Swami Nishchalananda’s regular online satsangs.

Every two weeks or so, Swamiji gives an hour of discourse, guided meditation and answers questions online.
These Zoom transmissions used to be found as individual posts on this blog, but they are now to be found on a new system that the ashram is beginning to use. This post is a link to that system.
All Swamiji’s previous satsangs plus the latest ones can be found here.

Please click on the link HERE

Return of Teacher Training Live

With the return of people to the Ashram, we are also able to restart residential sessions of the Yoga Teacher Training Course. We have had two courses in September, now Teacher Training has finally returned live. For the last year or more, the course has continued through online teaching via Zoom. We’ve been scattered around the planet and just logging in once a month.

People arrived as the Autumn sun shone on the turning leaves… Old friendships renewed in person. There’s a closeness develops between people going through two years (almost three) of Yoga Teacher Training. We grow together, share, watch each other making the same mistakes.

Also watch each other turning into quality Yoga teachers. This course rests on the foundation of the experience of Swami Nishchalananda, who was himself a student of Swami Satyananda Saraswati of Bihar for fourteen years. Swamiji founded this ashram, established the training course and now has passed on the running of it to the hands of Swami Krishnapremananda, Swami SatyaDaya, and Tulsi, with this year guest lectures from Debbie Farrer and Rambha. The course evolves continuously as new approaches are sometimes incorporated into the the traditional Teaching.

The last session with Rambha (centre, in red), teaching us to use the practice of Yoga Nidra (profound relaxation).

We finished the course with a gentle, almost intuitive, asana class from Tulsi, then chanting which included a translated reading of each verse of ‘Nirvana Shatkam’. The translation (by Swamiji) is an astonishing exploration of the true nature of existence; an Advaitic text which could also be said to express the principle of ‘neti neti’ (negation of anything you may think that you are, which is ultimately transient).

Please enjoy that recording here (quality best we could get with Zoom transmission audio)……….

The door opens, people return at last.

We re-started residential courses a couple of weeks back, after being closed to visitors for 18 months …. Actual people walking through the gate, unpacking their bags, settling in, walking the hills, breathing mountain air. Welcome back.

We’ve been so geared up for online courses we all had to refresh our minds to what we had to do to be ready to welcome actual humans
rather than virtual humans

No no no….
…..that’s not the kind of ‘virtual’ human I meant…..
I meant real humans but on the other end of a Zoom transmission. Although ……..
this guy does have a certain …. familiarity….

Lisa in the front office actually set off the fire alarms, working so hard, fingers flying across the keyboard, until the computer started to go on fire…..
schedules,
timetables,
bookings,
cancellations,
queries, questions, quibbles…..

Sally, our new cook from Australia, prepares a delicious vegetarian lunch, from…er… plants.

No! sorry,
Sally looks after all the rooms and the housekeeping,
and the cleaning,
and sweeping, and mopping,
sweetly singing the whilst.

James, our new cook, gathers vegetation for some delicious vegetarian meals for our guests during their stay……

Nope… sorry… wrong again,
He is of course the gardener
making the place look super good, soaking up the hot hot sunshine of our lush semi-tropical climate.

Here they are at last!
The cooks!
Sangita, and Sahara
cooking a delicious
vegetarian meal
from vegetables.

finely crafted recipes
from the cuisine
of ashrams worldwide,
with spices from the orient
and delicate…. (contd. page 94)

Our friend here was entrusted
with the job of duplicating the tutors’ course notes
for the entire ten days.
Here he is tearing the ashram apart
in a desperate, and ultimately futile,
attempt to find out
where he might have lost them….

‘Well can’t you just….’?

‘No! just making stuff up is NOT an option!’

Here’s Swami Satyadaya
and Tulsi, ashram manager,
responding to my request for
…….a …… meaningful
role for myself
in the proceedings

I retreat to the creative hub of the ashram, my studio, to write this blog post, and plan my immediate return to Africa.

.

Welcome back everyone. Let’s hope this is a return to some kind of normality. The last two years have allowed us to develop our skills into online teaching, both real-time courses on Zoom, and also recorded course material for self study in your own time. But above all we try to be a centre of excellence in Yoga, Tantra and Advaita, with also the possibility of residential courses.
Please be welcome to enjoy what we have to offer.

Robot photo credit: Yuyeung Lau on Unsplash

Satsang on the occasion of Guru Purnima 2021

Swami Nishchalananda gave this satsang online, to coincide with the festival which celebrates the Guru principle in the Yogic tradition. There are of course other spiritual traditions that also extol the virtues of the Teacher-Student relationship.

After the statement that we do not need a Guru, this is further explained. The Guru Disciple principle is fundamental, actually in almost any subject and not just spirituality. But, in the spiritual journey we have to include the ‘inner’ Guru as central. So the Guru may be a person, something in nature, or simply, that inner Guru which is none other than Conscious Presence as the source of wisdom and inspiration. It is that which resonates with any external Guru, which is why Swamiji says….

The best preparation for finding the Guru is preparing yourself by practice, be that Meditation, Yoga or Reflection.

Swami Nishchalananda

The extension of this idea of Conscious Presence as the inner Guru can lead to the astonishing conclusion that actually, there is only one Guru,
because Conscious Presence, Awareness, transcends
the boundaries of individuality.

There is no doubt that some of us need a physical person as Teacher, maybe because we are so out of touch with the inner Guru. But whatever aspect of the Guru principle to which we relate, Swamiji goes on to say that, ‘The function of the Guru is not to teach us anything, but to remove our concepts and our blockages’

A discussion of the Guru principle in terms of the paradigm of the Chakras, tells us that there is a chakra between the intuitive / mind knowledge of Agya chakra, and the crown chakra Sahasrara, (which represents transcendence beyond individuality). This is the Guru Chakra, whose function is to draw us into realising the essence (Tattwa) of the Guru principle.

Swamiji responds to questions after this discourse, and finishes with a guided meditation.

Please enjoy…..

Front picture – Swami Nishchalananda teaching in Bangalore
Blog Editor and video editing, Narada.

2nd May 2021 Satsang with Swami Nishchalananda

In this satsang Swamiji recommends the medicine of daily awe and wonder to counteract the negative effects of so much fear in the collective psyche at this time. 5 minutes of awe and wonder in the face of nature’s beauty – a flower, a moving vista, the starlit sky – can do wonders for the soul, he reminds us, lifting our spirits generally as well as creating an openness that we can take into our more formal practice. As always, satsang closes with a Q&A.

18th April 2021 Satsang with Swami Nishchalananda

In this satsang Swamiji stresses the importance of practice, urging us to set aside at least one hour per day for connecting with or opening to our fundamental identity. He also speaks to the challenges brought to all of us by the pandemic, and gently suggests we might use these challenges to inspire our practice and to shake ourselves out of any sense of complacency that may be present. There follows a guided meditation centered on the relationship between the mind with its myriad objects of perception and the underlying Consciousness which perceives through the mind and senses. As always, satsang closes with a Q&A.

Listening to the Sun By Mantra Shakti

This poem was written over two years ago. I had always enjoyed working outside in the Ashram grounds but the spring of 2017 was when I first took the drum outdoors and played with the trees and the birds for company. I did have this sense that nature was encouraging me to let the music out. In 2019 I started writing songs and many of these tracks are celebrations of the natural world.

Prose, Prose, Prose

I cannot write that way to describe life here 

in the wet green hills in northern climes of planet earth

The sun is our nearby star and her light touches us 

as we work among brambles, ash and pine.

Our lungs gorge on oxygen, a precious gas 

which the Italians call ossigeno  

and that sounds like a bony genome.

Light is made of photons and photons are found inside our bodies*

science fact, but little reported and every photon tells a tale.

The sun shines white, the plants blaze green, 

 tree roots explore the soil and the mycelium spreads far and wide.

Here at the Ashram if you walk by the big pond when the sun is out,

our nearby star may call to you and she may say

“Darling little one, my love sweeps over the land 

Do you have eyes to see?

Darling little one, come out and drum and sing, 

sit on a rock and let the songbirds hear you play.

If you do I’ll tell you my stories:

I’ll speak of planets, moons and comets, of spiral galaxies and gassy filaments,

but I’ll also speak of the spinning earth 

and all thereon that responds to my radiant presence.

In my rays your hair glistens, you work and sweat and enjoy being flesh and blood

and my love coaxes out that voice of yours

SING SING SING, get out and do it boy 

SING

By Mantra Shakti

*See the work of Fritz-Albert Popp (his discoveries are mentioned at some length in the book ‘The Field’ by Lynne McTaggart)

 

African Mandala

We said we’d build a Yoga hall in Zambia…… and we did.

I’m signing in from Eastern Zambia, as I had to stay here for a further three months because of the UK being in ‘lockdown’ etc. Here life is much easier as we have complete freedom of movement and the whole Covid business may as well be on another planet. Would be nice to stay but my ashram duties call me back, then reality will hit and I have to quarantine for 10 days at vast expense. Ironic as I feel much safer here and we probably developed ‘herd immunity’ in Eastern Province months ago.

Those of you who donated …. we couldn’t have done it without you. I’ve tried to do my best for you with this movie …. it’s a big thank you.

Narada

I don’t have a lot more to say, as the movie that I made says it all. I have tried to do as complete a job as I could with this movie… some of you have donated money, trousers and yoga blocks and we couldn’t have done it without you, so this movie is a big thank-you to you all (the Northern Ireland contingent has to come in for special mention here… they continued to help us most generously through the project).

African Mandala is a project supported by Swami Nishchalananda, in that he gave me encouragement, inspiration, also the leeway to continue coming to my Africa projects even after I moved into the ashram (see Ulingana.com). His freedom of spirit infuses Yoga in Zambia; I hope you will see that from the movie.

The film is a documentary, not a ‘short’. It’s 20 minutes long, so give yourself some time, freedom from immediate tasks, and a reasonable sound system (!) to enjoy. I have tried to briefly paint a picture of Zambia… its wildlife and culture, to start. Then we focus a bit more on the build, also on life in Eastern Province where life can be astonishingly hard at times (making it even more surprising that people have adopted Yoga so readily). Finally we focus in on the two principal teachers and the opening class that marked the end of the project, and the beginning of a whole new chapter for the teachers and practitioners.

Reflections on The Bhagavad Gita by Amanda Jameson

On the current Ashram Yoga Teacher Training Course, the student teachers have been guided in their study of the Bhagavad Gita, one of the core inspirational texts of the Yoga tradition. Their latest assignment was:

In a few paragraphs, give a summary of:

1. the core impact that the Gita study has had on you to date

2. the key verse, or teaching, that you have been practising in your daily life

3. in brief, how would you describe the Gita to your students? 

Following is the assignment of Amanda Jameson, from Lincolnshire, copied here with her permission:

The main impact that the Bhagavad Gita has had on me is not to be afraid and face things head on. It has given me the strength and courage to deal and accept what is going on in my life. I now trust that I have no influence really on events. I am just on this journey of life to observe and witness. It has helped me spiritually realise that to be truly happy in this life it to just accept and trust and live my life the best way possible to serve myself and others so we can inhabit this beautiful earth in harmony and peace. It has helped to clear any doubts that I have in my life and to trust.

I believe that one of the key purposes of the Gita is to help us not to fear death as it is inevitable. To remain happy and open to life’s possibilities.

The key verse for me right now is chapter 3 – verse 21 – by setting an example to others. If I live my life selflessly with compassion for myself and others, sharing my knowledge, taking joy from each moment and spreading that sense of joy ……… it is contagious. Living with positive energy that passes through me to my friends, family, students and even a stranger on the street. The happiness I am feeling right now helping people and sharing my knowledge of yoga has been profound. I know we do not have to be concerned with the outcome, it is the journey that matters, but it’s a beautiful journey and to share that feels wonderful.

I would explain the Bhagavad Gita to students as a book to gain spiritual awareness if that is their purpose. To digest it slowly and enjoy the message its conveying. It can be a book to turn to when you are in need of answers to life questions. It will help to clear your doubts and trust your instincts.

I must add that I now keep my copy of the Gita by my bed so it is there to read whenever I need it.