Tag Archives: Muktananda

There or Here – Do More Yoga! by Rob Gold

313There’s not one thing in my life I’d rather be doing this weekend more than attending the conference – but I won’t be there. A decision about something else in my life makes it (seem) undoable. A few months ago, about the time I was asked to write this series of pre-conference articles, I learned that my dog had lymphoma. For those of you who have experienced cancer, you know the only certainty is that you don’t know what, when, where, why or how things will change. It’s the great unknown and in that is an equally great lesson in surrender.

I couldn’t imagine leaving her in the care of others if she was sick or dying, nor can I leave her with others when she’s healthy – she’s just not that kind of dog. So, I decided not to decide, or rather to let her condition determine if I was coming or not. The good news is that, three months after her diagnosis, she is as vibrant as ever, thanks in part to some steroids and dietary changes.

I know I’m missing an incredible opportunity to connect this weekend, but I am also blessed with opportunities to connect in my life just as it is; right here, right now. There are always opportunities to do more japa, more seva, reach more students and know more of the Self. After all, what did Swamiji do when she was the only Svaroopi? Or what Muktananda do when He was not in the presence of His Guru? This is the beauty of the teachings: it’s ALL there, ALL the time. Sure, there are people, places and things that make it easier to connect, to accelerate ones spiritual journey, but we can access it any time we chose to direct our free will in that direction.

Will I miss the bhav of sitting in a hall filled with hundreds of Svaroopis? Yes.

Will I miss being in the presence of Swamiji and all the delicious programming? Definitely.

Do feel regular deep openings and connections to the Self from my life and environment here on Maui? Absolutely. After all, chanting the Guru Gita on an empty beach at sunrise  is an experience beyond what I could have imagined when I lived on the mainland.  So who’s to say it’s not actually the right thing for right now?

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

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.

Succession Plan: A Bequest to the Community

by Amala Cattafi-Heinlein, SVA Board President

Amala2

Amala

While Swamiji plans to remain embodied and to actively teach, support and foster our spiritual development for the foreseeable future, she recognizes that how she does it will change over time. While she envisions herself teaching into her 80’s, she, along with the Board, is focusing on the sustainability of her teachings. Our teachings. We have created a Succession Plan.

Later this year, Swami Nirmalananda will unveil a program for those who wish to take vows. Her vision is clear: create a vowed order of teaching monks, who choose to live by certain standards and maintain a certain level of practice. This will allow her to take the vowed community deeper, through teachings and practices that require this level of personal commitment. Eventually, there will be a published list of authorized teachers, which Swamiji will hand-select from the vowed community. These yogis will be authorized to succeed Swamiji and carry on the teachings.

The vowed order will include several levels of vows, for those who want to deepen their commitment and practice, but plan to continue in their current home and relationships. All of this will is available within the model provided by the ancient sages. Details will be available at the end of 2013 or next year.

 
Ashram garden marigolds photo by Sarvataa Christie

SVA plans to invest in the monks that Swamiji is preparing for the next generation. This is about the sustainability of the teachings, not of the buildings. We have the house in Downingtown, plus we will likely purchase an additional building to house our public programs and provide resident housing for the monks and guest accommodations for visiting yogis. In addition, we recognize some people will choose to create their own home in the neighborhood, so we plan to choose an affordable neighborhood with access to public transportation. When Swamiji has left her body, SVA’s material assets will be liquidated, and the money will be donated to the authorized teachers who have set up their own non-profit organizations in order to carry the teachings forth.

Ashram garden marigolds photo by Sarvataa ChristieThis is just as Swamiji herself has done, and Muktananda before her — it is perfection! This is a labor of HER love for us, and for her Guru, as it will be a labor of love and devotion for those who follow.

None of this is happening immediately. The Succession Plan is a process—you’re getting a glimpse of what’s ahead so you can plan your process in conjunction. When the vowed order is ready to begin later this year, you will be invited to consider your participation in the level that works for you. I recommend that you dive deep and let it take you where it will. Whatever that is, it will be perfect!

Click here for the Board’s FAQ. If you would like to add a question, click here to email it.

For personal contact and questions beyond the FAQ, please click any of the Svaroopa® Vidya Ashram Board Member names below to directly email them. They are happy to respond:

Amala Cattafi-Heinlein
Bob Nogue
Rudrani Nogue
Kristine Freeman
Kanchan Mohn