Tag Archives: Grace

Japathon! Seva – by Ellen Mitchell

When I came back from India, I knew I wanted to do seva.  I quickly filled out the application form and sent it in.  I was offered the opportunity to lead the team organizing a Japathon!  How very exciting!  Grace flowed at the very mention of it.  The Grace continued flowing throughout.  What a gift.  Were there bumps in the road?  Yes, there were.  Were there uncertainties?  Absolutely!  Were there questions?  Tons!  Were there answers?  Always.  Throughout it all the Grace flowed and love swelled within me for all.  Tears come to my eyes just writing this.

Swamiji's hands

Swamiji’s hands

I want to thank Swami Nirmalananda Saraswati for the idea, for guidance, for making this the Year of Japa, for all the beautiful recordings about japa, for her superb editing skills, for being.  I thank Devapriyaa Hills for her wise words and fielding all those questions!  Rukmini Abbruzzi for her steady responses and guidance.  Janice O’Brien for her work on the web site Japathon! page and Glen Christensen for helping me figure out how to play a recording clearly.

Thanks to Sharada Macdonald and Kanchan Mohn, who were called to other services; although your time on our team was brief, you made an impact.  I thank the Meditation Group Leaders who so quickly responded to our requests and those who led the Japathon! — Rukmini Abbruzzi, Vibhuti King, Rudrani Nogue and Niranjan Matanich.  I especially want to thank the Japathon! team — Deborah Woodward, Gayatri Hess, and Vicharinee Chafin.  I could feel the Grace coming through every call and email.  Your words brought me to tears on more than one occasion and inspire me to do more japa — thank you.

To those who participated in the Ashram’s fourth birthday — thank you!  The Japathon!, our gift from the Ashram, to the Ashram and to each other, will continue to resonate with Grace, love and joy through us all.  Om Namah Shivaya

A Note from Swamiji

Nirmalananda 2 croppedI echo Ellen’s thanks along with so many others who had a great experience on the call.  Your shares onFaceBook keep trickling in – each one touches my heart deeply.  This is truly the type of birthday celebration I like!  Instead of candles and cheers (as fun as they are), the event is another opportunity to experience your hidden Divinity, your own Self – and an opportunity to express it into the world.

Congratulations to the whole Japathon! team, who really picked up the ball and ran with it.  Behind the scenes, we were served by  Ellen Mitchell (coordinator), Deborah Woodward, Gayatri (Barbara) Hess and Vicharinee (Su) Chafin.  Our phone japa was led by Niranjan Matanich, Vibhuti Courtney, Rudrani Nogue and Rukmini Abbruzzi.  And of course Baba – without whom none of this would exist.  I owe it all to my Guru!

OM svaroopa svasvabhava.h namo nama.h

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Concentrated & Continuous Grace

By Rukmini Abbruzzi

RukminiYou’ve chosen to have Grace in your life.  If you haven’t, you wouldn’t be reading this!  You also get to choose how much Grace you have in your life. How often and how deeply you experience your own divine Self depends in part on your own practices.   And it also depends on how much support you allow yourself to have from Swami Nirmalananda, from her presence and from her teachings.

Swamiji offers programs that support you in the way that works best for you.  Would you like to take a weekend away from home, and dive deep into your own bliss in the presence of and with the support of Swamiji and other yogis?  Then the concentrated Grace of a Shaktipat Retreat might be perfect for you.

Or, do you prefer to stay home, and receive Grace in a continuous flow over the course of a year?  Then a year-long course like the I Am “Siva course may be just right for you.  You can choose between them because both are coming up soon – or you might even want to do both!

Shaktipat Retreat
Align yourself with Grace at the Conference, then dive even deeper and immerse yourself in Grace at the Shaktipat Retreat, October 6-8, 2013.  With the openings you receive at the conference, you’ll be profoundly prepared to receive Shaktipat Diksha from Swamij Nirmalananda, the initiation that awakens Kundalini, the Divine power that dissolves your limitations.

Yogis share the results of their recent Shaktipat experience:

“This is my second Shaktipat and I received gifts from the first of inner knowing…and a higher sense of integrity that have remained with me. This retreat reinforced those as well as leaving me with an ability to be present in each moment more fully even when the moments are challenging. Also I received great joy at both Shaktipats which not only stays with me but is cumulative! I can’t wait for my next Shaktipat!”  – Tirtha Richards

“I had no earth-shattering changes.  However, I feel my meditation is clearer, and I am happier, more patient and more at peace.  Not earth-shattering, but certainly worthy results!” -Beth Richardson

This Retreat is not only open to yogis who attend the conference! All the practices of the retreat prepare and support you to receive Shaktipat.  And Shuchi Cilley and I will be there to assist Swami Nirmalananda, and to support you, every step of the way.

I Am “Siva: Year-Long Programme
Our multi-media format allows you to choose a level of participation that works with your budget for both money and time:

option #1 — monthly articles
option #2 — both monthly articles and audio recordings
option #3 — monthly articles, audios & phone calls with Swamiji and the rest of your study group
option #4 — monthly articles, audios, phone calls, PLUS the July weekend retreat

Whew!  That’s a lot of options!  All designed to fit your budget for both money and time…

Whether you are a new yogi, experienced Svaroopi or are coming from another tradition, this year-long course lays the foundation for your studies in Svaroopa® Vidya, your experiential knowing (vidya) of your own Self (svaroopa).  Swamiji created this course to take you beyond mere understanding to the experience of the Divine Reality that is your own Self.

Yogis share their experience of taking a year-long course:

“I think the year-long structure allows ample time to really draw as much as one can out of the articles/recordings, before the next set comes along. The year-long format provides the opportunity to savor and integrate.” – Purna Schmidt

“I like the consistency of the yearlong program.  The spacing of the article, recording and talk fits nicely in my busy life.” – Pooja (Erica) Andersen

FREE CALL:  If you’re interested in the I Am “Siva course, join Swamiji for a free intro call October 16: 7:00-8:30 pm (Eastern Time).

Or perhaps you want Concentrated and Continuous Grace.  You can of course, have it all!  When do you not want Grace in your life?

Questions?
If you have any questions, or if you’d like to enroll in a Shaktipat Retreat or the I Am “Siva course, please contact the sevites on our Enrollment Team at enroll@svaroopavidya.org.

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!

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!

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

Devapriyaa

Devapriyaa

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!