Category Archives: Mystical Living

Meditation is Easy

By Swami Samvidaananda Saraswati

You have a built-in ability to meditate.  Most people that I know who don’t currently meditate believe it’s a good idea.  But they aren’t sure where to begin.  Some think it might be hard or weird.  However, you actually already know how.  When you drive a car, play a musical instrument or engage in a sport, you concentrate.  Even to wash dishes or have a conversation with a friend, you focus.  It’s something you do many times every day.  It’s how you achieve anything in the world.  My Guru’s Guru taught that whatever you accomplish in the world, comes through your power of concentration. This is nothing but meditation, though on external things.

You are used to meditating on external, everyday things.  But your mind is like the camera on your phone.  Your camera focuses on what’s in front of you.  Or you tap a button to flip the camera to focus on yourself.  You can do that with your mind: flip the lens of your mind to shift your focus from looking outside to looking inside.  And what will you find when you look within?  

santabanta.com

Well, first you’ll encounter the contents of your mind: hopes, fears, memories, lions, tigers and bears, oh my!  But all that mental activity, while real and important, is only the surface layer of what you’ll find.  There’s much more to you.  Yoga calls the more that you are, your capital-S Self.

A classic yogic comparison is that your Self is like the ocean.  Like the waves that keep on coming, your thoughts rise and fall, rise and fall.  But the waves are only the surface of the ocean.  In the same way, your thoughts are simply the surface level of who you are.  You have far greater depths.

When you dive beneath the waves, the water is calmer.  It’s quieter, and deeply peaceful.  When you meditate, you dive deeper than your thoughts, even deeper than your mind, into quiet, boundless, holy depths.  You discover you are not just a swimmer in the ocean.  You are the whole ocean.  From the shallows to the depths, you are all of it.  It’s called the “Ocean of Consciousness.”  There’s only One Reality.  It’s Divine.  It’s your own Self.

Meditation immerses you in the depths of your Divinity.  When you emerge, you’re refreshed, renewed and uplifted.  You don’t become someone different or something you are not.  You feel like you; you’re at your best.  At first, that wonderful feeling of well-being fades as you get farther from your meditation.  But over time your ability to live from your Divine Depths increases. Even though you have the inherent ability to meditate, you have to practice.  You spend too much of your time paddling around in the waves.  You won’t become an accomplished deep-sea diver overnight.  And the technique you choose matters; you need one that works for you.  Something tried and true.  Something that makes it easy.  I found that in Svaroopa® Vidya Meditation.  This meditation works by the means of a chaitanya mantra.  That means it’s enlivened.  It is imbued with the energy of revelation and upliftment by the yoga masters of this lineage.  These Gurus have preceded you on the path.  When you apply your innate ability to concentrate to this enlivened mantra, you are powerfully propelled into the delicious depths of your Self.  Then your meditation is more than easy — it’s enlightening.


The Miracle Factory

By Swami Shrutananda Saraswati

I teach in a miracle factory.  A miracle is “a surprising and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is therefore considered to be the work of a divine agency” (lexico.com).  Do you believe in miracles?  Nearly eighty percent of Americans do.  Believing in miracles is not limited to a certain age group or restricted to certain religious denominations or affiliations, reported by Psychology Today.  Yet it turns out only 38% Americans said they have had a miracle from God (faithgateway.com).  I find that percentage to be too low, for I hear miracle stories from Svaroopa® Yoga teachers and students every day!

Before yoga, I was involved in outrigger canoe racing on the Pacific Ocean.  During one race a big wave poured into our 400-pound boat.  It became even heavier.  We stroked harder and harder to keep moving forward.  In my efforts, I injured my neck and shoulder.  For years I went to various doctors and therapists to heal, but nothing freed me from the pain.  My life became very limited.  If I wasn’t at work, I was at home recovering on the couch.  I could not do much more than that.

For nine long years, I took the maximum dose of Advil every day.  At one point I said in desperation, “God!  If you will just relieve my neck pain, I will not ask for anything more.”  Well, after that I found Svaroopa® Yoga.  I was relieved of my neck pain within a year and a half.  So fast!  It was a miracle.  More miracles were to come.

Now I do not agree that miracles are “not explicable.”  While science is unable to explain such miracles, yoga has a clear explanation.  In yoga, miracles are reliable and predictable.  Yoga taps into the source of healing, the inner source of miracles.  Every time you do any of the Svaroopa® Yoga practices, you access the source of healing within you.  The source is svaroopa — your own capital-S Self, your own inherent Divine Essence.  Every time you have an experience of Self, you feel healed.  This healing arises on all levels of your being simultaneously: physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

In the beginning, you don’t realize all that is unfolding within you, from the inside out.  You come into a yoga class with some physical, mental or emotional pain.  Then a miracle happens.  It heals!  Yet, even though now you are healed, you keep coming back to do more yoga.  Do you keep going to the doctor, if you are healed?  No, but you come back to yoga.  Now you are coming back for a whole different reason.

As wonderful as yoga’s healing benefits are, they are only the tip of the iceberg.  The real miracle is greater.  It is explained in the Shiva Sutras:

Vismayo yoga-bhumika.h —Shiva Sutras 1.12

Yogic realizations are truly amazing.

(translated by Swami Nirmalananda)

Your Svaroopa® yoga practices lead you on the inward journey that is the goal of yoga.  This is the exploration of your own Self, your own Divine Essence.  Wonders begin to unfold inside that are beyond what you could ever imagine.  Look back to when you first started yoga.  Now look where you are now.  Could you have imagined what you have gotten so far?  This is a miracle.  You didn’t even know what to ask for.  Yet you have received it: yourself being the Self that you are now.

The yogis agree with the dictionary in stating that a miracle is “the work of divine agency.”  In yoga, by Grace, amazement after amazement unfolds within.  The Shaktipat Guru is a dedicated agent of Grace, which is the Divine Energy of Revelation.  It is the function of the Guru to reveal your own Self to you.  The unfoldment, the amazement, begins in earnest when you receive Shaktipat.  Shaktipat ignites your inner process of discovery.  The miracles become more and more amazing as you deepen into your own Self, expanding into the infinity of your own being.

I teach in a miracle factory.  It’s the biggest one I know, for I hear miracle stories from teachers and students every day!  This miracle factory is powered not by electricity, but by Grace.  Every day, these miracles are delivered all over the world.  They are fast, predictable and reliable.  Through the Svaroopa® Yoga practices, particularly meditation and mantra repetition, you will live in the amazing and ever-deepening discovery of your own Self, from the inside out.

Repetition Is Valuable

Swami Sahajananda Saraswati

Repetition is how you learn and develop skills.  For example, when you’re teaching or giving a speech, repetition is necessary to get your point across.  Only thirty-three percent of the group are hearing what you say at any given point in time.  When you are listening to someone, there’s a sixty-six percent chance that you don’t hear what they say.  Even if you hear it, you may not get its complete meaning.  Thus, educators and effective communicators know to offer the same information in three different ways.  Repetition is valuable.

As a Svaroopa® Yoga Teacher Trainer, I always give information about a pose five times.  I demonstrate the pose, the students feel it in their bodies, do a partner-pairing process, then see it again and add personal notes to the information on their handout.  When they return for more training, we review the same pose before adding more to it.  Often they say, “The information is so much clearer this time.”  Or, “You are presenting it more clearly.”  They even think we’ve changed the handout because it is much easier to understand now.  But the handout hasn’t changed.  Neither have the Trainers’ presentation skills.  Repetition is what made the difference.

The sage Patanjali explains how this works:

Tat-prati.sedhaartham eka tattvaabhyaasah

—Yoga Sutras 1.32

Focus on a single subject or technique to prevent the inner obstacles.

Repetition cultivates this one-pointed focus.  It prevents the obstacles that keep your mind active and cause distractions.  Simply pick an object of concentration and stay with it.  You stay steady with what you have chosen.  Of course, this focus makes your work in the world effective.  Yoga says, however, that ultimately your goal as a human being is more than doing good work, avoiding pain and pursuing pleasure.  The goal is to attain the knowing of your own Divine Essence.  When you make this choice, mantra repetition keeps you staying steady with it.  You use your mind for a spiritual purpose.

In Svaroopa® Vidya Meditation, you repeat an enlivened mantra which honors your own Self. By applying your mind to these sacred words, a pathway is cleared allowing you to experience the knowing of God, your own Self. By repeating mantra, you come to live in that deeper knowing of who you truly are all the time.  Yoga has thousands of practices to attain this goal.  Mantra repetition is the most powerful.  So constantly repeat mantra to know God within you.

It is through your mind that you have the capacity and ability to repeat mantra.  Sages, both ancient and contemporary, expound on the power of mantra repetition.  Each time you repeat the mantra, you are imprinting your mind with Divine Consciousness.  You are using your mind to its fullest capacity, opening inward to your own Divine Essence.  Repeating mantra takes you to God.  “When you repeat mantra,” says a great yogic sage, “the mind assumes the form of God.”

Swami Nirmalananda Saraswati, my teacher, has passed this sacred mantra on to me and countless seekers through the teachings of the Svaroopa® Sciences.  She received the mantra from her teacher, who received it from his teacher.  The passing of the mantra from Guru to disciple extends back through thousands of years.  The vibrations of the voices of these God-intoxicated beings infuse the mantra with Grace.  Thus, these Gurus, sages and meditation masters have bestowed countless blessings on us.

Once you receive this mantra, let it fill your mind.  You can even have multiple tracks of your 12-track mind repeating this mantra.  Let it reverberate through your mind and into your whole being.  Why?  Because mantra holds Consciousness It-Self.  Mantra fills your mind with Consciousness.  Then more and more, that Light illumines your mind.  Yes, repetition is valuable.  Repeating mantra can bring you this Light, which is your own Self.  Repeat more mantra!

Your Greatness

By Swami Satrupananda

You are great.  Yes, you.  Repeat out loud to yourself, “I am Great!” I’m sorry, I couldn’t hear you.  Put  some breath into it, and don’t forget the exclamation point.  Enthusiastically repeat out loud, “I am GREAT!”

It’s not the things you do, the people you know or the places you go that make you great.  You’re great because you’re a human being.  The yoga sages tell us that you are not merely great but greatness itself.  You have greatness hidden within you right now.  You already are greatness.  You merely need to discover it.  When you find your greatness, you find your you-ness.

You know this to be true.  I can prove it to you.  When you are not feeling great, you notice and do something about it.  When your body hurts you slow down, get a massage or do some yoga poses.  When you’re sad, you look for something to make you happy.  You call a friend, read an uplifting book or repeat mantra.  In contrast, when you’re feeling great you don’t say, “Hmmm… something isn’t right here.  I should feel bad.” It’s natural for you to feel great in your body, mind and heart.

My teacher, Swami Nirmalananda, describes our inherent greatness this way:

You feel most like yourself when you are shining with light.  When your eyes twinkle, when your heart overflows, when your words have a melody hidden in them, and when your actions show your generous and loving nature – you feel so natural.  You feel like yourself.

You’ve had many of these experiences before.  You were glowing on your graduation and/or wedding day.  Your eyes twinkle when you look at someone you love.  Your heart has overflowed with love for others many times.  When you speak about something dear to you, your words flow like a smooth waltz.  You have done so many good things for others out of the kindness of your heart.  In these moments, you are living from your greatness.  It’s a sneak peek of your future.

Before yoga, one of my favorite ways to get a sneak peek into my greatness was volunteering.  I remember volunteering for my high school to serve a meal for the homeless.  I showed up and poured myself into the tasks at hand.  I put together cheese sandwiches with so much care and attention.  My heart overflowed as I ensured that everyone was offered a hot beverage.  I glowed as I helped with cleaning up.  As I left that day, there was a joyful skip in my walk.  While I was giving that day, I was the one who received the most.  I got to experience my greatness.

Yoga’s guarantee of your greatness is not limited to certain events in your life.  Yoga says you’ll glow everyday of your life.  Your eyes will twinkle when you look at everyone.  Your words will have a melody hidden in them even while reading a legal document.  All your actions will show your generous and loving nature.  You will be your greatness all the time and pour it into everything you do.

To discover your greatness, you must turn your attention inward to explore the depths of your being.  With your first look inward, you’ll probably find your mind.  You need to go deeper than your mind to find your you-ness.  You discover the beingness that is being you.  Yoga has many names for the you-ness, the greatness, that you are.  One of them is Shiva, the Ultimate Reality being you, everyone and everything.

Now the question is: how do you get beyond your mind? Yoga uses your mind to get beyond your mind.  It’s a nifty trick.  You apply your mind to the repetition of a mantra.  Specifically, an enlivened mantra passed down from a lineage of yoga masters.  They repeated the mantra and discovered their own greatness.  They’ve given us the mantra so that we can do the same.  Now your job is first to receive the mantra from an authorized teacher, then to use it.

As you repeat more mantra, you will realize your inherent greatness.  When you discover your greatness, you discover you.  Being your greatness is so natural.

Repeat out loud “I am GREAT!”

Repeat out loud “I am Greatness-Itself!”

Discover and be your own greatness.

Magical or Mystical?

By Satguru Swami Nirmalananda

I was confused about the difference between mysticism and magic for a long time.  One reason is because Western yoga and meditation often bring alternative theories into their yogic quest.  What is magical?  What is mystical?

Magic is when you use subtle perceptions to make material changes in your life and in the world.  You’re looking for outer fulfillment.

Mysticism is when you use subtle perceptions to explore the subtle dimensions within your own being.  You’ve figured out that, even if your life were perfect, it wouldn’t be enough.  The answer has to be found within.

By the time I took my first Yoga Teacher Training (YTT), I’d already learned about Tarot cards and the I Ching.  I studied some palmistry, astrology and other nonconformist things.  At the time, I couldn’t have explained why I was curious about these things, but now I can see that I was trying to understand myself better.  The tools I’d been given by family and in 20+ years of schooling weren’t working for me.  Even the things they told me to avoid — well, I tried them out — and they didn’t work either.

Still it surprised me when my YTT teacher brought in some of those things as well as some I hadn’t heard about previously.  She shared everything she knew about yoga but it didn’t fill up all the training hours, so it seemed like she brought in the kitchen sink.  She probably thought it was all related.  I suppose it is, but it’s a distant relationship, like gold is related to mud.

If you want genuine and profound inner expansion, you will have to give up channeling, Ouija boards, pendulums, mind-reading, foretelling the future and other psychic phenomena.  Why?  Because all those things are about finding ways to manage the world, not ways to discover your Divine Essence.  If you’re flowing your energy outward, into the world, you cannot be flowing it inward, to see and know who you really are.  It’s really quite simple.

However, Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras lists many such siddhis (psychic powers) and tells you how to develop them.  While few modern translators even bother with these sutras, there are 48 of them, over 25% of the text.   In other words, yogis have always been known for having amazing powers, like levitation, being invisible, bilocation, materialization and more.  Yet Patanjali also tells you, “Don’t use these abilities.  Using them will hold you back for lifetimes.”

Spirituality is not about magic.  It’s not about impressing other people, even with your yogic body or your ability to hold your breath for a long time.  You don’t get to flaunt your inner peace or your more refined understanding of life.  Instead, show them your open heart and open mind by listening more than you speak.  Ask how you can help.  And follow through.  That’s yoga.

Right now, listening, caring and helping is a yoga practice.  It’s a practice that mimics the way you will live once you’re enlightened.  When you know your own Divine Essence, you’ll see the same in others.  Thus there’s nothing to be proud about, for you are no better than anyone else.

In addition, your inner experience of your own Self is so fulfilling that you won’t crave outer things nor pursue them.  You have nothing to fear should you somehow lose everything.  What freedom!

It gives you the freedom to listen, to care and to help.  Why?  Even when you’re enlightened, you still have a body and live in the world.  And the world needs you.  More than ever before, especially because you have more subtle and powerful perceptions, so you have more to offer.  Yet you know that it all comes from one source, the One Source that is in everyone, the One Reality that is being you – Shiva, your own Self.  This is mysticism.  And it’s pretty magical too!

Your Inner Radiance

By Swami Shrutananda

Your inherent nature is light. You are the light of consciousness, in a unique and individualized form.  That light shines through your eyes, fills your heart and is the flash of creativity.  The light of your own being arises from its inner source.

A great sage, Shankaracharya, described it this way:

Here, within your own body, through your own mind, in the secret chamber of intelligence, in the infinite universe within your heart, Self shines in its captivating splendor, like a noonday sun. By its light, the universe is revealed.

– Vivekachudamani 98-99,  rendered by Gurudevi Nirmalananda.

The physicists and yogis agree that the Big Bang emanated energy which became light; the light coalesced into matter.  Everything is made of solidified light.  Even your body is made of light.  You are embodied light. You simply start “within your own body.”  In Svaroopa® Vidya Meditation, you begin by settling into your body, deepening into your seat and allowing your spine to be easily upright.  The tool used to turn your mind inward is to apply your mind to mantra.  With mantra you are using your mind to go through your mind and beyond your mind.

Mantra carries you deeper within where you find “the secret chamber of intelligence, in the infinite universe within your heart.”  The “secret chamber of intelligence” is a knowing that is beyond the mind’s knowing.  It is the fully enlivened, fully embodied, fully expanded knowing of your own Self.

Here, “Self shines in its captivating splendor, like a noonday sun.  By its light, the universe is revealed.”  This means that the Self, your own Self, does not get its light from anything else.  It is the source of light.  Also, it does not get its capacity of knowing from anything else.  It is Knowingness-Itself.  It doesn’t get its existence from anything else.  It is Existence-Itself.  Everything else in the universe that exists gets its existence, its knowing and its light from the Self.

This light is not merely physical light.  It is your mind’s capacity to know, whether you are looking inside or outside.  I experienced this in meditation.  I was looking at my mind being separate from me.  I wondered who was the one who was looking at my mind?  Who was asking the question?  I felt the vastness of my beingness that was deeper than my mind.  It was beyond my mind.  From this experience, I knew I had a mind but was more than my mind —a lot more than my mind!  Svaroopa® Vidya Meditation specializes in giving you the experience of your own Self, so you can discover that you are more than your mind.  From this inner depth, you know your own radiance.  This is the goal of yoga.

Having the experience of your own Self makes you glow.  As a teacher, I can tell when someone is having a deep inner experience of their own Self because they are so radiant.  Yet at other times that light is blocked.  Svaroopa® yoga practices dissolve the tensions through the multiple levels of your body, mind and heart.  They clear away inner blockages that hide the radiance of your own Self.  Every pose, yogic breath, mantra repetition and meditation opens up your inherent flow of happiness, joy and light.  It’s like cleaning a picture window so clean that you cannot tell it is there.  Then the radiance of sunlight shines through the clear glass without being diminished by layers of dust and grime.  You experience your own radiance more and more fully, as well as share it with the world.

Kashmiri Shaivism says the whole of the light of Consciousness is intact within you.  This ancient yogic tradition promises that you can have this experience while you live your life.  The purpose of the Guru, and the service the Guru provides, is to be the embodied light of Consciousness that reveals your own Self, your own radiance, to you.  Thus, you experience and come to embody the light of Consciousness that you already are.  We call this Grace.

Amazing

By Swami Samvidaananda

Amazing.  That is how I describe the yoga and meditation that I practice.  I don’t have a better word because it’s hard to describe the wonderful and powerful experiences that unfold.

  • Physically, you get amazing benefits.  You become free from pain, and your strength and stamina increase.  You gain vitality and resilience.  A yogi friend recently shared that she did not get her usual spring allergies.  They’re gone.
  • Mentally, you get amazing improvements.  Your stress levels go down, your depression lifts, you experience equanimity.  Calmness and happiness, even joy, become your baseline.  You don’t sweat the small stuff so much.  You handle life’s big challenges more easily.  I’ve talked to many yogis who recognize that they are handling this pandemic with much less fear than BY (before yoga).  They are taking steps to keep themselves, loved ones and everyone safe.  They recognize that they are making their decisions based on intelligence, rather than anxiety.
  • You love more, and, no surprise, you are easier to love.  You light up the lives of those around you.  Like the Debbie Boone song from the Seventies, “You light up my life, you give me hope….”  I know I’m dating myself, but I loved that song.  You light up people’s lives.

Amazing, right? So I was delighted to learn that a primary text of the Kashmiri Shaivite meditation system says this:

Vismayo yoga-bhuumikaa.h. — Shiva Sutras 1.12

The wonders of yoga are truly amazing.

(rendered by Swami Nirmalananda Saraswati)

Vismayo means amazement or wonder, and yoga-bhuumika.h is the stages of yogic development.  If the benefits I’ve described were the only things yoga and meditation did for you, that would be wonderful.  Yet, there’s more.  The physical and mental benefits and changes are not actually the wonders that this sutra is referring to.

This sutra is about the deeper inner experiences.  They are harder to put into words, specifically because they are beyond words.  Deeper than words, deeper than your mind, as you immerse yourself into the depths of your inner knowingness and beingness, you have amazing wonder-filled inner experiences.  They unfold within, in a progression mapped by the ancient sages.  You are following the same inner path they followed, with their teachings to guide and protect you along the way

Not long into studying with Swami Nirmalananda, I began to understand that there is an inner map.  She has already traversed it; she knows what’s around the next corner.  She knows the rocky ground that you currently may be picking your way across.  And she can assure you that an incredible vista is about to open up.  Her teachings guide you and protect you along the way.

Wherever you are on the map, there are amazing inner stages yet to come.  Whatever experiences are currently blossoming forth within you, there’s more — more than you can currently imagine.  That is because your mind cannot fully imagine the “more” of who you really are.  It is when you go beyond your mind that you discover your own Divinity.  That is the goal and purpose of Svaroopa® Vidya Meditation: for you to have the experiential knowing (vidya) of your own Divinity (svaroopa).  Awakening you to that inner knowing is the specialty of this lineage of Gurus.

Swami Nirmalananda has the calling, the capacity and the mastery to awaken you to your Divinity.  She lights the flame of your enlightenment within you, so that you realize who you are.  You will know that you are concentrated Consciousness — distilled Divinity.  You are the One Eternal Reality that is the Source of unending joy, peace, and bliss, manifesting the universe and everything in it, including you.  You have always been Divine, you have never not been Divine.  You just don’t know it all the time.

Once you have received the inner awakening, called Shaktipat, every time you meditate, you experience your Divinity.  Your mind and senses are increasingly saturated in your own Divine Essence.  The light and bliss of your own being shine into and through you, more and more.  Your Divinity is not only in you, it is you, and everything else.  And when you go inside, you know this, in progressively deepening stages.  The sutra is saying that it keeps getting better.  I can vouch for it from my own experience, it keeps getting better.  How amazing, how wonderful!  But don’t take my word for it.  Have the experience yourself.

Yogi in the World

By Swami Prajñananda

The day of my grandma’s funeral, the sun was shining.  I remember thinking how odd it was that Mother Nature continued on while my family’s world was turned upside down.  In the past few months, the whole world has turned upside down.  Yet the sun still shines, the rain still falls and the wind still blows.  So where do we go from here?

As a yogi, you must develop your inner state and you also must act in the world; both are important.  If you deepen your inner state but hide away, the world will not be uplifted by your practices.  However, if you act from a place of fear, then your actions are ineffective, even harmful. Thus, while you participate in the world, you must develop your inner state.

To develop your inner state, meditation is your most important practice.  When you meditate, you are deepening your capacity to abide in the knowing of your own inner being.  Yet do not be so quick to leave that knowing behind when you get up from your meditation seat.  This is when your other yogic practices become important, especially mantra.  When you repeat mantra through the rest of your day, you are streaming consciousness through your mind.  Consciousness is who you really are.  When you weave mantra through your day, you are developing your ability to stay grounded in the state that you discovered in meditation.  Then, when you act in the world, your actions are powerful, uplifting and contagious.

An ancient yogic text explains the state of such a yogi:

Lokaananda.h samaadhi-sukham — Shiva Sutras 1.18

Such a yogi experiences the sweet bliss of the Self in every location and situation, and shares it with others. — Translation by Gurudevi Nirmalananda

Such a yogi is one who has discovered their own inner being, called the Self.  This yogi takes the knowingness of their Self into their life.  The knowing of who you are is blissful.  This is because the nature of your Self is Bliss-Itself.  Just as the nature of water is wet and the nature of fire is heat, the nature of your Self is bliss.  This is why you feel better when you meditate.  Through continued meditation, your ability to abide in the blissful knowing of your Self expands and deepens.  But this sutra does not merely promise bliss.  It goes on to say that you experience the bliss of the Self AND you share it with others.

Bliss is contagious.  You already know when someone is angry: anger spreads and infects those around them.  So why wouldn’t this happen with bliss as well?  Your inner state not only has an effect on you, it has an effect on those around you as well.  As you deepen into your Self, those around you feel it.  Your inner state makes a difference, but only when you step into the world.

While you may still be in the process of deepening into your Self, the Guru is established in Self.  The Guru is the yogi that the text describes: “The Guru experiences the sweet bliss of the Self in every location and situation, and shares it with others.”

The Guru loves to share!  When you spend time with the Guru, their blissful knowing of the Self starts to rub off on you.  While you may not be fully established in that state yet, you are on your way.  The more time you spend with the Guru, the more you deepen into the knowing of your Self.  While you and the Guru are both the Self, the difference is that you don’t know it yet and the Guru does.  Spending time with the Guru is a yoga practice, and it includes being in the Guru’s presence as well as doing the practices the Guru gives you.  To live in the knowing of who you are, spend more time with the Guru.

What You Say Matters

By Swami Sahajananda

Words powerfully affect you; you respond to words immediately.  They can lift you up to new heights of spiritual elevation.  Or they can go the other way, binding you in delusion.  Words are influential.  Politicians know this and use words to sway people to their point of view.

Did you ever hear a talk which held you spellbound?  The speaker’s choice of words created a quality of awe, greatness or wonder.  The talks of many spiritual teachers have touched me this way.  I felt they had laser-beamed right into my heart, addressing my deepest yearnings and questions.  Their profound spiritual experiences fueled their powerful words, reaching beyond my mind.  Their words brought about the ah-ha moment for which I’d been searching.  Powerful language transmits deep teachings that open you to the knowing of your own Divine Reality, your Self.

Yoga says the cosmic process is the source of the power of words and names it matrika.  All language flows from this cosmic process.  A classic teaching story tells of a teacher expounding on the power of words to an audience of seekers.  A man in the audience shouted, “Stop talking this nonsense about words.  I came here to hear about liberation!”  The teacher responded, “Hold on, hold on — I am getting there.”  Appeased for a bit, the man sat for a while longer.  But then he stood and again shouted, “I want to hear about liberation.  Not this nonsense about words!”  Seeing the man approaching, the teacher shouted, “You stupid ignorant man!”  Red-faced, the heckler was stopped in his tracks.  Then the teacher looked at him and said, “If words aren’t important, why did my words get you so upset?”  The man sat down and listened to the rest of the teacher’s talk intently.

This story illustrates the supreme energy of words, which flows from matrika. The philosophy of Kashmiri Shaivism explains the power of words by tracing matrika, their source, back to the creation of our universe.  Shiva is Consciousness-Itself, the Primordial Oneness, that is everything and beyond everything that exists.  Shiva is stillness.  Then Shiva decided to move; Shiva in movement is called Shakti.  This movement is the cosmic energy that manifests the universe by contracting into all the various forms of existence, seen and unseen.  The first and subtlest movement of that manifestation is the constant vibration which can be perceived as sound.  The primordial sound is OM.  It is so sacred that it is not to be spoken aloud, but is called the pranava.

As the process of contraction continues, the cosmic matrika splinters the one primordial sound into many sounds.  They are the letters of the Sanskrit alphabet, which combine to form words.  Matrika is a form of Consciousness-Itself, that which created the universe.  This ultimate source of words accounts for their profound power.

Now you can see how words have the power to either bind or liberate you.  Every feeling and emotion originates from your mind, powered by words.  The yogic texts promise that whatever you are thinking, that is what you are becoming.

For instance, if you congratulate yourself for a good job on a project, you feel good, even elated.  Or if you berate yourself, trying to figure out what you did wrong, you feel bad.  Words bring you pleasure or pain.

It’s not just spoken words that have this effect.  Words create thoughts that control how you feel.  Such words weaken you and make you feel small.  When you tell yourself that you are no good, not smart enough, etc., your own words enhance your bondage.  They keep you stuck in the endless patterns of your mind.  Your mind can do this without help from anyone else!

A Siva Sutra states that the power of words can bind you by giving you limited knowledge:

J~nanadhi.s.thana.m mat.rka. — Shiva Sutras, 1.4

Matrika (the cosmic power of words) is the source of limited knowledge (the not-knowing of your own Divinity).

Words trap you in limited knowledge.  Fortunately, they can also be used in the opposite way: to take you to new heights.  Your mind is the place where you have free reign to say whatever you want to yourself.  This means you can make a choice about the content of your thoughts.  You can use words to unbind you and reverse the direction back to Consciousness, which is the essence of your own being.  These words take you towards liberation, back to the source.

To become liberated, use words that are sacred.  Sacred words remind you that you are Consciousness Itself, open you into Consciousness and take you toward liberation.  Mantra repetition is one of the main practices of Svaroopa® Yoga.  Gurudevi Swami Nirmalananda received the mantra of divine sounds from her Guru, Baba Muktananda; he received it from his Guru, Bhagawan Nityananda, who was given it by his Guru, and so on back through countless ages.

The mantra of Svaroopa® Vidya Meditation is permeated with the blessings and Grace of all the yogic sages who have repeated it, going back thousands of years.  It was passed down from one Enlightened Being to the next.  The mantra holds the abundance of benefits of their practices.  When we repeat it, we are the beneficiaries of their practices, which allow us to steep in their Grace and blessings.  These sacred words are thus imbued with the enlivened power of Guru’s Grace.  They expand you past your limitations.  Repeating mantra, you are using your mind to go beyond your mind.  These powerful words will set you free.

Matrika is the secret behind mantra.  With these sacred sounds, you can access Grace.  Through the Gurus of this lineage, who imbued the mantra with their blessings, it is readily available.  Words have the power to bind us or to set us free.  Words give us the opportunity to dive deeper inside to access our Divine Essence.  The Self has always been there, waiting for us to take the journey inside.  Mantra, the sound form of God, is the vehicle that takes you to your own Self, your Divine Essence.  Mantra makes it easy to access the Self.  It is your choice what you are going to say to yourself.

It’s All About You

By Swami Satrupananda

It’s all about you.  That’s the good news and the bad news.

Let’s start with the good news.  Yoga is all about you.  The practices of yoga are for the purpose of discovering who you truly are.  Who are you?  You might answer that question with any, or all, of the following:

Profession – I am what I do. “I am a doctor. I am an engineer. I am a yoga teacher.”

Relationships – I am who I know. “I am a son. I am an aunt. I am a friend.”

Location – I am my location. “I am a Pennsylvanian. I grew up in Kansas.”

While these are all true, there is even more to you.  Yoga asks: who is the one being you while you do these things?  Who is the one in these relationships and living in these places?  And when these life circumstances change, do you become a different person?  Yoga says, “No.”  While your external circumstances change, and even as you adapt to then, there is an unchanging you.  When you get a new job, who is the one who did your old job?  It is the same you who is doing your new job.  Who is that you?

Who are you, really?  The answer is found inside.  Yoga specializes in turning your attention inward and discovering who you truly are.  That could be surprising, given the popularity of yoga poses.  Yet the original purpose of the poses is to prepare your body to sit for meditation.  It is in the practice of meditation that you turn your attention inward and explore who you truly are.

Who do you find when you turn your awareness inside?  The yoga sage Shankaracharya described it this way:

Chid-aananda-roopah shivo’ham shivo’ham.

My nature is the bliss of pure consciousness. I am Shiva. I am Shiva.

Yoga has many names for your inherent “you-ness.”  Shankaracharya uses the name Shiva for your you-ness.  Around 800 CE in India, he composed the Atma Shatkam, his poem of bliss and Consciousness.  His refrain “Shivo’ham Shivo’ham” follows each verse. Thus he repeats, “I am Shiva, I am Shiva.”  He knew that we need the repetition.  That’s because we don’t yet know who we are.  And that’s the bad news.

When you don’t know your inherent nature as bliss — as Shiva — you think you are something less.  You think you are your profession, your relationships and locations.  You work hard at getting the right job, having perfect relationships and living in a beautiful location.  Your mind keeps you busy with worries and anxieties.  “What do I need to do?  What do they think about me?  Where do I want to live?”  It’s all about you.  Unfortunately, it’s all about a small sense of you.

The problem is that you are focused on who you are on the outside.  You are simply focused on the wrong you.  Yoga says to turn your attention inside.  There you find your inherent you-ness.  Then you will live in the pure bliss of Consciousness.

When I first learned these teachings, I got distracted by the pure bliss of Consciousness.  Can you really blame me?  This promise was such a radical change from my day-to-day experience.  Yoga was promising me not merely joy but bliss.  Without realizing it, I assumed that I had to change who I was to achieve it.  I was missing the key part of this teaching.  Bliss is my nature.  I already am the bliss of Consciousness.  The Svaroopa® yoga practices have opened me up to my inherent nature.  When I am settled into bliss — my own Divine Essence, I feel that I’ve come home.  I describe it as, “I am me.”

That’s the good news.  You are you.  You don’t need to do anything to become you.  Your nature is the bliss of pure Consciousness.  Inherently, you are bliss itself.  It is the fundamental quality that makes you “you.”  This “you” has been the same, from childhood through adolescence and into your adulthood.  If you took bliss away, then you wouldn’t be you.  It’s like if you took water and tried to make it not wet.  You can’t.  Water is inherently wet.  You are inherently the bliss of Consciousness.  This is the good news.  Yoga is all about discovering who you are.  And you discover that your true essence is bliss.

You simply need to focus on your true Divine Essence.  Yoga’s practices are designed to get you beyond your external sense of who you are to a deeper sense within.  So it’s all about you.  Which “you” are you going to focus on?