Author Archives: Sandie Tyson

Mystical You

By Mangala Allen

Yoga says you are Shiva. Shiva is the Being of all things, the One Ever-Blissful Essence pervading all of existence and beyond, including you! Yoga’s true goal is for you to know this essential truth, within yourself, as your Self.

Everything is made of contracted energy. This energy becomes various particles, which move in patterns to create everything that exists. This energy is Shiva, so all the contracted particles are Shiva, and everything that they become is also Shiva.  As Shiva contracts to become you, you forget you are Shiva. The forgetfulness is an intentional contraction, created by Shiva:  a veil of illusion called maayaa.  It is part of the Divine Plan.

As you progress through your human life you unfortunately contract even more, further limiting your experience of who you really are. You move through life as though you are defined by the things outside of you. You identify with your name, where you live, your occupation and your relationships. You get wrapped up in these many identities and are easily captivated by the things that support them.

How do you get from here to the goal of perceiving yourself as the One Ever-Blissful Essence, pervading all of existence and beyond? Yoga is the mystical pathway to your Self. Yoga gives you tools so you can revel in your Shiva-ness, in complete freedom and joy abounding, affecting every moment of your life!

“The truth is that to realize the Self is to get what we already have. There is nothing apart from Shiva. There is nothing other than Shiva. Whatever there is, is Shiva.”
Nothing Exists That Is Not Siva by Swami Muktananda

To live in the truth of this awareness is attainable. For this you need a teacher who has traveled the path and can illumine your way. Not just any teacher, but one with the power to create an inner awakening that opens you inward to your Self. This teacher is called a Guru, one who can lead you from the darkness (gu) of your delusion to the light (ru) of your own Divinity. I got this from my Guru, Swami Nirmalananda. She fulfills yoga’s promise of revealing my Self to me.

She explains, “The reality is that you are so much more. You are Shiva, the whole of Divine Consciousness. Everything that exists, everything you see and hear and feel and touch is Shiva too.”

As I learn from her, the layers of who I think I am are slipping away. This changes everything. I feel complete from within. I radiate love. I feel it shining within me, affecting my ability to see Reality inside and outside. My ability to bring my Self into the world is enhanced, which deepens my ability to see the blissful essence in all that surrounds me. All I can do is rejoice in the gift I have been given. This mystical path of revelation moves me toward the enlightenment I seek and I am ever grateful to my Guru.

The Words of A Self-Realized Being

By Niranjan (Nathan) Matanich

Katha japa.h
Every word of a great Master is mantra.
Even their ordinary conversation is the repetition of mantra.
— Siva Sutras 3.27

This yogic text describes an enlightened being, plus it tells you how to get there.  Mantra is one of the most important tools.  When you repeat a mantra, especially one that has been enlivened by a Self-realized teacher, something happens on the inside. Repeating an enlivened mantra turns your awareness inward and gives you the experience of your own Self. But, for the Self-realized being, every word they speak is a mantra.  They’re not limited to Sanskrit.

I first became aware of this at Swami Nirmalananda’s ashram. A number of us were in the dining room having lunch with Swamiji.  I was fortunate that she sat right next to me. In our lunch conversation, I noticed that when Swamiji spoke, my awareness began to turn inward, just like when I repeat mantra or meditate. I realized in that moment that there was no mundane conversation with Swamiji. I realized that even in a seemingly mundane conversation, her words were revealing my Self to me.

Another thing I realized from that experience is the importance of having a Self-realized teacher. Yogic teachings have traditionally been handed down from teacher to disciple verbally. The reason is that the teachings are living teachings, something gets lost when they are just written down.

It’s magic really. When you sit in a room with a Self-realized teacher and hear them give teachings, you are having the experience of the teachings at the same time you are learning about them.  This can’t be found in a book alone.

To realize the Self you must have both knowledge and experience. If you only have knowledge of the Self, you understand it only intellectually. But if you have the experience without the teachings, you won’t know what you are experiencing. The Self-realized teacher will give you both the knowledge and experience of your own Self.

The closest I’ve come to having this experience outside of being with Swamiji is when I’m repeating mantra. It’s not a mantra that I got out of a book or on the internet. It is a living mantra, one that was verbally bestowed on me. The only reason I’ve really been able to have this experience on my own is because the mantra was given directly to me. Swamiji calls it “an investiture.”  This is the power of the words of a Self-Realized teacher.

Time spent with such a teacher is invaluable. If you have the great fortune of spending time with a great being cherish it. You are receiving something that cannot be found anywhere else, you are receiving your own Self.

OM svaroopa svasvabhavah namo namah

Transforming Pain

By Yogeshwari Fountain

Yoga changes your experience of pain. Whether it is physical, or emotional, you come to know that pain is merely your mind’s reaction.  It arises when you’ve lost your Self, your divine essence.  It’s easy to do.  You lose your Self in other people, places or things.

Pain is also the fear that comes when you object to whatever is happening in the moment. Pain is what happens when you’re anywhere other than right here, right now.  The mystical dimension within you is available only when you are in the here and now.

I struggled with this for much of my life, always wanting things to be other than the way they were. I was either lost in the past or worrying about the future. Even in the most sublime moments, I could find something to complain about. I remember one beautiful fall day, the sun streaming through golden leaves, being irritated by having to drive my son to his preschool. In the back of my mind, I knew something was very wrong about this. Why wasn’t I present? That awareness opened something inside of me that day. Not long after, I discovered the Svaroopa® Yoga Sciences, and my spiritual teacher, who would change everything.

heyam duhkham-anaagatam — Yoga Sutras 2.16
The pain yet to come can and should be avoided.

This sutra isn’t saying you should hide from your life, avoiding what might happen next. Yoga says that the pain you experienced in the past, is over. There’s no need to hang onto it or to run instant replays through your mind.

photo credit: ideafit.com

And the pain you feel now, your mind’s reactions, can be transformed.  How?  By the light of your own awareness.  When you are aware of the reality of what’s going on, but not lost in your reaction to it, it’s not painful.  This is because awareness is your Divine Essence. It shines through even your bleakest moments.

By being aware that you are aware, you get a handle on your mind. You can experience whatever is going on, but without your usual knee jerk reactions.  Instead of retreating from the experiences you’re having, you step into them fully.  Only then can you understand what’s happening, make decisions and initiation action to make changes.

Only when you are fully present, are you able to embrace your experiences and learn from them. Every experience is a form of the Divine, coming towards you. When you practice seeing this mystical truth every day, when future pain does come, you won’t get lost in it the same way. You will remain whole, undisturbed, because you’re coming from the depth of your own Divine Self.

I can tell that my mind is being cleansed of old mental patterns and fears. How?  Through repeating mantra and my daily meditation.  I am rooted, more and more, in the conscious awareness that is my own Self. I can now perceive that there’s a deeper dimensionality to the present moment, something I couldn’t have imagined before yoga.

Life is about having experiences. Some of these will be wonderful, some will be ho-hum, while others, painful. The gift of a human life is to experience it all, even the hard stuff, while you are in the middle of it.  As Swami Nirmalananda teaches:

“Experience the experience you’re experiencing, while you’re experiencing it.”

The Liberating Power of Words

niranjan-yogaatthewellBy Niranjan Matanich & Swami Nirmalananda

One day at work, I watched my supervisor go into his supervisor’s office. I just knew he was going in there to talk about firing me. I was sure of it. As the morning went on, I was increasingly more sure of it until I was almost in a panic attack. This, of course, was not true. I was not being fired. I actually have no idea what they were talking about. It was all made up in my mind.

As a yogi, I’ve become reflective and aware of my mind, so I was able to trace my thoughts back.  I could see an underlying sense of unworthiness, a sense of not being good enough, which gave rise to words in my mind.  Those words gave rise to the thought that I was going to be fired. It affected my whole day but it wasn’t even a reality — except in my mind. This is the power of words.

170112-swami“The truth is that words have power. The words others say to you, the words you say to others, and the words you use on yourself – they all have power.”  — Swami Nirmalananda

This is easy to see in daily life. Someone is rude to you and you have a reaction; it can affect your whole day or week.  Maybe even years later, you remember it and still it affects you.  Or someone tells you that you did a great job and you have a reaction. These are obvious ways words affect you.

The sneakiest words that affect you, though, are the words you use on yourself. Like my story about being worried that I was being fired. Before I started practicing yoga, I would get caught up in a situation like that and never even know it. I would be so blinded by the power of the words that I wouldn’t identify that it was my own mind creating my experience.

170112-pic-1Words are powerful. They keep you bound to feeling inadequate and not good enough. They keep you from knowing your true worth, your inherent Divinity.  They hide the mystical reality within you, which is you.  Yoga calls this, your “Self.”

Thankfully, yoga has many ways of dealing with the mind. In fact, all of yoga’s practices deal with the mind: asana, pranayama, mantra, self-inquiry, and meditation all help you with your mind. The practice that directly targets the way you use words is called japa. Japa is repeating a sacred mantra, out loud or silently within.

Just like words can make you feel small and limited, a mantra reverses this power of contraction, to liberate you. Both the meaning and the vibration of the mantra are liberating.  Especially when you have received an enlivened mantra from an authorized teacher.  Mantra reverses the contractions in your mind so that you can experience your true worth. Through repetition of a mantra you replace self-destructive words, so you begin to live from an inner depth that is beyond your mind. When you live from that depth, your mind will no longer harass you!

Swami Nirmalananda says, “You become a light unto the world, with the light of your own Divinity shining through a purified mind and heart.  This is yoga’s mysticism, revealed.”

You are freed from the world created by your mind.  You discover that you are more than you think you are. So much more…