Monthly Archives: August 2013

Japa Will Give Me What?

By Vicharinee Su Chafin

“Japa will give you everything.”  I was sure I knew what Swamiji meant in this statement. However something in me wondered if there was more than my previous solitary japa experience had offered. With our upcoming Japathon! September 28, I decided to explore my japa practice even deeper.  So, I set out on a new japa challenge, one of focus, of full devotion, from start to finish. I planned an experiment to explore the “everything.”

Being a part of the Japathon seva team has been an honor and has propelled me to examine my own japa practice. How do I repeat mantra with my full heart? Am I merely searching for a solution to problems or soothing a busy mind? My experiment was born; I would repeat the mantra with full awareness and devotion, completely.

“Om Namah Shivaya.” What greater words could one repeat over and over?  It certainly trumps most of the banter my mind enjoys engaging in, for my benefit or otherwise. I am reminded of a Satsang with Swamiji.  Something that held significance for me was her discussion of the meaning of the mantra.  “I bow to Shiva in me, Consciousness as my Self.”  Okay.  I hear her, but do I really hear her?  I mean, really?  I thought I had sat with that notion many times.

So keenly aware of the meaning of the mantra; with each repetition, I paused, really paused, another thing I have heard Swami coach lately.  “Om Namah Shivaya!” out loud it rang, inside it rang, “I bow to my own Self, as Shiva.”  I stopped and started over when I lost the focus of bowing to Shiva as me, me as Shiva.  I continued to bow to my own Self, to me as divine, as Consciousness itself.  And then the Pause.  Oh the sweet Pause!  Sometimes everything was there, sometimes my mind needed redirection, sometimes there was the Guru’s form, always my Self, right there, right in the Pause.  It is pregnant with Grace.  How often have I repeated this mantra and not meant it?

It was so difficult not to fall into meditation.  My mala beads dripped into my heart and spine.  I was determined to finish the mala!  When I did, the Gurus emerged; I felt my practice pleased them.  Falling quickly in deep meditation and at the feet of all Gurus, to my Guru, boundaries dissolved.  God, Guru and Self were all before me as me.

GalaxyOne of my best meditations ever had just occurred, on a random weekday morning! It was almost like an out-of-body experience within the confines of my own flesh. To say I felt the universe within me seems so understated.  I emerged like an astronaut from a capsule floating in the sea. I knew I would return to my life completely different though look the same.  I felt my senses had been permeated; I had traveled the cosmos within my own body. I felt freed while inside this form.  My seat, my mind, my breath was so still. I didn’t become anything, I realized what I truly am, “everything.”

Returning to my Self in meditation is always like arriving home after a long and tiring journey, but this was special.  It felt like I was in the room with all of you, and with my Guru, all meditating together.  However, I was alone, in the comfort of my home.  Repeating japa with full devotion, I was enveloped with the support of the enlivened mantra. Japa will give you everything.  It gave me everything on a random weekday morning.

With unending love, gratitude for the path and especially for the guidance of my Guru.  At her feet I bow.

Japathon!  September 27-29
Special Group Event 9/28 at 10 a.m.
Svaroopa® Vidya Ashram’s  birthday event,
happening in your home or yoga studio

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FREE Japathon! Sept 28

by the Japathon! Team

146When you do mantra repetition aloud or silently, it has a powerful and beneficial effect.  When you do japa with another person, it is even more powerful for both of you.  Each of you contributes to what the other person is getting.  So what about when we’re all doing it together, no matter where we live?  That is our upcoming Japathon!

The Japa Team is excited about this event.  While we’ve been doing seva yoga meeting and planning it, we have also found we are all doing japa with more focus and consistency. We often lovingly remind each other in our conference calls “Do more japa!”

Says Vicharinee (Su) Chafin, “Consciousness weaves into my everyday life and relationships more easily through my participation on the Japathon! team.  I am reminded of Baba Muktananda’s writings, ‘…[through seva] you make that thing yours, you take it into yourself.’ I can’t help but repeat japa with a new devotion and purpose.”

Team leader Ellen Mitchell describes her experience this way, “I have learned so much about japa. I have been listening to Swamiji’s recordings about japa on the website and reading about it on the internet.  I repeat mantra more often than before. It helps me to focus and clear my oh-so-busy mind, bringing me back to center.”

Join us in our Japathon! on Saturday morning, September 28; plan your own japa session, celebrating the Ashram’s 4th Birthday.  Post your experience on Swami’s Facebook page.  Use these links to access all the resources we’re gathering for this event:

SVA Japathon! webpage
Enroll in the FREE event
Swamiji’s FaceBook page

Collaboration?

By Swami Nirmalananda

Why collaborate?  I love it when the deeper answer coincides with the practicalities. I actually don’t do anything without this inner and outer integration.

The deeper answer is that Master Yoga runs on Grace, just as the Ashram does.  With the formal separation between them, it’s been a little like “Siva and you — you are “Siva, but you don’t know you are.  The good news is that Master Yoga never lost the Grace, largely due to our Teacher Trainers, especially Vidyadevi and Karobi, who continued to work closely with me.  Even when I wasn’t physically in the classroom, I always knew what was going on and was able to offer input and blessings.

Our new levels of collaboration are pumping the flow of Grace into Master Yoga in a whole new way.  I can see a type of enlivenment reaching into the corners, like sunlight shining onto a plant in the corner at the dawn.  Both Boards continue to meet and develop answers — sometimes they have to come up with the questions as well!

The practicalities dictate efficiencies, both for better responsiveness to yogi’s needs as well as to handle your money respectfully, for the organizational funds all come from you, thus we think of it as your money.  This also draws the two organizations closer and streamlines activities, including programs as well as our shared Business Manager.  We’ve already seen a reduction in the number of emails and other communications needed, both internally as well as coming to you.  Our goal is transparency — to keep you up-to-date without burying you in TMI (too much information).

Comments — click here to offer your input into the collaboration question.

Beautiful Beings on Guru Purnima

By Nandini (Nathalie) Mermet-Grandfille

I shared a ride with my friends to go to see Swami Nirmalananda, our Guru, for the holiest of holy days, Guru Purnima. Always on the fullest of moons, it’s the day that Grace flows the fullest. At the satsang we were 25 people in a small room, everyone’s heart and face so open; everyone acknowledging everyone else.  It startled me to hear my name in welcome from others. There’s no pettiness, jealousy or other insecure emotions I’ve seen around other Gurus. If anyone has any issues with anyone, it’s built into the practices to be compassionate and accept people as they are. We all have a back story and we all are trying our best. It was wonderful to walk into the meditation room at Kashi (Downingtown Yoga), to be seen and greeted with so much warmth, and no one minded me stacking my pile of blankets in front.

There’s no hugging with Swami. She’ll look you square in the eyes with so much love and acceptance, and it’s me, not her, that decides when that look ends. I always have a dialog with her in my heart on my way to visit her, yet everything is always answered to the point where I realize there is no need to ever ask her anything directly. She even ends up clarifying in her satsang talk the very questions I had floating around.

She talked about what a Guru is in her lineage, the responsibilities along with the discipline of the path. She talked about her Guru and her Guru’s Guru. We chanted to Nityananda and Muktananda, then we meditated. After we could come up and get a blessing: people knelt before her, bowed down in child pose, or laid on the floor in a full pranam. Rising to the gift of a flower and those eyes.

Those beautiful eyes which miss nothing, yet hold everything in the soft warm light of love. So personable and so approachable; how blessed and privileged I feel to have access to her teachings and her presence. And how blessed I am to be a member of the Svaroopi family. What beautiful beings each and every one of you are. Om Namah Shivaya… Namaste!

Yogis Report on Japa

by Pooja (Erica) Andersen

146Why japa? If you are asking this question, you are not practicing japa or maybe not enough of it yet.  Jump start or support your japa practice; join in the Japathon!, a free chanting event on September 28th, the Ashram’s birthday.

I recently spoke with four yogis in the Svaroopa® yoga community about their experience with japa.  Each of their accounts expresses how japa is manifesting changes in their lives.

Saguna Goss says japa is her lifeline. “It’s such a key tool for my mind, a mind that needs so much TLC… I don’t know what I would do without it. I am infatuated with mantra and japa.”  Her voice conveyed such intense enthusiasm and she even commented on how exciting it was to be discussing it.     Saguna first started her japa practice 4-5 years ago when she was finding it hard to consistently carve out 30 minutes a day to meditate.  She decided to commit to 5 minutes of japa each hour throughout her workday.  In the beginning she set an alarm to remind her to practice.  At first she didn’t always have time to stop doing what she was doing to practice, but noticed that by making the time to do even two japa breaks in her day she got results.

Today her japa is more spontaneous.  She does japa throughout her day, often while driving or routine activities.  She added, “Now when I am struggling with something, having an emotional reaction to a situation, or notice I am not based in my Self, the mantra just appears and brings me back to my Self.  It is my ‘tool on the go’ for my mind, and it is so easy. It gives me my Self, because it is my Self.”

Purna (Amanda) Schmidt was inspired to do japa by the 2009 Svaroopaâ Yoga Conference.  She had a very difficult start.  “My mind was all over the place in the beginning; it resisted and wanted to stay busy. But I kept at it and made it part of my daily practice. Now I look forward to it.“ Purna uses her regular japa practice to prepare for meditation, doing silent and out loud mantra repetition from 20-60 minutes. She finds that silent japa occurs spontaneously, in the midst of her daily activities such as driving, chopping vegetables or doing simple chores.  Her whole practice has shifted to a deeper level.  She attributes the shift to japa.

Purna continues, “Japa practice causes me to want to do more japa, and it continuously becomes a richer and deeper experience. It has shifted my desire for practice towards the non-physical practices; yet I also experience physical changes and openings from it.  At times I can feel rushed and harried, and say, ‘I’m only doing ten minutes of japa,’ but once I start, everything expands and it’s effortless to continue for longer.”

Pat Morrison told with me that when she sits to do japa, “It’s like I am living and breathing the words. It evokes an incredibly strong experience of the sacred, and being one with my mala.  Japa clarifies my mind, and eases my way into meditation. At times it initiates the flow of Kundalini up my spine.”

Pat also said at first it wasn’t easy for her to practice japa.  When she first began, five minutes a day was difficult for her.   She struggled with a busy mind and not wanting to sit for any length of time.  When Pat said this to Swamiji, she suggested Pat begin to dedicate  a round of mantra on the mala to Swamiji, and another round to Shiva, to Ganesha, to her husband, and so on.    This technique she said got her through the rough and awkward beginning.  Her practice today, about 5 years later, includes 25 or more minutes a day, often as her meditation preparation.  Now she looks forward to japa and loves it.  She said she encourages others that are just starting out to stick with it if they find it hard in the beginning.  They may find, like she did, that they end up loving it.

Sheynapurna Peace said japa gives her the ability to function in life while experiencing the Self.  She followed with, “I remember that I have a tool, and when my monkey-mind gets going, mantra is there to smooth my path.  Mantra doesn’t fix outer things, but I can feel it re-training my mind.”

Sheynapurna carries her mala in her pocket at work, a medical office, so her scrub tops have large pockets.  While waiting for a patient, walking down the hallway, or seated at her desk, she finds her hand in her side pocket and her mind engaged in mantra.   She said, “It’s such a simple practice but calming and grounding.  I love to recite mantra at my desk while looking at my mini-puja with Swamiji, Muktananda, Nityananda and Ganesh.  This practice has changed the ‘feel’ of my work area.”

Sheynapurna has been repeating manta for about 10 years. At the 2009 Conference she attended a few sessions which inspired her to create a more regular practice, saying that what you put into something is what you get out if it.

While each of these yogis has her story, so much of it is my story too.   I have been focused on  japa for the past 4-5 years, and my practice has deepened.  It is no longer something that feels uncomfortable or awkward; it’s quite the opposite.  Japa has become part of me and my life:  my sacred “tool on the go.”  Om Namah Shivaaya is almost like my personal radio station that I tune into, or it tunes me in. The mantra consistently sweeps me up into it and returns me to that solid place of knowing my own divine essence.  The portability of the practice means I use it to cultivate the ability to function throughout all areas of my life, while remaining immersed in the knowing of my own Self.

Up to the point of conducting these interviews my own experiences of japa has remained private.  It’s just not something I have talked about with the majority of people in my life.  I have often thought to myself that if my husband, kids, family, or work associates had any idea how much I am focused on my manta they would be shocked.  But, then again, if I shared what repeated in my mind before I started practicing japa  they may have been just as shocked.   So I felt privileged to have the opportunity to have such an honest and pure conversation with each of these yogis in our community about the sacred practice of japa in their lives.

Maybe you will find part of your story here, too.

Did you find you could resonate with any of these stories?  When I ask you now “Why japa”, what is popping up for you?  Is it the mantra? Is it the Self?  Are you practicing japa?  Why not?

Click here to join the Japathon!, a free community japa event via conference call, September 28th at 10am.

Who is “Siva?

by Swami Nirmalananda
Shiva-peaceful
Yoga says you are “Siva.  OK – but who is “Siva?  Swami Nirmalananda says, “I had never heard of “Siva when I received the mantra, so I had no idea what it really meant.  I created the I Am “Siva course so you would understand the tremendous meaning of this mantra, to deepen your experience of who you really are.”  Experience Swamiji’s magical mix of classical teaching stories, psychology and yogic practices, along with the tangible Grace that reveals your own Divinity to you.

If you have taken this course before, please know that Swamiji is updating all the articles and audios, plus you are eligible for a specially discounted tuition rate on Enrollment Options 3&4.  The reason is that your participation will not only benefit you, but your previous studies will support the new students in the programme.

Click to register for our free Intro call, October 16 7:00-8:30pm (Eastern Time)

Designed to fill the year-end gap, this course gives you teachings and practices to support you through the holidays and into the new year. Our multi-media format allows you to study at home, preparing for the Weekend Retreat in November, or to choose a level of participation that works with your budget for both money and time.

Give your Self the support you deserve!

Choose from four enrollment options:
Option #1. Monthly Articles (enrollment available all year)
Option #2. Monthly Articles & audios (enrollment available all year)
Option #3. Monthly Articles, audios & phone calls (calls are not recorded)
Option #4. Monthly Articles, audios, phone calls PLUS the November Weekend Retreat

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Shaktipat

by Theresa Morrison

Swami DarshanWhether concrete or subtle, yogis receiving Shaktipat from Swami Nirmalananda experience a range of openings, expansions, and revelations that are real and profound.  Please enjoy these yogis’ descriptions of Shaktipat from recent Retreats with Swamiji.

Robin Blankenship describes her experience of Shaktipat as the movement of energy through her body:

“My Shaktipat retreat was a very deep and intense experience. I now feel Kundalini go all the way up into my head during yoga practice and meditation. It used to be blocked at my neck and shoulders. [I] experienced Shakti in my body as a source that is ever changing and moving. I experienced it as a moving part that is now unstuck.  I continue to have access to this experience of Shiva as constant change.  It is helping me to accept change… in my life and not be afraid of it.”

She summarizes that the experience of Shakti moving freely throughout her own body had a direct effect on her spiritual practice and allowed her to have new insights into the nature of movement and change in her daily life.  This has allowed her to become unblocked and unstuck.

France de la Fontaine shares some particular experiences of blissful from her recent Shaktipat Retreat:

“On Sunday morning, I woke up and I felt pure joy and peace, no fears. I imagine bliss this way — since, in meditation, I can have a glimpse of this state… the other thing that I felt on that Sunday morning was the impression that the world was in my belly. It was very special.”

France goes on to describe that Shaktipat opens her heart and helps her to “progress on the path of illumination.”

Beth Richardson recounts her own experience of progress.  She writes, “I feel my meditation is clearer, and I am happier, more patient and more at peace.”

Whether momentary or enduring, these experiences of clarity or Self offer glimpses of what is possible. They encourage further seeking and practice.

Susan Daniel shares, “The Shaktipat Retreat continues to provide motivation to prioritize a daily meditation practice.”

Dhananjaya King says that he has found a new “willingness to stay in the present rather than constantly looking toward future events.”

Shanti Ellan Catacchio describes a beautiful transformation that she attributes to the effect of Shaktipat in her life:

“We have taken down a fence that was in front of our cottage, and I have moved from hiding-out in the back yard, out of sight, to the front yard, enjoying the view and people walking by.  My Mother put that fence up 50+ years ago.  I am more comfortable in my own skin than ever before.  I am more aware than ever before. [I am] closer to Self.”

The particular effects of Shaktipat manifest differently for each individual, but there is an undeniable power in this transfer of energy from Guru to disciple.  Swamiji gives Maha-Shaktipat, the awakening of your own energy of transcendence, Kundalini.  Whether direct (in person) or indirect (through an intermediary, such as a photograph), this transmission of Shakti is a life-changing experience.  It deepens each time you receive it, all through the loving act of Grace, given by the Guru.

The Shaktipat Retreat, offered several times each year by Swamiji, is an intensive, nurturing experience designed to prepare each individual to receive this initiation most fully.  Through chanting, meditation, and a series of teachings each student is given the tools they need to understand and open to the Grace.

Swamiji confers Shaktipat three distinct times over the course of each retreat weekend, likening the energetic transfer to that of a burning candle sharing its fire with one still waiting to be lit.  Amongst other things, this powerful gift leads individuals to a fuller realization of themselves, empowering them to live in the experience of their own Self as Shiva.