Monthly Archives: January 2017

Words are Powerful

By Mati (Sandy) Gilbert

The first time I heard OM, it had a profound effect on me.  Why?  I didn’t know it at the time, but it was the first word in my spiritual life.  It is also the first word in my mantra.

Many mantras begin with the word OM.  OM is the primordial sound, meaning it is from before the beginning of time.  It is the vibration of which the universe is made.  It is what you are made of.

Mantras are in Sanskrit, a vibrational language, a very melodious one.  The actual letters in print appear so different from our Western alphabet.  But once you learn the Sanskrit words, the mantra just flows off your tongue.  The enlivened mantra of our lineage creates a current of energy.  Every time you say it, it starts at your tailbone and creates energy all the way up your spine.  This is the mantra’s purpose: to spark the arising energy that is the awakening of your own Self within you.  So that you can see who you are — you can see and feel and know. More than that, you can BE who you really are — at the deepest level within.

Swami Muktananda taught us that language has tremendous power.  A word can make us aware of something which exists at a great distance, even distant galaxies. Baba told us that every word and every single letter is a mantra, whether we use it in our worldly or in our spiritual life.   He means that words have power.

Everyone brightens up when hearing words of praise or thanks, but not so much with words in the opposite vein. And what about the words you use on yourself; are they on the negative or positive side?   It makes a big difference.   If you think of yourself as a doofus, how do you think you will act?  If you think of yourself as competent, how do you think you will act?  Even “doofus” and “competent” are mantras!  Yes, words have power in your worldly life.  However, words are so much more powerful when used in your spiritual life.  These mantras take you to your Self.

I am very aware of how my words affect others. I try very hard not to be negative toward or about others.  Am I perfect?  Definitely not!  The more I say mantra, the better I am at saying what I really mean, but without negatively impacting others.  Today, I could not exist without my mantra.  Not only does it take me into meditation.  It also keeps me on an even keel during my daily life.

Saying mantra is so very powerful.  When meditating, I start out silently repeating my enlivened mantra, which I got from my Master, Swami Nirmalananda.  It fills my head, slowly drifting downward into my heart.  The mantra fills my entire inner space — so easily and so simply.  The mantra is me.  I am it.  When the whole inside of my body and being is filled with mantra, I know I am my own Divine Self.

OM svaroopa svasvabhavah namo namah

Freedom from Harm

By Yogeshwari Fountain

It took me years of yoga to discover that physical perfection is not the goal of yoga.  Working on my body did begin a powerful unraveling of tension, but what was buried underneath needed looking at too.  My mind’s reactions and fears were blocking the light of my inner radiance from shining through.

Fortunately, yoga offers ten lifestyle practices, specifically designed to help you unveil the consciousness that you are.  They empower you to live more consciously with others as well as with yourself. The first and most important of these is ahimsa: non-harming or non-violence.

I always considered myself a kind person, trying to be nice to others, even holding my tongue when angry.  Unfortunately, I discovered that this did not mean that I was being non-violent.  My outer actions did not always match my thoughts.  I found harmful thoughts in there, even when I didn’t act on them. I discovered that sometimes I was kind as a way to winning someone’s approval or to make them feel better — pure manipulation!

This kept my mind churning, obscuring the light of my own Divinity, just as Patanjali warns:

Vrtti-saaruupyam itaratra — Yoga Sutras 1.4
When you are not established in Self-Knowingness,
you are lost in your churning mind.

From yoga’s perspective, non-harming isn’t about being a better person, although you will be.  Non-harming is about quieting your mind, so that you can experience “svaroopa,” the bliss of your own Being.

Yoga says that no matter what kind of day you are having, good or bad, you are still the Light of Consciousness.  This divine energy has manifested all that exists, becoming you: your body, mind, heart and soul.  If you don’t feel fully “divine” as you read this, it’s because your mind limits you so well that you cannot catch it in the act.

Yet, after a yoga class, you feel more open, relaxed, even blissful.  This is the real you, hidden just beneath all the stuff you get caught up in.  Unfortunately, after yoga, it doesn’t take long for your mind to kick in again, to throw you for a loop.  Noticing how quick this happened to me is how I realized I was ready for the other yoga practices:  meditation, chanting and paying attention to how I treat others.  This dimension yoga is opening me to a richer and fuller life.  And to the deeper dimensions, the mystical dimensions, within myself.

It’s simple, but not easy. Practicing non-harming is most challenging in relationships.  When your buttons get pushed, how do you react? By practicing non-harming, you learn to respond to a situation or person, a response that comes from a deeper place inside. Swami Nirmalananda describes what happens:

“The light of your own Being arises from its source, spills into your life, and fills your relationships with light, love and joy.”

The ancient sages knew this, which is why they made ahimsa the prerequisite before teaching their students anything else. It was the first step for becoming a yogi. Whether yoga gives you a perfect body or not, ahimsa gives you a quiet mind.  Peaceful, free from the confusion and darkness that has been covering your heart. In the process of discovering your own Self, your inherent Divinity.

Let each day begin with the vow: I will do no harm.

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…

Finding the Joy in Life


mati-gilbertby Mati Gilbert

For many years of my life, I seemed to go through life by rote.  To keep myself on an even keel, I made it my responsibility to keep others happy and content.  While I was good at taking care of others, I was missing the inner joy.

When you make others into your reason for living, you are in your small-s self.  Yes, you will always be an individual who needs to enjoy, experience and live in the external world.  This is so important.  But yoga promises that you will know you are also Divine — your own capital-S Self — which is already inside, just waiting for you to find it.  Everyone has the Self inside.

Why do you have the friends you have today?  Probably because they make you feel good — they let you know you are special.  They like being with you, sharing a common bond.  Yet have you ever felt alone, even in this loving, sharing group?   I remember feeling this: it seemed everyone was interacting except me.  That evening I opened a book on yoga at a random page.  It explained why I felt that way.  I had lost my Self — my inner knowingness.  Feeling needy, greedy, scared and alone are indications that you need to do more yoga.

You ask, “How do I find my Self?”  The easiest gateway inside is by repeating mantra, especially the mantra you get from a Master.  Such a mantra is called “enlivened,” vibrating with the power of revealing your own capital-S Self.  It will take you deeply into meditation.  Mantra and meditation are the tools to finding your own Divine Self.

Once you find your Self, you become consistent in your internal knowingness of your Self.  Once you know you are divine, you may still have the same friends and accomplish the same things — but you do it from a very different level within.

Swami Nirmalananda translates Shiva Sutra #1.18:

Lokaananda.h samaadhi-sukham

A yogi who knows the Self experiences the sweet bliss of the Self in every location and situation, and shares it with others.

treeCertain yoga poses specialize in developing your physical sense of balance.  Once you begin to meditate, yoga provides you with an inner balance as well.  The goal of yoga’s practices is to make you one with Self.   Your inner Self is found in the deep center of your being, which is the source of balance.

Yoga changed me.  When I started doing yoga poses, listening to yoga chants (especially the Guru Gita), and started meditating, I began to enjoy doing everything.  Yoga changed my mind.  When my mind became under the influence of the Self, I changed.  When I changed, so did my respect for and interactions with others.  A diligent yoga practice did this and made me appreciate being a yogi who knows her inner Self.

Life changed —  I began to feel joy in doing things in my daily life.  When I am secure in knowing my inner Divinity, my joy is contagious.  I want to share the sweet bliss of the Self in every location and situation with others.

OM svaroopa svasvabhava namo nama.h

To your inherent Divinity, again and again I bow.