Tag Archives: Nityananda

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!

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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.

Grace Dissolves Fear

by Judy Goodkin

Judy

Judy

As I drove up the long winding, tree-shrouded driveway to the Temenos Retreat Center on Saturday evening, I realized my fear was absent.  I’ve been looking at my fear a lot lately, seeing it as my knee-jerk reaction to so many of my life’s events, major and trivial.  So when the announcement came about the celebration of Swami Nirmalananda’s Shaktipat anniversary which would include an extension of her sannyasa ceremony, as well as an honoring and celebration of administrative transitions, my fear began to set up roadblocks to doing what I knew I wanted and needed to do.  I remembered Swamiji’s essay on what it meant to be here now, and knew I had to be in my guru’s presence.

So I acknowledged my fear & drove to West Chester anyway.  Warmth enveloped me as soon as I stepped from my car.  I joined a group of Svaroopis on the patio, some had driven down from 2 hours away and some were “locals”, like me.  More would arrive to join those already in attendance for the Shaktipat weekend.  Hugs, sparkling eyes, warm greetings all around.  Everyone so filled with gratitude and relief to be here now.

The evening began.  Chanting.  Then the satsang:  Swamiji telling us what we needed to hear, all of us hearing what we needed to hear. Swamiji talked about the guru disciple relationship, “a relationship beyond words”.   I thought, yes, the need to be here now!

She spoke of Baba and illustrated with a story, his teaching, “Only he who obeys can command.”  We were also there to celebrate Swamiji’s resignation from being President of both SVA and MYF , so she can return her focus to serving as Master Teacher.  We also honored Amala and Shuchi, the new Presidents of the SVA and MYF Boards, who do what they are asked to do with full hearts.  I couldn’t help but notice I was accepting this transition without a ripple of fear, only joy.

Shuchi and Amala, looking to me like two sisters, began abhishek, the bathing of the Nityananda murti as we, the onlookers, were bathed in the chanting.  Chanting along with a recording of Baba’s voice! What a blessing to hear his slow, deep rumble, Om namah shivaya.  Om namah shivaya.  What a blessing to be here now.

The chanting continued as Swamiji had her head shaved.   I was in the presence of an Enlightened being.  What sheer joy.

Then came the opportunity to place flowers on Nityananda’s murti.  The chanting of Om Guru Om vibrated quietly as we bowed before Nityananda and then before Swamiji.

Overwhelmed with gratitude, I bowed before Swamiji.  How can I ever express my gratitude for her Grace, which she gives so freely? How to explain the sweet space that is present when my fear is absent?  When I experience moments without fear, there is clarity, and I feel only love and joy.  That night, for me, was a night without fear.  There was only love and peace and the guru’s Grace.

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!