Monthly Archives: March 2017

Happiness — Then and Now!


By Mati Gilbert

Happiness is pleasure, as the thesaurus says.  It’s a feeling of happy satisfaction and enjoyment, something most people want more of.  But that was never much of a motivator for me.  For decades I got happy by getting feedback from external sources:  by accomplishing things, plus how my family and friends treated me, as well as how I presented myself to the world and its response to me.

My whole life used to be about using outside sources to make me happy, multiple outer sources that rarely lined up together.  Today, I know different.  Through the practice of yoga, I have found happiness on the inside.

Swami Nirmalananda, explains this process is revealed in yoga’s ancient texts:

In the moment your mind becomes still, you abide your own Divine Essence.

Yogas-chitti-nirodhah — Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras 1.3

You have certainly found the Absolute Reality of your own Divinity in everyday events, here and there along the way.  Think about when you had to have – and I mean really had to have – that piece of chocolate.  You have an experience your Divine Essence just after you bite into that chocolate, in the first moment of tasting it.  You can even remember the moment, the second that you actually taste the bite you’ve taken.  This is the experience of the Self.

Every time your mind stops, you have an experience of your own Divine Essence.  This is the inner happiness that yoga promises.   You experience “svaroopa,” as Patanjali names it, which is the bliss of your own Beingness.  This is technically “meditation-in-action.”

Sitting to meditate is actually an easier and better way to access your Self.  Yoga has tools for your mind, tools that quiet your mind, so your meditation takes you beyond your mind, where your own Self is already waiting for you.

You do so many things to keep your mind active: socializing, over-indulging and other relentless activities.  You keep doing things in order to keep your mind from being still.  Maybe stillness is a little scary.  Yet, stillness allows you to experience your Divinity, who you actually are, deep down inside yourself.  Once you attain the goal of abiding in your own essence, you take yourself with you wherever you go.  What is scary about that?

Learn how to meditate.  You need a teacher who can propel you past your mind, to experience your own Self.  Then you can easily meditate daily, and you will notice many differences in your life.  Your daily life is still there.  Your activities may not change, but how you react to them will be so different. Once you find your Self, you will no longer depend on outside sources to make you happy.  You will abide in an inner fullness that is even better than mere happiness.

I no longer depend on the approval of others or outside sources to make me happy.  While I experience happiness during meditation, it keeps me on an even keel during all my day-to-day activities.  I feel so much more grounded each day knowing that I am Divine.  Mantra and meditation provided me this security and peace of mind.  Wouldn’t you like to feel this way all the time? Mantra and mediation will give you your own Self.

OM svaroopa svasvabhavah namo namah

To your Inherent Divinity, again and again I bow.

Divine Emotions

By Mangala Allen

Riding the emotional rollercoaster can be a thrilling ride as well as a dedicated lifestyle. It is also a ride that keeps you from experiencing the greatest joy you have ever known.  It blocks your ability to live in the ever-arising bliss of your own Beingness in every moment of your life.

Your emotions are merely physical sensations, triggered by the thoughts that pass through your mind. When you think about something, your body reacts the same as if it is really happening. Your thoughts and emotions are inseparable.

This morning I woke from a dream, startled and confused. I was in a panic trying to figure out how the incidents in my dream could have happened. It was playing out in my head as if it were real. Physically, my experience was as though it all had really happened.

Your experience of your life is not based in circumstances. It is based in your thoughts about them. If you approve of how your life is going, you feel happy. If you don’t, you are not. And there is a large range of emotions to experience in between.

Your emotional condition is created by your thoughts. One researcher estimates that the average person thinks 65,000 thoughts a day. How many are positive and uplifting, and how many are negative, assuming the worst? Unfortunately, many of these thoughts are repetitive; you keep living through them over again and again.

The only way to get off the rollercoaster is to find a deeper dimension of your own being.  This changes your reactions to circumstances, as Swami Nirmalananda describes:

Like a three-year old who cries when their block tower falls, you crumble in the face of life’s difficulties.  But when the three-year old grows up, she or he takes the falling of the block tower in stride.  When you grow into your Self, the experiencing of your own Divinity, you’ll take life’s events in stride, too.

Yoga’s goal is for you to experience your own Self.  Most people focus on the external benefits of health, beauty, youth and vitality.  As wonderful as these are, there is more available to you.  To find the Self, the sages knew that you need to quiet your mind. Fortunately, every yoga practice is actually for your mind.

When I awoke from my dream, startled, confused and in a panic, my physical experience was as if it all really happened. Mentally I knew it hadn’t. I reminded myself of this and stopped the thought train from rushing on. Calmness ensued. I have learned a lot about my mind from my yoga studies. My yoga practices hone me for living a life focused on stillness and the opening it provides.  Yet yoga promises more:

“As the mind is stilled, the emotions are also stilled. Through the practices… the mind can be freed from the forces (that drive it), and it is possible to live in purity and light all the time. You will still have feelings, but they will be purified and positive; they will be divine emotions.”
– Swami Muktananda

Yoga’s practices quiet your mind. When your mind becomes still, you open to the bliss that is you; you experience your own Self. Each experience of Self enables you to be more present in your life. You become calm and steady on the inside. You experience your life from an inner fullness that affects how you react to your circumstances. See the incredible simplicity. Use yoga to still your mind and the magic will occur.

OM svaroopa svasvabhava namo namah


Make Your Mind Dance

by Yogeshwari Fountain

I used to be a modern dancer. I spent years training my body so that I would be able to move across the stage with lightness, freedom and grace. It was a perfect blend of mental focus, physical skill and bliss, which also describes the practice of Yoga. While dance expressed my yearning for God, yoga gave me what I truly longed for, deeper inside: the tangible experience of God, in my own Self.

Although I didn’t realize it in the beginning, yoga is a training for your mind, to make it based in freedom, dancing with light, moving with gracefulness and ease. All yoga’s practices are for the purpose of quieting your mind, so you will experience your inner Self, named svaroopa by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras.

Yoga reveals your inherent divinity, both on the inside and outside of your being. There’s nothing to “perform.” There’s no “technique” you must perfect. Your only commitment is to know your own Self, at the deepest level.

For this you need the help of a sacred set of syllables enlivened by a living master. Such a mantra is a vibrational force of energy, charged with an incredible power to transform your mind and sense of self. Your mind needs the help, because listening to what you tell yourself all day can drive you nuts.

“Your mind makes you dance like a monkey all the time…Now you have to become stronger; you have to make the mind dance. Make it dance on the stage of mantra.”- Swami Muktananda

Yoga’s sages say your mind is made of Consciousness, a form of the one Divine Reality. While your mind has the capacity to be expansive and serene, it is also as mischievous as a monkey. It flits about from one thing to the next, getting into trouble. It nitpicks and conjures up stuff that will probably never happen.

Your mind is a creature of habit, reinforcing mental patterns that obscure the light of your own divine radiance. In fact, your mind makes you dance like a monkey! Swami Muktananda says you must become stronger than this, by becoming the master of your own mind.

Enlivened mantra and deep meditation are the key to this mastery. At first you repeat mantra to intervene with your mind, giving it something more uplifting to repeat. Over time, your mantra becomes more a part of you, from the inside out. It becomes intuitive.

Your field of awareness expands, a knowingness that is happening at a deeper level inside, deeper than your mind. Swami Nirmalananda describes it this way, “Your own Self is Consciousness-Itself. That means that, at your core, you know. This core knowing is not thought, but an inner knowingness that is the source of all the sages’ teachings and insights. This becomes the GPS that guides you through your life. You are living from the inside-out.”

Your inner Self illumines your mind, showing it what to do, what to think about and how to help. What a change! You’ve been used to the other way around, your mind leading you around like a bull with a ring through its nose. It’s a delightful and meaningful shift in perspective: your mind becomes the servant of the light of your own Self.

How many repetitions of your mantra will it take for you to make your mind “dance on the stage of mantra?” The teachings of a Great Being like Swami Muktananda make it possible for me to imagine the impossible. This is because his words are imbued with grace.

Whatever mantra you have been given by such a Master, know that it is an audible form of grace. Still, you must apply yourself to repeating it. Mantra will then effortlessly carry you to your own Self, until your mind becomes Consciousness-Itself.

One mantra repetition at a time, over time, will make you lighter, stronger and freer. Until your thoughts dance to the tune of Consciousness, based in the foundation of your own Beingness.

Delight of the Self

by Niranjan (Nathan) Matanich

When you do any of yoga’s practices, you experience something change inside. You can meditate, do japa (mantra repetition), pranayama (breathing exercises), or asana (yoga poses).  The change you get is not merely the good feeling after a workout or from sitting quietly; something deeper is happening. That something deeper is your Self, the Self that is beyond all your perceived limitations. That experience feels more-than-good and it motivates you to apply yourself to having even a deeper experience of the Self.

Sometimes you have this inner experience but then you lose it. Or you experience it in your meditation space or a yoga studio, but then you go to work and lose it.  Yoga’s goal is that you remain in that deeper state all the time, even in the midst of life. How do you do that? Through the practices you do, and through the blessings of the Gurus who did those practices and have become established in this state.  This is promised in the yogic texts:

lokananda samadhi-sukham.” — Shiva Sutras 1:18

In every moment the yogi experiences the delight of the Self, and there is transmission of this experience to those who come in contact with him.

This sutra promises that you will remain in that blissful state wherever you go, whatever you are doing. You will always know your own Self.  While this is a really important aspect of this sutra, I think the second aspect is even more important: there is transmission of that delight to those who come in contact with you.

This points out the importance of having a Guru. When you are in the presence of one who has attained the Self, they easily transmit that experience to you.  Their teachings and practices come from that place of knowing and experience. It’s not mere theory. More so, by just you being in their presence, the delight of the Self is being shared.

In 2016, in Meditation Group Leader training, we were chanting the Guru Gita, a text that explains the Guru principle. We were chanting it in English instead of Sanskrit.

While we were chanting, I realized that I was having an inner experience of what the text was speaking about. Though I could see myself and I could see Swamiji sitting in her seat, internally there was no difference between us. I realized that I was having that experience because I was in the presence of a Guru who lives in that state.

Swami Nirmalananda says, “My time with my Guru was irreplaceable.  I could never have imagined such great heights of attainment as he showed me.  I could never have dreamed of such love.  I would never have been able to find the deeper dimensions within myself that he opened up for me.  It’s true what he told us, ‘The way you become a Siddha is by spending enough time with a Siddha.’  I am the recipient of so much Grace that I can never measure it, nor can I ever sufficiently thank him.  My life is my way of expressing my gratitude.  It is why I teach – to serve him.”

The importance of spending time with a Guru cannot be overstated. Having the undeniable experience of the Self when you are in the presence of a Guru will help you to find that experience when you are at home, or at work, or wherever you are.  Now all you have to do is… more yoga.

OM svaroopa svasvabhavah namo namah

To your Inherent Divinity, again and again I bow.

Yoga Promises Freedom – what is that?


by Swami Nirmalananda

Today’s Ashram E-Quote says:

     Living fully, yet free from desire 

     or expectations, and free from fear. 

     It’s a profoundly meaningful way to live. 

                    – Swamiji & Rukmini

Even though I had a hand in writing it, as co-author of the article it comes from, this morning I found it tremendously inspiring.  It is an outer statement of an inner state, for which I thank the one who gave it to me, my own Guru, Swami Muktananda.

To be free from desire means that every choice I make is unfettered.  There’s nothing I am trying to gain or attain.  Whatever comes comes; whatever goes goes.  I remain the same – full, expansive, free.  Nothing and no one has control over me, not even food!  It’s an easy way to live.  Everything that was previously propelled by desire was so ha-a-ard!  I still do hard stuff, of course, for life delivers my karma to me on a conveyer belt, but the one it’s being delivered to welcomes it.  All of it.  With open arms.

To be free from expectations means that I never know what’s going to happen.  I can predict certain things, like when I turn on the shower – that water will flow.  But sometimes it doesn’t.  And it’s not disturbing to me.  It’s just part of the never-ending surprises of life.  When I talk with someone, I’m not trying to predict what they will say or think, nor am I trying to manipulate their words or the outcome.  I do my best to support and serve, but I have no idea how it will turn out.  Every day is a new day.  Everything is a surprise.  It’s like being a child again, in the delight of everything being new.

To be free from fear is the truest freedom.  It underlies the others.  Because anything can happen, and does happen, but I don’t fear what might come, so I don’t worry.  I do plan, like organizing my activities for the day.  I buy insurance, not because of fear, but because it’s an intelligent way to handle the practicalities of life.  No matter what someone says or does, or even if the shower doesn’t turn on – I’m not holding my breath, waiting to see what terrible thing might happen.  Life is full of ups and downs.


Now I like roller coasters!  I remember when I didn’t – I brought my fear with me when I boarded.  But now they’re great fun.  So is life.

I highly recommend freedom.  It’s the only way to live.

But you have to work for it.  Like anything worth attaining, you have to apply yourself.  Do more yoga.  And not just poses…

OM svaroopa svasvabhavah namo namah

To your Inherent Divinity, again and again I bow.