Category Archives: Mystical Living

Yogic Freedom

By Gurudevi Nirmalananda

You want to solve problems. You want to be creative. You want love and joy. You want to care and share. Where does all that come from?

It all comes from within. As you settle in deeper and deeper, you can base yourself in your own Divine Essence. It is Grace that gives you inner access, but it is your own efforts that give you the inner steadiness, the deep inner center that sets you free.

This is freedom, in Sanskrit — moksha. It means liberation. It means you won’t have to come back for another lifetime. You can if you want to, but you won’t be stuck in the repetitive cycle for eons. You’re free!

In honor of 4th of July, the American holiday celebrating freedom, I focus on freedom. I do realize that July 4 is about political freedom – but I like to use it every year to celebrate spiritual liberation. That you really can become free:

* No more inner shadows.

* No more knee-jerk reflexes.

* No more need, greed and fear.

When you find your own inner essence, and when you base yourself in your own Self, you are free from everything that used to drag you down. It’s great!

And it’s a little strange.

* For your past is still your past, but it doesn’t drag you down.

* And your life is still your life, but it’s not weighty and constraining.

* And your future is still your future, whatever you think it could be or should be – it’s up to you, but you’re not holding your breath waiting to see.

You know what freedom is? That your sense of self doesn’t come from your past, nor your imagined future, and not even from the circumstances of your life.  Your sense of self is an inner sense, an inner knowing, a wordless Knowingness… of your own Beingness. 

In the Knowingness of your own Beingness, you have fulfilled life’s highest purpose – liberation! Freedom!

And you have the freedom to create, to care and share. To give without measure. Free to be without analyzing or strategizing, without making up for or trying to attain. And your mind becomes your greatest tool. Instead of having mental shadows that block your inner light, your mind shines with the light of Consciousness. Chetana, it’s called in Sanskrit.

Expanded mind. Divine mind. Your heart overflows. What a way to live!

Changed for the Better

By Swami Shrutananda

Who can change you for the better? Who really gets you? Other yogis!

I think about all the yogis who have made — and continue to make — a difference in my life. These thoughts especially arise when I hear For Good, a song about the friendship between two witches, Glinda and Elphaba in the musical “Wicked.” Tears well up in my eyes when I hear its lines “I do believe I have been changed for the better. And because I knew you.”

One of the things I love about teaching yoga classes and immersions is how students inspire each other. When you put words to your deep inner experiences, others gain insight into their own inner experiences. Your comments and questions enrich everyone’s understanding. Perhaps it’s an understanding of how to handle a difficult situation or person in their life. Perhaps you understand yourself better. From knowing each other, you have been changed for the better. And you are inspired to do more yoga!

You become yoga buddies. You may not know if they have a partner, children or grandchildren or what they do for a living. Yet you share, understand and know one another at a much deeper level. This is the purpose of being in community with fellow yogis. As long as you continue to come to Ashram programs, I will be in relationship with you – over decades. For I, too, am changed for the better because I know you.

International Day of Yoga, observed across the world on June 21st annually, celebrates the spread of yoga throughout the world with gatherings of yogis. How can you celebrate International Yoga Day?

Get together with a few yoga buddies in person or on Zoom. Share tea or a meal, or enjoy an outing or a yogic get-together of some kind. Find new yogis to be friends with, even if they do a different style or are from another tradition. Yoga doesn’t say that one tradition is right. All paths of yoga are honored, states the sage Kshemaraja from over 1200 years ago:

Tad bhuumikah sarva-darshana-sthitayah
— Pratyabhij~nahrdayam 8

The various traditions are different roles of Consciousness.
— Rendered by Gurudevi Nirmalananda

In this text, the One Divine Essence is called by the name “Consciousness.” The One has become everything that exists. In addition to being you, Consciousness is also being all the different forms, traditions and paths of yoga. Kshemaraja explains that Consciousness becomes so many different traditions because different kinds of people need different ways and paths to the knowing of their own Divine Essence, their own Self.

I enjoy talking to yogis that come from a different tradition. I learn something more about the breadth of yoga, about them and about me. There are lots of yogis out there to meet. With the worldwide increase of people doing yoga, you are part of a huge yoga family.

According to Shri Google, the worldwide population of yoga practitioners is more than 300 million. The global number of people who meditate is anywhere between 200 and 500 million. Considering there is likely some overlap, let’s say 500 million people meditate and/or practice yoga. This is 6% of the world population. This means 6 of every 100 people you meet do yoga. This doubles to 12% when you are in the US. I am going to assume this is also true in Australia, Canada and Europe.

So yogis are everywhere. In the past two days alone, I met two while traveling. One was my Lyft driver, who takes local YMCA yoga classes twice weekly. Coming back on the plane, I sat across the aisle from a yogi. She zooms into a Mumbai teacher’s yoga classes and meditation every week. Telling me about the benefits they are getting, both yogis had such love for their yoga. Yogis love to talk about yoga!

Your yoga community and conversations are an important part of your practice. Is it expanding? Make it your practice to step into relationship with more yogis. Together you inspire each other on the path and profoundly affect the world. Together, we yogis are a Divine Force enriching the lives of others.

Remember, don’t limit yourself to those who only do your kind of yoga or meditation. All yoga is good yoga. All meditation is good meditation. Get out there and make more yoga friends. Be changed for the better!

Discovering the Source of Happiness

By Swami Samvidaananda

Self-help gurus. Fashion gurus. Investment gurus. Health gurus. When I’m looking for help or to learn something new, I want to learn from an expert.

If you are really good at what you do, and you help a lot of people, you are called a guru. It’s not inaccurate. Guru, a Sanskrit word, means “teacher” when spelled with a small-g, “guru.” What about when you want spiritual help? It would make sense to go to a spiritual Guru. Wouldn’t it? Yet that seems to be a less popular option.

I didn’t know I was looking for a spiritual, capital-G “Guru.” I just knew that underlying my day-to-day life, with its responsibilities, relationships, happiness and pain, there was a quiet despair. I wanted my life to have more meaning, but I couldn’t find it. I had moments of joy, even bliss. But I couldn’t hold onto them. It wasn’t enough.

Then I met Gurudevi Nirmalananda. I didn’t know the word Guru, and I would not have said I was looking for one. But I recognized her as my teacher. So I began to orient my life in her direction. I had been like a lost sunbeam that had somehow gotten disconnected from the sun. And now, when I aimed my beam towards her, I shone brighter, like a sunbeam radiates from the sun.

I was being lit up with my own inner light. I began to experience more joy, more happiness, more peace. She didn’t give me her light; she awakened my own light within me. It’s the light of my Divinity, of my own Self.

Yoga’s mystical teachings say there is One Divine Reality. Everything that exists comes from and is made of the One. This universe, the stars and the planets, and everything on the earth down to the smallest ant and grain of sand is Divinity, concentrated into form. Including me. Including you. That Divinity is inherently who you are, so the One is called your Self.

Because you are the Self, you have the capacity to know you are the Self. But you need help to get to that knowing because it is hidden from you. It’s a cosmic setup. So, what do you do? You get help from someone who knows. Someone who is an expert at awakening you to your deeper knowing. That’s a Guru.

Guru is spelled, “Gee, you are you.” It means that you have someone in your life who gives you your Divine Self — Gurudevi Nirmalananda

Gurudevi is such a Guru. She knows her Divine Self, and she can give that knowing to you. She does it through an initiation called Shaktipat. Shaktipat is a transmission of energy that sparks your inner knowing. This is like a cosmic jump-start.

Your knowing of your Divine Essence will fill you with joy, love, creativity, peace and bliss. You’ll discover you are the source of the happiness you’ve been seeking out in the world. And you’ll come to recognize that everyone and everything is a form of the same Divinity. How glorious!

How did Gurudevi become a Guru who can do this for you? She found her Guru, Baba Muktananda. And he gave her Shaktipat. He could do this for her because he found his Guru, Bhagavan Nityananda, who gave him Shaktipat. Gurudevi is part of a lineage of Shaktipat Gurus that stretches through time.

Each Guru was at some point a seeker, looking for something they could not find on their own. And they found a teacher who could give them what they were looking for. They were looking for an expert. And they found one!

Of course, when you find an expert, the story doesn’t end there. Like anything you want to accomplish, you have to apply yourself. Baba Muktananda gave Shaktipat to thousands and thousands of people. He wanted to awaken and uplift as many people as he could. And he gave them practices to do, especially meditation and repeating mantra.

Once your inner flame is ignited, it’s up to you to nurture and grow it. Many people took Baba’s teaching to heart. Because of him, there are many more meditators in the world. However, very few people applied themselves to blossoming the inner awakening all the way, to Self-Realization. Gurudevi did. She gave it her all.

Once she received Shaktipat from Baba, she tirelessly dedicated herself to her own upliftment. She became Self-Realized, meaning she knows she is the Self, all the time. And she became authorized as a Guru, so she can give the inner awakening of Shaktipat to you. Now, she tirelessly dedicates herself to uplifting you. She’s not a Guru because she wants attention or fame or followers.

She wants you to have what she has. Do you want it?

Location, Location, Location

By Swami Satrupananda

You decide it’s time for a vacation. You need a change of scenery, so you pack up your suitcase and head out.

After some travel, you get to your new location. You unpack and settle down to have a bite to eat or something to drink. You are enjoying your new location with new views, smells, tastes and more. And then your mind brings up the same worries and fears you left miles behind.

The reality of this was a shock to me. During university, I took a semester off and traveled to Southeast Asia. I spent my days exploring the exotic land, food and culture. I even took a meditation retreat. I was shocked when my mind would not stop obsessing on problems that were over 7,500 miles away.

The yogic texts say that your challenges come from your limited knowledge.

Jñanam bandhah.

Limited knowledge is bondage.

Shiva Sutras 1.2

Knowledge is not the problem. It is limited knowledge that creates bondage. Your mind works hard at knowing. Unfortunately, it works only on limited knowledge. You focus on knowing the external world. When all you know is the external world, you get your sense of self from it. As a result, you are impacted by your surroundings.

And even when you change your location, the distance does not protect you from your mind. Your mind can bring up problems from thousands of miles away.

In yoga practices, you stop looking outside for a sense of self. You turn your attention inward to know who you truly are. With each yoga practice, you experience your true Divine Self. With each experience, you come to know who you really are.

This knowledge is not limiting, it is freeing! You don’t merely find the knowledge of who you are. Ultimately, you find the Knowingness itself.

This shift from being outwardly focused to inward is emphasized in our Guided Awareness. In yoga classes, we guide you in being aware of your body on the outside and inside. “Become aware of your toes… all ten toes… outside and inside.”

In meditation, we take it a step farther. You turn your attention inward beyond your body and even beyond your mind. You dive deep inside directly to your own Self.

https://dietandi.com/why-you-should-meditate-meditation-benefits/

At first it can be challenging to turn your attention inward. We all have spent so much of our life looking outward. So you practice turning your attention inward again and again. Then it becomes a delight to have the opportunity to close your eyes and turn within.

I remember a few years ago, I was going through a challenging time. I no longer wanted to run away to the other side of the planet like during university. Instead, I wanted to escape inside. One morning, I didn’t want to end my meditation period. I wanted to stay inside. The inner space was my safe haven. This was progress.

Instead of chasing for external realities, I knew that I would only be satisfied by resting in my own Self. While it was progress, it was still limited. I couldn’t settle deep enough inside that I stayed there while also being in the world, regardless of the challenges.

This tantric system is not about leaving the world to find your Self on the inside. However, in the beginning, you do need to take recesses from the external world. You turn your attention inward to discover who you are. Then you learn how to live from your own Self while you step into the world. You go from the outside to the inside, then inside to the outside. You know and be your own Self while you are in the midst of the world. Then you can be in any location.

And there’s more. As you dive deeper into knowing and being your own Self, you come to know that Self is the source of everything. Then when you look inside, you see only your own Self. When you look outside, you see only your own Self. Then there is no inside and outside. There is only the One, who is you.

Yet there is still an inside and outside, and you are still impacted by the world outside you, but you go from outside to inside to outside. Do more yoga.

Freedom From Worldly Fatigue

By Swami Prajñananda

I used to wish that I didn’t need to sleep. It seemed like such a waste of time.

And I did a pretty good job over the years of burning the candle at both ends. The most extreme of which was when I was part of a dance team that started practice at midnight. After practice I would walk home, get about three hours of sleep, wake up, go to work and then do it all again. Yeah, I only lasted a couple months on that schedule.

In retrospect, I can see that part of me was onto something with my lifestyle. I wanted to be awake. I couldn’t put words to it at the time, but it was a desire to know that my life was meaningful — that I was meaningful.

So I kept busy and poured myself into everything that I did. Unfortunately, the main thing I got from all this was exhaustion, called “shrama” in Sanskrit. Technically shrama means the fatigue that comes from worldliness.

What is worldliness? It is the focus and pouring of your energies into the world. When you do this without being based in your own inner depth, you drain yourself easily. You are not present in your body, but rather “out there” somewhere.

You may want to blame it on a busy day, but there is more going on. Truly, you drain yourself more with your mind than anything you can do with your body. For how many thoughts do you think in a day? Some research says the average is about 60,000 with 80% of those thoughts being negative.

Worldly exhaustion (1)

Unfortunately, everyone’s mind loves to dwell on painful memories and future worries, yours too. Each time you do, your own presence leaves your body and goes out with your thoughts. Not only is this painful, it is also draining. This is why we fall into bed at the end of the day exhausted. We’ve lost our own presence and have drained our own energy.

This is a big reason why people come, or should come, to an ashram. For “ashram” means without (“a-”) fatigue (“shrama”). When you come to an ashram, you begin to dissolve your lifetime’s worth of exhaustion (or perhaps from many lifetimes). You also learn how to live in a way as to not create more.

Yet this is not about escaping the world. No, that’s not it at all. In fact you don’t even have to physically go to an ashram. Rather, you can do the practices that the ashram recommends: poses, breathing, chanting, mantra, meditation and more. When you apply yourself to these practices, you learn how to live in your body in a whole new way. And this completely changes your experience of the world.

Instead of looking outward for what you think you need, or running away from what you think you don’t, you stay grounded inside. You are centered in your own presence, your own Self. This is truly what it means to be awake. This is described in the Shiva Sutras 1.8:

J~naana.m jaagrat

Knowledge is wakefulness

We usually think of knowledge as what you learn with your mind. But, this sutra describes a deeper knowing. It is the experience of your own presence, beyond your mind. This is your essence, the light of your own being.

When you ground into the inner infinity of your own light, it is called wakefulness. You are awake! When you are lost looking outward to the world to complete you, this is called darkness. You don’t know who you are. You are asleep even with your eyes open.

So how do you move from darkness to light? It is not something you do easily on your own. Otherwise, you would have done it by now. You need someone who can show you the way. Just like you needed someone to teach you how to tie your shoes, learn the ABC’s and ride a bike, you also need a teacher to show you how to move towards the light.

This is the literal translation of the Sanskrit word “Guru.” Guru is a compound word: “gu” means darkness and “ru” means light. The Guru is one who takes you from darkness to light. They give you an inner awakening, so you begin to shine from the inside out. You learn how to stay based in your own light and even to see the same light in the world.

Now, when you act, even when you think, you aren’t creating shrama. You aren’t draining your energy. For, the fact is, you are based in the source of energy itself. You can be a light onto the world. Living in joy and spreading that joy everywhere you go. If you like how this sounds, well, it’s time to wake up.

(1) coloradoparent.com

I Remember the Sunrise

By Gurudevi Nirmalananda

Sitting in a folding chair on a sandy beach, I watched the sun rise. Many others would be arriving soon to set up for the Easter sunrise service. It seemed strange to me that it was scheduled for an hour after the actual sunrise. So I simply went early.

After a while, people arrived and the service got going. It was full of beautiful hymns along with moving readings and an inspiring sermon. But I was confused. Why wasn’t I being filled by God, I wondered, especially on this holy morning?

I had been wonderfully uplifted by the sunrise, in a way that the songs and stories didn’t touch. As I sat facing the minister, my eyes kept wandering toward the ocean. My gaze fixed itself on the horizon, the meeting of sky and sea. My mind settled into a deep and expansive peacefulness, then I would think, “Pay attention to the service.”

When I looked at the horizon, my mind widened like my gaze. When I looked at the minister, my mind narrowed to a pinpoint focus on a man who died 2,000 years ago. The minister was telling me that Jesus could give me God. Yet the sunrise, the sand and sea were already filling me. And especially the meeting place between sky and sea – it was like the juncture between form and formless.

This is yoga’s focus, the dynamic stillness where form and formless meet and merge. As a tantric, I live on this tantalizing edge. The formless is being form, Shiva being the universe while being more. The whole of formlessness is present in every form, being you and being me, being all and beyond all.

https://www.pexels.com/photo/scenic-view-of-ocean-during-dawn-774285/
Ocean at Dawn

Yes, the sunrise is a special time, the juncture between night and day. Yogis love to start before the dawn, preparing for the inner arising that comes with every sunrise. In this liminal zone, it’s easy to know that every form is holy, even your own body and mind. Every moment is a doorway into eternity, even the breath you’re taking now. Every being is Divine, whether you know it or not. The goal is to know.

I’m not confused anymore. That’s because a Divine human showed me the way inside. I needed a living teacher, one who could awaken me to my Divine Essence. Thank you, Baba.

You gave me the sun, the sand and sea, and especially the horizon line on the outside and inside. You gave me Jesus and all the other Divine beings who have ministered to humankind through the millennia. You broadened my heart along with my gaze. You gave me my own Self, which is the all in all, while being beyond the all.

That’s the whole point – to have easy access to the Divine experience that everyone seeks on such a holy day. It is an inner experience, the only kind that counts.

Bliss Is Everywhere

By Swami Samvidaananda

I went to India and met other swamis — Australian swamis!  It felt like a sweet reunion with family members I’ve never met.  There was an ease, a ready friendliness, and an enjoyment of each other’s company.  We were all there for a retreat hosted by the Aussies at our lineage home of Ganeshpuri MH, India.  

The Aussies were sweet and welcoming in general, but underlying that was something more. The swamis’ deep practice and commitment to yoga really showed.  How? It was their bliss.  My experience with them is described in a yogic text:

Lokaananda.h samaadhi-sukham. — Shiva Sutras 1.18

This yogi experiences the sweet bliss of the Self in every location and situation, and shares it with others.
[rendered by Gurudevi Nirmalananda]

This yogi is a knower of the Self.  They know their Divinity. Such a yogi experiences the sweet bliss of the Self everywhere — in every location and every situation.  

There are other names for “a Knower of the Self”: Self-Realized, Enlightened, Illumined, God-intoxicated.  When you are Enlightened, you take your illumined Self-Knowing everywhere you go.  No place or circumstance can diminish your bliss, nor can it enhance it.

Meditation doesn’t make you more blissful.  Being out in the world doesn’t make you less so.  Your experience of the bliss of the Self is steady.  

And you share it with others.  God-intoxicated beings love to share! They don’t even need to try. They vibrate with bliss everywhere they are, whomever they are with, whatever they are doing.  They radiate bliss the way the sun radiates light and heat. 

The swamis I met in India have dedicated themselves to becoming a yogi like this.  Actually, they have dedicated themselves to a yogi who is already like this.  They are on the traditional Guru-disciple path. Just like me!  Their Guru, Swami Shankarananda (called Guruji), and my Guru, Swami Nirmalananda (called Gurudevi), are Self-Realized beings. More than that, they are both Shaktipat Gurus.  A Shaktipat Guru has the capacity to awaken you to the inner knowing of your Self, an initiation called Shaktipat.

Shaktipat Gurus are extremely rare. And I was in India with two of them. Actually, three.  No, four! Another Shaktipat Guru was there at his Ashram, just outside of town.  His name is Swami Nityananda (of Magod).  And Swami Brahmananda was there as well, another Shaktipat Guru. 

One afternoon, I had the unique and delightful opportunity to spend time with them as well as several other swamis. They had all lived at the Ashram in Ganeshpuri together many years ago, studying with their Guru, Swami Muktananda. You could call them Guru-brothers and Guru-sisters.

Avengers shawarma scene (1)

For me, being in the presence of these Great Beings was like being among superheroes.  My heroes.  But for them, it seemed more like the after-credits scene I loved from one of the Avengers movies.  All the superheroes had banded together and saved the world.  End of movie — roll the credits.  Then, there’s a brief scene of all of them together around a table in a tiny restaurant, eating in companionable silence.

What happens when Shaktipat Gurus get together? They chat.  They catch up.  They drink some chai. They enjoy each other’s company.  They are present, engaged and happy.  And then, they say goodbye, and go on to their next task, equally present, engaged and happy. They certainly appreciated the opportunity to spend some time with each other.  But they are Knowers of the Self: Lokaananda.h samaadhi-sukham.  And so their bliss was not increased by being together, nor was it diminished when they said goodbye.

This constancy and steadiness doesn’t mean that an Enlightened being’s life is boring, every day the same. It’s not that they’re “beyond it,” meaning they don’t care.  The opposite is true.  Enlightened beings are some of the most active, engaged, loving, generous, caring people you’ll meet.  This is their state, and it can be yours.

I don’t mean you have to become a Shaktipat Guru.  Nor do you have to become a swami, wear orange or move to an Ashram.  I mean you can live your life, do what you do, with the people you love, and you can be more YOU.  

You can be you at your best all the time: happy, content, loving, generous.  You can be your glorious Divine Self in every location and every situation.

How? First, get Shaktipat. This sacred and ancient initiation jumpstarts your knowing of your Self like nothing else can.  Then, you have your part to do: meditate.  Svaroopa® Vidya meditation gives you the experiential knowing of your Divinity.  

Meditation by meditation, your inner realization that you are the Self deepens and develops.  Until one day, you’ll never not know that you are the Self.  And you will recognize that everyone and everything is another form of the same Self.  Everything is Divine, and YOU are that Divinity.  

Then you will be the yogi who experiences the sweet bliss of the Self in every location and situation, and shares it with others. This is your future, if you want it to be.

  1. Avengers shawarma scene – https://ew.com/article/2012/11/29/avengers-shawarma-scene/

Yearning to Go Further 

By Swami Shrutananda

I admit I am a Trekkie.  “Trekkie” is found in the dictionary. So, clearly, lots of people are fans of the science fiction TV program “Star Trek.”  

As the show begins, Spock (Leonard Nimoy) says, “To boldly go where no one has gone before!”  When I hear those words, there is a yearning that arises within me.  

Before yoga, my yearning was to know more, to do more, to see more, to be more.  I trekked all over the world.  I had wanderlust.  I thought seeing and knowing more about the world would take care of my yearning.  I didn’t know what I was truly yearning for until I found yoga. 

This yearning drives humankind to look outward, and even to reach out into the cosmos.  Voyager 1, a space probe launched by NASA, is now 14.6 billion miles from earth.  For what purpose?  The goal is to explore the solar system beyond the outer planets, to the outer limits of the sun’s sphere of influence, and possibly beyond.  There is this yearning to go beyond the beyond.

Ultimately, it is the yearning to experience your own infinity.  It is a yearning to know your own Self.  Everyone has this yearning, but very few act on it. It is a spiritual yearning.  

For yogis this is an inner exploration, for it is all found within you:

citi-sa.mkocaatmaa cetano’pi sa.mkucita-vi”sva-maya.h

 — Pratyabhij~nah.rdayam 4

Even while contracted, Consciousness is the essence of the individual, who embodies the entire universe

[rendered by Swami Nirmalananda]

Consciousness, the One Divine Reality, has contracted in order to be everything, including you.  Even though Consciousness is contracted, the whole of consciousness is found inside your own body.  

The ancient sages did explore “where no man had gone before.”  But they looked inward.  They sat in meditation and deepened within. What did they find?  They found the whole universe within their own body.  

From seeing the whole universe within, they came to understand the solar system and the galaxy.  And they even understood that space was expanding.  Into what?  The yogis would say it is expanding into the Self.  All of this is described in the ancient yoga texts.  Their knowledge came from exploring inward.

In meditation I had the experience of the universe being within me while I was being in the universe.  I saw planets, the stars and the space between the planets and the stars.  Not only was the universe outside me, but the universe was within me as well.  Moreover, I was more than the universe.

Baba Muktananda said, “The inner universe is much greater than the outer universe; it is so vast that the entire outer cosmos can be kept in just one comer of it.”  Right now, astrophysicists estimate that there are two trillion galaxies, and their estimate just keeps increasing.  But, as Baba Muktananda says, the two trillion galaxies can be kept in just one corner of your inner universe.   Wow!  There is so much more to explore within.

My mind cannot even fathom that.  That is because your mind can only take you so far.  To go beyond your mind and explore the innermost realms of your own being, you must meditate.  The vehicle you use to explore inward is mantra.  By repeating mantra, you place yourself in the mantra mobile  —  your rocket ship. 

Yet, if you want your rocket ship to take off for your inner exploration, you must fill your tank with special fuel — Guru’s Grace.  You cannot get there on your own.  Receiving Shaktipat from a Shaktipat Guru ignites your inner energy and it climbs your spine.  Now you are being propelled beyond the beyond into the inner infinity of your own Self.  

Wonder after wonder of yogic realizations will unfold.  Now you are exploring what you have yearned for all your life — to know and to experience your own greatness, your own Self.  This is the gift of the Guru.  This is why I have a Guru: Swami Nirmalananda Saraswati. 

A Full-Hearted Life

By Swami Satrupananda

You want to live your life with an open heart. You want everything you do to warm your heart. 

You want your heart to overflow and to share that with others. This can be your physical and emotional heart, but it is only truly satisfying if it is the heart of your being. 

When you show up full-hearted, it is about putting your whole self into it. Your body, mind, heart and more all show up — open and ready to give. This is how you want to live. Then even washing the dishes is fulfilling. It’s not about the task. It’s not even about your heart. It’s about your wholeness. 

While you want to live from your wholeness, it can be challenging. You might have been hurt in the past, so you protect your heart. Your body might have aches and pains, so you’ve numbed out parts of your body. And there may be some dark corners of your mind where your scariest thoughts lurk. To protect yourself, you don’t go there. While you are protecting yourself from these pains, the result is that you don’t have your wholeness. 

Yoga reverses this process. The yoga poses and breathing practices open up your body and breath, making you more embodied. You breathe deeper, have less pain and have a more capable body. Meditation and chanting open up your mind and heart. You have clarity, decisiveness and the ability to follow through with your decisions. 

As your heart opens up, you are able to feel more love and to love more. And there are more dimensions of your wholeness that yoga opens up for you. One of yoga’s maps lists 36 dimensions of your own being.

The purpose of the yoga practices is for you to rediscover your multi-dimensionality and the wholeness of who you truly are. Then you can bring your wholeness into every moment of your life. To get to yoga’s promise, simply do the practices that are recommended. It’s like anything in life — you follow the instructions to get the promised outcome. 

Patanjali, a yogic sage, gives us guidance on our yoga practice:

Sa tu deergha-kaala nairantarya-satkaaraasevito drdha-bhoomih

Practice becomes firmly established by being continued for a long time without interruption and with devotion.

Yoga Sutras 1.13

Like everything in life, you work at something for a long time and without interruption to make progress. The same is true and necessary when you are opening up to your inner wholeness. You do practices every day. Every day you re-open again what has closed down as well as open up new dimensionality. 

Bit by bit, you open up more and more of who you truly are. The incremental changes delightfully creep up on you. Then something happens in your life, and you realize that you have changed. There is more of you here now.

Pain is a great motivator to do the yoga practices. It is painful to be closed down to the multi-dimensionality of your inner wholeness. This includes physical pain as well as mental and emotional pain. Pain can motivate you to begin your yoga practices. And pain can motivate you to continue your yoga practices for a long time and without interruption. 

And Patanjali tells us that devotion is also needed. You need to put your heart into your practice. This comes naturally as you love the practices, or love how you feel after doing the practices. But it is also about actively putting your heart into your practices. Then your yoga practices take on a new vibrancy as you put your heart into them. 

I loved how the practices made me feel from the very beginning. This, along with pain, was a great motivator to consistently attend weekly yoga classes. Over time, this grew into a home practice and then a consistent daily home practice. 

And, now, I do the practices because I love them. I also love how they make me feel. And I do the practices because of my devotion to those who shared them with me.

My Guru, Gurudevi Nirmalananda, shares the teachings and practices with me. As a Shaktipat Guru, she fuels the practices with Grace, the power that reveals to you your inner wholeness. I do the practices out of devotion to Gurudevi, to the Grace. I feel there is no better expression for my gratitude and love than doing the practices.

So, do the yoga practices because you love to do them or because you love how they make you feel. The more yoga practices you do, the more you know and you be your wholeness. Then you bring the whole of you into your life. This includes your heart and so much more. 

Then you have not merely a full-hearted life but, more importantly, the wholeness of your being. You have a “full-You” life. What a glorious way to live!

Why a 2024 Calendar-Journal?

By Gurudevi Nirmalananda

I bring this book to you because I’ve been inspired by others.  I have seen many yogis sharing online about quotes they’ve read and memes they’ve seen.  Inspiration for how to live your life comes from so many sources. So, I thought a yogi could share about how to live as a yogi.

I was surprised to find out that I am quotable.  When I was President of Yoga Alliance, I was interviewed by journalists from many different publications. One of them told me, “Every line you say is so quotable.”  I was delighted to find that my message comes through so clearly.

Now I realize it is like sutras – short pithy sayings with layers and layers of meaning.  A way to capture your mind and heart so the Truth contained in them will echo inside for you.

I know where that clarity comes from, which is why I live in endless gratitude to my Baba.  And I recognize that, having been given such a gift, it is my dharma to share.

So I come to you daily, if you allow.  In this book, with daily quotes, which we will be using in my daily Meditation Club as well.  Let’s bring more light into the world, together.