth.

So if you cannot join me for Guru Purnima, go out and soak up some moon rays.  And chant “Guru Om.”  At least for the evening.  And meditate.  What’s the Guru for anyway?  To help you turn inward.  To help you know your own Self.  That’s the point.

Temple Fund & Seva — Outside & Inside

A Gazebo — A Temple, by Swami Nirmalananda

Chanting the sun up every morning, sitting under the canopy of mango trees — this is one of my most powerful memories from my early years of study:  Shrii Guru Gita in my Baba’s Ashram.  In the rainy season and when it got too cold, we moved indoors to the temple with a life-size statue of Bhagavan Nityananda.  I used to tune the tambouras before the morning chant, a daunting task to get all 7 of them in tune together!  And before 5:15 am!

The morning chant is delicious no matter where it’s done:  in the Ashram, in your home, on an airplane (quietly, of course!) and even sitting on elephant back as described in the text.  But at sunrise, outdoors, it’s something really special.  That’s what the Temple Fund is for.

It is my pleasure to announce that our Temple Fund is fully funded, due to the generosity of many donors, large and small.   We announced this plan last January as part of the Ashram’s fundraising goals.  We made headway but since then we’ve been graced with full funding and are moving ahead full-steam.

We’re putting in a gazebo, something that is appropriate to our neighborhood, with landscaping to make it a gem in our backyard — yet it is more.  The whole plan is a capital project, meaning we’re taking care of the Ashram building and property.  Thus we’re also upgrading our furnaces and reconfiguring the system to eliminate the hot and cold spots throughout the building.  Both the furnaces and gazebo will be completed this summer.

I’m looking forward to beginning my morning practices outside once the gazebo is completed, anticipating being able to use it for three of the four seasons.  We are planning some soundproofing panels so that we can chant without disturbing our neighbors, though I doubt they would be disturbed by someone worshipping the Divine in her own backyard.

The gazebo design will be based on mystical geometry as described in the texts.  We’ll include a pedestal in the middle, where we can place a photo and flowers (for now) or a sacred statue (perhaps in the future).

Someone said to me recently, “This is the center of the Svaroopa® Universe.”  Yes, it’s true.  Yet you must remember that the center of the universe is in you.  You are the center of your own universe, and whole universe is contained within you.  Both are true.  Outside and inside.  Inside and outside.  Thank you for giving me an opportunity to create a holy site in the midst of our modern lives.


Seva & Grace, by Devapriyaa Hills



My seva is as Seva Coordinator.  This means that I meet with Swami Nirmalananda regularly to review all open seva positions and for her to decide on each person’s seva personally.  She says, “I want to make sure that the seva is a ‘yoga’ for the sevite.  This means that they’ll be making spiritual progress while they’re doing the mundane tasks that it takes to run an Ashram.”

Swamiji has asked me to write about seva and what has changed now that I work with her so closely.  What can I say that will make sense?

It is such a lovely and Grace filled ride. Being with Swamiji amps up the feeling of Shakti, burns away some of my limited identification and gives me enormous freedom & fulfillment.  I release desires to be doing other things and choose the presence of my Guru. This choice holds and guides me like no other. Grace frees me to see and choose my path, my dharma. Seva is like choosing freedom, that freedom that allows Grace to flow more freely.

There are so many external practices to pick from but I choose the Self by choosing seva, meditation, practicing japa, and reading & listening to Swamiji’s teachings. They all guide me on the path that I have chosen.  Seva always shows me my Self if I look through accepting eyes, letting go of what my mind thinks serving should look like.

There is something about this seva of writing for Swamiji that has cleared out the cobwebs in my mind similar to what japa can do for me. I am now ready to clean my house, remove cobwebs and clutter, and simplify, all to make time for more interior explorations and time with Swamiji. Doing seva is like a mini immersion that allows me to remove another layer and another limitation to being the Self.

We invite you to consider one of our open sevas: Proofreading, Bookkeeping, Updating courses or links on our website, Research Project, and Musician.  These sevas can be an opportunity to develop new skills as we offer training for your seva.   We will soon have a seva list for local positions, in our upcoming Downingtown Yoga email. This will be an opportunity to help Swamiji or our hard-working staff.  Click here to make sure you receive the Downingtown Yoga emails.

Please email me if you are interested or have questions.  I am looking forward to hearing from you and serving you!


Freedom is the Goal

by Swami Nirmalananda

fireworks1-wikimedia-orgWe celebrate America’s birth tomorrow, a celebration of freedom.  Yoga says freedom is the goal of human life, but nor merely political freedom — something more.  Freedom is a natural quality of being, inherent within your Self.  The One Reality that is your own Self is inherently free within It-Self for there is nothing and no one creating bindings.  Honored by the name “Siva, that One Reality has taken on bindings to become this world and everyone in it, becoming you and becoming me.

Repeat this to yourself — that which has ever-been supremely free, has taken on bindings in order to be me.  You may have to repeat it a few times before it begins to percolate through, and then something will happen.

That which has ever-been supremely free, has taken on bindings in order to be me.

When you get it, something arises inside.  It might be a feeling, an understanding or insight, a spinal opening, profound joy or even bliss.  All at once, you see that “Siva is choosing to be you.  You are so important that “Siva is choosing to be you.  “Siva wants to be you.  “Siva is enjoying being you.  There is a reason for your existence — “Siva is being you.

This means you embrace the binding that makes you a limited individual, while you simultaneously recognize the whole of your true identity:  “Siva.  It’s a little bit like watching fireworks — the fuse is lit and then you wait, nothing happens for a bit and then, boom!  You have the limitation of time and space, and the explosion of something into that time and space.  Within your own being, the whole of consciousness is expanding ever inward.  All you have to do is know your own Self.