Monthly Archives: December 2016

The Light of My Own Being

By Niranjan Matanich

My mind has tormented me all my life, as far back as I can remember. Everything can be going just right in my external world but my mind tears me apart. Thoughts of being a failure, incessant worry that things are going to go bad or reliving past things that were painful — I’m sure you’ve experienced some of this yourself. At some point things got so bad for me mentally that, out of desperation, I decided to try meditation. I had tried everything else.  Drugs, alcohol, food, sex, sleep, religion and on and on. No matter what I tried I could not escape my mind.

In 2001 I started to meditate. I was given a mantra and a simple instruction to repeat it silently with my eyes closed. I was naturally drawn to the mantra I was given and it didn’t take long for me to begin to see a change. I found I was not reacting as much as I had in the past, I found that I had some space between my thoughts and within those spaces I began to feel ease. I began to feel that things were going to be ok and I even began to feel some happiness and joy. I didn’t know it then, but in those spaces I was experiencing the light of my own being.

Swami Nirmalananda says:

The light of your own being arises from its source….

only when you have cleared the pathway..your mind.

lake-and-mountainsIt’s like looking at a lake that is perfectly still. You can see the reflection of the surrounding scenery and, when you looking into the water, you can see through the surface into the depths of the lake. When the surface of the lake is disturbed with a lot of waves, the reflection is distorted and you are not able to see into the depths of the lake. This is how your mind is. The light of your own being is always there but you cannot experience because of the erratic nature of your mind.

When you begin meditating, you start clearing away all the sediment your mind has created. You begin to still the waves of your mind to see into the depths of your being. I practice meditation in the Svaroopa® Vidya tradition. Svaroopavidya is a Sanskrit word meaning the “experiential knowing of your own being.” It’s so easy to meditate in this tradition. It’s so easy to have an experience of your being, the essence which is behind your thoughts; it’s not theory, it’s experiential. It’s easy because the practices have been passed down through generations of teachers with full realization of what they give their students.

Over the years that I have been practicing meditation, I find that I’m living from the depth of my being more and more. I’m not saying that my mind never torments me anymore because it still does occasionally, but that’s not where I’m living from anymore.

OM svaroopa svasvabhavah namo namah

To your Inherent Divinity, again and again I bow.

Mystical Moments

mangala-head-shotby Mangala Allen

Have you ever been in a flurry of activity and suddenly found yourself experiencing a magical moment? These unexpected moments cause you to pause, your heart fills to overflowing and your love knows no bounds.  You want to feel like this all the time.  Mystical moments can be fleeting or they can expand to fill your life.  Yoga is the science of living the mystical reality all the time.

You think that experiences like these come from something external to you, something that affects how you feel.  But that’s not true.  Your overflowing joy springs from deep within your being.  It is your pure essence, your Self, rising from within.  Yoga develops your ability to draw from this wellspring anytime, anywhere.  Yoga abounds in ways to cultivate your capacity to live in this mystical experience in every moment of your life.

Yoga slows you down so you can find your Self in the midst of the frenzy.

Everything changes after that! — Swami Nirmalananda

When you are doing, doing, doing all the time, there is no time to stop.  But stopping is what it takes to find your Self, giving you the ability to enjoy all of life without being caught up in it.  The whirlwind of activity you often find yourself in can be exhausting.  Simply taking some time out to breathe can be a mystical moment.

Right now, notice how you feel.

Now breathe slowly in… And breathe slowly out…

Again, breathe slowly in and slowly out.

One more time slowly breathe in and out.

Pause and notice how you feel.

Has something changed?

This is a taste of what is to be revealed when you stop.  Yoga is not about continuous movement!  Or an impressive and athletic body.  Yoga is about finding your Self.  Svaroopa® yoga is slow yoga.  It helps you slow down and experience the world you live in.

ozarks-cavernLast weekend I visited a dear friend in a small town in Arkansas.  It was as if I traveled into a magical dream.  I was transported from city life to small town life in the Ozarks.  Vistas of mountains and waterways filled the scope of my vision.  The air was so pure.  I slowed down and took time to really breathe.  We visited caverns deep within the earth.  They reminded me of the beauty that lies within each of us.  I saw beauty in all the people I met, each one the Self, vibrantly alive.  I took pause in the mystical moments arising and acknowledged my Self, the Self.  I felt extremely connected to everyone and everything.

You can read this story and think, “I need to visit a small town.”  Or you can even think you need to move to a small town.  When you operate on the idea that experiences like these come from something external to you, you get trapped in manipulating the externals.  I guarantee you that, if you visited or moved to a small town, you could take your stress with you.   The point is something more…

The caverns deep within the earth reminded me of the beauty that lies within each of us.  I took pause in the mystical moments – not in the beauty of the caverns.  I recognized the inner arising and acknowledged my Self, the Self.  This is why I am fascinated with my yoga practice.  My practice provides me inner awareness that fills me and radiates into the world.  It gives me a new way to be.

You can use your yoga to discover mystical moments inside.  They become so plentiful that they become your life.  A inner fullness giving you a new life, one that does not collide with the frenzy, but flows with it.  It’s an incredible ride!  You experience all that surrounds you with enriched sensitivity and respond with unconditional love and gratitude for all.  There is no better way to live.

OM svaroopa svasvabhavah namo namah

To your inherent Divinity, again and again I bow.

Don’t Settle for Less

yogeshwari-fountain-anjaliby Yogeshwari Fountain

No matter what style of yoga you do, you will leave class feeling better than when you walked in. And if you look closer, there’s something else happening as well.   It gives you all the benefits of an exercise class, but it does something more. Yoga points you inward.  It slows you down.  It focuses your mind, calms your breathing and draws you deeper inside.  Whether you realize it or not, yoga is giving you your own Self.

I teach Svaroopa® Yoga, a way to use your body as the entry point to inner change and transformation. This works because your body is more than merely physical matter; it is made of Consciousness, the essence of all there is.

In Svaroopa® poses, there’s no forcing or pushing to “make the pose happen.”  Instead, your body is well aligned and supported, a compassionate precision which fosters the unfolding of a stage-by-stage progression of internal changes.  You rest in a space of grace. The poses provide a laser-like decompression of your spine, melting fears and resistances away. When your body is tight, without even realizing it, you feel small and contracted.  Especially when your spinal tensions release, your mind and whole sense of self expand into an internal spaciousness.  Yoga calls this an experience of capital-S Self. These inner openings are amazing!

Swami Nirmalananda describes it this way:  “The most powerful changes are on the inside, the opening of your heart, your mind, your experience of your own inner divinity.”

Yoga expands you beyond your mind’s limited idea of who you are, opening you to a deeper level within yourself.  As your spinal tensions body dissolve, your mind becomes quiet and something else opens up inside.  I remember my first experience of this at the end of a long Shavasana (yoga’s relaxation pose).  I was floating within a space inside that felt bigger than my body on the outside, being aware of both at the same time. This made me wonder,  “Who am I, beneath the layers of my persona?”  While I was still being “me,” including being a mom, wife and daughter, in some deep place within, I knew I was more. I had found “svaroopa,” the Divinity of my own Self.

grand-canyon-yogeshwariOur world is full of natural and man-made wonders, but nothing can compare with the inner realizations of a yogi. These can be revealed within the stillness of a yoga pose, studying the ancient texts and, most powerfully, through meditation. When I first looked out upon the Grand Canyon years ago, its great silence and depth took my breath away. I felt so small in the face of its enormity.  Now, when I sit in meditation, I settle into the space behind my mind and experience that spaciousness, quietude and depth.  The difference is, I am not looking on the outside.  It’s a big difference.

Sometimes yogic realizations blossom forth from within when you least expect them.   You may think you understand something with your mind, but there is always more to discover — beneath the surface of your mind.   As Swamiji says, “The most powerful changes are on the inside, the opening of your heart, your mind, your experience of your own inner divinity.”

As amazing as the yoga poses make your body feel, don’t settle for anything less than the inner blossoming of your own Self.   Then you will know yourself in a new way, with clarity, freedom and joy.

OM svaroopa svasvabhava namo nama.h

To your inherent Divinity, again and again I bow.

Mystical Changes Just Happen

mangala-cayla-allenBy Mangala Allen

Yoga is mystical. When you practice yoga something happens. You begin to change.  It’s not just the many health benefits or reduced stress and anxiety levels.You do gain a greater ability to focus and overall improvement in your health, all of which is pretty straightforward. But there is something else at work here, a mystical dimension.  It’s changing my life in a fascinating way, coming from my experience of my true Self emerging from within.

tempBefore yoga, I was searching for something that could fulfill me. “If only I had this or that,” I thought, “my life would be perfect and complete.” It never was. Even when I got what I wanted, I eventually lost interest. Of course, when I didn’t get what I wanted, I kept trying until my enthusiasm waned. Either way I chased after what I thought would make me happy.

Once I tried to meditate and my mind would not give me a moment of peace. Where was the glorious experience I expected? I felt defeated and went back to the chase.  My teacher, Swami Nirmalananda says, “You do not have to travel across an ocean to find an environment that will trigger your experience of the sacred. Find it inside. Do more yoga.”  Discovering yoga’s true purpose was a welcome turning point in my life.  It’s true that your teacher appears when you are ready to receive what she has to give.

I was attending a Svaroopa® yoga program when I first heard the words: “You are divine! Everyone is!” I was intrigued. I had never thought of myself and everyone else in this way. I wanted to know more.

The Svarooopa® Sciences have given me a way to explore and gain a greater understanding of this truth. It’s amazing how it all comes back to delving within. It is inside where we encounter our deepest blessing, our Self. We recognize the Self – being all selves, and awaken to truly appreciate the wonder of existence.

Yoga makes you ready for meditation.  When I learned meditation from Swami Nirmalananda, I found the easy way to experience my own divinity. Each meditation makes you more deeply saturated in your divinity. This suffuses your life with infinite gratitude and unconditional love. This is mysticism, the mystery unveiled. Powerful and wonderful changes occur.

ruby-red-slippers-oz-wikia-comYoga has shown me how to slow down and how to stop looking outside myself for fulfillment. I feel like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, clicking my heels together saying, “There’s no place like home.” I have found my home within me.

When I sit and meditate I experience the sacred. When I open my eyes I am ready to fully embrace life.

To your Inherent Divinity, again and again I bow.

Stages & Goals of Life

mati-gilbertI grew up in a small coal mining town in Pennsylvania.  I didn’t know that we were poor.  Except for a couple of families, everyone I knew was poor.  I never felt deprived of food, clothing or shelter.  My life was neither sad nor happy — it just was.

Once I moved away to a bigger city, I was too busy just making a living and taking care of family.  But somehow very deep in my being, I knew there was SOMETHING MORE to Life — something I was missing.

The ancient sages of India say there are four goals in life:  fulfilling responsibilities, creating and utilizing wealth, enjoying pleasures and ultimate freedom/enlightenment.  There are also four stages of life:  student, householder, retiree, and renunciant.  Together, these provide a useful overview of life:  where we have been, where we are now and where we are heading.  There are patterns in the unfolding of our lives, just like seasons in a year.

In each stage of life, you experience all four goals of life, yet one becomes the focus.  Swami Nirmalananda describes it this way:

swamiHow beautiful that the four stages give you a chance to focus on each of those strands in sequence, yet without losing the whole.  You could think of it as a balanced life – to enjoy pleasures while being careful with your money, fulfilling your responsibilities, and developing your spirituality.  It’s a rich and full life.

As a student, your focus is on learning your responsibility to family and society, yet you live within your allowance and enjoy activities.  Yet there are times when you wonder, “Isn’t there something more?”

group-photoAs a householder, you ensure financial security for your family, handling many more responsibilities, all the while enjoying some pleasures.  Still, there are times when you wonder, “Isn’t there something more?”

As a retiree, you focus on pleasures, still having responsibilities to others and managing your money for a comfortable retirement.  And there are times when you wonder, “Isn’t there something more?”

As a renunciant, your focus turns to this question, “What is the something more?”  You still participate in life, with responsibilities as well as managing money, and you still get to experience pleasure.  But the external world does not have the same appeal any more.  You turn your attention inward; you are ready to discover who you really are.  The Self.

Life must be lived.  In your first three stages, spirituality takes a back seat.  In the last stage of your life, it becomes the most important thing.

I was born wondering, “Isn’t there something more?”  In my first two stages of life I felt something was missing.  I had no idea what it was, the feeling just hung somewhere in the back of my being.   It wasn’t until my third stage of life that I found yoga, first yoga poses and then meditation.

Now I am so very grateful that yoga is here, both for me and within me, always.  With my developing spirituality, I am now leading a more balanced life.  It is, as Swamiji says, a “rich and full life”.

namaste-handsOM svaroopa svasvabhava namo nama.h

To your Inherent Divinity, again and again I bow.